A Very Modern Creation Myth.

 

Genesis 1 is a work of defiance and faith.  It probably arose among the humiliated and defeated Jews of the Babylonian captivity, as a take down on the claims of the ancient Babylonian creation myth, the Enuma Elish.

It portrays the history of the earth, as God directing by his Word, the development of that which He had created in the beginning.  It is a claim by a member of an enslaved race that it is the God of his or her people, not Marduk, the high god of their captors,  that is the God above all other gods.

It is also a declaration of human rights.  In the Enuma Elish human beings are created from clay and the blood of a slaughtered god, to be the slaves of the gods.  In Genesis 1, God, makes humans, male and female, in His image to have dominion over the world.  All people, not just some, are chosen by God to be sovereign rulers of the world.

The creation story is divided into working days.  An evening and a morning constitute in hot climates the working day, and God is shown as  carrying out his creation during normally constituted working days, and resting on the seventh. A working pattern suitable for all those made in the image of God.

The original state of the earth in Genesis, is not the chaos of the Enuma Elish which needs to be overcome by violence, but formlessness which needs to be directed. God called the light into being, but he named both the day and the night, thus indicating that both are under his control. The same applies to the dry land and the surrounding waters.

When he calls into being the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser to rule the night, they are not named, but there is no need to.  God has already established His authority over the day and the night.  These exist only as markers to divide the day and the night, and to divide time up into seasons.  Their rule consists only in enabling a calendar by which humans can plan their lives. There is no reason to kowtow or attempt to placate them.  Their rule is a service.

The God of Genesis 1 works with his creation, rather than imposing his authority through force.  And this is the model for dominion given in Genesis 1, rather than the abusive model of the Enuma Elish.

Genesis 1 is an attack on the theology of the Babylonian Empire.  Its very first words, ‘In the Beginning,’ serve to highlight the Johnny come lately status of Marduk, who appeared very late in the pantheon of the Babylonian gods.

Marduk’s claim to high position was that, quite late in the story that the Enuma Elish tells, he stirred up the waters of Tiamat the Ancient Chaos, and then slaughtered her. His claim to high position is by right of conquest.

In Genesis 1, the female spirit of God is there from the very beginning moving in a feminine way upon the waters. (Hebrew like French is a language that assigns gender to its nouns, it also assigns gender to its verbs.)

Based as it is on Enuma Elish, it is reasonable to assume that the cosmology of Genesis 1 reflects that of Ancient Babylon.  This is not the message of the writer. This is a story about the relationship, between God, and his Creation.  And in this story, the role that Marduk, acquired through violence in the Enuma Elish, dominion over the earth, is freely given by God, to all humans male and female. All humankind is welcomed into the pantheon of gods. To us, all of us, is given the dominion of the earth.

The theology of the Babylonian Empire, redemptive violence, was also the theology of Christendom.  The belief that dominion can be acquired and kept by violence led to religious wars and the horrors of the inquisition, and its protestant equivalents. It is the theology of empire.  It was the theology of the British Empire, the theology that became incorporated into the theory of evolution, through Spencer’s slogan, ‘Survival of the fittest’.  A misunderstanding of this slogan, which merely means, that those inheritable  characteristics which increase the probability of  an organism  successfully breeding, are those which are likely to survive and increase in a given population; has led to the notion that science has shown us that the world is truly, ‘dog eat dog’. That we are all engaged in an endless struggle with the other, and that violence is the only way to peace.

It is a worldview driven by the desire for power, and by fear, and to those who are in its thrall it seems to be merely the truth.  The other way, seems to be only so much pie in the sky.  The message of Genesis 1 no sounder than its cosmology.

In fact it is probable that they aren’t even aware of the message, as the cosmology has been understood as the main theme of Genesis 1, and long since subsumed into the might is right theology that drove Christendom.

This is the theology that was defended by William Gladstone, the  G.O.M., the Grand Old Man of Victorian Britain’s politics, or as his political rival Benjamin Disraeli had it, God’s Only Mistake. When he  engaged in a series of debates with the famously straight speaking Darwinian, Thomas  Huxley  on the subject of the scientific accuracy of Genesis 1, the order of creation that he chose to defend, wasn’t that acquired by a straight forward reading of either science or scripture. It was instead both seen through the distorting lens of ‘The Great Chain of Being,’ a hierarchical structure, much more suited to the case he was making than either Genesis or the fossil record.

