Secularism And Religious Iliteracy

There is no question that more Americans are becoming more secular. That does not mean that America is “losing its … Continued

There is no question that more Americans are becoming more secular. That does not mean that America is “losing its faith” (if you consider faith a good thing) but simply that religion is an animating force for fewer Americans than it was even a decade ago. Believers are whistling in the dark when they dismiss studies showing that the proportion of “unchurched” Americans has more than doubled during the past decade and suggest that these people are not rejecting the supernatural but simply moving toward a more “personal” form of faith.

That only a small percentage of Americans are willing to call themselves atheists or agnostics is irrelevant, given the stigma applied to both groups in American culture. If you don’t go to religious services, participate in religious rituals, and seek a religious education for yourself or your children, the chances are good that you do not consider religion important at all. People who describe themselves as “spiritual, but not religious” are like people who say they place great importance on reading but never go to the library, buy a book, or read a book online. Who is going to come right out and tell a pollster, “I hate books and I’m proud of it?”

All studies, including the newest one conducted by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College and last year’s Pew Forum report on America’s religious landscape, point in the same direction — toward a growing cultural divide. While more Americans are abandoning religion altogether, the minority (mainly right-wing Protestant Christians) that believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible has held steady at about one-third of the population. The dropouts from religion are primarily Catholics, mainstream Protestants, and non-Orthodox Jews.

The decline of American-born Catholics is most startling. The Pew Forum found that although about one-third of Americans were raised as Catholics, only one-fourth now consider themselves Catholics. Were it not for immigration from Latin America, Catholicism here would be as lifeless as it is in most of “secular Europe.” Given the erosion of the Catholic faith as previous groups of immigrants became more educated and assimilated, I wouldn’t count on the newest generation of Hispanic immigrants to save the institutional church in the U.S.

As an atheist, I am pleased by any decline in religiosity among Americans. As someone who values cultural literacy, however, the decline of religious education (which necessarily accompanies decline in church membership) gives me pause. In what is supposedly the most religious nation in the developed world, more than half of American adults cannot name the four gospels or Genesis as the first book of the Bible. (This of course suggests that religion wasn’t doing such a good job of educating people about their traditions.) Nevertheless, it is impossible to understand literature and culture without knowing something about religion, and if more people prefer the malls and video games to services and Sunday School, that will only contribute to the general dumbing down of American culture. Stephen Prothero, in his 2007 book Religious Literacy, proposed that public schools offer courses in the history of religion. But I can’t imagine that our schools, which aren’t doing such a great job of teaching reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, are likely to do a better job of teaching about the history of religion.

I recently went to a traditional Jewish funeral, and when the rabbi began to lead the mourners’ Kaddish, it was clear that almost none of the attendees under the age of 40 had the slightest idea of how to recite this traditional Jewish prayer for the dead in Hebrew. There is something profoundly sad about the loss of ancient knowledge, even though I find nothing sad about the loss of belief in the supernatural. As an atheist who was raised a Catholic, I suppose it might be said that I have had the best (or the worst, if you think that becoming an atheist is a horrible fate) of both worlds: I was forced to learn about religion — and not only Catholicism, because when that didn’t make sense to me, I then studied other religions to see if they made more sense. My religious education led me to the conclusion that no religion could stand up to serious intellectual and scientific scrutiny. But I’m not the least bit sorry about having received the religious education in the first place. I do feel sorry for people who haven’t been exposed to the soaring beauty of the psalms, who don’t know what they’re looking at when they see a painting of “Rest On The Flight Into Egypt,” who can’t say Kaddish for their grandfather.

Can religious history be taught and learned without religious belief? I don’t know, but it’s a subject that every atheist who values learning and culture ought to think about.

About

Susan Jacoby Susan Jacoby is the author of "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism"­ and is completing a secular history of religious conversion.
  • justillthen

    This is an interesting perspective. One has to recognize the primary importance of religion in culture and society, and so fundamental to the conditioning that we have as members of those societies. It informs our language of interconnectivity. Makes us a participant in the greater. When we forget, or never learnded, the Kaddish for instance we loose a form of interconnectivity. Good questions. Outside of the more fundamentalist religions that you mention it seems apparent that traditional religion in America is on the decline. Might be true with evangelicals too, or soon will be, but for their insistence on their own elitist veracity. A society without religion, or more specifically one without belief in a supernatural creator and individual spiritual ongoingness, is one that I do not personally look for. I am not a lover of the destructions that religions are far too capable of. But humankind without a sense of something greater than themselves is more terrifying to me.

  • Pamsm

    I agree that religion plays a huge part in world history, and even if everyone were to wake up tomorrow realizing that it’s all superstitious nonsense, it’s not something that we can ignore and pretend never existed.Just as we still learn about the Aztec, Greek, Roman, and Norse gods, the Judeo-Christian religions will always be a necessary part of a comprehensive education.I wish I thought that I would live to see the day when all religions were seen as the stuff of legend and past belief only, but since many of the evangelical groups carefully shield their children from any contact with reality, through home schooling and/or church-owned schools, I fear that it will be with us for a long time to come.

  • mokey2

    I’ve often wondered about this question, too. It seems to me that understanding the problems that we have today mandates an understanding of many different religions and their practices/belief systems, etc if we ever have any hope of solving them. Clearly some education in religious traditions is warranted. I can’t help but wonder if the US should create a system where children learn about different religions witbout any emphasis on preferring one religion over another. But could that be done without the government getting involved? I don’t know.I also can’t help but wonder if sooner or later someone’s going to be putting to a vote whether the US should have to follow the Bible rather than the Constitution. Seems to me like things are headed that way, slowly. I wish I didn’t feel that way.I don’t care what religion a person is. I look at what kind of person their religion helps them to become- but I will oppose anyone who tries to force their beliefs on me or anyone else, whether by their words or their attempts to declare any ‘holy book’ the document of this country.

  • Paganplace

    “Just as we still learn about the Aztec, Greek, Roman, and Norse gods, “BTW, Pam, we really *don’t.* :)

  • Carstonio

    “humankind without a sense of something greater than themselves is more terrifying to me.”That sense doesn’t have to mean belief in a “supernatural,” which is a tautological concept with no factual basis. “Something greater than themselves” can be simply the vastness of the universe itself. My response to Jacoby is that teaching religious history without the belief is not only possible but imperative. Joseph Campbell was right in saying that the true value of myth is allegorical and not literal – they’re teaching stories for subjective truths about human existence. It’s not necessary to believe in a divine Jesus to appreciate the concept of sacrifice and redemption, or to value his ideas about human interaction.

  • gladerunner

    Juststillthen: “But humankind without a sense of something greater than themselves is more terrifying to me.” Why is that? What terrifies you? In your current belief system you belive that god is allpowerful, all knowing, but he does little to actually manage things. Huricanes, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, wars, murdrers rapists are rampant. What good is it to have something greater than ourselves if we are unable to discern or understand it’s actions?

  • Paganplace

    Greatly vexed are we, by these purveyors of ‘All Or Nothing’ ….who wonder why gritty ol’ human life doesn’t fit wither set of terms. :)

  • Carstonio

    Paganplace, excellent point. The core problem is absolutism and its disconnect from “gritty ol’ human life.” Not all religious belief is absolutist, and many secular ideologies subscribe to absolutism.

  • gladerunner

    paganplace: “You both believe terrible things will happen if you don’t think the right thing in your head, and that ultimately, you’ll be vindicated”No, not at all… I (Atheist) believe that when I die, I die… I foresee neither a victory dance nor a torture chamber. What are you referring to when you say ‘terrible things’?

  • Susan_Jacoby

    PaganplaceI normally find myself very much in sympathy with your comments, but I can’t understand why you think that both monotheists and atheists believe that “terrible things will happen” if they don’t “think the right things.” What terrible things? The only terrible thing I can imagine is that we might destroy our planet and our species through sheer stupidity, but I don’t see what that has to do with religion per se (or with irreligion). As for polytheism, the polytheism of the past, unlike Paganism today, was filled with cruel, vengeful gods as well as nice, frisky ones. Paganism, as I understand it, sees humans as a part of all creation and nature, and in that is much closer to atheism than to any monotheistic religion today.

  • Paganplace

    “Paganplace, excellent point. The core problem is absolutism and its disconnect from “gritty ol’ human life.” Not all religious belief is absolutist, and many secular ideologies subscribe to absolutism.”Well, if I dare get… religious, here, I just have to say, it’s not about what you think you believe, call it the waters of Lethe, but, when all this stuff in our heads is washed away, that’s where we find out who we really are. Best not to lean on these conceits. :)

  • Carstonio

    “when all this stuff in our heads is washed away, that’s where we find out who we really are. “While that’s a useful psychological concept, I’m not sure what it has to do with absolutism.

  • Paganplace

    “As for polytheism, the polytheism of the past, unlike Paganism today, was filled with cruel, vengeful gods as well as nice, frisky ones. Paganism, as I understand it, sees humans as a part of all creation and nature, and in that is much closer to atheism than to any monotheistic religion today.”Close don’t count, and neither practices of the past nor Hamilton’s Mythology nor Xena: Warrior Princess define ‘The Gods.’People *do* do silly things, sir. This doesn’t mean we must worship at the altar of these silly things forevermore. I much believe in the human spirit, but I’d be the last one to say we’re always quick on the uptake, if someone gives an easier way out.

  • DaveL2

    “The only terrible thing I can imagine is that we might destroy our planet and our species through sheer stupidity…”But what about this state of affairs would be “terrible”? If we ceased to be around, there would be no one to miss us or the rest of the life on this planet. Please do not mistake me for implicitly trying to argue that we need God/religion in order to ground our sense of meaning or our sense of morality. I would hope to never be so jejune. Indeed, I know several atheists who have a well worked out and, prima facie, logically consistent meta-ethical system, and that without resorting to a divine law-giver. I’m only curious to know what your own is so as to make sense of the terribleness of the situation you’ve outlined. I presume you mean more than just you have a disliking to the thought of this state of affairs obtaining, for that disliking would stop along with your existence and would thus cease to be of any real existential import.Cheers,

  • eslaton

    The Kaddish is an affirmation of God and acknowledges that words are insufficient to truly praise God. It is said morning, noon and night. The Rabbis chose the Kaddish to recited by mourners specifically at a time when some question might God.Religions were originally responses to those seeking to understand and connect with the transcendent. The fact that many of them are today failing doesn’t mean it isn’t needed. “Spiritual but not religious” means those who yearn for a connection with the transcendent. The world has changed rapidly, most religions have failed to keep pace. That is indeed sad. TV has been a way for people to seek such connections but without being counted as a regular worshiper. The internet certainly is a new venue for those seeking what once was the domain of religions. Specific religions will continue to come and go, but atheists fool themselves in believing that religions is no longer necessary.

  • DaveL2

    I’m actually not a nihilist. I thought that was clear. Rather, I was inquiring what Susan’s personal views were on the metaphysical groundings of morality. Nothing I stated implied that “nothing was real until humans came along”. Again, I was only conjecturing that in the absence of some metaphysical underpinnings, there would be no significance or no meaning to it. This need not be grounded in a theistic ontology, but it has to be grounded in something in order for our moral appraisals to mean more than “Yay this,” or “Boo that”. On a side note, there wasn’t really anything in your post other than polemic. If you wish to engage in civil conversation, by all means. I am more than willing to do so as well. But merely pouring scorn on someone, and failing to fully read what has actually been written, helps no one to move forward in discussions and only furthers the polarization prevalent in our society today.Cheers,

  • Arminius

    Hi, Paganplace,Yer out on a limb, friend, sawing away on the wrong side of where yer sitting. Lumping together monotheists and atheists as expecting ‘terrible things’? Good grief. You’re generalizing too much about both groups.I don’t know what to expect with death, but I do not fear it, or anything that may or may not happen after death. I know that God is with me, and that is enough. To Susan Jacoby: this is a spiritual and not a religious thing. I am religious too, but that is not where my core belief comes from.

  • Paganplace

    “Hi, Paganplace,”Yer out on a limb, friend, sawing away on the wrong side of where yer sitting.”Apart from a general respect for trees, I think it’d be darn inconsiderate to saw at limbs I wasn’t sitting on, myself. Gods, Arminius, what do you think of me? :)” Lumping together monotheists and atheists as expecting ‘terrible things’? Good grief. You’re generalizing too much about both groups.”I’m generalizing about how the ‘debate’ is framed. These several centuries, actually. By implication, it’s not about that. If we think we can gain insight by speaking, that is. :)

  • Paganplace

    I mean, *seriously,* Arminius, what kind of assassin do you think I am. At least respect me as a funny lady. Totally on this branch with you. :)

  • Arminius

    Paganplace,”Apart from a general respect for trees, I think it’d be darn inconsiderate to saw at limbs I wasn’t sitting on, myself. Gods, Arminius, what do you think of me? :)”I myself have a love of trees that is nearly Pagan. What do I think of you? I like you a lot, and respect your opinion, as you know! I was trying to say that your argument needed a bit more ‘implication’ made clearer. Maybe I’m just dense, but you seem a bit more wound up than usual. No problem, God knows I get that way from time to time.

  • Arminius

    Paganplace, You are right about this blog/discussion/argument central, it tends to attract the extreme types. We both know about that quiet middle, the religious types, you and I, who do not force our beliefs on any. But On Faith tends to attract the believers who claim they have the only way, and woe to disbelievers, and also attract the few atheists who are eager to label us as demented and dangerous.To Dave: Paganplace does not do polemics, but she has been known to shoot from the hip.

  • Paganplace

    Ah, well, Arminius, what can we do, anyway. It’s a busy life as an underdog, but tonight, as of ….really now, I’m having a little celebration of rumors of my deadness and ‘snakehood’ being greatly exaggerated, ;) Care to raise a glass? :)

  • Arminius

    Paganplace, we are both caught in the middle here. One reason I like all of you Pagans. The other reasons are that you are all very interesting, and all very good people.I raise my beer-filled glass to you, and to tolerance, to compassion, and to understanding.I’ll meet you at the top of that Mountain.

  • Paganplace

    Well, you know about mountains, Arminius, nice place to visit, but it’s pretty hard to get a waitressing gig. ;)

  • Paganplace

    Also, I will certainly raise a pint of Murphy’s to your good self and our shared world. As I play the traditional Black 47 CD and, honorarily adopt Seamuis O’Beam… (We’re dealing with barbarians, here) “Oh, Mammie, dear, we’re all mad over here, livin in America.” :) Course, my general attitude toward atheists is there’s enough people trying to scare them out of thinking as it is. :) Blessed be, one and all. I have apparently become a lightweight while I wasn’t looking. :)

  • Arminius

    Paganplace, ya got Murphy’s? You lucky person, you!Hey, all praise to barbarians, since I am proudly descended from them. I’m listening to metal, Blind Guardian, a group that is heavy into Lord of the Rings. And on to Flogging Molly, that glorious rock ballad group improbably out of LA (that’s Los Angeles, not Lower Alabama!) and is best described as ‘alternative Irish’. So, then…

  • rubytues63

    Is America losing faith……in our corporate and business leaders? Oh how I could go on about this one. Didn’t we learn anything from Enron and Worldcom?…in government’s ability or desire to look out for the general welfare? Obama’s approval ratings are down ten percent and he hasn’t been in office two months yet. And will Obama ever find enough tax-paying Democrats to fill his cabinet?Yes, I would say America is loosing its faith.But is America loosing its religious faith? If so, we are not loosing it any more quickly than our faith in good governance or corporate responsibility. We are entering an age of increased cynicism.Are the failures of men reason to quit God? If you say ‘yes’ then you were never with God to begin with and nothing has been lost. I have always been amazed by the number of people who don’t go to church or have never read a Bible and yet still consider themselves good Christians. Some Jews participate in all the religious rituals without believing in the God they give lip service to. Perhaps religion is shedding pretenders.

  • SpiritualMongrel

    Susan, I can agree with much of what you wrote. But I think you have missed the boat when you said “People who describe themselves as “spiritual, but not religious” are like people who say they place great importance on reading but never go to the library, buy a book, or read a book online.”I consider myself very spiritual and not religious. I do not, as you suggest, sit on the sidelines, maybe I am the exception. I am well read on a number of religions. I have explored human consciousness both academically and experientially. I constantly contemplate my spirituality and when it suits me I refine my beliefs. I am very active in living my beliefs. Perhaps you have mistaken a pioneering nature, one that does not follow the “experts”, with a hedger of belief. Saying you are spiritual but not religious is proudly stating that I believe in something greater than the human body, but I believe that religion is at best, woefully incomplete in it’s understanding of the universe. I think that takes as much audacity as stating one is an atheist.Anyone who “sits” on their truth is the one sitting on the sidelines. Whatever the truth may be; no God, God of religion, pantheist, collective consciousness, the truth certainly has not been proven one way or another. If one is truly interested in the “truth” then they should be exploring.Whether we are atheist, agnostic, religious or spiritual, we (humans) should at least be exploring how we become something greater than we are now. As Wayne Dyer said “I am not better than anyone else. I just try to be better than I was yesterday.”

