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Troy Jollimore on Karen Armstrong’s ‘The Case for God’

Posted on Dec 4, 2009

By Troy Jollimore

“We are talking far too much about God these days,” writes Karen Armstrong, author of “The Battle for God,” “Visions of God,” “The Changing Face of God” and “A History of God,” at the outset of her new book, “The Case for God.” Funny, I was just thinking the same thing.

Still, I think I understand: If the rest of us are suffering from a touch of God Fatigue, surely Armstrong, whose readable, literate books on particular religions and religion in general have earned her a respectable reputation, might well be sick to death of the topic.

But there is no avoiding the topic of God: It’s all the rage these days. God is under attack, and God’s attackers under counterattack, everywhere you look. Anyway, Armstrong’s real complaint is not that we are talking too much about God, but that there is too much talk of the wrong sort. We have misunderstood the very concept of God, and as a result “what we say [about God] is often facile.” She isn’t referring only to the so-called new atheists here—well, primarily she is referring to the new atheists, because they are the ones that really get her goat, but she is careful to assure us that the central modern misunderstanding of religion, which is to see it primarily as a matter of belief, is one shared by most religious adherents, and isn’t just a creation of their critics.

The complaint that the new atheists (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, etc.) are theologically incompetent, and that a subtler appreciation for the finer points of theology would expose the shallowness of their attacks, is by now a common one. But few defenders of religion attempt actually to spell out the theological details; and the results of those attempts that have been made are, in my experience, deeply unsatisfying.


book cover


The Case for God


By Karen Armstrong


Knopf, 432 pages


Buy the book

Can Armstrong’s ambitious survey of the history of Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious thought do better? She is entirely correct that atheistic critiques aimed at naive strict literalist readings of holy texts can take us only so far. Mocking the angry, cruel, unjust deity of the Old Testament, or reminding literalists that the world is considerably more than 4,000 years old, has little force against the moderate, nonfundamentalist faithful. More powerful skeptical critiques, though, do not presuppose Scriptural literalism. They rely on the Darwinian view of how complex life evolved on this planet, or the existence of serious evil and injustice—things that are well-established and pretty much impossible reasonably to deny and, at the same time, extraordinarily difficult to reconcile with any view of God-as-designer/caretaker, or with any other traditional form of theistic belief.

Pointing out that sacred texts are not meant to be read literally, then, is not enough. Armstrong’s more radical strategy is to de-emphasize the role of belief in religious life altogether: Practice, she writes, is more important than belief, and we misunderstand references to “belief” in the Bible, the Quran and elsewhere if we interpret them in accordance with our modern understanding of belief. (The correct sense, she writes, has more to do with “ ‘trust,’ ‘loyalty,’ ‘engagement,’ and ‘commitment.’ ”) Critics who focus on the absurdity or implausibility of so many religious beliefs, then, or on the fact that religion encourages people to accept these beliefs uncritically and to hold them in the face of any countervailing evidence, are missing the point: It isn’t believing certain things but rather living a certain sort of life that makes a person religious.

To see long excerpts from “The Case for God,” click here.

One might well worry, though, that it is not as easy as Armstrong assumes to separate belief from action or practice. Indeed all intentional voluntary action presupposes some set of beliefs. Armstrong may perhaps make a plausible claim in asserting that faith, as understood by mainstream religious traditions before the advent of modernity, involved more than “mere” belief in the modern sense; but if the problem with religious life is that it encourages false, absurd, unjustified beliefs, showing that it does other things as well is not sufficient. What must be shown is that religion does not involve belief, and not merely that it involves other things in addition to belief. So long as religious worldviews differ in certain important ways from that held by the nonreligious, one can still complain that that worldview is poorly founded and, to a large degree, implausible. (Of course, it is open to the faithful to attempt to formulate a worldview that is both plausible and recognizably religious in a meaningful sense. Again, though, reassurances that such a picture can be articulated are far more often encountered than are actual and convincing attempts at doing so.)

Throughout the book Armstrong frequently indicates an attraction to apophaticism, which she sees as promising a response to this worry. Apophaticism, as she understands it, claims that God is ineffable and that talk about God literally has no content at all. Since God transcends all human attempts at understanding, humans cannot think or say anything meaningful about God:

The idea of God is merely a symbol of indescribable transcendence and has been interpreted in many different ways over the centuries. The modern God—conceived as a powerful creator, first cause, supernatural personality realistically understood and rationally demonstrable—is a recent phenomenon. It was born in a more optimistic time than our own and reflects the firm expectation that scientific rationality could bring the apparently inexplicable aspects of life under the control of reason. […] We have seen too much evil in recent years to indulge in a facile theology that says—as some have tried to say—that God knows what he is doing, that he has a secret plan that we cannot fathom, or that suffering gives men and women the opportunity to practice heroic virtue. A modern theology must look unflinchingly into the heart of a great darkness and be prepared, perhaps, to enter the cloud of unknowing.

This rejection of the theistic God, and acknowledgment that the problem of evil cannot be swept away through theodicy, might sound like music to atheists’ ears. And what could any skeptic find objectionable about revelation once we accept Maximus’ view that “[p]aradoxical as it might sound, the purpose of revelation was to tell us that we knew nothing about God”? Surely if this view were widely accepted the most serious problems with religion would simply dissipate. Would people who admitted that they “knew nothing about” God’s will support laws to prevent “unholy” same-sex marriages? Would people who saw God as “that mystery, which defies description” be moved to reject Darwinian views of evolution, contra all the available evidence?

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By Shenonymous, December 20, 2009 at 11:11 pm Link to this comment

And what entity is that, Night-Gaunt, that cannot be looked at directly?  Is that
really why there are clouds or do you jest?  If something is only in the
imagination, to what would it be measured for correctness?

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By Night-Gaunt, December 20, 2009 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment

One thing you won’t be able to do Shenonymous is to look directly at the entity. Even the angels could not look upon the “glory of the Lord” with their “perfect” eyes. But then that was why there were clouds to obscure the eye boiling rays of the mighty Storm God of the Hebrews where they would meet on clouded summits of certain mountains.

Our powers of imagination and to rationalize in it can be powerful. But would it be correct?

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By Shenonymous, December 20, 2009 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

Good Sunday morning — I offer no dispute as to what one wants to believe,
garth.  I can only question the sources and judgments that are valuable
possibly only for myself and offering them as points for consideration, or in
other cases reconsideration. 

Because social scientists’ predictions do not in fact occur is not an indictment
of scientific explanation.  Most meteorologists make mistakes so much on a
daily basis that is the butt for jokes about weathermen in general.  They are
never right. How much one wants to put stock into think tankers is a matter of
choice.  I tend to take what they pompously say with a grain of salt since
knowledge is specious at best. 

The fact that people did not descend into mayhem after Katrina can be
attributable to much sociological explanations, not the least of which was the
fact that most of them were in complete shock and were looking only for a safe
haven knowing they had lost everything of material value and many of their
loved ones.  Hope is in line with any kind of thinking and Christians do not have
a corner on the market on it though they may also put stock into it.  Also the
police were on the lookout for looting, no doubt a factor.

Watch and Pray theory is one way to ameliorate damage that seems beyond
human ability to repair.  I thank science for not simply watching and praying for
my diabetes, that gave me pharmaceutical means to live a lot longer than
would have been available from watchers and prayers.  I thank the domain of
education for giving me the data that my own intellect could synthesize and
come to understand the world I find myself in and think about its meaning, and
be able to make informed judgments about its significance not only with
respect to myself but for my progeny, my children and their children, than
passive watchers and prayers would provide.  I am compelled to ask, if your
Wait and See Theory is advisable, how long must the observer “just watch?” 
Could I hold my breath? Would I have to be a Job and lose everything?  Then
through a change of divine mind am restored?  How dreadful.

The argument of a destructive god is absolutely antithetical to my religious
(Catholic) upbringing up to my own epiphany of the nonsense of all religion.  It
is in contradiction to a Christianity that boasts benevolence and the incarnation
of Jesus as the Man of Peace and Caring for humanity.  I think the two aspects
of the western god (God and Jesus) would argue about what to do about evil
found in mankind and that the Christian would win over Jehovah.  He didn’t.

Wisdom in the Bible?  Of course there is wisdom when the advice is purely
beneficent, protective, and promotional of humanity.  But not when the god
expects something in return, fealty and suzerain.  It is sort of holding out one
hand to give and holding out the other one to take.  Something disingenuous in
that and a medieval mind.  There is as much senseless annihilation, massacre,
murder, slaughter, subjugation and meanness in the bible as there is wisdom. 
What scale might we use to weigh its value and its abject worthlessness, its
contemptibility?  Shall we take an average? 

Now what makes you think the ape at the zoo turned in contempt?  I sense
traces of self-consciousness.  Could it not equally be true that it was a look of
“oh oh I have to go take a nappy, my thinking took too much energy?  This
world is too complicated!  I’d rather go to Walmart but my beddiebye is so
much more tempting.  And besides I have to go take care of my kitty.”  Our
interpretation of contempt might just be a matter of flatulence also!  A bit
crude but descriptive of primates.  Now if the ape had thumbed his nose at
you, I would find that better evidence of contempt.

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By garth, December 20, 2009 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

“The only way to test a seemingly untestable theory is to apply it to real situations, isn’t that right?  If they cannot be applied then they are of little use except maybe for thought games.  There isn’t anything wrong with thought games.”

Isn’t there a period after a theory has been proposed that the observer should just watch?  As the Bible recommends, “Watch and Pray.”  I don’t to use the Bible in any evangelical sense, but there is a lot of wisdom in it, no?

One serious instance where the work of God was invoked was in Hurricane Katrina.  The Southern Evangelical observers saw it as an act of God to punish New Orleans for its wickedness.  That doesn’t offer much in the sense of enlightenment other than some believers have gone insane.
On the other hand, think tank social scientists predicted that if an event such as Katrina occurred that the people would devolve into chaos and bedlam.  Well, that didn’t happen either despite what the MSM projected through its outlets.
Sticking with the Bible because it is all I really have any knowledge at all about, one of the synonyms for God is Principle.  Does not that stake a claim to its being scientific and that an observer can watch, work, and pray and hope to see some outcome that falls in line with this Principle?  Hope is also in line with Christian theology, right?

One thought exercise I found interesting and a little disquieting was to imagine that if God were to appear in the flesh today, how would I describe him.  The Israelites at the time of Jesus had hoped for a Christ as a leader, a super soldier who would lead them out from under Roman Tyranny.

I found that today’s Christ, as defined by me, would also have those traits (SuperMan, the Lone Ranger, except She or he is always around.  He/She would never have to ride in too late.) This God/Man would also have all the characteristics that I aspire to.  That’s where my whole notion of a Christ, or a personal God, collapsed in on itself.  I need to do more work (observation).

I agree with you about Jane Goodall and Koko.  I went to a Zoo a few years ago.  I stopped at the Apes.  I had hoped to make some sort of visual connection.  The ape looked at me.  I looked at the ape.  The ape turned in contempt and went back inside.

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By Shenonymous, December 19, 2009 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment

The only way to test a seemingly untestable theory is to apply it to real
situations, isn’t that right?  If they cannot be applied then they are of little use
except maybe for thought games.  There isn’t anything wrong with thought
games.  It is just that for the most part they are not useful for understanding
reality.  There could be a kernel of truth useful for understanding reality but it
is just a kernel.  Maybe because of the complex nature of reality, it might be
better to go at it a kernel at a time?  Maybe that is what we humans are doing
given our limited existence with respect to the vast universe?  It is the kind of
stuff poets write about, and artists illustrate otherwise.  I liked the gorilla
poster as I am a fan of Koko and Jane Goodall is one of my heroes.  But I like
your orangutan edition better too.

I don’t think there is a time constraint on any scientific theory.  Science
notoriously claims that all of its theories, premises, conclusions and all are
always laid on the carpet of disprovability.  That is why whatever conclusions it
comes to are usually well-tested for probability of the possibilities.  Difficulty
with problems are by degrees.  Some are more difficult than others to
comprehend coherently.  I trust science over any other possible explanations.

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By garth, December 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment


Apparently, it was a quote by Satchel Paige. The link below is to a Gorilla who says, “Sometimes I sits and thinks.”
I prefer the Orangutan and the complete quote.

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By garth, December 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

I don’t feel like the type of person who’d be delighted, but I find your posts delightful as well as informative, entertaining and, last but not least, challenging.
I read your posts, and after my first response, I find that I need more time to think about what I think and what I will write.  Maybe that’s why you encounter so many hit-and-run TDers?
I feel rewarded by the challenge, and if I fail to respond I’ve come to end of the line, wits end.
Thanks for the trash bag offer, though.  I am halfway through a box I bought at Costco.  I shall not be obsequious to you again.

“If a premise is not testable then there are inherent problems that then have to do with believability.”

Isn’t that the problem with that new math form?  No one has been able to think of any experiments to test it.  And wasn’t one of Einstein’s theories ultimately proved just recently. I mean within the last 10 or 15 years.

“If disbelief enters into a dogmatic system, it usually spells doom for that system.  Don’t you think?  Take your time, walk don’t run.  There is no rush.”
I can agree right away with this one.  For example, as soon as I started questioning dogma about my adopted religion, Catholocism, it was Katie bar the door.  It took time to escape the emotional ties, but the disbelief could be rearranged.  I think that one of the reasons was that the symbolic messages were inaccessible.  Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ and so on.
Also, for a fifteen year old teenager trying to get his sex life off the ground, I decided that religion was a lot like TV:  If you don’t like what’s on change the station or go out and do something.

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By Shenonymous, December 19, 2009 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment

I don’t think your thoughts are thoroughly rubbish, garth, not in the least.
Quite the opposite.  You show yourself to be a remarkable thinker!  But if you
don’t think so, I have some kitchen trash bags I can sell for a small fee.  Just
making light of perhaps a more serious thing, it is the season.  To put it into
context, it was questioned if we had not deserted the topic of the forum and
were onto maybe more esoteric discussion (my characterization) that didn’t
have anything to do with the article.  You and I were bandying about the
Cartesian problem of whether there is or is not an objective reality and I simply
wondered what the consequences would be if it was the case that there was no
objective world based on your “alternative.”  Sometimes discussing such ideas
do require much thought and dialogue either with oneself or with others. 
Dialoging with oneself can present problems that solipsism addresses.  That
leads to the next question then of what are the consequences if reality was only
in one’s subjective head?  You didn’t say what the content of the Year End
Letter was even though you had some kind of epiphany about it so neither I nor
anyone reading our comments could see what you saw. 

The analogy of the cats is a good one I think.  Dependent on how changes
occur in reality, and dependent on one’s current bank of knowledge to make
sense of those changes in reality, one makes judgments about it.  I completely
agree with the cats, 5 yups worth!  That is my wad of yups for today’s ration. 
Well, loving orangutans, I had to tell someone recently on another forum I was
related to orangutans, they called me one, and I have a soft spot for them, I
wish I had one of those posters.  Not only does it fit my mood sometimes but a
few friends as well.  We are all orangutans under the skin. No?

My thoughts on the math model:  regardless of what abstract model is used,
math, logic, the scientific method, brainstorming, etc., whether for sorting out
reality, morals, justice, truth, beauty, or the good, at some point it has to be
applied to the real, to actuality, to life.  It wouldn’t have any value otherwise. 
The abstract model is only a schematic for thinking in a coherent matter, trying
not to let any loose end come up and bite you on your nonabstract ass, and
does not prove one thing, at all, about the topic of thought.  One simply has to
set some guiding principles and see what happens when elements are plugged
in.  Seems like the idea of order is very important in sorting out what is true or
not. Then testing whatever premises are there.  I think that is what Tom Edgars
was saying.  If a premise is not testable then there are inherent problems that
then have to do with believability.  If disbelief enters into a dogmatic system, it
usually spells doom for that system.  Don’t you think?  Take your time, walk
don’t run.  There is no rush.

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By garth, December 19, 2009 at 11:42 am Link to this comment


I am running to try to catch up, and therfore, maybe grasping at notions that try to hard. You said:
“...our slight detour into objective/subjective has
little to do with Armstrong and her case for God.  I think it has all to do with it since if it is all subjective, then even the notion of god must be as well.  The big question then rears its ugly head of whose subjectivity is the real one?  Yours or
I say:
I had a feeling that your response would be something along those lines.  I do not have a direct philosophically sound answer, other than I’ve noticed that a lot philosophical arguments start out with propositions like the one I cited, but then fall apart soon afterwards in the supporting logic.  They, the arguments, seem to want to be mathematical in nature, but the ensuing steps and the conclusions arrive at a point that is deeply influenced by human beliefs or feelings. 
These issues, however, can be more than just a rose is a rose is a rose, and can possibly help arrive at some measure of agreement on some of the vital issues of the day, like Women’s Right to Privacy, Gay Marriage, etc.
I think another problem is that I started out with a conclusion in mind and tried to work towards that end from the propostion e.g. all is Subjective, instead of following sound reassoning.
One thing does come to mind, however, that might lend some answer (after a fashion) to your question as whose subjective is right.
A few years ago I read a Year End Letter that a friend of mine received from a well-to-do customer he dealt with.  I never heard of or read anything like that letter.  For that matter, I was brought up a heathen and Christmas gifts for children.  If you asked me who Jesus was, I’d have answered quickly and without a doubt, He’s the son of God, but that’s as much as I knew.
The odd thing about this Year End Letter was that even though it was about people whom I’d never met from a strata of society that I never met, I knew what the spirit of the Letter was.  Something went off in my head that said, “Oh, I see.  This is how it works.”
Like my cats, one old one and two newly adopted.  The newcomers spent the first 8 weeks of their lives in a bin in the basement of a tenement.  Now that they’ve adapted to their new home, I project on them such thoughts as, “Oh, we get it.  Cats are born in a dark bin to a mother from whom they suckle, and then they move on to another cat who serves as a surrogate.”
The point I am wearily trying to make is that truths or the Truth might lie beneath a thin surface and sometimes we get it and sometimes we don’t.
I trust you’ll find these thoughts to be thoroughly rubbish, but they are my thoughts.  And as the Orangutan in the old poster says, “Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits.”