My understanding of Gladstone’s argument is that he regarded the Bible as the guidebook to human morality, and that he claimed that the similarities between Genesis 1 and modern science were proof of the divine inspiration of that guidance.  The morality he espoused was the imposed from the top variety of Victorian Britain, not that of Genesis 1;  and, as Huxley lost no time in pointing out, the order of creation he proposed was consistent with neither Genesis 1, nor the discoveries of modern science.

Basically Gladstone argued that God nearly got the order right.  He made two different stabs at describing that order.  The latter of these was that the Bible and science were in agreement, that life on earth had developed as follows: plants, fish, birds, beasts and then man.

Huxley wasn’t slow in pointing out the lack of respect to the Supreme Being implied by Gladstone’s argument.

But if I supposed the “Mosaic writer” to be inspired, as Mr. Gladstone does, it would not be consistent with my notions of respect for the Supreme Being to imagine Him unable to frame a form of words which should accurately, or, at least, not inaccurately, express His own meaning. It is sometimes said that, had the statements contained in the first chapter of Genesis been scientifically true, they would have been unintelligible to ignorant people; but how is the matter mended if, being scientifically untrue, they must needs be rejected by instructed people?

Thomas Huxley  Gladstone and Genesis 1886

He also pointed out that the plants described in Genesis 1 as occurring in the latter part of Day 3, are advanced plants, which don’t appear in the fossil record until well after the first fish. They are flowering plants the angiosperms, which turn up in the fossil record in the second half of the Mesozoic Era, the age of dinosaurs.

Curiously enough the scientists of today tell us that when the Mesozoic Era began, all the land was gathered together into one continent, Pangaea, which had the mother of all continental weather systems – a dry land. And that consequently all the seas were one sea, Panthalassa.  The conditions described as existing at the beginning of day 3, in Genesis 1.

So  the science in Day 3, provided you understand the word day to mean a long period of time, and the use of evening and morning to be somewhat poetic, appears  to meet Huxley’s minimum standards, for  consistency with its having been inspired ,  by the Supreme Being.

Continuing in the same frame of reference:

The Mesozoic Era ended with a bang. Around 65 million years ago an asteroid collided with the earth, throwing up clouds of dust into the air sufficient to block out the light and heat of the sun, and put a stop to photosynthesis.  This event is associated in the fossil record, with a mass extinction which wiped out among other things, the dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and great sea reptiles.

If the writer of Genesis 1 had had access to this information, he or she could have used it as a counterpoint to the very political point that was being made in  the cosmology of Day 4.  At this point in the narrative their is a redivision of day and night, marked by two great lights, presumably the sun and moon, with the stars also appearing in the sky.   These heavenly bodies are representations of the rulers of this world and their God given role is to produce a stability and structure, that allows the rest of God’s creation to get on with fulfilling the roles that God has assigned to them.

(And yes, there is an analogy with modern science. Before the asteroid collided with the earth there would have been an extra light in the sky, and this would have been followed by a period of darkness. Day 4 could be interpreted as a return to normal service.  But this is unlikely to be the point the writer was making.)

It took a while for the earth to recover from the end Mesozoic extinction event.  It was around 10 million years before the first whales evolved to fill the ecological niches vacated by the great sea reptiles.  There was a radiation of modern type birds at around the same time as the whales. At the second half of day 5, in the Genesis account, God is portrayed as creating great whales, and living creatures.  He is then portrayed as communicating directly with them, something he doesn’t do to the birds.  If you take this literally and interpret it in the light of our modern knowledge, then the most likely interpretation is that the living creatures were in fact the smaller whales.

The  radiation of modern type bovidae (cattle) occurred in the grasslands that developed, much later  from about 10 million years ago. The hominins, our immediate ancestors also inhabited these grasslands.  Human Beings first appeared about 200,000 years ago. At the beginning of Day 6, the earth is portrayed as bringing forth, the living creature, cattle, the beast of the earth and the creeping thing. Only one of these creatures is readily identifiable, the cattle.  And modern type cattle proliferated with the grassland that also gave rise to our hominin ancestors.

