Christian equivalent of the ‘uncovered meat’ comment

The quote:

‘The 3AW Drive program, presented by Tom Elliott, was told the priest then said that if Ms Meagher had been “more faith-filled” she “would have been home in bed” and “not walking down Sydney Rd at 3am” when she was raped and murdered by Bayley in September 2012.’

The source is 3AW693NewsTalk.

So….

Sure, when there is separation between the State and Christianity, Christianity does not commit as many atrocities as it used, before the split.  Because it lacks the power, not the will…

Many nice Christians I’ve met are genuinely good people – as are many nice Muslims I’ve met.

Christians are always stressing that theirs is a religion of love and inclusion and everything that is nice and non violent – and I am certain that they honestly believe it.

But the clerics know better.

The clerics are required to study their Holy Scriptures and believe what it says in them, regardless of the public mask worn in public.  And, every now and then, that mask slips…revealing the ugly truth beneath:  Christianity is, at its core, very misogynistic and just as destructive as every other religion.

Please, do give this some thought:  I do not write this lightly or reflexively.

Christianity is not the love-fest many Christians seem to think it is.  Biblical morality is deeply flawed.  After all, Muhammad had been a Christian convert and got much of his morality from Biblical teachings.  Sure, he built on them, from his own predilections, but there are common seeds shared between all three Abrahamic religions and, every now and then, we can glimpse the underlying truth…

…and I, for one, do not like what lies there!

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56 Responses to “Christian equivalent of the ‘uncovered meat’ comment”

  1. Ace Says:

    Just stupid.

  2. Wally Says:

    Stupid ? No. Untruthful ? Depends.

    God has always had His remnant and that would appear not to include many who call themselves Christians. It would be difficult therefore to conclude that Christians are morally flawed when at least the remnant are wholeheartedly following Christ. To say that the “church in North America” has a morality that is deeply flawed, may be more the truth.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Sorry for the long delay – am having teeth trouble and staying off the internet. My apologies.

      If you are responding to my argument, then I was arguing that when one follows/obeys the morality of another (God/Christ/Buddha), one is replacing one’s own moral decision-making with obedience. That is, following the moral teachings of Christ necessarily prevents you from making moral judgements of your own because you place God’s or Jesus’s or Buddha’s morality above your own.

      To my thinking, this constitutes abdication of one’s own morality.

      Certainly, I agree that these people are following the teachings of their chosen God – but I don’t think that constitutes morality.

      Quite the opposite. The very act of relying on somebody else, even if divine, to dictate what is moral and immoral and then acting on it, is in my never-humble-opinion, deeply immoral.

  3. peterodonnell Says:

    However, as I argued in other threads, it is very difficult to disentangle the long historical threads that might actually form the foundation of our own supposedly individually-driven morality. And the contention that one’s own moral vision must be superior to that of another person’s if they have relied on a third party cannot survive any test of logic or (perhaps more to the point) historical analysis. Lenin and Hitler were notable self-actualizers. Nobody could accuse them of following somebody else’s moral vision, unless of course one accepts not only the existence of God but also of Satan. Then it’s a slam-dunk.

    For what it’s worth, I could attest that to follow Christian moral teachings still involves a lot of personal discrimination since there are so many versions available. In that regard, one is in fact partly autonomous, but the process involves an attempt to verify spiritually that one has chosen authentic pathways and rejected those that are false.

    The similarity of ancient Christian and early Muslim theology has to be seen against the backdrop of what was “normal” in that time, and of course what was normal in the 7th or 8th centuries would horrify all of us today (as it does when Islam insists on bringing it back into view). However, one can only really judge religion in terms of how it changes the world around, not how it resembles the world around. We would love to be living in the Kingdom but this is not “on the agenda” for today and therefore our morality has to address a world that is not being run by principles or actors that we would endorse or choose ourselves. Thus our morality is by necessity a response of an occupied people to an unwanted occupying state.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Peter,

      I quite agree with some of what you say: being moral does not mean a person will be good or bad, it simply means that one has consciously chosen their course of action. Some people have good morals, some bad morals and some are quite amoral when left to their own choices.

      However, I do not understand the meaning of ‘verify spiritually’.

      Does that simply mean checking your religious rulebook to see how yours and their moral choices line up? Or is it some mystical thing? I’m not trying to troll, I genuinely don’t get ‘spirituality’.

      From what I have seen of it so far, it would appear to be an affectation more than anything else, an affectation designed to let one do what one already wants while pretending to be better than everybody else because it’s their ‘spiritual calling’ and therefor unquestionable and above criticism or scrutiny. I guess what I am saying is that the only time I have heard people invoke ‘spirituality’, it’s to get their way and feel important and superior at the same time…so I am perplexed when good and intelligent people like you use that term in a positive manner. This has puzzled me most of my life…

      • peterodonnell Says:

        Sorry that I left this discussion for quite some time, nothing much meant by that, just went on a brief holiday and returned to all sorts of tasks and challenges.

        Spirituality can mean different things to different people, to me it refers to the available “Holy Spirit” presence of God which is often experienced unexpectedly in its first instances. Since you asked for an explanation, please accept this as same, not as an attempt to preach or proselytize. It is probably widely known that the Holy Spirit is seen as one of three “persons” or entities that God can and does take on. Father and Son are the other two. The Holy Spirit is known as the Holy Ghost in some denominations.

        Spirituality therefore is a condition of those believers who are receptive to the Holy Spirit. Once receptive, they become “infilled” and this makes them “charismatic” — not quite the same phenomenon as secular charisma but similar in one way, that it creates euphoria, although mostly within the fortunate soul rather than among onlookers. In my experience, unless a charismatic Christian is among fellow believers, any time that he or she may be in the spirit produces an alienating distance between that person and others of a non-spiritual nature. Perhaps for that reason, charismatics tend to manage their spiritual lives so that they do not clash socially too often with non-believers (and this includes those who are nominally believers but who are not open to the Spirit).

        As you know, there is also the concept of demonic possession. That is basically the reverse situation where an individual who accepts the power of Satan in the world takes on an evil spirit and is possessed by it. My belief is that such persons tend to recognize the spiritually good and will tend to shrink back since they fear losing the strength that they derive from this demonic possession.

        On an intellectual level, you can accept or reject these concepts, although I suppose it would be difficult to accept them if you had never experienced them. The New Testament story of Saul’s conversion is (among other things) an indication that sudden change is always possible, that the Spirit can descend on anyone and work transformative acts in and through them.

