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Saturday, February 6, 2010

The God Factory

I wanted to draw attention to Al Dexter's excellent article, "The God Factory", and if you haven't read it, it is well worth the read.

I agree with his statements in that essay, and I think it is an excellent foundation of study. My own studies paralleled it when I left the WCG.

As I was trying to figure things out, one of the "rebel" ministers recommended Eric Hoffer's excellent study of cults and mass movements, called The True Believer. A statement in the front of the book caught my eye and has stuck with me through the years, and it fits in with Dexter's article:

"There is a certain uniformity in all types of dedication, of faith, of pursuit of power, of unity and of self sacrifice. There are vast differences in the contents of holy causes and doctrines, but a certain uniformity in the factors which make them effective. He who, like Pascal, finds precise reasons for the effectiveness of Christian doctrine has also found the reasons for the effectiveness of Communist, Nazi, and nationalist doctrine. However different the holy causes people die for, they perhaps die basically for the same thing".

Hoffer was able to describe the process, but he never quite figured out where it came from, except for the fact that it is somehow bound within our genetic system:

"When we speak of the family likeness of mass movements, we use the word 'family' in a taxonomical sense. The tomato and the nightshade are of the same family, the Solanaceae. Though the one is nutritious and the other poisonous, they have many morphological, anatomical, and physiological traits in common so that even the non-botanist senses a family likeness."

The possible cause of this drive for order and sameness may have been discovered by Richard Dawkins, who authored The Selfish Gene in 1976.

Dawkins attributes the needs of religious proselytizing to what he calls "the genetic replicative algoprithm". Basic the genetic replicative algorithm is the singular process within our genes to replicate themselves. That's that they do, that's their job, and in order to do their job, it becomes necessary to control the environment surrounding them in order to minimize change.

At the core of our beings is the need to simply make more like ourselves. At some point in history, however, humans started organizing empires and god-kings, and began building empires dedicated to the eternal" deities described in Dexter's essay. They developed the social matrix that became the "God Factory".

But why did they develop as they did? Philip Slater, author of a book called EarthWalk, may provide a key insight:

"A machinelike response in the face of danger had no real value until men began to make war on each other--it was of no use either in hunting or in surviving other predators. The most mechanical peoples won over those less so, so that a profound cultural selection took place. Evolution is full of such mistakes".

A "Machinelike response" placed stress on standardization, sameness, exact replication, which, strangely enough, is exactly the process that ensures success of the genetic replicative algorithm.
Such reinforcements of culture would easily produce a Spartan culture that sought genetic excellence and fitness, promoted warmaking as the ultimate of masculinity, and eliminated malformed babies at birth.

This would describe the gradual evolution of religions, cults, and nationalist mass movements, supporting the needs of the genetic replicative algorithm. The linear extension of oneself into the environment in this fashion is called Narcissism. But even the narcissistic impulse may come from the genetic replicative algorithm, also producing the mechanical need to proselytize and "convert" more and more to a singular way of life.

This same process was strengthened greatly, as Marshall McLuhan wrote, by the printing press, which was merely the extension of exact replication, standardization, and duplication of a single process of thought.

McLuhan, in Understanding Media, wrote:

"Psychically, the printed book, an extension of the visual faculty, intensified perspective and the fixed point of view. Associated with the visual stress on point of view and the vanishing point that provides the illusion of perspective there comes another illusion that space is visual, uniform, and continuous. The linearity, precision and uniformity of the arrangements of movable types are inseparable from these great cultural forms and innovations of Renaissance experience....the typographic extension of man brought in nationalism, industrialism, mass markets, and universal literacy and education. For print presented an image of repeating precision that inspired totally new forms of extending social energies. Print released great psychic and social energies in the Renaissance, as...in Japan and Russia, by breaking the individual out of the traditional group while providing a model of how to add individual to individual in massive agglomeration of power".

So we see the genetic replicative algorithm supported by war, the machine-like response developing from it, and the extension of our selves into the environment by means of the printing press, which placed psychic stress on sameness, standardization, repetition of of process.

Given the drive of the genetic replicative algorithm, such developments would seem inevitable.