The term living creature used here, is the same that is used for the living creature of the water, and it can also be interpreted as living soul.  The earth is credited with bringing forth the living creature, but that group is not later included in the list of those creatures that God made. Living creature can be interpreted as a catch-all term for the creatures of the other three groups.  But it could equally, and more in line, with modern science, be understood as a term for the creature that God chose to remake to have dominion over the earth, Man in the Image of God. The latter interpretation being the one that is consistent with the findings of modern science.

There are a surprising number of similarities between our modern scientific understanding of how the world developed, and the ancient accounts of Genesis 1.  Even the firmament, which is placed between, the waters above, and the waters beneath in Day 2 provides no problem if you understand it to be that which developed into the open firmament of heaven that the birds are portrayed as flying across in Day 5. I think there is  sufficient to meet Huxley’s  standard for divine inspiration.

However the cosmology of Genesis 1, is the medium not the message.  Its message is political, advocating respect for the human, and delineating the role of government as an agency for the maintenance of  stability and structure.  Even without the amazing coincidences, it is consistent with divine inspiration.

It’s message is consistent with that of psychologist, Brad Bushman.

I’ve been studying aggression for about 30 years, and I’ve seen that the most harmful belief that a person can have is that they’re superior to others,” Bushman said. “Men are better than women, my race is better than your race, my religion is superior to your religion. When people believe they’re better than other people, they act accordingly.”

He hopes that more research can help us understand where narcissism comes from, and perhaps help us to stem the tide. “If people could believe that everyone on the planet is part of the same human family, and deserves the same respect, so many problems would be solved,” he said.

Rachel Feltman You only need a one-question test to identify a narcissist. Washington Post August 2014.

 

The message of Genesis 1 is embedded in a story that fits in surprising detail with our modern understanding of the earth’s history. It’s message that all humans  are of infinite value, bearers of the image of God; and all entitled to play their part in the ruling of the earth; is one that the world, caught as it is in the narcissism of power, still does not hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Genesis of Time Travel

 

 

Doctor Who Genesis

In an alternate reality,  people believe that the Universe was bootstrapped into existence by the efforts, of  a time-traveller the Once and Future Man.

They are wrong.

Theirs and a multitude of other universes, the multiverse, were catapulted into existence, unintentionally when an experiment on mind-control across time went awry. The scientists of the original universe had discovered that while they could not transmit matter backwards across time, they could transmit ideas.

They amused themselves by leaving coded messages of their interference, in the literature and art of the past.  They knew the explanation for the smile of the Mona Lisa, and exactly how Jonathan Swift was able to prophesy that the two moons of Mars would be discovered by a non-European scientist.

Providing evidence that you have changed your own timeline is difficult; something our experimenters discovered only after their experience with La Giaconda.  They had successfully changed the famously melancholic beauty, into a lady with an enigmatic smile. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, she had always had that smile.

No reason to believe is a good reason not to believe.

They realised that if their funding was to be maintained, they were going to have to provide independent evidence, that such changes had been made.

Jonathan Swift was their first target, he was easy to find.  They managed to get incorporated within Gulliver’s Travels claims that were only discovered after Swift’s lifetime, to be scientifically and historically accurate.  This then became their modus operandi.  They had the original authors incorporate information into their texts, that could be verified by modern science, but which could not have been known at the time that the text was written.

Sometimes the changes they made, did not get transmitted across time.  They eventually discovered to their horror that these changes were associated with rips in the fabric of time and space, rips that had in some cases given rise to other universes.

Among those universes you will find the universe of the Once and Future Man, and ours. Some evidence of the activities  of the unintentional creators can be found in both  universes. For instance the Mona Lisa has her enigmatic smile, and Jonathan Swift makes his prophetic claims about the moons of Mars.

The tears in reality that brought about the genesis of these two systems, appear to be linked ironically enough to the different interferences made to the Ancient Hebrew scripture, in  Genesis Chapter 1.

In the universe of the Once and Future Man, their ancient scripture gives an account of creation, that is exactly in accord with the findings of modern science. It was this accord that led to the belief  in the Time Traveller.