  • Paganplace

    I mean, ‘Spiritual,’ …I’m not sure you have any comprehension just how offensive it is to have people take your daughter away from you on the grounds their translation of the ‘Word of God’ *commands’ it, and they can’t even be bothered to *learn to spell our own language, you *#.* Ahem.

  • Arminius

    Paganplace, Drunken Lullabies refers to the ‘Troubles’ in N. Ireland. Here’e the first verse and chorus:Must it take a life for hateful eyes to glisten once againThe problems with religion in Ireland did not begin with St Patrick. It began when the Vatican took over some centuries later. The Celtic Catholicism that Patrick founded, by many accounts, was pretty inclusive. And he did go far to stop some rather nasty barbaric practices such as slavery and human sacrifice. And he paved the way for an Irish Renaissance, stopped only by the Vatican and the Vikings. Patrick had guts on steroids. I wish I had 10% of his courage, and his love of all people. I know you have little use for Christianity, but St Patrick is truly close to what it is meant to be.

  • Paganplace

    “The problems with religion in Ireland did not begin with St Patrick. It began when the Vatican took over some centuries later.”Actually, he pretty much was the first dude to come to Ireland and blow something up for no reason, if you read the ‘life of St. Patrick.’ Pretty impressive, that, actually.

  • Paganplace

    I mean, hey, if you read this dude’s stories, he’d lay waste to counties over small personal slights, but it was OK as long as it was for Jeezus. Forget about it. He made Fergus MacRoth look like a shoot-don’t-shoot instructor. :)

  • Arminius

    Oh, hell, Paganplace. ‘Life of St Patrick’? Gimme a break. Stay away from the ‘official’ word. Screw the miracles and the snakes. Go back to “How the Irish Saved Civilization” and get a better story.We’re all just dancers on the Devil’s Dance Floor

  • Paganplace

    Swear to the Gods, Arminius, I’d just like to be home and having all these dudes totally embarrassing me by singing, ‘Fine Girl You Are.’ :) Rather than, I guess, wondering who thinkks they’d croak me if they had enough firepower or something.

  • Arminius

    Onofrio,I like snakes too, they are uncommonly beautiful. St Paddy did nothing about snakes. Get serious.And the thing about the shamrock and the Trinity was a myth invented in the 18th century.All you said was stuff to distract, not to debate.

  • Arminius

    And a fine girl you are, Paganplace. WTF does firepower have anything to do with it?

  • Arminius

    Er… Paganplace, that post about snakes and distraction was a reply to Onofrio. I am confused.

  • DaveL2

    “Actually, I’m getting a little weary of this board going between authoritarians and atheists with a burr up repeating themselves. :)”Well, I wasn’t asking my question in the initial post in order to enter into some debate about whether or not God exists. I believe I made that clear. I was only asking Susan to clarify what she personally meant in declaring a certain state of affairs as “terrible”.If you are getting weary, perhaps you should stop coming here. I don’t know why anyone should feel they need to direct their comments and discussions in directions that you would like.

  • Arminius

    Paganplace,In the Old Country, ‘Five hundred years like gelignite have blown us all to hell’.This hatred is unexplainable, like all hatred based on religion, ethnics, politics, etc. Pray that it has stopped, despite the recent crap. Ireland is too beautiful to lose to violence. Enough.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    The experiences that we have in life are basically the same now as they have been for all previous generations, going back thousands of years. Mankind has accumulated, through science, a vast store of information and knowledge. We know about gravity, and electricity, and the atomic composition of matter, and how weather works, and we know germs cause some disease, and genetic dysfunction cause some disease, ans we know fusion powers the sun. But, still, why all this is here, why anything exists at all, and how are we able to be conscious and aware, these are still puzzlements, which have no answer. Religion has a valid place that accepts the triumph of sciecne over our material lives, but stil seeks to offer comfort as we face the mysterious of life and of existence. Religions that confront science and dual with science and contradict science will fail. People know better and compulsion to traditional religious conformity is no longer possible. Individual will determines now, more than anything else, what people believe. This is freedom.

  • mokey2

    “I normally find myself very much in sympathy with your comments, but I can’t understand why you think that both monotheists and atheists believe that “terrible things will happen” if they don’t “think the right things.”I can’t speak for Paganplace, Ms. Jacoby, but I’d like to take a crack at this. It seems like there’s a lot of similarities in the way that some atheists and the hardline fundamentalists address each other’s viewpoints. Knowing the fundamentalist perspective is easy- they ‘KNOW’ that everyone else is doomed no matter what. The more strident atheists tend to assume mistakenly that someone who believes in Divinity in some form automatically has to discount science, and shut off their brain in order to do so, thereby wanting to take everyone back to an age where there wasn’t all these advances in science and medicine.It’s the flip side of the same argument. And in a forum like this where people usually tend to talk past one another without actually trying to see things from another point of view, it can get really tiresome to have to point out the similarities over and over again, usually to the same people. Nobody ever seems to consider that someone might see Divinity differently, as a Pagan might, for example (and I’m speaking strictly for myself here) found a way to reconcile the two and a different way of thinking. In my case, I fell in love with the Planet THROUGH learning about the hard sciences and how we got to be here.Hope that helps.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    “So the multitude comes, even those we beholdThis topic makes me think of this poem that I found in a book once, author unknown, excerpt given above.I believe that man and woman are made as they have always been, and shall always be, and the we are not likely to change in any fundamental way, that the idea of religion and of God is not likely ever to go away. What does change, is the cultural and political setting of religious practice, and that is what we are experiencing in America today.

  • Arminius

    Paganplace,Light comes from unexpected places sometimes. Look at the whole picture of Patrick. He brought learning. Ireland had none of it. He brought a spirit of freedom, from slavery, sacrifice, even from, to a degree, constant warfare. (Can’t stop the Irish from fighting!) And after him, Ireland was glorious until the Vatican and the Vikings totally f***ed it up. Patrick was the single exception of the Christian missionary – he melded an existing society with something new, and more gentle, learned, and compassionate.Damn the Vatican anyway, and their bigoted missionaries. Damn the Vikings, for destroying so much of what Ireland produced.At the end of my energy, friend. More anon.

  • onofrio

    ArminiusSo, the twin devil’s horns of Vatican and Viking took down the glory that was Celtic Ireland.You yourself admit “Can’t stop the Irish from fighting.” Perhaps that was part of the mix.”it is clear that monasteries were not simply the victims of external aggression as the propagandist annalists and more romantic antiquarians would have us believe. In 1962 in his definitive essay, ‘The plundering and burning of churches in Ireland’, A.T. Lucas dispelled the notion that the Vikings alone were the despoilers of monasteries. He cited the fact that on the 309 occasions when ecclesiastical sites were plundered between the years 600 and 1163, the Irish were responsible for half of the attacks and in nineteen instances the Irish and Norse combined forces. Moreover, there is documentary evidence for inter-monastery wars, abbots taking up arms on behalf of provincial overlords and high kings, and for monastic enclaves being chosen as the stages for battles between warring dynasties.”from ‘Raiding and Warring in Monastic Ireland’ Liz FitzPatrick, at

  • ivri5768

    There are any number of people with any number of religious heritages who know next to nothing of their religion, but still manage to discriminate against others either through ignorance and insensitivity or hate via indoctrination, much of it “religiously based.” Hence, it is not the least unusual to find Catholics who cannot list the gospels condemning Jews as Christ killers with as much joi de vivre as their religious confreres.As for those who had a Catholic education, they know nothing of the religion they supposedly “superceded,” but that is another kind of religious illiteracy, all but pervasive. The same, of course, holds true for Protestants, educated in their denominational faiths and for Muslims. It is, indeed peculiar, that we continue to see the Tanakh referenced as the “Old Testament” by enlightened, liberal Catholics and Protestants in the twenty-first century. The more literate among them will call it the Hebrew Bible, which, is, at least, a step forward in acknowledging the existence “superceded.” One sees it so designated in the Times–not infrequently–and even by one or two panelists on this blog.Also, among the religiously literate Christians the concept of typology is fuzzy at best. They say X or Y is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, but have no concept of the theological meaning of what they say.Then you have the interesting case of Muslims in non-Arabic nations who study the Quoran in Arabic, but don’t comprehend it. There actually are a significant number of such persons.The case of the Kadish Jacoby mentions is not in itself to the point. No one learns Kadish until he or she has recited it. It is quite possible that those at the funeral were attending their first or second funeral of a Jew. It is also possible that they were not Jewish, needless to say.

  • Paganplace

    “So, the twin devil’s horns of Vatican and Viking took down the glory that was Celtic Ireland.”You yourself admit “Can’t stop the Irish from fighting.” Perhaps that was part of the mix.”You may find, Onofrio, that it’s not so easy to presume to ‘rule’ tribal peoples as it is to force them to grow your stuff on at best a two-crop rotation. NOt to get technical about your ‘holy mission’ or sing ‘Bonny Prtmore’ or nothing, but… you represent people who in the Latin, I would term ‘Doofi.’

  • ivri5768

    Cont’dJewish boys generally start attending Hebrew school at a young age and continue until they are Bar Mitzvah, at age thirteen. More and more girls are following the same path to Bat Mitzvah. At the same time, there has been a serious drop off in this education. Interestingly, though, through Jewish renewal movements, Ys, etc, more and more adults are seeking the education they did not receive as children, learning ancient Hebrew and even Aramaic, in some circumstances. In fact, some are getting this education over the web (in ancient Hebrew, not Aramaic).The reasons for this interest among adults vary, but sadly, one of them is antisemitism. This is also the case among some baalet teshuvah (roughly, “those who return”), adult embracers of Orthodoxy. I should add that in addition to Jewish “converts” to Judaism, there are gentiles in surprising numbers, who call themselves “Jews by choice.” A majority have not converted as a result of “intermarriage.”As for me, I could live quite nicely without organized religions, which have always been ideologically informed. Wedded to power, government, etc., they have been deadly. I’m at a loss to see what they contribute to society.However, so long as they continue to exist, I wholeheartedly support studies if not only in the history of religion, but in the religions themselves. We must love one another or die, said MLK. We don’t love each other, and many of us are still alive, but the handwriting is on the wall, on buildings that once stood, on the bodies of refugees, corpses, the maimed, the dismembered, etc.

  • ivri5768

    My 11:57 PM post (scroll down) continues after that of Paganplace.

  • onofrio

    Paganplace,And I’m no more a Christian than you are, lady.Paganity is closest to home for this shred of soul.You may have heard of Nephthys (not her real name)…

  • onofrio

    Paganplace,”Cause they think snakes are evil. Shhhh. :)”I happen to be fond of snakes. The ones in my neck of the hemispheres are particularly deadly.

  • Carstonio

    “What do you do about emotional fulfillment? Religious folks find it (in part) in the community and beliefs of their respective religious persuasions. This is pure social psychology.”I recognize that community is a strong component of religion. I particularly appreciate the role that African-American churches played in pushing for social change during the civil rights years. (Unlike the later activities of the religious right, those churches translated their goals into nonsectarian language that people of any religious stance could agree with.)”while science is supposed to be free of emotion, we can be relatively certain that it is not.”True. That would be true of any human enterprise. In science as in journalism, complete objectivity is impossible, but it’s still a worthy goal to pursue. Better to aspire to that objectivity and fail than to be deliberately subjective.”We don’t hold it against them, however.”I wouldn’t hold it against anyone if their emotions persuade them to believe things that have no basis in evidence. My issue is in treating that as an inherently good or desirable thing, instead of as a psychological tendency that sometimes causes harm.”On the other hand, educating the general public in the historical complexities and cross-fertilization process inherent in all religions would be a good thing – theoretically. That might even level out the ‘emotional payoff’ component to a more reasonable degree.”I would welcome such an approach. How about starting with Joseph Campbell?

  • ivri5768

    You: “Jewish boys actually are neither expected not able to have any damn clue about European climate and culture over the course of fifteen hundred years, nor should that even have a damn thing to do with *anything.*Me: Huh? What do you mean by “that”? What I wrote was in response to Susan’s comments on Kadish. (See her essay.)You:Can we get over this and look at the world or something?Me: Another pronominal reference problem: What does “this” refer to? As I mention in my post, I’d gladly give up organized religions to any and all interested alien galaxies. So if you want “we,” me, I presume, to get over my frustration with the destruction said religions wedded to governments and other powerful elements continue to bring upon us, “we,” meaning you, will have have a long, long wait. As for looking at the world, my post shows I have done quite a bit of that. May I suggest you cast a glance in that direction, yourself? It’s an interesting place.

  • persiflage

    Carstonio – Strongly agree….Joseph Campbell should be very high on the reading list for any introduction to the academic study of religion. A proposed cure for religious illiteracy (and religious literalism) might well begin with a new perspective altogether – an understanding of the commonalities and universal role of myth, metaphor, and religious symbology in the history of religions. A deeper understanding is the best way to defuse religious hystrionics, at least in my view. A perfect place to introduce Jung, Maslow, Rogers, Frankel, et al into the conversation – or not. Maybe save the psychology for later…..There are mysteries to be discovered in religious traditions, as long as the answers haven’t already been built in.

  • Susan_Jacoby

    I don’t know where anyone finds emotional fulfillment–happiness is a better term, because it is more direct–other than in love, work, and a sense of usefulness. And I don’t see what this has to do with religious belief or nonbelief. There are all kinds of communities–some organized around religion, some not. It’s been my experience that you don’t find emotional fulfillment; it finds you. The “pursuit of happiness” is the only bad idea in the Declaration of Independence. Happiness, which one certainly can’t expect all the time, tends to surround you while you’re engaged in some other pursuit.

  • justillthen

    Hello gladerunner | March 19, 2009 9:35 AMThank you for your post. “Is it not safe to assume from that that you believe in a higher, cosmic, supernatural power that has some ‘control’ over the universe and its inhabitants?”We would have to further define this statement. I believe in a superior causal power, consciousness if you will, a spiritual realm and life that we all participate in and own. We are not excluded from it but are a part of it. I do not believe in a white beard on a chair. I do not believe in that “supernatural power” ‘controlling’ us, or necessarily intervening or interceding. That is for us to do. I believe that we can draw on a ‘spiritual source’ to assist us and those around us. For what is spiritual is of us. Religions have been the main, certainly institutionalized, centers of spiritual experience and exercise in society for millenia. As Susan Jacoby points out in her way, they have filled certain important roles in culture and society. She focuses on education. I am thinking more in terms of fulfillment of a sense of identity, belonging, cultural glue. Clearly the influence of religions have not always been benevolent. In fact they have often been self serving. But it is not the religions themselves but their service as a connection to what is spiritual inside all of us, (in my view, of course).We have seen what humans do when they have no ‘superior’ species to share a planet with. We are the ‘controllers’. We suck up and use up any resource we find, killing others along the way. How many wars are truly religious in nature, and how many are tribal, (ie resource oriented)?The concept of a supernatural power is one thing that can keep a lid on man’s egotistical tendencies. Not that it cannot also be used to drive us egotistically forward into battle! But even more so, the connection to what is truly spiritual in us is a humbling thing, as well as a leavening one. It is the source of our place in the world, because it is the source of the essential us. Life devoid of recognition of spiritual source is frightening because man living only in his baser, (sensual/egotistical), self is guided only by those tendencies. We are more than what we see. I think that without connection to the spiritual self we would go blind to what is of greater value than the living of a life.

  • justillthen

    Hello Susan Jacoby,This is a curious belief, to me:”I don’t know where anyone finds emotional fulfillment–happiness is a better term, because it is more direct–other than in love, work, and a sense of usefulness.” Kind of limiting as to where we can go to find emotional fulfillment. I tend to think that we do carry it with us. If not the fulfillment, then the tools for it, and it can be found in the most curious of places. I do not think that it is tied to religious belief, but I do think that happiness requires ‘fulfillment’, which has to be, (does it?), a sense of ‘wholeness’. As a believer in the ‘spiritual’ side of things, fulfillment to me would mean that the deeper self or spirit would need to be fulfilled as well. Pursuit of happiness only makes sense. It seems that we as people do that naturally, one way or another. At least it seems clear that all people want the freedom to be able to pursue it, or anything else they would like for that matter. Even if we are pursuing what looks from the outside as cycles of the same pain, it is what we are pursuing… Perhaps that is the road to what closer resembles the universal ideal of happiness.You speak as if ‘happiness’ is an entity that “finds us” as it chooses. I tend to consider it the outcome of our choices, if what we are choosing is indeed happiness.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    “What is happiness, but the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?”Albert Camus

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    I agree with Susan, that “happiness” comes from a sort of “outer-directedness” which leads us away from examining every bump and inperfection in ourselves, so that we, might even forget ourselves. Look for happiness, and you will never find it. You notice it, unexpectedly, while busy with something else.

