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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Another Personal Response

This response from the same person, who still can't seem to get on the blog, so I'm copying his response together with my own to him.

"Ralph, Since you've already planned to 'blow me out of the water'(which I did, because I can) I really don't see a mind open for discussion".

Now there's an interesting statement. I'm all ready for debate, from any perspective he wants to use, and he accuses me of having a closed mind. Why?

"It is the same unpleasant mind of the True Believer I have engaged in the past".

True believer in what? Belief in the idea that there is a God? This is a strange position for one to take, since there is no proof in either case, that there is or is not a God. I'm accused of having a closed mind, yet he offers nothing, and CANNOT offer anything at all to demonstrate there is no God. Now, if he wants to demonstrate that there s no God, I will still show him why my conclusions are perfectly in accord with his statements, and why my statements would still be true in either case.

he finds it "unpleasant and irrational" because I stated quite simply that I would blow him out of the water in logical debate. Unpleasant, yes. irrational? Prove it.

"Besides, your very first statement of having belief in becoming God is simply open to challenge"

Of course! That's why I wrote it! Still no takers!

"The concept, however, is unproven, and cannot be"

Never, at any time have I said it was provable. What I HAVE said, repeatedly, with still nobody even capable of offering token arguments of any logic, is that the statements made by both Paul and Jesus ARE consistent with what we are now seeing as evidence.

Here's the one I like:

"Belief is not akin to truth".

Really? No kin at all? I'm wondering what certainty of knowledge demonstrates evidence that there is truly no God? Lack of scientific evidence, yes. But that's the problem. Scientific evidence is soooo dependent on axiomatic foundations and repeatable experiments for conclusions. It just can't ever claim completeness.

In fact, the certainty that no God exists is merely a belief. Belief based on evidence? No, a belief based on lack of evidence. The old argument that you can't prove a negative.

Here is the point: Truth is truth, whether there is a God or no God at all. If a statement is made that conforms to reality, and that statement is made about God, then it is quite logical, and quite rational, to believe in the possibility of God's existence, so belief IS akin to truth ONLY if the belief is founded in that which can be demonstrated by evidence.

"That concept is what drives your religion and all others".

My religion? What religion? I've stated before everyone, challenged everyone, looked for any response to show me wrong, that there is no decision procedure by which we may get from "here' to "God". Pray tell, how do I develop a religion based on that?

"I will simply not argue religion".

I don't recall anybody asking you to argue religion, since I don't believe in it myself. The statement is filled with preconceptions, misconceptions, and assumptions, yet it is I who am accused of having a closed mind. Amazing!

"I was frustrated that I was unable to publicly point out the confusion of your thinking".

I'm sitting here like an expectant virgin, waiting for that first experience. I seem to be surrounded by pubescent young men who can only brag, but still don't have the knowledge for doing.

This person also made reference to me calling him a "Randroid" because he followed Ayn Rand, and accused me of ad hominem. Hey, I follow Ayn Rand. I like Ayn Rand. I think she's brilliant. I merely referred to Randroids. I don't think I specifically called him a Randroid.

Unfortunately, for anyone who followed her life, her emphasis on the power of reason also established a kind of religion of "Randroids" who followed her around and copied her, even to carrying long cigarette holders and some even speaking with a Russian accent.

THAT is what I'm talking about, the fact that people have the tendency, even the need, to develop religious qualities even when following someone who claims to be an atheist.

All I'm seeing is presumption, a series of "cockroach terrorist" attacks, where somebody emerges from his rock just long enough to make a statement that proves nothing at all, and then retreats under the rock.

I've laid my case right out there. All I hear is complaints "about" what i say. There seems to be no capability of response to take me on.

I'm ready to take your best effort. And you folks accuse ME of being closed minded?

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.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Personal Response

I don't think I'm violating anyone's trust here, since the individual who sent me this email was complaining that he couldn't respond to the blog for some reason.

Fist statement of the response:

"The PT site doesn't exactly have the reputation of being on the side of the gods. And yet the readers are to be subjected to preaching for the first month of the new format with your submissions--so far about two a day".

Preaching? I merely stated a belief. I don;t claim authority for my statements. I don't even say that any authority can be claimed. If someone wrote something with which I disagreed, would it be "preaching"? If the next editor says something with which i disagree, I will directly challenge him in regards to his statements explicitly.

Notice in the above remarks a decided tendency toward ad hominem. Not actually pointing to the flaw in the logic of mu statements, but obviously disparaging it for my benefit by calling it "preaching". Does that prove it right or wrong? No, it proves absolutely nothing except that he doesn't personally like it. So? I don't personally like a lot of things, but i usually try to discipline myself to specific responses.

Next statement: "Your preaching is about like most sermons, confusing and contradictory".

Notice again that this is a statement "about" what I'm saying, which falls into the category of ad hominem, but tells me nothing at all except that he doesn't like it and he finds it confusing and contradictory. Is it confusing and contradictory? How can I possibly know if he doesn't explain it?

But we are getting into some more specific comments:

"Now let's see, you cannot prove there is a God so it is likely you don't know what a god is, and yet man is destined to become a thing you cannot identify. It is rationally confusing."

First part is true. No one can prove the existence of God. Have I stated a falsehood? Can any of you prove there is a God? Therefore, I do not know what a God is. However, I have never said it is a fact that man is destined to become God. I merely stated that it is my BELIEF that man is to become God. Is this somehow logically contradictory?

Let's see. Is it permissible to believe in truth? You might say "one doesn't believe in truth. One PROVES truth. Yes, that must be true. But can anyone prove all truth? No, one cannot. BUT one can conclude that truth must be consistent with all truth. I can't prove this, but it would seem to be a logical assumption, since if any any statement is not consistent with truth, or contradicts truth, how can it be true? Yet there is no way I can prove this to be consistent with what I happen to believe is true within my own knowledge. The reason being that I cannot prove that all my knowledge is complete and consistent within truth. I may actually believe something that is wrong.

However, with no ability to prove the consistency or completeness of my own thoughts in regard to 'absolute" truth, I can logically BELIEVE in truth, though I CANNOT prove it. Therefore, I can believe that if there is a God, and that God is consistent with truth, in fact is the embodiment of truth, then it is perfectly logical to accept the idea that I can BELIEVE in a God who is consistent with truth, whether I can prove it or not.

Let's look at it from another viewpoint. Suppose I could actually define truth in all its completeness. If I could, then there is nothing to prevent me from programming it into a computer. At the point I program all truth into a computer, from every possible definition known to the human mind, that computer would BE truth. It would exist separately from truth, but since it would contain the perfect embodiment of truth, it would be truth in every conceivable fashion. Would there be a difference between the computer that "contained" the truth, and truth itself?

