Saturday, 20 September 2014

What comes first: that something *feels* true, or that it *is* true? How to approach Christian evangelism and apologetics

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Truth should feel true and be true - subjective and objective - but which comes first?

'Postmodern' thinking says that feeling true is all that can be had - so all truth is personal, and also labile (changing over time, with mood etc) and temporary (everybody dies, and truth dies with them). This is self-refuting - but also a counsel of hedonistic despair.

Some traditional religion has it that truth is true and it doesn't matter what we feel about it - because feelings are personal, labile and temporary (as above). But, if it doesn't matter what we feel about it, truth is incapable of motivating us, incapable of providing a meaning or purpose to our lives. At most we could passively (and miserably) obey....

So we must have feelings and also objective being - but which comes first?

Traditional Christian evangelism and apologetics has it that objective reality comes first - logic and facts then feelings will follow; but traditional apologetics doesn't make converts.

Evangelical Christians and Mormons say that feelings come first - based upon personal experiences such as revelation and miracles; and then facts and logic come-in to back up the feelings - and evangelicals (including Pentecostals and Charismatic churches) and Mormons are the only ones who are getting significant numbers of converts (especially among the young, especially in China, Africa and South America).

So, the lesson for this, our time and situation, is: we need both feelings and logic-facts: but feelings should come first.

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Walt Whitman's Specimen Days

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This book of prose diary jottings is my favourite thing of Whitman's - and the covert origin, I suspect, of much 'experimental' American writing of the mid-twentieth century (Kerouac, for instance).

The journal starts with the Civil War, but my favourite parts of the later 'pastoral' idylls and everyday life settings.

For a while, before I became a Christian, Whitman's attitude here was my ideal as an approach to Life - the ideal of (at least from time to time) losing myself in this euphoric, pantheistic, animistic reverie.

**

NEW THEMES ENTERED UPON

1876, '77.—I find the woods in mid-May and early June my best places for composition. Seated on logs or stumps there, or resting on rails, nearly all the following memoranda have been jotted down. Wherever I go, indeed, winter or summer, city or country, alone at home or traveling, I must take notes—(the ruling passion strong in age and disablement, and even the approach of—but I must not say it yet.) ...
Dear, soothing, healthy, restoration-hours—after three confining years of paralysis—after the long strain of the war, and its wounds and death.
...

ENTERING A LONG FARM-LANE

As every man has his hobby-liking, mine is for a real farm-lane fenced by old chestnut-rails gray-green with dabs of moss and lichen, copious weeds and briers growing in spots athwart the heaps of stray-pick' d stones at the fence bases—irregular paths worn between, and horse and cow tracks—all characteristic accompaniments marking and scenting the neighborhood in their seasons—apple-tree blossoms in forward April—pigs, poultry, a field of August buckwheat, and in another the long flapping tassels of maize—and so to the pond, the expansion of the creek, the secluded-beautiful, with young and old trees, and such recesses and vistas.

TO THE SPRING AND BROOK

So, still sauntering on, to the spring under the willows—musical as soft clinking glasses-pouring a sizeable stream, thick as my neck, pure and clear, out from its vent where the bank arches over like a great brown shaggy eyebrow or mouth-roof—gurgling, gurgling ceaselessly—meaning, saying something, of course (if one could only translate it)—always gurgling there, the whole year through—never giving out—oceans of mint, blackberries in summer—choice of light and shade—just the place for my July sun-baths and water-baths too—but mainly the inimitable soft sound-gurgles of it, as I sit there hot afternoons. How they and all grow into me, day after day—everything in keeping—the wild, just-palpable perfume, and the dappled leaf-shadows, and all the natural-medicinal, elemental-moral influences of the spot.
...

AN EARLY SUMMER REVEILLE

...But to my jottings, taking them as they come, from the heap, without particular selection. There is little consecutiveness in dates. They run any time within nearly five or six years. Each was carelessly pencilled in the open air, at the time and place. The printers will learn this to some vexation perhaps, as much of their copy is from those hastily-written first notes.

