The Clay Figurine

Cold hard facts of being raised by a potter

The biblical theology is that we are made—synthetic, not naturally occurring creatures that have no inherent existence in our own right—placed on this earth and serving in a probationary role as candidates for heaven.

From the clay figurine to the now complex individual, it was all spun into existence billions of years ago, god knowing that through the long and arduous evolutionary process he would eventually get his Adam (about 6000 years ago) through creation of the man shaped from atoms made into clay—now god can finally test his gadget.

But what is an atom? If so, what is Adam made of? Certainly when you break down the figurative clay into molecules and atoms we find the stuff—the foundation of all matter. Yet we don’t. Seems the universe is as infinitely as small, as it is big. The only way adequate way to describe anything is by its form and behavior. Seems to me that makes it the same thing.

The next choice is the that the order in the universe is a fluke—and accident of random collisions producing a spectrum of fungus, feelings, and intelligence. But in the end life is nothing but… This hypothesis has evolved into modern mythology, or imagery, if you will, of how it all began. Both theologies deprecate humanity to nothing but…

Whether you like it or not (until proven otherwise) the earth is a self governing organism that is filled with life. And it doesn’t know how it does it any more than you know how you grow your own hair. Things grow from within—they are made from without. Trees aren’t made out of wood, they are wood, in their own right. No amount of words can change that—and no amount of belief is needed to conclude what is. Whatever the case, it’s all pretty amazing.

The other day a friend of mine posted a question; “if you don’t believe in the christian god, what gives you hope?” I didn’t know I needed any until learning that theology.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

84 thoughts on “The Clay Figurine”

  1. Thanks for your response. The point I was getting at is an evolutionary argument against naturalism by PhD philosopher Alvin Plantinga. In other words, if naturalism is true, and the goal of survival is not based on concepts of truth but rather survival, then our thoughts can not be reliable. Whether we espouse in a deity or not makes no difference. It is epistemologically impossible to arrive at any knowledge because we are uncertain why our brain behaves this way. For instance, maybe our thoughts are meant to be false in order to help us adapt and survive better to our environment.

    However, if naturalism is false and there is an intelligent God who created us in His image, theologians have no problem with common sense realism. It would make sense that there are ways to distinguish between truth and falsehood since our reasoning derives from an intelligent mind. That’s all I am saying. Have you read Plantinga? He’s an incredible philosopher. Have a good day!

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    1. Evolution is a process. It doesn’t have a goal.

      Plantinga is one of those sophisticated theologians who says nothing. His apologetic argument depends on misrepresentation of methodological naturalism and so he creates an artifice of logic that doesn’t withstand any serious examination of tits central premises. If methodological naturalism was not a reliable method for gaining knowledge about how reality works for everyone everywhere all the time, your cell phone wouldn’t work. It does. Ergo…

      So rather than spend time promoting this kind of facetious argument about thee ‘reality’ of superstitious nonsense built out of logic loops that in turn rely on assuming the conclusion (if evolution is ‘guided’, which is a central premise and is unquestionably, absolutely and factually wrong, then who or what is doing the designing? Oh my, we’re so very, very surprised it must be…. a Designer – Blessed be His name!!!), why not spend the time to figure out WHERE this method of philosophical masturbation goes so very wrong. Yup… logic is only as good as the verified premises that supposedly reflect reality accurately. That’s how Aquinas went so wrong, too – ignoring what REALITY has to say in the matter – but this doesn’t stop people like Plantinga and Craig and McGrath and Berlinski and dozens more from making the same mistake over and over and over again. That’s why Plantinga’s argument is widely recognized as a PRATT… the same points refuted a thousand times. This standard boilerplate apologetics and it annoys me that it still has influence over minds that should be better than this.

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  2. Thank you for the post, Jim. As an atheist who ascribes to naturalism, would you agree that evolution has no “inherent” goal or purpose? In other words, evolution is an unbiased, nonmoral agency that adapts species to their given environment in order to survive? It is not interested in truth vs error, but survival from one generation to the next.

    If this is the case, then could our mental faculties have evolved in such a way that truth is secondary to survival. In other words, things that seem to be objective, such as arithmetic, botany, or chemistry, are really just illusory. They only seem to be “objective” because humans survive better when there is some type of binary mechanism set in place.

    And finally, if you agree with these propositions, then how can you trust your mind? What if the goal of word or semantics are only meant to create a community, aiding in your adaptation and survival? Even you admitted that the notion of hope was foreign to you, apart from some theological ideology. How then could you espouse to a particular position like atheism, evolution, or methodological naturalism? What epistemological claims can we make, if any, from a purely naturalistic framework? Thanks for your feedback.

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    1. That is a lot to unpack, so I’ll pass on the assumptions about what I believe and go to what I have time for today.
      ”In other words, things that seem to be objective, such as arithmetic, botany, or chemistry, are really just illusory. Things seem to be objective, but they are truly not objective, hence the illusory aspect—things are not what they appear to be. Even the material world, when broken down we find nothing there. No matter, no stuff. Calculus is a way of casting a net over certain regularities and identifying points on a continuous and connected world and separating them as if they were actually separate. What we find isn’t really at odds with any belief system except the Hebrew religions, which overstep (extrapolate) and the end of every roadblock must be that “Jesus did it” But belief in anything is that roadblock. Belief is the culprit, and Christianity played it like a pro. Making a virtue out of something most people can’t help but do until they wake up. If there is a god, there is nothing that is not it, including you. The real illusion is you think you are you, but simultaneously define yourself as more than that.
      When you find out who you are, who am I, without the preconditioned teaching (religion fills in the blanks for you, never gives oy the chance to answer that) where few will go on their own, then you will know without bias what is truth.

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  3. So we get a myth handed down about creation. The first man gains moral awareness and can no longer be dependent on his creator so he has to enter the real world. His mate replaces the creator to bring forth offspring and continuity but this comes at a cost, namely to suffer. Suffering and living and procreating in real life all go hand in hand. It’s a package deal. And that moral awareness forever shuts the door of returning to ignorance and dependence.

    Thousands of years after this myth was widely distributed generation after generation, a few Christians decide to interpret it backwards. In other words, Christians try to make sense of the creation myth with Jesus as the central figure. Forget that the myth stood on its own value for thousands of years prior to Jesus’ arrival. No, start with Jesus to explain the meaning of the prior creation myth! It’s so absurd an interpretation by Christians that it’s beyond laughable: it’s desperately sad.