It seems logical there would be a difference. But to actually DEFINE the truth, you would have to "contain" it within some boundaries of human thought. That is, truth would be finite, rational, complete, and consistent. Does truth exist in that fashion? We simply don't know. We accept that truth is infinite. That was Godel's conclusion. If it is finite, then we should be able to define the boundaries of truth.

The problem is, we can't. We cannot list all the true statements of mathematics, but if we could list them, we would discover that there existed some false statements that got "smuggled in" during the process of listing.

If "God" therefore, is synonymous with truth, then "God" would have to be infinite, non-definable, just as truth is.

Next statement, from Ayn Rand:

"No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the sum total of his knowledge. To arrive at a contradiction s to abdicate one's mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality".

Is God within Ayn Rand's concepts? Well, if you read The Fountainhead, you will see her making the statement o the effect that "The first frown was the touch of God on man's forehead".

Is that a part of her integrated concepts? She was an atheist, and she did not believe God lay within the realm of integrated concepts, yet she stated an obvious contradiction. If there is no place for God within integrated concepts, how could God 'touch a man's forehead' from outside those integrated conceptions?

But let's just look at her statement above. Lots of people do to Ayn rand what I have accused you folks of doing to me, so I will look at the statement rather than talking "about" it.

"No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the sum total of his knowledge".

Notice, she didn't write "all knowledge" or "absolute knowledge". She merely said "his knowledge". There is nothing within that statement declaring that every man must possess a complete, consistent understanding of all knowledge. In fact, we know mathematically that he cannot. But it is necessary for him to correctly integrate all HIS knowledge.

Let's look at another Ayn Rand quote:

"Men have a weapon against you(collectivism). Reason. So you must be very sure to take it away from them. Cut the props out from under it. But be careful. Don't deny outright. Never deny anything outright, you give your hand away. Don't say reason is evil--though some have gone that far with astonishing success. Just say that reason is limited. That there's something above it. What? You don;t have to be too clear about it either. The field's inexhaustible. 'Instinct'--'Feeling'--'Revelation'--'Divine Intuition'--Dialectical materialism'..."

In other words, Ayn Rand is saying that there is no collective power by which men can be controlled in the name of truth. Every man has a weapon against all collective power. Why?
Because truth cannot ever be contained in a complete, consistent sense in one common package. Godel's theorem merely supports Ayn Rand!

Men are forever free precisely BECAUSE truth cannot be contained in one single package!

How does that differ from what Paul said in Romans 9:16-22? Is there a decision procedure b which we can organize under God? If there is, both Paul and Ayn Rand would be wrong!

If you can define any algorithm or decision process by which truth can be collectivized, then you would prove both the atheist Ayn Rand and the theist Paul wrong!

By the way, Here's Ayn Rand's full quote about God, from the above statement:

"Have you noticed that the imbecile always smiles? Man's first frown is the first touch of God on his forehead. The touch of thought."

Whoops!

Another quote from the email:

"So you cannot prove a god exists, but you are quite willing to proceed to preach/teach from a 'holy book' allegedly inspired by that unproven god."

I don't remember calling it a "holy book". The only thing I did was to question what the term "holy" means, as in "Holy Spirit". Did I say there was anything higher than the mind of any individual mind? Have i said you must believe what I say? No, I merely challenge you to prove me wrong, and nobody's even come close.

"Well, you cannot prove that allegation, either". What allegation? The only "allegation" I have chosen to demonstrate is that Paul's statements in Romans 8 and 9, and Jesus' statements in Matthew 24:23, are consistent with the facts as we see them, and consistent with what we are learning about the "real" world.
Quit talking "about" my statements and prove me wrong.

I love this one: "Your preaching from it(the bible) treats it as if the god you admittedly cannot prove does indeed exist. There is the blatant contradiction".

No, I have merely pointed out that the statements I quote from the bible are consistent with the facts of reality. Whether a god exists to support those facts cannot be proven one way or another.

But if the statements ARE consistent with reality, there is no reason to assume that such a god does not exist, any more than we would assume that a complete, consistent truth does not exist, even though we cannot mathematically prove it.

These are tired old arguments the gentleman presents. I've heard them many times.

Did Paul Contradict Himself?

The well presented argument confronted nowadays is that Paul is the culprit who destroyed the simple truth of Jesus. Paul was the dastardly villain that led to Constantine and the Inquisitions.

In fact, neither Paul nor Jesus could have done so, as I've already shown, simply because of the simple logic of their statements regarding truth.

But Paul did seek to organize churches in various areas. He went to great lengths explaining how people should think about things, what should be tolerated, and how it should be dealt with.

That, in fact, is where Paul DID produce the systems of power and confusion we have today.

But was that Paul's fault? Was it wrong for him to try and establish principles by which people could freely live in service to God?

Of course not. The problem, of course, lay in human nature itself. Given the opportunity to organize, the opportunity to exercise some authority, it becomes so easy to begin representing ourselves as the symbol, the icon of "God's man".

Paul himself dealt with this issue. "Some like to say they are of Paul" he wrote, "and some say they are of Apollos". But notice what Paul actually said. "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gives the increase".

In other words, no matter what men tried to do, it was God who controlled the growth of the church. Many are called but few are chosen.

Did Paul say the church had authority? Within the church, yes. And there was no reason why any community of people established toward certain ideals should not have authority over those who freely choose to join.

Did that mean all who wished to join were somehow "elect"? No, since Paul's teachings in Romans 8, 9 Ephesians 2:8-10, and other scriptures had clearly cancelled any possibility of anyone ruling in God's name. The "High Priest" of Christianity, said Paul, was Jesus, and Jesus wasn't on earth.

If the church had the right to declare authority, what was the limitation of its power?

Jesus had established the broad guidelines of that power when he said that his followers are not to seek "an eye for an eye", but to love those that hate them, pray for those that use and persecute them, bless those that curse them, etc.

The limits of the church's authority was quite simple: it had no authority to execute vengeance.

Paul himself confirmed that fact in Romans 12:19, and quoted the Old Testament to demonstrate it. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay".

Who DID have the power of vengeance? Look at the very next chapter, Romans 13. The "Higher Powers", the state, had the power of vengeance. They were "God's instruments of wrath".

That was a clear limitation of boundaries between church and state, and it demanded that there be a separation of church and state.

But both Paul and Jesus advocated settlement "out of court". Jesus had stated that where "two or three are gathered", whatever was "bound on earth would be bound in heaven".

That is not some special ethereal power given to the church. It is merely a statement that any two people can agree among themselves, and it will be fully recognized by God. That was fully consistent with the "Two Witness" rule of Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15.

Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 6 that there was no need for people to sue one another at the law, since that itself, seeking vengeance against another, was actually a violation of the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5. Paul said that the "least" of the church members could gather together and decide what should be done, but their decision was NOT to permit vengeance as a goal. That was left to the state.