        One may suppose that belief in anything unseen like this is “magical thinking” but I would counter that it is no different intellectually from accepting the law of gravity. You cannot see gravity and you cannot isolate it. Gravity is only known through its results. I feel the same way about the Holy Spirit. Having become used to its presence, I don’t question it any more. And there are times when it goes absent or seems partially blocked out. As believers, we are very familiar with the need to be in a good frame of mind to be open to this presence.

        If you are curious about what it feels like, in my own experience, there is an electric sort of tingling sensation or a heightened sense of being. I suppose that drug trips can seem similar, my own vice is the occasional drink and I don’t have any drug-taking experience but from what others have told me, there is a mild similarity in the change in perceptions. For some (not often for me) the Holy Spirit can induce the phenomenon of speaking in tongues. It has been documented that sometimes these episodes are cases where people speak in languages not known to them (but understood by the researchers). In other cases, the tongues are what most might call gibberish. The purpose of this activity, we believe, is to bring difficult truth into the minds of the believers, through an indirect process that would otherwise be too damaging in some way. It is a mystery but I have seen and heard it a few times. My own experience is more along the lines of what we call “discernment wisdom” which involves getting a better read on the spiritual nature of situations and persons.

        You can imagine how that might have been of value in my various visits to Ottawa.

        I would not reject any of this out of hand. As humans, we can never be masters of spirituality despite what some gurus (charlatans) profess. We are by definition children in the classroom of spirituality and remain so until death. We may then graduate to a higher spiritual form. But what we can understand, to some extent even begin to master, is a basic understanding of how our lives are equally material and spiritual. We are not complete until we know this and learn how to deal with it. And then it opens many, many doors that we did not know were there. I hope some other people who perceive spiritual verities happen to read this and offer you their own thoughts. I can only tell you what I experience, and this is not an area of life that I would expect to be uniform for each of us. Another person’s experience of spirituality could be entirely different. I hope this falls upon you one day. If it does, you will find it enormously uplifting.

      • xanthippa Says:

        Thank you. Peter, for your well thought out post. I understand that bearing yourself like this to an unbeliever is making yourself vulnerable and I truly appreciate it.

        In my life, I have studied many religions. What you describe as the ‘Holy Spirit presence/possession’ sounds very familiar to me: the way you describe it it is not dis-similar to ‘getting the chi/xi flowing’ according to eastern practices. As I have studied eastern religions and done many eastern martial arts, including some designed specifically to ‘get the chi/xi flowing’, I can enter that state at will. As I can other meditative states…

        Yet, being an Aspie, I am acutely aware of the physical nature of the process of doing this: of the conscious control over my brain function necessary to induce these various states of mind.

        For example, during a recent sleep study, when I was hooked up to a ton of medical monitoring equipment, I thought it would be interesting to test this bit: I induced various brain waves corresponding to different meditative and sleep states while fully awake. Then, I asked to go pee – so they unhooked me and re-hooked me up afterwards…..so that I would have a discrete data point beyond my conscious brain wave manipulation.

        When the MDs went over the recorded data with me afterwards, they noted the meditative states and then were nt able to tell the difference between my simulated ‘sleep states’ accomplished through meditation, but with full wakefullness and complete conscious awareness, and ones of actual real sleep.

        This went a long way to convince me that all these states, including the electricaly tingly state of extra awareness you associate with possession by the Holy Spirit are simply physical states achievable by suppressing various areas of the brain.

        For example, the ‘Zen’ state of ‘being one with the universe’ that so many Buddhists seek is a simple exercise in suppressing the bit of the brain responsible for individuation and discrete self-awareness. And it is true that it is easier to reach this particular meditative state while one is malnourished, hence the stress on veganism among those who fetishize it….

        Of course some meditative experiences can leave one feeling enormously uplifted: one is messing around with brain function and brain chemistry, so these types of results are to be expected. Having experienced them and being able to induce them at will, I find no indication that they are anything other than the product of physical reactions….nothing ‘mysterious’ or ‘supernatural’ is needed to induce these states. It is just brain chemistry, plain and simple.

        I guess what I am saying is that yes, I get all these states, but why should I think their cause is supernatural?

        If one can achieve them without subscribing to the belief in the supernatural, what does this mean for the religious interpretation thereof?

  4. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    The affectation you speak of is all too real, but it has nothing to do with spirituality. Here are a few examples of what Albert Einstein had to say about it:

    “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”

    — remark to Alfred Kerr, 14 Feb 1927; quoted by H. G. Kessler, 1971: The Diary of a Cosmopolitan (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson), p. 322

    “A religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt about the significance of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation.”

    — article entitled “Science and Religion”, 1940: Nature, 146(3706), p. 605

    “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naïve.”

    — letter to Phyllis Wright, 24 Jan 1936; quoted by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, 1979: Albert Einstein: The Human Side (Princeton University Press), pp. 32-33.

    This idea of “the religiosity of someone more naïve” bears closer examination. Here is his comment about the flurry of criticism that resulted from his 1940 article in Nature:

    “I was barked at by numerous dogs who are earning their food guarding ignorance and superstition for the benefit of those who profit from it. Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source. They are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who – in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium for the people’ – cannot bear the music of the spheres.”

    — remark to an unidentified person, 7 Aug 1941. Einstein Archive, reel 54-927.

    This barking of fanatical dogs from both sides of the science-vs-religion debate is precisely what I have often decried in many of our conversations on the subject in this blog.

    This is especially important in the current climate of political correctness, in which almost no one has the courage to stand up to the prevailing dictates of cultural Marxism.

    Indeed, the only movement with a sufficiently broad base to act as a credible deterrent against cultural Marxism is composed of people who derive their insight and the courage of their convictions from religion.

    Thus, if you stand against cultural Marxism, you will only shoot yourself in the foot by also standing against religion.

    The only cohesive and rational stance is to cut the ground from under both sets of fanatical dogs by emphasising that true science and true religion are two sides of the same coin. They are not in conflict at all.

    We must not lose sight of those – the vast majority – who are “more naïve” than thinkers of Einstein’s calibre, and whose need for religiosity renders them most vulnerable to the manipulative sophistry of cultural Marxism.

    No good can come of depriving these people of religion.

    Instead, we must mould religion to serve these people by leading them towards the complementarity of science and religion, and not away from it.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Dear CodeSlinger:

      I must admit that here, I completely and totally do not ‘get’ what you and Einstein are getting at.

      Quite to the contrary.

      Perhaps it is the Aspie wiring in my brain: but, I see Cultural Marxism and religion as the same, with only slightly differentiated shade of pink. Both possess this illogical and irrational aspect of illogicality: ‘faith’. Belief in the unprovable, untangable and, indeed, at odds with reality.

