Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Epistemology / Cosmology / god /
@ K. 1998 05 21
To know ourselves we must study
to know god.
gods, God, and god:
in relation to the history of religion.
God is dead
Long live god.
As you may see [have seen at sites purged from the internet] I’ve been narrating my life in terms of
- my early embrace of conventional religion
- my early resistance to secular convention
- my early perception of the fraudulence of conventional education
- my discovery of and conversion to modern reason.
As of 1998 05 21 that last part is still only getting underway. The details of my conviction that the glib religion that my church handed me was just as fraudulent as the glib talk of liberty that gushes from the state propaganda pumps are just coming to bear.
Of course all of the essays, being all written in the last year or two, have all along reflected my more or less current position. This essay concentrates on the theological part of how the good Christian Paul became the revolutionary .
Somewhere I hope I still have the notebook that records a statement from the Eisenhower White House of 1960 or so. Secure that I have the essential core letter perfect, I proceed. Ike said:
Everyone has a religion …
And I don’t care what it is …
I am sure the vast majority of Americans heard what Ike meant them to hear:We are reverent here but also practice religious tolerance.
Let’s not quibble over minor niceties of sectarian dogma.I understood that. Unfortunately for my comfort, I also hear what our a-literate leaders actually say.I don’t care what your religion is.
God’s name or nature has no importance.
Just so long as Americans have a God. Any god.
(That’s what makes them tractable:
Mistaking all things as fiated.)Which meaning did he actually mean?
Still very much the Christian, I cared very much what a person’s religion was. Error didn’t just get you a frown from the teacher: it got you an eternity of hell fire. If the truth can save you, if the truth can set you free, then the details of the truth have some importance, don’t they? Similarly: if error can kill, if error can torture, then no details are picayune.
Douglas Adams’ Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul opens with an explosion at an airport. Many pages later the explosion wasofficially designated an Act of God.Detective Dirk Gently delighted this reader as he nevertheless continued to seek light on the matter:But, thought Dirk, what god? And why?
What god would be hanging around Terminal Two of Heathrow Airport trying to
catch the 15:37 flight to Oslo?A few years ago I was introducing a neighbor to a seldom visited pine flatwoods in Highlands Hammock State Park. I tried the same line when she said that God would take care of something or other. I wish I could remember whether this event occurred before or after my reading of Tea Time. (I may never have read any Adams at the time.) (If Adams were to know my work, I am confident that he would recognize me as a brother. Maybe the unsuccessful brother, the embarrassing brother, but a brother.) I didn’t get a laugh. I didn’t get the tiniest bit of comprehension. She started: “There is only one God …”
Too stupid to have known not to start, I was also too stupid to know when to stop. “Are you telling me you’ve never heard of Zeus? Or Venus? Or Mars?” How about Baal? (Perhaps I should have tried to think of some ancient Arabic deities: after all, wasn’t that the Koran she was henotheistically paraphrasing?
Anyone should have seen the situation from Adams’ first pages. We should have recognized him. The god in question at Heathrow Airport turns out to have been
Thor. What patience should Thor have had with queues, tickets, cash, or credit cards? He got frustrated. Shazaam! He splintered the ticket area.
Saying that there is but one God is not only disingenuous, it is non-Biblical.
My King James has:And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …
Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Notice the “us.” Did the Jews write with a royal plural? Not according to my research. The God of the Jews didn’t tell Moses there were no other gods: He told him He was the chief: a king among barons.Centuries before anthropologists started pointing out to us that devils were invariably fallen gods, Milton gave us a vivid picture (while denying that they had been gods).
Thrones and Imperial Powers, off-spring of Heav’n,
Ethereal Virtues; all these Titles now
Must we renounce, and changing style be call’d
Princes of Hell?
A moment before (I, 373) Milton has written of “Devils to adore for Deities.” No: they were deities who lost their position. On NBC the other week, Merlin defeats Queen Mab by telling the confused Christians to turn their back on her. An ignored god has no power. Neither will Jehovah when we ignore Him.
I’ve spent a few hours on the above and mount it before getting a single word down for this section (with the name you recognize), let along a single word on the climactic last section. Perhaps a quick forecast is in order.God is dead.