    And the legacy of this Christian interpretation is truly deplorable in the sense it tells us to teach our children that they are broken creatures, full of sin, and that any hope of ‘salvation’ from this imposed state by a divine overseer is to reject this life as one to be embraced and celebrated on its own merit thatincludes necessary suffering and live only for preparing for ‘next’ one, a future life that has no suffering! This is full-on denialism of both the real world right here and now and our place in it. And we see this played out by Christians all the time causing incredible harm to humanity as a whole and the planet itself. The religious ideology called Christianity is pernicious to its core because of this backward reading of an ancient myth, one that justifies as righteous many anti-human, anti-life directions on how to live for the next one stamped with divine approval, and a myth granted ‘correct’ meaning only by a recent divine visitation to render us ‘works of clay’ and willing tools to the ongoing direction of this divine Dear Leader. Such belief is a pathology on to itself.

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    1. Do you think that the boon of technological advance in the west may in part be because of this belief “ that they are broken creatures, full of sin, and that any hope of ‘salvation’ from this imposed state by a divine overseer” from a fallen world which has put us at odds, confronting nature. Always trying to fix the fallen world? Necessity is the mother of invention. I guess the question I’m asking, why here and not over there, are most of the advances in technology found?

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      1. Thanks for your consideration of what I wrote and then springboarding on it.

        It’s interesting that technology continues to perpetuate itself. This is the inevitable result of coming up with understanding how reality seems to work and then applying this understanding in ways that work the same for everyone everywhere all the time. This is the scientific method writ large. It works. We may not be certain why this is the case with full understanding of the real world but it’s enough to continue to build generational knowledge and pass it along as the new starting point for the next. This is an achievement for our species and not a vice.

        When you interfere with this process of understanding how reality works, when you dictate what is and is not acceptable to a supposed divine overseer and task master and judge and jury, you retard this understanding and negatively affect its potential to create stuff that works and deny responsibility for its applied consequences. This is the core perniciousness of faith-based thinking, avoiding an understanding based on how reality arbitrates its usefulness and consequences and replacing it with a fictitious and imaginary version of how some god one imagines might arbitrate it. This switch in arbitration is an abdication of personal responsibility and a giving away of one’s ability to live as someone with real moral and ethical authority. This switch is a capitulation to ignorance and stupidity as the masters of arbitrating reality and how it works. And we see this all the time by religious folk denying reality when it competes with religious doctrine. Stupid is as stupid does. When one has faith that Trump speaks the truth, no amount of contrary evidence from reality is going to sway such a person. That’s the perniciousness of faith-based belief in action. It’s very destructive and demeaning and degrading. That is the inevitable result of celebrating stupidity and ignorance in place of respecting reality.

        The mindset of those concerned with what some god might think of this or that only causes a suppression of our natural curiosity about the real world to what someone-thing judges it through the filter of an ideological religious doctrine, and this then causes a loss of advancement in understanding, a loss of placing humanity (and all we require to thrive) first with this or that version of some agency of Ooggity Boogity. When you consider that more books are translated from Spanish to English than are written in all Muslim dominated countries combined (with a population over a hundred times greater) you see this religious interference hard at work. And it keeps suppressing, generation after generation. When you consider the stranglehold Christian doctrine held to all of European thought for over a thousand years – even after importing knowledge from beyond its reach – you see why we call this period the Dark Ages. When you see the technological explosion that has occurred since the Enlightenment’s feeble beginnings in Europe, where internecine religious conflict granted room for a loosening of that stranglehold combined with the usefulness of advanced tools, advanced weaponry, and the intentional armed expansion of territory for resources for the home countries, you begin to appreciate just how powerful a suppressant religious belief in its own truth actually is and how freeing its removal from the public domain is for the population as a whole.

        The key point that should be something of greater importance than we usually consider is about moral autonomy, about moral responsibility on a human level, yes, but on a personal level even more so. Any religious or other ideological framework that transfers this moral autonomy and responsibility to some other agent than the individual is a recipe for great and unnecessary widening harm. We are not vessels of some god, some divine whatever, some cultural machine, some group cog, but real people in real life trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got. That is only augmented when we teach our young to respect reality. The least we are owed in return is a respect for being the individuals we are, and allow our behaviours and actions as they affect other real people in real life to be the metric used for moral judgements about each of us. Those who demand we take away the individual’s moral autonomy and give it by law or culture or ethnicity or tradition or assignment by some government or institutional or economic diversity team to someone-thing other than the individual is promoting a deplorable ideology that will result is stifling the advancement of understanding reality and respecting what’s true about it.

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      2. When you consider the stranglehold Christian doctrine held to all of European thought for over a thousand years – even after importing knowledge from beyond its reach – you see why we call this period the Dark Ages.

        Contra to Tildeb’s false claims, generally historians don’t call that period the Dark Ages anymore.

        You can read this article by Seb Falk on Times Magazine. that will go in more detail on this issue. link

        Also, historians of science reject the conflict hypothesis between science and religion and accept the more nuanced complexity thesis.

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        1. Regardless of what historians of science might claim (by ignoring blatant evidence), the conflict between religion and science rests on incompatible methods of inquiry. The methods are incompatible. They do not work equivalently. Use of these methods to make claims about reality, then, producing models and explanations of how reality works and everything it contains, produces incompatible claims. This is not my opinion. This is fact.

          One needs look no further than the never-ending idiocy between belief in divine POOF!ism called creationism (you can sometimes find a religion that has no creationism but you’ll never find creationism without religious belief) and how reality actually works based on evidence from reality. We call this explanatory model ‘Evolution’, which is the study of UNGUIDED changes to life over time.

          In stark contrast, religiously inspired creationism has zero evidence in its favour from reality and evidence conspicuously absent where it should be found if the model had any knowledge merit. This is a simple demonstration of the inherent incompatibility between the method of science – evidence adduced from reality – and the method of religion – faith-based belief imposed on reality.

          It surprises perhaps only historians of science and religious people that these two methods are in fact incompatible, and that the results from using each are very often in direct contrast to and conflict with each other. If that typical result doesn’t define a fundamental conflict, then I don’t know what might. I guess we should ask these esteemed historians of science because scientists themselves (it is this idiotic conflict that has driven many scientists – especially biologists – to become public atheists) are not shy to say as much even if there is a widespread allowance made for reasons other than respecting what’s true for the idiocy of religious inquiry to continue to stick its unworthy nose under the tent of honest inquiry into explaining how reality works and cause this conflict between faith and knowledge. Religion can stop this conflict if and only if it stops making these claims. But religion honours no boundaries to its domain unless made to do so.