We see in 1 Corinthians 5:5 that Paul wrote of delivering "such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord".

If we look at Matthew 4 and Luke 4, we see that Satan was in charge of all world governments. To "deliver unto Satan", therefore, was to deliver to the government for decisions regarding vengeance. The state' power was NOT primary. It was a secondary power, to be used only as a last resort.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9 we see "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effiminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind(etc)... shall inherit the kingdom of God".

Verse 11: "And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified...by the spirit of our God".

The church was permitted a kind of "self policing", but NOT with the power of punishment or vengeance. It was the church's job, as much as possible to nurture and show principles of love and tolerance.

Jesus had said in Matthew 18:15-18 that if your adversary didn't want to accept the verdict of the church, given in love and tolerance, to simply treat him as a "Gentile or tax collector".

Jesus obviously didn't care for tax collectors. Paul had simply said to "deliver him to Satan" if it was necessary, to "destroy the flesh".

So the state DID have the power over "flesh", over death (Hebrews 2:14), but the "spirit" was the domain of the church.

And what was that "spirit' that guided the church? How about "love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness, goodness, faith...". Remember that?

Could this "spirit" be reduced to mechanical, rational, finite definitions by which any man could rule in the name of God? No. There was no one who could claim any such special relationship, and Paul had already established that fact in Romans chapters 8 and 9.

Any group, anywhere, any time, any place, is free to organize by those principles. But NO group can legitimately claim to have any special relationship with God.

And, because no state can demonstrate any finite, rational, logical relationship to truth in any special sense, the state can claim no more power over the people than the church. In fact, the state can ONLY exercise authority by the permission of the people. That is also reflected in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

So, while we can freely organize and profess to serve God, biblically, we CANNOT organize for the purpose of vengeance in any form, we cannot organize for the purpose of controlling others in any form. And the guarantee of Jury trial in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that the state (Satan) can only have access to the "flesh" once the people have decided there is no other way. That is proper government "by the people", and it is fully recognized, in principle, in the New Testament.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What Is Truth?

What is truth? That's what Pilate supposedly asked Jesus. Yet Jesus apparently gave no answer.

I once wrote in another discussion group that Jesus had said "The truth will set you free".

A response came: "Define truth".

The problem with truth is that in order to define it, it becomes necessary to develop a series of steps that show truth. The truth is------, each little mark representing a step leading in well formed sentences that demonstrate that "if we start from this point, we will end at this point".

But it can't be done. Kurt Godel demonstrated it. No way. Impossible. So, if Jesus said "The truth will set you free", and if we cannot define truth, then it stands to reason that you must be free of any organizational system, church or state, that says it represents either truth or God.

If you can't define truth, neither can anyone else. Therefore, you are free. But if you can define it, then you would actually be bound to live by it, wouldn't you? Assuming that you wanted to, of course. Even if we could know the truth in any absolute sense, we are not bound to live by it, as far as we know.

I noticed that some comments have brought in such things as Chaos Theory, in which such things as laws might not even exist. I like Chaos Theory. I like studying such things as information theory.

Claude Shannon, when he developed information theory, pointed out that the more probable a message is, the less information it contains. Another way of saying it is, the more a message is repeated, the less information it contains. Many people don't realize that when Shannon developed his formula describing information, that it was virtually identical to the formula defined many years earlier, describing entropy.

Entropy basically descries the breakdown of systems. Since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, if we organize one system, we tend to create chaos in related systems, because we must borrow related energy from one system in order to organize in a related system. The greater our power for organization, the greater our tendency to create chaos in all related systems.

If we compare Shannon's definition of information with earlier definitions of entropy, it seems that we derive information from the very entropy we create. If we create order, we create equal disorder, but it is that very disorder that "informs" our efforts to create more order!

Weird, huh?

The problem with humans is not that they can't organize, but that they organize all too well! We can take a good idea and run with it. We can build empires. Look at Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Islam, and even the Christian empire started by Constantine. All we need is an idea and we're good to go!

Look at the story of the Tower of Babel. People started figuring things out, they began to see that they were different, smarter, bigger, better, and the first thing they started to do was organize!

"Let's get us a tower started here! If we build it high enough, we might figure out all about God, and making it on our own!"

The response from God is interesting. It really does tell us a lot in terms of entropy. Notice his concern in Genesis 11:6:

"And the Lord said, behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do".

When you think about it, that's pretty dangerous. people get together, they have one language, one way of processing information, and they decide to focus on one common goal. And it was that which made them a threat to themselves.

Think about it. In order to build their tower, they would have to take more and more materials from their environment. More wood to build fires to make bricks, people organized to build scaffolds to erect the tower, requiring more and more people to build both the scaffolds and the tower, more and more of everything needed from their environment, which would force them to forage farther and farther, destroying the habitat of the animals on which they depend for food, etc.

They were accelerating the process of entropy, destroying the very environment on which they depended.

Fortunately YHVH had a simple solution for that time: simply confuse their language, so they would have to look at their environment from a more individualized perspective.

But that was a band-aid. Obviously the people were smart. They would be able to get around that obstacle shortly.

Something else was needed. How about a law that ran against their nature? If they tried to obey the law, the very attempt would continually splinter and speciate their cultures to the degree they couldn't agree on anything.

Enter the nation of Israel, born of slavery, freed from slavery only to be trained and educated in a virtual Petri dish which they called the wilderness, waiting for a Promised land if they learned to obey the law. B.F. Skinner, eat your heart out!

They were constantly reinforced by their environment to obey a law which simply ran against their nature, producing rebellion, division, constant splintering of religions, until by the time that Jesus allegedly walked the earth, Israel was an incredibly diverse culture, with numerous religions, all fighting to see which one best obeyed God's law.

Yet everywhere Israel went, in every empire that enslaved them, Israel emerged, and the empire crumbled. Yet Israel absorbed certain cultural traits from each empire, were then absorbed by another, and then in return absorbed the beneficial traits of the next empire, usually with Jewish individuals rising to the top of government and shaping the evolution of the next round of Israelite culture.

So, along comes Jesus, and the first thing he says is, "I didn't come to destroy the law. Not one jot or tittle will be done away until all is fulfilled".

But the law had produced misery in Israel. They had tried to obey it, only to discover suffering, division, confusion, splintering of more religions, until no one was sure exactly how to rightly obey it. Now Jesus said he came to fulfill every jot and tittle.

But that would only create greater diversity, splintering, bickering, disagreement, family breakups, and hatred even of Israelite against Israelite.

Yet in Matthew 10:34-38, that's exactly what Jesus said he came to do!

And if that wasn't enough, along came Paul, telling us that the natural mind simply cannot be subject to God's laws, and the only thing that our attempted obedience can produce is even more confusion and splintering of religious ideas.