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By Shenonymous, December 19, 2009 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

Perhaps, DaveZx3.  I often feel the breeze from hanging out, but I disagree
with you, knowing the Allegory of the Cave quite well. 

And you shall have to show that I was “Not up to [my] usual effort.  Left
[myself] hanging out there on too many bogus assertions.”
  You aren’t just a
hit and run artist are you?

There is an inherent contradiction in your statement.  If you have never seen
reality (using the sense of seeing in a metaphoric way, right, to mean seeing
with the mind?), and if because of that you have “absolutely” no idea what it is,
then even if an allegory smacked you to hell and back, you would not be able
to recognize it for any relationship to truth.

Therefore, while your capitalized statement cannot be refuted, that if you have
never seen reality, you would not know you bumped into it even if you ran into
it head-on, it is useless to use an allegory to find a way to the truth of reality. 
But, allowing that some glimpse of reality has been had at one time in one’s
history that allows recognition of it, the isomorphism of an allegory is only one
possible path. 

Only a fool thinks there is one and only one way to truth.  There are other ways
of seeking truth.  The seeds of truth that might be found in allegory need to be
recognized as such and to recognize means to re-cognize.  That is, cognizing
once again.  To cognize once again means one had run into the truth before. 
Plato might have had a point in his theory of recollection (Anamnesis), but that
would have to be examined as well and would take us on a long digression. 
But if you would like, I am willing. 

A likeness is not the thing itself.  Look in the mirror and you would see a
likeness, but that image in the mirror is a reflection.  The reflection is not you,
nor is the mirror.  The allegory acts as a reflection on similarity.  If it leads to a
truth then it can be called verisimilitude. Not all allegories are “truthful” ones,
meaning because they are representative they can be fabricated based on false
knowledge, i.e., ignorance.  The allegories in the bible may be useful for a
society to develop a set of morals, but that very same book gives allegories
that are destructive in instruction.  The etymology of the Christian Bible,
meaning its evolution, is checkered and debatable as to not only investigation
of each of the stories but whether those stories had any political value for the
constructionists at the time it was put together. It is not a book that was
written all at one time.  It was assembled by a committee formed by
Constantine, known as the Council of Nicea, taking the Hebrew Torah as the
Old Testament, which itself underwent some translations. Some books written
were included, some were not!  Many versions of the Chrsitian Bible have been
created since that time.  There are eight primary versions beginning with the
Septuagint in 250 C.E. and was written in Greek, with a new version being
planned for publication in 2025.  There are presently 2,454 versions that have
been translated into all the languages found on earth.  Each translation is a
little bit different from any other due to definition descrepancy.  Regardless of
translation, which version is THE VERSION, DaveZx3?

Aristotle said each man has a little bit of the truth.  The trick is to put all the
little bits together and know that the whole is the whole truth, and that no part
is missing.  One would have to recognize the truth to be able to point to it and
say, “That’s it!”  What is your method of doing that?

So sorry for the previous double post.  Mannn, sometimes TD does one in

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By DaveZx3, December 19, 2009 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, December 19 at 11:28 am #

Not up to your usual effort.  Left yourself hanging out there on too many bogus assertions.

I only have time to attack one right now.  Will maybe get tomorrow early am depending on the weather. 

Allegory can reveal truth.  Read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.  The truth it reveals is this:


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By Shenonymous, December 19, 2009 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

Just as guns don’t kill men, men kill men, religion is not the cause of war, men
are the cause of war.  Men who prostitute their religion for power and greed.  It
has always been that way, check out your genes, read history. 

Religion is called a cause of war because men who pretend to be religious
make war using their god as the authority to do so.  In that sense they
prostitute their god.  It is blasphemy.  This is not just the god of Abraham, but
is the way is has been since the original time gods were invented.  The god of
Abraham and the wars made in that god’s name is only the modern

Since there is no god in reality, the command to not go to war is not
forthcoming so men think, outrageously, that silence from their god is assent
to go to war, even go so far as to attribute to their god an instruction to attack,
murder, and conquer others not of the faith.  They are fools.  And millions have
gone to their deaths and suffered because of the greed and egomania of fools
and wealth have afforded them their violent psychiatric disorder.  It is
egomania at work, an obsessive preoccupation with one’s self, following
ungoverned impulses, possessing delusions of personal greatness and anger
due to the felt lack of appreciation. 

Humanism is not a religion.  Religion is strictly a strong belief in a supernatural
power.  It is not defined in any other way.  The notion of divinity is involved. 
Humanism does not raise man up as divine but just the opposite, as earthly, as
coming from the earth, rooted in the earth, and returning to the earth. 

Human action is wholly dependent on human thinking.  And human thinking is
faulty and accepts false ideas as truth.  Some humans seek the truth but many
more do not.  Those who seek the truth know it is fleeting and not easily
gained.  Truth is the driver of all knowledge and arbiter.  There is no formula
for possessing truth.  It must actively be sought.

Interpretation of allegory is subjective and subjective means strictly personal, it
is idiosyncratic.  There is no truth revealed even in allegory.  There is alleged
truth, asserted without proof.  It is an excuse to not face reality as it is.  A story
must be created to explain reality to the simple-minded.  It is not a question of
men loving to invent religions.  They invent them to serve a purpose.  Their
purpose is to allay their death, to mitigate their death, and while alive to exert
the most power over those whom they can.  They use fear and hatred to exert
that power.  God, fear, and hatred become synonymous.  The word hypocrite
means to profess beliefs and opinions not actually held.  They are liars in other
words, so to call people without beliefs liars because they refuse to accept your
interpretation is evidence of a tyrant’s mind.

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By Shenonymous, December 19, 2009 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

Just as guns don’t kill men, men kill men, religion is not the cause of war, men
are the cause of war.  Men who prostitute their religion for power and greed.  It
has always been that way, check out your genes, read history. 

Religion is called a cause of war because men who pretend to be religious
make war using their god as the authority to do so.  In that sense they
prostitute their god.  It is blasphemy.  This is not just the god of Abraham, but
is the way is has been since the original time gods were invented.  The god of
Abraham and the wars made in that god’s name is only the modern

Since there is no god in reality, the command to not go to war is not
forthcoming so men think, outrageously, that silence from their god is assent
to go to war, even go so far as to attribute to their god an instruction to attack,
murder, and conquer others not of the faith.  They are fools.  And millions have
gone to their deaths and suffered because of the greed and egomania of fools
and wealth have afforded them their violent psychiatric disorder.  It is
egomania at work, an obsessive preoccupation with one’s self, following
ungoverned impulses, possessing delusions of personal greatness and anger
due to the felt lack of appreciation. 

Humanism is not a religion.  Religion is strictly a strong belief in a supernatural
power.  It is not defined in any other way.  The notion of divinity is involved. 
Humanism does not raise man up as divine but just the opposite, as earthly, as
coming from the earth, rooted in the earth, and returning to the earth. 

Human action is wholly dependent on human thinking.  And human thinking is
faulty and accepts false ideas as truth.  Some humans seek the truth but many
more do not.  Those who seek the truth know it is fleeting and not easily
gained.  Truth is the driver of all knowledge and arbiter.  There is no formula
for possessing truth.  It must actively be sought.

Interpretation of allegory is subjective and subjective means strictly personal, it
is idiosyncratic.  There is no truth revealed even in allegory.  There is alleged
truth, asserted without proof.  It is an excuse to not face reality as it is.  A story
must be created to explain reality to the simple-minded.  It is not a question of
men loving to invent religions.  They invent them to serve a purpose.  Their
purpose is to allay their death, to mitigate their death, and while alive to exert
the most power over those whom they can.  They use fear and hatred to exert
that power.  God, fear, and hatred become synonymous.  The word hypocrite
means to profess beliefs and opinions not actually held.  They are liars in other
words, so to call people without beliefs liars because they refuse to accept your
interpretation is evidence of a tyrant’ mind.

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By DaveZx3, December 19, 2009 at 12:56 am Link to this comment


1.  Re: adam and eve.  Allegory is sometimes an effective way to reveal complex truth. 

2.  Re: “Humanists don’t have a God to put themselves above”  Everyone has a god or gods, if it is not they themselves.  “a thing, being or idea, revered as supreme” 

3 Re:  “warring religious zealots”  You are using all very subjective words here.  Regarding humanism, does it need a name to exist?  Did the planets exist before man named them?  Humanism is as old as man, and it declares “worthy of death” that which it may.

The fact/idea of abortion: that one insignificant, near-conscious life can be exterminated for the good or whim of the slightly more significant, more conscious life is analogous to many wars which have been fought, rightly or wrongly, following the implied direction of god, gods, humans, whoever. 

But within the teachings of Christ, show me where it is taught to go to war.  War is fought by following different versions of anti-Christ teachings, of which I do not need to state the source.

Humans often choose to kill that which is inconvenient, but that is not in the commandments. 

Re:  “especially when the highly implausible stories are always Christian based as if it was the only religion, and there was only one God.  I mean even the Bible says there are more than one God”

I have admitted on many occasions that men love to invent religions and define god according to how they would want him.  The bible admits that man loves to invent religions and gods.  (One for each day of the week). 

And the corporation has a lot of vice presidents, but there is only one Chairman of the Board.  Some employees don’t believe he exists, because they don’t see him walking on the factory floor.  They won’t take the word of thousands upon thousands of others who have “seen” or experienced him, but deny based on their own self will and determination.  What a pathetic reason to deny something.  It is really anti-logic.

It is also anti-Humanism, if you define Humanism as “helping humanity”.  If millions of people need God to get through the night, then why do you work so hard to tear God out of their reality?  what would you replace him with? 

Plenty of atheists and Humanists want their drugs, their booze, and their pornography, and wars have been raging over that stuff as well, but the atheist must deny the “Comforter” of the believer, as though that is much more dangerous thing than the drugs, et al.

Your positions are all hypocritical to the utmost.

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By Tom Edgar, December 18, 2009 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment

I find it very difficult to debate someone who believes in such childish notions as two naked people and a talking snake in a garden with an apple containing knowledge. Come on are you for real or just having a laugh?

Humanists putting are those who put humanity above Gog.? Humanists don’t have a God to put themselves above.

You claim to be able to explain how in your definition of humanism they caused wars. Yet you wouldn’t address my observation that both that term and atheism didn’t exist before the 1800s. As a concept it could well be, but only to very few individuals who would have been vastly outnumbered by the warring religious zealots.

I can’t see how atheism can be boring there isn’t much to it to be bored by.  No verifiable evidence for a God. ergo No such thing. Too little involved for which to be bored.

The ridiculous interminable arguments to the contrary without any substantiating
or supportive evidence.  Now that can be boring, specially when the same old cliched arguments are repetitively trotted out, and especially when the highly implausible stories are always Christian based as if it was the only religion, and there was only one God.  I mean even the Bible says there are more than one God.

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By DaveZx3, December 18, 2009 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment

Yes, if humanism is your ideal, human action is your reality.

If God is the ideal, human action is still the reality.

My point is, for the umpteenth time, that human action is the reality which destroys all ideals.

On the one hand, the human has declared himself in charge, and he has invented humanism to lend some pseudo-credibility to the idea that it is all for altruistic reasons.  But then reality sets in, and the cover ups and the lying must commence. 

On the other hand, the human has declared his (lower case) god to be in charge, and he writes great documents to lend some pseudo-credibility to the idea that it is all for altruistic reasons.  But then reality sets in, and the cover up and the lying must commence.

And then there are the teachings of Christ, which no one follows, as declared by Christ himself “no, not one”, yet it is judged to be the cause of war.

No, it is humans, including all their false gods, false philosphies, false religions, false altruisms, false love, false charity, and blasphemous denial of it all, who are, along with the (lower case) god of this world, the cause of war and all other evil.

Always have been, always will be.  Evil does not evolve into good.  Evil is like cancer in the body, it must be destroyed for the body to survive.  But if you don’t admit you have cancer, or you don’t recognize cancer, then cancer wins. 

Since humanism is in the denial stage, the prognosis is not good.

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By Night-Gaunt, December 18, 2009 at 10:30 pm Link to this comment

You seem to have a problem seeing the difference between human action and humanism. Humanism is Mutual Aid not anything else. As for the myth of Adam & Eve well they did get the god-like power to discern good from evil on their own, didn’t they? Too bad they missed the fruit of immortality. But then we could do it ourselves if we don’t exterminate ourselves first. We must pass this crisis point one way or the other. Though the 3rd option is back to the Stone Age.

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By DaveZx3, December 18, 2009 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, December 18 at 5:13 pm #

“Humanism is the cause of war, bigotry and hate, not the solution for it.”-DaveZx3

“Where do you get that abomination? How can Humanism—people come first to aid and help them and work together be so bad?” - Night Gaunt

As with any word, definitions may differ, but I am relating to Humanism as “the denial of any power or moral value superior to that of humanity”

Assuming we agree on the definition above, I can explain my statement regarding humanism and war.

I see that statement “religion is the cause of war” go unchallenged on TD regularly.  A rhetorical, bigoted, prejudiced statement goes unchallenged because it fits the agenda. 

As I have stated on many occasions, there are many levels of religion, and the godly subject of the religion does not have to be the God of Abraham.  Humanism is a religion where humanity is the supreme being.  Some religions have Satan as the supreme being.  The list could go on and on.

Next is whether or not the people of the religion actually believe enough in thir chosen supreme being to attribute “real power” to that being.  In the teachings of Christ, it denounces the majority of “believers” who “have a form of godliness, but deny the power of God”.  There are distinctions amongst the Humanists who believe or don’t believe that mankind has certain moral imperatives or powers. 

Groups of people have diverse documents proclaiming gods of every sort, some with great power, others with very little power.  Do the people actually follow the tenets of their chosen religion, and do they defer their will to the will of their chosen god, and to what extent?

So it is very complex this idea of religion.  Thus A statement that says “religion is the cause of war” is a stupid, bigoted, vague statement.  As is “humanism is the cause of war” 

But within each and every belief system, religion, culture, whatever you want to call it, there is an element which declares:

“I/we know truth; I/we have been given or have taken power; I/we have been given or have taken resources, to use them as I/we see fit; I/we are the supreme collective being, having been given or taken the power to declare the (minority/other groups) expendable or of no consequence”.  This is tyranny, and if the I/we are humans, Humanism.

Wherever this type of tyranny can be directly attributed to the formal teaching of any religious system, (this teaching being diligently followed by the members of that religious system), then you can blame that system for manifesting the (evil?) of their system and the (evil?) of their so-called god.

But if the members of any religious system do not diligently follow the teachings of their documented system, and follow their own will, rather than the will of their chosen system and their chosen god, then you cannot blame the system or the god for the manifestations of (evil?) which ensue from these human(ists). 

In fact, these individuals/humans have adopted a higher god, which is themselves, to wield the power of their organization.  So, no matter what else is seen in a cursory examination of this organization, it is a humanist organization, with no higher authority than humanity, with their god sitting in seat #2.

Humanism is not exclusive of a god, it just places humanity above any other god.  These things are very evident in the world today. 

In the Garden, Eve was seduced by the Serpent telling her that it was o.k. to eat from the tree of “knowledge of Good and Evil”  (ie: to be able to make judgements, to be like God or to be God)  Eve believed the serpent, and the idea of humanism was born.  Nimrod building the tower was another humanistic endeavor.  My favorite is the story of the “virtuous women” of Proverbs, which I have found no one to understand who that women really is. 

The Pope wears a hat with the words “Vicar of Christ”  This is humanist, as is that whole organization.  God is #2.

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By Night-Gaunt, December 18, 2009 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

“Humanism is the cause of war, bigotry and hate, not the solution for it.”-DaveZx3

Where do you get that abomination? How can Humanism—people come first to aid and help them and work together be so bad? Despots do not have humanism they have murder, torture, pain and fear as tools. Only someone lost in the ether would ignore and belittle those of us on planet earth among the “materialism” you find so offensive. That is destructive of the living, the flesh, the carnal like myself—-like most of us. (There are a few a-sexuals out there that have no interest in sex at all.)

Perception is reality for us even if it isn’t complete it is enough for us to survive. That is the point of all this isn’t it Tom? From what we perceive is how we will act. Hence behavior within an environment. It is in fact relevant.