          Another way to evaluate this astoundingly naive claim of no conflict between religion and science is to look at the knowledge about reality produced by each method over time. On the one hand religious belief to date has produced zero insight into how reality works and to what effect. This total failure to produce any knowledge about anything anywhere any time does not stop it or its followers from making claims about reality based on the religious explanation and models of an active and intervening and tweaking god even though the method no way to verify them against reality. On the other hand, scientific inquiry has produced, well, everything that works for everyone everywhere all the time. The difference is complete: one method works to produce knowledge that is practical, applicable, and therapeutic while the other produces, well, what amounts to ignorance. The religious method just makes shit up to agree with doctrine and we’re told this is okay, that these conflicting results that religion regularly produces from the south end of a north facing bull is contrary to and often incompatible with it’s scientific counterpart. Yet we are to go along with the claim that this religious contribution that constantly interferes with gaining knowledge about reality is perfectly compatible with the method we use to gain such knowledge!

          Call me gob-smacked, but I think anyone with two neurons to rub together and dose of honesty should detect why this compatibility claim might not be the case… even if one has the title of ‘historian of science’.

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          1. In terms of the history side of things, interestingly the complete opposite happened. Historians started looking at sources that were ignored or forgotten or blatantly misrepresented and found that those who argued for the conflict thesis historically had greatly misrepresented or outright ignored opposing evidence. I strongly suggest you take the time to educate yourself on these matters.

            Nobody here is claiming religion and science work the same way as a method of inquiry so you’re attacking a strawmen. Still, I am willing to touch on a few of the problems with this idea. The problem is with the framing itself as if all religion were just a particular way of inquiring about reality as opposed to a shared social system of shared symbols, shared rituals and practices, shared values, shared myths, etc. In other words, I think your distinction between myths and religion is completely artificial. Myths are part of religion and always have been. That’s exactly why you see myths across multiple cultures and religions across the world and I can refer to a story in the Mahābhārata and call it a Hindu myth and everyone would know what I am talking about. Since you’ve already acknowledged myths have meaning and lessons about life and as I am pointing out correctly that myths are part of religions, you’ve actually conceded that myths (and by extension religion) can produce types of knowledge.

            perfectly compatible with the method we use to gain such knowledge!

            Nobody said this! Nobody said this, except Tildeb. The Complexity Thesis also predicts conflict, so how you concluded the above statement is a mystery to me!

            Anyway, if you’re not willing to educate yourself then don’t. No skin off my back.

            You can be like Trump and live in your own reality and listen to all the nice people who say the things you want to hear and ignore all those pesky experts in relevant fields who come to different conclusions then you.

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            1. “Nobody here is claiming religion and science work the same way as a method of inquiry…”

              Yeah, including me. I’m claiming they use INCOMPATIBLE methods that produce CONFLICTING claims. That’s why religion and science are forever in conflict and to suggest otherwise requires disregarding centuries of evidence to EXACTLY this.

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            2. Does it, Jim? I have found that any scientific revelation that competes with doctrine always meets the stiffest resistance. This is not an accident. That religion eventually loses the argument is not a surprise bercause it brings nothing to the table because it can’t. It already assumes it has ALL the answers first and so it kills honest inquiry every time it has the chance. So iIn the same way Trump may make a passing remark about ‘respecting’ the law, so too does religion make passing remarks about respecting science. Both are false. But let’s be clear in our agreement: there is only one direction going on here regarding competing claims about reality (assumed to be magically compatible by religious apologists everywhere in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary) and it’s from science to religion. Religion is just like the obnoxiously loud and drunk ignorant Uncle that just keeps coming to family dinners and will not leave unless booted out. The claim is that his unfettered drinking and all the behaviours it excuses is somehow compatible with civil discourse when we KNOW it is the root source of constant conflict. Religion and its leaders have no place at a table of grownups discussing the real world.

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            3. Sure, at first they dig in their heels, but most have adapted to the Big Bang and evolution, although they still cling to the idea of a prime mover. Baby steps man. Probably another 100 years and they’ll get it. Maybe you’ll still be here…

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            4. Neither Christianity, Islam, nor Judaism has accepted the scientific understanding of evolution. Certain sects go as far as allowing guided development from some agency of Oogity Boogity, meaning a core tenet of that faith calls for direct causal intervention at some historical point in some material way by a divine agency. That is NOT evolution, which is an unguided natural biological process caused by mechanical and chemical interactions and processes over time in specific physical environments subject to physical forces. At no point does the theory pause and proclaim, “And a miracle occurs here to allow for a bit of supernatural tinkering in this way or that.” Failing to do that, there is still religious denialism of this unquestionable scientific understanding hard at work regarding evolution, pretending to be compatible because, well, you know, deep time, mysterious ‘things’ set in motion leading to, blah, blah, blah, therefore a kind of evolution we’ve just made up on the spot – right here and now – that might just be acceptable to the final arbiter of all things, namely, some religious doctrine we hold to be the absolute truth into which reality must fit. And hey, we’re singing about it so it must have compatible value. Nope. No conflict here whatsoever. Now just move along because we’re all one big happy family where compatibility rules the day….

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            5. And I am claiming it’s ridiculous to reduce religion to a method in the first place as it clearly includes many other things that are equally important or more important such as shared rituals and traditions, shared myths, shared values, etc.

              Likewise, one doesn’t need to disregard any data to challenge the conflict hypothesis; it’s pretty clear that the church at times supported and sponsored knowledge, sponsored universities and rational inquiry, members of the church including some Popes engaged in philosophical and scientific inquiry, and in the Middle Ages we start seeing members of the church advocating for early Proto-versions of the scientific method (see Robert Grosseteste), but at the same time in certain instances stifled knowledge/inquiry, particularly if it crossed the lines into what they deemed heresy. A careful look at the historical record will show you all of this is true, which is exactly why many historians of science started changing their views on the issue. The Complexity Thesis suggests that in different periods and different areas science and religion had different relationships to each other and sometimes there was conflict, sometimes there was support, sometimes there was indifference.

              As for myths, you can think whatever incorrect thing you’d like about myth. It doesn’t make it anymore true. If you’re talking about Genesis, you’re talking about Hebrew myth, if you’re talking about the Enuma Elish, which inspired Genesis , you’re talking about Babylonian Myth and thus Babylonian religion. If you’re talking about the Sumerian Creation Myth that influenced the Enuma Elish you’re going to be talking about Sumerian religion. It’s exactly why we can use myths to learn something about the religious beliefs of these cultures. Nevertheless, this should be an easy test, show me an ancient myth that doesn’t have any connection to a religion.

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            6. “Myths are part of religion and always have been.”

              No, religion has always STOLEN myths and then claimed them for themselves. That you believe otherwise is beside the point. Religion doesn’t create myths because they have no knowledge to export in this form teaching.