      If that is an aspect of ‘being human’, then I am no human – nor do I want to be one.

      I guess what I am saying is that your response proves the factual truth and correctness of the statements of the Aspie-supremacists.

      Sad, very sad.

  5. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    The “uncovered-meat comment” you refer to was made by Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly, an Australian Muslim cleric. What he said was this:

    “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street … and the cats come and eat it … the uncovered meat is the problem.”

    His point is that the responsibility for sexual sins “falls 90 percent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement.”

    The figure of 90 percent is certainly debatable, but the correct figure is certainly nowhere near the zero percent claimed by feminism!

    Indeed, the idea that a woman should bear no responsibility for the consequences of presenting herself provocatively is one of the most destructive memes with which cultural Marxism has infected modern Western thought.

    Similarly, Father Joseph Olickal’s observation about Jill Meagher is just simple common sense. It boggles the mind that there are people who don’t get it.

    The fact that the remarks of these clerics are coloured by their respective religions does not alter the fact that these remarks reflect a deep understanding of the true nature of male and female, and the relations between them.

    It is utterly reprehensible that anyone should be forced to apologise for stating such an obvious truth.

    • xanthippa Says:

      CodeSlinger:

      your response contravenes completely and absolutely the principle of self-ownership: the very cornerstone on which our civilisation is based.

      Perhaps you might give it more thought and principled consideration.

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      The principle of self-ownership requires us to take responsibility for the likely consequences of our own actions.

      What contradicts this principle is expecting to be shielded from the likely consequences of provoking others to violate our rights.

      Feminism is guilty of precisely this contradiction.

      My remarks contain only simple common sense.

      Provoking those who are stronger than you is inherently hazardous.

      Therefore, doing so is called “looking for trouble.”

      And finding that trouble is called “getting what you deserve.”

      This is not hard to understand.

      If a man goes flaunting his wealth and gets robbed, we say he went looking for trouble and got what deserved.

      By what magic do you think women should be exempt?

      • xanthippa Says:

        There is a big difference, CodeSlinger, between the principled ‘what ought to be’ and the pragmatic ‘what may result’.

        Robbing a man is unprincipled (it violates the principle of self-owneship extended to property rights) and ought not happen, no matter how much a man flaunts his wealth.

        Yes, it may be more likely to happen if he arrogantly flaunts it: that is the pragmatic bit. But the principled bit says that his robbers must face the same punishment by the law for having robbed him had he flaunted his wealth as if he had not. His arrogance does not diminish the culpability of the robbers.

        Same for feminism.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am not, nor have I ever been, sympathetic with feminism. But my views do not affect their rights, nor should they.

        What I am trying to say is that ‘provocation’ does not erase the culpability in anyone’s lawbreaking, because as individuals who own themselves, they and they alone are responsible for their actions, and that includes how they choose to react to provocations!

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      The law must never treat the real world as though it were perfect, or require real people to be perfect. Great evil results when it does. (This is what is so flawed about the zero-tolerance policies infecting modern schools.)

      In the real world, real people can only withstand so much temptation or irritation before they reach their breaking point. Everyone has a breaking point.

      And that is why the principle that provocation mitigates the crime is fundamental in criminal law. Provocation is a valid defence for all crimes up to and including murder.

      If you kill someone after being provoked, you may well be guilty of manslaughter, but certainly not murder.

      If you enter a house without permission, the penalty is up to ten years in prison if the door was locked, but six months or less (usually only a fine) if the door was unlocked.

      And so on. Indeed, under Canadian law, provoking an assault voids your right to self defence! In section 34(1) of the Criminal Code we find

      “Every one who is unlawfully assaulted without having provoked the assault is justified in repelling force by force …”

      Why should it be any different for the crime of rape?

      • xanthippa Says:

        CodeSlinger:

        All I have to answer this with is ‘self-owneship’.

        We are not slaves and the actions, provocations or incitement from another have no power over us.

        It is because we are taught from infancy that this excuse is valid that people accept is as part of life. If we, instead, teach our children to be proper individuals, they will know this empty excuse is not valid and will maintain better control of themselves.

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      Essentially, you’re saying that human imperfection (lack of perfect self-control) is nothing but a social construct, and we should make no moral or legal allowance for it.

      This is precisely the sort of tragically false premise that secular Edenism is made of.

      Any system of laws and morals based on such premises would be inhumanly cruel and utterly oppressive.

      Yet this is exactly the direction in which the system is being pushed, by both ends of the political spectrum. By the right, with its mandatory sentencing policies; and by the left, with its zero-tolerance policies. These are only the most egregious examples; there are plenty of others.

      And we know why they’re pushing in this direction:

      Because it gives them the perfect pseudo-rational justification for trampling on everyone’s rights – everyone they want to target, that is.

      Don’t fall for their bullshit!

      • xanthippa Says:

        Sorry, CodeSlinger, but we will have to agree to disagree.

        I do not think self control (or lack thereof) is a social construct: it is one of the cores of what makes us human.

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      Now I’m not following you at all.

      You agree that no one is perfect, that everyone has their breaking point, and that this is a quintessential part of being human.

      Yet you claim that a crime committed in cold blood is no worse than a crime committed as a result of being driven to the breaking point.

      Don’t you see the contradiction in that?

      • xanthippa Says:

        CodeSlinger:

        You got it half right.

        I do see a difference between a crime committed in cold blood and one out of loosing one’s self control.

        However, I think that a crime committed from ‘passion’ or ‘braking point’, as you put it, should be punished much more harshly than one committed in cold blood.

        Why?

        Because it constitutes two separate transgressions, each of which ought to be severely punished. One is breaking the law. The other is loosing control over one’s actions.

        It may be ok for two-year-olds to throw a temper tantrum, but not for adults.

        In other words, loosing one’s self control should, in my never-humble-opinion, be an aggravating, not mitigating, factor during the commission of a crime. Much like, say, having an accident while driving drunk: it used to be considered a mitigating factor, since you weren’t in full control of your faculties due to alcohol while you committed the ‘accident’….except that now we realize that loosing sufficient self awareness as to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated is a culpable offense.

        So it should be with failure to control one’s temper.

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      On the one hand, we have a person wilfully doing wrong and not even trying to do right.

      On the other hand, we have a person trying to do right but merely lacking the strength.

      And you want to call the latter the more serious offence?

      You want to treat being human – having finite strength, patience, and willpower – as a crime.

      Do I really need to explain to you why this is a very, very bad idea?

      • xanthippa Says:

        CodeSlinger,

        let me put it another way.