BIRDS MIGRATING AT MIDNIGHT

Did you ever chance to hear the midnight flight of birds passing through the air and darkness overhead, in countless armies, changing their early or late summer habitat? It is something not to be forgotten. A friend called me up just after 12 last night to mark the peculiar noise of unusually immense flocks migrating north (rather late this year.) In the silence, shadow and delicious odor of the hour, (the natural perfume belonging to the night alone,) I thought it rare music. You could hear the characteristic motion—once or twice "the rush of mighty wings," but often a velvety rustle, long drawn out—sometimes quite near—with continual calls and chirps, and some song-notes. It all lasted from 12 till after 3. Once in a while the species was plainly distinguishable; I could make out the bobolink, tanager, Wilson's thrush, white-crown'd sparrow, and occasionally from high in the air came the notes of the plover.

BUMBLE-BEES

May-month—month of swarming, singing, mating birds—the bumble-bee month—month of the flowering lilac-(and then my own birth-month.) As I jot this paragraph, I am out just after sunrise, and down towards the creek. The lights, perfumes, melodies—the blue birds, grass birds and robins, in every direction—the noisy, vocal, natural concert. For undertones, a neighboring wood-pecker tapping his tree, and the distant clarion of chanticleer. Then the fresh-earth smells—the colors, the delicate drabs and thin blues of the perspective. The bright green of the grass has receiv'd an added tinge from the last two days' mildness and moisture. How the sun silently mounts in the broad clear sky, on his day's journey! How the warm beams bathe all, and come streaming kissingly and almost hot on my face.
A while since the croaking of the pond-frogs and the first white of the dog-wood blossoms. Now the golden dandelions in endless profusion, spotting the ground everywhere. The white cherry and pear-blows—the wild violets, with their blue eyes looking up and saluting my feet, as I saunter the wood-edge—the rosy blush of budding apple-trees—the light-clear emerald hue of the wheat-fields—the darker green of the rye—a warm elasticity pervading the air—the cedar-bushes profusely deck'd with their little brown apples—the summer fully awakening—the convocation of black birds, garrulous flocks of them, gathering on some tree, and making the hour and place noisy as I sit near.
Later.—Nature marches in procession, in sections, like the corps of an army. All have done much for me, and still do. But for the last two days it has been the great wild bee, the humble-bee, or "bumble," as the children call him. As I walk, or hobble, from the farm-house down to the creek, I traverse the before-mention'd lane, fenced by old rails, with many splits, splinters, breaks, holes, &c., the choice habitat of those crooning, hairy insects. Up and down and by and between these rails, they swarm and dart and fly in countless myriads. As I wend slowly along, I am often accompanied with a moving cloud of them. They play a leading part in my morning, midday or sunset rambles, and often dominate the landscape in a way I never before thought of—fill the long lane, not by scores or hundreds only, but by thousands. Large and vivacious and swift, with wonderful momentum and a loud swelling, perpetual hum, varied now and then by something almost like a shriek, they dart to and fro, in rapid flashes, chasing each other, and (little things as they are,) conveying to me a new and pronounc'd sense of strength, beauty, vitality and movement. Are they in their mating season? or what is the meaning of this plenitude, swiftness, eagerness, display? As I walk'd, I thought I was follow'd by a particular swarm, but upon observation I saw that it was a rapid succession of changing swarms, one after another.
As I write, I am seated under a big wild-cherry tree—the warm day temper'd by partial clouds and a fresh breeze, neither too heavy nor light—and here I sit long and long, envelop'd in the deep musical drone of these bees, flitting, balancing, darting to and fro about me by hundreds—big fellows with light yellow jackets, great glistening swelling bodies, stumpy heads and gauzy wings—humming their perpetual rich mellow boom. (Is there not a hint in it for a musical composition, of which it should be the back-ground? some bumble-bee symphony?) How it all nourishes, lulls me, in the way most needed; the open air, the rye-fields, the apple orchards. The last two days have been faultless in sun, breeze, temperature and everything; never two more perfect days, and I have enjoy'd them wonderfully. My health is somewhat better, and my spirit at peace. (Yet the anniversary of the saddest loss and sorrow of my life is close at hand.)
...