Why do you suppose that's so? Maybe because humans always did have that destructive ability to organize? Because they could create god-kings who could make millions subject to their every whim? Because after any empire grew to a certain point, it would simply collapse of its own weight?

Mention the word "God" in the world today, and you not only have 38,000 versions of Christianity and growing, but untold thousands of other religions of non-christian Gods, all vying with each other for a little respect, as Rodney Dangerfield might say.

If there is a God, we must presume that division and splintering of ideas about God must be intended. Why? Because diversity produces options, and options produce freedom, and freedom produces liberty to examine new avenues of knowledge and thought.

Why can't we discover some organized evidence of God? We're not supposed to!

Armstrongism

I have been reminded that to put someone down because they don't agree with my point of view is pure Armstrongism.

If you wish to call my presentation "my point of view", there might be some truth to it. But in fact, when I left the WCG, the first thing that plagued me in any search for truth, is how to recognize truth that is somehow NOT dependent on my point of view, or Paul's point of view or Jesus' point of view, but actually was truth from any perspective I wished to view it?

Can it be done? Paul himself is credited with writing that the carnal mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God, which presents a kind of syllogism from which to begin.

All human minds are enmity against God
I am human
My mind is enmity against God

So how would I proceed to find truth about God? Can I escape my humanness? Is there something, anything, that would allow me to somehow proceed toward one complete, consistent truth?

That was exactly the dilemma, in regard to mathematical truth, faced by mathematicians such as David Hilbert.

If the mind is subject to truth, then there should be some formal system by which we can proceed from axiomatic foundations in order to get to truth in one complete, consistent package.

Surely, the mathematicians reasoned, if we are careful and develop our line of theorems extending from axiomatic foundations with great care, we can proceed to develop a system that will simply lead us to truth and avoid human error altogether!

And then a man named Kurt Godel, in the 1930s, came along and dropped a bomb on all their hopes and dreams. he demonstrated by means of a most ingenious theorem that there simply is no way we will ever predictably develop any formal system that will lead us to truth in one complete, consistent, package.

Regarding truth, we can't get "there" from "here". There simply is no way!

In a historical parallel to this same development, at about the time of Jesus, there came a man known as rabbi Hillel. The Jews, in their attempts to adapt Torah to the various influences of the world of trade and commerce, had developed the Mishna, Gemarra, and finally the Talmud.

But the problem face by the Jews was in some ways similar to that faced by Hilbert and other mathematicians in the 1930s. The pressing issue faced by Talmudist and rabbis was, how can we know if we have properly developed the commentary of law, such that it is fully consistent with the Torah?

Hillel devised a brilliant structure of reasoning called the "seven laws". From these laws of reasoning, Hillel concluded that if the mind was disciplined, if it trained in the proper methods, the human mind could devise a system of thought that was consistent to the Torah.

But Hillel had a contemporary, who most people recognize as one called Jesus. The rabbis of the day were Pharisees. They were the "layman" representatives of the people, and they weren't exactly unpopular. Jesus even admitted that they sat in "Moses' seat". And then he proceed to blast them and call them hypocrites. He even said "But be not ye called rabbi". Now there was a real slap in the face. The rabbis had claimed themselves to be the representatives of God's law, the ones who, by patience and study, could lead the people to righteousness. Jesus said don't be called rabbi, or father, or master(Mister. Remember that?)

Now think about this. Hillel had said that by proper discipline and logic, rabbis could in fact proceeded to rightly interpret the law. Assuming that God is the sum and source of truth, that there is no contradictions to be found in God's wisdom, God would be the same as truth in mathematical formal systems, since truth is consistent with all truth.

So IF the rabbis could actually keep the law by proper reasoning, then Jesus would have to be wrong. The rabbis had every right to prosecute in the name of the law.

And if that wasn't enough, Paul came along with a real slap in the face and said that the natural, carnal mind cannot be subject to God's laws! Assuming Paul was a Pharisee, he had just disavowed the very foundations of his own beliefs!

Was Jesus and Paul right, or were the rabbis of the Pharisees right? We can now look to Godel's theorem in mathematics as the final arbiter. Jesus and Paul were right! If God is absolute truth, we can no more get to God by any formal process of thought than we can get to truth in any complete sense by any finite, rational process of thought.

In fact, the Pharisees did NOT speak the truth! They could not speak the truth in any complete, consistent sense. Yet they tried to apply the truth as they reasoned it according to law. But in John 8:33, Jesus said they were of their father, the devil.

Let's look at that. If the Pharisees were trying to establish their righteousness through law, and if all earthly law existed under the authority of Satan(Matthew 4, Luke 4), then all mechanical, finite, rational, legal attempts to arrive at truth must be of Satan.

If any person, including me, tried to establish a "special relationship" with truth or God in any absolute sense, then that person would be wrong. It cannot be done by any process of logic, reason, or legalism. It is mathematically proven to be impossible!

So how do I know that the teachings of Jesus and Paul were right? Because that is exactly what they said!

Paul pointed it out plainly in Romans 8 and 9, and repeated the idea so there would be no doubt as to what he was saying. There exists no decision procedure, no "work" that any person can perform, that will earn him "salvation"(Ephesians 2:8-10).

So how do I know I'm right? because I just told you the truth. All you have to do to prove me wrong is to simply show me a logical, rational, finite mechanical process of thought by which you can prove any special relationship at all to God.

The fact is, you simply can't do it. Therefore. I am right. And so was Jesus and Paul, even if Jesus and Paul never actually made those statements. They are true simply because they are true.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Born Again"--Practical Applications

Of the 38,000 versions of Christianity emphasizing being "born again", the very idea has been reduced to a concept about as useless as "teats on a boar hog", as farmers in my neck of the woods used to say.

For those "experts" in the ex-WCG fold, it has no meaning at all, nor should it.

But that is actually what makes it of such value to every person.

Let's look at the phrase as used by Jesus in John 3. "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God".

In that context, what is a kingdom? It's a government, basically. But Jesus, in this passage, gave it a special context by calling it a kingdom of God. This was rather shocking to Nicodemus, since, as a Jew, a rabbi, he assumed that he was actually born to inherit the "kingdom of God".
It was so disturbing that he asked Jesus if it was somehow necessary that a man re-enter his mother's womb.

But Jesus didn't give much of a definition of the term. We can look at the Greek translation and see that he was actually talking about a birth "from above", but so what? Big deal.

As we see from verse 8, there was nothing significant about the idea, no process of organization, nothing that would separate a "born again" person from another.

What would be the value, if any, of such a term?

Actually, it has a great deal of value, in purely physical, pragmatic terms. Look at another reference to this concept in John 1:12-13:

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God".

If we place this alongside of what Jesus said to Nicodemus, it totally discredits any birthright inheritance of Jews. It's saying, in effect, that there can be no physical, earthly government that can represent God by virtue of any physical birth or any control imposed by humans.