        Would you prefer sharing your accommodations with a contract killer, or a person who flies into uncontrolled rage and violence with the slightest provocation?

        I know which one I would feel safer with!

        And I know which one I’d prefer my kids marry…and raise my grandkids.

        Hint: it will not be the one who lacks self control and permits herself to become violent on a whim.

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      All true, but completely irrelevant.

      Firstly, we’re discussing who is more culpable, not who is better to hang out with.

      Secondly, the person you describe – someone “permits herself to become violent on a whim” – is a red herring.

      She bears no resemblance to someone who is trying to do right but is driven to the breaking point by someone else.

      Someone else who then underhandedly calls on the law for protection, I might add.

      So, you still haven’t answered my question…

      • xanthippa Says:

        All right, CodeSlinger, let’s do this another way.

        I regard the actual loss of self control that leads to the commission of a crime to be at least as criminal as the breaking of the law itself.

        Each and every one us owns one’s self – nobody else has that claim on them, unless they are minors or judged mentally abnormal and legally put under someone else’s guardianship. It is a necessary pre-condition of a law-based society that each and every member of said society maintain their self control and temper sufficiently to put the law above their emotions.

        So, permitting one-self to loose their temper sufficiently to break the law is an offense against the society as a whole, quite aside from the actual law-breaking.

        On the other hand, if one takes the time to consider the law and comes to the conclusion that it is less evil to break the law than not to, this is at least respectable, akin to refusing to obey an evil order.

        After all, being willing to take the consequences of breaking the law and judging that breaking it is still worth it shows at least a semblance of morality – making a conscious choice. Perhaps poor morality, but morality nonetheless.

        Permitting one self to just loose one’s temper sufficiently to break the law makes one for ever an unsafe and unpredictable member of society. Therefore, crimes committed ‘in hot blood’ should conclude by excommunicating the individual from society for ever, because they have proven themselves to not have sufficient self control to be members of said society.

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      You are asking the impossible.

      No one can “maintain their self control and temper sufficiently to put the law above their emotions” at all times.

      Therefore you cannot take this as a precondition for anything.

      Certainly not for a system of laws… unless, of course, you want to turn the law into an instrument of oppression.

      However, the misconception at the root of your stance has come into focus.

      You speak of “permitting” oneself to loose control, but that’s not how it happens.

      Loosing your temper is like loosing your grip while hanging over an abyss – you don’t permit it to happen, it happens despite your best efforts to the contrary.

      Imagine yourself dangling at a great height, holding onto a rope for dear life.

      How long can you hold on?

      And if I have deliberately manoeuvred you into that position, whose fault is it when you fall?

      • xanthippa Says:

        CodeSlinger:

        if you manouever me into that position and I fall, the fault is 100% mine.

        It is my responsibility, as an adult, to not behave like a toddler!

        Of course loss of temper is always 100% voluntary! That is what being an adult is all about.

        And if you fail and do lose your self-control, then it is up to you and you alone to pay the price!

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      You ascribe entirely too much control to the conscious mind, and entirely too little to the subconscious.

      Indeed, you seem to think that the conscious mind is the more powerful of the two, but in fact the exact opposite is the case.

      Consciousness is an emergent epi-phenomenon that depends on the input allowed to it by the subconscious mind.

      Thus the subconscious is inherently the stronger of the two.

      Emotional states can take hold, and actions can be initiated, before the conscious mind is even aware of them.

      This is why self-control is hard, and why it is admirable, and not something that can ever be taken for granted.

      Indeed, even a failed attempt at self-control is more admirable than its complete absence, and thus mitigates culpability.

      By the same reasoning, anything another person does to make such a failure more likely transfers part of the culpability onto the other person.

      Now, as to the claim that “loss of temper is always 100% voluntary.”

      This claim is patently absurd. It’s a contradiction in terms.

      If it’s voluntary, it’s not a loss of temper, it’s just a deliberate recourse to violence.

      Losing your grip is not the same as deliberately letting go.

      And causing someone to lose their grip is a despicable act of treachery.

      • xanthippa Says:

        CodeSlinger,

        perhaps you need to take a step back and look at what you are arguing.

        According to your arguments, the people killed by Islamists for drawing a picture of Muhammed are to blame for their own deaths.

        Sorry.

        Not buying it.

        Part of becoming an adult is learning to control your temper. If you fail to contain it, it is your own fault just like getting into a car and driving drunk is your own fault, even if the alcohol diminished your ability to reason.

        It is the same with temper.

        Permitting yourself to not control it, or failing to learn to control it by the time you are an adult, must disqualify a person from being in the society. Because other people cannot know what may or may not set them off – or even recognize this person as a walking powder keg, a person who is unwilling or unable to control their temper is a danger to every other human in society.

        Since excommunication is not an option, owing to no place to excommunicate them to, what else are we to do with them than institutionalize them in one manner or another?

        You are on the wrong side of this argument, my dear CodeSlinger, and it is time you admitted it!

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      My point is that every single person in the world is a “walking powder keg” as you put it.

      The only variable is how much it takes to set them off.

      Every prudent person knows this, and disregards it at his own peril.

      As for your Muhammad-cartoon example…

      There is a big difference between drawing such a cartoon, and posting it on the door of a mosque.

      There is a big difference between being wealthy, and gorging yourself in front of starving people.

      There is a big difference between being a sexy female, and flaunting yourself in front of sex-starved males.

      The difference is as plain as the nose on your face.

      Refusing to acknowledge it only leads to impossible codes of ethics that no one can live up to.

      And laws based on such codes are the sine qua non of the modern Western (cultural Marxist) blueprint for oppression: criminalize everyone to provide an excuse for violating anyone’s rights.

      • xanthippa Says:

        Sorry, CodeSlinger, but you are dead wrong.

        Any cartoons, no matter how or where they were produced, no matter how or where they were displayed, justify the response of violence and murder.

        Until you acknowledge this basic ‘first principle’, we have no common ground to start a debate from.

        By the way: I will be a bit busy in the next little while, as I am organizing an ‘International Draw Muhammed Day’ event on Parliament Hill.

        Date: Wednesday, 20th of May, 2015,

        Time: 13:00-15:00 (1 pm – 3 pm)

        Where: North-East corner of the lawn on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada

        Please come and draw a cartoon of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, the Pope’s mother, Buddha with headphones on, or any other religious or political figure of your choice!!!

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      No one is talking about justifying murder, theft, rape, or any other crime.

      My point is that provocation by the victim mitigates culpability of the perpetrator.

      Every legal and moral system in the entire world recognizes this principle, and they always have.

      The trend towards ignoring this principle is pure cultural Marxism.