A SUN-BATH-NAKEDNESS

Sunday, Aug. 27.—Another day quite free from mark'd prostration and pain. It seems indeed as if peace and nutriment from heaven subtly filter into me as I slowly hobble down these country lanes and across fields, in the good air—as I sit here in solitude with Nature—open, voiceless, mystic, far removed, yet palpable, eloquent Nature. I merge myself in the scene, in the perfect day. Hovering over the clear brook-water, I am sooth'd by its soft gurgle in one place, and the hoarser murmurs of its three-foot fall in another. Come, ye disconsolate, in whom any latent eligibility is left—come get the sure virtues of creek-shore, and wood and field. Two months (July and August, '77,) have I absorb'd them, and they begin to make a new man of me. Every day, seclusion—every day at least two or three hours of freedom, bathing, no talk, no bonds, no dress, no books, no manners.
Shall I tell you, reader, to what I attribute my already much-restored health? That I have been almost two years, off and on, without drugs and medicines, and daily in the open air. Last summer I found a particularly secluded little dell off one side by my creek, originally a large dug-out marl-pit, now abandon'd, fill'd, with bushes, trees, grass, a group of willows, a straggling bank, and a spring of delicious water running right through the middle of it, with two or three little cascades. Here I retreated every hot day, and follow it up this summer. Here I realize the meaning of that old fellow who said he was seldom less alone than when alone. Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so close to me. By old habit, I pencill'd down from time to time, almost automatically, moods, sights, hours, tints and outlines, on the spot. Let me specially record the satisfaction of this current forenoon, so serene and primitive, so conventionally exceptional, natural.
An hour or so after breakfast I wended my way down to the recesses of the aforesaid dell, which I and certain thrushes, cat-birds, &c., had all to ourselves. A light south-west wind was blowing through the tree-tops. It was just the place and time for my Adamic air-bath and flesh-brushing from head to foot. So hanging clothes on a rail near by, keeping old broadbrim straw on head and easy shoes on feet, havn't I had a good time the last two hours! First with the stiff-elastic bristles rasping arms, breast, sides, till they turn'd scarlet—then partially bathing in the clear waters of the running brook—taking everything very leisurely, with many rests and pauses—stepping about barefooted every few minutes now and then in some neighboring black ooze, for unctuous mud-bath to my feet—a brief second and third rinsing in the crystal running waters—rubbing with the fragrant towel—slow negligent promenades on the turf up and down in the sun, varied with occasional rests, and further frictions of the bristle-brush—sometimes carrying my portable chair with me from place to place, as my range is quite extensive here, nearly a hundred rods, feeling quite secure from intrusion, (and that indeed I am not at all nervous about, if it accidentally happens.)
...
Many such hours, from time to time, the last two summers—I attribute my partial rehabilitation largely to them. Some good people may think it a feeble or half-crack'd way of spending one's time and thinking. May-be it is.

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THE SKY—DAYS AND NIGHTS—HAPPINESS

Oct. 20.—A clear, crispy day—dry and breezy air, full of oxygen. Out of the sane, silent, beauteous miracles that envelope and fuse me—trees, water, grass, sunlight, and early frost—the one I am looking at most to-day is the sky. It has that delicate, transparent blue, peculiar to autumn, and the only clouds are little or larger white ones, giving their still and spiritual motion to the great concave. All through the earlier day (say from 7 to 11) it keeps a pure, yet vivid blue. But as noon approaches the color gets lighter, quite gray for two or three hours—then still paler for a spell, till sun-down—which last I watch dazzling through the interstices of a knoll of big trees—darts of fire and a gorgeous show of light-yellow, liver-color and red, with a vast silver glaze askant on the water—the transparent shadows, shafts, sparkle, and vivid colors beyond all the paintings ever made.

I don't know what or how, but it seems to me mostly owing to these skies, (every now and then I think, while I have of course seen them every day of my life, I never really saw the skies before,) have had this autumn some wondrously contented hours—may I not say perfectly happy ones? As I have read, Byron just before his death told a friend that he had known but three happy hours during his whole existence. Then there is the old German legend of the king's bell, to the same point. While I was out there by the wood, that beautiful sunset through the trees, I thought of Byron's and the bell story, and the notion started in me that I was having a happy hour. (Though perhaps my best moments I never jot down; when they come I cannot afford to break the charm by inditing memoranda. I just abandon myself to the mood, and let it float on, carrying me in its placid extasy.)