The implications of these two scriptures is that they not only challenge the physical authority of Israel, but the physical authority of any government that would claim citizenship by birth.

If you are "born of God", you are not born of the will of men. That doesn't signify any metaphysical, special, otherworldy concept. It simply means that you can choose to be "born" outside any government that would be imposed by the will of men.

That would mean, as Thomas Jefferson put it, that it is a self evident truth that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. It means that person's physical birth within any territory does not automatically make him or her subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

For a better understanding of the pragmatic applications, let's take a look at the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S Constitution:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside".

In this we see a link between "birth", "citizenship", and "subject to the jurisdiction thereof".

What does that last phrase mean? Senator Jacob Howard of Ohio pointed out that "Indians" born in the U.S. maintained tribal relations that did not make them subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Senator Lyman Trumbull, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" meant "not owing allegiance to anybody else...subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States."

The Fourteenth Amendment, therefore, implied two requirements: born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to its jurisdiction.

Now, it is possible to be "born or naturalized" in the U.S. and still not be subject to its jurisdiction. Well, John 1:12-13 would suggest a good reason. But there is also another connective issue related to this: the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

So, being "born again" in the context that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, is one of liberation from human governments and control by human governments. "Congress shall make no law...."

But the Supreme Court has declared that the "Due Process" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment "incorporates" the First Amendment. How can any law incorporate no law? The argument is that freedom of religion is to be protected by "due process" of Constitutional law.

But here's the problem: If the federal government incorporates the due process clause in protection of the First Amendment, then suddenly the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment no longer provides protection against the federal government. What results is a kind of protection racket; "we'll protect you from us if you pay".

But Jesus himself advocated settlement of issues out of court(Matthew 5:25, 18:15-18). Paul also advocated settlement outside of state authorities (1 Corinthians 6), so that "due process" is imp;lied as belonging to religions equally to the state. In fact, congress can make no law saying otherwise.

The only limitation on this power provided by both Paul and Jesus is that religion cannot advocate vengeance. That, and that alone, is reserved to the state.

So, since due process of law has been defined as ancient law coming from as far back as Magna Carta, and since it transcends the power of Constitutional law, it is a power reserved to any person who declares freedom of conscience from the law. It cannot be a power defined by the federal government, nor the state government. It is a power reserved to the individual, a power to be "born of God" "born again" not born "of the will of men".

It is the full summation of your right to face all accusers, with the vindication of God, the right to ask, "who is wronged by my actions?"

Or, as Paul states in Romans 8:33 "Who can lay anything to the charge of God's elect?"

Ah, but who are God's elect? Paul says only God knows the answer to that question, which means that you are free of the governments of men unless you harm another.

2 Peter 2:19 : "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage".

The bible is about freedom from men.

Logical Flaws of Ex-WCG Members

So far, those negative responses I've received have shown very little substance. Mostly they're a type of sly ad hominem. Remember when you were just a peon in the old WCG? Do you remember that smirk on the ministers' faces if you asked them a question?

Ex-WCG members have learned from it, and they have developed quite an effective immunity against any exploration of ideas. That immunity is reflected, not in any remarks of intellectual substance, but implied belittling of the "messenger" rather than exploring the "message".

The ultimate logical flaw in their reasoning is that, in showing how independent they are in their capacity to attack, there is no opportunity whatever for integrative learning. The sly remarks, so well administered by WCG ministers, has been learned, but very little more.

Basically, the argument says "Look at me! I can attack him! He's really stupid!"

Of course you wouldn't come right out and say that. The ad hominem content of your argument is masked, as in the "Retired Prof's" statement that he was just too nice to say "I'm full of it".

It's quite possible that I am, except for one glaring, obvious, undeniable fact: Of all the masked ad hominem, of all the hints at my obvious stupidity, not one person has shown the first scrap of evidence in any respect at all to demonstrate that I'm wrong.

Does it matter? I suppose not. Most of the ex-WCGites are so full of hatred and scorn for HWA that they will spend their lives grinding their teeth and "proving" that everyone else is an idiot.

Of course you can contrast that with those who spend their lives trying to prove that HWA really was a prophet, and they really didn't waste their lives trying to follow him.

Between those two extremes, there are those who are genuinely interested in learning, who actually did care deeply for the time spent with friends, however deceived they might have been.

The problem is, the two extremes I describe above are very maladaptive in their reactions. They will attack those who don't share their point of view. They might not insult, since they're too "nice", but they will imply, they will insinuate, they will work to every little sneaky extreme to discredit the messenger while avoiding ever examining the truth or falsehood of the message.

This, unfortunately, doesn't require a great deal of intelligence. Most any illiterate gang member can be a master of it. I learned it quite well in the marines, and nobody can accuse them of being highly intellectual.

Basically, the ad hominem attack is an excuse for not being able to think. If "I" can belittle "you", and discredit "you" before others, then "I" am more important than "you".

But in all of that, you have proven absolutely nothing. You have shown no capacity for critical thought, no ability to demonstrate any worthwhile level of intelligence, and you have only shown that you can attack, belittle, and discredit. I could do that when I was twelve years old.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Romans 13-- be Subject To Higher Powers?

As I was doing my essays on the nature of freedom from religious organizations, I was informed that the idea of "judge not, that ye be not judged" would lead to anarchy in today's society.

If, within the context of truth, we cannot judge or condemn others, how would we go about enforcing obedience for those who simply refuse to try and live by a moral standard?

Ad we know from Matthew 5, Jesus said he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill "every jot and tittle" of the law.

However, if we try to keep that law, in accordance with Paul's statement in Romans 8:7, the result would be infinite splintering of religious beliefs. Jesus apparently agreed with that, since he said in Matthew 10:34-38 that he came to bring about exactly those results!

In other words, the attempt to obey "God's law" will force us to become more and more individualistic in spite of ourselves.. yet out of that individualism, Jesus also told us we are not to seek "an eye for an eye" or vengeance in our dealings with others.

What we see in that is a "separation of church and state". To pursue the ideals taught by Jesus, to love those that hate you, to pray for those that use and persecute you, to bless those that curse you, these would make a person an open invitation to every crook who ignored those principles.

But by that same token, we cannot simply take vengeance into our own hands. The very act of doing so is to claim that we can speak with authority in God's name over the life of others.

So, it becomes necessary to have a system that "executes wrath", and Paul covers that subject in Romans 13. "For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."

But let's also look at Matthew 4: 8-10, and Luke 4: 5-7. We recognize from that statement that Satan has power over all world governments. So if all powers are ordained of God, then we are forced to conclude that Satan's power is ordained of God(assuming that they exist, of course).

The power of vengeance, of wrath, of even death, is given to Satan, recognized and ordained by God. In Hebrews 2: 14 we see this. "For as much as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."