  6. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    Well, this is why I quoted Einstein’s remark about the “fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics.”

    To show you that he sees the same similarity you do and is equally repulsed by it.

    And to demonstrate the contrast between his distaste for the snake oil purveyed by these fanatical dogs and grudging creatures, as he calls them, and his veneration for the content of true science and religion.

    What Einstein is getting at is anything but illogical or irrational, as I hope you will see by revisiting his simple yet deeply insightful remark:

    “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.”

    He is not referring to what we don’t know yet, but what we can never know.

    To get a rough glimpse of what sort of ideas might be involved, consider that no matter how ingeniously we assign coordinates to the points of space, there is always exactly one plane left over.

    We cavalierly call it the plane at infinity, yet this idea is fraught with subtlety, paradox and logical circularity. On any line, there is only one point at infinity, yet positive infinity and negative infinity are, well, infinitely far apart.

    Even more intriguing is the fact that this forces the introduction of imaginary elements into geometry. But imaginary geometric elements are timelike by definition, and thus the static, ordered structure of space is equivalent to the effluxion of time.

    And so we find geometry at the foundations of logic and mathematics, and we are thereby brought face to face with the enigmatic pronouncements that have been the domain of mysticism since ancient times: the Yinyang (opposites contain each other) and the Tetragrammaton (I am that I am).

    There is nothing irrational about any of this, but logical deduction is insufficient for the task of formulating it. Deductive thinking must be augmented by a kind of holistic reflection that is uncannily reminiscent of religious epiphany.

    Essentially, even if we succeed in constructing the most complete axiomatic description of reality that can consistently be constructed, we will still have to escape our system to apprehend those truths which are unprovable within it.

    There can be no doubt that such ineffable truths exist.

    Kurt Gödel has proven they must.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Again, CodeSlinger, I suspect we agree on much.

      One cannot, by definition, have a well-defined logical system without a reference point outside of it. That is grade 11 Math…

      I don’t think there is anything mysterious or mystical or in any way sublime about it and in angers me deeply when people try to pretend this is some deep philosophical/theological whooptie-doo.

      This is no ‘deep insight’ or ‘transcendent truth’ – it’s just the nature of our existence, just as mundane as gravity (and before you dismiss this point, please, consider the absence of ‘gravitons’ and the questions this raises).

      It still makes absolutely no sense for people to act all superior because they’ve stumbled across some presentation of this and it is complete and total bullshit to call it mystical, mysterious or any other pretentious crap like that.

      And it makes even less sense for people to think themselves enlightened or better than the rest of us because they partially grasp this obvious aspect of our existence…and building whole religions around it is such a waste of human potential, it makes me want to cry!!!

      Enigmatic…PLEASE!!!!

  7. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    None of this is about acting “all superior.” We have already dismissed the “fanatical dogs and grudging creatures” who do that as neither truly scientific nor truly religious.

    Quite the contrary, throughout history, the world’s greatest thinkers have always used words like “awe,” “veneration,” “wonder,” and “humility” to describe the emotional impact of coming face to face with the eternal mystery.

    “The very fact that the totality of our sense experiences is such that by means of thinking (operations with concepts, and the creation and use of definite functional relations between them, and the coordination of sense experiences to these concepts) it can be put in order, this fact is one which leaves us in awe, but which we shall never understand. One may say the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”

    — Albert Einstein, 1936: Physics and reality. Journal of the Franklin Institute, 221(3):351.

    Your point about gravitation, and by implication the irreconcilability of general relativity and quantum theory, is very relevant, because the crisis at the foundations of physics is a crisis of philosophy.

    At the level of foundational questions, physics melds with metaphysics. But modern physicists are trained to treat metaphysics as a bunch of meaningless “pretentious crap,” as you put it. And this is why we have made no essential progress in physics since the 1927 Solvay Conference.

    The damage done by this disdain for philosophy and religiosity extends far beyond science to undermine every aspect of modern society. Why? Because it leaves the fundamental metaphysical and epistemological questions in the hands of pseudo-intellectual poseurs and charlatans – and thus leaves cultural Marxism free to restructure all of Western thought from the ground up, exactly as it sees fit.

    The need for religiosity is hard-wired into the structure and function of the human psyche. It is, always was, and always will be a hugely powerful force in human affairs.

    We cannot ignore it and we cannot escape it. The best we can do is give it a context that turns it into a force for good – or at least mitigates its potential for harm.

    Otherwise, all we are doing is inviting cultural Marxism to step into the role of abuser once occupied by the church.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Sorry, CodeSlinger, that it is taking me so long to get to this – my dental saga continues…hence the 5-day break from blogging…. I’m afraid my difficulties with antibiotics complicate dentistry greatly, as dentists are used to rely on these drugs and when they are not available, dental trouble can last for a while and be, well, annoying. Hopefully, the worst is behind me.

      To your point:

      It is not just fanatics and such who behave as superior to non-theists: it is the vast majority of people who are religious. That is why they are religious in the first place.

      This has been described by the creator of ‘Dilbert’ comics, Scott Adam, on his blog many years ago as the ‘specialness factor’: people are religious because they want to feel ‘special’. What a better way to feel ‘special’ than to have an in with a deity – and a supreme one at that?

      This is the very nature of religions: they teach that theirs is the only proper way and that those who follow it are special and better than everybody else.

      And the religious folk have no compunction about boasting of their specialness and truly and honestly believing everybody else to be inferior. The difference between the fanatic and the regular religionist is that the fanatics believe God’s vengence is to be enacted through their own hands, while the regular religionists just gloat about the eternal hell thing.

      As for the physicists: most people who go into physics tend to have low religiosity and rightfully consider this ‘awe’ thing to be a load of dingo’s kidneys. Sorry, but I’m not going to lie and say it exists: just that in my experience, it is a manifestation of ignorance and wishful thinking.

      And if we are to lie and trick people to manipulate them, then we are no better than the Cultural Marxists.

  8. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    I have outlined the eternal mysteries at the core of true religion and true science.

    Yet you deny their profundity and feel no emotional response to them, and claim that anyone who does otherwise is either a liar or a fool.

    How is this is anything but an attempt to create your very own ‘specialness factor’?

    I have outlined the structural and functional aspects of the human psyche that make religiosity inherent to the fundamental essence of human nature.

    You acknowledge the truth of this, but steadfastly ignore the consequences.

    No matter what you do, people will pray to something. You cannot change that.

    Yet you keep trying to escape the inescapable.

    This is precisely the sort of cognitive dissonance that cultural Marxism uses to destroy the foundations of civilization.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Again, CodeSlinger, we must agree to disagree.