One of their greatest philosophers, Bertrand Russell, expressed his faith and admiration in this man, a Man not subject to the natural force of time,  in his famous 1952 essay, “Is there a Time Lord,”  in words that are identical to those made by our Bertrand Russell.

Man in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny.  The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.

Bertrand Russell Is there a God? Commissioned, but not published by Illustrated Magazine in 1952

This belief in the reality of time-travel was encouraged by those in the originating universe, who had long since stopped interfering with their own time-line.  But  were using the same technique to misdirect those in the secondary universes so that they did not develop the potentially disastrous ability to manipulate their past through mind-bending.

It was initially believed that the reason for the failure of transmission of the changes to Genesis 1, was that the description of reality, was too different, from the worldview of the Ancient Hebrews.

So the version that our universe obtained was less detailed, and more in accord with what had been there previously.  For instance, the creation was recorded as taking place in days rather than aeons..

The Hebrew writers of the pre-interference script, played down the importance of the sun and other heavenly bodies.  Understandably enough.  They wished to distinguish clearly, their beliefs from the ‘superstitious’  astrological beliefs of the Babylonians, who at that time held them captive. This bias remains in the Genesis account of our universe.

The mind-benders, noted that the description of the separation of land and sea that the writers of the original text had used, ‘let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place and let the dry land appear,’ had a parallel in what  modern science had discovered about the history of the earth.  There really had been a time, in fact more than one, when all the waters of the earth had been gathered together into one place, and a dry land had appeared.

This is the state the earth was in at the start of the Mesozoic- the age of dinosaurs.  Rather than trouble the ancients with an account of the monstrous beasts that roamed the earth, or the fact that the giant dry land of Pangaea was breaking up, the scientists picked on something else that clearly marked the later part of Day 3 as the Mesozoic. The flowering plants -the angiosperms, originated in that era.

The scientific name for flowering plants, angiosperms, means enclosed seeds, and it is this defining feature  that they used  as part of their efforts to provide proof that they had interfered across time. As this quote from Genesis demonstrates.   ‘And the earth brought forth….. the tree yielding fruit whose seed was in itself ……..And the evening and the morning were the third day.’ 

The Mesozoic ended with a massive bang, an asteroid hit the earth, and the subsequent environmental disaster, is linked to the extinction of among other things the great sea reptiles, and the dinosaurs.  The scientists seeded the recovery from this period of celestial disruption into the Genesis account as Day 4.  A sort of return to normal service, when the two great lights and the stars again appeared in the skies.  (The idea that the celestial bodies were made at this time, was a later addition, possibly but not necessarily made independently of the scientists.)

The whales originated as part of the earth’s recovery, from the asteroid linked environmental disaster. The scientists decided that these should be the defining feature of Day 5, along with the radiation of modern type birds that occurred at around the same time.

There was obviously a problem in ensuring that the animals that they labelled great sea monsters, and other living creatures, should be clearly identifiable as whales rather than fish, or the previously extinct great sea reptiles.  They did this rather neatly by portraying God as speaking directly to them, something that happens only one other time in Genesis 1, when he speaks to people.  Whales being the only sea creature that there has ever been any reason to believe might be capable of understanding language.

“And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas,”  portrays God as speaking directly to the whales, this was put directly beside his communication about birds in an attempt to emphasize the point being made, “and let fowl multiply in the earth.”

Being satisfied that they had identified Day 5 as beginning no earlier than the Eocene period, they then considered which features should be used to identify Day 6, as later in time again.

They decided that the use of the term living creature, had been established sufficiently clearly as meaning a creature with whom it is possible to communicate, so they used this phrase at the start of Day 6 to describe the hominids that we evolved from.  They also recorded the other creatures that shared the grasslands that were our ancestors home, the grasslands that came into being around 1o million years ago: the ruminants (cattle), the  4-legged predators (creeping things), with everything else included in the catch-all beasts of the earth.

Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind, and it was so.

Then the reference living creature vanishes from the list, to be replaced by man, who is given dominion over the earth.  And with this the scientists stopped their interference, convinced that they had adequately placed their, “Kilroy was here.”

They were mystified as to why these changes didn’t show up in their ancient scriptures; and it was sometime, before physicists made the link between their activities and  various rips in the fabric of space and time.