One favorite statement of Libertarians is that of Thomas Paine: Government at its best is but a necessary evil....

While Paine himself "converted" to atheism at a later time, he actually made a statement consistent with the bible. Government, from the scriptures above, is a necessary evil.

So, while the "higher powers" are ordained of God, and we are to be subject to them, they are nothing more than a necessary evil, and the direct administrator of them is not God.

Romans 13:3 "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil".

If government itself is a necessary evil, it is empowered to punish only evil. Therefore, we see from Jesus' teachings that his followers are not to condemn others, nor to practice vengeance.

But before he tells us to be subject to the higher powers, Paul reminds us of the same obligation in Romans 12:19-20: "Dearly beloved, revenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord."

Notice that first part, "revenge not yourselves". Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in his treatise on the Common Law, tells us that law has developed out of a need for vengeance. It was necessary to have a higher power to enforce vengeance, but both Jesus and Paul tells us that vengeance is not our job.
Verse 20: "Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: For in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head".

Within the teachings above, we see the presumption of innocence for all accused persons. Can the "higher power" accuse? Can Satan act as accuser to people? The whole point of Jesus' life, as we saw in Hebrews 2, above, is to overcome Satan's control over death.

This means that government must follow certain guidelines before there can be punishment, and since God ordains all government, then all government would be subject to the protections ordained by God:
1.presumption of innocence(Isaiah 54:17)
2.Right to face your accuser(Isaiah 50:8)
3.No entrapment(Isaiah 29:21, Jeremiah 5: 26-31)
4.Two unbiased witnesses for all accusations(Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15)
5.Protection from perjury(Deut. 19:19)
6.Trial by jury(1 Corinthians 6)

Notice that these are recognized in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, along with the First Amendment, giving freedom of religion. A government of "God", therefore, would of necessity be a government in which innocence is to be preserved.

In regard to that right against self incrimination, former Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas says:

"The principle that a man is not obliged to furnish the state with ammunition to use against him is basic to this conception." The state must "within the limits of accepted procedure", punish lawbreakers. "But it has no right to compel the sovereign individual to surrender or impair his right to self defense....A man may be punished, even put to death by the state; but...he should not be made to prostrate himself before its majesty. Mea culpa belongs to a man and his God. It is a plea that cannot be exacted from free men by human authority. To require it is to insist that the state is the superior of the individuals who compose it, instead of their instrument".

As Constitutional historian Leonard Levy wrote "The framers understood that without fair and regularized procedures to protect the criminally accused, there could be no liberty. They knew that from time immemorial, the tyrant's first step was to use the criminal law to crush his opposition".

As Lord Acton said, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Government, said Paine, at its very best is but a necessary evil.

The principle of rule by the people is bound within the concept of "due process of law". We read it in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, first as protection from the federal government, and then as protection against the states.

No person shall be deprive of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

Due process, said Chief Justice Edward Coke of England, came from Magna Carta. It was defined as "lawful judgement of peers and law of the land". This, said U.S. Justice Joseph Story, meant the common law.

To be "subject to higher powers" is a necessity, but it is a necessity that comes secondary to the right of individuals to live freely. That is the essence of Paul's teachings about Jesus.

I can expand on this later.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What Is A "Holy Spirit"?

This article ties directly to my essay below, and it was sparked by a response in the "comments" section.

The really big deal in Christianity is this thing called the "Holy Spirit". The assumption is that you must be "born again", and in order to be "born again", you must also join a legitimate, approved religion, and then follow their teachings. Yeah, right.

It is a natural tendency of people, when seeking truth, to try and find a truth that is collective. We seek "birds of a feather". Christianity has evolved this collective sense to make us believe that we cannot have any "legitimacy" before God unless we accept the officially authorized versions.

Actually, we can blow the "christian" definitions of "Holy Spirit" right out of the water simply by looking at the New testament itself.

The big verse that Christians point us to is in John chapter three. In verse 3, Jesus told Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God".

If we look at that term "born again' we see a difference from other passages, where the Greek "annagennao" is used, which literally means again born. Here we see reference to the greek word "anothen", which means "from above".

So, unless one is born "from above" one cannot see the kingdom of God.

Apparently Nicodemus had real trouble with that idea, and yet Jesus never went to great lengths to explain what he meant. He insinuated that Nicodemus should be familiar with the idea already if he were a rabbi of Israel.

Whatever "born again" did mean, it apparently had nothing to do with "fleshy" birth, as Jesus pointed out in verse six.

But this creates a very big problem. If the fleshy mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God, as Romans 8:7 tells us, and if, as Godel's theorem tells us, there simply is no way we can capture all truth into one neural net, one system of thought, how exactly do we go about determining what the "Holy Spirit" is?

Well, you can't "see" unless you are born of the spirit. And that tells us absolutely nothing at all.
There simply is no manual, no algorithm, no process by which we can logically deduct by our natural mind, what the "Holy Spirit" actually is, and the only way we can understand it is to be "born from above".

We would be forced to conclude, therefore, that if the christian religions are right, and if they actually do represent "Christ", then there would never be a logical, rational method of knowing if they ARE right or wrong. Such a choice to follow them would have to be a process of blind faith.

Yet Jesus himself, in Matthew 24, warned us to "take heed that no man deceive you...."

There must be some logical process to know what is right and what is not, but even by Jesus' admission, that process is simply not subject to our natural processes of thought. If we can rationally, logically decide on that process, there would be no need for many religions, yet Jesus warned his followers that "many will come in my name, and will deceive many".

That very statement by Jesus, in itself, indicates that there simply is no logical process by which we can reduce truth to one package. If we could, we already would have, which leaves us with one, and only one, logical choice to make: Follow no one, which is exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 24:23.

Okay, let's say there was no Jesus. Well, that would mean it is not necessary to follow any man who comes in the name of Christ. Therefore, Jesus or no Jesus, the passage in Matthew 24;23 tells us the truth, any way you look at it!

To say that the "Holy Spirit" is simply a form of "crowd control", therefore, is to assume that the "christian" religions are correct, even thought they directly contradict not only simple logic, but the direct statement attributed to Jesus himself.

In fact, that is what Jesus indicated in John 3: 8: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound therof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the spirit."

There is no organizational capacity, no decision procedure to define the "Holy Spirit" and that in itself puts all so-called christian religions out of business.

Yet that is exactly what Paul told us in Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22, not to mention such scripture as Ephesians 2:8-10.

You can't get "there" from "here".

But again, let's assume you can do so. If there is such a decision procedure that represents the Holy Spirit, then that procedure can be translated to algorithms, which can then be programmed, so that there will be no difference between a computer 'son of God' who is programmed with an identical process known as the Holy Spirit.