  • justillthen

    DanielintheLionsDen”Look for happiness, and you will never find it. You notice it, unexpectedly, while busy with something else.”This is a belief system that you may hold, or a mantra that you may recite. I do not even disagree with the concept of happiness arriving without focus. But I do disagree if you suggest that it is outside of our ability to affect it’s arrival…Like the saying a watched pot never boils. Well, that is a lie, of course. If you watch long enough and do not get frustrated that things are not moving along fast enough…Granted, happiness is not the kettle. But whether or not you watch the pot, it doth boil. That is, as long as you grabbed the kettle and filled it with water and set it to fire.Happiness is not so sure a thing as the certainties of elemental forces and physics. But just as with the fire and water, and our need to manipulate it for our purposes, emotional and mental exercises affect the emotional and mental worlds. Not even to mention that elusive and divisive “spiritual” realm… :-)

  • Pamsm

    Justillthen says:I can’t begin to tell you how tired I am of hearing this sort of thing. Horse puckey! I don’t recognize a “spiritual source” and I don’t go around doing whatever the hell pops into my “base” mind. I don’t live a life of debauchery and wretched excess. I don’t eat, drink, and make merry all the day.Where do you people get these ideas?Like other people, I’m a social animal, and I live with the constraints that evolution as same has put on me.To Susan, you say: “As a believer in the ‘spiritual’ side of things, fulfillment to me would mean that the deeper self or spirit would need to be fulfilled as well.”What does that even mean? Deeper self? Spirit?I only have one self, and I don’t know what a “spirit” is or feels like. Mumbo jumbo.

  • gladerunner

    juststillthen:”The concept of a supernatural power is one thing that can keep a lid on man’s egotistical tendencies.”

  • persiflage

    It seems to me that happiness is indeed unpredictable – both elusive and transient, while suffering in one form or another is the more enduring expectation based on experience – and then you die.Who can really blame folks for refusing to be more realistic about the whole business? Religion is cold comfort to some, and real comfort to others – however deluded they may seem to unconvinced skeptics. Perhaps emotional fulfillment is the reward for a life well lived (in harmony, viz Camus) – and for that rare person, peace rather than happiness is what they hope to find at the end of things. Besides, who can appreciate the difference at the moment of their demise? Understanding religion can never be a bad thing. At least we know for sure what we don’t believe. What remains is always subject to change.

  • Carstonio

    Paganplace,”People are asking the wrong damn questions like they were really the crux of reality, human experience, sacredness, and how to have a Republic.”I’ve been saying that those questions are separate from the nature of physical reality.”If people are taught they *need* an absolute, any absolute, or else there’s nothing, ….it hardly matters which one they pick.”Very true. I suspect many people crave absolutes not because they’ve been taught to do so, but because they have unresolved fears about something related to their safety or security. Few of us are immune to such fears, and I’ve noticed them in myself.Eslaton,Would you define what you mean by “transcendent” in that context? Whatever cravings we have, the goal is to satisfy them without making conclusions about the natural world that aren’t supported by science. “Spiritual” is another amorphous word that seems to mean whatever the writer wants it to mean at the time.Daniel,”But, still, why all this is here, why anything exists at all, and how are we able to be conscious and aware, these are still puzzlements, which have no answer. Religion has a valid place that accepts the triumph of sciecne over our material lives, but stil seeks to offer comfort as we face the mysterious of life and of existence.”And religion should be able to do that without trying to fill the gaps in scientific knowledge. “Why” is actually a restatement of “how” that mistakenly assumes an inherent meaning to events in the universe. We have no evidence for meanings not created by humans, so it’s wrong to assume that “why” exists. That means religions should address meaning as a human-created phenomenon.Mokey2,”The more strident atheists tend to assume mistakenly that someone who believes in Divinity in some form automatically has to discount science, and shut off their brain in order to do so”I reject that blanket assumption, partly out of principle, but partly out of encounters with many believers who value science. My issue is that the belief itself contradicts the principle of science. One might as well make an exception for science for any other object or phenomenon, like a planet or black hole.

  • onofrio

    (Payne to Pius)(Pius to Payne)(Payne to Pius)(Pius to Payne)

  • gladerunner

    justillthen: “How is it that you know what my belief system is? “

  • CCNL

    What Jewish boys (and girls) are not taught in school:Biblical AtrocitiesExodus 32: 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf. Numbers 31: After killing all men, boys and married women among the Midianites, 32,000 virgins remain as booty for the Israelites. (If unmarried girls are a quarter of the population, then 96,000 people were killed.) Joshua: Joshua 8: 12,000 men and women, all the people of Ai, killed.Joshua 11: Hazor destroyed. [Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1987), estimates the population of Hazor at ?> 50,000] Judges 1: 10,000 Canaanites k. at Battle of Bezek. Jerusalem and Zephath destroyed. Judges 3: ca. 10,000 Moabites k. at Jordan River. Judges 8: 120,000 Midianite soldiers k. by Gideon Judges 20: Benjamin attacked by other tribes. 25,000 killed.David: 2 Samuel 8: 22,000 Arameans of Damascus and 18,000 Edomites killed in 2 battles. 2 Samuel 10: 40,000 Aramean footsoldiers and 7,000 charioteers killed at Helam.1 Kings 20: 100,000 Arameans killed by Israelites at Battle of Aphek. Another 27,000 killed by collapsing wall. 2 Chron 13: Judah beat Israel and inflicted 500,000 casualties. 2 Chron 25: Amaziah, king of Judah, k. 10,000 from Seir in battle and executed 10,000 POWs. Discharged Judean soldiers pillaged and killed 3,000. 2 Chron 28: Pekah, king of Israel, slew 120,000 Judeans These “facts” are another reason many Jews are no longer Jews of their religion.

  • Carstonio

    “science lacks emotional appeal (fulfillment) for religious believers”Why should it offer that appeal? Everything we perceive about the universe indicates that it’s probably indifferent to our emotions. We have no evidence indicating otherwise. A scientific hypothesis isn’t supposed to be fulfilling.”Both can subsist together however.”Yes, as long as religion makes no assertions about the physical universe.”For example, science cannot explain the most fundamental question of the perceived material world e.g the question of what exactly creates inertial or gravitational mass – how do objects hang together as distinctive entities with apparent individual identities that resist motion?”That’s not the same as faith. First, the concept of mass is useful for predicting motion, and one need not have an explanation for mass to make such predictions. Second, science avoids speculation about the cause of mass, or if it does, it clearly labels this as speculation.”in other words, there is no objective reality to be discerned.”While that sounds like a fascinating idea, it does nothing for predicting what we perceive with our senses. The same goes for the brain-in-a-jar concept. Whether both are true or false, what we perceive remains the same. Without further reading, I don’t know how one would determine what is more likely, the quantum vacuum, the jar brain, the perception matching reality, or some other cause.

  • onofrio

    Arminius,Given that the little we know about Patrick depends on his own ‘Confessio’ (hardly an unbiased source) and the work of later hagiographers, I’m surpised you can be so sure and sweeping about the nature of his work. It seems to me that you have made him the container of all you think is great and good about Christianity, on the basis of fairly slender evidence. In this you do not differ greatly from many earlier hagiographers. Conveniently for you, Patrick is sufficiently obscured by the mists of time to provide an ideal screen for the projection of your own religious proclivities. Typical for a saint, really.

  • Pamsm

    Never were any snakes in Ireland.After the retreat of the glaciers at the end of the last ice age, the (now) British Isles were left high and dry, connected to mainland Europe. The animals (and people) followed the retreating glaciers, but this was slow – took generations – and snakes are rather slower than most. Before they made it as far as Ireland, the seas rose enough to cut them off. There were deer and wolves, but no belly-crawlers.Arminius – after some conflict, the Vikings and Celtic Irish intermixed relatively peacefully. It was the Normans (Strongbow, et al.) who really screwed it up.

  • persiflage

    Carstonio – your posts indicate that you exercise considerable logic in your observations, and you are able to sustain yourself with your own given level of philosophical observation. In other words, you’re perfectly satisfied with a state of religiously unencumbered, ‘empirical’, relativistic, and reductive knowledge that is the hallmark of science – as it must be. Science is open to change, whereas religious belief typcially is not. What do you do about emotional fulfillment? Religious folks find it (in part) in the community and beliefs of their respective religious persuasions. This is pure social psychology. That does not include myself, by the way. But if you’re taking an academic view of religion, you would naturally include both psychological and emotional elements – and while science is supposed to be free of emotion, we can be relatively certain that it is not. For example, Einstein was reported to be a very emotional fellow – particularly in his rejection of the basics of quantum mechanics – proving that even the greatest minds in science are sometimes persuaded by their emotions…to their own detriment.Myth and allegory serve useful purposes in both science and religion (per my post on the quantum vacuum). Problem is, religionists take myth to be literally true – and that seems to be the defining characteristic of at least some definitions of faith (albeit a limited one). On the other hand, educating the general public in the historical complexities and cross-fertilization process inherent in all religions would be a good thing – theoretically. That might even level out the ‘emotional payoff’ component to a more reasonable degree. Since humans are gregarious social creatures with emotional needs, religious activities seem to play perfectly into our most basic instincts. It is not impossible to synthesize science and religion, but I suspect it is accomplished on an individual basis. Arguing religious needs on the atheist thread is a challenge that only the most intrepid religionist will pursue!

  • justillthen

    Gladerunner, I would like to respond as I just read your post, but I do not have time. I look forward to it tomorrow.However:How is it that you know what my belief system is? If you are aware of other postings that I have made, then I have to believe that you do not understand me from them. If you are making an assumption of my beliefs from this post of mine, then I am certain that you assume to know my beliefs by prejudgement.

  • Paganplace

    “Never were any snakes in Ireland.”Pssst. We know. that’s just a backbhanded way of the Church calling our ancestors ‘evil.’ Cause they think snakes are evil. Shhhh. :)

  • onofrio

    Paganplace,”you represent people who in the Latin, I would term ‘Doofi.’”I am indeed a doofus ;) though not of quite the type you imagine in your blurry funk.”You may find, Onofrio, that it’s not so easy to presume to ‘rule’ tribal peoples as it is to force them to grow your stuff on at best a two-crop rotation. No mouth for Holy See, me, nor foe of pagani. I’m as *Celt* as any who contends for Celticity, and as rueful as thee re Anglesey. My druidry’s my poesie, at least in its lunge.Rest ye.

  • CCNL

    Most of us skip anything written by Farnaz since she continues to lie about who she is by using at least five aliases i.e. Farnaz2 aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8

  • spidermean2

    Jacoby wrote “My religious education led me to the conclusion that no religion could stand up to serious intellectual and scientific scrutiny. “That is because you have a shallow religious education and a shalow understanding of science.What is it in science that debunks the reality of God? In fact almost all engineers I know believes in God. These guys study PURE science and not just a concoction of speculative ideas like evolution.How can biologists think that man evolved when they don’t even understand how stem cells work or how stem cells transform into different organs. Have these people studied the difference between gorilla stem cells and human stem cells? What’s the point that they have to evolve?Are these stupid people incurable?

  • Pamsm

    JUSTILLTHEN: “But all that evolution has happened with religion as a central part of society and culture. How is it that you can negate the possibility that it has participated in the positive evolution of humanity, given the centrality of religion to man through thousands of years?”Evolution takes place on a much larger scale than that. Our social mores go back even beyond our pre-human ancestors, to our ape ancestors, and probably even further back than that – to whichever of our family tree first began living communally. BTW, you are very fond of the word “negate”, aren’t you?JUSTILLTHEN: “You people? I feel utterly poo-pooed. :(((“You shouldn’t. I would never do such a thing. Now, if you’d said “pooh-poohed”, I would have agreed that you were taking my meaning pretty well correctly.JUSTILLTHEN: “I did not suggest that a “life devoid of spirituality” is automatically one of excesses and debauchery.”Yes, you certainly did “suggest” it. You would be correct if you said that you did not “say” it.JUSTILLTHEN: “We are all connected to spirituality, unconsciously at the least.”Another statement worth the pooh-poohing. Prove it. Define “spirituality.” The word means nothing to me. It’s gibberish – New Age nonsense.

  • Carstonio

    “I do not see it as extraordinary, except that it in not validated via science, or ‘senses’.”I mean extraordinary in that the claim involves a great number of assumptive leaps and preconditions. Also extraordinary because we know nothing about the nature of matter that would support the claim.”Science has believe many things that later were discarded, and common belief has many times had something genuine to it.”That doesn’t quite match the history of science, where “magical” explanations for events collapsed as more was learned about the universe.”I argue the case, because from my experience it is undeniable.”What experience would that be?”But that is not verifiable without tools that can be shared with others.”Then I don’t understand why would one even argue the case. “That is not where we are at this point.”What point would that be?”It only is “less likely” to the mind that gives greater weight to what is known than what may be more ultimately true.”What do you mean by “more ultimately true”? The issue is that anything has a possibility of being factual. Or put another way, we cannot rule out the possibility of anything. But we need some way of screening out the likely from the unlikely. “Why should physical matter be the determinant of ‘unbound consciousness’? Why could it not be unbound mind that determines form?”Would you explain what you mean by the latter? That act sounds like the act of imagination.”Is that because ‘other’ does not exist, (how you seem to argue),”It may seem like I’m arguing against it, but I’m really calling for analyzing any claims of “other” according to scientific principles. “is it because you are ‘deaf’ to a more subtle language?”What subtle language would that be? What do you mean by non-sensory data? That sounds like a reference to ESP or a psychic ability.”Objectivity is a wonderful concept, but it usually refers to logic without emotion, even as the logical view has an emotional root.”Would you explain how logic has an emotional root? Part of my point is that we have no evidence that the universe is anything but indifferent to our emotions. If I have a big rock in my driveway, I can get angry at it, even yell or scream at it, but the rock remains in the driveway.

  • justillthen

    Gladerunner, A continuation:”This is not universal. this is once again, only your belief, your perspective. I don’t deny that this is indeed true with many people, especially people indoctrinated from birth with one form or another of religious belief. But I do not accept it as an inherent axiom.I am not speaking of the idea of original sin here, but of humans living divorced from what I consider spiritual and causal and so functioning as a sensual being only, (sensate, focused on and AWARE via only sensual stimulation). “I don’t buy it. We have evolved socially, those that adapted to living in harmony with others thrived, those that strode alone or lusting for murder, mayhem and anarchy did not. Yes there are some less than perfect specimens that still pop up, but we are indisputably social creatures that survive because of our positive social traits.”What, now we are all kinds or wonderful? We are Okay? A moment ago you were telling me that good intentions are worse than useless as they fail to realize positive results. Now we are evolving quite nicely, thank you very much. But all that evolution has happened with religion as a central part of society and culture. How is it that you can negate the possibility that it has participated in the positive evolution of humanity, given the centrality of religion to man through thousands of years? I suggest that you cannot. You could point to oh so many violences that religion has perpetrated to smear it, and I would tend to agree. But we cannot in most cases attribute that to “religion” so much as individual human greed and desire for power. One does not need religion to have that…

  • jedrothwell1

    I quibble with this:”People who describe themselves as ‘spiritual, but not religious’ are like people who say they place great importance on reading but never go to the library, buy a book, or read a book online. . .”The person you describe is not necessarily hypocritical. He may be bored by novels and reading but he understands that other people love them. He never reads books but he may enjoy seeing his children engrossed in them, and he may consider it important for society that other people appreciate books and carry on literary traditions.I would fall asleep after 10 minutes listening to an opera, but I can see why other people love opera and I would hate to see that artform die.For that matter, I have ZERO interest in practicing medicine or watching the “ER” television program. Doctors, hospitals and everything associated with them give me the creeps. But I acknowledge that it is important for other people to go to medical school.Anyway, ‘spiritual, but not religious’ probably means having strong religious feelings but no interest in organized religion. That’s analogous to someone who enjoys singing but never goes to an opera or concert.

  • justillthen

    Persiflage,”It seems to me that happiness is indeed unpredictable – both elusive and transient, while suffering in one form or another is the more enduring expectation based on experience – and then you die.”If we delete religion as a potential variable for a bit, and even delete a (disputed) spiritual potentiality in humanity, and just go with the physical and scientific, does it not follow given human conditioning that ‘happiness’ could be at least as enduring an experience for humankind, while suffering becomes the elusive one? (At least, that is, until the dying part. Then all bets are off.)

  • jedrothwell1

    eslaton wrote:”Specific religions will continue to come and go, but atheists fool themselves in believing that religions is no longer necessary.”Well, most atheists believe that religion is not necessary for them. “No longer necessary” is the wrong expression: it has never been necessary for them. There have been atheists for all of recorded history. The Bible attacks them. Religion wasn’t necessary for them thousands of years ago, and it isn’t now.If you mean that some people will always find religion necessary, you may be right.If you mean that it is intrinsically important to everyone, and the atheists are “fooling themselves” about their own minds, then you are being irrational and oddly presumptuous. How can it be “necessary” to person who does not believe it is true?Do you imagine that atheists secretly believe in God but they are lying? Or do you suppose there is something morally wrong with their beliefs, even though such beliefs are involuntary? There are many people who would like to believe in God but cannot make themselves do it.To put it another way, I am sure that for you this statement is true and honest:”The Kaddish is an affirmation of God and acknowledges that words are insufficient to truly praise God.”But as an adult in a multicultural society you should realize that to other people outside of your particular religion, such as atheists, the Kaddish is empty nonsense — it is insipid noise — even when it is translated into English. Or it is blasphemy. It is uplifting for some people and abhorrent for others. If you do not grasp that then I think you lack intellectual sophistication.