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/8813/8813-h/8813-h.htm#link2H_4_0001
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Friday, 19 September 2014

WD Hamilton on the inevitability of declining fitness in modern human populations

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Edited, and with emphasis added, from a lecture of 1996 entitled 'Between Shoreham and Downe: seeking the key to natural beauty'

http://www.inamori-f.or.jp/laureates/k09_b_william/img/lct_e.pdf

...Both the externally driven infectious-disease version sex theory that I support, and that more internally-driven (and at present better accepted) pure mutation-elimination version, lead to a similar conclusion, that a high level of selective death of zygotes has been a normal and necessary part of the maintenance of the health of species.
 
The only escape from this for our own is either a level of genetic engineering and cellular intervention that is at present not remotely in sight, or a series of technological fixes after or before birth for both all the old diseases of humanity and the new ones that will increasingly appear and accumulate.
 
The problem is not only with the major new infectious diseases or the major gene defects. There will also be needed physiological fixes for all the small bad mutations that are constantly being added to the human gene pool.
 
The natural system of life was to arrange deaths after some sort of testing through competition.
 
Generally in a species with parental care these deaths will evolve to occur as early in life as their effects can be made to appear.
 
Such deaths eliminate multiply bad and/or currently inappropriate genotypes. The multiply disadvantaged genotypes are constantly being created by [sexual] recombination along with other “clean” genotypes that are likely to survive in their place. The idea that the elimination of the former class is natural and even eugenically necessary, of course, runs much against our humane instincts and it is doubtless partly for this reason that genetics is sometimes referred to as “the gloomy science.”
 
In the face of such a bleak outlook of constant deterioration, our instincts are almost guaranteed to be pre-set to tell us: “Even if that may true in general, of course it doesn't always apply and surely anyone can see it doesn't apply in my wonderful family.”
 
But according to the old system, which the new one of medical tinkering is very far as yet from being able to replace and perhaps, even in principle, never will replace (and certainly won't before the Malthusian crunch begins to make medical progress much more difficult), death must cull from almost every family.
 
No family is so intrinsically healthy against all infections or so shielded from mutations that it is not being carried steadily down hill, in need not at all of the “Rassenhygiene” [i.e. a Nazi term for 'racial hygeine'] of our mistakes of the past; but, as the least, of just a natural wild culling of badly endowed foetuses and neonates.

(End of quotation)

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My notes and comments:

Hamilton misses at least three major factors from this account (mostly because their significance was not appreciated in 1996):

1. That for the past 200 years (in Britain, anyway) there has been positive selection to amplify the proportion of mutated genomes - since assortative mating and an inverse relationship between fertility (thus, in the modern world, reproductive success) and fitness indicators such as intelligence, level of education, health, longevity and occupational social class. In other words (except for lethal or very severely-crippling mutations), with each generation the group of people carrying the heaviest mutation loads have left behind a larger proportion of offspring in the following generation, and vice versa.

2. That the population in Britain (and other developed nations) has for several decades been shrinking in the sense of having lower than replacement fertility. This amplifies the concentration of mutations in each succeeding generation.

3. When he says 'death must cull from every family - this 'must' is probably correct in a context where an average women would be expected to have considerably more than six conceptions -with some ending early in development. But the culling falls very unequally - going from a 100 percent cull in some to a much smaller fraction of this - maybe guesstimating fifteen percent? - in others.

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Viewed from Hamilton's secular perspective; even despite his implicit devotion to objective transcendental values of truth and beauty, this is an utterly horrible vision of Life.

What is missing from Hamilton's vision is an objective transcendental sense of virtue as something more than mere presence of pleasure/ absence of suffering - but absent far more significantly more than even this is a faith in the reality of Love as the primary reality in Life.

All the above may be factually correct - and I believe it probably is - yet in ultimately reality, properly-speaking, at the end of the day and as the bottom-line: all the above is no more (nor less) than a context for the operation of divine Love.