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            7. Funny how you make a claim to authority by pretending my opinion is my own ‘framing’ but that you use experts for your own. Good grief, the entire New Atheist movement came about in direct response to the insatiable incursion of religion and its idiotic creationism into the science classroom as ‘another way of knowing’. Of course, YOU are going to pretend their opinions about their area of expertise pales in comparison to religious apologists and mentally compartmentalize their expertise from informing an opinion like my own. Take note of the log in your own eye, CR.

              As for the Trump reference, you’ve got it exactly backwards. Those who first BELIVE Trump’s words are true because he says it is true perfectly reflects faith-based belief in action… and this method of calling faith a virtue only comes from ONE source: religion. That’s because religion has nothing else to support it except fear, shame, and anxiety. So to lump my informed opinion using reality and those with expertise in how reality works to be some kind of ignorant Trump-like delusion is beyond ludicrous. Religion and science are in direct conflict because they produce conflicting explanatory models about reality.

              And, as I wrote previously, the ONLY way to get rid of this inherent conflict that religion alone produces is for religion to stop making knowledge claims about the universe past, present, or future, about how it operates and by what mechanisms and processes. Religion is a demonstrably failed methodology to create knowledge and so produces an empty set regarding any knowledge about anything anywhere anytime. What you choose to fill it with in the meantime comes from whatever you bring forward to it – like myths, for example. This demonstrates the paucity of the method that religious faith produces. It is a bankrupt system of faith-based belief only.

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            8. Of course, YOU are going to pretend their opinions about their area of expertise pales in comparison to religious apologists and mentally compartmentalize their expertise from informing an opinion like my own. Take note of the log in your own eye, CR.

              Nope. As a librarian, I have nothing but respect for people’s hard-earned expertise, including the New Atheists, as long as what they’re talking about actually is in their area of expertise. The problem, as has been pointed out by many other scholars in various other fields, is when they start addressing points not in their expertise.

              In fact, my whole point has been you should be listening to experts. As I teach my students you should always be looking for who wrote an article/book and what their relevant credentials are on the topic; likewise, a PhD in biology doesn’t make you an expert in history and vice-versa.

              Anyway I am NOT that interested in your personal crusade against religion. All I wanted to do was inform Jim about the current views about the Middle Ages and the relationship between science and religion as understood in history and how it doesn’t really agree what you shared so he could get accurate information if he so chooses. With that done, the choice is yours.

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            9. And the point I’m raising is that there is an inherent conflict between religion and science WHEN (you keep forgetting this central feature)… I repeat, WHEN religion makes claims about reality. (Not ceremonies, not traditions, not whatever other unrelated features particular to any specific religion you keep raising.) The conflict is obvious and never-ending WHEN, not if, a scientific claim challenges a religious claim. The conflict comes about BECAUSE the methodologies to inform those claims are incompatible. Religion in these cases is always wrong.

              So yes, there is a fundamental incompatibility between religion and science because of what method informs their claims and explanatory models about the universe and everything it contains. That some scientists are religious or that some religious institutions support(ed) scientific inquiry and even funded scientific education does not in any way, shape, or form alter this inherent conflict. Obviously, you don’t get this. So let me use an analogy:

              I say there is an incompatibility between, say, a religious doctrine of loving one’s neighbour and pedophilia. I say the two are incompatible because they produce opposite results. And the reason they produce opposite results is based on the principles of each: the former requires a fundamental respect of the dignity of the individual; the latter an absence of that respect. Just because a pedophile wears the robes of a priest and spends almost all of his time conducting appropriate church business that fulfills the appearance of respecting the dignity of all does not mean the religious doctrine the operates by is compatible and supportive of pedophilia! To argue (as you seem determined to do) that there is not an inherent incompatibility producing real world conflict between the practice of the religious doctrine and the practice of pedophilia because of this appearance I say is incorrect. The incompatibility remains. YOU are arguing there is no conflict, that all the trappings of the priestly position demonstrates no incompatibility.

              Well, CR, you’re wrong and your argument is flawed.

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            10. Oh, I understand your point. I just think your reduction of religion to an epistemological method is flawed as I already explained why above and have no plans to waste my time doing so again. Nor did I say there is never conflict.

              If I am wrong, then I am wrong. But I am going to stick to the established expert opinion on the relationship between science and religion historically, not random person on the internet.

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            11. I reduce religion this way because anything that informs it that has value has been stolen from elsewhere. The religious doctrine is therefore superfluous at best.

              I will mention myths specifically because you presume your conclusion, that myths come from religious belief. This is exactly wrong BECAUSE for a myth to BE a myth requires the form. The form must include the signposts necessary to read it as a myth, to read it as representative and this done by the use of obvious symbols. We know something is symbolic in a myth BECAUSE it is supernatural. The symbol is a representation of something else, something central to how the myth to be a myth should be read. The reader these days (the listeners from before) brings to the symbol something meaningful in the present, and this the way myths are interactive devices to teach.

              To claim religions as doctrines create myths they use (and abuse) is exactly backwards BECAUSE the doctrine elevates the symbolic to be historical, to be real, to be ‘evidence’ of the supernatural aspect of the religious doctrine that makes it divine. If religion were to adjust and create myths about their doctrine, they would have to eliminate this literal aspect and this would then be in direct conflict with the central tenet of that religion’s claim to be related in some way to the divine! They ain’t gunna do this! If religious instruction were to alter the symbolic representation within the myth to reside within each of us by recognizing and respecting the relevant meaning each of us brings to that symbols in the myth, they would be selling their central resource, namely, the requirement for faith.

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            12. There is no evidence that any of these things were stolen and didn’t grow organically as part of and alongside of the cultures and religions that produced them.

              There is no point where people have a myth and then after the fact suddenly a religion pops up and then coopts the myth. You do sometimes have one religion and culture take a myth from another religion or culture. The minute you have a myth, you also generally have a religion. Symbols are part of religions after all. Once again your distinctions are ridiculously artificial.

              “A religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing those conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.” ― Clifford Geertz, anthropologist definition of religion.

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            13. Now comes the long slow shuffle into the obscure and arcane definition of religion by religious ‘experts’ and so it fall son the citicizer – me – to then read a long list of sophisticated theological books that will supposedly clarify my own ignorance.