  • justillthen

    Ahh, Pamsm, how nice to hear from you! What a breath of pleasant upliftment!”I don’t recognize a “spiritual source” and I don’t go around doing whatever the hell pops into my “base” mind. I don’t live a life of debauchery and wretched excess. I don’t eat, drink, and make merry all the day.Where do you people get these ideas?”You people? I feel utterly poo-pooed. :(((I did not suggest that a “life devoid of spirituality” is automatically one of excesses and debauchery. You went there, not I. I did say that it would be guided by the senses alone and so out of balance. I do not believe that it is currently true. We are all connected to spirituality, unconsciously at the least. Interconnectivity. Web of Life. We are more than the firing of the synapse. The synapse exist because we do, not the other way around.But of course we have had this conversation. As I said I was not convinced, by your argument, that consciousness was the product of brain function and could not potentially stand on it’s own and outside of the physical body. You negated me and sent your horse puckey flying my way. I understand that you are only convinced by proofs, but this is yet a realm that is unknown. That does not mean that ridicule is the appropriate response to the unknown. Unless of course that is the way you deal with it…

  • daniel12

    To everyone: read Walter Lippmann’s book “A preface to morals” for a good book on religious America giving way to secular America. Lippmann is quite objective about both positions, criticizing both the religious view and pretensions of secular humanists. He honestly reveals the challenges of secular humanism in the inevitability of religion declining. A good book, trust me. If more info on Lippmann is needed on this question see my rather badly written but more or less clear post on the main page of on faith.

  • justillthen

    Carstonio,I understand that you see no reason to argue a point if it is not verifiable with tools that can be shared with other. But then, people have been arguing that there is a spiritual realm and that they have a ‘spiritual self’ for many centuries. There is no way to verify this assertion with scopes or micrometers or other tools, as those tools are created to measure and weight the physicality of the universe. Many believe, yourself included I ‘see’, that the universe IS only physicality, or some form of electrical energy perhaps that is still found in physical matter. Many questions remain unanswered, but the rational belief is, simply, that it is all logical and measurable, or not real. The assumptions of a spiritual ‘life’ remain, and remain unanswered. Just as the question of life itself remains unanswered. We tend to perceive through as our preconceptions; they have a way of coloring future inputs. In a very general sense then, it is easy to delete as irrelevant sensory input if it is not verifiable or is suspect. We sort through information, take in and reject. Information that is non-sensory is rejected. The mind gives greater weight to what is currently perceived of as real.The concept that consciousness could exist unbound from a physical life form, (again, what is life? that it seems to exist in some organic forms but is not in others), is foreign to the sensory focused mind. And we are all sensory focused, as we are life inhabiting a physical shell. But it is this very focus on sensate existence that biases the question of what is causal, physicality or consciousness.As for subtle languages, that seems self evident. If a extra-physical, or extra-sensory reality exist, it’s languaging must be markedly different to ours, or we would more easily see or hear it. But we generally only see or hear with body senses, as that is where we are focused.

  • justillthen

    Hello frederic2,”The “religiousness” described by Justilthen and others is nothing but an intense claim of superiority over others, based on nothing but belonging to a certain group of believers in non-reason, for the time being. One might also call it conceit, condescension, or arrogance.”What a nice hello from you as well…One is that I am not “religious”, and I do not (in my view) spout “religiousness”. I am spiritually inclined, even as I have an analytical mind and believe I am pretty rational. I have been called arrogant before, and I have also fit that description before. How about you? But I do not see that as so here. I am expressing my opinion and ideas. I do not believe that I have been blatantly insulting, though I admit to some sarcasm. The fact that it is a different belief than yours does not make it condescending. And that you did not convince me of the primacy of physicality does not alone make me conceited. Conceit requires more than that! On my preference list of human virtues, such a “superiority complex” is rather on the lower end, and this “virtue” has proved through history its disastrous consequences up to this day.I would suggest that we all can be susceptible to superiority complexes. You, along with pamsm and others, took some delight in ridiculing my unfounded metaphysical mumbo jumbo during our last outing. No question you negated me, (yes, pamsm, there is that word again!), with ire, looking down your superior noses…. So be it. I still got the Oliver Sacks book you recommended. Thank you for that, and other inputs, at least. Peace.

  • justillthen

    Hello gladerunner, “:Duh.. Since spirituality is such a broad, intangible concept, it’s very meaning is debatable. Your statement is an attempt to measure the subjective with the intangible. The evidence for tangible benefit, cancer reductions, disease cures, divorce rates, does not really support your claim.”Thank you for the post. Your examples of tangible benefits on these things would be hard to show, even if they are also objective. It could easily be said that advances in science makes possible disease cures, but at the same time we show growing levels of cancer per capita in recent history than seemed evident before the massive growth in science and medicine. It could easily be said that petrochemical locomotion also precipitated environmental diseases, cancers included. But your point is understood. I am more than clear that spirituality is suspect in this room, and any suggestion of a benefit from it is eyed with disdain… even poo-poohed. peace.

  • onofrio

    Justillthen,You to Frederic:I don’t wish my praise to taint you further, Justillthen, but I think the said mumbo jumbo, along with current hoodoo, is by no means deserving of pooh-poohing. Indeed, I have been well edified. Zesta. Thank you. But then, I am a merely magical thinker ;)Viva mundo mumbo; mundo jumbo; mundo bizarro…

  • onofrio

    Persiflage,Salute! Thanks for the links too, and for all your *mumbo jumbo*. From an apprentice mumbojumbler…

  • onofrio

    Farnaz,I did but see you passing by,I hope all is well with you and yours.

  • onofrio

    Chaos, at best, consumes itself,

  • jedrothwell1

    I wrote:”Anyway, ‘spiritual, but not religious’ probably means having strong religious feelings but no interest in organized religion.”What I mean is, people who say that probably equate “religion” with “organized religion.” I doubt that many people who call themselves “spiritual” reject the notion of God. It could also be that they have not thought much about it or they do not know their own minds. That’s confusion, not hypocrisy. The ARIS study describes this on p. 8:”. . . Table 4 shows that when asked about the existence of God less than 70 percent of Americans now believe in the traditional theological concept of a personal God. . . . A surprisingly large proportion of contemporary Americans, just over 12 percent, believe in a deist or paganistic concept of the Divine as a higher power. Whereas Table 3 showed that only one percent of Americans actually self-identify as agnostics, Table 4 reveals that 10 percent hold agnostic beliefs . . . These findings about the ‘belief’ aspect of religiosity tend to complicate our interpretation of some of the trends and findings in the earlier tables relating to “belonging.” If 76 percent of Americans self-identify with Christianity and 80 percent with a religion then many millions do not subscribe fully to the theology of the groups with which they identify.”

  • ivri5768

    JedRothwell1:Is your March 20, 2009 8:35 PM meant to be addressed to me, your greatest admirer in cyberspace?

  • Carstonio

    Justillthen,I would agree that we do not know whether consciousness has existence independent of the body or whether it’s entirely a product of brain function. If we are presented with the two ideas as assertions of fact, the independent existence claim bears the burden of proof because of the extraordinary nature of the claim. If we are presented with the two ideas as possibilites (and they’re both possible), again the extraordinary nature of the independent existence idea means that this idea is less likely than the other. As a starting point, we would have to determine if physical matter has have the necessary properties to make that kind of existence possible. “I did say that it would be guided by the senses alone and so out of balance.”We can still make conclusions based on our sensory input. We know of no other source of input other than our senses, although we cannot rule out other sources. Intuition is not a source of data, but a way that our brains process data.

  • ivri5768

    I wrote to JedRothwell1JedRothwell1:Conclusion: Only JedRothwell1 can say for sure since the question is quasi-empirical.

  • frederic2

    When reading Justilthen’s ideas about “spirituality” and realizing what “base”, frightening and senseless life I am leading, I am vividly reminded of that old church father (was it Tertullian?), who maintained that the main joy from going to heaven is the painful screaming and moaning of the crowd downstairs “deserving” all the torture.The “religiousness” described by Justilthen and others is nothing but an intense claim of superiority over others, based on nothing but belonging to a certain group of believers in non-reason, for the time being. One might also call it conceit, condescension, or arrogance.On my preference list of human virtues, such a “superiority complex” is rather on the lower end, and this “virtue” has proved through history its disastrous consequences up to this day.

  • Carstonio

    Also, I would like a firm definition of “spiritual.” Some people use the word to suggest that the soul has actual independent existence. Others use the word to suggest that the “soul” is really an metaphorical reference for part of the human personality, like “heart.”

  • ivri5768

    see we have with us our very own representative from the Church of Clancy, Nussbaum, and Luigi (CCNL).I see you have either not seen the Sainted Archbishop Luigi of the Lasagna for pastoral counseling or that you have, but need to go again. We hear, however, that the Sainted Archbishop Luigi of the Lasagna may be away on business with the Holy Sauce. If this is the case, ask yourself this question: WWLD? (What would Luigi do?). If he is not away, you can ask him directly, and need not, therefore, ask yourself. Alternatively, you could ask yourself and then go to see His Excellency and ask him. You could then, if you wish, compare answers (yours with his).May you have peace in the name of the Pasta, the Meatballs, and the Lasagna.

  • ivri5768

    JedRothwell1:I am not ridiculing you. I guess I found the intensity of your reaction startling. I can’t see what’s blasphemous in the Mourner’s Kaddish, can’t imagine what Buddhists, of all people, would find blasphemous.But, again, multiculturalism’s purpose is acknowledgement of minorities by the majority, this, in hopes of decreasing majoritarianism world wide. Escalaton’s post in no way signified that s/he was unfamiliar with other religions. S/he simply commented on the prayer.Whence all the upset? JedRothwell1, I didn’t mean to offend you. I find you infinitely reasonable, admire your posts, have joked with you in the past. Sorry, if I offended.Ivri

  • ivri5768

    JedRothwell1In an ancient Buddhist monastery there stand two gigantic statues of Buddha and Jesus with their arms on one another’s shoulders.

  • ivri5768

    JedRothwell1:Meant to write “around one another’s shoulders.”Btw, sbout Jesus, God the father, the virgin, etc., you’re wrong. Muslims find it repulsive (Haram). Jews, speaking “as indiduals, find it repugnant. Atheists find it hilarious that people still believe this, etc.

  • ivri5768

    JR1Jews, that is, speaking not as Jews, paradoxically, would tell you it is idolatry. (Muslims feel the same way.) Jews, however, are not supposed to say or think this since, again, they believe it is not up to them to comment.Hindus are truly indifferent to what others believe. Their issues with Muslims and Christians do not concern “faith.”

  • ivri5768

    JR1: Does it upset you that I pointed out that not everyone considers the Mourner’s Kaddish to be holy? Me: No, it doesn’t upset me because no one thinks it is “holy.” I think you are proving my point. Multiculturalism means majority members, in this culture, Christians, need to be aware of and acknowledge minorities. Again, I saw nothing in Escatalon’s post that indicated s/he was not.Does it bother you that a Jew would explain something about Judaism? I’ve not seen a post like this from you when others were blogging on the “resurrection,” etc.Multiculturalism is not a topic for majority culture members to lecture minorities on. When this is done, multiculturalism reduces to majoritarianism. There is, I’m afraid, some faulty reasoning in your initial posting.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    How do we know anything?We have primary knowledge from our sensory experience. But even such “knowledge” is not always accurate or true.And then we have secondary knowledge from what everyone else tells us, or what we might read from books. This could be anything. This could be stories like the fire-breathing dragon outside of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, or it could be a scientific paper describing the charge of an electron.What is true and what is untrue? What do we believe and what do we not believe? How do we filter all of this second hand information, so that we put together a picture of existence which seems true and accurate?Learning how to do this is the basis for an aesthetic of knowledge. It is learning how to know, and then knowing how to know. Some people get very good at this, and then others never do.It is a real interest for some people like an interest in art or music; but then for many others, they are blank. They don’t care what is real or true. They just “hear rumors” of might happen, or what might have happened, and that is good enough. I think the weakness in American Christianity is how out of step it is with modern ideas and concepts of human sexuality. Conservative Christianity promotes an extremely antiquated view of sexuality. I know Catholic women, for example, who will not go to confession, to discuss their private sex lives with what is basically a “strange man.” And then there is the unreasoning bias of Christians against gay people.

  • ivri5768

    JR1,I don’t know. Maybe, we are talking past each other. I just don’t understand what you’re saying. There is a multicultural critique. It exists, in part, so that we don’t all kill each other. Farnaz is more expert in all this than I, but I’m trying. The sense in which you are using the word “multicultural” has nothing to do with contemporary multiculturalism. And the “feel good” mantra, constantly chanted by majoritarians neglects to mention that the entirety of European and American culture has been, until recently, dedicated to making them FEEL GREAT, variously ignoring, demeaning, or slaughtering minorities.What you say about the Kaddish and the “ick” factor, again, proves my point. Japanese funeral rites, Muslim funeral rites, etc., do not “ick” me out.

  • halozcel1

    Justillthen,Carpe DiemFrederic2,*let us eat and drink,for tomorrow we shall die* Isaiah 22.13 and 1 Cointhians 15.32

  • ivri5768

    JR1I still don’t understand what makes you angry about his post or what makes you think that he/she knows nothing of other cultures.The prayer IS an affirmation of God. That is simply a definition. It isn’t “holy.” It has no magical significance. When you say you’re Jewish, what do you mean? Have you had any Jewish education?On “feel good,” see below. On why it’s particularly “icky” see below.Look, I’m not saying it’s not all a bunch of crap–every religion, including paganism and animism. That’s not the point.

  • jedrothwell1

    ivri5768 wrote:”That said, I am curious about what ‘icks’ you in the Mourners’ Kaddish (to be distinguished from Kaddish).”I think I have made my views on this clear. It seems like the wrong thing to say when someone has died recently, which is always the case with a Jewish funeral.I never “trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,” or look upon myself and curse my fate. But the last time I heard the Mourners’ Kaddish the day after my friend Eugene Mallove was bludgeoned to death, at his funeral. The last thing I felt like expressing was this stuff about great, exalted, sanctified Kingship etc. Imagine, if you will, that you have encountered a woman who five minutes ago found her husband beaten to death. She is in shock. Would you say to her: “Okay, time’s up! Get over it! Time to bless, praise, glorify, exalt and extol God for giving you a husband in the first place!”Probably you would not. I suppose you would give the poor woman some time to pull herself together. So, why would you tell her that the next day?!? Why is this such a beautiful sentiment? This is supposed to make people feel better? Frankly, I find it barbaric.Even in other contexts, when no one is recently dead, I find the whole notion of blessing, praising, glorifying, exalting or and extolling anyone or anything kind of sickening. It reminds me of how Japanese peasants and especially women used to have to live. Forever bowing, scraping and swallowing their resentment. Bertrand Russell was right that “the whole conception of God is a conception derived from the ancient Oriental despotisms.” I don’t see anything sublime about it.

  • ivri5768

    JR1,Now, I think I understand what you mean. However, if you read my post on my father’s death and my own recitation of kaddish, etc., you’ll see that I don’t agree. There is also a mourners’ prayer that I’ll have to find and that is also said by mourners, particularly by spouses and children that asks the lord to bring comfort to all who mourn. They have two different functions in the religion and two different meanings. You don’t see it in context. My guess is that you haven’t had much Jewish education. Again, I’m not sure what you mean when you say you’re Jewish. If one takes any of this literally, from a secularist perspective it’s an abomination.What moved me were those who came at 7:00 AM because a mourner was among them, that they would walk to another synagogue in freezing weather to find more congregants, if needed, to say this with me.There I was, probably an atheist from the day I first heard about God, doing this thing for him, my father. What can I say?We have different views, different perspectives.I still admire you JedRothwell, and that isn’t ridicule. I like your posts.

  • CCNL

    Most of us skip anything written by Farnaz, the Jewish atheist, since she continues to lie about who she is by using at least five aliases i.e. Farnaz2 aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8

  • ivri5768

    JR1,Here is another version of Kaddish. Note the last few lines. According to the friend who emailed this to me a minute ago, it’s more commonly used than the one I posted. I’m not the world’s greatest Jewish scholar. If there’s another Jew on the block, I’m not the block’s greatest, either.Mourner’s KaddishExtolled and hallowed be the name of God throughout the world which He has created, and which He governs according to His righteous will. Just is He in all His ways, and wise are all His decrees. May His kingdom come, and His will be done in all the earth. Blessed be the Lord of life, the righteous Judge for evermore. To the departed whom we now remember, may peace and bliss be granted in the world of eternal life. There may they find grace and mercy before the Lord of heaven and earth. May their souls rejoice in that ineffable good which God has laid up for those that fear Him, and may their memory be a blessing unto those that cherish it. May the Father of peace send peace to all troubled souls, and comfort all the bereaved among us. AMEN.