This is the situation: now Love.
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See also Adam Greenwood's meditation on this theme:
http://www.jrganymede.com/2014/09/17/suffer-the-little-malthusians-to-come-unto-me/
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The Great Misinterpretation. That crucial, wrong existential choice by the British circa 1800, at the advent of the industrial revolution

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The beginning of the Industrial Revolution was in Britain, and so was the beginning of socialism, communism - political Leftism under its various names (bizarrely, Leftists are called Liberals in the USA).

Britain invented the modern world, and at the same time invented political Leftism.

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I say invented 'political' Leftism, because the deepest roots of political Leftism are in anti-Christian radicalism - which is why all attempts to combine Christianity and Leftism have failed - usually by rejecting Christianity. So, when they were not actual or covert atheists, the early political Leftists were mostly religious radicals (and, of course, often advocates of sexual revolution).

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So. Britain invented modernity and Leftism at about the same time. But was this a necessary co-occurrence? No it was not - Leftism was an error - a wrong and false interpretation of the facts - and often a dishonest error.

Specifically Leftism was an error of:

1. Misinterpretation

2. Attitude

After which, the error of attitude sustained the error of misinterpretation - as it so often does.

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(The attitude prevents correction of error, because the error is moralized. To challenge the error is the interpreted as advocating evil. For instance, my thesis will seem evil to Leftists: because pointing at the factual or logical errors of Leftism, or its bad outcomes, is always interpreted as advocacy of... well... advocacy of whatever-Leftism-currently-happens-to-regard-as-the-ultimate-sin. What this ultimate evil actually is, has varied a lot over the years.)

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Back at the beginning of the industrial revolution in England, around 1800, there was a point when large numbers of the poor who would have died before adulthood and failed to raise any children, did not die but instead stayed alive.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/who-are-poor-traditional-poor-versus.html

Increased efficiency of first food production, then production of industrial products, meant that people, and especially children, on the edge of death - in ever larger numbers - were fed, sheltered and sustained enough that they lived instead of dying.

The population began to grow, bigger than it had ever been. And there were lots more poor people - also, the poor people began to be more noticeable to the rich by becoming concentrated into cities instead of being hidden in hovels spread thinly across the countryside.

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The rich and middle classes were the first Leftists - and these people misinterpreted the existence of more poverty as meaning that the industrial revolution created poverty by making the poor poorer.

Upon this error was erected the wildly-false theories of Engels and Marx and, and the many other early Leftists and proto-Leftists which became visible in the middle 1800s - Owen, Ruskin, later Hyndman, Morris, later the Fabians and so on.

Some were honestly mistaken - such as Morris, who was a very decent man; others, like Marx seem to have been self-servingly dishonest (certainly, Marxism seems to have been poisoned at source such that it went to the bad much more rapidly than any other brand of socialism).

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The Leftists said that the industrial revolution had created mass poverty by making the poor poorer. But the reality was almost the opposite that the industrial revolution 'created' poverty by making the poor richer, by keeping them and their children alive, rather than dead.

In fact, in stark biological terms, the industrial revolution benefited the poor and it harmed the middle class and rich.

This is an objective fact, as should have been obvious by the rapidly increasing population - and indeed it was obvious from the later 1800s: the poor were very clearly out-reproducing the rich, and they were not dying en masse, but surviving en masse to create a new hereditary class.

This was of world historical significance: in Britain in the early 1800s and soon after in Western Europe and the USA, and for the first time ever, generation upon generation - the poor began to out-reproduce the upper and middle classes: the poor had what biologists term 'higher reproductive success'.

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It seems that people became aware that 'something was happening'.

And throughout the nineteenth century, as the-penny-dropped here and there, for one person then another, the British people were confronted with a choice: the choice between either feeling grateful for what they had, or resentful for what they didn't.

The mass majority chose resentment, and gave their souls to the politics of resentment - that is to Leftism.

The same happened, sooner or later (it was later in the USA) everywhere in the developed world. And resentment is close kin to hatred.

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And so, for eight or nine generations and increasingly, the population in the Western world has been taught the Leftist error and falsehood that the industrial revolution created poverty by immiseration.

And the West has been taught that the proper response is resentment: the indoctrination in resentment is so vast and intricate as to be un-measurable: modern man has been trained in victimology, and lives and breathes the ideology of resentment.