      You have successfully outlined the ‘eternal mysteries’, that is true.

      But I do not see them as ‘truths’ – but a manipulation.

      You have outlined how people react to these ‘eternal mysteries’ – and I agree, they do: because those who have seen through the manipulation have systematically been killed by those in power. Thus, they have succeeded in selectively breeding humans for gullibility.

      This is exactly what Cultural Marxists and other religionists are currently trying to exploit.

      Time we put our own necks on the line and revealed the man behind the curtain!

  9. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    Again, I’m not following you at all.

    Are you saying that the eternal mysteries are vacuous?

    That every attempt to treat them otherwise is some kind of self-serving manipulation?

    That this manipulation has been perpetrated by all of the greatest thinkers of all time?

    Are you saying that human religiosity is not inherent?

    That it is not a direct result of the structure and function of the normal human mind?

    That religiosity is the result of some kind of palaeolithic eugenics program?

  10. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    Regarding the eternal mysteries, well, there’s a reason they’re called that. They are deeper than the deepest thoughts a thinking being is able to think.

    Let me remind you of a very interesting conversation we had about the ineffable infinite in this thread: Free Saudi Liberals.

    And religiosity is most definitely the direct result of the structure and function of the normal human mind and brain, as shaped by the normal developmental process by which an infant becomes an adult.

    I thought we agreed about this, because you liked my explanation of it so much, you made it into a guest post, here:
    Wired for Religion: guest post by CodeSlinger.

    In any case, human religiosity is not the problem.

    The problem is its exploitation by evil people.

    You can never take the religiosity out of humans.

    That’s the whole reason why cultural Marxism attacks religion.

    Because fooling people into believing they have “progressed beyond” religiosity makes it very much easier to exploit their now-unguarded religiosity.

    Religious people have an interesting way of putting this concept. They say…

    The best trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.

    • xanthippa Says:

      CodeSlinger,

      I think there are two things you are conflating from what I’ve said…

      Yes, I do think that most people are ‘wired’ for religion: but that does not mean that I think this is the ‘natural’ state of the human mind. Rather, I think this is the result of selective breeding which resulted from people in power simply killing off people with minds that were not miss-formed and easily fooled…and thus resisted being controlled and posed danger in that they mnight lift the blinders off of the rest of humanity.

      And, yes, we can fix this problem: once we make people understand that they have been born with this flaw and that they have to work extra hard no not fall prey to it – the way, say, tendency towards suicide runs in some families and once people are aware they possess this genetic flaw, they can guard against it taking over and ruining their lives.

      The reason Cultural Marxism does not like other religions is because it itself is a religion – as corrosive and destructive as perhaps only Islam is. Religion does not need deities or supernatural thingies in order for it to be a religion…

      Religions will be exploited by people because they were designed for that purpose. It is impossible for a religion to be non-exploitative.

  11. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    Yes, there is some conflation going on here, but between three things, not two.

    I think we need to distinguish clearly between (1) religiosity as an innate part of the human psyche, (2) the legitimate subject matter of religious contemplation, and (3) organized religion as a socio-political power structure.

    All of your substantive arguments against religion are arguments against (3). And in that regard, I completely agree with you.

    However, your antipathy against (3) leads you to discount the profound beauty of (2), and to view (1) as some kind of unnatural aberration. Presumably, both of these stances are motivated by a desire to deprive (3) of any sound foundation. But I think they are mistakes.

    The eternal mysteries, I can’t say much more about. If you say you don’t find them profound, or beautiful, or mysterious, then I will have to take your word for it.

    However, if religiosity were not a normal and natural part of the human psyche, but something added through selective breeding, then we would be able to look back and find a time when it wasn’t there. But that’s not the case. On the contrary, we find that religiosity is more prevalent in primitive peoples, not less. Indeed, the farther back we go, the more prevalent it becomes.

    Indeed, we see the rudiments of religiosity in all species of social animals. The only thing missing is the abstraction that takes religiosity from the realm of dependence on mothers and submission to alpha males, through the worship of war gods of and fertility goddesses, and finally to serene contemplation of the ineffable infinite.

    This progression of abstraction is what civilizes religion, frees it of primitive brutality and blood lust, and ultimately makes it immune to exploitation.

    Any effort to interfere with this progression plays directly into the hands of those who want to exploit human religiosity for wealth and power.

    That’s why, throughout human history, every such effort has ended badly.

    And why current efforts in that direction show every indication of ending very badly indeed.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Code,

      we’re going around in circles.

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      Yes. Well, I think the way to escape these circles is to make a clear distinction between the three issues identified in my last post.

      Then we can stop treating valid arguments against organized religion as though they have anything to say about the eternal mysteries or religiosity as such.

      If we do that, we can dispense with further discussion of the eternal mysteries, because the fact that you find no beauty or profundity in them does not negate the fact that almost everyone does.

      And if you want to claim that religiosity is not innate, with more-or-less rudimentary analogues in the developmental biopsychology of all the higher mammals, then you will have to provide evidence to support that claim.

      • xanthippa Says:

        Actually, CodeSlinger – it is YOU who convinced me of this one.

        It was your post explaining how we were genetically programmed for religiosity that removed my last doubts on this issue!

        If these things were real, there would not need to be a genetic predisposition towards ‘perceiving’ them – which YOU claim there is.

        I am not saying these perceptions are not innate – they are, but not ‘naturally’ but because of selective breeding…you know, with anyone who sees that it is a little man behind the curtain, not some ‘awesome mystery’, getting killed by the powers that be and prevented from procreating.

        Please, do think about it: it is YOUR logic that has led me here.

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      Since all innate traits of an organism are the result of natural selection, your claim that human religiosity is due to selective breeding is – in a sense – true. It is true in the exact same sense that our possession of opposable thumbs is due to selective breeding.

      But this selective breeding began long before we were human – before we were even primates. As I already pointed out, the rudiments of religiosity are already present in social mammals; like wolves, for example. And these rudiments are palpably obvious, in almost human form, in the higher primates.

      Thus, if my argumentation convinced you that the innate religiosity of humans is the result of a selective breeding program conducted by humans, then I expressed myself poorly.

      In fact, bio-psychological evolution selects for religiosity without needing anyone or anything to conduct the process.

      Now, as to your other point…

      I do not claim that any concept of divinity is objectively true, nor can it be shown conclusively that every concept of divinity is objectively false.

      What I do claim is that billions of people need to conduct themselves as though it were true.

      You cannot “cure” them of it.

      If you take away the Sky God they will substitute the Earth Mother, and if you take away all animist forms, the will substitute the state.