  • Farnaz2

    Hi Persiflage,”Daniel Dennett and others have long suggested that the academic study of religion (e.g.Comparative Religions) be taught as part of a public schools curriculum at the secondary level.This idea has been floating around since the 1960′s that I’m aware of – and never implemented in any significant way. A shortage of qualified teachers might be part of the problem. “Yes, in fact, Daniel Dennett has made this recommendation, as you and I discussed. He referenced a high school course offered in California, that covered the evolution, values, practices, etc. of the major religions. Given the diversity in that school, it was unsurprising that students were greatly enthusiastic about it. Imagine a Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Jews in a single class. Consider the nonChristians, the minorities. They expressed enormous gratitude for finally being recognized in their full ethnic identity, for no longer being invisible, strange in some way, regardless of how many friends and acquaintances they may have of the majority or other minority religions/ethnicities. All found that learning of the different religions enlightened them and made them much more interested in developing acquaintances among practitioners, or cultural members of different religious groups.This type of course is also offered at two-and-four-year colleges, as we discussed. A Catholic University at which I was employed for awhile offered one as an option for meeting its cultural diversity requirement. It was so much in demand that the fellow who taught it (a Religious Studies scholar) had to offer another section. What was most interesting, I thought, was which other religion appealed most to which students. Like the high school course I mention above, his course was not a comparative religion course. Courses in comparative religion, were, of course, offered, but in the Religious Studies department.Among the students who took this course were atheists and agnostics, by the way. Yes, such folks do attend Catholic Universities. This one also had and has a sizable Muslim student enrollment. As we discussed awhile ago, I think you would make a great contribution if you were to teach a course such as the one I describe, at any academic level. I agree with IVRI5768, who posted below. So long as religions exist, it would be best that we all know as much about them (plural) as possible although I’d imagine you might be interested in teaching a more advance course. AT all events, you are, in my view, an amazing teacher! I’ve followed up on some of your recommendations, learned a lot from reading your posts.Warmest Regards,

  • ivri5768

    Arminius,Slow on the uptake I am. I understand WWFSD. I think the FSM demonitation is mainly for adult stem celss. Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi is for the Embyonic. The FSM cells don’t say the famous Luigian chant, “Hmmm,” which, as you know, CCNL used always to begin posts with. It comforts him and his co-religionists.

  • Arminius

    ivri5768/farnaz,The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is for people with a wild sense of humor and a loathing of ‘Intelligent Design’. When I first read about it, I laughed for days. The weirdest thing about it is that it is so well designed as a religion that the founder was invited to talk at a conference of religious types discussing the nature and structure of religions.

  • ivri5768

    Arminius/Justilthen/Paganplace/Onofrio/Farnaz:Do you have a link for the Flying Spagetti Monster?

  • ivri5768

    Arminius/Justilthen/Paganplace/Onofrio/Farnaz:Maybe, CCNL thinks he’s facing discrimination, not only because as an Embryonic Stem Cell he could find himself in the Garden of Fettucine Alfredo at any moment, but because no ESCs from the Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi have ever been invited to a conference on religion. Maybe, he doesn’t understand that embryonic stem cells would be out of place at such gatherings. Still, I can understand the hurt.CCNL, in solicarity,Hmmm

  • Arminius

    ivri5768/farnaz,Check this out, the web site of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster:Wikipedia has a good entry on it too, and that is a good starting point. There you will find that His Noodliness was somewhat drunk when He created the universe, and that His heaven is filled with beer volcanoes and stripper factories.

  • CCNL

    Again, most of us skip anything written by Farnaz, the Jewish atheist, since she continues to lie about who she is by using at least five aliases i.e. Farnaz2 aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8.Apparently, a Jewish atheist does not have to follow the Ten Commandments!!!

  • ivri5768

    CCNL (Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi)We hear again from our representative from the Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi (CCNL).The impending demise of his fellow embryonic stem cells has all but frazzledI see you have either not seen the Sainted Archbishop Luigi of the Lasagna for pastoral counseling or that you have, but need to go again.As you now know, he has returned from his visit with the Holy Sauce.You should not be embarrassed to go again to him for guidance. These are perilous times for you and all your fellow embryonic stem cells.Until you see him, ask yourself WWLD (What would Luigi do?). You can then ask him directly, but do not ask, WWLD, since you are no longer speaking to yourself. Say instead, WSID (What should I do?). If you wish, you can later compare answers (yours with his).Until you see him, why not say the famous Luigian chant, with which you were wont to begin your posts: “Hmmm”May you have peace in the name of the Pasta, the Meatballs, and the Lasagna.Hmmm

  • persiflage

    Justilthen, getting back to you -You said:’If we delete religion as a potential variable for a bit, and even delete a (disputed) spiritual potentiality in humanity, and just go with the physical and scientific, does it not follow given human conditioning that ‘happiness’ could be at least as enduring an experience for humankind, while suffering becomes the elusive one?’I fully agree on the human conditioning part, but said conditioning is exactly the very thing that leads to human suffering (in large part) as inherited/learned cultural/societal predicates to behavior e.g. values, norms, and so forth…simple psychology, but these forces shape our view of the world, along with our response to those perceptions…in the end, true free will and objective thought remain elusive to mechanized man – to paraphrase George Gurdjeiff. In a limited way, science and the scientific method seem to escape these boundaries, except when the discoveries of science are used to perpetrate even greater suffering on one another….the great moral relativity conundrum. You’ll agree that ego/ethnocentric self-centeredness lead to skewed views and much unnecessary misery on every scale. So apart from the contingencies of nature e.g. catastrophe and disease, humans either consciously or unconsciously design their own suffering (and that of others) to a significant degree IMO. Plenty of individuals do transcend this Skinnerian view of the conditioned life by virtue of their particular fate, an uncommon strength of character and intelligence – and a fair amount of luck …..thus leading to a life well-lived, in harmony with nature as alluded to by Camus and the Taoists. One wonders if this doesn’t require a certain amount of solitude in order to ripen. In my experience, it does. As you know, my personal view is informed to a certain degree by a mix of esoteric philosophies. So at the risk of being labeled a nihilist, I’d say the chances of happiness replacing suffering as the predominent human theme anytime soon is unlikely – about 50% of the human population live with varying degrees of abject misery from birth to death, as we speak.I admire the Utopian views of Timmy, but in order to achieve these goals evolutionary transcendence on a global scale would be necessary – a kind of consciousness-based geological upheaval defined by the catastrophism/progressivism originally proposed by Couvier.Sure Marx was right – but humans do need medication for the pain.

  • CCNL

    Most of us skip anything written by Farnaz, the Jewish atheist, since she continues to lie about who she is by using at least five aliases i.e. Farnaz2 aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8.Such violations of the Eighth Commandment are a disgrace to her heritage!!!

  • Arminius

    Well, CCNL, I tend to agree – the writing style of ivri5678 does bear an uncanny resemblance to farnaz. I don’t remember enough about the other names to make a judgment. At least ivri5678/farnaz is being quite civil now.

  • ivri5768

    JR1:I posted another version of Kaddish. I don’t know if you saw it. Did you understand what I meant about my father? IMY comfort didn’t come from this prayer. It came from the knowledge that I did what my father wanted, that the men in the temple were with me.What happened to your friend is horrible, and nothing I could say would make it better, nor can I think of what any Orthodox Jew would say that would make it okay. No one in his right mind would think it okay. Maybe someone would say it’s God’s will or something of the sort, and you would probably want to bash his head in. I would.When my father died, and I kept going to see my mother, I used to see this old guy who must have had twenty heart attacks, but continued to take the bus to Atlantic City to gamble. A couple of times he had heart attacks there.I used to ask myself why he was alive and my father wasn’t. I wasn’t exactly in my right mind. I have a religious cousin whose b.s. had all but driven me nuts, but when I started obsessing over this old gambler’s longevity, I called him.He didn’t give me BS. I was going out of my mind. He said things that started me back on the road to sanity. And I think his religion helped him know what to say. Not once did he mention God.He’s a right guy, but before that we used to have endless arguments. Not that he ever tried to get me to start going to temple or anything. It’s just that I was arrogant, and I thought he was too.I’m sorry for your loss. I hope they catch the bastard soon. Ivri

  • Arminius

    ivri5768/farnaz,I just read your post containing the Mourner’s Kaddish. I have saved it to disk, I think it is beautiful. Since I am old, from time to time I think about my own funeral service, if there is one. I would want to include that prayer.

  • Arminius

    “May you have peace in the name of the Pasta, the Meatballs, and the Lasagna.”Skip the lasagna, you have described His Noodliness, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.WWFSMD? Have you been touched by His noodley appendage?

  • ivri5768

    Arminius,I’M NOT FARNAZ, ONOFRIO, OR AN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF CLANCY, NUSBAUM, AND LUIGI. (I mean no offense to the StemCellians.)

  • ivri5768

    FARNAZ,HI. WOULD YOU PLEASE COME AND EXONERATE ME? ALSO, DID YOU READ MY POST ON BANGALADESH? I POSTED IT ON SUSAN’S LAST THREAD.ARE YOU PISSED AT ME OR SOMETHING?Ivri

  • justillthen

    Hello Onofrio, I have to say that in these humble eyes your two cents worth is far undervalued, even in this economy. Perhaps especially in this economy, even if not speaking dollars and change. I loved your example of emotional lobotomization. Fascinating. I had been referring to the emotional roots in individuals’ choices of logic and intellectual stances in life. Your example was beautiful in illuminating the brains need for emotional preferences in order to function physically. Far more apt an example to help make the connection of the essential nature of emotion in life. Thank you for that input. I am the neophyte wordsmithy, awed by your subtle and sweet tongue, and I bow to your brilliance, sri onofrio, orator deluxe, Sir Magical Thinker, Me Re Ly!Strange, I havn’t heard back from carstonio regarding my comments to him or your tuppence worth of wisdom and light. In your anthropomorphizing projection it is our long term conditioning to place familiar perceptions on the unfamiliar. Zeus, after all, was a nasty father. Hera, well…. Daughters and sons, all with human qualities and supernatural powers. Ugly mix. We were always at risk of a rival tribe, and our own tribe was the most dangerous. Loyalty valued, treachery worst from familial hands… All these dramas placed on the unknown, spiritual, supernatural, as above so below, yin yang. I do not believe it altogether, at least that aspect of as above so below. This is a dualistic realm, equilibrium maintained by the play of the opposites. My concept of causality has, well, the virtue of unity in there somewhere. It is reasonable to assume that either the opposites that sprang from unity are not identified as such while ‘unified’, or there really is no light and dark. Perhaps these two are essentially the same, just another way of looking at it.But humans, confused in the mix of light and dark, would of course project their concepts upon what they do not, in their wealth of ignorance and unconsciousness, understand. And that brings me back again to praises, this time for your metaphor of the great painting. Why is it that we cannot glean beauty and emotional impact from the substance of the damn thing. It seems wrong, and illogical, that it is not deducible from analysis. Some may call it annoying. It certainly complicates the whole thing, if you ask me.

  • onofrio

    Justillthen,Thank you for your tookind praise and further musings re anthropomorphic projection, deified dysfunction, our dualising colonisation of the unknown, and the limitations of analysis. From my glass-darkly glimpse of quantum physics, it seems that when we analyse to the limit, we find ones and nothings changing faces and places – dancers at a masque. And if we change direction and synthesise it all, I daresay we find at the end the same pattern – a dance of One and Nothing, each of which simultaneously affirms and negates the other. I suppose it is our fate as humans to encounter this apparent paradox in every facet of our lives and Life. It amuses me that my current conversation with you is mediated by just such a one-zero dance – that of digital technology :) Makes one ponder the *virtuality* of the *actual* world(s), at which point I defer to you and Persiflage.I too would like to have heard from Carstonio, as you say. Emotions vs logic looks more and more like a false dichotomy, certes.Without emotions, we can’t make decisions, and without that particular emotional response called empathy – simply *feeling for* others – we’re just psychopaths. I don’t think I’ve progressed as far as you or Persiflage in the exploration of consciousness, so I’m content mostly to absorb and urge-on as you contend for subtlety a.k.a. mumbo jumbo (pace Pamsm; love your work as always). I am still quite occidentally heady-wordy, though leavened by Nilewater. Peace to you, Justill.

  • ivri5768

    Persiflage,You write to Justilthen:”I fully agree on the human conditioning part, but said conditioning is exactly the very thing that leads to human suffering (in large part) as inherited/learned cultural/societal predicates to behavior e.g. values, norms, and so forth…simple psychology, but these forces shape our view of the world, along with our response to those perceptions…in the end, true free will and objective thought remain elusive to mechanized man – to paraphrase George Gurdjeiff.” AND-”Sure Marx was right – but humans do need medication for the pain.”I agree on both points. I would add, however, that while we will always be born into history, we can, to an extent, shape shape the future. On Marx, he also suggested we do something to lessen the anguish, no?

  • CCNL

    Most of us skip anything written by Farnaz, the Jewish atheist, since she continues to lie about who she is by using at least five aliases i.e. Farnaz2 aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8.Her lying 24/7 is a constant embarrassment to her Jewish heritage!!!

  • CCNL

    Most of us skip anything written by Farnaz, the Jewish atheist, since she continues to lie about who she is by using at least five aliases i.e. Farnaz2 aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8.Her lying 24/7 is a daily embarrassment to her Jewish heritage!!!

  • ivri5768

    CCNL (Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi)We hear again from our representative from the Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi (CCNL).The impending demise of his fellow embryonic stem cells has all but frazzledI see you have either not seen the Sainted Archbishop Luigi of the Lasagna for pastoral counseling or that you have, but need to go again.As you now know, he has returned from his visit with the Holy Sauce.You should not be embarrassed to return to him for guidance. These are perilous times for you and all your fellow embryonic stem cells.Until you see him, ask yourself WWLD (What would Luigi do?). You can then ask him directly, but do not ask, WWLD, since you are no longer speaking to yourself. Say instead, WSID (What should I do?). If you wish, you can later compare answers (yours with his).Until you see him, why not say the famous Luigian chant, with which you were wont to begin your posts: “Hmmm”May you have peace in the name of the Pasta, the Meatballs, and the Lasagna.Hmmm

  • ivri5768

    CCNL (Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi)We hear again from our representative from the Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi (CCNL).The impending demise of his fellow embryonic stem cells has all but frazzledI see you have either not seen the Sainted Archbishop Luigi of the Lasagna for pastoral counseling or that you have, but need to go again.As you now know, he has returned from his visit with the Holy Sauce.You should not be embarrassed to go again to him for guidance. These are perilous times for you and all your fellow embryonic stem cells.Until you see him, ask yourself WWLD (What would Luigi do?). You can then ask him directly, but do not ask, WWLD, since you are no longer speaking to yourself. Say instead, WSID (What should I do?). If you wish, you can later compare answers (yours with his).Until you see him, why not say the famous Luigian chant, with which you were wont to begin your posts: “Hmmm”May you have peace in the name of the Pasta, the Meatballs, and the Lasagna.Hmmm

  • justillthen

    Hello persiflage, And I am now just getting back to you. Such a great post deserves more prompt treatment, no question.I think that Marx has been skewed unfairly as well, especially in the self-focused West which cannot fathom his concepts as anything but extremely dangerous to its own independent minded self interests. But then self interest in fundamental to any human really, and certainly any culture and tribe. Survival and identity of self, individually and as a group, are so intimately tied. There is little doubt that ego/ethnocentric self-centeredness is a donor to the misery side of the human equation. But then again, they are so tied together. In a sense, in order to reach the platform of happiness as a norm, (tossing in the guess knowing my own conditioning governs how I perceive), I’d say that happiness almost depends on the failure of the coalition of survival and identity. Conditioning seems to support and work for the guarantee of individuality, requiring certain conditions to be met to maintain identities uniqueness, even if that uniqueness is on a societal level. Rules of behavior, rules of engagement with others of the same tribe, of other tribes, moralities…Is the fact that we are conditioned cause a presumed greater level of unhappiness and misery in life, or does the conditioning itself bring what it seeks? I have tended to belief that it is the conditioning, but the fact is that purpose of conditioning is to define and demarkate identity. Maintaining identity maintains the structure of the ego, but by that so the walls. One may look to have a happy home, inside the walls, but this is a dualistic place. How one deals with pain says a lot. I agree with you that solitude is necessary to elevate the self out of the clutter of conventional cultural allegiance well enough to see clearly past cultural conditioning and find a more genuine freedom to express, and experience, truthfully.I do not know if this post makes any sense, but I hope it does. I certainly seemed to go on, though in a disjointed sort of way. I wish you the best.

  • ivri5768

    CCNL (Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi)We hear again from our representative from the Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi (CCNL).The impending demise of his fellow embryonic stem cells has all but frazzledI see you have either not seen the Sainted Archbishop Luigi of the Lasagna for pastoral counseling or that you have, but need to go again.As you now know, he has returned from his visit with the Holy Sauce.You should not be embarrassed to return to him for guidance. These are perilous times for you and all your fellow embryonic stem cells.Until you see him, ask yourself WWLD (What would Luigi do?). You can then ask him directly, but do not ask, WWLD, since you are no longer speaking to yourself. Say instead, WSID (What should I do?). If you wish, you can later compare answers (yours with his).Until you see him, why not say the famous Luigian chant, with which you were wont to begin your posts: “Hmmm”May you have peace in the name of the Pasta, the Meatballs, and the Lasagna.

