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« Happy New Year's Eve - 2011 to 2012 | Main | Mental Capacities of Leaders - What Should We Expect? »

January 01, 2012

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Aboc Zed

@ bruce

bruce if you will be reading this post i'd like somehow to get in touch with you outside this forum

i thik there should nbe an easy way for you to do it

if you do not want to do it just ignore this request

Bruce

George, what you describe in some respects is what Arnold Toynbee described as the creation of a "universal church" by the increasingly disloyal, bitter, alienated, disenfranchised "internal proletariat" (working-class masses, which implies 80-90% of the western population today) in response to the decline of civilization and associated hardship, conflict, and attempts to escape ("transcend") the effects of same.

Toynbee described well what we have today: a "dominant minority" (rentier) elite detached from the real-world experiences of the working-class masses, content in their own insular, self-constructed sense of merit and self-superiority, doing "God's work" in the name of "progress", "free markets", "democracy", "competitiveness", and the War on Terror".

Marx in the mid-19th century, rarely read or analyzed in historical context, described the evolution of the West at that point as reflecting a "Christian" society, the god of whom had become that of the Jews, i.e., "money", and whose religion was that of "huckstering", which William Catton refers to as a "pickpocket economy". Marx proclaimed that "Christian" society had thus become "Jewish".

In this sense, Blankfein is, in fact, doing "God's work", in that he, being a Jew and successfully socialized and rewarded, is serving well the god of debt-money, who reins in the Temple of Wall St., plundering at will.

And most Americans, whether or not they are cognizant, have been conditioned since birth to serve the Jews' god of money and subject themselves to the huckstering debt-based pickpocket economy.

The problem, of course, is that it is all too often the pockets (and labor product) of the bottom 90%+ that are being picked by the top 1-10%, justified byt their priestly caste of economists, politicians, business school academics, and financial media influentials.

Therefore, do we ever need a religion to replace that of the Jews' religion of huckstering and picking pockets in service of the god of debt-money on Wall St.

Now, I concede that this narrative or worldview will be immediately attacked by some readers as "anti-Semitic" or "racist"; however, when the dominant minority elites of any ethnicity, race, or religion are exempt from the requirement for public self-reflection, self-examination, and scrutiny by the masses, the risk is that their power is unchallenged and thus they enjoy the luxury of abusing power at the expense of the masses; and they risk loss of legitimacy and the power to rule over the masses.

We are witnessing today around the world the delegitimization of the meta-narrative underlying the religion of the West, which is the religion of huckstering and everything being for sale in pursuit of "progress" and perpetual growth on a finite planet, if not the metaphorical establishment of the "New Jerusalem". By definition, "progress" in the foregoing context is unsustainable, and, therefore, Anglo-American, militarist, capitalist, corporate-statist, rentier-financier empire is not sustainable.

Consequently, the western god of money is a false god, if you will, and one that is being exposed for being so.

But humankind's gods do not go down without a fight, and often the truest of believers are those who are those with the most to lose and the most eager to sacrifice others in the name of their god's demands.

[Moderator comment: this comment contains ethnic references that may be objectionable to some readers. Dr. Mobus does not favor derogatory mention of specific ethnic groups, but at the same time indicates that this commentator has provided valuable insights in past blogs. So, in the spirit of supporting free speech (except hate speech) we are letting this comment stand as is. Dr. Mobus requests that commentators refrain from reference to specific ethnicity or race or religious alignments in the future.]

Robin Datta

Contrary to the popular misperception, in the past 10,000 years, the evolution of humans has accelerated to about 100 times the usual rate of evolution seen in similar species. One salient feature, starting about the same time has been the shrinkage of the brain. Some have attributed this to the decreased need for attentiveness to one’s milieu on account of the decreased exposure to lethal dangers and the easier availability of resources through the societal mechanisms, and in addition the increased security afforded by the societal structures reduced the need for aggressiveness.

While many assign primacy to technology, a alternate assessment might be that the availability of sources abundant cheap energy was the substrate. Technology was a response enabling the better exploitation of those sources.

The non-theistic religions, Buddhism, Jainism and Advaita (non-dual) Hinduism, disavow a supreme deity figure. For example, in Buddhism:
The Diamond Sutra: A New Translation, Chapter 14

Such a person will be able to awaken pure faith because they have ceased to cherish any arbitrary notions of their own selfhood, other selves, living beings, or a universal self. Why? Because if they continue to hold onto arbitrary conceptions as to their own selfhood, they will be holding onto something that is non-existent. It is the same with all arbitrary conceptions of other selves, living beings, or a universal self. These are all expressions of non-existent things.