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By Shenonymous, December 17, 2009 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

I am enjoying your humor more and more garth.  You are willing I see to put
more into discussion than the average TDer!  From my perspective, that is
admirable and bold given the usual hit and run artists that populate the

Tom does not seem to think our slight detour into objective/subjective has
little to do with Armstrong and her case for God.  I think it has all to do with it
since if it is all subjective, then even the notion of god must be as well.  The big
question then rears its ugly head of whose subjectivity is the real one?  Yours or
mine?  For instance, your alternative is provocative at least to tweeking my
interest (and garth, Feynman would say, What Do You Care What Others Think?
the name of one of his books, and yes, I know, I promised I would not bring his
name into the discussion, yikes, I lied).  What is it then about reality if as you
speculated there is no Objective, per se?  I would have to ask, what is this
experiential world, then, in which all things are active agents, and what is even
meant by ‘active?’  Does the rose grow within one’s own head? But if not, you
say “provided, they are maintained,” and I would ask maintained by whom? 
Oneself or a gardner? Is there some homunculus tending roses in the mind?  I
know someone tending to 160 rose bushes as we speak.  For some reason, I
don’t feel it is me doing that.  If Observer-Us were being watched, in what
sense, then, without eyes could what is watching actually watch?  Not really a
question of semantics, but puzzling nevertheless.  The observation of the

Please extend my happy holiday wishes to your wife, garth, and tell her how
sweet she really is, wise and bright as well, to put up with your antics.  I hope
you have a lovely present for her.  BTW:  no reason to snipe at Tom.  He is for
the most part a very clear thinker, has longevity on his side, even if he is a bit

Tom, for myself I think there is still much to be discussed about the Armstrong
book.  For instance, what are those finer points of theology about which
Armstrong complains that the new atheists are incompetent?  It seems those
who defend theology do not provide adequate details and a lot of religious
prancing goes on.  How shall we take her thesis that the bible and other “holy”
texts are not to be nor were ever meant to be read literally?  Was Jollimore way
off beam in his analysis of her book?  If so, exactly where and are these points
worthy of discussion?  Personifying through a metaphor, I call the appearance
of evil in the world da debble, must be the difference between an American and
an Australian.  Now there is no reason to call garth names.  His observations
are charming for the most part when he isn’t air-gunning at commenters.  His
youth might be an impediment for wisdom, but heck he read and understood
to some degree, Rene Descartes!  So he kaint be all bad.  I predict he will grow
like those roses.

christian96, could we call those she-lectrons?  You conceded a bit on the
gender dispute!  Very courageous!  Could it be there is some middle ground
where the twain could meet?  That made my day!

I’ll have to catchup on DaveZ on the next round.

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By DaveZx3, December 17, 2009 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

I did not mean to infer that Brown Mountain was in Houston.  That is the Continental airlines hub that my son is based out of.  Meeting there because it’s easier to get a non-rev flight out to North Carolina.  You get criticized for making errors like that on Truthdig, so have to correct them quick.

Tom,  I didn’t mean to be harsh, but just want to make it clear that I do mean everything I say, but do not put any particular structure to it.  I freewheel a lot.  I apologize to all if I don’t stick to the subject.  I don’t feel any need to convert anyone.  I just stick up for what I know.

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By DaveZx3, December 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

Tom Edgar, December 17 at 5:42 pm #

“Am I right in thinking that this site is not so much interested in discussing the rights and wrongs of Karen Armstrong’s Book or beliefs but has deteriorated or,maybe, elevated itself into a gabfest, with the emphasis of trying to outdo, belittle, denigrate each other using terminology and philosophical ponderings to impress others or even one’s self”


“I find quotations from the Bible, as if it was the only holy book in this world, utterly boring.  This is done ad nauseum by Christians everywhere and is, if not totally, certainly & largely irrelevant when discussing atheism”



“Maybe I’m being too simple minded to feel that a debate should be going somewhere, searching for truisms, or actually remaining on the track”


As much as it is amusing to match point and counterpoint with polysyllabic, philosophical profundities, does it really accomplish anything, apart from personal aggrandaisment?


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By Tom Edgar, December 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

Da Debil. another non existent imaginary being.
I was attempting to be a little ironical.

Garth.. Mentally diminished infantile observations.

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By Tom Edgar, December 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

Da Debil. another non existent imaginary being.
I was attempting to be a little ironical.

Garth.. Mentally diminised infantile observations.

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By christian96, December 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

Tom——The devil didn’t make you do it. He(how about
“he” Shenonymous?) put the thought in your head.
Now the choice is up to you.  When I was growing
up in a West Virginia coal mining town we had a song about the union that ask the question “Which side
are you on?”  You had to choose.  The union side or
the coal company?  God vs the Devil is the ultimate
question.  Which side are you on?  If you reject
God then you are on the devil’s side!  I’ve already
accepted as fact that the devil can influence a
person’s thought.  I am now involved with trying
to understand how SHE(ha!) does it.  I am almost
certain it has something to do with “electrons.”

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By garth, December 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

Oh, Tommy!  You just want to be the teacher’s pet.
Now, sit down and shut up! 
And stop picking your nose and eating it or I’ll tell your mother.

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By Tom Edgar, December 17, 2009 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

She… Am I right in thinking that this site is not so much interested in discussing the rights and wrongs of Karen Armstrong’s Book or beliefs but has deteriorated or,maybe, elevated itself into a gabfest, with the emphasis of trying to outdo, belittle, denigrate each other using terminology and philosophical ponderings to impress others or even one’s self?
I find quotations from the Bible, as if it was the only holy book in this world, utterly boring.  This is done ad nauseum by Christians everywhere and is, if not totally, certainly & largely irrelevant when discussing atheism.

Maybe I’m being too simple minded to feel that a debate should be going somewhere, searching for truisms, or actually remaining on the track. 
As much as it is amusing to match point and counterpoint with polysyllabic, philosophical profundities, does it really accomplish anything, apart from personal aggrandaisment?

Dave.  Humanism is the cause of war etc?
Well that puts paid to the Crusades, The Spanish, English, colonialist aggressions, R C Hitler’s war on Jews, The Sunni and Shiites continuous wars,
then their is G W B’s “Crusade” with its undertones of Fundamentalist Christian justification against
the Iraqis and Afghanis,  add the four hundred year one in Ulster between Mick and Proddy Dog.  The countless wars between Catholic and Protestant in Europe and very definitely Britain.

No all of these are caused by Humanism.  A term, and philosophy, that, from memory, only surfaced in the late eighteen hundreds, along with atheism. No matter like a good Politician let’s apply it retrospectively, or like a Politician, or a God “All the acclaim but none of the blame.” Or the debil made me do it.

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By garth, December 17, 2009 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

“Seems your metaphysical certitude might be a case of solipsism?”
Yes, me and Rene.  As it might be said, “Look what thinkin’ did for him.”
I took a pledge after reading him never to think again.  I hate being alone. 

“Do you not believe in objective beauty? “

Instead, I came up with this alternative:  What if there is no Objective, per se.  That all “things” are active agents in the experiential world.  The rose grows and then gives up the ghost to preapare for the next growth, provided, of course, that they are maintained.  The Observer, as we like to think of ourselves, might be being watched as well, even if it isn’t with eyes that see.

You might say, “What about the rock, the stone, the less than senseless thing?”  Well, I had a Pet Rock, and I had to draw the line when it started giving me orders.  Too high maintenance.

I, too, love this season.  I don’t really know why, but I think that it helps to collapse my thought in on themselves, and I can contemplate my cuticles, my hair style, etc.  {jk}

Your insight as to the state of my marriage was enjoyable to read.  She, I think, thinks that I am nuts for spending time on Truthdig.  I know, however, that I would never run into people like you and so many others if it weren’t for the Internet and Truthdig.

With your rebuttals and gnawing philosohical quetions, I have come to point where I don’t know what “Believe” means.

Thank you.

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By DaveZx3, December 16, 2009 at 10:31 pm Link to this comment

Part 1

Night-Gaunt, December 17 at 2:30 am

“I’m better & saner than you” is just as destructive. the need for humility and humanism needs to be forefront for us all”

Humanism is the cause of war, bigotry and hate, not the solution for it.  You can show me any evidence in the teaching of Christ where hate and bigotry are professed.  It is through spiritual truth that peace and truth will be manifest, not through the workings of humanism, which is progressing in the wrong direction, obviously.

Most people are foolish and ignorant of spiritual truth, having eyes that do not see it and ears that do not hear it. This was written somewhwere in the bible. 

They that are after the things of man (carnal) do the things of man,  but they that are after God (spiritual) do the things of God.    But as it is written, “to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be.”

We are told that although the making of many BOOKS is an endless process, and much STUDY is a weariness of the flesh, there is a source of spiritual knowledge which is readily available.  As the prophet Daniel summed it up, “I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes”

Also, King Solomon understood the source and methods of spiritual understanding.  He prayed that he might have spiritual discernment, as noted in 1 Kings.  And it is written that God responded,  “Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment”  that Solomons prayers were granted, and it became acknowledged that Solomon was one of the wisest men ever to live.

Now in the true church, there are those with the gift of “spiritual discernment”.  These are truly people of God who can proclaim,  “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error”  They proclaim the God, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

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By DaveZx3, December 16, 2009 at 10:29 pm Link to this comment

Part 2.

These are NOT people of endless books and study proclaiming the fickle wisdom of intellectualism and the humanistic wisdom of this world, which is foolishness with God. 

These are people who receive wisdom and knowledge in the way of Daniel.  Prayer and fasting.

And as Garth stated, “no one understands how, but it works”    And I will add that the people of books and study are certainly free to get their knowledge and wisdom from books and study, and I will continue to get my wisdom and knowledge by Daniel’s way. 

And I will add lastly, that as more and more fall further away from the spiritual wisdom and knowledge of God, life and peace will continously evade the societies of men.  When I was young, we said the Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance in homeroom before school.  At that time, violence
in school was almost non-existent.  Now many schools resemble war zones, where death is a constant thought in the minds of many.  Of course I would never infer that removing God from public school could lead to a break down of the relative peace which reigned previously. 

All who would remove God from society, sending kids home from school because they draw a crucifixion picture for Christmas, should be aware that peace and love and life are not what follows.  And if I show a certain anger towards these people, it is because I am evaluating their right to change all of society because of their own inability to comprehend spiritual truth and why they are so offended by Jesus Christ,  who preached love, grace, charity, peace and doing good for your enemy, in addition to many other peacful concepts. 

Atheist ideas are progressing in society, and in my opinion, society is not the better off for it.  Was society perfect in the past?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  Was righteousness perfect in the past?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  But as righteousness increases peace and life increase.  As righteousness decreases, war and death increases. 

It has been said “know them by their fruits”.  If it be an evil thing, war, death, anger, hatred, bigotry, etc will follow.  If it be of Christ, it will follow the teachings of Christ: tolerance, peace, love, faith, grace, forgiveness, etc. 

You can know where you are headed by which of these are manifest in you or your society. 

I think I can see where wee are headed, and I must say that we should prepare for an outrageous increase in war and death.  It is not cynical or pessimistic, because I have already provided the most reasonable alternative, and this has nothing to do with being better or saner, it is just truth, as unpopular as it is to the humanist.  so please provide the humanist solution.

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By Night-Gaunt, December 16, 2009 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment

Here is a somewhat simpler differentiation Psychologists have only a Ph.D whereas psychiatrists must have a Ph.D and M.D. [Here is a disclosure I saw a psychiatrist because my mom had a bad divorce and her 2nd one too in the 1970’s. I don’t know if it did any good or was worthwhile for me.]

I recommend reading the Bible, and any others and then dissect and analyze them for brutality and other forms of human despotism against women & anyone else we would find barbaric. It would help in defusing its power. Reducing the sexism in the Bible is about as useful as taking out the anti-Judaism in “Mein Kampf”—it will be false and won’t fit the reality.

We must stop perpetuating these hatreds and “I am better than you for you will go to Hell forever” kind of ideas that logically flow from being changed even though admonished not to. The secular can make that mistake too—-it is wrong and produce the same outcomes. That is why I, am Atheist, do not like how those who promote “I’m better & saner than you” is just as destructive. the need for humility and humanism needs to be forefront for us all. Without it we just get monsters destroying all in their way—the bomb or shotgun in a crowded elevator to take out your opponent and don’t care about the “collateral damage” i.e. the innocent. That must end. Who needs ragtag terrorist groups when you have a country like ours spending billions on weapons that kill millions? And they aren’t called terrorists either no matter what they do to others weaker than themselves!

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By Shenonymous, December 16, 2009 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment

Tom, the wise philosopher will follow an idea wherever it goes.  You tire too
easily of our digressions.  For my part, you may have the last word on the
“unproductive obsession.”  We sometimes love to drift into other realms of the
mind.  The meander doesn’t bother me.  It is sort of like free association and
makes for some very interesting discussion.  It keeps us on our toes,... well
electronic toes.

Why garth, I believe you are a romantic and your wife is happy.  I find it nice to
think so anyway.  Seems your metaphysical certitude might be a case of
solipsism?  Do you not believe in objective beauty?  Happy holidays back to
you.  I celebrate solstice, and I find the practice of gift giving very pleasant. 
Friends and family and I are very much into it.  We think it is an expression of
love, an irrational emotion, but we go with it anyway. 

You might be on to something there shemp333.  Would you recommend a
book?  Do we really kill people who work on Sundays?  I know some who do
break their butts working on Sundays, but I don’t know anyone who was killed! 
And I don’t know anyone who was killed for cursing their parents either.  Heck
teenagers do it all the time.

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By garth, December 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment


“garth, since you are a man I won’t dispute what you say about your god and why men find the primary and secondary sex attributes of a woman appealing. 
About having the greater range of things that appeal to them, ahem, weak and provincial answer.  I find many men objects of great appeal and for a variety of reasons, but particularly if they have integrity.  I hold the same value for integrity in women as well.  That is a rare quality in the human species.  There are particular looks I find attractive.  Attraction is a function of evolution and genetic maneuvering all geared for survival of the species, not the individual. 
As in male peacocks and their fine feathering.  If there is a god as you believe, I think he made a mistake in making human women the ones who have to pretend to beauty.  In most species it is the male who has to show off physically.  Except for black widows.  Yikes.  Nature certainly didn’t do the males much of a favor there.”
As I said, my entry needed more thought, if not to be junked all together.  As I read your reply, though, my peacock’s plumage was getting all colorful and feathered, that is until I read your addition about the black widow. I still need more time in answering your previous post.  Maybe, I need more time in responding to all of them.
My first reaction, though, is to fall into the dichotomy of human experience and say I agree with you.
However, I do resist because the existince of metaphysical certitude still looms large in my life experience—that all that really exists, exists in thought first.  The evidence to cosmic, scientific reality begins with thought.  The beauty of a rose is true primarily in the mind of the observer.  (Don’t tell me I just typed that.)
Happy Holidays!

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By shemp333, December 16, 2009 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment

But the bible says!  BLAH BLAH BLA…  and then the bible says!  Blow Blah Blah… and THEN…  Woo Hoo HOOO!!!  and then…..!!!

  You should pick up a book with some sense of internal consistency and a bit more knowledge than why we kill people who work on Sundays or curse their parents.  We,  as a species, have learned a few things since the Bronze Age…

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By Tom Edgar, December 16, 2009 at 3:42 pm Link to this comment

Couldf I bring this unproductive obsession with gender attribution to a close?  It is self evident why women do not object to the attribution of the male gender to the devil/Satan. ( a non existent entity).The male is invariably over qualified for this title.

I don’t understand why God(another non existent entity) is not a she.  Usually, I have found, the female is more likely to have the qualities to qualify than any man

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By Shenonymous, December 16, 2009 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment

All my enemies are electronic and I have none in flesh life.  Least not that I
know of, and if I don’t know them then ostensibly they don’t exist, at least in
my consciousness.  So no presents needed there.  The better question might
be, would I buy a present for my flesh life enemies?  Nope!  I do not turn
the other cheek, I am not a Christian (most Christians I know would not either
btw, but that is irrelevant).  I do not love my enemies.  I think they are idiots.

For the enemies on the Internet, and I have plenty of those, who would do me
in if they could, and try to as electronic ghosts, but as you see, ah em still
heah.  I do give them presents all the time, the gift of my thoughts.  My
centrist thoughts, and I am hated by both leftists and rightists for it.  So well,
as Kurt Vonnegut said, and so it goes.

While it is a fine plan to require Child Development and Family Relations in
high school, as it would be information based and support outside of school
behavior, that does not spell out the prevention of violence against women.

Since there is evidence of violence in the bible both OT and NT, it is not the
best reference book on prevention of violence against women.  You answered
what you ‘would’ do, christian96, not what you actually do to stop violence
against women.  Much violence exists in the world today, perhaps you are not
aware of it, or have not even heard of it?