As a consequence of this discovery a new program was set up by an international commission. It was entasked  with policing their earth’s timeline to make sure no more interference was caused; and also to make sure that  scientists in those universes that had come into being as an accidental artefact, did not acquire the knowledge necessary for time interference.

Efforts were made to ensure that those of us living in the secondary universes, did not come to an understanding of what consciousness is. As it was this knowledge that had made the across time mind-bending experiments possible.

They didn’t actually implant the belief, held by many scientists in our world that the purpose of science is to oppose religion, but it was one that they encouraged the development of. Regarding it as something useful to distract those who might otherwise have directed their talents to finding out what was really going on.

Sometimes, just sometimes the interferers sense of humour gets the better of them, and you will find their in-jokes incorporated into our universe.

One such joke was recorded as part of a report by Massimo Pigliucci  on a naturalism (the view that everything that is, is part of one reality) workshop held in 2012.

During the roundtable introductions, Dawkins (as well as the rest of us) was asked what he would be willing to change his mind about; he said he couldn’t conceive of a sensible alternative to naturalism. Rosenberg, interestingly, brought up the (hypothetical) example of finding God’s signature in a DNA molecule (just like Craig Venter has actually done). Dawkins admitted that that would do it, though immediately raised the more likely possibility that that would be a practical joke played by a superhuman — but not supernatural — intelligence.

Massimo Pigliucci From the Naturalism Workshop Part 1 2012

Richard Dawkins is actually making a sensible, if rather tautological point, when he says that any outside being interfering with our earth would not be supernatural.  Once you define the natural realm as meaning all that is, then by definition, any existent being must be a natural entity.  The joke lies in the fact that he treats superhuman , rather than natural, as the opposite of supernatural.  Our accidental creators are vastly entertained at the notion of themselves as superhuman intelligences.

The notion that they might have left their, ‘Kilroy was here,’ on DNA is a useful distraction, from the reality of where they did leave it.  They know from experience that the Ancient Hebrew Scriptures, are a much better place to acquire literary immortality, than  mutation and transposon vulnerable DNA.

Of course their real purpose in intervening in this conference was to distract these serious minds away from the problem described vividly, if rather histrionically, by the philosopher Jerry Fodor, in the following quote, the problem of consciousness.

“If it isn’t literally true that my wanting is causally responsible for my reaching, and my itching is causally responsible for my scratching, and my believing is causally responsible for my saying… if none of that is literally true, then practically everything I believe about anything is false and it’s the end of the world.”

Jerry Fodor as quoted by Sean Carroll in Downward Causation 2011

What is the relation, between feeling thinking and doing. How do you get a machine, albeit a biological one to experience pain, itching etc.  And if thinking is in anyway causal, how is it done. How we experience the world feels vastly different from the mechanistic explanations that science is delivering. It isn’t enough to say that our experiences are an emergent property, a sort of lusus naturae.  As Jonathan Swift pointed out in Gulliver’s travels, this kind of explanation, is just as much an attempt to deny ignorance, as were the occult explanations of earlier times.

After much Debate, they concluded unanimously that I was only Relplum Scalcath, which is interpreted literally, Lusus Naturae, a Determination exactly agreeable to the modern philosophy of Europe, whose Professors, disdaining the old Evasion of Occult Causes, whereby the followers of Aristotle endeavoured in vain to disguise their Ignorance, have invented this wonderful solution of All Difficulties, to the unspeakable Advancement of human Knowledge.

Jonathan Swift  Gulliver’s Travels 1726

(Jonathan Swift had that which a more gentle satirical novelist, Terry Pratchett, described as the gift of first sight, the ability to see what is really there.  It will not surprise you to learn that the scurrilous attacks upon him by intelligent people such as George Orwell, were the result of our accidental creators efforts to discredit him and what were for their purposes anyway his dangerous ideas.)

The fact that these serious scientists and philosophers are using the argument, Relplum Scalcath, is not unfunny. Our accidental creators do like their little joke. George Orwell accused Jonathan Swift of what can only be described as having the gift of prophecy. But it  really is no secret as to   how come  Swift writing in the early 18th century, could have described so accurately the behaviour of 21st Century scientists. The alternate universe civil servants, are manipulating the scientists behaviour to match that described by Swift.