Why? Because Leftists are resentful of what they have not rather than grateful for what they do have; and this because they cannot be grateful because gratitude requires an object; a person to whom gratitude is owed; and Leftists (being necessarily and implicitly secular) do not acknowledge anybody to be grateful to.

In theory, Leftists are supposed to be grateful to abstractions such as The State, The Proletariat, The Party, The People or whatever. In practice, this is meaningless nonsense. So Leftists are not grateful but resentful.

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And resentment - with its companions and consequences of pride-full hatred alternating with submissive despair - is the characteristic affect of modern political and public life.

No matter how much people have, no matter how comfortable and convenient are their lives, modern man feels entitled to more. Leftism is the public summation of millions of personal grudges and entitlements into the demand for ever more rights

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The industrial revolution has come, and it will surely go, and the social leadership and the mass majority of people they have indoctrinated will never realize what hit them or what really happened. They have resented the industrial revolution, especially the good things it produced (life, rather than death), and they will resent - even more - the end of the industrial revolution.

Once established and inculcated, resentment is insatiable - it consumes all experience and evidence. Long ago, Britain made the wrong interpretation and the wrong choice, and Britain taught it to the world.

And this is what must be repented, individually and collectively. And it ought to start in Britain, since that is where The Great Misinterpretation began.

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Britain was where the cancer of Leftism began, Britain is where it should first be ended. 

However, I see no sign of this at all - indeed quite the opposite, as the tone and content of public discourse relating to the recent referendum on Scottish independence showed. Nonetheless, that is what should happen.

But this cannot happen without first a Christian revival - positive reform is on-the-other-side-of repentance: we must start with repentance of Leftism (must start with repentance) - including Leftism's deepest roots in anti-Christianity. 

Because if gratitude is to replace resentment - and gratitude can only be accorded to a person, and no human person is an appropriate recipient of gratitude - then gratitude can only in practice and legitimately be to God.

And the British have locked-out God, and barricaded the door against Him.

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

The danger of mutational meltdown in Western and developed populations

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In addition to the problem of mutation accumulation by relaxation of selection, when a population has begun shrinking, as is the case for the native populations of all Western and developed nations, there is an increasing danger of extinction due to 'mutational meltdown' - when deleterious mutations accumulate so rapidly that they overwhelm a population before it can evolve an escape. 

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutational_meltdown) .

Mutational meltdown was first described as a threat for small populations of asexual organisms; later this was widened to sexual organisms and then to large populations - so mutational meltdown has gone from being a specific case to probably a universal possibility.

The unusual twist with modern humans is that populations have begun falling due to chosen sub-replacement fertility, and before mutation accumulation has reached a level sufficient biologically to suppress fertility. In other words psychological factors have anticipated biological factors - and presumably both psychological and biological population decline will combine to increase the degree of reduced fitness resulting from mutation accumulation.

This will probably have increased the risk of mutational meltdown, and of extinction. 
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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Who are the poor? The traditional poor versus the modern poor; nature and personnel

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The identity of the poor and the nature of poverty both changed utterly at the industrial revolution.

In terms of the nature of poverty there are striking contrasts. For example, the traditional poor were thin, starving, and spent most of their tiny income on food - but the modern poor are obese, eat too much, and spend most of their income on entertainment, distractions, fashion etc.

The traditional poor worked very long hours, day after day - the modern poor do not work

And so on.

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But the traditional and modern poor are different people altogether.

1. The traditional poor were dead, or soon to be dead.

And if they themselves did not die, then all of their children very probably would.

(Pretty much all of the children who survived themselves to reproduce, were from the upper and middle classes - a small proportion of the population (?15 percent) produced nearly all the offspring who survived childhood.)

2. Therefore the traditional poor were a temporary class - always going extinct, but being replaced by downward mobility from the middle and upper classes.

3. In consequence, the traditional poor, while they were briefly alive, were recent descendants of the middle and upper classes - they had wealthy ancestors and probably wealthy relations.

The traditional poor were in effect 'distressed gentlefolk' - for instance the offspring of the younger sons, plain sisters, rebellious, idle, sick, unintelligent and unlucky members of the middle and upper classes.

4. Traditional poverty was therefore a temporary transitional state en route to (not long delayed) death.

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1. The modern poor are first and foremost alive, not dead.