              Religions – because they have zero substance from reality upon which to base a specific supernatural belief, and so require faith to do this job – as far as I can tell ALWAYS use a grounding myth from which they then can then use as a handy springboard to put a doctrine into action, into a imaginary noun representing something else that is REAL (this god or that one… it doesn’t matter as long as it is so divine that it can be used to create an artificial authority for achieving some other goal the promoters desire… usually power in various arenas: political, economical, armed conflict, territory, resources, whatever. To accomplish this ontological sleight of hand – to make the imaginary real – religions then immediately break the cardinal rule of ontology and pretend that faith alone makes something real, makes the selected god or gods real agents in the real world causing real effect. And they sell this con job to the the next generation as a virtue. At the core, religion is nothing more and nothing less than the decision to use faith to believe. And this is the same tool used for seducing people into supporting all kinds of ridiculous ideas. The latest is Trump and his followers. Just believe…

              Religions are based on this whack-a-mole ontology – the same one you use to deny there is no fundamental conflict between religion and science (science is a METHOD, by the way, and not a product, so religion in this context is claimed to be another method of inquiry, another way of knowing, that does cause conflict with the method of science… when it so obviously does). This ontological slipperiness about what constitutes a religion is then used to defensive effect when the presumed authority of that religious claim is contradicted. I mean, it’s divine, so how can it be wrong? If Trump said it, it MUST be true! And these snake oil religious promoters almost always present a payoff in the form of a moral present, that if you would just believe with all your might, you will be rewarded at the very least with higher moral stature today than those unbelievers but even greater payoffs later. These payoff are as varied as the religions that tout them.

              This ‘general order of existence’ you quote are the very claims religions make that are in conflict with reality. That’s what the method of science allows us to discover. Religions have no such mechanism for self-correction because its methodology has been broken from the start, insisting for its own survival that respect for reality to arbitrate claims about it must be thrown out if it disagrees with doctrine. That’s why independent doubt and legitimate criticism from those not willing to be so gullible is often packaged as immoral… just like the three blasphemers sentenced to death in Pakistan this very day. Not a symbolic death, mind you, not a ‘representative’ death, but a very real and brutal death because they dared to question the religious doctrine supported by civil authorities IN LAW that justifies the stone age moral code of brutality that is Islam. There is your what your defense using sophisticated theology brings into being and defends with epistemological expertise in the real world.

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            14. Nope. No sophisticated theologians. Just an anthropologist with one of most widely cited definitions of religion.

              Since you’ve claimed to have an “informed” opinion on these matters I am surprised you’d have to read anything, Tildeb!

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            15. Of course religious belief when acted upon has effect, and this effect can cover the scale from good to evil. That doesn’t make religion itself any less an impediment to causing a fundamental conflict with science. This is why religious believers use the positive effects caused by believers to be representative of the religion itself. How convenient… especially when all the bad is waved away. This is a thinking mistake as I pointed out with the pedophile priest: the actions do not define the value of the religious belief. To compensate for this obvious lack of substance for the belief, religions steal everything that is considered good and – as surely as night follows day – believers go along with the charade that religion is the progenitor. The fact of the matter is that religion is the recipient of all that is good, right, just, and moral in people. But, of course, it steals this ownership for itself and expects all the good little boys and girls, all the virtuous people, to go along with the crime and stay quiet. Leave it up to the theological ‘experts’ who spend their lives arguing about how many angels can fit on the head of pin and learn after years of study who has said what about this burning issue.

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            16. Have you ever considered dismissing the experts and putting away all of the opinions to form your own through actual experience? Authority comes now by way of the footnote, and the more footnotes the better. The problem is that books now multiply by mitosis—books about books that lack any actual utility. A million volumes can be solved by field testing your own ideas. Actual experience is much more valid imo, than any exert writer who learns his craft from more and more books and footnotes.

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            17. Well, I am not sure how old you are, but I am NOT old enough to have lived during the Middle Ages so there is no way for me to directly experience it outside primary sources, secondary sources, or material culture in museums or archaeological sites. Basically it really depends on the question itself.

              I am all for direct experience and field testing ideas that involve utility. Many of my ideas about the world are from both my direct experiences in the world as well as footnotes. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.

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            18. But it is possible to go into your own philosophical worm holes to examine beliefs beyond their comfort zones. It is why when I lost faith I refused to read any atheism lest I be hijacked by opinion. Many times I’ve been accused of being a Harris or Dawkins disciple, but I’d never read them. It’s just a thought process without the interference.

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  4. Hi Jim. As always, I really appreciate your thoughts and words.

    “The biblical theology is that we are made—synthetic, not naturally occurring creatures that have no inherent existence in our own right—placed on this earth and serving in a probationary role as candidates for heaven.”

    You are unfortunately correct that this is most often how Genesis is believed. There are some, though, that understand the story differently and, I believe, more accurately. We say a man and woman “make” a baby. They impart to this child their “image” their genetics. We don’t think of it as synthetic or unnatural. The Genesis story says that God “made” or “formed” (from the Hebrew, yatsar, a word also used to denote human conception) mankind, male and female from the “dust” (a’phar-dry earth, dust, powder, ashes, mortar, rubbish-the elemental substances) and breathed into it his “breath” (nesh-aw-maw’-life giving spirit) and they lived. Whether it was instantaneous or the process of millennia seems insignificant (isn’t time malleable). For me the act feels very fluid, moist, juicy even, cellular and rambunctious. My mind gives birth to a picture of a father and mother conceiving a child. Of course this flies against the idea of the trinity too because it includes a female acted upon or in. (I mean really, how can there be a father and a son without a mother?) Thusly I resist the superficial interpretation of the Genesis account, but, I go deeper with the real substance of it, the part reflected by my own experience of reality. The part that seems relevant to the real questions I have about being.

    So, my theology says I am the offspring of my Spiritual Father (God), “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh”. I am a child becoming. Far from a candidate, I am destined for “heaven” (another loaded adulterated and ambivalent concept). I’ve been born into a family of which my earthly origins are but a shadow, an accurate and helpful shadow when seen in good light.