Nietzsche is dead.
(Joke I first saw as subway grafitti)
God with a capital G is of course the God of Jewish and Christian monotheism. Some will associate Him with Yahweh, some with Jehovah, some with the Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Some may think of Allah. Some will see distinctions among these names; others will not; still others will but will also refuse to admit it. God with a capital G is the one who made heaven and earth in six days and rested on the seventh. He made man in his image, then a woman in the man’s image. He did all this approximately four thousand something BC or about six thousand years ago.
(How embarrassing! If Adam was the first man, what do we call those Homo sapiens who painted the Lascaux Cave 17,000 or 18,000 years ago? How did the planet ever get along for its four and a half to five billion years of existence when there’s been a heaven and an earth only in the last measly six millennia?)
There’s lots of literature about God: the Bible. the Torah. History. Law. Prophets. New Testament. Gospels. Epistles. This site offers to share some that I’ve written about God. (God was my main subject for many years.) It offers even more that I’ve written about god. (My main subject of the last decade or two.)
god is enough.
No capital g. No funny Chaldean or garbled Hebrew aliases. Just plain god.
Small g god either does or doesn’t exist. We can’t really know. I can’t know: and I’ve been visited by God, by prophets, by archangels, and by god. Since I didn’t videotape it, since there were no witnesses, even I can’t reasonably trust my own testimony. Witness is subjective at one. It starts moving toward objective at two. Even at forty million, it isn’t necessarily objective. Forty billion people could be fooled. Could be wrong. Could hallucinate.
If the universe was made, then it was god who made it. If the universe wasn’t made, then it was god who was what it is. Or wasn’t what it is, but knew about it, what it was, what it could be. Imagined it. The basic axioms. Some few things to be iterated and transformed. Varied. Evolved.
Small g god makes no effort I can know of to talk to me or to anyone else. Small g god doesn’t seem to do tricks. No miracles. At least none that I know of. Why would god do such a thing? Anything that can be done can already be done: with things just the way they are. The way they’re becoming.
Maybe that’s wrong too. Maybe god doesn’t do anything. Then again, maybe doing is what god is.
god is whatever’s what about whatever is.
What we can conceive of god is
whatever is just slightly over the horizon.
Or: just slightly over our heads, just a bit beyond our ken. Note that “god” is always a meta-reference!
There’s also tons of literature about god. At least there’s a literature approximating some of what god knows. It’s called science.
|god is what we sense as outward
a tension toward what we wish
|devil is inward
a compression of what we’ve been
Beyond either god or devil is the random
the vacuum, the end, the source.
(In my Knatz.com module Redundancy I refer to us as dead men walking:)
Man is dead.
Long live Life.
I’m certain of the italicized words in the above quote. The rest is close to the target. What I’m far less sure of is who the speaker was. It could have been Nixon commenting on something Ike had started. The italicized words sound very Nixon to me. Then again, he could have gotten it from Ike.
Ignore Him (God’s powers):
The ignoring has to be uniform. If I’m ignoring Jehovah and recommending that you join me in ignoring Him, but you don’t want to ignore him: you think you’ll gain by setting me on fire in His name; then Jehovah has plenty of power. No: we’d all have to ignore Him.
Heaven & Earth:
This universe began ten to twenty billions “years” ago. This solar system with this planet has been developing for more than the last four-and-one-half billion of those years. In English we call this planet Earth. (Etymologically, earth means dirt.) The heaven and earth that God created six thousand years ago can’t refer to either this universe or to this planet. What God created was not something physical, but rather something intensional something with no existence in space/time but rather only in time: in the minds of believers. (See
Mental Modeling and Intension.)
We talk about the world. We think of something huge, massive, weighty (in several senses of the word) … We all know that Alexander conquered the world. But there was no Iberian Peninsula in that world, no China, no Australia. In fact, once Alexander saw the Indians’ military elephants, he turned toward the Persia whose exoticism he was familiar with. The Romans again conquered the world. Everyone knows that. But did they ever hear of Ireland? Of Russia?