So focused have they caused  our philosophers and scientists to be on the notion that the purpose of science is to oppose religion, that they are terrified to admit their ignorance in case a supernatural being might be tempted to crawl into the gap.

Not every scientist at the Moving Naturalism Forward Workshop had been implanted with the idea that consciousness was an emergent feature. The  civil-servant who was tasked with minding biologist, Jerry Coyne, has the kind of sense of humour that almost lost him his job.  He has managed to convince the man, who blogs at. ‘Why Evolution is True,’ that the fact that we are subject to the laws of physics, proves something, that if it were true, would be a bigger threat to Darwin’s theory of evolution, than any number of fluffy bunnies hopping around in the Pre-Cambrian Era.

Jerry Coyne believes that as we are collections of atoms whose behaviour is completely determined by the laws of nature, that consciousness has no role to play in decision making.

He quotes the results of experiments done by Benjamin Libet in the 1980’s, which showed that actions that we would normally think of as volitional, had been initiated, before the conscious mind was aware of them, as evidence that consciousness plays no part in our decision making.

To understand why Coyne’s interpretation of these results causes a problem, for Darwinian’s consider the following  hypothetical scenario.

A man is wired up for a brain scan, and then kicked in the groin.  The evidence shows that his hands had moved to protect his testicles, before he was consciously aware that he had been hit, and before he had experienced pain.

This if it were true, would be absolutely consistent with the response being an adaptation, operating, more quickly than conscious processes, to maintain something extremely important in evolution by natural selection, reproductive fitness. One up for Darwin.

But Professor Coyne’s hypothesis is that even in the long-term,  consciousness is not the kind of thing that can have any effect on the physical universe, and therefore that any subsequent actions  that the man took towards his assailant, could not be affected by his conscious experience of pain. And if this is the case it therefore follows logically, although obviously not to Jerry Coyne, that pain and all  other complex conscious effects can not be the product of evolution by natural selection.  Evolution can only select for features that have a material effect on the world.

In standing firm against the notion that consciousness can have an effect on the physical universe, Coyne believes that he is taking a stance against religious superstition.

In reality he has thrown open the front doors and laid down the red carpet for creationists and the intelligent design brigade.

A complex non-adaptive feature or better still range of features, is just the kind of thing that intelligent – designers are looking for.  Although fortunately for Jerry’s guardian civil servant, the kind of god who would inflict pointless confabulations and  purposeless pain on his creation, is  not the one whose existence they  are trying to prove.  So they are not likely to alert his charge to the problem.

It was an incident that took place at the naturalism workshop that almost caused the alternate universe joker to lose his job.

….We all agreed that dualism (often called “nonphysical libertarian free will”) is dead, and that our decisions are determined largely before we become conscious of “making” them.  Surprisingly, Steve Weinberg was the one person who seemed to disagree with this, saying that his consciousness had a “role” in making his decision. I claim that consciousness of making a decision may be merely a phenomenon that follows a decision made unconsciously, and, indeed, may have evolved just for that purpose. That is, confabulating may be an adaptation.

Jerry Coyne Moving Naturalism Forward :My Summary 2012

Coyne’s surprise that someone, whose wisdom he respects as much as he does physicist Steve Weinberg’s, believed that consciousness had physical effects might have led him to, question his own views, if the civil servant had not taken emergency action, and implanted the confabulating notion.  But even then if he had not been further distracted by the free-will problem, he might have had time to realise that evolution is only going to select for deceptive systems that do have an effect on the material realm.

It was the real problem of pain, “How do you get something that is basically a moist machine, to experience pain, and react to it?” that led the scientists of the original universe to the discovery that they are trying to prevent our scientists from making – the  nature of consciousness.

Jerry Coyne is not the only thinker in our universe whose thought processes  have been manipulated.  It was their idea to initiate the belief in our universe that the real problem of pain was, ‘Why does God allow?’

They also, within our universe, corrupted the thinking of René  Descartes. The ‘evil genius, ‘ that he mentions as deceiving him, is yet again an example of the interferers bigging themselves up.

In the original universe, Descartes most famous quote was a response to the death of his much loved young daughter, ‘I am in pain therefore I am.’ In our universe this courageous life affirming statement, embracing the reality that our nature is to be a feeling animal, has been deleted, and replaced with the insipid, ‘I think therefore I am.’ And the claim that to be human is to be a rational animal.