The "God Factory" gradually evolved toward a concept of integration and elimination of difference into a singular process of general organization.

But as Al Dexter points out, we can now take that same principle and manufacture any concept of God that we wish, or no God at all.

When Gutenberg published the bible on his printing press, however, instead of creating a society of peace and order based on the teachings of Jesus, blood literally ran in the streets, religions became violent in their competition for the right process of "salvation", and an explosion of diversity within religions occurred.

Leonard Shlain, in The Alphabet And The Goddess, points out that it was the development of alphabetic text from ancient times, perhaps even first developed in the caves of Egypt as slaves literally developed an underground movement, reducing the complex hieroglyphs of the Egyptians to a simpler system of sounds that became the alphabet.

This simple system of writing was developed by the Phoenicians, giving rise to what is today known as the phonetic alphabet. It was this development of linearity, the process of writing, said Shlain, that made the "male side" of the brain dominant, the one-thing-at-a-time, sequential process of organization that not only suited the male brain and its war-like capacity, but made the female, with her greater capacity for multi-tasking and organization in the home, less "important" within society. The "goddess" of culture was replaced by a "god", and the mechanical, warlike response became the dominant feature of social systems.

McLuhan writes that it was this linear, sequential, interchangeable process of organizing our thoughts in alphabetic form that gave rise to geometry among the ancient Greeks, and also gave rise to the axiomatic foundations of Euclidean process of thought.

Eric Hoffer pointed out that in modern times, that same process of interchangeability gradually developed among religions as they organized within the larger context of the Industrial Revolution. The dominant form of social organization within Western Civilization became part of the "God Factory".

The development of electric technology, wrote McLuhan, made such processes of organization obsolete. Instead of the interchangeable parts of society fitting together like the various part of machines, needing only the proper lubrication of ideas now and then, the world suddenly "imploded" by the process of communications at the speed of light.

McLuhan wrtites:

"...in the electronic age, data classification leads to pattern recognition, the key phrase at IBM. When data moves instantly, classification is too fragmentary. In order to cope with data at electric speed in typical situations of 'information overload', men resort to the study of configurations....The drop-out situation in our schools(this was published in 1964) at present has only begun to develop. The young student today grows up in an electrically configured world. It is a world not of wheels but of circuits, not of fragments but of integral patterns. The student today lives mythically and in depth. At school, however, he encounters a situation organized by means of classified information. The subjects are unrelated. They are visually conceived in terms of a blueprint. The student can find no possible means of involvement for himself, nor can he discover how the educational scene relates to the 'mythic' world of electronically processed data and experience that he takes for granted."

From specialization and interchangeable parts, to the sudden implosion of electronic communications worldwide at the speed of light. In such a change, the old specialization of interchangeable parts in government and religion become ridiculous. There is no "meaning" in a system that recognizes individuals as disconnected parts.

The "God Factory" has given way to the need for complete integration and ubiquitous involvement worldwide. In such a world, terrorism becomes the new method of warfare, replacing the much older specialization of the organized, machine-like response.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ralph,

I would appreciate it if you would make this blog less complex in content so that others with a lesser education can participate.

The Painful Truth said...

"This simple system of writing was developed by the Phoenicians, giving rise to what is today known as the phonetic alphabet. It was this development of linearity, the process of writing, said Shlain, that made the "male side" of the brain dominant, the one-thing-at-a-time, sequential process of organization that not only suited the male brain and its war-like capacity, but made the female, with her greater capacity for multi-tasking and organization in the home, less "important" within society. The "goddess" of culture was replaced by a "god", and the mechanical, warlike response became the dominant feature of social systems."

More can be learned by reading
"Men, Women, & Gods" over at the PT.
Women and education

Ralph said...

That's a fair request, anon. But I'm not sure exactly what I should be doing. I was writing James about the fact that my thinking is a total reversal of what most people assume to be true.

I don't think the problem so much is the complexity of my thought as it is the fact that I come from a completely opposite perspective. That's what generally seems confusing to most people, and I'm not sure how to correct it.

Give me some specifics, and I'll try to work on it.

The Painful Truth said...

I e-mailed you something that should be helpful.