I know the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.  I have friends
of both persuasions.  Psychologists usually have “clients” not patients, but do
have practices.  Psychiatrists can prescribe medicine and could perform surgery
as they have are licensed medical doctors.  If psychologists used religious
affiliation in his professional activities, I would question his ability to help
bring health to his clients.  That would definitely be a case of projection and
passive coercion.

garth, since you are a man I won’t dispute what you say about your god and
why men find the primary and secondary sex attributes of a woman appealing. 
About having the greater range of things that appeal to them, ahem, weak and
provincial answer.  I find many men objects of great appeal and for a variety of
reasons, but particularly if they have integrity.  I hold the same value for
integrity in women as well.  That is a rare quality in the human species.  There
are particular looks I find attractive.  Attraction is a function of evolution and
genetic maneuvering all geared for survival of the species, not the individual. 
As in male peacocks and their fine feathering.  If there is a god as you believe, I
think he made a mistake in making human women the ones who have to
pretend to beauty.  In most species it is the male who has to show off
physically.  Except for black widows.  Yikes.  Nature certainly didn’t do the
males much of a favor there.

Good old Uncle Al said a lot of things.  There is actually a book of his quotes
and a section on what he said about god, religion, creation and relatively
speaking many other things.  Let’s not drag Al into this conversation he is
prostituted enough.  And I promise not to bring in Richard Feynman.

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By christian96, December 16, 2009 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous—-What would I do to reduce the incidence
of violence against women?  I would require Child
Development and Family Relations courses in high
school curriculum.  They would have to be mandatory
because if offered as electives many of the students
who need them the most would not elect to take them.
Within the Family Relations course would be a unit
on “anger management.”  I am a retired psychologist.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor and can prescribe
medication.  Yes, the teachings in the Bible have
had a large impact on my cognitions.  After studying
the Bible for 32 years I’m well aware of the wisdom
taught there.  I’m in good company..  In a book
entitled “Ideas and Opinions” Albert Einstein made
the comment, “If we would remove all the additions
made by priest over the years to the teachings of
Jesus, we would have teachings which would lay the
foundation for world peace.”  Back to your question
concerning violence against women, I would suggest
people follow the teachings of Jesus.  If we would
love and serve others, especially our enemies, violence among peoples would be greatly reduced.
By the way, did you buy any presents for your

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By garth, December 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment


Eureaka!  I think.

Why do men find the ckeavage and the crack ina woman’s ass so appealing?  Men were given the greater range of things that apeal to them—greater joy.
Women on the other hand are the objects of such appeal.
God in his infinite wisdom created this visual playground.  Hence God must be a Man and his creation reflects manhood.
I have a uneasiness in my decision to click [Submit].  Maybe, this argument needs a little thought.

The story about Joseph Campbell was {jK}.  I have had other issues with him.  Namely, his guidance to a student facing the draft in the Vietnam War.  It seems that ole white-gray-haired Joe held the same beliefs Professor Victor Davis Hanson now holds, he belies that young men could attain virtue through war.

Keep Your Sunny Side Up

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By Tom Edgar, December 16, 2009 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

She. I thought C96 was a Psychologist not a Psychiatrist.  I’m not sure of the American terminology, but to my mind the latter could well have a “Practice” but the former would only be an interpreter of actions, motives, and probable outcomes etc. The latter with elements of religion in his assessment of a patient would be, in my opinion, of doubtful assistance. Whereas the former could well use religious affiliation in his activities.

For all that, with the statements he makes on religion ,and it really does have a reliance on the Bible, I wonder if his belief in Santa Claus and Pixies is just as strong. I’m not being facetious as I do believe one is only an extension of the other, as are all superstitious beliefs.

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By garth, December 16, 2009 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

  I can see the teacher in you.  I’ll have to thimk about that.


And a Merry Meaninglessness

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By Shenonymous, December 16, 2009 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

Of course I’m biased christian96, I am a woman, and one who feels the violence
struck against women since humanity evolved by the male of the species who
have more strength and that is all.  Certainly they do not have more
intelligence!  It is ridiculous to call me out for being a woman!  Your
bigotry is showing, your sexism.  Seducible Eve, eh?  Why didn’t the story have
Adam seduced?  Men are not seducible?  Bull crap.  She sweet talked the idiot
Adam, was that it?  Adam had no mind of his own, is that right?  Bull crap.  You,
my brother need to study the bible much much more.  And do select a better
version than the comic book to which you are referring! As much as you say Eve
did not have to succumb to “Satan’s” temptation, Adam did not have to
succumb to the “seduction” by Eve.  What a lot of crap you try to drench us
with!  Perhaps you are tempted daily by the snares of Satan, but perhaps only
you.  You self-project. 

Defensive? You bet your sweet bippy.  Women have to defend themselves from
misogynists like you who would bend the word of their invented god to keep
them less than second rate human beings.  Instead of quoting the bible how
about thinking for yourself.  Maybe you depend on the bible to do your
thinking for you, you certainly quote it enough.  Do you do that in your practice
also?  Do you treat women?  I can only imagine that you do indeed treat them.

What do you do to stop violence against women?  Answer that if you dare.

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By christian96, December 16, 2009 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous—-You didn’t respond to my question.
“Why do women complain when God is called ‘he’
but do not complain when the devil is called ‘he/”
Your comment “the Bible is a handbook for men” is
so ridiculous I refuse to waste time on it.  The
10th commandment relates to not coveting other
people’s spouse AND property.  Somehow you twisted
that into a woman being a man’s property.  Watch
out.  Your bias is shining through.  If you re-read
my comments you will not find me calling Eve “the
whore who ruined the entire world.”  Eve was seduced
by Satan to be disobedient.  She then talked Adam
into being disobedient.  Then Satan seduced Cain
into killing his brother, Abel.  Since then Satan
and his evil angels have used various snares to
seduce people throughout the world to be disobedient
to God.  The problem was not with Eve.  The problem
was with Satan.  Of course Eve didn’t have to seccumb
to Satan’s temptation.  The same can be said of us
today.  Daily we are tempted by the snares of Satan
to be disobedient to the teachings of God.  In Matthew 6:34 Jesus said, “Take no thought for
tomorrow.  Sufficient unto TODAY is the evil therefof.”  Everyday we will be confronted with
choices that can be harmful or beneficial to
ourselves and others.  The choice is ours. TODAY!
Back to your comments.  You said, “what you want to
believe is how you will interpret it.”  In psychology
that is referred to as the defense mechanism of
“projection.”  You project to others what you are
yourself. Concerning businesses using Santa to
make big bucks, I agree wholeheartedly.

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By Shenonymous, December 16, 2009 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

It looks like, garth, we agree that God is an idea for what else could it be? The
question that is left is whose Idea was it first and if there were many, which
idea is the truth?  Is the idea about something true?  Having had the ordinary
questions in my lifetime, and having given it study and thought, my “lack” of
insight is due to there being no insight to be had that is justified. Whether or
not man was described in Genesis as a generic idea, a paradigm of sorts, it is
extremely interesting that the human is of two sexes, male and female, that
Genesis was overwhelmingly slanted towards a male model.  Could it be that
only men of specific purpose wrote the stories?  That a supernatural being
serves that purpose?  Perhaps you would explain your view of the ultra-
purpose of the Christian movement?  Sorry your experience meeting Campbell
was so unsatisfying.  I don’t vouch for his crankyism.  I thought Darwin proved
evolution.  What I say is merely a shadow of an elaboration.

The witch thing is not a neo-interest of the young.  It is not new.  There is a
whole subculture called goths.  It is centuries old and witch rituals are as
ancient as are humans.  You and I both know witches are an invention, they be
not real!  Nowadays witchculture is a form of teenage rebellion that spills over
into the commercial world as well and these irrational beliefs carry over into
adulthood in very pathological ways.  Surely you know this!?  Mannn does the
commercial world make the moola on goth paraphernalia.  They dye their hair,
put metal things in their faces, tongues, all kinds of very bizarre things, the
clothes couture, make cds and dvds and yes many of them have satanic
ritualistic events.  It is a form of creating a separate society for the rebels.  Why
do they choose the satan figure as their symbol?  Well it is as extreme a
symbol they can imagine to counter the jesus figure that metaphorically
speaking has been rammed down their western throats.  I am surprised that as
a bonafide psychologist you don’t know all this. 

By the way, porn would disappear if men would zip up their godhead in their
minds and in their pants.  Women have been held in bondage and maligned
since the cave.  If you want to argue that one, not only I but millions of women
are ready!  What do you do to stop violence against women?  Obviously from
your special twist on the garden story, you promote it!

If religion returned to its roots, to its basic precepts, its fundamental concepts
of kindness and concern, Care in the Heidegger sense of Sorge, it might
survive.  But people are becoming much too educated to believe the horrid fairy
tales that are told in the bible, or any holy book for that matter (which was one
reason the fabled god of the garden forbade the humans he made to eat of the
tree of knowledge, because knowledge allows one to question and figure out
the truth!)  Oh how sweet, that very god made that dastardly tree for his own
nefarious and selfish reasons!  Come on we all know that.  The bible is one of
the most violent books ever written.  Rebellion against the hypocrisy found in
contemporary religions is happening as people desert religion by the legions. 
Just check the statistics, it is staggering.  It is why the Pope is scrambling for
members in the most bizarre ways.

Believe in a god if you so desire, I even encourage it because there are morals
from a purist perspective that can psychologically control the worst of human
behavior to be had, if and only if the good parts are read and believed and
acted on, but do make it based on something substantial.  Above all don’t try
to shove it down anyone’s throat who resists.  It is militant fanaticism that ruins
and poisons religions.

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By garth, December 16, 2009 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

I, too, had a brief discussion with Joseph Campbell at the NY Museum of Science.  He said, “Get out of my way.”
But your dissertation, if I may call it that, about the gender bias in the bible: I agree with your claims, but I diagree with your lack of insight into the ultra-porpose of the Christian movement. Genesis might have been referring to Man in the generic sense. We have evolved. As you prove.
As I might have mentio earlier, God is an idea.

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By Shenonymous, December 16, 2009 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

Since you weren’t really quoting the bible but sort of comically making
something up about the marriage at Cana bible story, garth (it is a funny
image), I can only think that Jesus, who was a Jew, was being the grand
comedian only Jews can be.  I can just see his upraised hands now. 

Bible literalists always make me laugh.  It is so sexist to use the character of
Eve as the whore who ruined the entire world.  Misogyny right from the
beginning.  And everybody knows these days that the stories of Genesis are
tropes or allegories.  If you want to do an analysis of the Garden, you should
do one where you don’t just select certain features that suit your moment… or
own proclivities.  Your experience at the mall, christian96, is what could be
said as living in the 21st century.  The Santa figure is a very old European
notion that had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus and still has nothing to do
with that.  But then there is no good reason to believe Jesus was born in
December let alone on December 25.  Do your research, psychologist!  Santa
has become an icon for commercialization to sell products.  You can’t fault a
symbol!  Take the wooden cross for instance, or the crucifix of the Catholics. 
How commercial a symbol have they become?  Supposedly part of the
instrument for the death of Jesus?  We cannot forget the holy nails now can we? 
Why not wear nails too?  Or perhaps it was the sword of the Roman soldier who
supposedly struck the crucified Jesus on the left side?  Or wear tokens of
Roman swords, since that was probably the very weapon that launched jesus
into heaven to become the savior of the world, so the story goes.  Crosses are
used to sell every which way kind of thing it can be put on, even selling tattoos! 
I saw a woman on a television commercial selling insurance wearing crosses
hanging from her ears, wearing a cross on a chain around her neck and a
bracelet with a cross on it as well!  Selling insurance,  if you don’t buy
insurance, especially hers, when you are killed in a car accident you will be
banished from heaven!  Good grief get a grip! 

Santa appeals because of the ideas associated with gift giving and people
sentimentally desire to give things as tokens of their affection, or as an act
friendship, or politically as an offer of peace.  These same people want to be
magnanimous, overly expressive and will go to the most extraordinary lengths
to give a gift.  And corporations know that and so should you.  Aren’t they the
modern givers of Trojan horses?  Then there is the icon of the three wise men
who gave gifts that people put up as figurines around their houses, oh and the
entire manger, stable animals, and hanging angels, ought they not all to be
banished if the wise men go?  Your logic or diatribe just doesn’t fit the reality
of what is contained in symbolic meaning.  The verity of the bible is debatable. 
Its morals are not.  What you want to believe is how you will interpret it.  What
is truth is not to be found in anyone’s interpretation. 

You know as well as anybody that Santa sells!  His red suit, his black boots, his
ridiculous hat with a white snowball on the end (which by the way is patterned
after European hats worn in winter), his sparkly eyes, the ho ho ho, the
mysterious way a really fat man can slide down a chimney and back up, and fly
around in a sleigh pulled by even more mysterious beasts that fly.  And
everybody knows Santa is omniscient, like God, knows everything about you,
especially how bad you are!  Give it a laugh as that is all it is worth.  Except to
corporations who push the sympathy and sentimentality buttons, that cleverly
knows the common psychic desire to give. Aren’t we taught from birth it’s
better to give than to receive?  Get rid of gift giving and you will get rid of
Santa in a wink!

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By garth, December 16, 2009 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

“Now I have used the bible to make a point but my points are only mine and can
be interpreted as anyone wishes.  But isn’t God supposed to be a different kind
of entity than the devil?  Isn’t God supposed to be omniscient, omnipotent, and
omni everything else?  The end of all ends, then why put a gender on that? 
That is not a sexist question, just one of distinction. For you wouldn’t wan to
make a mistake about God, now would you?”
She, you make your point eloquently, and as usual, very forcefully.
But consider what Jesus (might have) said to his followers at Cana when he changed water to (drinkable) wine, “Look, I don’t understand it either, but it works.”

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By Shenonymous, December 16, 2009 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

With all due respect, christian96, of course the devil is also considered a he,
how ridiculous to theorize anything else.  Your bible stories says it all.  Let’s try
John 8:44.  And Revelations reeks with references of the devil as a he.  By the
way the bible is a handbook for men, it was written for men by men.  The 10
Commandments were written for men to follow.  The tenth assumes that a
woman is the property of a man, just as are the neighbor’s ox, ass, or anything
that is the neighbors (Exodus 20).  But if there is an argument, then I would say
that the commandment does not admonish women from coveting anything
especially her neighbor’s husband.

Translations create havoc.  For instance, satan in Hebrew means an opponent,
an adversary, an enemy.  In the OT, try 1 Samuel 29:4, 2 Samuel 19:22, and 1
Kings 5:4 and 11:14-23 through 25.  There are more references but you get
the idea.  If there is any continuity between the OT an the NT (for if there isn’t
then the whole notion of the Messiah is in trouble and gets obliterated), there
must be a link between Satanas of the NT i,e., Zechariah 3:1-2 and de old
debble satan in the OT.  The Satan of Ezekiel 28:1 is the man of flesh.  Man of
Flesh, not woman.  There is argument that Satan, the devil, was or was not a
fallen angel.  If so, angels have no sex, are sexless demiurges, messengers of

Now I have used the bible to make a point but my points are only mine and can
be interpreted as anyone wishes.  But isn’t God supposed to be a different kind
of entity than the devil?  Isn’t God supposed to be omniscient, omnipotent, and
omni everything else?  The end of all ends, then why put a gender on that? 
That is not a sexist question, just one of distinction. For you wouldn’t wan to
make a mistake about God, now would you?

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By Tom Edgar, December 15, 2009 at 11:36 pm Link to this comment

I tried to put the k and w on the no.  Damned gremlins.

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By Tom Edgar, December 15, 2009 at 11:34 pm Link to this comment


And YOU think it is the others that are mentally ill?

Little children will eventually grow up and no Santa isn’t real, along with Pixie, Tinkerbell and Peter Pan, then, hopefully, religion.

Some never grow up but even they reject the first lot.