2. Furthermore the modern poor will raise - or have raised by someone else if they cannot or will not raise them for themselves  - nearly as many children as they produce. Since the industrial revolution and for the first time in human history the poor have a higher Darwinian 'reproductive success' than the wealthy.

3. Thus the modern poor are mostly the descendants of previous poor.

4. The modern poor are therefore a permanent (multi-generational), self-reproducing class.

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In sum the Industrial Revolution did indeed create poverty - but not in the sense most people believe. The Industrial Revolution created poverty by keeping the poor alive, and allowing them to reproduce  - and making the poor into a permanent and self-replicating class.

In effect, and paradoxically; the Industrial Revolution has been blamed for keeping poor people alive and the children of the poor alive, rather than killing them all (or almost all) by starvation, disease and violence.

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Reference
This is a developed summary and interpretation of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms (2007).

See also
http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/biblical-poor-do-not-exist-in-west.html
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Personal spiritual experiences and evidence for the truth of religion - Blake Ostler

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From:
http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/fair-conferences/2007-fair-conference/2007-spiritual-experiences-as-the-basis-for-belief-and-commitment

I have added emphasis in bold.

Q: What should you conclude when your spiritual experience conflicts with logical and tangible evidence?

A: This is a very good question. First I would suggest this, there’s nothing more immediate than your own experience. Only you know what your experience is. If it conflicts with logic? Trust me, I’m very good at logic and I know there are a lot of ways to do logic to make it conflict with just about anything I can come up with, that’s what I do for a living {laughter}. 

And tangible evidence? We don’t know what evidence is until we have all of our basic premises and axioms in place to begin with. You see, when I see through the lens of faith what counts as evidence is different than when I don’t see through the lens of faith.

In fact, I found something very interesting among people who have lost testimonies. Almost invariably they will say, “I had a testimony and then I decided, ‘I’m going to take a look at this without relying on spiritual experiences or the way that I see things when I trust the Spirit. I’m just going to see what logic or evidence provides.'”

The fact is that evidence isn’t self-interpreting, and logic is only a very useful tool for arriving – and I am very “Humean” about logic. All logic is ex post facto to prove what we already feel is true; how’s that?

Q: How can one find the truth when two people experience two opposite things while praying about the Book of Mormon? One gets the feeling it’s true, the other gets the feeling it’s wrong?

A: Well, I say trust your experience...

Trust your Heavenly Father. What I said was that the experience that anybody else has is not evidence for us. If somebody else has a different experience, I think I have good prima facia reason for believing my own experience as opposed to theirs. What else can I do?

And it comes down to faith. Am I going to trust my heart or not? Am I going to have an open heart or am I going to close it? That’s the bottom line. 

So trust your own experience and if your own experience tells you that the Book of Mormon just can’t be, and God confirms that, then go with God.
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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

What is the definition of entropy?

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Having recently blogged on the subject:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/god-and-entropy.html

I feel that it would be helpful for readers to have a clearer definition of entropy.

Luckily, one already exists, in Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome:

I do not wish to be insulting, but I firmly believe that if you took an average tow-line, and stretched it out straight across the middle of a field, and then turned your back on it for thirty seconds, that, when you looked round again, you would find that it had got itself altogether in a heap in the middle of the field, and had twisted itself up, and tied itself into knots, and lost its two ends, and become all loops; and it would take you a good half-hour, sitting down there on the grass and swearing all the while, to disentangle it again.
That is my opinion of tow-lines in general.  Of course, there may be honourable exceptions; I do not say that there are not.  There may be tow-lines that are a credit to their profession—conscientious, respectable tow-lines—tow-lines that do not imagine they are crochet-work, and try to knit themselves up into antimacassars the instant they are left to themselves.  I say there may be such tow-lines; I sincerely hope there are.  But I have not met with them.
This tow-line I had taken in myself just before we had got to the lock.  I would not let Harris touch it, because he is careless.  I had looped it round slowly and cautiously, and tied it up in the middle, and folded it in two, and laid it down gently at the bottom of the boat.  Harris had lifted it up scientifically, and had put it into George’s hand.  George had taken it firmly, and held it away from him, and had begun to unravel it as if he were taking the swaddling clothes off a new-born infant; and, before he had unwound a dozen yards, the thing was more like a badly-made door-mat than anything else.
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A modern equivalent can be observed with the wires attached to those little earphone things that you use for listening to audio devices such as small radios, mobile phones, iPods and the like.
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How assortative mating (of surplus offspring) could purge accumulating mutations each generation. Implications for human intelligence