Columbus discovered America. Isn’t it amazing that all those Iroquois, all those Mohawk, had never discovered where they lived? How then did they find shelter, mates, or food?
My own early world doubled once I was allowed the cross the street. It would multiply by more than two once I was allowed to cross the avenue.
The “earth” that God created seems to have extended from the Shatt al Arab to the Mediterranean. It grew as the Jews moved around. The heaven that God created has never been found. Except in our semantics.
And of course there are those who reverse the proposition of creation, claiming that it was man who created God. Fine. (Though I say the Creation was mutual.) And almost six thousand years ago. Before that, there were just the jillions of gods referred to above. Before that, there was just
There’s no telling how many of the stars we see especially those we see through big telescopes, still exist. (And of course we don’t see them; we see their very ancient light. There must be countless other stars which have been born whose light we haven’t seen yet!)
(Furthermore, until we know the universe’s typology, we can’t know that a star or galaxy which we “see” on one side of the sky isn’t the same one we see on the other. Indeed: again depending on typology, we can’t know that a star we see on one side of the sky isn’t the same as another we see further on in the same direction!)
Science News has been discussing attempts to learn the typology of the universe in a couple of issues this spring of 1998.
Homo sapiens 1998 05 15 It’s at least forty thousand years, maybe fifty, since Australia was settled: all but certainly by sea voyage! But then the Australian indigenes are, like us, Homo sapiens sapiens.
Now there’s evidence that homo erectus may have undertaken successful Indonesian sea voyages as long ago as 800,000 BC!
See: Science News, ol. 153, Mar 14, 98, p 164.
The current issue, by the way, casts some doubt on recent Australian datings. It had looked like new findings might have pushed the date of the colonization of Australia back toward seventy thousands years ago.
I’m only just getting to read Piers Anthony’s Geodyssey. Chapter 6, Voyage, of Vol. 1, Isle of Woman, vividly dramatizes this great event. Indeed, that work as a whole parallels many of the points of this site as a whole.
The French movie Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol) makes marvelous use of the great cave paintings of southern France. I have comments about it at Macroinformation in another context.
Small g god:
(& god’s gender)
First I wrote “he.” A habit impossible to break. If god is as old as time, or nearly as old, then it’s meaningless to think of god having a gender. The possibility of gender has co-existed with the universe, maybe before the universe. But we can’t know when gender first came into existence in this universe. Even a good approximation of the date of origin of gender in the biosphere of this planet won’t answer that question since we don’t know when or where life originated. We know we have life here; we do not know that it originated (originally) here.
Perhaps it’s similarly meaningless to think of god as being “alive.” Any real god must predate life. N’est ce pas? Neh?
(1999 07 03 The Jews’ “God the Father” can’t be god: god has to be older than the family, older than sex, older than life, older than the universe … coeval to time …)
I write in English. English is a “natural language.” Very sloppy. Full of tricks and prejudices. If truth is what we want then artificial languages must be invented for the purpose. Invented and mastered. By all parties at the forum.
Evolution vs. Design:
I have finally encountered an informed, thorough, reasonable argument for design and the limits of the capabilities of evolution by Natural Selection: Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box. Bring some serous time, and intellect, and knowledge if you try to read it. I hesitate to paraphrase so detailed and thorough an argument. I’ll just say that Behe distinguishes phenomena that Natural Selection can explain (and explain well) from phenomena that Natural Selection can’t begin to explain (which doesn’t retard “scientists” from pretending that it has (or will come to)). Behe’s argument could not have been made only a very short time ago: it depends on recent advances in microbiology. Researchers now have good maps of some fundamental bio-processes: such as the clotting of blood. You want to blow your mind? Follow Behe’s maps in detail.
Once in a Florida campground I was interrupted in saying something about Darwin by some baleful-eyed redneck who rasped that what disproved evolution was the eye. No details, no reasoning: just a statement. OK, we all carry enough knowledge with us to fill in for the guy: the eye is too complex to have fallen together by accident. That argument is no argument at all: unless and until you can accurately map the eye and demonstrate that it functions by a coordination of irreducibly complex components. Ah, but Behe does argue that life is structured by irreducibly complex phenomena.
