The day of Rest: A Creation story

The current popular belief among christians and jews is that well God created the heavens and earth in 6 days and he rested the 7th day…
(hence the jewish holy Shabbath)
A detail that often gets overlooked is WHY God almighty thought he should rest.

While traveling through remote villages in Palestine, I discovered an ancient scroll containing the earliest accounts of the events known to men.
The scroll was not in good shape and putting the pieces together was a labor of love that I am proud to now share with you so that no longer you remain ignorant of these very important first steps in the history of humanity (which also happen to explain other things… incidentally)

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Vidas, Muertos, Familias, Circulos…

Noche De Muertos, Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico

Daper DeathAltar MaxAltarOfferingsObsceneryEmpty Chair
The villageOf faith and sorrowCold feet at the gatesCircle of lifeCircle of lifeFamily Affair
Night of lightOh the pretty lightsPeaking Through...

Noche de Muertos… an old dream of mine that finally came to reality. Mexicans, have a way with a variety of things and death is no exception. A very rich, varied colorful and meaningful set of traditions reaching way back to to pre-colonial times… mingling with, battling against and mostly losing to the commercial and ephemeral.

Months later, of my journey (mainly around Patzcuaro, Michoacan) 2 things remain strikingly fresh in my memory:

– The beauty and strength of grasping of time and life through family ties and traditions
– The inescapable feeling of loss and loneliness

I am particularly fond of these three scenes:

Empty Chair

Of faith and sorrow

Circle of life

Basic Universal Princples – Intro

Gang violence, Immigration, The role of the government in the economy, Education,  Moral decline, Couple relationships,  Privacy issues, Substance abuse, Population growth control and Unemployment  are all topics that are generally not part of the same discussion. Yet, I contented, they are all related.  Their solutions, or at least tools enabling more fruitful national and transnational discussion are also related.

In this series i try to explore and summarize in  a few sentences (Basic Principles) what I think best describes everything is in the world or how everything works in the world.

I know, tall order. But hopefully the outcome will be useful enough to help model complex situation effectively and simple enough to be conveyed to a large audience.

As a result topics which might seem intractable and  viscerally doomed can be put in a context that can show both: what’s happening and what can possibly be a way out.

Big “Caveat”: In no way, this should be construed as a search for “THE TRUTH”. This is only an attempt to find “THE TOOLS” to handle what surrounds us.

NEXT UP: Core Axioms

Challenge to Personal Virtues: What is Evil?

Here is my challenge: Is there any situation where the following definition does not apply?

1) Evil is to indulge in excess into what comes to us the easiest (or just easily)
2) The effort required to overcome Evil IS Good

Note that I am not attempting to define Good or Goodness. Also I am not trying to define Evil in the context of society. Just on a personal level when the main concern is nobody else but oneself and one’s own values.

For example: cheating on a spouse is a valid situation as long as the merits of the decision are solely based on the motives, drives, “morality” and decisions of the individual. As a result a valid question would be “Am I violating my own vows”. An invalid question would be “Will my spouse be hurt”.

The reason for the distinction is that involves principles of relativity and makes definitions more complex.

I have previously made some comments such as “Satan is Us”.  Which a rough equivalent to: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing“.  For a while that was satisfying.

In talking to more religiously minded people I realized that the belief in some overarching plan either from God or Satan is so strong that my original statement does not make a difference in positioning the personal **practical** implication on Evil.

Originally my contention was that no matter your belief in the existence of such overarching plans/forces or not, it would not change what you are to do in order to live a reasonably non Evil life.  But given the skepticism I faced, I thought I should dig a bit deeper and at least come up with a clearer definition of what I thought evil was on a *Personal* level.  So… there you have it.

Any takers?

Science and Religion

Do words like “Intelligent Design” or “Faith in God” make you condescendingly smile or get your eyes rolling? Read-on.

Checking what happened in the scientific community after Darwin, it would be fair to say that scientists as a whole went from being most probably theists to most probably atheists.  Basically, science replaced God or made it obsolete.  Why? and why would that make sense? There are only 2 ways I explain that:
1) they had used the bible as a mere natural history book and then no longer (in which case they should have been a bit more careful and the point is moot).
2) they had used the claimed “facts” of the bible as prop for their faith… when that prop was gone, well that faith was also gone and was put in something more reliable: Science.

In the latter case, which is suspect was more probable, faith then, was just a means to quell the disquieting nature of deep unanswered or unanswerable questions and it still is. Science won,  not because it was objectively true, but because objectivity provides a sense of satisfaction, and interestingly enough that is exactly what traditional religion provides to whose who believe: Satisfactory answers.

Science also aims at satisfying its believers.  Being by definition, a work in progress, what is is true today does not need to be true tomorrow, but scientists have faith that it will eventually provide the right (and satisfactory) answers through application  and refinement of the scientific method.

It is not my contention that all scientist worship science.  There is a (quantum) difference between trusting a particular process and having faith, meaning religious faith, in it.  The way I tell is considering the effect, purpose and result of that trust.

Whenever scientific conclusions are the basis for  determining the meaning and/or purpose of life (or lack thereof) it is most definitely an act of “religious” faith.  It constitutes ultimate belief in a notion/system in/to which one entrusts one’s own intrinsic value (or lack thereof) with no other guarantee than that faith itself. In that, the scientific method is the opiate of the elites… and science is their God.

Such people are no better or worse than the most naive of the fervent faithful in traditional religions.  To that effect I suspect that most skeptics fall in that category of pseudo-religious, having exchanged superstitions, ready-to-consume beliefs and imaginary friends for the more rigorous analysis of hard data paradise or scientific nirvana. To those, one might, while reading their stinging rebuttal and vehement rebuke of biblical or other religious belief, condescendingly smile or roll one’s eyes…

Why Abraham Matters

You say Abraham, and you get “faith”… father of faith and father of faiths (plural).