  • persiflage

    Justillthen and Ivri – I don’t have a lot of expertise on Marx, but do find it interesting that his egalitarian socialist philosophy has thus far been far more manifest in the social democracies of the West, rather than the murderous totalitarian societies classically & falsely identified with his utopian idealism. Now I could be in trouble here, but it seems to me that capitalist societies with a modicum of governence stand the best chance of financing and/or sponsoring liberalized social policies that include social security, medicaid/medicare, broad social services, labor/trade unions, et al. so long as we avoid the fiscal meltdown we’re having now. High in the Olympian stratosphere of great thinkers, Marx (and his pal Darwin) must be having a huge belly laugh about now, what with the million dollar ‘bail-out’ bonuses being doled out by AIG and elsewhere…on our dime. Yup, this is the ugly part alright…self-interest run amuck. Anyway, thinking futuristically, if you were to add national healthcare to the list of benefits in the USA, we’d be fairly on par with a number of other socialized democracies (hypothetically we’d also need less religion viz Timmy). None of this translates to the half of the global population that have none of these securities or benefits, of course. Another idealist that I admire is the psychologist Abraham Maslow – see his hierarchy of needs. His view was that once a person had achieved material security, they would be free to pursue higher individualized ‘spiritual’ goals. What he didn’t reckon on was the mass of folks willingly stuck just below the spiritual precipice, cornering every market, and amassing every material bauble and bangle they could get their greedy little mitts on. Bling up the ying…. The slippery slope of altruism leading to the top of the pyramid, is a ‘hazard’ that a great many of us have managed to avoid, sad to say.

  • ivri5768

    Persiflage:You write:”What he [Masow] didn’t reckon on was the mass of folks willingly stuck just below the spiritual precipice, cornering every market, and amassing every material bauble and bangle they could get their greedy little mitts on. Bling up the ying….”Always been a problem for psychologists, even those of the quasi-social domain like Fromm. Ahistorical, even with dealing with history.I wasn’t recommending “communism” in my post. We don’s have an economic-ism, at this point, that could work in the interest of the people, although some contemporary socialist economies are worth a look. Marx did not, in his works, envision late-stage capitalism, as we see it. He did, however, understand worker alienation from self-interest, etc.We need an FDR style economy, the one whose last vestiges we recently rid ourselves of and which we are trying to restore and add to. We went straight down the twenty-first century slope of the 1929 depression and are trying to pick ourselves up, heal some of the broken bones in similar ways, while some continue to shop at Saks, and we figure out how the rest can make it to Macy’s.

  • Bios

    I’m confused.Also, we are partly emotional, but completely emotional? And this is another part where I’m having trouble to fit in the right scale of thought, if we are nature and we are emotional, then emotion is also part of nature. Is this in another scale, closer to our animal nature and less universal than the abovementioned events?I just came from a boy’s night out and I don’t know if I’m being clear enough, or clear at all (I think I’m in love with another girl, which means I don’t love my girl anymore. Does it? Can we love two people at the same time?)

  • onofrio

    Persiflage,Thank you for the Gurdjieff heads-up. I’ve been on a short, fairly tame goose chase to your Wiki link and beyond, and have downloaded Ouspensky’s ‘In Search of the Miraculous’. I’m already 60 pages engrossed, and musing upon the four bodies, man-as-machine, acquired immortality, and the gnostic echoes in G’s “escape from prison” take on human potential. Oh, and G’s amusing turn as Caucasian carpet seller in Petrograd.To your knowledge, did G ever offer an “objective” reading of the Giza sphinx, which he cites as a prime example of emotionally legible objective art?

  • ivri5768

    CCNL (Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luigi)writes to Paganplace:”Hmmm, to reiterate, there is nothing wrong with masturbation.”We are delighted that CCNL is once again intoning the famous Luigian chant with which he was wont to begin his posts: “Hmmm”His confession to Paganplace shows he has seen the Sainted Archbishop Luigi of the Lasagna, who has advised him to masturbate (in vivo, not only in cyberspace as he’s always done). CCNL is here to spread the good err news.Understandably, he has been close to despair over the impending demise of his fellow Embryonic Stem Cells, they who form the congregation of his Church.I did not know that Embryonic Stem Cells could masturbate, nor was I aware that the activity could bring them peace.I’m not much of a masturbater myself, but to each his own, and who am I to criticize the Embryonic Stem Cell Faith? Especially, in such perilous times.CCNL, we all wish you peace in the name of Pasta, the Meatballs, and the Lasagna.In solidarity,Hmmm

  • ivri5768

    UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATEBelievers, Agnostices, and Atheists All,Kindly read the update below on the recent activities of CCNL (Our representative from the Church of Clancy, Nusbaum, and Luiti.)We take heart that in these times so perilous for him and his brother and sister Stem Cells, he seeking help in his Church.If he continues with his progress, maybe we should raise funds for him to have an audience with the Holy Sauce.In Solidarity.Hmmm

  • onofrio

    Ivri,Re the Pasta of the Wholly C,No doubt all those taut ignudi on the ceiling of the Pristine Chapel inspire Pope Prixtus to arise ecstatically – like St Burnhard – on chrismated climaxes, thereby attaining mystical union with the Holy Ovum, wreathed in a welter of putti-pinioned spermatozoa, as depicted so powerfully in the celebrated frescoes by Mygirlangelo. And all to the strains of Beefoven’s exquisite Missa Soullessness.

  • CCNL

    Then there is the “sister” clone of Farnaz aka Farnaz2 aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8 aka JedRothwell?? who goes by the name of Onofrio!!!And of course, Farnaz continues to pose as one ivri5678.

  • CCNL

    It is apparent that Farnaz is not going to apologize for her lies so please skip anything written by Farnaz, the Jewish atheist, since she continues to lie about who she is by using at least five aliases i.e. Farnaz2 aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8.Her constant lying is an embarrassment to her relatives and her Jewish heritage.

  • ivri5768

    Onofrio,You write:”No doubt all those taut ignudi on the ceiling of the Pristine Chapel inspire Pope Prixtus to arise ecstatically – like St Burnhard – on chrismated climaxes, thereby attaining mystical union with the Holy Ovum, wreathed in a welter of putti-pinioned spermatozoa, as depicted so powerfully in the celebrated frescoes by Mygirlangelo. And all to the strains of Beefoven’s exquisite Missa Soullessness.”This is all very esoteric. Then, CCNL (our representative from the Church of Clance, et al, aspires to be a sperm cell in the hereafter? Or can masturbate, at present, and hopes to dispatch a sperm cell now, in his Embryonic StemCellitude? Is’t possible? Is’t part of the great Luigian mystery?This is all very deep.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    I am not so sure I understand this discussion about objectivity versus emotions. I think that there is no such thing as human objectivity. We can pretend to be objective; we can wear an objectiv mask. Sometimes it is a requirement, such as in the pursuit of scientific research, the facade of objectivity, the temporary guise that is not our true selves. But it is not a natural way to be.We are inextricably bound up in the setting of our human experiences, which is unique and different for each one of us. And we are bound by the constraints of the evolutionary niche into which our bodies have evolved. A dog exists in a world of smells that we don’t know anything about and can barely imagine. A cat has clear visual perception in what we would consider to be darkness. Birds experience easy and casual flight, with sharp senses and a good intelligence; they live in the same world that we live in, but surely the “bird experience” is very, very different from our own.Our every waking sensation is colored by our emotions, which is part of the defining qualification of what it is to be human. Even when we wear the mask of objectivity, inwardly, we still know it is a mask. Even when a scientist wears the mask of objectivity in writing a paper explaining his findings, still he might jump for joy, to see it get published.

  • Carstonio

    “Emotions vs logic looks more and more like a false dichotomy, certes.”I posted a long response, and it said it was being held for review by the blog owner. So I’ll make this one shorter…Of course emotions play a role in our decision-making. My point is about how humans receive information about the world around them, not what they do with that information. Using the rock example, everything we perceive indicates that the rock is indifferent to our emotions.I don’t reject the possibility that humans may possess senses other than the five known ones. My stance is that the burden of proof is on any claim that other senses exist. The same goes for any claim that non-corporeality exists, and for any claim that consciousness can exist independent of the physical body. I would like a precise definition of what Justillthen means by “non-sensory information.”

  • onofrio

    Persiflage,Many thanks for the haiku! I experienced it exactly as you describe – the image and the sound/silence was immediately present to me, and I can recall it precisely.I think I have a better idea now what objective art involves. I daresay I’ve probably been an unknowing subscriber to it for a long time :) Thanks again, Persiflage.

  • justillthen

    Hello Carstonio,Happy to see you back in here for a moment. I see that you did not respond to my last post to you, which I looked forward to. It is all good, though.To Onofrio you wrote: “Of course emotions play a role in our decision-making. My point is about how humans receive information about the world around them, not what they do with that information.”First, we started this last direction of the dialogue with your question to me: “Would you explain how logic has an emotional root?” To this you added: “Part of my point is that we have no evidence that the universe is anything but indifferent to our emotions.”Two things. Onofrio responded to the logic-emotion connection with a brilliant example, I think. The indifference of the “universe” to emotions is somewhat complex to value, yes? What is the “universe” that you speak of, and how do you quantify ‘it’s emotional response? You appear to eye emotional perceptions of the world suspiciously, and appear to view logical perceptions as more accurate and truthful. With prejudice comes distorted perception, it seems to me. If the ‘universe’ in this example is symbolized by your rock in the driveway then you have already biased the argument as it is more challenging to give a value to the emotional response of the rock to us than an animated life form. If my dog was in the driveway it would be easier to say that the universe may be responsive to my emotional position. We would find more easily find common ground that the dog has an emotional take on us, yes? I replied to you March 20, 2009 3:51 PM responding to your last post where you posed these questions of validation of non-physicality. You are not the only one that wants for provability of the of non-physical realities,spirit, soul, the supernatural, ESP,’God’. ESPN is already confirmed as a physical entity, so valid, and has even replicated or cloned to various channels. Justillthens definition of non-sensory information would be that which informs consciousness or awareness yet comes from a source that in not physical (body) senses. ESP is the obvious term for some of that, but it could include aspects from intuition to transcendence. I am sure that you eye with suspicion these forms of information and will say that the burden of proof lies with them to validate their own existence. That is fine. I am not concerned.

  • onofrio

    Carstonio,”I don’t reject the possibility that humans may possess senses other than the five known ones. My stance is that the burden of proof is on any claim that other senses exist.”True and right, in an ordinary light…Burdens of proof are indeed hard to bear.Are there any proofs that “the five known senses” actually exist? Are they not a linguistic convention based on *common sense* (another sense?), and experience, rather than *proof*? Does that *make sense*? Feel right?Butterflies in the stomach – a species of *touch*. Can dispelling the metaphor with physics and chemistry also still those wingtips? Which *senses* does a broken heart affect? And from which does it derive? And which organ is involved? Brain, to be sure, yet the pain I *feel* is actually mid-thorax. Ah, metaphor knows something *proof* does not. Will I *make sense* if I tell about my broken heart only in terms of synapses and pheromones? What is it that *sees* through the eye? And what it is that weeps at what is seen? The physiology of tears is well published, yet will not lessen loss. As you can *see*, I think there’s a fair bit of semantic slippage in these discussions of *senses*, and it applies to both the arid fact-fan and the tropic mystic. *Proof* is the true truth? It stands in relation to *senses* as a treatise on decomposition does to bereavement.

  • onofrio

    Justillthen,Re my last post – I do not think you are a tropic mystic BTW. Just playing with poles, me.A temperate climate prevails in Justillthenia, certes.

  • daniel12

    People, another good book I recommend: “The quest for certainty” by John Dewey. (If you want a good boilermaker drop said book into the book I just finished reading: “A preface to morals” by Walter Lippmann). Dewey in his book says that although with the birth of science man came more and more to accept that existence is flux rather than revolving around a fixed point such as a God, man for all his science still seems stuck in the position of viewing morals as not only rather well understood but as if they have been rather fixed for all human existence so far and are not expected to change in the foreseeable future. In other words, Dewey attacks both the religious conception of an unalterable point in the change of existence such as a God, and the typical modern secularist view that although God does not exist morals are quite fixed. Dewey says that once God is called into question all forms of fixity are called into question. This means morals like all else are subject to the vicissitudes of existence, that flux, change reigns and that man really has no certainty about anything.Dewey suggests–and here he is in line with Lippmann–that rather than believing in revelation to understand existence (as religions propose) or even believing one can just reason one’s way toward truth, beauty and the good (as Greek rationalists first suggested), we should place a premium on thought having a constant and good relationship with action, with experimental behaviors of all types, and of course subscribe to the scientific method of getting one’s hands dirty to discover truth. Dewey’s contention is that man for most of his existence downplayed what can be arrived at by action and instead played up revelation or pure reason without any method that can be described as physical let alone scientific. So the task of man is to have a constantly new physicality going hand in hand with reason and by this process arrive at what certainty we are capable of in existence.But of course Dewey proposes that we can never have absolute certainty. We can only give what security we can to ourselves in the flux of existence. A good book. Enjoy!

  • onofrio

    Daniel12,That is a brilliant precis of Dewey’s book you’ve offered just now.Thank you for the recommendation.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Onofrio said:”Which *senses* does a broken heart affect? And from which does it derive? And which organ is involved? Brain, to be sure, yet the pain I *feel* is actually mid-thorax.”And grief? What about that? It is a buzz in your forhead and a pain “in the mind.” It is a terrible pain, really worse than any physical pain. I guess I had not thought very much about these types of sensory experiences, which are kind of mysterious, after all, aren’t they?

  • onofrio

    Freestinker,You, regarding believers in more-than-five senses:This seems to me like a relative of the *religion-is-from-childhood-brainwashing* canard that haunts this blog. There was precisely zero mysticism in my upbringing, Free, and plenty of run-of-the-mill modernist secularism and rationalism. Yet I’m open to discussions of both mysticism and possible *other* senses. There are plenty of others like me, and we’re not necessarily flaky, indoctrinated, fact-averse dupes. Open universe, mate. You:That blade cuts both ways, Free. Modernist secular rationalist assumptions are often not questioned either, by those brought up with them ;)You:Cold, emotionless objectivity is a trait of psychopaths, Free, and not to be valorised, methinks. Can there be warm emotional objectivity? Why is objectivity always such a rugged individualist?

  • onofrio

    Danielinthelionsden,You:They are indeed. Here’s an example from my own experience. From earliest childhood, whenever I am in the presence of someone who has a wound and I see the wound, I actually feel a strong sympathetic pain. It’s an intense burning sensation that starts in my thorax (heart?) and coalesces in my belly and at the base of my spine, where it sears me sorely. It will stay with me for as long as I’m looking at the wound, and when it passes it does so gradually in a series of diminishing waves. The more severe the wound I see, the stronger the sensation. In terms of the five senses, this sympathetic pain of mine is mediated by sight. Its intensity is not affected by the wounded person’s expression of pain, or by touch or smell. There have been occasions when I’ve felt the pain as an injury is described to me. It does not occur in response to any injuries I suffer, or to simulated wounds in films. I’ve never come across anyone who has experienced this sort of thing.

  • justillthen

    Hello freestinker,Many people do in fact “assume humans have senses other than the known five and that our consciousness is somehow detached from our body and brain.” Have for eons. Go figure.Just because these ‘assumptions’ are not validated by scientific processes does not negate the possibility that all them damn beliefs are false. Exactly. Many people seem to assume humans have senses other than the known five and that our consciousness is somehow detached from our body and brain. From there belief in supernatural beings is not too far a leap.”…many never question these assumptions at all and those that eventually do are often reluctant or unable to approach the question with cold, emotionless objectivity.”It is indeed an interesting thing that you require “cold, emotionless objectivity” for validation. Some of the posts in this thread speak to objectivity and subjectivity, questioning the assumptions that the objective is obtainable from a subjective perspective of an individual and his/her own conditioning. This is of course my wording of what others have forwarded, which is of necessity subjective even as I am attempting to present a valid perspective on the discussion.We always skew a perception, even if we approach it with unerring logic and reason and “cold, emotionless objectivity”.Just some skewed, biased and subjective thoughts…

  • CCNL

    It is apparent that Farnaz is not going to apologize for her lies so please skip anything written by Farnaz, the Jewish atheist, since she continues to lie about who she is by using at least five aliases i.e. Farnaz2 aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8.Her constant lying is an embarrassment to herself, her relatives and her Jewish heritage.