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By christian96, December 15, 2009 at 11:08 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous—-Why do women complain when God is
called “he” but they don’t complain when the devil
is called “he?”
Truth to me is factual or accurate.  Centuries ago people called the earth the center of the galaxy.
Relatively speaking that may have been the truth
to them but it wasn’t factual.  It wasn’t their truth, it was their “perception.”  Illness is the
problem in describing “mental illness” when using
the medical model of illness, meaning having a
physiological relationship.  I’ll give you a personal
example.  Last evening I went to the mall to walk.
After walking I purchased a diet cola and sat near
the water fountain to rest and observe people.  A
common behavior among psychologists.  I looked to
my right and lo and behold there was the scarlet
colored beast sitting on his throne.  Santa Claus!
A long line of parents(in this day and age perhaps
I should say adults) holding the hands of children
waiting to sit on jolly old st. nick’s lap to have
their picture taken and inform the old fat guy of
the presents they want for Christmas.  Now, this
was interesting behavior for a psychologist, especially a Christian psychologist.  The Bible
refers to the devil as “the father of lies.” Well,
for sure, Santa and his reindeers bringing presents
to innocent little children IS A LIE, like in “not
the truth.” An elderly couple walked in front of me.  I hear the woman say, “Look, honey, it’s Santa Claus!”  I had the urge to jump up, get in the lady’s face and yell “There is no Santa Claus.  It’s a lie!”  Restraint prevailed!  I sat there for over 30 minutes watching the circus playout around Santa.  Psychologically, I told myself this was all related to tradition reinforced by great emotion.
However, my Christian training told me I was witnessing the devil himself(notice I didn’t say
“herself”).  Not the old man dressed in a red suit but the spirit behind him.  Now, are the adults
taking the children to Satan(excuse me, I meant Santa) suffering from mental illness?  Perhaps
mentally disturbed but not ill. A Christian would
say “mentally deceived.”  In the Bible Satan is
also referred to as “the great deceiver.”  After
wrestling mentally with Santa I decided to walk
down the mall.  I came upon a stand selling 2010
calendars. I stopped and perused the calendars.
A woman stopped next to me and ask the girl behind the stand “Do you sell any calendars for witches?”  I thought, “Did I hear her correctly?”  After she left I walked over to the girl and ask, “Did that woman ask for calendars for witches?”  Appearing uneasy the girl laughed a nervous laugh and said, “Yes.” In sort of a whisper I said, “I’m a psychologist.  People are really disturbed aren’t they?”  Then, we both shared a laugh.  I didn’t
get into the Christian thing with her.  I was tired and ready to go home.  I got into my car and the first song on the radio was Rudolph The Red Nosed Raindeer.  What can I say?  When I got home I started watching and listening to a preacher on TV.  He was boring.  I switched to the Florida State-
Georgia State basketball game.  Florida State was ahead by 4.  Interesting.  Several minutes into the game the camera zoomed in on the Floria State cheerleaders.  They were wearing Santa Claus caps.  Unbelieveable!  He’s everywhere.  The caps were about all they were wearing.  They like to wear short skirts, kick their legs high in the air and put that crotch right in your face. Satan might not be a “she” but he sure does work through “shes.”  Go all the way back to the garden of Eve.  Give Adam a little sex and he was ready to eat anything Eve offered, forbidden or not.  This whole disturbed mess on earth can be traced back to a woman, Eve, deceived by Satan.

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By Shenonymous, December 15, 2009 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment

I am sorry DaveZx3, I did not find your discussion of the s-he very compelling. 
You said, “but really, nobody can make this stuff up.”  Well yes they can, and
yes I do think craggy old bearded men of the desert, goat scribblers, could and
did invent stories.  Check out the fiction section of any library, especially the
Library of Congress, like 80,000.  Men will make up and have made up many
and wondrous stories to explain things for a myriad of reasons.  Mere reading
all the mythologies in history.  Joseph Campbell was mentioned earlier and his
anthology The Masks of God as a good reference to see how a remarkable
similitude exists among ethnic mythologies.  Hero of a Thousand Faces is
another of his books that gives a comparison of mythologies.  I always found
such comparisons most revealing of the vastly inventive way man’s mind
works.  BTW you have not given the names of those texts where there were
clear descriptions of God and you are remiss on a few other questions.  You
wouldn’t be shining us all on, now would you?

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By Tom Edgar, December 15, 2009 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

You only have to listen to a few Politicians to realise that there are many truths or should that be, in this instance, many lies?

No amount of incontrovertible evidence will convince a “Believer” his truth is wrong.  Keeping an open mind, as I was recently told to do,  only means that as religious faith moves in the intellectual capacity is reduced.

Truth, very often, is not how I or you see things so much as how we wish to view things.  Truth to most people is having a view of things that is conveniently acceptable. It isn’t very pleasant finding you have been conned in any area, it tells you that what you thought was true is not so any longer. In the theological area I have yet to see any proof of a God’s existence so to me there is no truth.  Evidently Dave thinks that some wandering leader of goat herders description of God as being an unseen, invisible “Spirit” is a truthful description, and whilst having neither form nor substance is biblically described as being the same form as humans. This is a classical case of the Bible’s duplicity. Maybe there will be another excuse coming for one passage contradicting another.
This may be satisfactory for an unlettered goat herd or the intellectually deprived but I like to think I am neither. Oh! I did keep Goats some time back.

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By Night-Gaunt, December 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

Yes the patriarchs were in charge because they all had their “god wands” that women did not have. Even though every person was in the “image of JHVH” they were in two genders so was their deity a hermaphrodite or without gender? Depends on the god doesn’t it?

I look at it from the stand point of evolution and behavior that promotes survival. When the trait becomes obsolete in a new environment it can end the species. Will this behavior of religious belief and its concomitant actions continue the species or end it? Those who don’t have the innate capacity like myself are just normal variations to protect the species. It doesn’t always work but it is there never-the-less.

“What truth is.” Identification of. “What is truth?” Defining what a truth is. Different from a proof.

The difference between allowing our own way of living without imposing it on others. That is we can be islands but it is in a very crowded ocean. Respect boarders of each other first.

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By Shenonymous, December 15, 2009 at 5:13 am Link to this comment

What is truth is an arresting question christian96.  It is an ancient one and it
gets a little daze-making.  Another question:  Is it the same as saying “what
Truth is?”  Nor is it the same as asking what is “the” truth?  Truth and the truth
are not exactly the same.  In order to give a coherent answer, we need to know
what question is being asked or if what is said about truth is will presume to
tell a personal story.  Most minds cannot make the distinction and therein lies
the problem of confusing Truth with the truth as felt by individuals.  Who will
say what Truth is without resorting to a relativist view?

The strength of relativity prevents a grasp of Truth.  Tom Edgar makes the
classic case for the relativity of truth (sorry for the earlier Mr. it was merely a
reference designation of respect for your usually well-stated comments.  I am
happy to call you Tom.).  If truth is relative to each person, then it would be
nonsense to speak of ideal Truth.  But if that is also true, then we are left with
the paradox that we have nothing to which our personal truth may legitimately
be measured for justification to be called truth even if it is personal.  Seems
like ideal Truth, like all the other ideals must be created in order for the
common language to work in a coherent but diverse society.  Perhaps the ideal
truth ought to be called The Truth, which no one has but each has their own
unique truth that begins with a small letter t? 

No, I have not read “The Myth of Mental Illness,”  But I have read a bit about the
author and about it and other things he’s written.  He was a startling entry in
the early 60s and controversial.  While actually contemned by the profession,
his ideas are being reconsidered.  From the question you say Dr. Szasz asks, I
feel I have to ask “What is normal?” 

What was once called mental illness is now most often replaced with the term
psychiatric disorder.  Szasz’s thesis is that there is no such thing as mental
illness.  However, the disease model of mental illness is solidly central to
today’s model of American medicine and culture.  There is valid criticism and
valid points for Szasz’s thesis.  The jury is still out.  Szasz mightily argued that
a mind can only be sick in a metaphorical sense.  I ask, isn’t the mind itself a

While it is difficult to say what Truth is, as an ideal, it is even more difficult to
say what the mind is.  If we can’t say precisely what the mind is, then how can
we say mental illness is or is not an illness or disorder?  This is just a small
problem and probably not worth too much concern. 

A very interesting review of Szasz’s work may be found at

Is all religious belief a matter of mental illness or only fanatical religious belief? 
Criticism of religion is ancient and can be traced as long ago as Lucretius.  Of
those men now called the New Atheists, Sam Harris approximates religious
belief to mental illness as did the highly popular astronomer and astrochemist,
Carl Sagan.  On the other hand, the religious claim it is the atheists who have
psychiatric disorders and a prejudice against faith.  Keith Ward, Theodore
Beale, are two who counterargue against the atheist belief that religion is
harmful.  Reliable studies, however, show there is no basis to their arguments
that the religious are happier. See the Handbook of Religion and Health, 2001
and another done in 2007. There is no doubt these two diametrically opposed
beliefs are irreconcilable.  So the argument will wage on.

DaveZx3, what does referring to God as “He” have to do with, then if not with
sex or gender?  It is a genderized patronizing term stemming from the ancient
notion that patriarchs are in charge.

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By Tom Edgar, December 15, 2009 at 1:49 am Link to this comment


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By DaveZx3, December 15, 2009 at 12:28 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous,  I will just give two examples of scripture regarding characteristics/description of God:

1.  John 4:24, “God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth”

2.  Num 23:19, “God [is] not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do [it]? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”

I don’t like to make a habit of quoting words, because spiritual truths are best discerned spiritually, and in this vein, whatever translation I use is not critical to my process. 

Refering to God as “He” has nothing to do with sex or gender in the physical sense. 

Here is a spiritual truth:  In any true union, there must exist the he and the s-he,  the Will and the Works,  the man and the wo-man,  the Christ and the Church,  the husband and the wife.  These are various reflections of the spiritual, eternal, honest, open, loyal union that is the model for all such unions. 

The soft compassion and grace of the s-he defers to the absolute, hard uncompassionate laws of the he.  First law then grace.  Each without the other is folly. 

The s-he is actually totally comprised of and comes out of the he, the he being complete, but because of the law cannot exhibit the compassion of the s-he.
In fact He coming first, must create its compassionate side to argue against it and find a way for forgiving and redemption.  So the Law of God the Father (old testament) had to create out of himself the compassion of Christ the Son, (new testament) in order to facilitate, forgive and redeem the creation (children of God)

And so, the spiritual law requires a union of the he and he s-he to bring about creation, ie: the son or daughter of the union of he and s-he coming out of s-he.

All creation requires the Will (he) and the Work (s-he)  As is written “Let US create man in OUR image”
and so that relationship produced Adam.  The relationship between Christ and Adam produced Eve out of Adam.  the relationship betwen Adam and Eve produced Cain and Abel out of Eve.

As a material image of spiritual reality, what we see in the world is the He and the She (man and woman) created in the image of the spiritual reality or spiritual law.

It is why the worldly image called marriage is a holy union, representing the spiritual reality that the He and the S-he are eternally united and loyal to each other. 

You can also see why any union of He and He is abominable in the eyes of God.  It is an unholy union, and this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX ACTS.  It is a symbol of the rebellion of man, declaring that we can all be at the HE level and bond with whoever we want.  But it is a rebellion of futility, as it has no ability for creation.

Yes, some sex acts are found to be abominable in the minds of men, undoubtedly.  But the marriage bed of the He and the S-he is undefiled by any consensual acts of joy and pleasure.  Pleasure is not restricted between the he and she in an eternal loyal union.

Mankind, being all on the same spiritual level, will not be HEs in the afterlife, but as members of the elect (church) will all be S-he’s eternally bonded to their HE, Christ the Son, who is bonded eternally to the Father, all in one

The physical love and joy of the marriage of a man and a woman will be multiplied by thousands in the spiritual love and joy that will be experienced by the ultimate marriage of the Lamb and the Church, if you understand that symbolism. 

I am sure everyone will want to have me committed now, but really, nobody can make this stuff up. 

Do you actually think that craggy old bearded men of the desert had nothing else better to do than invent stories like these?  Men will surely invent stories to make money or save their ass, but neither happened due to these stories.  Usually the opposite.

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By Tom Edgar, December 14, 2009 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment

Obviously, as long as the mentally ill believe it, it is still their truth. I doesn’t have to be everybody’s “Truth”.. To a mentally ill person all their pronouncements are true, even if not correct.

G W Bush may well truly believe he is doing God’s will in having young Americans killing Muslims and chasing Osama Bin Laden. (I actually believe he is
a candidate for the first category mentioned) The opposing side feel with as much, or more, justification that the truth is that, with the same God’s will, they are protecting their homelands, religion and system.

Either or neither are really “True” but they believe it so to be. Were Stalin, Hitler,& Pol Pot, sane? They all felt justified, with truth on their side.
Did FDR truthfully join the allies in WW2.Or did he untruthfully manipulate the American people? Either way the propaganda machine soon had Americans, even of German descent, exchanging a previously perceived truth for another.

What is truth? It is how I see things. Others see it from a different angle, and from higher or lower intellectual perspective or even a personally advantaged view point. My Truth can even change according to my learning a different piece of evidence that negates a previous stance. I can’t view “Truth” in the same philosophical sense that Frank Gardner does. His perspective is on a different plane.

So I view truth as being important to me in that I do not, deliberately, maliciously, or knowingly lie unless the truth would be harmful. e.g. In WW2. When going overseas I deliberately misled my destination to friends, even though I knew it. It was unlikely the enemy didn’t know as much as I, but I wasn’t going to verify his, possible, knowledge, even inadvertently.
Truly yours. Tom Edgar

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By christian96, December 14, 2009 at 9:05 pm Link to this comment

Tom Edgar——“Truth is what I perceive it to be.”
What if you are mentally ill?

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By Tom Edgar, December 14, 2009 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

Oh! Americans with their over politeness.  MISTER Edgar.
Tom will do, never Thomas. Only my mother called me that and it was usually, just before a clip around the lug hole.

Now I NEVER said that those who claim to have had visions were mentally ill..although some undoubtedly are. They may well have had a mental aberration.  There is a world of difference. I’m no Psychiatrist but even I know the difference.
A Bi-polar/Schizophrenic,a religious fanatic. They could all well be described as mentally ill. Those who have hallucinations from mushrooms, alcohol, speed etc., that area is debatable. Sometimes visions can come from stress, or continuous religious indoctrination, or as is well known in interrogation techniques, simple sleep deprivation, or non stop haranguing. Long distance truck drivers are in one group who, very often, have indicated that they had suffered hallucinations before crashing. Sleep deprivation, pills, and continually flashing road lines head lighted contribute to the same situation as advanced interrogation techniques. American euphemism for Government approved torture.

Many and varied are the reasons for seeing visions.
It is not being obtuse to be asking that before believing the existence or factuality of the claimed experience we see some validation.  If none can be shown it is also reasonable that we find the experience is only IN THE MIND of the person claiming such phenomena.
God put the vision there?  Sorry I can neither dispute nor verify.

What is normal to a Psychiatrist?  The usual response is. What is a normal Psychiatrist? (Unemployed?)  Reminds me of my late son arguing with a Psychiatrist friend of the family. Son said.. “I have only ever seen one Psychiatric report of worth, and that was the White Paper to the British Government. I can only advise you to read it.” He quoted the relevant document numbers.. The best put down I’ve ever heard came from Jim Quinn so very succinctly.  “I don’t need to read the bloody thing… I wrote it.” Truly the first and only time I’ve seen my son lost for words.”

What is “Truth”?  Bit of an Alice in Wonderlander It could mean many things to a diverse group of people.
Does George Bush really believe he is truthful when most of the world thinks he is a liar? A shonky car salesman may even convince himself that he is lying truthfully. Many leaders of countries are convinced they are doing the right thing, and for their own country it could well be true, for others the opposite.

Many Churches, notably the R C still maintain they are “The true faith” along with unjustifiable, and sometimes, in spite of, incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, that their teachings are not only infallible but are the words of a God that none have ever seen.

So like Alice “Truth is what I perceive it to be.”

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By christian96, December 14, 2009 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous——What is truth?  Seems like I’ve heard
that question before.  What is mental illness?
Did you read “The Myth of Mental Illness” by Dr.
Thomas Schazz(spelling?)?  He asked the question,
“Have you ever heard of anyone dianosed as “normal”
after seeing a Psychiatrist?”

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By Night-Gaunt, December 14, 2009 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

No big deal. My memory wasn’t precise enough to get the “u” in seauton. Pardon my error and thanx for correcting me in such a complete fashion. I approve.

It is hard when one experiences something that isn’t common knowledge and therefor suspect. I understood that when I related it. I am not the run-of-the-mill Atheist on this. Our perceptive capacity is limited and barely sees what the whole of reality is. Barely. Maybe reading all that science fiction loosened my views of the world and how the idea of just minor skin pigmentation differences or what part of a tiny world one’s DNA came from mattered much in a huge universe that could have many possible forms of life. And maybe in different phases of dimension too. One never fully knows. But a super-intelligence proceeding the universe formation is just too much of a stretch-putting the cart before the horse kind of thinking. Now such formation after it I think is more possible.

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By Shenonymous, December 14, 2009 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

It should have printed:  That is pronounced gnothi sauton (or seauton — “au” as in
“ouch!”).”  Sorry for some occult reason the formatting exchanged the long o for a
question mark.

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By Shenonymous, December 14, 2009 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

I assume DaveZx3 you can say which texts have clear writing regarding
characteristics/description of God, and where exactly in those texts that may
be found?

Who says he is a spirit? 

Diligent/diligence - steadily persevering in detail or exactness; done carefully
and painstakingly; constant effort and attention to doing anything

It is a mistake you make when you accuse atheists of a paradox.  Atheists do
not seek proof of god, they simply assert there is no justification for the belief
there is such an entity. 

How do you know God gives the reward of evidence to those who diligently
seek him?  Where did you get your particular information?  Why do you assign a
gender to your God?  To what degree do you say you know him?  You speak
biblical statements, so you must be using a particular Bible translation.  Which
one?  It seems you are working in the realm of paradox of simultaneously
believing what is unjustified believable.

I think it is logical to get what one seeks, elsewise why seek?  I wouldn’t want
to get what I wasn’t seeking.  I am exceedingly honest, I have not had the
experience of god and do not claim to and wouldn’t in a million years claim to
know anything about such an entity.  I do not go on what the majority of people
do, as most are indoctrinated from birth to believe certain dogma.  Why would
that be any justification for belief?  It is irrelevant if anyone believes in xmas,
easter, or any other religious holiday.  Those holidays are part of a belief
system.  Some belief systems can be very harmful.