Jerry Coyne has clearly fallen hook line and sinker for the myth that he is a rational animal. More so than Descartes, who first had to convince himself that he was not deluded before he could accept that he existed as an agent, an I, who could trust his own rationality.

Jerry Coyne, thinks that he is deluded and that he has no agency, and yet at the same time he believes he can trust his own rationality.  Immoral as it may seem, I feel a strong urge to high five his guardian deceiver, on a job well done.  Especially after reading this.

The illusion of agency is so powerful that even strong incompatibilists like myself will always act as if we had choices, even though we know that we don’t. We have no choice in this matter. But we can at least ponder why evolution might have bequeathed us such a powerful illusion.

Jerry Coyne What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement 2014

Notice what we are being asked to ponder.  If he had asked the question, ‘How has evolution bequeathed us such a powerful illusion?’ he might have been directed towards the realisation that evolution can only act on those things that make a material difference to the universe.

He is however right that he doesn’t have free will. Not because consciousness doesn’t have an effect on the physical, but because he is the victim of a deception.

 

Postscript:

I don’t know how the correlations between Genesis 1  and the  scientific account of the order in which modern life on earth arose. But they are there.

I agree with Jerry Coyne, that he does not have free will, but not because consciousness doesn’t have real effects on the world.  For humans to have freedom, they have to have the truth.  Jerry Coyne’s ability to recognise truth shows signs of having been suborned by a deceiver. I think the theory of evolution can explain how an innate deceiver could have been selected for. Therefore even though I don’t know how consciousness works, I think it is rational to assume that the innate deceiver, something that works using confirmation bias, is not an occult entity, or an external agent from another reality.

We are social animals, who very frequently bond on shared ideas.  Holding views vastly different from those in ones social group is likely to make social bonding more difficult, and on average thereby decrease our reproductive fitness.

In an environment where those who hold different views are demonised, being seen as a staunch upholder of the correct view, is likely to increase social status, and especially for the male of the species, at least in primitive societies, their reproductive fitness.   It should be no surprise in these conditions to find adaptations in existence, that serve to disguise from those who have a chance to gain high status within their communities, the flaws in their logic.

And it is my hypothesis that it is these deceiver instincts that served to derail the thinking of both René  Descartes and Jerry Coyne. Although obviously I can’t rule out evil geniuses, or alternate universe civil servants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I say, I say, I say

Why is an Atheist Like a Four-Sided Triangle?

Because, as defined by Richard Dawkins, atheists are beings with mutually incompatible properties, i.e.  rational beings who think that they know that God does not exist, even though it cannot be proved and is therefore not the rational position.

Atheists do not have faith and reason alone could not propel one to a total conviction that anything definitely does not exist.

Dawkins Richard The God Delusion Black Swan Edition 2007 p.74

If this is all that were to be said about the matter, then Dr Dawkins has just proved that atheists are a delusion. Which would leave some of us with a surfeit of imaginary friends.

Don’t worry, it isn’t all that is to be said.  The word faith is used by religious people, to describe their feelings of trust in God.  Clearly in this sense atheists do not have faith.  This doesn’t mean that they are stuck with reason alone and therefore no way to form emotional commitments.

Atheists too have the ability to form emotional extra-rational beliefs, and are therefore able, like a large number of theists, to believe that fairies, celestial teapots and spaghetti monsters definitely do not exist.

Dr Dawkins, here lists a range of things that he feels (i.e. is emotionally convinced) to the point of outright disbelief (definitely?) do not exist.

All of us feel entitled to express extreme scepticism to the point of outright disbelief – except that in the case of unicorns, tooth-fairies, and the gods of Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Vikings, there is (nowadays) no need to bother.  In the case of the Abrahamic God, however, there is a need to bother, because a substantial proportion of people with whom we share the planet do strongly believe in his existence.

Dawkins Richard The God Delusion Black Swan Edition 2007 p.77

So my dear atheist when even Richard Dawkins is willing to commit himself emotionally to so far beyond what he can prove, there is no reason for you to be ashamed of doing likewise.

Atheism-gravity

Atheism-gravity (Photo credit: AlphaBetaUnlimited)