This is also implicit in the Kabbalah: the Sefer Yetsirah, Chapter 1 verse 7 refers to “The One without a second”; it is repeated many times in Hindu scriptural texts. This implies the exclusion of a G_d, because a G_d and a believer would be One and a second: there is neither “G_d” nor “not-G_d”. Incidentally, the “not-G_d” includes the “I”. The “I” is the basis of all an individual’s cognition, which consists of the “I” and the “not-I”. The "not-I" includes all that is in the realm of one's cognition. From objectless awareness arises the concept of the “I” and its perception of the “not-I”. In that objectless awareness there is also neither “G_d” nor “not-G_d”.

The concept of interdependent co-origination in Buddhism, acknowledges the interconnectedness of all thing, both temporally and spatially. The complexity and enormity of the network that constitutes the universe makes it necessary to consider only small portions of it at any one time. Yet any part that is conceptually boxed off for detailed consideration remains in continuity with the rest, and hence any understanding is approximate. This is also the basis for the related Butterfly Effect (from the Wikipedia): In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions; where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane's formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.

(Interdependent co-origination has its precedents in Vedic Hinduism, where there is the reference to The Net of Indra (“Indra-jala”), Indra being the chief of the Vedic gods. Every knot in the net is connected to every other knot: this constitutes the universe).

There may well be sentience, intelligence and even wisdom in frameworks in which we do not perceive such attributes. Sir Fred Hoyle’s novel, The Black Cloud is a speculation along such lines. Even a large mycelium, with its biochemical signaling amongst the individual hyphae, may lend itself to such speculation: if it has a response time of days where a comparable human response time is in seconds, its “thoughts” may be inaccessible on our scale. (From the Wikipedia): A giant Armillaria solidipes fungus, a species of honey mushroom in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, was found to span 8.9 km2 (2,200 acres),[4] which would make it the largest organism by area.

Human intellection resides in the phylogenetically more recent parts of the brain, but it is steered by the older “lizard brain” which, besides being the seat of emotion and “beliefs”, is non-verbal, and not accessible through the usual modes of instruction. It sustains its own framework, which has a correspondence to religion, ideology, and/or other socio-cultural narratives and is accessible thorugh them. The direction of a line of study / thought that a person chooses to pursue, and the attitudes that one adopts, are guided by the “lizard brain”. Intellectual achievements have their roots not in rationality, but in this irrational part of the brain.

Whether it is called a religion or not, some such framework will be part of the human psyche, both individual and societal.

Tom

George - thanks for another brilliant essay, this one explaining evolution as hard-wired into our brains and somehow affecting our consciousnesses.
No comment at this point, as i have a lot to digest here.

Aboc Zed

@bruce

we are witnessing "deligitimizing" of anynarrative that falls into the scheme of "religion"

we need to learn how to get outside of "religion" narative and most of usdo not even recognize that "outside" exists

this is why the top will always be pontificating to the bottom and the masses worship and desire to get to the top and whine that gods do not love them

knowledge is power but most do not learn: they simply regurgitate opinions of others

[Moderator edit: the person to whom this comment was apparently directed has been added to the top and the empty comment post has been deleted.]

Tony

Hi George, excellent summary! I have constructed a naturalistic narrative (http://meaningofman.wordpress.com, in Chinese), based on Tao philosophy (note that Tao philosophy is quite different from Tao religion), integrating science of change (System Dynamics), Evolution and Ethics.

The good thing about Tao is it already has notion of 'balance' built-in in it, and it encourages critical thinking. The downside is probably it is an abstract concept and so more challenging to communicate.

Sari

Bruce:

The Jews did not have a religion of money. They adapted to whatever niche was available in a hostile environment. In medieval Europe that happened to be the interest-loans industry, since the church forbade that to the christians. After the Spanish inquisition many of the Jews fled to Amsterdam, the more tolerant neighbor to the north, and took advantage of the budding stock market. After expulsion from central Europe they were invited by the Polish noblemen to be tax collectors. Yes, the financial sector throughout history has had an unproportional number of Jews. That doesn't mean the religion is about money. The Jews themselves hated that parasitic form of existence, and the whole idea of Zionism was of trying to create a model (sapient?) society, based on agriculture and manufacturing.
Unfortunately, since the 70's Israel has been adopting the American model of development.

