Humans and their ideas of God
Sunday, July 1, 2007
All right, I’ve been putting off starting this morning. Don’t know why. Yesterday’s very interesting transmission hasn’t been typed in yet, and it is somewhat vague in my mind except for the sketch I have before me. Okay David, now what?
Not me. I am handing you off. I mentioned it only to start you thinking regularly of the handoffs that usually occur silently. I’ll perhaps pop in here and here — and you will usually recognize those moments —
All right, then, whoever would like to continue talking about an organizing principle explaining how minds on the other side interact with each other and with us –
You will remember – that is, it is well if you do remember – that explanations are analogies. Only that which does not need to be explained can be presented as itself, everything else is made to be “like” the nearest similar thing – as Bruce Moen well explains. You can say that the color orange is “like” red, and also “like” yellow – a statement that is truly incomprehensible to anyone who has experienced red and yellow but not orange – or you can say “orange” knowing that the observer has already experienced orange. In the strictest sense explanations always mislead to some extent, regardless the best efforts of the explainers. You know, or you do not yet know, and there can be no third position. Explanation is a bridge between the two that sometimes bridges and sometimes collapses.
You are looking for God, here, though you haven’t yet realized it – and although neither the religious or the anti-religious would concede it!
Mankind has mostly believed in a God, a personal God, or Gods, who interested Himself or Themselves in humans and their affairs. There is a reason for this and it is not the stupid presumption of “moderns” that their ancestors were stupid and superstitious lunatics who confused “natural” events and “supernatural” causes. The reason people invented Gods is that they had experienced them! What simpler? But this requires explanation involving a few side-trails.
You seized on the insight that perception gives rise to story, and that the stronger the perceptions, the greater the temptation to give greater credence to the accompanying story. We would suggest that here in a nutshell is how humans invented gods. The experiences were undeniable. The presence and their interest in humans were felt. Older eras being more open to things your age is only beginning to reawaken to, there was no doubt or belief involved: the perception was shared among the members of each community. But of course each community created its own story about the perceptions, and hence as formerly isolated communities came into contact, they discovered that their neighbors worshipped other gods. If they were tolerant of each other this did no harm. If they were not, their neighbors were worshiping false gods, and must if possible be destroyed. Here it is your key to the early books of the Bible: genuine perception, inflated story – result, repeated genocide.
But the underlying perceptions of an extra-worldly (so to speak) superhuman presence taking a very real interest in human affairs not only socially but individually was accurate. The rise of the higher religions may be seen as the ascent of greater abstraction. That is, the sense of the diversity of forces was subsumed into a stronger sense of the underlying unity behind forces.
So the Muslims cry out in testimony, “There are no gods, but only God,” and this is saying (in a sense) “the world is not a contending chaos, but a conscious design.” Muhammad’s insight – bred from his experience of the Jews and Christians and their books – led his people to a new conception of the world, a higher level of what we might call usable abstraction, than they had had previously. This was well and good, only it had the result of emphasizing one set of characteristics (design) over others (chaos, for instance, or free will). From our point of view this is productive, as one society emphasizes one set of characteristics and another seizes upon another, either radically different or largely overlapping or anywhere in between.
You see the Hindus seizing upon the multiplicity of forces, subdividing them far more than did, say, the ancient Greeks and Romans. These gods are still believed in and revered, by uncounted millions. Others in that society, Western-oriented, now hold these beliefs in a part of their minds (like Sunday Christians) divorced from practical considerations. Still others scorn them as the superstitions of their stupid ignorant ancestors (who somehow created a great civilization out of their stupidity and superstitious-ness).
You see today’s materialist scientists concentrating on laws – on the impersonal aspects of the creation – and correspondingly undervaluing the antithetical aspects, as is only natural.
You see what we are saying? Each of these perceptions, save the last, is followed by story that results in a personal God or Gods. The last – the secular West – leads to mankind as God, in that it systematically removes from consideration any perceptions that in fact the other side interacts continually on an individual or societal basis.
Now – to bring it to you, Frank, as an individual, for explanatory purposes, you
[Lost the thread]
Perhaps I lost the thread because I got nervous? But I didn’t feel nervous. I think it was as simple as the urge to replace a comma with a dash, and the conflict that set up, which is the equivalent of woolgathering, in this state.
(1:30 p.m.) To continue? (I thought your red, yellow, orange explanation brilliant, by the way.)
You often refer to God in a casual way that leaves your hearers uncertain. Usually they hear only the pious use God in common conversation – and certainly not in the manner you do. You do not give enough thought to how you make people work to try to understand you. Most don’t make that effort – and so you are dismissed, which, we realized, doesn’t mean much to you, but more importantly to you your thought is also dismissed.
Maybe I haven’t thought it out in any detail. Maybe I can’t take the time to explain all the time. Maybe nobody would stand still for a long explanation anyway.
Well, that’s why you were created to be a writer, and a writer in this electronic age. People can give it as much or as little time as they can and will.
So — that is what we are doing, nudging you as necessary – so that what you have internalized may be passed to others in detail – that is, in fixed words – and thus have that much greater leverage.