      No matter what you do, they will always substitute something.

      Notice that most atheists worship some ill-defined conflation of the planet, the state, and their own superegos, while assiduously hiding from themselves the fact that they worship anything at all.

      After a lifetime of observing the actual behaviour of people who hold all kinds of religious convictions – including atheism – I find the following conclusion unavoidable:

      For the vast majority of people, belief in the (suitably abstract) Sky God entails less potential harm and more potential good than any of the other alternatives.

      And the tacit apotheosis of the state, under the pretext of absence of religion, is the worst alternative, both for individual people and for society as a whole.

      • xanthippa Says:

        Thanks, CodeSlinger!

        Selective breeding – yes, opposable thumbs issue, other bio organisms – OK. Quite agreed.

        The reason I employed the language in this manner in my description is because, whether I agree with it or not, the common language use of the term ‘natural’ tends to mean ‘not due to human influence’. OK – to be honest, since I am of the opinion that humanity is a product of nature, then everything human-made/influenced is also part of nature, the same way as termite hills and woodchuck holes are. But, I am told that I am to stick to the popular use of the terms in common parlance, which is why I differentiated between natural and man-made evolutionary pressures.

        And, since religiosity is the result of cultural selective breeding (among humans as well as other species), I thought it to be appropriate to call the human-induced selective breeding evolutionary results as not natural ones. I hope that clears that bit up.

        Now, this does not mean that other social species have not self-selected for gullibility in order to maintain hierarchy. Yet, the fact that our brains are, in fact, ‘wired for religiosity’ – as you have put it, that did indeed convince me that this is species/culture directed selective breeding at work….which makes the existence of any actual ‘mysteries’ or such stuff simply a load of dingo’s kidneys. At best…

        And I am sorry, but I do not agree with your assertion that the vast majority of people need to behave as if some divine thingy or other were true.

        While I agree that the apotheosis of the state is a bad thing, I do not see it as any worse than any other form of governance where religious beliefs and the power of the State are held in the same hands.

        And let’s face it – as long as people do not self-discipline themselves sufficiently to recognize and overcome this innate religiosity, we’ll be in a mess.

        Actually, since the sense of and need for religiosity is generally much lower in people with Aspergers’ than in the general population, some Aspie supremacists (and, yes, there is that movement ‘out there’) consider themselves to be the next evolutionary step of humans… In their mind, the homo sapiens aspergis is a superior species to the homo sapiens sapiens, precisely because we are not fettered by religiosity. And since Aspergers is a dominant genetic trait, they argue, in a couple of thousand years, humanity will have evolved beyond infantile religiosity.

        Their sentiment, not mine – I am just bringing it up for interest’s sake, since we are talking about evolutionary processes and such.

        Of course, if humanity were to fall back into the hands of theocracy, Aspies would be systematically weeded out of the population, as we have been for tens of millennia, and homo sapiens aspergis will never come to be…

        OK – bit far out there. But, there are people who do think this way.

        Thoughts?

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      Ah, but the worship of the state is – by far! – the worst alternative.

      Just compare communism to Roman Catholicism. The Inquisition pales to insignificance next to the wholesale slaughter perpetrated by the communists.

      The inquisition lasted, say, 300 to 400 years, tried perhaps 150,000 cases, and executed no more than 5,000 to 10,000 people.

      Stalin and Mao killed at least 60,000,000 people over a period of only about 25 years.

      Oh yes, the apotheosis of the state is much, much, much worse!

      At least 72,000 times worse, on a per-annum basis.

      Every attempt to abolish religion has always lead to much worse evils.

      The conclusion is inescapable that most people need some form of religion.

      And the less they are allowed to admit that, the sicker is the substitute they reach for.

      • xanthippa Says:

        CodeSlinger,

        the most accurate numbers I have seen in studies suggest that over 5 million women were burned as ‘witches’ in central Europe alone….and that does not include the numbers of families who were caught by the RC Church in possession of a bible, the punishment for which was forcing the whole extended family, all generations including breastfeeding infants, into a single domicile, whence the doors and windows were nailed shut and the structure set on fire. My great-grandmother remembered witnessing these in the 19th century, when she was a child.

        So, let’s cut the through the fog here: there is absolutely no difference between worshipping ‘The State’ or any other deity: the moment the power over both religion and State becomes combined in one authority, genocides and other bad stuff happens.

        The sooner you face this, the sooner you will understand the existential threats faced by our society today.

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      Even if I accept your (grossly exaggerated) numbers, the secular apparatchiks are still 144 times more bloodthirsty than the religious ones.

      Therefore my point stands.

      The threat posed by Christianity is negligible compared to cultural Marxism and Islam – especially modern Christianity.

      And Christianity can be a powerful ally against both of the other two.

  12. peterodonnell Says:

    This is a reply to the part of the discussion above where you replied to me on May 11th. I could not find a reply button after that post.

    Just a follow-up really, to question the definition of “supernatural.” This is probably a word that only became necessary after the (so called) Enlightenment. Supernatural to the modern mind means “not explained by laws of nature” but really what it means is “we can’t explain this particular phenomenon.” This does not make it supernatural, just incompletely understood.

    I don’t believe in the concept myself, I am mindful that our limited human ability guarantees that we won’t understand everything about the universe around us, no matter how hard we try. Some attempts come off rather funny in some ways, such as ardent discussions of how things went in the first two minutes after the Big Bang some 13 billion years ago. I find that sort of thing hilarious, coming from the same temple of learning that attempts to predict three weeks into the future with very little skill. But that is meant to be ironic more than analytical, no reason why science could not deduce conditions in the two minutes (or nano-seconds, whatever they currently give each other high fives about) following the Big Bang, given the less than certain fact that the Big Bang actually happened.

    So if God exists somewhere and in part as the (or as a) Holy Spirit, that may all be perfectly understandable if your science is advanced enough, the idea that anything we don’t know is “supernatural” is constantly being undermined by our own progress. However, I don’t dispute that there could exist a paradigm of events that must forever remain supernatural. I have no way of knowing what set of events fall into that group, since if I did, I would understand them.

    While I appreciate the possibility of the individual mind programming itself to appear to be having this or that perception, and I don’t dispute that it happens, the counter-example in religious terms is quite often that the Holy Spirit just falls on people without that preparation and possibly even where they have done work mentally to reject that possibility. At the very least this calls for a very subtle (I suppose nuanced although we don’t use that word on this side of the fence) approach to mental preconditioning, but an easier explanation is that the phenomenon is externally sourced.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Peter, thank you.