I think that the history and religion of the Jews can be instructive in several manners. I'm sure other religions have a lot to teach us, but Judaism is simply what I'm most familiar with. (For the record, I'm agnostic, but believe in what Rudolph Otto termed "the numinous", and observe most of the Jewish laws since I believe they contain a lot of human wisdom.)

1) Regarding the question of a settled vs. nomadic path: the Jews in exile were not either. They tried to do the best they could and live as well as they could in the niches and crannies of society. They were more like a network of communities who recognized each other as brethren and had a shared vision. When the time came to move on (or when they were expelled), they did. But they were not purely nomadic, like the gypsies.
The problem with nomadic or semi-nomadic people is that it's very difficult to be self-sufficient. Many nomadic cultures wind up being parasitic bandits (like the Bedouin), or dependent on trade (like the Nabateans). I don't see how permaculture and nomadism can co-exist.

2) The biblical laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee year, in which the land lies fallow, property returns to its original owner and monetary debts are forgiven are protective measures against wearing down the soil, the development of a feudal system and the development of an enslaving loan industry.

3) The Sabbath is a day in which humans cease to be promethean, technological innovaters and realign themselves in harmony with nature\original creation. The pursuit of technology and commerce is forbidden, while at the same time one is supposed to rise above mere animal existence and dedicate oneself to matters of the spirit. The actions prohibited are the lighting of fire (which includes using electricity or driving a car), all the actions leading up to the production of bread, clothing and parchment for writing (including the agricultural actions, or the hunting of animals), and anything to do with commerce. Basically, all the actions that symbolize modern civilization. In Jerusalem, where I live, it's quite amazing: at sundown on Friday the stores close, the streets empty of cars, the noise of modern life stops and you can finally breathe air instead of car fumes.

4) A command that all believers participate in the intellectual life of the religion (in Judaism - the command to study Torah). This democraticizes the religion, prevents the rise of a priestly monopoly, and ensures that there is a constant dialogue and questioning within the religion, and that the religion is constantly evolving.

On another note:

Joseph Campbell explains that the power of religion is that it works on the mythic, symbolic realm of the human psyche (perhaps this is the evolution narrative that's hardwired into our psyche). This leads me to think that the creators of religion in the 21st century won't be priests or shamans, but authors and filmmakers (especially in the mythic fantasy genre). I can see how Tolkienism and Jedi-ism would be appealing religions.

GaryA

Hi George
I’m still reading your blog faithfully but have declined to comment for a long while because, well, sometimes the situation becomes so blatant that comments become endless repetition…sometimes it better to say nothing and ponder deeper.
Which I see you have! I had a similar epiphany a few years ago when I delved into neo-Darwinism, genetic nepotism and sundry minefields but before I half explain, I noticed Joel Primacks book in your footnotes, I remember having a conversation with you on this theme- (secular religion for our time) years ago and his attempt to formulate one. Interestingly he and his wife have another one out this year ; ’The new universe and the human future’ must get a copy-wondering have you read it and is Joel in your ‘inner circle’?
Anyway back to biochemistry…I was struck how much new evidence was emerging of genes being found before their deployment, and before there was any selective pressure to program them (so called junk DNA) was a real puzzle for progressive accumulation of random mutations ie neo-Darwinism. I soon discovered that evolutionary progress depends on genetic programs acquired by HGT (horizontal gene transfer) in a biologically open system. And the main vectors of this transfer are bacteria, viruses and disease…it is well known that viruses become integrated into the genomes of their hosts, including humans. This assembling and activating horizontally acquired genetic programs-programmes which predate the organisms they encode (!) has an evolutionary purpose serving needs transcending individual organisms and their genes.
In other words traits are not accidental; they evolve for an evolutionary purpose and that purpose is the evolving self awareness of the universe via our consciousness. Each geological bottleneck acts as an agent of speciation… perhaps humanity is undergoing speciation right now by the integration of exogenous DNA into the human genome; our children may experience that leap into a higher level of consciousness which followed previous extinction events.
The narrative already exists and in various forms has for millennia; I’m struck by the Hindu vadanta religion which states that the whole universe consists of a cosmic self playing hide-and-seek hiding from itself by becoming all the living and non-living things in the universe, forgetting what it really is; It does this to experience all of reality and to come back together as a wholeness at a higher level of consciousness.
Of course all this is hopelessly teleological I hear many say and you would be right…yet the carefully contrived ad-hoc rationalisations and appeal to statistically ludicrous random chance look less scientifically convincing as the findings accumulate!
In the marrow of our bones and the echoing forests of our minds we don’t believe in nihilism or the absurdity of the universe..