  • Freestinker

    “I don’t reject the possibility that humans may possess senses other than the five known ones. My stance is that the burden of proof is on any claim that other senses exist. The same goes for any claim that non-corporeality exists, and for any claim that consciousness can exist independent of the physical body. I would like a precise definition of what Justillthen means by “non-sensory information.”"——————–Carstonio,Exactly. Many people seem to assume humans have senses other than the known five and that our consciousness is somehow detached from our body and brain. From there belief in supernatural beings is not too far a leap. In my experience, many of these folks have been taught this mysticism from an early age. As a result, many never question these assumptions at all and those that eventually do are often reluctant or unable to approach the question with cold, emotionless objectivity. Nevertheless, extraordinary claims such as these require extraordinary evidence and the burden of proof clearly lies with those who make such extraordinary assumptions without evidence. Otherwise, it’s just another classic case of “begging the question”.

  • justillthen

    Cheers persiflage!I loved your haiku offering! As well the thought of objectivity and subjectivity being two sides of the same coin. It does depend on how one looks at it. So to the haiku, it may be less the words, or the original emotion or spirit or feeling of the artist at the time of conception of the art that imbues it with power, but the respect, regard, reverence with which the art is received. In your haiku offering you gave a stance with which to receive the words, like making a sacred space in the mind, a circle of stones, the outline of the circular pond, the feeling in the air… A guided meditation directing the mind toward peaceful, attentive and subtle awareness… It was quite nice.Would not the most crude image evoke a splendid tapestry of intricate and sweet awarenesses, if ours was receptive in love to it? Me thinks, me feels, me knows….. nothing. That India and other more (shhhh…..) ‘spiritually inclined’ worlds have art that more easily is the “objective” type is of no surprise. Connection to something beyond the corporal world is common there. Breeds a love of life, the blend of heaven and earth, and a love of the true. Thank you for your pleasant wind, urging into softness harsher and more arid ones blowing about.

  • CCNL

    It is obvious by now that Farnaz is not going to apologize for her lying so thererfore skip anything written by her since she continues to lie about who she is by using at least five aliases i.e. Farnaz2 aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8.Her constant lying is an embarrassment to her family and her Jewish heritage.

  • Pamsm

    Onofrio,You also have a wonderful gift for the poetic, the creative, and the imaginative.I don’t discount the value of such things at all. Without such thinking, there would be no Lord of the Rings – no Harry Potter. In fact, very little literature, theater, or art at all, beyond dry scientific treatises. This would not make me happy.My beef is not with people who can imagine Hobbits and wizards, but with those who can’t separate them from reality.You ask if there’s any proof that the five senses exist. Of course there is. Each of us (assuming no impairment) experience them constantly and consciously – at least during waking hours. We can talk to others about them and agree that we all experience the same thing. We can evoke reactions from others based on these senses that are like our own reactions to similar stimuli.This is not the case with “sixth” senses. And these mystical, magical beliefs are often characteristic of the mentally ill.None of those who claim to have them have stood up to scientific scrutiny.Emotions reside in the brain. “Butterflies” are the result of a rush of adrenal hormones, responding to emotional thought. That may not be romantic, but it’s demonstrably true.

  • Pamsm

    Just to follow up briefly, it seems very convenient to me that all of these “spiritual,” “transcendent,” “extra-sensory” things are all invisible and imperceptible by any of the other four senses. From gods to souls, to external consciousnesses, all are without demonstrable material form and are undetectable in any way.I have a word for things like that: “Nonexistent.”

  • Pamsm

    PERSIFLAGE:Yes.PERSIFLAGE:Sorry, you’ll have to give me references for this – it’s not part of any “scientific reckoning” that I’ve ever come across.

  • persiflage

    Pam – well, if you don’t like mysticism, here’s some stuff on quantum philosophy. Einstein thought it was all mumbo-jumbo. Can reality really be this strange? Apparently it is, and it turns out that chasing photons and other elusive ‘particles’ is pretty subjective with regard to what we may find. What they don’t find are ‘real’ things – all and everything appear to be waves of one kind or another.And not real waves, at that…. forces, fields, relationships – energy, whatever that is. So, that’s all we are in the end, right? PS. I’m a big fan of the Ring Trilogy myself – and now you’re telling me that the elves behind my house are imaginary? They really are a very blond, regal and friendly folk – quite humanoid in size and appearance. BTW, they told me you wouldn’t believe it for a instant….

  • persiflage

    Hi Pamsm – here’s a link that describes exactly what meditators and contemplatives are trying to get at when they do what they do. The question one must ask is whether or not generations of ‘mystics’ have been deluding themselves as regards the fundamental nature of consciousness, when it’s just a matter of brain chemistry in the end. Should they be lumped in with the religionists that have fallen under the spell of the supernatural? The ordinary mind is not exactly what practitioners of the meditative arts are after, although it’s not entirely different either. As the Dzogchen masters say, you have to be shown awareness in it’s natural state before you begin to understand what all the fuss is about. Since it’s quite invisible and without substance, hands-on research is admittedly difficult. It’s a matter of awareness perceiving itself devoid of thought, if that makes any sense. The experts in this and other similar traditions pull no punches – based on their experience, fundamental reality is both empty and aware/awake….but is only rarely aware of itself in this original state. This uncreated non-material ‘substance’ does not depend on individuals or bodies in order to exist….the opposite being the case, in this view. I suspect the ‘consciousness’ debate will continue, not withstanding materialist interpretations of a life that only appears to be real, and is by all scientific reckoning, quite non-material in it’s essence. These are paradoxes that seem to confound the very learned and neophytes alike. Personally I don’t think it all begins and ends with brain chemistry, but that’s just me. Others, such as yourself, have a completely different point of view.

  • Carstonio

    Danielinthelionsden,”I think that there is no such thing as human objectivity. “I would agree. We can strive for objectivity, but since we aren’t perfect, we will never fully realize that goal. My point is that we perceive two separate “universes,” one of our five senses and another in our minds. Objectivity applies to the former. By this, I’m not saying that we can be fully objective in analyzing the information we collect. I mean that the information itself is indifferent to our subjectivity.

  • Carstonio

    Justillthen,”What is the “universe” that you speak of, and how do you quantify ‘it’s emotional response?”This relates to my point about the two separate “universes” that we perceive. When I talk about the “universe,” I mean the things that reside outside the human mind. A concept wouldn’t be part of that universe. The test here is whether something would exist if humans didn’t exist. If it’s the former, it’s part of the “universe.”"You appear to eye emotional perceptions of the world suspiciously, and appear to view logical perceptions as more accurate and truthful.”It may seem that way. I’m simply making a point about the division between our emotions and the “universe.” You could sit in a room alone and feel any emotion you wish. But the world outside your room would be oblivious to that emotion. At the least, no other human would be able to tell what you are feeling, unless you went out and expressed it to others. The emotion exists in a “mental universe.”"We would find more easily find common ground that the dog has an emotional take on us, yes?”True, but I’m not sure what point you are making there. If dogs didn’t exist, then their emotions wouldn’t exist.

  • Carstonio

    Daniel12,”the typical modern secularist view that although God does not exist morals are quite fixed”I don’t know where Dewey got that idea. Most secularists I’ve met acknowledge that morality often changes based on social norms, even when they suggest that morality may have an evolutionary basis. In my experience, they equate the notion of a fixed morality as “God-lite.”

  • Carstonio

    Continued…”Justillthens definition of non-sensory information would be that which informs consciousness or awareness yet comes from a source that in not physical (body) senses.”One reason to be skeptical here is that there appears to be no way of discerning whether the information comes from such a source, or whether the information originated in the human imagination.”ESPN is already confirmed as a physical entity, so valid, and has even replicated or cloned to various channels. “That’s not a valid comparison. ESPN is a human-created concept and not a “physical” entity. One can perceive signals from ESPN using a television, but those signals are a product of the entity and not the entity itself. If humans ceased to exist then ESPN wouldn’t exist. “Are there any proofs that “the five known senses” actually exist? Are they not a linguistic convention based on *common sense* (another sense?), and experience, rather than *proof*?”We know that the sensory organs exist, and we know that there are neural connections between the organs and the brain. “Brain, to be sure, yet the pain I *feel* is actually mid-thorax. Ah, metaphor knows something *proof* does not.”You’re talking about physical reactions to emotions. Those originate in the mind and body. The type of sensory input I’m talking about involves stimulation from outside the mind and body. The fact that metaphors help us codify both types doesn’t change the fact that they have different origins. I’m not proposing that we do away with the metaphors. One can recognize that “butterflies in the stomach” is merely a figure of speech for a physical sign of nervousness, and still value the metaphor. The issue here is whether humans possess other sensory organs.

  • onofrio

    Pam,I wrote a response to your most recent post to me, and OnFaith went all HAL – “sorry I can’t do that, Onofrio” – and swallowed it up. Presumably it was deemed too lengthy; there were certainly no verboten lexemes in it. The new regime allows no second chance, no revision; clicking the back button returns one to a tabula rasa, void of the rejected post. Alas.Anyway, thank you Pam for the compliments and the straight-shooting dose of actuality :) I loved reading your take on the value and proper limits of make-believe. As an abjectly flaky mental flyweight, I have great respect for your ability to mediate materiality. More power to you. It is to minds like yours that I defer if I need to take a plane somewhere, get operated on, take some medicine, or douse a fervid creation science enthusiast. And, of course, to generally get my bearings in this Midgard, our home. On the matter of my experience of *sympathetic pain* – I don’t view this phenomenon as necessarily extra-sensory in some way, or scientifically inexplicable. I do find it mysterious, and I wonder about its function/purpose. You mentioned that some men experience sympathetic pain when their wives are in labour. I’m aware of this phenomenon. I have been present through the labour leading to the births of both of my daughters. At no time during the process did I feel my sympathetic heart/belly/spine burn (perhaps because my hand was gripped painfully purple by my wife – seemed churlish to complain). Yet when I glimpsed the post-birth suturing of my poor torn wife, I copped a force-10 pain-wave. Aaargh. Serves me right, eh? I was being a bit mischievous with my rhetorical question to the excellent Carstonio about *proof* of the senses. I suppose I’m just wary of the absolutising potential in terms like *proof*, so I play the semantic fool a bit. My way of sorting *things* out. Rest ye, Pam. I know it takes physics to fly, not gryphons. As for souls, gods, and the like – I don’t *believe in* them. I do, at times, *make believe* with them, and that can be quite edifying ;)

  • onofrio

    Persiflage,”PS. I’m a big fan of the Ring Trilogy myself – and now you’re telling me that the elves behind my house are imaginary? They really are a very blond, regal and friendly folk – quite humanoid in size and appearance.”Elves, Persiflage? You’re very lucky to have them around. The fey folk with whom I must deal are rather less agreeable company – a gnomelike tribe that haunts the sub-floor realm beneath my house. They are more often heard than seen. Those I’ve glimpsed are knee-high, cobwebbed, sooty, clay-caked, crow-footed, rag-wrapped hellions, with fixed grey-toothed grins, complexions like cement mix, and eyes like smouldering match-heads. Their main joys in life are tormenting the cats, stealing socks, keys, and wallets, and leaving small sharp objects where bare feet tread…

  • Farnaz2

    Hi Onofrio, Persiflage, Ivri5768,Persiflage, I reread the Haiku you posted a few months ago, and as was the case with Onofrio, understood it precisely as you described although I lacked the language. Sometimes, I believe that no matter what they may think or have thought, Western artists do not/have not, seen as the great Eastern masters did. Pound wrote Eastern style poems of genius, but they were Western nonetheless. His translations, as we discussed, are beautiful, indeed, but so radically different from the original works as to make the latter unrecognizable in his.So, I often think. Then, I read up on the ancient masters, about their lives, and think that perhaps they were not so “Eastern” as we think, not by a shot, heard in a valley, really a mountain. Echo.Persiflage, it is always such a pleasure for me to read your posts as I struggle down my far Eastern road. Progress is slow, but evident, and I’m not putting into this work, study, far less time than I’d like to.Awhile ago, you posted a link to an archive of sacred texts, which I seem to have “misfiled.” Might you post it again?Onfrio, your exchanges with Persiflage, all your posts are a great pleasure to for me to read. I confess I had a moment of envy when I came across “Mygirlangelo,” and if I’d had two seconds would have started on an obsessive search for the kind of trope it is. I thought your points on context and art quite revealing. There’s the rub. How to blend the transcendent with the historical. Can it be done? Re: Ozymandias. Ferdinand Marcos had busts built of himself that were remarkably similar to what remains of Pharaoh’s craven image though he had no Shelley to interrogate them. After his (Marcos’) long overdue downfall, postcards carried the image of these monstrous works. Ivri5768, What to say? Your charity, generosity, kindness to our local “StemCellian” gives one hope for the future our “biostratum.”Farnaz

  • Pamsm

    Justillthen says:From the context, I think you’re saying that visual communication is writing, and we are limited to that and the spoken word, but this simply isn’t true.We communicate by body language, facial expression, the clothing we choose, the cars we drive, the houses we live in…on and on.There’s no collective consciousness (I actually think you misunderstand what Freud and Jung meant by this term), but we have *many* more ways of communication than just written and spoken language.

  • justillthen

    Hello carstonio, The statement that I made on consciousness transcending the physical body is clear enough I thought. I stated my experience. I do not need to make it true for everyone. It is clearly not an incontrovertible fact. But then it isn’t incontrovertible that consciousness is ‘inside’ the body, really. We can state that body functions are, and brain functions are, inside the body. Consciousness? It is an assumption where it resides. Part of my point is that it is through the physical senses that we experience the physical world. That is the mode that we experience it. Physical body experiences physical world. You may be seeking a sensory organ that experiences the assumed spiritual realm. But I do not believe that exists, if only because it is in the physical body that you are looking for the non-physical. I can easily believe that organs have multiple tasks, but it would seem that their purpose is manifestly physical, and what function that may be non ‘manifest’ may itself be ‘non-manifest’, or at least not clearly ‘seen’ through senses whose purpose is to experience what IS manifest.Lastly, I am not suggesting that anything that is unexplainable is therefore valid spiritually. Hardly. I would not offhandedly negate ‘imagination’, but I also would not give it some kind of blessed be power. I think there is lots going on in the mind and in consciousness that is unknown or poorly understood. But I have no doubt that I have had and continue to have experiences that are real and valid, and are transcendent of the body and it’s functions. I am clear for myself that my awareness is greatly affected by the state of my body, but that my consciousness is not dependent on the body for existence. Take that as you will.Best, and peace.

  • justillthen

    Hello again carstonio,To clarify further on organs of the body. I could imagine that the organs may play multiple roles other that purely physical. This can be seen, perhaps, in how they affect or are effected by emotion or thought. Here I am differentiating between physical, emotional and thought, or mental. Many may take issue with this compartmentalization. But to discern ‘spiritual’ one has to define it, clarify it and separate it. However I believe that we are all these things, not just a physical life form who defines the “life” part as…… duhknow, “organic”. We know we are alive, and conscious, but can’t yet make all the connections. The physical form is what we see. There is more that is yet unknown and the picture is incomplete as to life. An organ may play greater roles than just physical ones. Perhaps we do not ‘see’ it all yet.

  • Pamsm

    Justillthen says:No, it isn’t (for the hundredth time).Go get yourself a prefrontal lobotomy and then tell us how conscious you are. If you can.

  • justillthen

    Pamsm, I believe that communication is even less limited than the examples that you used. I am certainly clear that it goes beyond words, verbal and written, although that is probably the preferred way that we communicate and ‘dialogue’ thoughts, emotions, concepts. I used that statement posting Carstonio, who said that communication could only occur in physical company with others. Context matters. Visual inputs go far beyond the written word, obviously. A glance can say more than a chapter in a book. How is the emotional value of that quantified, even if one wanted to? Is it valid, true?The glance is a visual sensory input. Along with audio, we have the two preferred senses. Humans have and use the sense of smell, but it is not so developed as the others, and is not primary, in most people, it seems to me. Taste is related, and likewise seems less primary. Touch, well… I think that they all play vital roles, but I also think that most people give preference to sight and sound.The senses are all subjective. Is the meaning behind the glance the same in the giver as in the ones that see it? No. No sense is ‘pure’ for all involved. We all interpret what comes in. Verbal and written language is perhaps the most dependable to have a collective meaning as it is most defined, but it is also the most constrained. Less abstract, each word specifically assigned and defined.Even so, it is possible from the same paragraph to have numerous meanings derived by different observers.You say there is no collective unconscious. You do not know that, just as you do not know that what is termed “spiritual,” “transcendent,” “extra-sensory” are all “Nonexistent.” It is your belief that they are nonexistent and so are for you, perhaps just because they are not proven to exist. But they remain as unproven but very reasonable theories. Quite possible. Hardly impossible. Indeed from my experience they are clearly valid.