Well, Abraham got me thinking and concerned…  Not because of the eventual so called “extremism” that sometimes occurs… but because the simple act of faith.  Let’s face it. God has (per biblical accounts) asked people to do some pretty violent things by faith in the past.  Aren’t we just happy that God no longer asks for that level of violence? Well, is it really the case? I find little evidence that God will not ask the same things nowadays

Let’s put ourselves back in Abraham’s family’s shoes….They did not know about Abraham’s intentions the day he was to sacrifice his son.  Let’s now imagine that somebody followed him to the mountain and see what he is about to do…. How would that person react? How would you react?

Now fast forward to the present.  Let’s say that somebody is about to carry out such an act in the name of God.  How should we react? Granted, the act was not carried out. However, we don’t know in advance is God’s plan. In addition, there is plenty evidence of God going either way, in terms of killings. So what should we do or think?

I would surmise that any sane person would attempt to prevent the act to be executed. And therein lies my first problem: a stated act of faith can look every bit as crazy as any abject act of senseless (senseless for whom?) religious violence to any body who is not privy to God’s intention. Problem? I don’t know how to make the difference between who is obeying to God and who is just a loony with a predilection for mass murder?

I say people of faith can be very dangerous bunch.

Luckily most people of faith would probably not carry an act that is clearly way out of certain range.  The reason? I would say, lack of faith.  They would not believe that God would ask them to carry such an egregious act. In fact their faith would be curtailed by reason.  It is clear that Abraham was not comfortable with sacrificing his son. The order did seem unreasonable to him. Yet his faith was able to get him over the hurdle.

In summary, if you have enough faith there is no act that you could not perform. That is the more faith, the more extreme the acts can be. (That’s why I am very afraid of people of faith, having access to weapons).

Nonetheless, as I mentioned in the very first sentence, extremism is not my main concern… 😀
Instead what has called my attention is the very fact that God would play with Abraham’s feeling just to test him. To the secular individuals out there, that in itself does not seem very loving or caring.  I would think that life is hard enough and Satan interested enough, as to provide ample means to test one’s faith without having to recourse to this kind of mental torture (Notice how Abraham lies to the Pharoh to save his butt, yet is ready to sacrifice his Son).  In fact the whole story sounds a bit grotesque… it feels crude and primitive.  A bit like the many folktales of proving “true love” by making one’s lover jump through fire hoops.

Really, can one imagine God telling Abraham; “Abby, Abby ma man, don’t hurt d child, a was a just kidding bro!”

The Theory of Devolution vs Supernatural Selection

Most Biblical Type of people (I know, not a good way to start) agree on roughly 7000 years since Adam… Does that sound like enough time for us to get the way we are?

Must be… but lets consider for a minute the flood, which shaves off about 1700 years (see http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/tmelnefl.html which looks reasonable to me). That leaves us with 5300 years to to see the societies and individuals we have right now.  Meaning, humanity features races, languages, societies  that have presumably all emerged from those 8 survivors.

Obviously that’s 5300 years until now…  we know for sure  there were black people around the time of Jesus already ( how? well check the ethiopian story) That shaves at least another 2000 years.

Ok so we are left with 3300 years to go from Noah and his crew to full blown quasi the-way-we-are now… business… That is including language and societal development.

This implies that people will go from basically one culture (one race?) to a pretty diverse bunch, build a plane go all the way from South America to Papua New Guinea, swim across and hide in Japan and Australia.  Then loose the plans to the planes, so nobody (meaning no European) can find them until recently.

I think that could work!  Of course, that’s an awfully small amount of time to develop such marked physical features as well as build individually recognizable societies, languages, alphabets etc…

Either God was doing extra homework to get us people the way we are (creating races etc)… or it seems to me we are looking at a human pre-cambrian explosion in terms of evolution of mankind.  That is why suggest  “accelerated evolution”.  Since we get that accelerated evolution speed, what happened then that stymied such grandiose evolution/adaptation thingy?

Introducing: Accelerated Devolution

What’s that?  It is the phenomenon that must have occurred in order for man kind to go from 8 people to what we were by the time Jesus needed to be breastfed in a way smooth enough for nobody to ever remark.

oh… Oups sorry, I just checked, the earliest Chinese dynasties date from around 2000 BC.

ARRGGH! dem Chinese!… they are messing with my calculus. You can imagine that if they got a dynasty going on, they had to have moved there a while ago… settle the land, fight etc (or they are just the lightening quick type of political people, in which case they could have  just have decided, ok you be the king, no no you be the emperor, no you, ok, ok,  I’ll be the emperor, fine? fine!).
http://www-chaos.umd.edu/history/time_line.html

In any case, well that shaves another good 2000 years from my accelerated evolution/devolution …  ooooh It’s tight.  It’s tight…. what to do?

Man, I’m left with just 1300 years to go from Noah+7 to to a  full blown Chinese dynasty, along with culture, politics, religion and  their physical features.

Introducing super duper evolution/devolution (SDED for short)

Of course in those 1300 years they get to travel that far, settle the land all the while experiencing SDED.

I know for you critics of the holy Bible, this sound way too short. You are probably thinking of the number of generations needed to create lasting genetic adaptations in microbial cultures….

Yes but that’s a human way of looking at human history.  If the bible says it happened in that time, it must be true, therefore put your bible goggles on (faith) and believe!  Or you can just imagine that God was helping out the process and that probably explains just about everything anyway.

Which is just a another to say: Supernatural Selection.