Aboc Zed

@garya

reading your comment brings Darwin's Radio to mind - good read for 'human condition' :)

i would still maintain that "religios" or "teleological" narrative is quite primitive as a language for making sense of our configuration-space (design space in George's language)

i prefer science and forensic integrity of the discussion whereby all principals are able to refine their definitions to consensus without use of references to "not-explainable", "not-observable", and "uknown"

we know enough to act upon the knowledge in a consistent manner

if we do not act upon it it is simply because science has not yet properly institutionalized ("evolution" is a fine example how 100 years is not enough to make a dent in ignorance of the masses - many still refer to evolution as theory not a fact)

sooner or later scientists will realize that they cannot sit on sidelines and allow ignorance (politicians backed by masses thru democratic process) direct the show

but as long as scientists think somebody else should act and they would keep their hands "clean" we _all_ will be getting overpopulation, rebalancing and die-off

such system cannot last long: one day scientists (men and woimen of reason and knowledge) will realize that doing nothing means extinction for all and they will start acting (maybe they already do but i am too "little" to be part of the "club")

GaryA

Aboc: I am not pushing any intelligent designer or diety agenda I work in a uk university science research dept...I know the stregnths and limitations of science.
Intelligent design, scientific orthodoxy and the religious all fall into the same trap of assuming matter is 'dead dough' and must be pushed about and moulded by external forces....
A supernatural God who guides dumb matter or winds up the mechanism or random chance mutations & collisions. This dead homogenous plasma has managed to organise itself in to a planetry system complex and long lived enough to create a consciousness complex enough to ponder its own existence.
We forget to be astonished by that brute fact.

Matter doesnt look dead to me.

Aboc Zed

GaryA,

I am sure you are not one of the religionists.

Still why call matter 'dead dough'?

Don't you see how this choice of metaphor loads it with uneccessary emotional (limbic) currents unfiltered by neocortex?

Don't you see that all our communication is infested with same?

Why not use Occum Razor?

Why not simply say matter has properties and one of them is life and life is governed by genetic imperative to survive (to keep on living, to reproduce)

And leave it at that.

And then just talk about properties of matter and what patterns we can see (matter -> life: evolution: from single cell and viruses to sexual reproduction, encephalization, deliberative capability of great apes and sapience)

too many people use too many ambiguous / poorely defined words leading the discussion to "noman's land"

meanwhile all are "busy" with "living" instead of taking a break to refine the definition and agree on what language to use to minimize the noise

we all spin our wheels for nothing because the goo of institutionalized ignorance gets injections of neonate ignorance constantly and "science" only has residence in a relatively limited number of brains and even in those it operates not all the time but when scientists (humans too) are in their labs or at blackboards

as soon as they step out and hunt for grants or look for a mate they behave like those who are merely "believers"

Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle

but not for long

once the seed group emerges the institutionalization engine will take from their and will take it to the top of the structure relatively fast (in evolutionary terms - that is 1 - 2 generations and educated on the background of civilization collapse)

Dana Visalli

Concerning the 'universal evolutionary narrative,' it's good to be aware of

1. Journey of the Universe-- an effective film/dvd and book by Brian Swimme,
http://www.journeyoftheuniverse.org

2. A serious effort is being made by a surprisingly large (but still ineffectual) number of people to offer a spiritual story of life from a science perspective:
http://www.bighistoryproject.com/
http://palaeos.com/cosmic_evolution/bighistory.html
http://www.thegreatstory.org/what_is.html

3. Personally I would abandon the word 'religion,' which is defined by J. Krishnamuriti as 'the spiritual experiences of men....set in concrete.'