This reduces it to a "Turing Test" of truth. Alan Turing proposed such a test when he devised his "Universal Turing Machine', which was his mental creation of the first computer. Turing proposed that if you placed a computer of sufficient programming behind a wall, and had another person sitting beside the computer, a questioner on the other side of the wall, feeding both computer and person handwritten questions, should not be able to tell the difference between "man" and "machine".

But that is exactly what religions attempt to do when they insist that their religion, which is based on mechanical ideas about God, subject to the same laws of physics and limits of Godel's theorem, can somehow collectively represent God, when one person simply has no way of knowing! The simple realization is this: if collective religions can accurately represent God, then so can a computer, since computers are based on the same principles of mechanical rules of thought as religions!

If there is a "Holy Spirit", it cannot be subject to the limitations of rational, finite, logical processes of human thought, and that is exactly what both Jesus and Paul told us! It cannot be achieved by any "fleshy" process. No religion can possibly truthfully represent God, nor can any human individual do so!

So what is this "Holy Spirit" from a biblical perspective? Actually, Paul does describe it very well, but in doing so, he cancels the possible authority of ALL human organizations.

Jesus said there were two births, one of flesh, and one of spirit. The birth of spirit was 'from above'. But we have no evidence of anything 'from above', so we have no process of choice as to how we can achieve whatever it is.

Paul begins to define these two births in Romans 9:6, last part, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.
"Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, 'In Isaac shall thy seed be called'.
"That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the PROMISE are counted for the seed.
"For this is the word of promise, 'At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son'. "

Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, were "created" as a covenant nation at Sinai, yet the promise made to Abraham, said Paul, came four hundred thirty years before that covenant with Israel.

The conclusion is simple enough: anyone who was a "child of God" was to be born in just the same fashion, under just the same circumstances, as Isaac. They were born of that very promise, foreknown(as Isaac was) predestined(as Isaac was), called(as Isaac was) glorified(as Isaac was).

Paul further states in Galatians 4:28 that "Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of the promise".

Just as Isaac was, in the very same conditions stated in Romans 8:29-30. Either you're born of it, or you are not, and there is no way to tell otherwise.

It is both brilliant and simple. It is not dependent on human thought or human organization, or human decision procedures. The best that people can do is try to organize in the name of God, but they will always tend toward speciation and splintering. The "purpose" of all this is quite evidently NOT one of organizing people, but forcing them to confront the impotence of all such efforts. HWA did you all a favor, because he scammed you and allowed you to be free of all this crap.

But in fact, there never was any authority of men to establish God's kingdom by their own effort. It simply cannot be done.
Galatians 3:29 : "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise".

So what if there's no God? Then you can't ever truthfully organize in God's name. What if there is a God and Paul was correct? You STILL can't organize in God's name!

In either case, there is only one correct conclusion: you are free to make your own moral decisions, and you are to be left alone by others unless you harm another, after which you must be accused truthfully by others. That is the basis of the law and of grace.

Paul Got A Bum Wrap

Two responses to my essay are a common variation of what is generally argued as refutation against the bible, and they are good arguments.

The first argument is to look at all the garbage offered as punishment to those who "curse their parents" or the severity of death for the smallest infraction. Who in the world, in this enlightened age, would want to follow those prescriptions?

Nobody of any intelligence, and I agree with that.

Second argument is that you can make the bible say anything, and that is precisely the strength of my own argument, as is the first argument, above.

What does the Old Testament law say in the words of Isaiah, called the "universalist" prophet?
How about the presumption of innocence? (Isaiah 54:17)
Right to face your accuser, with God's vindication(Isaiah 50:8)
Right against self incrimination is also implied in both these scriptures.
Also, you will notice in Deuteronomy 19:15 that two witnesses are required for all acusations and those witnesses are not to be provided by the government. The two main biblical examples I can think of where the state provided witnesses was in the story of Ahab and Naboth (not too good), and Judas betraying Jesus (also not so good).

The Supreme Court, in fact, recognized that our right against self incrimination has its analogue in the bible (Miranda vs Arizona, footnote 27).

Of all the stupid, ridiculous laws in the OT, the main teaching in every case is that the accused is to be protected, not only in personal cases, but also against usury laws, and even slaves were to be freed if they escaped to another free man(Deuteronomy 23:15-16).

The laws were given with the constant reminder that "you were once strangers in a strange land". The implication from this was that recognition of justice always took precedence over the "majority rule".

In the New testament, you will see that Jesus, in is great "thesis on the law"(Matthew chapters 5-7), recommended that any two individuals could settle all matters out of court. So, while he said that not one jot or tittle of the law would be done away until all was fulfilled, he actually placed the settlement of arguments within a framework of "two or three".

You will see that Jesus expanded on this principle in Matthew 18:15-18, where he pointed out that any two people could settle trespasses between themselves, using the "two witness" rule of Deuteronomy 17 and 19.

As Jesus pointed out, "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose will be loosed in heaven".

This doesn't imply that some human can become a recognized power of God, but that any two people could simply decide among themselves to settle a matter, and it would have God's recognition.

Further, said Jesus, if it couldn't be settled between two or three, take it before the community or the church. He didn't recognize government as official arbiter. In fact, Jesus said if your adversary didn't want to accept the conclusion of the community, treat him as a "gentile or tax collector".

That doesn't indicate that Jesus would want matters settled by tax collecting powers of state.

Also, Jesus did not approve of the legal system within Jewish culture. While he admitted that scribes and Pharisees "sit in Moses' seat", he then went on to condemn their actions, calling them hypocrites.

Scribes and Pharisees represented the popular legal "lay" authorities of the day, yet Jesus said they "shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in".

If you compare that to Matthew 18:15-18, you will see that Jesus allowed any two people to settle matters outside of "Moses' seat".

This same message is copied in Luke 11:52: "Woe unto you lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves,, and them that were entering in, ye hindered".

This is merely the repetition of a teaching in Isaiah 29:11:

"And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a closed book that is sealed..."

Verse 16: "Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that frameth it, he had no understanding?"

Jesus' teachings merely returned the idea of government as it was intended to be, taught to children, and children's children, remembering the idea of mercy, presumption of innocence, and not condemning. "Judge not that ye be not judged".

Second argument: You can make the bible say anything. Exactly! And this is where Paul's teaching is quite valuable. Can we have any legitimate, "approved" understanding of God? Not according to Romans 8:7:
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the laws of God and neither indeed can be".

This leads us to a very logical result corresponding to the argument above:
Any attempt to organize people according to God's law would inevitably lead to a confusion of disagreeing concepts as to what God's law is. If you don't believe that, simply look at the continually splintering groups of ex-WCG members who can't find the proper "handle" on truth.

But that's exactly what Jesus said would happen for such people in Matthew 10:34-38.

So, if the carnal, natural mind cannot be subject to God, and if all attempts to follow Jesus result in splintering and speciation, even to family members, we cannot assume, under any process, that if there is a God, "He" doesn't desire us to unite, but rather to begin thinking as individuals.