I would say, using your word diligent, that one ought to seek truth diligently
regardless of where it leads.  Truth is always justifiable. 

Once again, Night-Gaunt, it is spelled gnothi seauton, pronounced gn?thi
sauton (or seauton — “au” as in “ouch!”).  It is the Greek Delphic Imperative to
‘Know Thyself.’  It was used often by Socrates, but said to have been authored
by Pythagoras to some wise men of Greece and to Phemonoe. a mythical Greek
poetess.  To Juvenal, the Roman poet, this doctrine descended from heaven. 
One is free to believe as one desires.  Just don’t ask me to believe without
justification.  If others want to believe, no one is stopping them.  There are
theories why they would want to believe.  Mr. Edgars is not the only one who
would think mental illness is involved in experiences of the occult (paranormal,

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By Night-Gaunt, December 14, 2009 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

Essentially certain aspects of the occult or hidden will be there till it is examined and shown to be real and therefor part of Nature or errors in perception as Mr. Edgar would have them and call them mental illness.

I and many others have seen and experienced such phenomena that has been classified as in the occult or supernatural or paranormal etc. But in some cases science did finally spend serious time on it and have found out things like rocks do fall from the sky and some animals thought myths are real. From agnosis to gnosis with a mixture in between. Let us also not forget gnothi seaton in our quest as in “self knowledge” is also important. It is something we humans do.

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By Shenonymous, December 14, 2009 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

My definition of occult describes the supernatural.  If one has an experience of
the supernatural and tells me about it, I would ask for some reason I should
believe they had such an experience.  If they had more than one as in
experiences, I would ask for some reason to believe in each and everyone.

If one experiences things that are beyond human understanding, esoteric,
involving mysterious powers that are believed can affect the way things happen
and I was asked to believe their claim, I again would ask for some reason
beyond description why I ought to believe them.

How about you Anarcissie?  What would you do if someone asked you to
believe their occult experience was the way things are?

Capitulation means surrendering to beliefs whether justified or not. 
Capitulation to the occult means giving into the belief in the supernatural.  If
they are justified, then some reason can be given.  This is the way I meant that

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By DaveZx3, December 14, 2009 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

By Shenonymous, December 14 at 2:10 pm #

“The other side of this Janus coin is that if none of the religions describe god in any accurate way, then what is the description and where does that come from?”

First, it is not exactly true that some of the religious texts do not have very clear writing regarding the characteristics/description of God.
He says he is a spirit for one thing. 

Evidence (the description you seek) is the reward God gives to those who diligently seek him.  Ask and it shall be given.  The fervent prayers of a richteousness man availeth much.  Many, many messages with the same meaning.  It is the significance of the renting of the veil. 

It is the paradox of the atheist, as I have said so many times before.  How can someone who is philosophically opposed to performing honest, fervent seeking of God, expect to have any evidence, except to take the word of one who has done the seeking, of which many, many have. 

It is why rich men and wise men share the same burden.  It has to do with a camel and the eye of a needle.  Also the saying that they already have the reward they were seeking, the wisdom and riches of men, rather than the wisdom and riches of God.  In the perfect justice of God, I guess you get exactly what you seek.

But no matter how much seeking one does or does not do, they should at least be honest enough to admit that they cannot judge what they have no experience with, and they should not assume that just because one says that he “knows” God that he actually does. 

The overwhelming majority of people who accept God do it the easy way, culturally or religiously.  But because they are not taught culturally or religiously to actually do the things which are taught by God, they slip into false beliefs, such as xmas and others much more serious.  These are those who have a form of godliness but deny the power.  They are harmless, generally.

Others use belief in God as a tool to deceive many. These are those who know God very well, but oppose him.  They are devious and dangerous and are getting worse.  You can easily be the judge who these people might be. 

Some others who do not accept God by culture or religion, accept him the old fashioned way, they fervently seek him, trusting, for whatever reason, possibly desperation, that their work will be rewarded.  My experience is that anyone who diligently seeks God will find him.  Key word “diligent”.  He is always where he says he will be, reflecting the exact characteristics which he says in writing that he can be identified by.

And then there are those who do not accept God at all, and insist he does not exist.  But I have to again ask, how one could honestly and fervently put in a search for an entity which they do not believe in philosophically.  It is the paradox of the atheist.  They must first have faith before they can have faith.  But the atheist is not evil like the deceiver, unless he is a deceiver disguised as an atheist, which I guess is possible.  I have not met many.

I have to go.

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By Anarcissie, December 14, 2009 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

I don’t know.  What if one has occult experiences?

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By Shenonymous, December 14, 2009 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

A capitulation to the occult is a denial of one’s own mind.  And several
commenters still here have come full circle concerning Karen Armstrong’s
thesis that particular religious beliefs about god is the problem and if people
would just change their beliefs all would be solved.  And no progress has been
made from the first day of this forum.  Jollimore argues perfectly against this
latest hypothesis of Armstrong.  If she holds, or anyone else, apophatically that
in the literal sense, god is an idea that has no content at all, and if there is a
god, that god transcends all human attempts to understand that god and or
the existence that the god has bestowed on the universe, humans cannot say,
let alone think, anything meaningful about that god.  If apophaticism is true,
the argument just presented is unescapable. 

The other side of this Janus coin is that if none of the religions describe god in
any accurate way, then what is the description and where does that come from? 
Is it according to one’s own intuition, if so, then there are as many
understandings of god as there are and ever have been and ever will be people
who exist.  If that is so, then there is no coherent explanation and the
protagorean relativism is The Truth, where each person’s perceptions are True
and reflect The Truth for him (or her) against the idea that there are some
people who are experts (or who seem specially wise), and no amount of
argument can reconcile the relativism even though it is self-refuting when the
reality is false opinion for that would suggest there is no morality, as Nietzsche
theorized, since no one needs to agree what is or is not moral. And all talk
about Christmas is rendered moot.

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By DaveZx3, December 14, 2009 at 4:32 am Link to this comment

Christian 96 and Night Gaunt. First let me say, I am in agreement with your latest.

The wife clings on to the trappings of xmas, as Night Gaunt stated, and I fight to ignore it altogether, but both understanding it is not of God.  I have always loved the prophecy of Jeremiah 10,

“For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not” 

It goes on to say who these people are.  But culture is culture, religion is religion and God is God.  They are completely blurred together in the minds of many who blame God for what they see in religion and culture.  All my posts are consistent in saying that God is completely separate from religion and culture, and he knows his followers by whether or not they follow his principles, not their religions or their cultures.

I also have no problem with our Andromeda collision.  I am sure we will have this all better sorted out by then.  The idea of merging galaxies is more in sync with my model anyway.  I was only questioning how red shift seems to indicate that every distant body is moving away from us.  I have no intellectual, or other, investment in any specific model.  Hopefully this explains my ideas regarding the questions of christian96, (December 13 at 6:54 am)

Regarding christian96, (December 13 at 7:43 am)
You made the comment “the spiritual can
be a much more simple thing to contemplate.”  What
do you mean by the concepts “spiritual” and

Mediatate would have been a better word to use than contemplate, but I was referring to watching the movies (dreams, daydreams, whatever)in my mind.  Spiritual movies come in clearer, they are more simple and clear in their presentation and their truth.  They are easier to comprehened even with no sound.  Movies regarding the material world are very hard to comprehend, especially without any sound or narrative.  Mind movies, dreams, visions, delusions, call it what you want, it is the product of meditation, prayer and fasting.

By spiritual, I mean that infinite, timeless invisible realm that exists in, around and through the finite, physical realm we call the universe. 

“What did Jesus mean by the words of John 14:20,
“you shall know that I am in my father, and you
in me, and I in you.” What did Jesus mean by the
concept “know?”

By “know” Jesus meant to spiritually discern that the spirit that is in the father is the same spirit that is in him and the same spirit which is in those he is speaking to.  Spiritually, they are one, in one accord, united.  Jesus was scolding them for speaking materially regarding something they should be discerning spiritually, ie, the Father. 

Night Gaunt, I agree with you for the call to stop attempts at dominating and robbing others.  But, as always, I would ask that you attempt to see this as not something which is a goal of the people of God, but rather a goal of the people of the anti-God, who have stolen the truth of God and replaced it with the lies of the world’s man-made religions.  Lies such as Christmas.

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By Night-Gaunt, December 13, 2009 at 8:00 pm Link to this comment

I just needed to adjust a spacing error. I’ve found that some people’s computers don’t display the same due to different graphic programs and can mess up the spacing. I do miss being on a MAC.

If what the latest research proves to be true the universe will continue to expand and cool and the dark matter/energy which makes up most of our universe will rip apart the galaxies and every thing else. Not any better than the thermal ‘crunch’ where we wouldn’t survive anyway. As for our imminent collision with Andromeda some 100 million years from now it goes on all the time. When things explode they don’t radiate outward at exact perpendicular trajectories do they? Some overlap. We have seen it happen via Hubble and will do so ourselves. When it is over we will probably become a less defined galaxy merged with another as has been projected.

What we need to do is to spot with our present actions that hurt so many and ignore so much of what is really important. Not domination of our fellows to take their resources and control them but to make the best life for all of us not just a few self elected “elites” who want it all again. We could be preparing to protect the earth from the eventual collision with another asteroid which can happen at any time. That would ruin all our days.

You are right Christian96 and the Puritans here did outlaw Christmas for a decade or two. The History Channel runs a good history of Christmas and how it developed into the way it looks now. Did you know that in some Islamic countries they like the look of it and buy all the elements of Christmass from the tree to the lights but just not the religion tacked onto it? I like them too. The Yggdrasil tree festooned with the stars and planets on the tree of the world and immortality and the gifts are nice too, both to give and receive!

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By christian96, December 13, 2009 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

DaveZx3—-I am not psychoanalyzing you but can help
with with the Christmas stuff.  Throw it all in
the garbage.  Christmas contends for being one of
the biggest hoaxes ever perpetrated upon the human
race.  There is nothing in the Bible depicting the
date of the birth of Jesus nor is there anything in
the Bible commanding the keeping of birthdays.  Quite
the opposite.  Ecc. 7:1 relates that a day of one’s
death is better than the date of one’s birth.  I am
reasonably sure no one will go to hell for celebrating the birth of Jesus, whenever that was.
People probably should be celebrating the death and
ressurection of Jesus every day by loving and helping
other people.  That’s my idea and not commanded in
the Bible.  Around the 4th century a large group of
pagans were celebrating the birth of their god around
the 25th of December.  To get the pagans to join the
Catholic Church, December 25th was chosen as the
birth of Jesus.  After separating from the Catholic
Church Martin Luther and the Prostestant denominations following him continued this pagan
holiday tradition.  As you are probably aware
traditions are extremely difficult to change.  You
don’t hear most media preachers discussing this
because they don’t want to risk losing funds.  If
they told people the truth about their tradition
all hell would break loose.  Can you imagine Billy
Graham standing before thousands of people informing
them Christmas is a hoax? Ha!

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By DaveZx3, December 13, 2009 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

christian96, December 13 at 7:43 am #

DaveZx3——You made the comment “the spiritual can
be a much more simple thing to contemplate.”  What
do you mean by the concepts “spiritual” and

“What did Jesus mean by the words of John 14:20,
“you shall know that I am in my father, and you
in me, and I in you.” What did Jesus mean by the
concept “know?”

I hope you’re not psychoanalyzing me.  You are being so polite, I get the feeling that I am laying on your couch.  If you send me a bill, I’m not paying. 

Right now, I am having visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, mostly due to my wife’s insistence that I get the Christmas “stuff” up. 

I told her that before I get started, I have to get a better grasp on just what a sugar plum is.  This I accomplish by getting into the horizontal position in the tv room while pretending to watch ESPN.  I stare intently at the inside of my eyelids, where the plums are dancing, “contemplating” every nuance of their existence. 

My wife says I emit a strange buzz saw-like noise when I get into this deep state of contemplation, but I cannot confirm or deny that.  I do notice that the older I get the more need I have for the contemplation of these deep subjects.

I will have to get back to you when I get this sugar plum thing figured out.

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By christian96, December 13, 2009 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3——I watched documentaries which contend
our galaxy is on a collision course with another
galaxy.  How can this be so if other galaxies are
expanding away from us?

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By Shenonymous, December 13, 2009 at 5:09 am Link to this comment

Good Sunday morning.
If the universe is infinite, then from any spot in that universe it would be a
“dead” center as it would be infinite in every direction. 

If, however, the universe is finite, then using Zeno’s Paradox, we might have
proof of a finite universe, but Zeno’s ever dividing space was thwarted by the
introduction of Time.  However here is a thought, if the universe contains all
space, and all space is contained in the universe, then it is unlikely it is infinite
by the definition of all.

If it is said the universe is expanding, is it rational to ask, expanding into what? 
Possibly a categorical mistake is made by trying to visualize something that
cannot be visualized.  To visualize something it has to be able to be seen as a
whole and since we are “inside” our universe, we cannot see it as a totality.  The
entire nature of the universe can only be “theorized” conceptually, as if we were
observing from outside.

Let us say the universe is not expanding into anything but is an expanding
sphere (someone hypothesized the universe is spherelike, I think it was DaveZ)
and spheres have a center point from which all measurement must radiate (i.e.
radii).  Two dimensional entities exist on the surface of that expanding sphere. 
Let us further imagine, from its expansion, space is being created within its
boundary. These two dimensional beings take a ride in a spaceship in a
particular direction (the beings do not know or are not even inherently aware of
the third dimension of objects) and think they are traveling in a straight line. 
They essentially, theoretically, could be keep going forever never coming to the
end since they are on a sphere that is expanding faster than they could travel
around it.  Boundless finitude. 

It is most commonly thought that the universe is on its way to extinction.  It
will have an end.  If so, then it has to be finite in its existence.  But if it is not
in a taxi to oblivion, then is there anything coherent to be said of its nature? 

Assuming time is relative, I read a comment elsewhere recently that might be
fun to consider and worth repeating here:  “... first, in this case, nobody needs
to wait till the end of the universe for the end to have happened, other than in
a relative sense. All you need to do to finish realizing that the universe has
already ended is to die yourself. Or do you think after you’ve died, you will have
time to wait for the universe to join you? There must be no difference between
being dead alone and having the whole universe for company. Viewed from
that angle a personal existence also mimics the universe as a whole, as a finite
stretch in relative time between two singularities of before being born and after
having died. That makes the idea of anything continuing for other personal
existences or of other universes continuing inside or outside of your personal
singularities, and their very existence to begin with, just a conjecture of finity
and infinity impossible to test other than in a relative sense.

Equally, if the universe is finite in the relative illusionary time, before and after
are relative too, so there must be possible observers for whom this eventually
coming to an end has already happened. If the number of such observers is
finite or infinite is a conjecture impossible to test, as you rightly noted again.
We may safely conjecture though that all the people that have already died
might qualify as such observers. Also finite universe in relative time means that
while the universe is already dead in a relative sense, it is just the news of its
demise, the information has not reached the living as yet and the living
conviction of their existence is just a fleeting conjecture of infinity impossible
to either verify or falsify.”

Surely this is not the last word.

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By DaveZx3, December 13, 2009 at 2:50 am Link to this comment

christian96, December 13 at 6:54 am #

DaveZx3——You made the comment “something has to be
expanding at your same relative speed.”  What do you
mean by the concepts “something”, “same” and
“relative?”  Thank you.

I did not explain myself very well in that statement.

Imagine an explosion where large volumes of matter goes exploding out from point zero in every direction.  (Big Bang)

Is it logical to assume that relative to the speed and position of any one piece of that matter, that all other pieces of that matter could be measured to be moving away?  ie: wavelengths increased and shifted to the red side of the color spectrum?

If every galaxy is moving away from our galaxy, does that not seem to indicate that our galaxy is very close to the center of the universe?

The scientific “explanation” for this apparent paradox is that matter speeds up as it moves further out from the point of the explosion. 

The massive gravity which is located more toward the center of all this exploding mass would seem to inhibit this type of acceleration, as would the idea that all momentum, even in deep space, would decrease over time. 

Measureing red shift relative to all other galaxies does not make sense to me.  Or, we are at the dead center of the whole universe.

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By christian96, December 13, 2009 at 2:48 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3——I guess I should have also ask what you
mean by “simple?”

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By christian96, December 13, 2009 at 2:43 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3——You made the comment “the spiritual can
be a much more simple thing to contemplate.”  What
do you mean by the concepts “spiritual” and
What did Jesus mean by the words of John 14:20,
“you shall know that I am in my father, and you
in me, and I in you.” What did Jesus mean by the
concept “know?”

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By christian96, December 13, 2009 at 1:54 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3——You made the comment “something has to be
expanding at your same relative speed.”  What do you
mean by the concepts “something”, “same” and
“relative?”  Thank you.

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By DaveZx3, December 12, 2009 at 10:57 pm Link to this comment

I had to reject Big Collapse a while back, but I like it better than Big Bang. It is very interesting and it does have concepts which fit into my ideas, specifically Subatomic Particle Accretion Mass, (SPAM) kind of wrapped around the globe of the universe like a big blanket. 