Dana

Matt

George-

Welcome to Second Tier! The "epiphany" that you describe sounds like the "yellow" level in "Spiral Dynamics":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_Dynamics

Are there any QE readers from the Inland Northwest? The Inland Northwest Permaculture Guild is producing a 6-weekend Permaculture Design Course that is more affordable than any course that I've run across.
http://inlandnorthwestpermaculture.com/

Aboc Zed

George,
To me the most important part in this post is the following:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Two people can be talking using the same words and mean very different things by them. The real problem is that most people are unaware that this might be the case and never take the time to explore the semantics being used by the others to make sure that everyone is using the same meanings. Sapience provides one with a tolerance for ambiguity and a realization that there are times when the resolution of such is an important part of the discourse.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My opinion is that _every_ conversation should begin with resolving the naming conventions and establishment of common base for reference. If this is not achieved then cooperation is not possible. I would even go about saying that the desire to cooperate should be equally strong in all parties _prior_ to the conversation and only if desire to cooperate is present then there could be meaningful and productive conversation on the matters that concern us all.
You ask “Can There Be a Naturalistic (Science-based) Religion?” My answer is “No”. This answer follows from my definitions of religion and science. My definitions are such that make science and religion incompatible. I define religion as pre-cursor of science in terms of evolution of knowledge. Once humanity accumulated enough understanding of the laws of universe it has become obvious that on the level of organism-whole, science is the only kind of intellectual enterprise that can provide answers with internal consistency. Science, to me, as collective enterprise of humanity is machine-that-goes-by-itself. It is independent of particular individuals and the kind of beliefs each particular individual holds (scientific or otherwise).
I think mapping science onto “religious” narrative is an exercise that is not necessary because whoever happened to have necessary circumstances in their life will eventually “graduate” to science and will not need “religion”. And those who already graduated to science completely will automatically be willing to act based on their knowledge which entails guiding human condition in a way that takes into account upcoming bottleneck event and die-off.
I think what we should be looking for is the willingness to cooperate with others in such a way that would not allow the noise of individual beliefs to influence the outcomes of collective action. For such way of cooperation to emerge the cooperating agents should be aware of their beliefs and how they inadvertently can act upon them in a manner inconsistent with the goal of the group. The individual members of such group would refrain from promoting their idiosyncratic beliefs at the expense of assisting the group in acquisition of most relevant knowledge and its proper application to development of necessary group actions. Each member of the group will be open to and be willing to provide feedback when the promotion of beliefs occurs. With such mechanism the group will be able to minimize the influence of idiosyncratic beliefs of its members and maximize the influence of “pure science’ that has passed the purification of the “ peer review”.
I am sure eventually individuals who understand this will find each other and start the group that will cooperate in such way _all the time_ in all their daily activities. Since such group would be expected to be most advanced in terms of their understanding of science it would also be expected to be capable of positioning itself in the pecking order structure of homo sapiens sapiens in such a way as to guarantee its survival and evolution thru and beyond the bottleneck event.

GaryA

I always recommend a through reading of Paul Feyerabend and Stanley Aronowitz to those tempted to dip in the murkey waters of scientism. :-)

Aboc Zed

GaryA,
I assume your reading recommendation is for me, even if you are not explicit about it. :)
I will check out those authors - I like to read - one never knows where in the mountains of ignorance she/he finds the next speck of knowledge.
Your comment implies that I somehow subscribe to "scientism".
I am not going to pursue the avenue of "science as religion". In my opinion, atheism vs. religion debate is a great waste of time on both sides. To me, religion is clearly not the path to knowledge and those who want change in human condition misapply themselves when they try to persuade believers to give up their beliefs. My opinion is the time spent bashing religion can be better used elsewhere. But this is just my opinion and even if it may be “scientific” it has not been yet proven so. This is why I am not trying to persuade anybody that I hold the key to the truth. I am not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking. All I am trying to do is to connect with others who might have travelled the path similar to mine and who will want to go forward together. In theory this is what all of us should be doing because we are all connected and share one and only planet, but most people do not care about “US” they mostly centered on “I”.
Let me ask you a question:
Why do you feel the need to "label" my comment and categorize it under your current knowledge base?
Aren't you curious about the possibility that however clumsy I may be trying to point to something that has not yet been institutionalized and therefore there might be no readily available "label" for it?
Why not limit our discussion to the matters at hand without bringing tangential material and complicating the process of establishing the common denominator?
If we both try to get rid of our ambiguities and aim at digging to the assumptions on which we both agree then we both have a chance to learn something. Of course it is quite possible that we will not be able to do so and part unconvinced but at least such process is guaranteed to illuminate our own models of reality to ourselves better and that is a very tangible benefit and a real payoff from spending our time on engaging in this communication.