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    1. Good morning Frederic. Always nice to hear from you. I am familiar with yatsar, as well as the souls and spirit differentiations. “Far from a candidate, I am destined for heaven”—here on probation, adopted into the fold “if”. No mother in heaven (unless you’re Mormon) Here out of sufferance, and you’d better be grateful, having no natural right or inherent. existence. God has his only son, the object of his affection.
      52 Sunday’s a year the message is “you’d better be good, people”, and all the while the churches provide no mystical experience (talking shops) to validate their existence.
      I respect your attempts here to create a mythology that makes a little more sense. If you removed all biblical reference and took on your own inquiry, you may see (especially you) that these are not natural conclusions, but a mingling of independent thought trying to make sense of some very powerful imagery. Imagery that has affected all western culture from the language structure and the ability to see what is, vs what is taught of the experience through monarchial Hebrew culture descended from the kings of the tigress and Euphrates cultures. All the things you said make more sense without a deity.
      When you plant a seed, are you making a plant, or growing one? In western culture this is a common error of speech influenced by the religion. In China, say, a child doesn’t ask “mommy, how was I made”. They would ask “mommy, how did I grow. You (even your spirit, if you may) did not come into the world but came out of it. It’s no wonder the west is leading the world in its confrontation with nature.
      The funny thing is the actual nature of life is spelled out pretty well in John 10:30-36. This illustrates that Jesus didn’t find that being a son of god was peculiar to himself. He thought the disciples could do it. And they were to teach others the method to realize the real gospel of Christ, that we are all sons (of the nature of, equal to) in Arabic and the Greek.
      I noticed that new versions of the KJV and other bibles have removed the italics. Most people believed the italics were for emphasis. They are not. They were translator interpolation. When he says the son of god in that verse, the literal was “a” son of god. This was not peculiar to himself. Jesus’ message was to wake up man, and see (awake) to what you really are. But the gospel has been cloaked in worshipping the messenger instead of realizing the message—that you are all one. How else would we do on earth as it is done in heaven? How else will we do “greater things than these” when that realization of the self is the greatest taboo in western culture?
      Had he been born a Hindu he would have been congratulated. Born a Jew, was killed for it. No wonder liberation is so elusive in the west. Here, Jesus is the only son of god—no more! But heaven is not a monarchy, but a democracy. We’re all that.

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    1. Reading all these comments, Bill, actually makes me laugh. We take ourselves so seriously, and defend our points of view to the point of absurdity.
      So, therefore, I must add:
      I know my Self pretty well. I know what motivates me, I know what upsets and discourages me. As for my body, as Jim likes to allude to, no I do not know what makes my fingernails grow, but they are only parts of my body, with their own lives to live. It is for them to know. My Self is not my body, though I suffer when my body suffers, because we are so closely intertwined. Still, cut off my leg, or cut out my eyes, this does not damage my Self. I am not material, I am Spirit. (Not in any religious sense!) I am life.
      That’s about as serious as I can get. Ho hum.

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  5. you say it’s a “self governing organism that doesn’t know HOW it does it”, are you sure it doesn’t know? grass knows how to grow, birds know how to fly and where to fly every season, all life knows how to multiply and live and survive. and it yet, it doesn’t use a brain, it doesn’t use an intellect. the scientist will call it ‘evolution’ – is not evolution itself a sign of intelligent, a sign of knowingness? he will explain to you the final product ‘oh, yeah, it got from here to here like this’. but ask him to tell you how they knew to get from here to there and they’ll be unable. ask him why, after milions of years of getting caught in the spider’s web, no insect has ever ‘evolved’ any means to avoid it, or escape from it. why not?

    but scientists don’t go there. they only explain things in retrospect. i’m not denying evolution, but there is much more there then meets the eye. and whatever makes people think that they are the pinnacle of intelligence? what makes you think there is not intelligence so high, so abstract, so beyond the mind, that we could not possibly even begin to imagine it?? no ‘god’ needed. the whole cosmos is intelligence manifesting. i assure you, it knows. but this brain that IT created, will never grasp what was before it.

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    1. The organism grows, but it has no idea how. Of course its physiology knows how, but that knowledge is an inert feature of nature and cannot be explained by intellect.

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      1. let me put it this way. do you know yourself? you know your feelings, your emotions, your existence? if so… what makes you think that That out of which you are made, That in which you exist, should not know itself?? why do we assume the cosmos is dumb and knows less that That which it creates??🙄

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        1. Aren’t you all that? Do you know then, how you open your hand, how your fingernails grow, or just do it? Life happens not by any will, but is of itself so.

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            1. A part of it? We are very accustomed to demarcating and breaking everything down into bits. But there is no such bits in nature. You are everything or nothing, just depends on your comfort level what you’re willing to admit.
              On another note, what do you suppose is the biggest taboo in Hebrew/western culture? What is the one thing even Jesus was forbidden from doing?

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            2. To admit who he was. If you were to believe in the realization of Self, you see especially in the book of john that Jesus didn’t at all think his position peculiar to himself. He assumes all the disciples could do it, also stating that “greater things than these” will you do, once you realize what you are. He wanted everyone to wake up and see that they are one. That all are the divine nature. This was the real gospel, Had he been born in a Hindu culture he would have been congratulated.

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            3. wow! i did not know that. but doesn’t surprise me at all, and it makes sense. the buddha also said that all beings have ‘buddha nature’ or the potential for enlightenment. i’m surprised that line was kept, seeing most of the empowering teachings were removed from the bible and form the esoteric teaching, like the gnostic texts found at Nag Hammadi library.
              yes, in the east, Jesus is seen as just another awakened master, nothing different than any other human that has realized his potential. when you read his words from this perspective, it’s easier to get what he meant, no?

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            4. It’s really only the way his words make sense, is from that perspective. It also is, in a way evidence with other cultures throughout history that these experiences happen. Unfortunately his was interpreted through the Hebrew point of view.

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            5. “That which makes you think you are human, is not human. It is a dimensionless point of consciousness, a conscious nothing. All you can say about yourself is ‘I am’. You are pure being, awareness, bliss. To realize that is the end of all seeking” ~Nisargadatta Maharaj

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  6. Ah,Jim, you are still looking with scientific eyes, lol. You see atoms,and even less than atoms. Yet you don’t see that which us invisible to the eye, except in a macro kind of way. You do not see life, certainly not under a microscope, anyway. You will see movement, most definitely, which you can interpret as life, but you cannot see life. I wonder why?
    Once again, we are nothing without life. There is nothing, not without life to see, or otherwise experience it. Just because you cannot see it does not mean it is not there. But you already know you are alive. Why must you look to see that which you know is there?

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  7. I wonder, was there hope prior to “the fall”? Was there a need to hope for something at that point in time? Did Adam have hope? Eve? Before they sinned against God, was hope even a thing? Or were humans originally designed as hopeless creatures destined to fail? Once we failed, hope was then created and we were shamed into obeying…or else. Is that it? It just shows that this god of the Bible was ill-equipped to do his job. He kept screwing up and had to correct himself over and over again. Destroying the inhabitants of the earth in a flood because he regretted that his creation didn’t turn out as expected. Sending Jesus to correct the same bad behavior that caused him to have a redo with the flood. It would seem that a god who is bad at being God shouldn’t hold his creation accountable for making mistakes when he himself made them repeatedly.