In my model, the SPAM belt is inhabited by the constant energy field I called “E1”, and within this belt, subatomic particles of an extremely diverse nature, (more diverse and exotic than we have yet imagined) are consistently being articulated into existence to replace those which degrade and spin out of particulate existence to revert back into the E1 energy field. 

Subatomic particles in unimaginable quantities, coming and going in fractions of nanoseconds at that place where pure spiritual energy and the quantums of physical matter are a fuzzy blur.  This is the area that I am primarily interested in.  It is the E1, the E2 and the P1 that I alluded to earlier. 

I will allow your randomness of bonding, but every particle randomly finding its place, does so according to the laws of physics, and so, particles will bond and move to where needed, at least by virtue of quantum mean principles.  Everything in a constant state of movement, fuzzy, random movement, but called to direction by whatever energy source becomes directed (spoken) at them.  Like iron particles in a snow globe, they will float around randomly until the electromagnet is turned on, and then they salute and move according to the orders they have been given, by a source of energy, random or directed, always doing exactly what they were created to do.

I cannot really buy totally into any of the current models of the universe.  I have in my mind the vision of a globe shaped universe in which galaxies are more or less floating rather than moving away in Big Bang theory, or collapsing in Big Collapse theory, though bang and collapse satisfy the evidence of the cycles of nature, which is reasonable. 

The Doppler effect of Hubbell allowed Einstein to cease having to look for additional mass or energy to keep his model of the universe stable.
But red shift has a significant problem, in my opinion.  Everything shifts towards red.  No matter where you fit in a massive expansion (explosion), something has to be expanding at your same relative speed.  If everything is expanding away, (red shifted) that would be bad news for atheists, wouldn’t it? 

I have this suspicion that the boundaries of quantum reality are much, much smaller than the various quarks, bosons, etc, that have been observed so far, and also that the whole universe that we know may just be a particle in an atom of another universe.

Every level of the physical realm being just one more set of globes revolving around other globes, each level becoming larger and larger out to infinity, groups of universes revolving around groups of universes.  This is a constant thought in my mind, and leads me to suspect that materialism may just be an illusion to give spiritual entities something to play with, and the whole thing may be a fish bowl on some kids desk. 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, a physical particle is really nothing more than a ripple on the pond, which exists for a time, but unless another stone is thrown, it risks disappearing back into the pond.  And that, to me, is the very subjective nature of the material realm.  The spiritual can be a much more simple thing to contemplate because you can instantly do away with all the “stuff.”

Isn’t this more fun than talking about politics?

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By Shenonymous, December 12, 2009 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

That last link will have to be copy/pasted into your browser as TD did not activate
the entire link.  Be sure to grab the part of the address that is under the bolded
red letters too.  It really is worth the time.  It is charming.

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By Shenonymous, December 12, 2009 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

In deed Tom Edgar.  Actually it has everything to do with Karen Armstrong’s
debate about the Case for God.  It is simply not the straight line everyone is so
used to.  Every so often those of us who enjoy the sound of our own voices
detour through peripheral fields of possible realities.  Some actually romp.  TD
doesn’t mind.

Fascinating:  Some will already know this, others won’t.  There is the popular
and broadly accepted Big Bang Theory (BB).  But there is an intriguing
alternative:  the Big Collapse (BC).  The BC theory thinks this universe is not the
result of the progression of cooling mass turning into matter after the Big
Cosmic Explosion but after the big bang starts to collapse back to its primary
state the cooling that takes place then is responsible for the formation of
matter.  is a lovely site for contemplation. Do
go through all the links for something infinitely more fun than an amusement

The Hubble deep field image has gone to the edge of the visible universe, 10
billion light years away.  An interesting environment was found.  Not what was
expected, not a local area full of energy from a squished together remnant
from a big bang, but darkness that would have been consistent with a big
collapse process.  Not only is an anti-event horizon theorized comparable with
the event horizon of a black hole, it also suggests that none of the problems
with BB apply, nor is dark matter needed to explain the Hubble constant. There
are eight predictions associated with the BC theory one of which is that some
stars and galaxies should be older than predicted from the Big Bang.  Is that
important?  The exact age of the universe?  I guess so if there is space travel in
the future. There is space travel in humanity’s future, right?  NASA recently
found water on the moon, good for a launching into farther outerspace space
station.  Let us not forget the Big Crunch where it all collapses back into a
singularity is also theorized.  But the collected data indicates that the density is
less than or equal to the critical density, so a superseding theory is that the
Universe will expand forever.  So if you are planning on existing forever, there
should be a universe for you to go bouncing around in.

Even so, there are rival theories that predict the ultimate destiny of the
universe.  The two directions are finite and infinite in duration.  These
considerations are in the domain of science, physical cosmology.  Such
exploration started with EInstein’s theory of general relativity in 1916 and
range from one that proposes the most well known and most widely accepted,
the flat ACDM big bang model in acceleration mode, or BB we already talked
about, where the universe is expanding from an original singularity, that is,
one point without time or space.  It’s age is calculated to be 13.7 billion years. 
Now that is the whole universe! an opposing view is a model called the Steady
State or Infinite Universe Theory, (i.e., continuous creation), which asserts that
although the universe is expanding, it nevertheless does not change its look
over time.  Also there is another quasi-steady state theory that hypothesizes
reoccurring big bangs.  For steady state to work, new matter must be created
to keep the density equal over time, because, I suppose, matter decomposes
from its motion???  Here, physics major Night-Gaunt might be able to fill in. 
Steady State also supports the religious need for a universe that had no
beginning, oh oh, not the universe of Genesis, the first verses start out “In the
Beginning…”  Oh well maybe that meant a different kind of beginning, perhaps
Night-Gaunt and DaveZx3 would be able to shed light on that maybe from
different perspectives?  Or christian96? 

If interested in quantum mechanics this might entertain you.

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By Tom Edgar, December 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

Oh! I’m not offended. Just feel that much of what is written is irrelevant.Not to say pajama clothed bananas B1 and B2 are any more so, after all they are T V characters for up to six year olds.  Maybe, within the world of fantasy, lies the connection.

Then Shenonymous.  What can I say?  Science and Philosophical musings that leaves me floundering in the wake of the ship of knowledge. At this level of debate with its complexity in areas where my personal knowledge is peripheral at best, it stops me venturing where those more foolish than I would venture. I try to obey my late wife’s dictum. “If you don’t know what they are talking about, smile and let them keep rambling on, they will, at least, enjoy the sound of their own voice.”

My late wife was found to be, by virtually everyone she met, as being a great conversationalist.  once when I questioned her she smiled and said.“The art of being a conversationalist is LISTEN. Try to be interested, smile, let them do the talking even if you haven’t a clue what they are on about.”
It is a great way to learn something new, albeit, so often, what you learn is absolutely irrelevant. Acquired knowledge is still knowledge, relevant or not.

So what has any of this to do with Karen Armstrong’s writing? Well when I was given her first book, by my daughter, I found it interesting,  and for my purposes inconsequential, good reading though. I do appreciate the ability to string words together.

When I see people who relate mental aberrations, apparitions or hallucinations, then claim that they are real,  I’m tempted to repeat what I said earlier.
Seek treatment.  Unfortunately the last persons to admit, or even recognise, that they have a problem are people with a mental problem.  This is especially of those who maintain we, who don’t see their point of view, or acknowledge that their visions are factual are the ones who are wrong. Then again, philosophically, maybe, just slightly maybe, they have a point.

Am I just rambling on? Well the advantage of this medium is that nobody can interrupt.

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By Night-Gaunt, December 12, 2009 at 11:27 am Link to this comment

Let us not forget QIP for Quantum Inseperability Principal and “strange attractors” where once in contact two or more particles continue to affect one another over any distance. There is still some contention that this somehow affects on a larger scale what is done on the sub atomic level. Others say nonsense. Once thing that must be acknowledged is that there is a certain randomness in Nature. And if the multi-worlds model is correct then all possible quantum states and outcomes have come true but only one per universe. Which would mean there could be trillions of universes out there since the Big Bang with more forming all the time. [Even if the only difference is the position of two atoms or two grains of sand and would otherwise be indistinguishable from each other. I would posit that these universes would be so close they would sort of overlap.] I wonder if each universe has one or more gods ruling them?

Unlike light (photons) the space/time fabric of the universe has no speed limits so when the Big Bang occurred it expanded at much faster than the speed of lights. Now if they can get the CERN Hadron Collider functioning they could find out how it was a few minutes or seconds after the Big Bang might have been.]

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By Shenonymous, December 12, 2009 at 4:27 am Link to this comment

One man’s theory is another man’s bananas in pajamas.  How precious.  I must
write that one down for posterity.

1.  Just for fun
That was quite a tour de force DaveZx3 about matter in the universe, but your
theory of intentional combination is a stretch for me, fun as it is.  Not being a
closed system between you and Tom Edgars, is it?  If you don’t mind I will jump
in on this detour, which isn’t really a detour if we are talking about G.O.D. and
the universe.

If your theory is correct, it is as if each particle seeks out a specific mate, and
boom!  Valent and Covalent bonding is how atoms get it on, so to speak. 
Without going into a complete physics course of how atoms combine in
molecular formation, there is more than one theory that describes how
chemical bonding happens, i.e., molecular orbital theory, valence bond theory. 
I am a fan of Schrodinger’s wave function myself (and his cat as well).  And the
resonance and orbital hybridization concepts of LInus Pauling isn’t so bad
either.  All stuff I could easily enjoy discussing over a rootbeer soda at an ice
cream parlor, even though the Russians didn’t not like resonance theory, if I
didn’t like discussing the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock more. 

Where they once were contrasting theories, valence bond theory and molecular
orbital theory are now complements, so theories change in their relationship. 
Ah, the beauty of science to allow for revision.  Not to forget the loveliness of
covalence, and the sharing that goes on, allowing different elemental atoms to
join, I am tickled by the notion of polyatomic molecules. 

Now while there is an order as to how the bonding happens, and because the
universe is more or less homogenous over all with some denser pockets of
“stuff” in one area than others, i.e., galaxies, and their relatives, the stuff is still
made of the same stuff, there is no absolute order as to which atoms in the
universe will “seek” each other out, and randomness is a huge factor as to
which ones actually get to have the honor of bonding. 

While quantum mechanics is fascinating, it does not demand that matter is
subject to a determinism. Even in view of E=mc2 which describes the
relationship of matter and energy, it does not approach the notion that
determinism absolutely rules the universe.  The complete nature of matter
itself is still unsolved, meaning not understood.  Now, even dark matter is
intriguing, I admit mainly because of the failures of detection, hence
knowledge of dark matter is in a theoretical stage currently, such that scientists
have now turned to “undetected” varieties. 

A rather titillating notion is one that is a most popular idea about dark matter
is that it is made of hypothetical subatomic particles called “weakly interacting
massive particles”  or WIMPs.  I can’t help it but I laugh at this idea.  Not that I
don’t believe it, but the language to describe an unknown is kind of the stuff
George Carlin would have had a heyday about.  Did you know there is a
PICASSO Dark Matter Experiment going on at SNOLAB in Canada?  There is an
olympic degree of competition in the world going on to be the first to detect
dark matter as we breathe.  The race, it is said, is intense. 

Well all that being said, the fact that we live in what is called “an ordering
universe,” means that it is not in an originally ordered state.  The participle
implies that.  Correlations are built out of randomness even though there is a
probablism to how atoms will combine, there is no determined atoms to join
with designated atoms and entropy is partly to blame.

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By Shenonymous, December 12, 2009 at 4:24 am Link to this comment

2.  Definitely for fun
Most reputable scientists say indetermination is the nature of the universe.  Yes
David Bohm did argue the behavior of subatomic particles is entirely
determined by “hidden variables” that cannot be observed.  But, a couple of
other scientists, Conway and Kochen, think they have proved that
indeterminancy is inherent not only in quantum theory, but in the world itself
and it has to do with the spin of subatomic particles and the discovery of a
peculiar property called the 1-0-1 rule.  Spin is a property that cannot be
predicted in advance prior to prodding.  Even so, the determinist would say, the
spin was set before anyone might come along to prod it.  Well yeah, that is
what we ordinarily assume.  It isn’t imagined, for instance, that the moon looks
round because we looked at it, we imagine it was round to begin with.  Maybe. 
In the world of subatomic particles, things do not behave as they do at the level
of life we live on.  Particles do not choose their spin, even though there is a set
of only 33 axes.  For an elaboration please look up Conway and Kochen.  The
point is there is no absolute consensus as to the nature of the universe, hence
just because of that nonconsensus, I conclude it is inherently unpredictable
since absolute not probable predictability would have to be proven.  Applying
that same logic to religion…

Well I do admit that Dutch physicist, Gerard ‘t Hooft, and determinist (who calls
himself a determined determinist) believes that if one believes in determinism
it cannot be half-hearted and pseudo-determinism is impossible to sustain.”

I have a limited study of physics, but nevertheless I tend to agree with the
probabalistic idea that if subatomic particles, quarks have a 50/50 chance
situation to spin in a particular direction depending on electromagnetic forces
and other particles in its vicinity, then it and every other one has a 50/50
chance every time, such as what happens in flipping coins.  The randomness
and uncertainty at the quantum level go all the way up the existential ladder to
include the whole universe itself.  We live at one rung of that entire ladder. 
The laws of physics rule and operate within the laws of probability, true;
probability implies predictability, but does not imply absolute predictability; we
do not live in a deterministic universe.

Believing genetic theory, as human beings we are influenced in a large way by
our genes, physically, and maybe emotionally towards the survival factor.  That
plus the way that we were raised, called nurture.  Add to that the totality of
our experiences and whatever knowledge we accumulated, and the mental
capabilities, which is also genetically given, it seems to me that when we get to
a point where a choice must be made that the sum total of what we are made,
all of those thing plus the present circumstances including such things as
mood which is not a pre-given, at the time the choice must be made, all
influence our choice. The thing is, we never have all the information we need to
make the best or wisest choice.  I believe that within all those limits we have
free will. We have the freedom to not decide or toss a coin. It must be
remembered that the coin has no memory of the results of the last time it was
tossed.  Maybe the habitual gestural way we toss it is predictable, the
environmental conditions in which it is tossed are not.  We might be trying to
toss it in a rain storm.

Quantum mechanics asserts there is no causal chain, that much particle
behavior does not have a root cause. QM is the reigning theory of physics.  The
existence of predetermined outcomes has been disproven by experiment. The
EPR/Bell/Aspect is a cogent example.

While this is counterintuitive for most people facts are facts.  Assuming that
indeterminism is required for free will, the universe, then, allows for the
existence of free will.

I choose to go have a cup of coffee.

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By DaveZx3, December 12, 2009 at 1:46 am Link to this comment


Don’t be so uptight.  It’s metaphysical brainstorming.  Kind of like the theory of “desire” -interesting - nonsensical maybe, but interesting. Nothing that needs to be taken literally. 

Ideas that slide freely from the unencumbered mind should not be seen as threatening.  They only seek to broaden the discussion and the possibilities.

Did you notice where I said “for the purposes of the debate”, and “it is hard to come up with words to explain what you see as pictures in your mind”?

I became bored long ago of limiting discussion to the well accepted, as I have stated.  And talking about politics gets really depressing lately. 

It is not about making things up, but trying to explain in writing or speech complex things that come into your head during meditation or day dreaming.  These are things I now have time to do, and I really do like to do them.  I am sorry if this offends you. It is not meant to. 

But now I cannot get out of my head the vision of bananas in pajamas.

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By Tom Edgar, December 12, 2009 at 12:03 am Link to this comment

I tried to ignore the ramblings about E1 and E2, and I had made a pledge to myself not to waste energy with the author.

In Australia we have children’s cartoon characters on national T V known as B1 and B2 or Bananas in pajamas.

Now I’ not suggesting Dave is “Bananas.” But the T V program makes more sense, and children find it entertaining.

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By DaveZx3, December 11, 2009 at 11:04 pm Link to this comment

Intellectual compromise?  Intellectually, I could move right over to your position.  But having traded my intellectuality for something more profound, it might be a compromise without meaning.  Not to minimize the excitement of the debate. which is helpful to keep the blood moving at an age when that becomes something you think about.

Matter (particles, if you will - discrete or otherwise) is/are the product of modulation of a constant energy field.  This energy field is fixed in its intensity and constant in its movement.  Think of a steady stream of water flowing without obstruction, glassy smooth on the surface.  Evidence of this energy field is lost in the natural noise threshold of the universe.  It is as imperceptible as is the sense of movement inside a 747 flying in the absence of any turbulence at altitude.  Within the principles of radio frequency, it could be considered the carrier wave, which is that imperceptible constant electromagnetic wave which is imperceptible because it is tuned out by the radio in order to perceive the intelligence of the modulation.  We can call this steady state energy field E1 for the purpose of this debate.  (don’t write me about the old theory of ether, this is not ether theory)

Modulation of the steady stream energy field (E1) is like a ripple caused by the introduction of another source of energy directed at E1.  Think of the ripple that would be caused if you aimed your leaf blower at the steady, glassy smooth stream of water.  We can call this (leaf blower)energy source E2 for no real reason except that I just named it that.  (It is hard putting words to things you only see pictures of in your mind)

E1 modulated by E2 causes a particle, P1.  The resultant particle is, in fact, an intelligently controlled disturbance of E1, and it is perceptible where E1 otherwise would not be. Think of the 747 flying smooth through E1, and it hits a bit of turbulence (E2) which give a perception of movement (P1).  Sensual perception is first initiated with the creaton of P1, but realistically only higher forms of matter than P1 can actually be perceived except in highly controlled environments.