  • Carstonio

    Justillthen,”It is not my experience either that consciousness is limited to the physical body that is it’s home. It is my experience that consciousness transcends the physical body.”Are you asserting that as simply a likelihood from your experience, or are you asserting that as incontrovertible fact for everyone?To play devil’s advocate, how would one tell whether one were actually experiencing transcendence or simply imagining it? How would one determine if something that appeared in one’s head originated from the imagination or from a sensory capability of the brain unknown to us?This may illustrate my point – if I imagine a pink elephant, the pachyderm has only pseudo-existence that lasts only as long as I continue to imagine it. The animal has no corporeal existence. This would be true if all humans in the world imagined the same animal. If humans ceased to exist, then the animal wouldn’t exist.The question before us is this – do humans have a sensory capability other than the five known sensory organs? What I’m criticizing is the automatic assumption that anything unexplained in the mind has to be the result of such a capability. That’s merely “god of the gaps” in a different context. We shouldn’t assume that such unexplained things would be pure imagination either. But the former assumption involves more extraordinary claims and preconditions, so it would appear less likely.

  • onofrio

    Persiflage,Thanks for the links, elf-friend. The homonculus one was great ride. I must find me a black hen’s egg! Was glad to see mention of the Peking Homonculus, from my favourite Dr Who story ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’.As for the Evans-Wentz book, thanks to you I now have it bookmarked (to be perused post-Ouspensky). My mother’s ancestry is from the very tip of Cornwall – a magical place – so I look forward to learning more about them Kernow piskies from the eminent WEW.I think of you as el-Silsila, Arabic for “the chain”, because you have so many links :) There’s a region along the Upper Egyptian Nile – not far north of Aswan – called Gebel el-Silsila (Mount of the Chain), where for more than a millennium rufous sandstone was quarried for pharaonic temples – the substance of the sacred. Like that gebel, you yield such ‘materiel’.

  • Carstonio

    Justillthen,”I stated my experience. I do not need to make it true for everyone.”You appeared to be making a blanket statement about human consciousness in general, as opposed to your own consciousness. If that wasn’t your intention, I apologize.”But I do not believe that exists, if only because it is in the physical body that you are looking for the non-physical.”Part of my point is, what basis do we have for assuming that a non-physical exists? I’m not saying we should assume the opposite.”I think there is lots going on in the mind and in consciousness that is unknown or poorly understood. “No argument there. I would caution against speculating about what might be going on.”But I have no doubt that I have had and continue to have experiences that are real and valid, and are transcendent of the body and it’s functions.”I don’t question that you experienced something. I’m simply asking how you can be sure that these were transcendent. If we postulate a transcendent causing one such experience and brain function causing another such experience, it’s possible that both experiences would be exactly the same to the person perceiving them.Would you describe what you mean by “transcendent of the body and its functions”? I imagine someone looking down at his body from above like in the old TV show “In Search Of.” The closest thing I have to such an experience is earworms, and I’ve never assumed that the songs were playing on some transcendental equivalent of the iPod.”This can be seen, perhaps, in how they affect or are effected by emotion or thought.”From my reading, that has been tentatively explained as neurological and hormonal.

  • Pamsm

    I think we’re on the same page, Onofrio. :)And if you’re a mental flyweight, I can’t imagine what a heavyweight would sound like.Re lost posts, I now compose in Word if I feel that I might go long, rather than in the “Comments” box. Then, if my submission is rejected, I can pare it down, or split it into multiple posts, and nothing is lost.

  • Pamsm

    Persiflage,I only object when people try to extrapolate sub-atomic physics to our own scale. That just doesn’t compute.

  • justillthen

    Carstonio, I am left quite unclear about what you are saying in your last two posts. Sorry. You speak of two universes, what is outside of the human mind cannot be a concept, what would exist if humans did not exist… Divisions between our emotions and this ‘universe’, “mental universes”. If dogs did not exist then their emotions would’nt. D’ya think? I do not get what you are trying to get at. One thing that I can respond to is the idea that physical isolation results in emotional and mental isolation, or that emotional and mental intercourse is limited to and determined by physical location and proximity to another human. It is not my experience either that consciousness is limited to the physical body that is it’s home. It is my experience that consciousness transcends the physical body. It is not a ‘common’ experience for humans to have conscious awareness of transcendent commune and communication. Most of us know communication only as a verbal and visual thing. We communicate only by talking, (we extend that form by writing what we might speak in this forum, but we could call them a related thing, no?). I am sorry that my joke about ESPN was misunderstood. I must have lacked clarity in going there. I had just brought up ESP and took the opportunity to play with it, but it failed. Whoops.You mistook some of Onofrios’ statements as mine. The last two quotes you commented on were his, not mine. I take it as a complement, as his is a brilliant mind and a adept pen. Thank you. Peace.

  • Pamsm

    JUSTILLTHEN: ” It does not prove that individual is no longer conscious of itself or the world. His/her experience in the body and in the world would no doubt be seriously and permanently altered. Can’t get around that lobotomy. It proves that consciousness or awareness, thought processes, cognition, emotional processes, etc. are affected by the state of the body. It does not prove that consciousness is caused by or limited to the body. You just cannot measure it’s viability outside the body.”What??? It damn sure does prove that consciousness is limited to the brain (body’s got nothing to do with it).A lobotomized person is still alive. He can move. If he’s still “conscious” (and I’m wondering just what that word even means to you), he could respond physically to questions. He’s even physically capable of writing. But no one with a severely damaged cortex ever does; making it hard to conceive of consciousness residing anywhere other than the brain.You offer nothing more than sheer fanciful conjecture.

  • Pamsm

    Justillthen says:No, I don’t think so. Not yet, although I keep trying.J: “I had a thought about our conversations yesterday. In one response you wrote: ‘I have a word for things like that: “Nonexistent.”‘ If we assume a definition of existent as something that is physically tangible, then you are correct. ‘Spirituality’, ‘supernatural beings’ and ‘consciousness’ are not tangible, and so must be nonexistent. I would agree with you on that point, for sure.” I didn’t say anything about physical tangibility, so it is not correct for you to make that assumption.I said that I considered non-existent, things that weren’t perceptible by any of the five senses, that were without demonstrable material form, and that were undetectable in any way.Things that meet any of those criteria are existent.Music, for instance, has no physical tangibility, but it exists and is detectable by one of the senses. And we know that it comes from instruments (including vocal cords) and we know why and how that happens.Consciousness is detectable in many ways, as is human intelligence. All of them have to do with the brain.Consciousness, to me (you have yet to give me your definition), is simply awareness – the interface of the animal with its environment that allows it to do what it needs to do to live and reproduce in this world. As such, it is precisely what you would expect evolution to deliver.Humans, by virtue of excess capacity, which was needed to compete in a world where our other physical traits were so pathetically inferior to those of other animals, can devote some of that capacity to abstract thought and creativity that goes beyond the abilities of other animals.You assert that there is consciousness that resides outside the body, but you offer no explanation as to how this could possibly be so, or why it would exist. Where would it be housed? How would we receive it? How and why would it have come to be? If it’s “collective” then all of our consciousnesses should be the same – but they aren’t. The workings of your mind are completely foreign to me, and I don’t “feel” your presence.My explanation is simple, concise, and logical. Yours requires jumping through many hoops, and just makes no sense at all.

  • justillthen

    Hello pamsm,”What??? It damn sure does prove that consciousness is limited to the brain (body’s got nothing to do with it).”No, it does not. It is a presumption that because you perceive change in behavior and expression in individuals with a less than fully functional brain, that consciousness is “limited to it”. As I agreed, consciousness, awareness, expression is limited BY a dysfunctional brain. Not TO it. “But no one with a severely damaged cortex ever does; making it hard to conceive of consciousness residing anywhere other than the brain.”The cortex is associated with higher brain functions, right? So expression of higher brain functions would be severely impaired with a severely damaged cerebral cortex. I am not suggesting otherwise. We are at the effect of the state of the body. Expression of personality, identity, sensory coordination are trashed. We are screwed on multiple levels interfacing with the world. That still does not prove that consciousness resides in the brain. It proves that the brain affects the expression of consciousness through the body. In renal failure kidney functions stop and within days one goes septic and dies. Death is the result of impure blood, but it is not caused by a dysfunction of the blood but of the kidneys. Organ dysfunction affects life, as it is the body ‘life’ is attached to. But blood definitely is limited to the body. Cut off an arm and we can see blood spill out. (I do not suggest you try this experiment, even if you suggested I try a frontal lobotomy.) Consciousness, or awareness for that matter, is not a substance. If it is, show it to me pamsm. You insist that it is caused by the brain, and is limited to it, and ceases after the brain goes cold. Yet you cannot show it to me, quantify it or even qualify it. You can only read what you name it off of the mirrors reflection of a brain scan. From that you assert that consciousness is limited to the brain? Sweet! I get you!I had a thought about our conversations yesterday. In one response you wrote: “I have a word for things like that: “Nonexistent.”" If we assume a definition of existent as something that is physically tangible, then you are correct. ‘Spirituality’, ‘supernatural beings’ and ‘consciousness’ are not tangible, and so must be nonexistent. I would agree with you on that point, for sure. peace, from nonexistence to infinity! and may that peace encompass the whole of our existence!

  • justillthen

    Carstonio, I am sorry that I have not gotten back to you since your last post. I will tonight I hope.

  • justillthen

    Hello pamsm,Thank you for your response. I liked it; it was thought provoking. I am fine to work off of your definition of existent. It was you that brought up nonexistence after all, and it is a more specific definition than tangibility. One question in the definition might be “and that were undetectable in any way.” You leave a lot of room there, my friend, if you are seeking sensory verification or collaboration, or measurement via instrument. I liked your example of music as intangible yet detectable and it sparked some searching. As I have said I am not a scientist. What seems true with sound waves is that it’s vibration effects matter, and it is transmitted through all forms of matter, and is heard with the organ designed for sensing it. It affects matter, as a drum or sonic boom or compression blast is felt, and it has no affect in a ‘vacuum’. One may say that music has no tangibility I believe, but in the least it’s effect is physically tangible. If in fact music is not the sound waves themselves, (I do not know if this is true), then it creates tangibility. It affects the material world. Does it exist in a vacuum, or is it non-existent? We might ask the same question of other senses and of matter itself, but it questions the limits of existence. I understand that a pure vacuum is not deemed to ‘exist’. Thought is not ‘detectable’ by instrument outside the human body at this time, correct? Your presumption that it resides only inside the brain is based on this support I take it, being brain ‘activity’ = thought/awareness. I believe that consciousness has it’s own affect on the elements, but that we can not yet see it and measure it. It is (presumably) an intangible like we assume sound is, yet sound affects the physical world and so you deem it existent. I am starting to run on with thoughts that may make no logical sense to the elements, so I will have to stop. I am running short on time this morning and will have to pick this up again later, unfortunately. Thank you for the idea to chew on. I had not thought of sound as intangible before, and do not know that I concur, but it is intriguing. Peace, and gentle vibratory rates.

  • justillthen

    PamsmA quick something else, as I have not yet left out the door. “If it’s “collective” then all of our consciousnesses should be the same – but they aren’t. The workings of your mind are completely foreign to me, and I don’t “feel” your presence.”You make a number of assumptions, this being one: that “collective” means the same as. What that is “collective” in humanity is the same, especially as perceived (as is always the case) subjectively and individually? And what perception at all is exactly duplicable from one perceiver to another? The assumption of sameness aside, this may be a question of awareness again. We can agree that we have distinct senses for experiencing the manifest world. We also could agree that people have different levels of aptitude with those senses, some with more and some less, some with no ability at all in certain senses. What is untenable that there are other ways of sensing what is less tangible or materially manifest? What is unbelievable, evolutionarily speaking, that these postulated ‘senses’ have fallen out of use in more modern times as they have not been called on for daily life?

  • justillthen

    Hello pamsm,You misunderstood the meaning of my statement that you make a number of assumptions. I am sure that it is not your fault. On a re-reading of my earlier post it is clear that I could have been more clear. It is in there, just not very congruently. You brought up “collective” in reference to collective consciousness, or perhaps collective unconsciousness. Your statement: “If it’s “collective” then all of our consciousnesses should be the same – but they aren’t.”One of your assumptions is that collective consciousness is the same consciousness. Another of your assumptions is that if it were a valid state of awareness, you would be experiencing it. The first seems to me a bit naive. The second seems a bit presumptious as well as a bit arrogant. My question on this is how does the principle of collective ‘sameness’ hold true in human experience? You brought up examples to support you idea, those being the words of language, traffic signs and signals, education and laws.The first two are symbols that are assigned meanings that the collective should understand. They are not consciousness, awareness or perception. They are concepts assigned definitions. Though the symbols are generally agreed upon, (knowledge of red lights are particularly appreciated!), we have individual experiences and perceptions of the meanings of them all. Who has the same experience reading a book? Each is individual.Education is clearly a unique experience for each student. Laws are agreements, (not all voted on it, not all follow it…), on limitations of the individual or group actions inside of the collective that formed those laws. They are not consciousness or awareness, but ‘rules of engagement’ in society. Necessary and obligatory and applicable to the collective, but they are not awareness.A collective is a group of individuals, all unique if we use the human model as opposed to ants, for instance, (there we assume ants are like replicants that have no individuality, though the uniqueness of ants is not explored much more than in Antz :-) ).I believe that collective consciousness refers to a level of mind, awareness or consciousness that is markedly different than your normal perspective, which is ego and personality rooted and based in your individual conditioning. Collective consciousness is not experienced often, or ‘consciously’ by many.” The workings of your mind are completely foreign to me, and I don’t “feel” your presence.My point here again is that you assume that if collective consciousness were valid you would know it by experience. I do not think that many people flex those muscles, their use has atrophied from disuse, or they are unaware of their participation in interconnections of awareness with the rest of life. We have individuated to an extreme, especially in the west and particularly in America, land of the rights of the individual.

  • justillthen

    pamsm,a continuation:Your attempt to deflect the conceptual evolutionary silencing of postulated ‘psychic senses’ does not follow with my understanding of evolution. You assume, again, that these ‘senses’ would have great value and so of course would not fall into disuse. How can you know that? There are plenty of reasonable arguments that would justify their silencing, and certainly many arguments that support that the human mind has moved toward rationality and logic, individuation from a collective focus that was more requisite in earlier human evolution, and a buffering and distancing from intercourse with the collective whole of all life. These are all aspects that require respect and appreciation for the psychic senses to be activated, in my experience. Metaphors abound commenting on the self-elevation of human life above all others. Philosophies grow around the idea that we are a superior form of life and so do not need to operate on the planet in a way that is sustainable or even respectful of the cradle of life that this Earth is. Manifest Destiny, for one.I have more to put into the ring, but will have to wait to do so. I do appreciate the discussion though, pamsm.Let me just say that I speak from this place, in defense of senses beyond the material and manifest and consciousness beyond the physical and manifest because I have had innumerable and distinct experiences that have proven to me that we are more than physical life. I have had validation of some of those, often enough and in specific enough ways, that I do not question the veracity of extra-physical existence of humans. I do not insist that you believe anything else than you wish to, and I do not need you to. I love the post that Persiflage put up. As always he is eloquent, kind and deep.

  • justillthen

    persiflage,I love what you wrote! Would that I had the sense of the poetry and prose of the language as you do, or the depth of mind. I wish to comment further and again am up against the needs of life calling out for attention. I hope to return to it. Best!

  • persiflage

    Justillthen -Thanks for your kind words. I’ve read several books that tie quantum mechanics to consciousness in various ways, but the website and accompanying book below lays out a clear case for awareness in the individual and as a transpersonal intelligence that serves as the essential and compatible nonphysical component that causes our particular physical reality to manifest. While a quantum wave may branch into many potential realities, only one manifests e.g. our world. The author understands very well that neither the basic principles of science nor the neurobiology and chemistry of the brain can be neglected in such a scheme, and he addresses all of this in detail both for the layman and the scientist. He is clearly grounded in the metaphysics and mysticism of East and West, as well the science of quantum physics and brain chemistry. He makes several fairly bold statements and explains his thinking – he believes that quantum mechanics is perhaps the final frontier for understanding and explaining the physical universe. We can then assume that if this holds true, future space travel and accompanying technology (and much else besides) will be based on refinements in quantum physics. However, he disputes the truth of particle theory altogether, and maintains that the wave state is the only true (subjective) reality as defined by quantum mechanics. If this view holds true, it will eventually alter how material reality Nonphysical awareness enables any and all physical entities to interact with their sensorially perceived environment, which includes selective decision-making (free will). Awareness is not subject to physical laws, but of course physical entities are (and this is where cause and effect determinism enters in). While this at first might seem to be a sophisticated redux of Cartesian mind/body duality, it is very far from it….since there is no objective reality with quantum mechanics (only one selected and subjective branch or version, out of many possibilities). Of course, we are all typically in general agreement as to what this (human) reality happens to be. I think the thread is at an end, but it’s been fun. The website below is lengthy and interesting, and recaps much that is in the book – a pretty good read as well.There are no final answers here, but this theoretical view just might represent a real breakthrough in certain hide-bound thought processes in science that insist on a certain kind of objective Newtonian reality – when there are actually better and more accurate options available. Science is supposed to be open-ended, is it not? best regards -

  • justillthen

    Hello Persiflage.Thank you for the link. I am very interested in exploring it. I do not have much of a grip on even the more basic postulations of quantum physics, least not enough to feel comfortable. I look forward to learning more. Best till.

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