Fred Hoyle studied to reject the Big Bang theory because fourteen (or twenty, or forty …) billion years was not nearly long enough a time for enough accidents to just happen to have come together and start functioning. How long would you wait before a transistor just happened to fall together? Before it just happened to fall next to a fuse, that the steel just formed as an alloy and just happened to form a cam shaft which just happened to insert itself where a rod from a piston, which just happens to fit like penis in vagina in a cylinder …? I remember in basic training studying the firing mechanism of an M1 rifle and marveling that it was as intricate as a John Donne poem. Man, the poem, the rifle, the car, even the fuse, the transistor … Don’t begin to compare to irreducible biological micro-complexity.
Our inability to imagine an explanation is no proof that no explanation is possible. Common sense proofs are proof of not much beyond the lack of intelligence of the prover.
Seeing that the earth is flat
Listen, I’m sorry I even brought up cars or rifles. Follow Behe’s account of blood clotting: and then rethink the whole thing about probability and chance.
In a word, Behe argues that life evolved, and evolved by mechanisms such as those proposed by Darwin … but first, some irreducibly complex components had to have been designed!
Could future geniuses theorize a way past this barrier of irreducible complexity? Far be it from me to be glib about possibility. (I don’t even want to testify to the truth of axioms!) In the meantime, I accept Behe’s conclusions without reservation.
From which, in no way does it follow that design and superstition mesh properly. Accepting the blackbox god and swallowing a lot of rituals and dietary restrictions …, swallowing kleptocratic authority, seeing the universe hierarchically … In no way. It don’t follow.
PS: Behe’s book was published the same year I wrote this module. But I didn’t read Darwin’s Black Box till 2000: and didn’t pen this note till this 05/11/2003. What took me so long? Typical.
Talk to Me: Visitations:
Then how did god visit me? god visited me first in the guise of Jehovah, but then in the person of Buckminster Fuller! Of Ivan Illich! Of Gregory Bateson! Of Ilya Prigogine!
If you can hear any of this, perhaps god is visiting you: in the person of me!
Over the Horizon:
Sometimes I think something for the five hundred and ninety thousandth time but the thought will be accompanied by feelings of suddenness, clarity! And so it was at breakfast today: god is always a meta-level further out. Uh, if I hadn’t already thought that a half century ago, didn’t I get it from Alan Watts at least four decades ago? And if I hadn’t gotten it from Watts four decades ago, then didn’t I get it from Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach at least a few decades ago? And if I hadn’t gotten it by then, didn’t I get it from bkMarcus at least one decade ago: when he talked about meta-dimensions? (Of course I’ve been talking about meta-dimensions since at least the mid-1960s: though I have to concede, I didn’t always use those terms.)
I see it feelingly.
Gloucester, blind, in King Lear
pk, like Watts, writes (and thinks) mostly metaphorically. Hoffstetter too; but his metaphors include mathematical constructs! Ferexample, I’ve I’ve said elsewhere (the point isn’t originality; the point is the clarity I feel today about it!), with a mere smidgen of math, one knows that anything, any string, any set may be regarded as being contained within a parentheses: further, that the contents of any parentheses may change character by the addition or subtraction … of say a minus sign before the parentheses. The “-” sign in “-(x + y)” is meta to the parenthesis itself. Nothing within the parenthesis has any power over meta-signals that affect the parenthesis and its contents as a whole. So: god (man); god (the universe); god (time) … Or, time (god)!
Are the contents of these clusters profound? nonsense? true? These questions are irrelevant to the validity or the non-validity of the tautology. Which is true: quacks (doctors); or healers (doctors)? Either? Both? Neither? Or is the set “doctors” too complex, too varied to allow for anything but nominalist, case by case, treatment?
Either way, just consider god as being meta to the system that we are in.
And add this (also very Hoffstetter): things inside the parenthesis can no more know whether the meta-sign immediately before our parenthesis in the “final” meta sign or not. What our set does in a larger context is none of our business. Escharotic interests, as natural and inevitable as they may be to us, are non-sane.