Baw faw T

George, You are one of my favorite and most insightful writers. Since learning of your blog via TOD, I check frequently to see what you are thinking. We have a shared view of our future. I would sincerely like for you to be a member of the community of the future that I am helping develop. We would benefit immeasurably from your contribution. I am responding to this post in the hope that I can help you in refining your thinking.

However, I am a life long Republican and have been a leader/elder in a number of different Evangelical Christian Churches. I can not speak for other religions, but I sense that you have a less than clear view of Evangelical/ Fundamentalist Christians. I believe that I can help in clarifying your perspective and thus further your objective.

I have never been asked my position on evolution, the Genesis Creation account, or the age of the earth when being asked to take a Church leadership position. When counseling parents who’s teenage daughter is shacking up with a tweeker or a grandparent concerned about their bastard grandchildren, I don’t inquire about their views on evolution.

While the promise of a ‘Glorified’ afterlife undoubtedly is a powerful motivator, current material rewards offered by the Church are essential to motivating the believer and my gut instinct is that those current rewards in many cases are the prime motivator. We are hard wired to strive for certain rewards; some of which are not given adequate priority. For example: belonging (family, tribe, clan, etc.), recognition, challenge, etc. The effective congregation provides an extended family, mutual material and emotional support, encouragement, sincere appreciation and recognition of contribution to the ‘cause’.

Fourteen of my family plus fiancés of three of my grandchildren attended our traditional Christmas breakfast, which I, as the family patriarch, prepared and served. The age range was 18 to 81 (my wife). The professional credentials are, retired senior executive, soon to be retired ‘bird’ Col., soon to be retired IT manager, retired professional fireman, two near acquisition of doctors degrees in Bio-Medical Sciences, IT professional (former UW Tacoma student until he got bored), two new graduates from WSU, legislative assistant and Republican party activist, homemakers, and university students. I estimate based on my own scores that each one would score above the ninetieth percentile on standard intelligence tests. An extremely successful family by any measure. I cite this not to boast but to say that each profess faith in Christ and most are actively involved in Churches. The model for living set forth in the Christian Bible works very well for this group of people. Some of them might be willing to collaborate with you if they were not required to deny their Christian faith and take an oath of loyalty to Evolutionism.

Many churches/religions have been started by the vision of one man. Joseph Smith (Mormon), Rick Warren (Saddle Back), Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill), etc. Joseph Smith was in my opinion the most creative in that he kept the Bible and added a new (additional) revelation - The Book of Mormon. This may sound ‘tongue in cheek’ but you might be able to use or adapt this technique. If you can spare the time for street level research, I would recommend that you attend a few meetings of the nearest Mars Hill Church. I think that they have a congregation in Tacoma, WA.

In my opinion we are headed for anarchy. The isms of the past will not suffice. My community is planning and preparing to cope with the destruction that anarchy will bring but we do not have a well thought out system for long term governance. Accordingly, I will be following your thoughts as closely as possible.

T

George Mobus

All,

This post has elicited a large (overwhelming) volume of e-mail and the comments here.

First I want to clarify something, as much for the many e-mails that came from people confused about my argument. A number of people thought I was advocating conversion of existing religious groups to a new religion. I apologize for any misleading verbiage that led in that direction. I am very certain that religious believers such as evangelicals are not likely to convert to a non-mystical (e.g. mute on the subject of a supernatural world) unless they have become disillusioned with Christianity. Same goes for Muslims and other theistic religions.

My purpose in exploring the idea of a new kind of religion that focuses on the idea that one's life is not purposeless because the evolution of the whole universe made that life possible. This is an appeal to each person's understanding that they really are a part of something bigger and with purpose, even if that something has natural explanations.

So, if you are one who thought I wanted to go proselytize the natives to fill the pews on Sunday, please be advised that is not the case and you can refrain from sending me messages about how that is wrong headed or sinful!

Now...

Tony,

I looked but cannot read Chinese! I do think Tao contains some very useful ideas in terms of what I envision.

----------------------------------
GaryA,

I don't have an "inner circle" per se. I do have friends and acquaintances though.

I met Joel and Nancy at a conference several years ago - Science and Wisdom. There is a book about to come out from this conference. I have a chapter on sapience and I believe Joel and Nancy have a chapter in there as well. I will say that a lot of what they said in "View" resonates with my intuitions.