      I think we may be running into several distinct differences here, some linguistic, some conceptual.

      So, in order to know what I mean by the words I say, I will try my best to be as explicit as possible. This is not meant to be insulting to you, just making sure that I am saying what I think I am saying. Which is something I do not always achieve. So, promise to try.

      What I was saying about meditative states producing the same states which are described as ‘religious’ are easily explained as easily induced brain states, caused by nothing more mysterious than changes in brain chemistry. Just like different individuals can perform any other physical tasks on vastly different scales and with hugely different preparatory requirements (some people pick up, say, knitting lace with only minimal instruction, others require years of practice), so it is with chemical processes in our bodies.

      Some people have to work themselves up into an anger, while others achieve it in a flash and have trouble controlling it.

      Some people fall in love easily, others have a difficult time with it.

      These are all just the natural variations in our body chemistry.

      While my explanation does not exclude the potential of some supernatural actor, there is no need to introduce one to explain why it is happening.

      It would be equivalent, in my understanding of this, to looking at a moving car and attributing its motion to a supernatural actor rather than to the chemical reactions in the motor…

      As to what I understand the word ‘supernatural’ to mean: OK, I am somewhat pedantic, but it is made up of two words with very clear meaning.

      Super=above
      natural=natural.

      Therefore, ‘supernatural’ literally means ‘above nature’ or, if you prefer, ‘above the natural’.

      If something is ‘above the natural’, it is not included in the same set as ‘nature’. Rather, it implies one of two possibilities: either is is physically located above the physical location of natural existence, or it is somehow imbued with traits that make it superior to, better than, natural existence.

      However, that distinction is rather irrelevant to me because as a part of the set we have labelled as ‘natural’, I have no knowledge of anything outside of it.

      A corollary to this would be that anything which is ‘supernatural’ is, by definition, not part of the natural world and cannot, therefore, be detected within it.

      You see my dilemma with trying to detect the ‘supernatural’ inside the natural world.

      Yes, I will grant that some religions make a claim that humans form an intersection point between the natural and supernatural modes of existence. However, I have as yet to encounter any evidence to support this claim that could not be equally or better explained using purely natural causes. Plus I find that point of view somehow arrogant and just a bit too anthropocentric.

      Yes, I agree that we may not understand it all. Not within our lifetimes. But we do understand enough that supernatural explanations are not needed to explain our world and our lives within that world. Occam’s razor and all that…

      As for why the first few shakes of a lamb’s tail after the big bang are important: the more we learn about how the natural laws ironed themselves out, the better we will become at technology. For example, had we not recognized that there is no such thing as a ‘force’ of gravity, we would not have the ability to produce functioning cell phones using satellite technology. Nor, for that matter, weather satellites…

      Yes, this is a very pedestrian view of things and not all lofty and fancy, but I can’t help but see it that way. Perhaps I’m just not wired right to see what religious people see…

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      Firstly, welcome back to the world! I hope you’re feeling better.

      Secondly, I am very sympathetic to your reductionism. I have spent my life trying to understand nature in reductionist terms.

      But, no matter how hard I try, I cannot make reductionism take me the whole way.

      For example, nothing about the self-organizing dynamics of neural systems explains the emergence of consciousness.

      We have identified the exact regions of the brain that must be active for a person to be conscious, and we can write complex systems of coupled differential equations that model the operation of those regions quite accurately.

      But this brings us no closer to explaining the subjective experience of being self-aware.

      Holism fares no better. Reductionism and holism each express aspects of nature that are completely opaque to the other. But there is no principled way to combine the two. Doing one deprives us of the viewpoint needed to fully appreciate the other.

      This is why there must always remain a “subtle, intangible and inexplicable” first cause – an eternal mystery – underlying the laws of nature.

      • xanthippa Says:

        Thanks, CodeSlinger!

        I was away for a couple of reasons: first, a bit of a dental emergency. Anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drugs taken together can indeed lead to quite sudden and growth of infections…and then, anticipating that I might get the permit, I had to get my affairs into order prior to next week’s Draw Muhammed event I intend to hold on the Parliament Hill.

        So, I had little time to devote to the contemplation of supernatural matters.

        I have to admit that I fail to perceive anything beyond the physical and that I find my reductionist view quite completely satisfactory.

        As to what is the nature of self-consciousness – that is an interesting question, but, I do not find it relevant in the consideration of the supernatural or mysterious.

        Frankly, I am quite prepared to regard even simplest thermodynamic processes as a form of consciousness, even if I have no opinion on if this includes self-awareness.

        And since it is so difficult to define what is it that constitutes ‘self’, the question of what constitutes ‘self-awareness’ is beyond definition….at least, in any objective sense.

        I mean, what does constitute one’s self?

        We now know that the DNA of their children is found in some cells of the mother’s bodies, making them, in a very real sense, chimeras. The latest studies demonstrate that even their sexual partners’ DNA can be retained in the cells of some women’s bodies. Does this alter what defines their ‘self’? What about the ‘self’ of a person with a blood transfusion, of transplanted organs. Are people with pig heart valves altered in their ‘self’, now that they are no longer 100% human?

        Sure, this is an interesting discussion, but it has no bearing on the eternal mysteries, as it falls 100% into the physical realm…

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      You write “the question of what constitutes ‘self-awareness’ is beyond definition….at least, in any objective sense.”

      Yes. Exactly so.

      And in making this statement, you have made my point for me.

      There is something about it that remains (in Einstein’s words) “subtle, intangible and inexplicable.”

      In short, it is a mystery.

      And I assert that this mystery is eternal.

      It will never become explicable.

      Not because of any (possibly temporary) shortcoming of our ability to form explanations, but because of limitations inherent in the very nature of explanation. Limitations rooted in Gödel’s theorem.

      I make no supernatural claims about this.

      But it leads to eternal mysteries nonetheless.

      And most people find it necessary to put an anthropomorphic face on such eternal mysteries.

      This is human nature. This is what we are.

      It is both irrational and harmful to pretend otherwise.

      Why? Because self-mastery begins with self-acceptance, both for the individual and for society as a whole.

      • xanthippa Says:

        Dear CodeSlinger:

        It is not a mystery – it s a frivolous self-indulgence.

        There is nothing at all eternal about it: it is self-centred and childish.

        Until people get a grip on reality and get over their own imagined self-importance, we cannot progress – as a species.

        Time to stop coddling them and start demanding they face some actual reality!

    • CodeSlinger Says:

      Xanthippa:

      Now you’re contradicting yourself.

      First you say it is “beyond definition,” then you say “it is not a mystery.”

      You can’t have it both ways…


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