Jesus said "Beware the leaven of the Pharisees". And what does leaven do? It grows, expands, includes more and more until it exhausts all possible growth, and then it collapses.

This compares generally to a process called entropy. In any organized system, the attempt to expand that organization will result in chaos of related systems, simply because energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The resulting breakdown of order in relate systems, chaos, is the process generally recognized as entropy.

So, "you can make the bible say anything". based on the teaching of Jesus and Paul, what does that tell us?

It tells us exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 18:15-18, that there are no legitimate authorities. The presumption of innocence is to override the power of an "eye for an eye", which Jesus specifically prohibited to his followers.

So, the natural mind cannot be subject to God, there must be the presumption of innocence, and we cannot directly exercise an "eye for an eye", which means we have no power whatever to control or organize or rule over others.

But then, Jesus told us that he who would be greatest of all should be servant of all.

But let's take Paul's teaching in Romans 8:7 and see where he went with it. If there is no power of the mind to organize according to God's law "legitimately", can there be some decision procedure, some algorithm, some 'freewill" act by which we can declare ourselves God's elect?

Paul said it can;t be done, as we see from Romans 8:29-30. The logic is simple enough: if God foreknows, predestined. called, and glorified his own children, there simply is no decision procedure whatever by which we may recognize ourselves as "elect". Can't be done.

And in case you think Paul might have meant something else, he repeats the idea more directly in Romans 9:16-22. There simply is no decision procedure by which we may organize ourselves as God's representatives.

This is fully consistent with Jesus' teachings, who said we could settle matters among ourselves by ourselves, that we could exercise the rule of law that recognized presumption of innocence, right to face the accuser, trial by jury(1 Cor 6) and right against self incrimination, also provided in Isaiah 54:17.

These are all principles incorporated into the US Constitution in the form of the Bill of Rights.
Further, Jesus' teaching that we are free to settle matters within the church and outside of courts is recognized in the First Amendment.

So yes, you can "make the bible say anything", but that is the very reason why both Jesus and Paul pointed out that we are free to develop our own social process, always remembering that we are no better or no more exalted than any other person in our standing before truth. All men and women are created equal.

If any religious leader says otherwise, he's simply a liar.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Intelligent Design? Prove It!

In the past few years, new discoveries in science and genetics are creating revolutionary understandings of how we got here, what our "meaning" is, and how life seems to operate.

One great summary of this new knowledge is a book called Survival Of The Sickest, by Dr Sharon Moalem. In it, Dr Moalem points out that diseases we have today may have been necessary adaptive responses to the past. In a new field called Epigenetics, Dr. Moalem writes that Lamarckian transmission, a notion that was discredited in the past, has now become an accepted idea within the field of Epigenetics.

What is Lamarckian Transmission? It is the idea that we evolved through "acquired traits" developed by different species. A giraffe, according to old Lamarckian ideas, got its long neck by constantly reaching fore the higher leaves that became increasingly hard to reach on trees.

What Epigenetics now shows us that it is possible for gene expression to occur as a result of influences from our environment. A recent cover story in Time magazine points this out.

Without getting involved in details, the human body is composed of "germ cells", those cells which are contributed by our parents as the basic building blocks that make "you" and "me' unique. But there is now evidence that the body carries a large majority of genes that used to be called "junk DNA", which Dr. Moalem points out is actually related to viruses.

This is called "non-coding DNA", not used in the normal process of cell building in our bodies, but seems to be a kind of database or library to which our bodies refer whenever we need to adapt to some new disease or infection. These very genes are also known as "jumping genes", which were discovered by Dr Barbara McClintock several years ago. These jumping genes actually follow certain patterns that cause them to "jump" to certain areas that activate gene expression in our own bodies.

In fact, writes Dr, Moalem, "Jumping genes are very active in the early stages of brain development, inserting genetic material all over the developing brain, almost helter-skelter, as a normal part of brain development. Every time one of those jumpers inserts or changes genetic material in brain cells, it's technically a mutation. And all of this genetic jumping around may have a very important purpose--it may help to create the variety and individuality that make every brain unique. This developmental frenzy of genetic copy and paste only happens in the brain, because that's where we benefit from individuality".

Imagine that. Our parents provide the core, the germ cells that create the basic blueprint of us, and then our bodies access a "library" of former viral DNA from our collective history that begins to jump around and shape us as individuals. What appears here is a combination of heredity and environment shaping our individual destinies. Dr. Moaelm points out that a chimpanzee, simply by stroking the head of its offspring, can affect the genetic expression of that offspring!

How far does this process of genetic engineering go? Howard Bloom, in a book called Global Brain, writes:

In a crisis, bacteria did not rely on deliverance via a random process like mutation, but instead unleashed their genius as genetic engineers".

Bacteria? "Bacteria were the first to use the tools which now empower biotechnology's genetic tinkerers: plasmids, vectors, phages, and transposons--nature's gene snippers, duplicators, long distance movers, wlders, and re-shufflers....the millions--and often trillions--of bacteria in a colony used their individual genomes...as individual computers, meshing them together, combining their data, and forming a group intelligence capable of literally re-programming their species' shared genetic legacy in ways previously untried and unknown".

For bacteria, from ancient times, there was "memory" stored in the reactions of genetic shuffle, absorbing viruses, which Bloom describes as "the bacteria's collaborator and its foe. Viral assaults devastated bacterial colonies--yet they tested bacterial intelligence, tweaking bacterial ingenuity, and amplified bacterial skills. Viruses also pried loose genetic pages from the creatures they attacked and inserted them in the DNA library of those they visited next while on their predatory rounds. Thus they became couriers through which bacteria swapped molecular pamphlets of new tricks and old collective memories".

The virus as a "courier" of collective genetic history, has been stored in the creative "library" of the human body, and inserted as "jumping genes" in the developing brain, allowing us to respond to the necessary cues and genetic repsonse of individual stress.

This would mean that the way we think about life actually affects gene expression!

In a very real sense, "As a man thinketh, so is he".

The germ cells that brought us into existence is not affected in the process of building our bodies, but the expression of genes stored in the "history" of our bodies, genes that once were the couriers, the viral invaders seeking to replicate themselves by hijacking our own replicative system, now compose the library of defenses our body uses when attacked by yet other viral or bacterial invaders.

But this does suggest a "design of intelligence", if not "intelligent design". It suggests that early life forms developed strategies that were quickly(by evolutionary standards) used to build ever larger systems, but always keyed to the core building blocks, the germ cells of each and every species.

But in each species, there is always the exchange of genes via viruses, from one species to another, as in Avian flu, swine flu, various flus and plagues that have infested civilization for centuries.

What does this mean in regards to the development of religion? perhaps a later essay.
Ralph