I have favored the term "teleonomy" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleonomy ) but applied to universal evolution. Also I highly recommend Morowitz's book (in the bibliography). I think you could appreciate his insights, especially since he is a theoretical biologist/biochemist.

------------------------------------
Aboc,

This is name dropping but Greg Bear is a friend! He lives not too far north. If you read "Queen of Angles" carefully you will discover that one of the computer scientists who built the machine that reached consciousness was named George Mobus!

----------------------------------
Hi Dana.

Good to hear from you. I was saddened when I used the last drops of my honorarium (your jar of honey!). For everyone else, Dana invited me to talk to folks in the Methow Valley near the Columbia river and on the eastern side of the Northern Cascades. He gave me a jar of his natural honey (I saw the bee hives myself) as a token.

Dana, thanks for the links. I am a bit familiar with the Big History approach. Someone who works with Christian was at the conference I mentioned to GaryA above.

In both the Big History and View from the Center of the Universe approaches the authors appear to be attempting to reconcile science and religion and make the former more palatable to the masses. My approach is different. I do not seek to teach people science and expect them to see how it really isn't in conflict with spiritual notions. Rather I would seek to translate scientific concepts into a more spiritual (but I don't mean supernatural) language that is compatible with religious thinking. I have yet to work out (if I ever do) what that would look like, but it would be a narrative that a religious believer could grasp but be based on scientific understanding of how the universe has evolved.

Take care.
----------------------------------

Matt,

Thanks for the links. Where in the inland NW?
-----------------------------------

Aboc,

We will just need to see how it will play out. I know quite a few scientists who, themselves professing atheism or agnosticism, nevertheless express something close to reverence when talking about the unknowns in the universe - the stuff we have yet to discover (a friend who helped move the theory of dark energy along was downright mystical in his expressions of awe!) Einstein leaned toward deism and tended to equate God and Nature (laws of). So I wouldn't be so quick to rule out the role of mystery and a need to understand one's place in an as yet not completely understood Universe.

----------------------------------

George

George Mobus

This comment was posted by Robin Datta but typepad has been having trouble with some posts lately. I've reported it. Meanwhile if anyone has trouble getting a comment to stick then send it to me via my gmail account and I will post it.
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From Robin Datta:

Robin Datta

12:14 PM (3 hours ago)

to me
The paradigm of science vs. religion exists in the frame of dualism. When the "I" is recognized and implicitly acknowledged, there is also a "not-I" that is also implicitly acknowledged and recognized. That "not-I" includes the entirety of one's cognition - including the content of science, neuroscience, and the universe. All of these are awareness directed to objects of awareness.

The ground for the "I" is objectless awareness, which, when directed to an object, makes possible both the "I" and the "not-I". That objectless awareness is not the "I" and does not exist within the realm of the "I". It is not "G_d", since "G_d" exists within the domain of the "not_I".

It is referred to in the Kabbalistic tradition in Judaism as "The One without a second" in the Sefer Yetzirah, Chapter 1, verse 7. Hindu scriptures are replete with references to "The One without a second", for example in the The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination and the Yoga Vasistha. (The former is available in full in English translation online at Shankaracharya.org under its Sanskrit title, Vivekachudamani.)

"The One without a second" does not refer to "G_d", because the concept of "G_d" is cognized by the"I", which is a second entity. "The One without a second" is neither "G_d" nor "non-G_d".

The non-theistic traditions, including Buddhism, non-dual (Advaita) tradition in Hinduism, and Jainism all reflect this in one way or another.

One of the principal scriptural texts of Mahayana Buddhism, the Diamond Sutra, asserts

Such a person will be able to awaken pure faith because they have ceased to cherish any arbitrary notions of their own selfhood, other selves, living beings, or a universal self. Why? Because if they continue to hold onto arbitrary conceptions as to their own selfhood, they will be holding onto something that is non-existent. It is the same with all arbitrary conceptions of other selves, living beings, or a universal self. These are all expressions of non-existent things.
(From The Diamond Sutra - A New Translation, available online (can be found via Google) Chapter 14.)

A "religion" for Homo eusapiens would likely be a non-theistic "religion".

Tom

Hey George,
there's one thing for sure at this point - this election isn't going to change anything for the better for most of us (the 99%) and just to clue you in on your curiosity regarding Americans Elect, check this out:
http://irregulartimes.com/index.php/archives/2012/01/08/americans-elect-corporation-overrules-delegates-to-choose-platform-of-questions/comment-page-1/#comment-902323

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