P1 represents the smallest of sub-atomic particles.  As they bond together according to the Laws of physics, all other forms of matter (P2 through Px) and energy (E3 through Ex) are introduced. according to the Laws of physics, (known and unknown), and at that point, the universe as we know it is manifested.  Space is now perceptible and measureable as the distance between two discrete particles.  Time is now perceptible as the relative movement of two discrete particles. 

Light is the product of various Ex and Px in atomic physics.  Specifically when the electron is excited throught he application and storage of an outside energy source, it moves up a few valence levels, (orbits further from the nucleus) and as this excitement wears down, the electron falls to its original levels, giving up the stored energy as random wavelength light.  (particle or wave still debated, I prefer wave).  This is unfiltered white light.  Filter it and color is manifested. 

As you have probably determined, all of this is not conventional physics, which does not acknowledge E1 or E2, and cannot account for the source or cause of P1. 

In spiritual jargon, E1 could be considered the Spirit of God. E2 could be considered the Voice of God.  The Laws of physics are part of the Will of God. 

There is no randomness, there is no basic nature for an atom to move. If atoms did move randomly and bond randomly then matter would not be organized and able to be categorized.  Atoms are bonded and grouped according to the Law, which requires a law giver and an intellilgent plan. 




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By Shenonymous, December 11, 2009 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

I don’t believe elisalouisa I was addressing you, I was speaking to Night-Gaunt’s
previous post.  I do however agree with what you said in your post. The question I
am left with, how shall we humans make a better world happen?  There are no
simple answers, and as you said, it is “quite a mine field.” 

Just a wild thought:  Aren’t there those in the world today in positions of
leadership attempting to make a better world, in spite of the greed and avarice
and need for power that is concurrently going on?  I believe Mandela is one of
those people, at least on the South African front, and Desmond Tutu who I think
is more universal in his desire to help the world.  I’m sure others can name a few. 
Shall we make a list of candidates? 

Have to go for a while.

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By Shenonymous, December 11, 2009 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

How close to the edge are we NIght Gaunt, of falling into the abyss of cesspool
and graveyard?  It is the first assessment, if we are even capable of making that
judgment, so we can gauge the rest of our steps towards survival?  I don’t
know if humans will survive even its childhood as a species.  Those huge
dinosaurs didn’t.  But they were not complicit in their demise as humans seems
to be. 

I completely agree with you of the necessity that rights to life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness for all takes priority over everything else.  But even those
need better definition since too wide a variance in what they mean exists
among the population.  For instance, as part of the right to life, it seems
enough to eat is a right, as well as health care.  Freedom to speak is part of the
idea of liberty, and the right to education of what the wold holds as knowledge
so humans can have equal participation in their society, to know to whatever
degree knowledge is possible, and to be able to think about their world in an
informed way, eliminating as much speculation as possible, and freedom to
earn wealth and own property, or what might the pursuit of happiness mean if
it is gravely in opposition to someone else’s?  Life it seems to require a great
deal of negotiation.

A unusual situation that I noticed en passant is that we who are left discussing
the greatest of subjects, except for Night-Gaunt, he once admitted to being
50ish, are senior citizens with grand children.  I find that amazing.

If we can discuss your idea of matter, DaveZx3, I would argue that without
space/time/movement there would be no such thing as matter since the atoms
that might exist would not be able to get together to create any matter, then it
wouldn’t matter would it?  It seems like any configuration of matter is more
tentative than the elements of space/time/movement, with the third species,
desire, as the necessary motivator for all existence. 

Maybe an intellectual compromise is possible?  How is this?  The stuff of
matter, atomic particles, exists simultaneously with space/time/movement and
desire.  For atomic particles in motion, which is only possible through
space/time, is the source of energy, energy is the source of light, light is
required for some forms of life.  This is all necessary for a universe.  If there is
something necessary for motion to be initiated, which I call desire, then there
are a couple of explanations we could consider, which would satisfy Tom
Edgars’ criteria.  Now the religious want to call that desire, God.  Okay, I am all
right with that.  For myself, I would call it random, serendipity where the desire
of atoms to move , which is their basic nature, and move accidentally to
occasionally meet up, covalently lock together and that is what creates the
molecularly dynamic universe we experience.  Whether there are other
universes might be fun to try to discover, but it doesn’t determine our own
universe.  It is the one we are in and it is a tremendous undertaking to know its
true nature.  I’m sure all of us can hone that up a bit, including the youngster

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By elisalouisa, December 11, 2009 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous:The notion that we could stop fighting over ?differences of beliefs
is altruistically naive, no insult intended.
Excuse me but did I say that? Or even imply such a notion? We have our
differences but we are united in that we are part of the earth. Identity is part of
who we are, no one is willing to give that up and should not. At one time I
disliked the word “tolerant” because I felt it did not go far enough as to attitude
toward our fellowman. Now, being more realistic, I realize that if people would
be tolerant and thus not want to “convert” others, our world would be a much
better place. Yet, at the same time, consider if there would be a nuclear war,
the whole world would suffer the consequences. Or consider the possibility of
a Fascist type government actually taking over our country, that also would
affect each and everyone of us. Thus, tolerance may not be the stand to take
after all. We must work our way through this maze of religious and political
beliefs. Quite a mine field.

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By DaveZx3, December 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Space, like time, is a function of matter.  Without matter, there is, scientifically speaking, no space or time, as there is no way to define or measure either.  Both came into existence at that instant when matter was created, or however you believe that it originally manifested. 

Beyond matter, where matter does not exist, (so it cannot realistically be described as a place in time or space), is the realm of the spiritual, which transcends and is not reliant on or subject to matter, space or time.

The spiritual realm is hotly contested by those who wish to limit their thinking to the material, scientific, observable universe.  It is hard to believe that the deniers attribute the need of poor, illiterate, disadvantaged people to be the source of the “myths” of the spiritual, as though the poor masses need it, a la “opiate of the masses”.  In truth the spiritual realm has plagued, destroyed and robbed the poor more than any others.  It is not human nature to continue to respond to something which, in the end, does not deliver, ever. 

Most of what is suggested by the conventional ideas of the spiritual realm is certainly easy to object to.  Ghosts, goblins, and other things that go Boo in the night are certainly laughable. 

But there are volumes and volumes of books and studies which indicate that the evidence for the spiritual is not easily shrugged off by flippant attitudes of denial.

As I have consistently said, how can one deny that which he has not experienced?  You need to visit with the ones who have had experiences, talk to them, understand that they have nothing to gain by recounting their stories, see the fear and sometimes love in their eyes and hear it in their voices.  See the scars, the phsical evidence.  It is so easy to deny. 

I for one have chosen to not deny anything that I cannot understand, but rather to spend a great portion of my time searching for the experiences and knowledge which I have heard may exist.  I have been rewarded greatly for this attitude, having come to understand the “collective mind” that

elisalouisa, December 11 at 2:50 pm #

was referring to.  When you connect the material hardware of “brain” to the software of “spirit”, you get the “mind” a powerful entity.  When you connect minds, you get a super powerful entity.  A concept not well understood by science, since they cannot seem to acknowledge the spiritual connection. 

Time to go pick up the grandkids.

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By Night-Gaunt, December 11, 2009 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

It would depend of if their beliefs must be universal and all must follow them. Human rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (not at the expense of others) come first over anything else. Naive? Maybe. A necessity definitely. But a goal we must have or we shall eventually grind ourselves and this spaceship earth into an open cesspool and graveyard where the surviving things of Nature can take it all back. We may not survive our childhood as a species.

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By Shenonymous, December 11, 2009 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

There cannot be time without change, time implies a change from one moment
to another however infinitely small.  To have time there also must be space in
which time to take place.  Time cannot be imagined without movement so there
is time, space, and movement.  so while space/time are linked intricately
entangled, tighter than a Gordian Knot, it is not simply space/time. 
Desideratum of movement must be there.  It is an ancient argument between
Heraclitus, all is in flux, and Parmenides, all is one.

Campbell is definitely a great source.  I met with him once for a comp. lit.
conference and had a brief conversation about the significance of three boats
associated with one of Jason’s voyages.  I believe he would have been the first
to say that all of his research and scholarly work are to be used for further
abstract thought: to think about how do all the metaphors, tropes, allegories,
analogies, and so forth as seen in these Masks connect to reality.

I too am a student of Jung.  The notion that we could stop fighting over
differences of beliefs is altruistically naive, no insult intended.  I say naive
because the vastness of this world and the number of different beliefs, deeply
held, are uncountable and essentially antithetical.  Yes, humanity could
possible accomplish good for the species, but being more a realist it seems to
me it is a fanciful chimera unless there is a world-wide effort to neutralize
those beliefs.  Realistically thinking, where ought humanity to start?  What
leaders would be charismatic enough to attract people to make this universal
change?  Which religions would yield their beliefs first?

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By Night-Gaunt, December 11, 2009 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

It is called space/time for a reason. It is inextricably linked so there may be time but not change but again it could be simply the imagination of that peculiar species here on earth. We can imagine quite a bit. Not all of it valid in reality but certainly symbolic. “The Masks of God” by Campbell is an excellent primer on mythopoetic zones and other aspects of humanity’s search for a cosmic father and mother to take care of them. Life is hard after all isn’t it?

Jung had much to say about such things in the use of archetypes by all humans to represent the unknown and invisible. A biological continuity of symbology around the world. Now if we could just stop fighting over our differences, and the resources, and work together and live and let live we might actually accomplish something good for ourselves.

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By elisalouisa, December 11, 2009 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

I cannot converse with you on a scientific level but by whatever name, that minute particle that leaves us when we die (soul?) goes on somewhere.
I cannot believe that there is a part of the universe that is not open to change. Of
course we affect the universe, look how we affect the earth and I might add in a
negative manner. What eastern religion is it that says, “The world is all mind.”
Another one: “Thou art that.” We are not separate entities nor is the earth separate from the universe. We are part of the whole. Everything is recycled and it leaves not exactly as it was when it entered. The universe is alive, it is we who choose to think we are separate. That being said, let me contradict myself by saying that there is an unknown where time is suspended. If time is no longer perhaps then there is no change and thus there is a forever..

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By Shenonymous, December 11, 2009 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

No ire here, garth, and you should not be so pre-defensive of what you say,
assuming you anger anyone. Either you stand by what you say, are very unsure
of what you say, are just taking pot shots, or are full of hot air.  I don’t think
you are full of hot air, but tentative of your convictions.

Not all instructors of Existentialism are infallible.  Since many of the
“existential” writers I spoke of use the word absurd, and I won’t quote them
since many of their works are in the public domain or easily obtained, it would
seem that irrational can be a synonym for absurdity.  Meaninglessness is
adjunct to the idea of absurdity.  While some would argue absurdity has
meaning, it is a stretch to say whatever it is absurd about has any substantial
meaningful meaning.  So the distinction is on the moot side. 

I did make the distinction between human existence and all existence.  From
my point of view, the arrival of the organism known as humanity, was
serendipitous, a happenstance of combining cells containing genetic material
the is the blueprint of the organism that emerged.  Darwin’s theory that some
members of a species survives better the vicissitudes of nature and go on to
mate with others creating a more stable organization of those cells
strengthening the DNA or genetic make up as they are better to withstand the
hostile environment they face.  Humans who have a consciousness are
creatively thinking animals and invent stories about their “specialness.”  That is
the absurdity I subscribe to.  Humans could just as easily disappear from the
earth, and hence the entire universe, and neither the earth nor the universe
would care one whit.  They would continue on as entities of their own, with the
earth most likely destroyed in some future millennia when the entire galaxy
falls into its black hole.  Probably before that when its solar system
decommissions either by its cooling off or a nova explosion of the sun. 

Against that view, I find the entire universe as ultimately meaningless to the
human mind.  For what does it mean for organisms to go through such a drama
as we would long gone when all the universal changes go through its self-
destructive paces?  I certainly do not want to assign any fable, fairytale, or
fiction to what I consider inevitable.  First of all it takes too much time and the
human lifetime is in comparison with universal time infinitesimal, better spent
in using that time to have some satisfaction for its existence, uh, finding
meaning in its own existence, finding some happiness, for only the really
miserable look for the wretched and disconsolate.

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By DaveZx3, December 11, 2009 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

By christian96, December 11 at 11:44 am #

“Is it possible the universe always
was and always will be?”

Probably a rhetorical question on your part, but I can’t irritate everybody any worse than I have by throwing my two cents in.

My understanding of the first words of Genesis is that matter, space and the resultant concept of time were created in this universe, separate from any other possible universes, and brought into being, ever expanding due to the momentum of the “big bang”

Time was now ticking, so it is safe to say that Earth was formed/created after the bang.  First words state that Earth was created chaotic and void, but a pre-translaation meaning is better understood as “it became chaotic and void,” ie, destroyed by the inhabitants. 

Genesis is mostly the story of the extreme makeover. In the same makeover era, the Adamic race was created from scratch, Eve being created from the DNA of Adam’s bone marrow, an ideal source for DNA.

The command given to the Adam family was to go forth and REPLENISH the Earth.  It was the identical command given to Noah’s family after the flood.  Cane killed Abel and was expelled to find a wife of the remnant of original inhabitants. 

The original inhabitants of the Earth were the inmates who were sent down to this penal colony after being sentenced for participating in the rebellion which took place in that mystical realm called Heaven.

You remember, where Michael and his angels fought against the Devil and his angels.  The coup was averted and 1/3 of the beings of Heaven were sentenced to prison on Earth, along with their leader, who retained leadership and secured a contract to run it himself, if he followed certain rules. 

As was his character, he broke all the rules, continued the rebellion, and deceived most into continuing to follow him.

The Adamic race was created to be the caretakers after the Satanic default.  But the Adam family became just as bad as the inmates, and in large numbers joined the rebellion or attempted to satisfy their own selfish interests. 

The flood was initiated in an effort to restart the redemption process. Noah’s offspring fared no better, with one of the grandsons, Nimrod, building the tower, thinking it would allow him to get to Heaven and refuel the coup.  He was also instrumental in starting the first religion, which became known as the Babylon Mystery Religion, of which God was not the one worshipped.

Abraham had to be called out of UR to restart the process, which resulted in another failure, when the sons of Jacob, all 12 of them lost their purpose.

The promises of God to Abraham were contractual, and God honored them, providing to the heirs of Abraham, primarilly through the tribe of Joseph, the bulk of the wealth of the Earth to be managed similar to the way Joseph managed the wealth of Egypt in pre-Exodus days, benevolently.  They failed, as we all know.

In addition to the management of the wealth, God promised that ultimate salvation would come through the tribe of Judah, and that the throne of David would not be removed from the Earth until this was accomplished.  That literal throne still exists with the “pillow of Jacob/Israel” mounted right underneath it.

The “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” made a complimentary pre-salvation appearance to encourage the troops.  The troops had forgotten the mission and didn’t treat him so well. 

Now we come to today, and we see the rebellion is alive and well with all pertinent parties giving it their best to annihilate the dangers to their continuance in power.  Those dangers would be the alliance between the vast wealth of the world, mismanged by the spiritual heirs of Joseph, coupled with the source of the salvation of the world which is completely ignored by the spiritual heirs of Judah.

Sounds like God’s people are getting their butts beat, but we’ll have to see what happens when the Lion makes his next visit.

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By garth, December 11, 2009 at 7:48 am Link to this comment


I read a simiar interpretation yo yours on the Existentialist’s use of the word, “absurd” in a book review in the Sunday paper, i.e., that absurd meant meaningless.

[I find human existence ultimately absurd such as did Samuel Beckett and others, Camus, Kafka, Sartre, Vonnegut, Bertrand Russell…and illusory as do
Buddhists. Unlike Sartre who came to fear the way it is, I see myself as a speck of dust in the universe, a conglomeration of subatomic particles that is here
temporarily.  Whatever “good” life my lifeform has it is because I will it to have and made it to be.  There are all kinds of eloquent arguments for and against the existence of god, how the universe came to be.  {I believe all existence is ultimately meaningless} rendered such by the fact of our temporality.  It does not distress me because I accept my temporary place in the universe,  My
molecules will return to that universe, as they should.]

I was corrected once for saying that.  The instructor said the Existentialist use of the word, absurd, translates to irrational.  They are saying that the world is irrational, not governed by or according to any reason.  Meaningless, it seems to me, says something more concrete, more basically profound.  I’ll probably raise some ire with that last phrase.

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By Night-Gaunt, December 11, 2009 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

A multiple of the sum of parts is called synergy. Originally used just in chemistry to explain reactions far exceeding the separate elements combined it is a place where 2+2=5 can happen.

Also humans can conceive an imagine impossibilities that work only in their minds & on paper. The book stores are full of such things.

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