    Just being alive is enough. Just being here to witness the beauty of the world we live in is enough. I used to think I needed more than that. I used to think that I needed hope. I was told that without hope, I had nothing. This world had nothing to offer me, but the hope of Heaven? Ah, now that’s something. I don’t see things that way now. I now hope for good days and plenty of them. I hope to be here long enough to see grandchildren one day. I hope for realistic things and not things for which there is no evidence. Hoping for Heaven is like hoping Bigfoot shows up at your pool party.

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    1. Nice to see you Ben! You must have hope to counter the teaching you are a motherless orphan that is only a candidate for humanity—here on sufferance. God has his one and only son, but you can be adopted by behavior. Even though you deserve nothing at all, if you get the favor of the king he may preserve (delay?) the inevitable. Who needs that kind of mythology?

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      1. Nice to see you as well.

        Mythology is an interesting subject. The stories that contain myths can be quite entertaining. But that is where it should end. Entertainment value, as well as some cultural significance is all well and good. Trying to shift the books of mythology into the non-fiction section is a problem.

        Searching for answers to the questions of how and why is a perfectly acceptable and worthwhile endeavor. Inserting our own answers based on feelings or cultural influence without the supporting evidence is where problems arise.

        Mythology is fine just as it is. There is no need to try to make it something it is not. It is part of our history, but it is not history and should not be taken as a documented account of actual events.

        “Who needs that kind of mythology?”

        Not me, that’s for sure.

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        1. I understand the danger of trying to make mythology historical. This is a category mistake. But to then relegate mythology to be fit only for the entertainment pile is an even worse mistake!

          Mythology is the primary means by which humans teach their young. It uses the language of symbols – the same language we use to dream – to transfer real world learning AND meaning from one generation to the next. I would (and have) argued that this most effective method at our disposal is based on our biology, which is why children seem unable than to stop what they’re doing and listen to a story above all other activities. It’s like a button in kids. We intuitively know how to speak, how to listen, how to transfer meaning by symbols. This is our common and base language. It’s the way our brain works.

          So it’s not surprising in the least that religion would steal mythology – as it does everything to make it’s toxic dung pile appear to be nutritious – in a vain and duplicitous way to deceive people with mythology’s clothes and falsely present these stories as religious. They’re not. In the least. Religion needs to steal this method in order to appear to the uninitiated to be ‘deep’ and ‘meaningful’ and ‘virtuous’ based on this misrepresentation. This works because people don’t know any better. But don’t confuse the means – mythology – for the motive of using it – the only means by which religion can paint the idiocy of having high confidence that faith-based belief is a moral virtue. This is exactly backwards because one must reject being a responsible moral agent to accomplish this necessary submissive task. Of course, there are myths not widely taught that reveal exactly this danger (Sir Gawain and The Green Knight).

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          1. Dear Tilde,
            Watch a newborn baby. They do not intuitively know how to speak, how to listen, how to transfer meaning by symbols. What babies hear, their first real sensual experience after the sense of touch, is a cacophony of sound. They cannot separate sounds. If they open their eyes, they do not see form, but an indescribable onslaught of light waves. They cannot even distinguish colours. Symbols? You have got to be kidding me!
            Like everything else, their brains cannot work to individualise anything. That takes time. It takes repitition. It takes learning.
            What do babies have at birth? We believe they have a sense of hunger. We believe they have the ability to tell us they are hungry. We anthropomorphize what we expect those babies to be feeling. I’ll bet dimes to donuts the only thing they are feeling, if they were squeezed out through the birth canal, is pain. Nothing but pain, though they have no concept of pain.
            And if they don’t come through the birth canal, if they are surgically or otherwise removed from the womb, I doubt they even have pain to welcome them to the world. Has anyone ever made a study of how long it takes an unborn baby to react to being removed from the womb if it is not made to feel sensation by the one who has removed it? If it isn’t forced to react in ways that cause it to breathe, will it even breathe?
            I have never attended a human birth, but I have watched hundreds of animals being born over the years. Mothers immediately give sensation to newborns, mostly in the form of licking and nuzzling. That is what seems to make babies respond. Doctors, nurses, midwives, helpers, they do that for human babies.
            What would happen if no one did anything? Would a baby breathe on its own. I don’t know, but somehow I think there are times it might not.
            Nothing is intuitive, as far as I can tell. Learning must occur on some level. No?

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            1. Rawgod, thanks for your thoughts on this. I suspect there is a problem understanding what is meant by the term ‘symbols’.

              Symbol (OED): a conventional representation of an object, function, or process

              Sitting in your head is an organ whose main function it is to help itself and the attached biology maneuver in an external environment. To aid in this mapping of the external world and how best to cope in it are inputs of various kinds. We call these ‘senses’. But here is the fact that many people don’t truly grasp: it is our brain that ‘sees’ and not our eyes. It is our brain that ‘hears’ and not our ears. It is our brain that feels, smells, and tastes and not our skin, nose, or tongue. Our brain assigns these designations to these specific senses but they can be and often are assigned to others. The blind can learn how to ‘see’ with other senses. The deaf can learn how to ‘hear’ with other sense. We are constantly adjusting our senses by our brains to receive more or less input with more or less attention. Our brains do this. It is inherent. Your brain just like mine interprets incoming data and uses these signals to create a representation to account for the environment that causes the input. This, of course, is a gross simplification of a very complex process… one that lasts for every moment our brains continue to function.

              So when you say about babies, “do not intuitively know how to speak, how to listen, how to transfer meaning by symbols,” you are concluding the representation of input in their brains is somehow not known by them. Well, this is what the mapping process is all about and thatprocess of interpreting input into symbolic meaning that describes the external environment for the brain is purely biological: that’s ALL their brains know how to do! In pedagogical terms, this interpretation is called ‘making meaning’. Making meaning through symbolic representation is what the brain does… whether that’s to map the environment, create grammar, recognize patterns, adjust responses, you name it. And this fundamental language of symbols by which the brain operates comes only through genetic inheritance. We are, in fact, born with brains to do exactly this. This is how our brain functions. And it’s hugely advantageous to our survival as a species. This is why the plastic brain develops itself over time adjusting to the meaning it makes from mapping experiences in every way, shape, and fashion. And this is the language our brain uses to create more dendrites or pare away unused axons. This is what you are experiencing when you sleep, and your brain expresses what it’s doing with symbols the brain has matched to its experiences of all kinds. We call this ‘dreaming’ and it is the way our brains develop.

              We come biologically equipped by the nature of our brains to make meaning. We come biologically equipped to extend that symbolic representation in our brains to then develop a series of grammatical patterns, a series of symbolic languages that contain axiomatic meaning through our mapping. It doesn’t matter what the specific sounds are, for example, to develop a grammar for transferring meaning by sound – to communicate successfully – as long as the same sound means the same thing to the person with whom we are trying to communicate. It’s not the actual sound that matters, not the actual number sign that causes a specific quantitative meaning that is shared; it’s the quantity that is represented by various kinds of numerical systems common to those in our environment. The shared representation is what matters to create a conventional meaning – a shared meaning – that can be successfully communicated to effect. We are rewarded by these efforts and our brains reinforce them… so fast in the case of, say, spoken language that a toddler can ask you for a cookie differently than a neighbour or a grandmother or a sibling. These pragmatics are incredibly sophisticated parts of communication even when the grammar has not yet been fully developed. This, too, indicates a significant genetic inheritance of using symbolic language even before it’s fully developed.

              Myths in this regard are like numbers, are like words, in that they are representational stories that reveal some understanding of the world by means of symbolic language in which we are trying to successfully navigate. And we are biologically predisposed to grasp, to recognize, this language… as soon as we find a signpost that this is the correct grammar for this kind teaching. And the young are particularly sensitive to identifying it as something worth their attention. We understand the meaning of myths because we intuitively recognize the symbolic language it contains. It’s our first language. It has a universal appeal that possesses a shared meaning to help describe the environment we are trying to navigate not as some subset but as fully human. The mythological theme is the root source of listening to and learning from stories as a method of teaching about the world, which is why we teach the same stories to children generation after generation after generation. This used to be aural… until written language became widespread and easily available, until viewed language (like films, TV, and now the internet) became widespread and easily available. But note, all the stories are the same expressed a million different ways. The same mythological themes are the central feature of every generation’s art regardless of all other differences in form. And this works only because all humans share this basic meaning-making grammar, namely symbolic representation as a core feature, a core language, of the human brain.

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            2. Can’t agree with most of that in the way you are trying to say it. If a person has problems with their eyes, not all the light waves or photons are getting through the eyes and into the brain. Therefore the brain cannot correctly interpret what eyes are showing it. The same with the ears. If they do not pick up all the sound waves, what the brain thinks it is receiving is faulty. The sense organs are necessary for the brain to function properly. Sure, a person can see with their fingers, or hear with their skin, but these are still sense organs collecting data the brain needs in order to symbologize.
              I am not trying to be mean, or argumentative, but I think you need to reread what I was trying to say. The brain of a newborn baby still has to learn what its job is. Otherwise babies would speak, hear, make sense of incoming data and send out symbols comprehensible to others. They cannot do this. The brain needs to learn, just like the eyes and ears need to learn. And animals’ brains learn a helluva lot faster than humans do, despite the fact we are animals in our own right.
              I would never do this because it would be ridiculously abusive, but if a baby was taken at the moment of birth and put into a sensory deprivation chamber, it would not learn to be human.
              You are giving our brains much too much credit. In a normal setting, all the things you say are true after a learning period. Without that learning period, our brains are useless chunks of meat.

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            3. RG, I never denied development; I said our brains make meaning from a language of symbols and that THAT is the biological reality we have inherited. For example, once Helen Keller grasped that the symbols in her hand pushed there by her teacher represented the water she could feel, look how quickly she developed a series of languages with significant sensory depravation. Her brain was already primed to do just this, to make meaning from symbols.

              For a series of fascinating demonstrations of why I say the brain sees, hears, smells, tastes, and touches by interpreting sense data, Doidge has written several accessible books. Probably the most compelling evidence is from damaged brains altering how the brain perceives sensory data but the mirror box is now standard medical practice to deal with phantom limb pain far better than pain medication. All it takes is to let the brain see the phantom limb as if it still existed and then turn off the pain receptors. This simple thing has changed the lives of thousands of amputees. The pain is from how the brain represents this loss of limb and not from the severed nerves themselves. I know… hard to wrap one’s head around this but true nevertheless. (And the brain fools itself all the time when we encounter something like an ‘optical’ illusion. Our brains are filling in all the time and often makes stuff up because it seems to ‘fit’ the mapping we use. That doesn’t change reality, which we test for when mapping; we become aware of how our brains really are busy interpreting the sensory data when we find ourselves fooled by such illusions. It’s a very human thing.)

              We make a category mistake to presume our senses tells the brain what to think. All of our reality is represented in our brains by symbolic representation from our created map. I’m told we actually see about a thumbnail from an extended hand with any clarity and fill in the rest with what we presume should be there. That’s why to change the meaning we get about world starts with a person grasping – and I mean fully understanding – that how they think really does determine what they think. And that ‘how’ is a skill set. That’s why giving away that power to think well in order to believe in some faith-based story and follow these borrowed constructs religion uses to its own continuity is a move away from reaching one’s own potential to experience reality through using our own extraordinary brains.

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            4. Religion shows you the thumbnail they want you to see, then tells you what it means. I’ve stated here many times that the beliefs they are experiencing are not even their own. Evidenced when you graduate from faith by the complete overhaul of what’s important to you.
              Religious belief is a like a Zen koan. It is a barrier we must get past to see things as they are.

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            5. No, Tildeb, what you said was that we are born with the ability to understand symbols. My whole argument has been centred around the fact we are not born with this ability, we have to learn it. You are so far ahead of yourself I think you have forgotten your own words. Very little of what you have said has spoken to my original contention. Is that because you understand words as symbols, and not as words? As I believe you stated at one point, the simplest solution is usually the easiest.

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    2. It’s almost as if it is all made up 😉. There are a lot of flaws in Christianity which the writers (of the Bible texts) didn’t think through. But hey, if you rule by an iron fist it doesn’t really matter.

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    1. Actually no. He’s got a fairly lengthy discussion going on FB, and the comments don’t really point at any one thing either. Maybe I’ll ask and report. Insight?

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      1. As asked, you could insert any selected cause followed by any mental or emotional state and it would make as much sense. For example, you could ask, “if you don’t believe in the the Force/astrology/unicorns, what gives you love/direction/anger/?” It’s a really bad question because it presumes the answer is connected to the reality of the noun rather than first show the noun is real and the causal chain can be connected to it.

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        1. His answer just came back—“something to live for”, was all he said. I’ve got nothing snappy to reply at the moment. Is the christian life so depressing as that? Like I said, they are trained to self deprecation by a theology that has them here on probation, and no matter what, will never be good enough. Even to be saved is a gift. Work out your salvation through fear and trembling. Weird.

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          1. Thanks, Jim. This substitution doesn’t change the problem of the question itself I outlined earlier. There is still no causal connection between belief in some god and ‘something to live for’. How can you live for anything if you don’t believe in a Goop detox?

            Liked by 2 people

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