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Sexual selection is usually a more proximate and often more rapid and powerful mechanism of natural selection than selection based on differential survival - because animals excluded from mating, or whose matings do not lead to viable offspring, have their genetic contribution cut short immediately - in the same generation.

Adverse sexual selection is reproductive death: genetic death.

Assortative mating is a mechanism of sexual selection in which similar females mate with similar males - similar in terms of some aspect of their phenotype such as 'beauty', status, or an ability such as intelligence - these aspects of phenotype being significantly correlated with genetic differences.

Thus the 'fittest' (those having highest reproductive potential and - through most of human history - the lowest deleterious mutation loads) will pair with the fittest, and vice versa

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When humans are producing a several-fold surplus of offspring, natural selection needs to have mechanisms by which as high a proportion as possible of the following generation are on average parented by those carrying the minimum load of deleterious mutations - and this requires that those carrying the greatest mutation load be mostly prevented from producing sexually mature offspring (I say 'mostly' because by chance some small proportion offspring of the population of those with highest mutation loads will - by chance - be low in mutations).

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In assortative mating, then, a minority of the population who are the most 'attractive' and fittest males and females will pair-off and have (on average) a large number of (mostly) fit children (without accumulation of mutations) - while the majority of the population who are least attractive, the least fit, and the heaviest mutation-load bearers will be left-over.

This population majority of left-over males and females may not have a sexual partner (reproductive death), or the females may have a share in mating with the minority of high fitness males, or else a male and a female pair who are both low attractiveness/ low fitness/ heavy mutation load will mate - but have a very low (but not zero) probability of raising offspring to viable sexual maturity.

(The effective of sexual selection is usually greatest on the males; with a higher proportion of males than females having zero matings, zero long term sexual partners, zero viable offspring. Thus, it is one function of the male sex to be the main way in which new mutations are purged from the population.) 

Therefore, assortative mating of this type - with 'the fittest' parenting almost all of the next generations offspring - has the potential, in combination with normal natural selection based on survival, to (on average) purge all newly occurred mutations from a population with each generation; so each new generation can - in effect - start afresh with a minimal mutational load.

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Reflecting on the above scenario in light of human society in the developed nations over the past century plus - it can be seen that the effects of the industrial revolution has been to put assortative mating into reverse; and not merely to fail to purge all new mutations from a population with each generation - but actually to amplify the proportion of new mutations in a population with each generation.

This happens by a combination of chosen sub-replacement fertility among the fittest (instead of, as has been usual in human history, the fittest parenting almost-all the next generation); with the least-fit who carry the heaviest mutational load parenting most of the next generation (instead of almost none of them). 

Furthermore, instead of a system which over-produces offspring who are then selected for optimum fitness; we now have a system which under-produces offspring - so there is no possibility of ordinary natural selection or sexual selection or any combination of the two being able to purge the new mutations from each new generation!

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In such a scenario it is easy to understand how a fitness-sensitive trait such as intelligence (as objectively measured by reaction time) has declined so much and so rapidly over the past century plus.

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The effect of failing to purge newly occurring mutations with each generation is that mutations accumulate and overwhelm that particular lineage with random genetic damage; each new generation will have more genetic damage and lower fitness than the previous generation; and after a number of generations, that particular lineage will lose fitness completely and become extinct. 
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Note: The above idea concerning the vital role of assortative mating in purging of mutation accumulation is substantially derived from my conversations with Michael A Woodley.

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Note added 18 September 2014

In addition to the problem of mutation accumulation by relaxation of selection, when a population has begun shrinking, as is the case for the native populations of all Western and developed nations, there is an increasing danger of extinction due to 'mutational meltdown' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutational_meltdown) .

The unusual twist with modern humans is that the populations have begun falling due to chosen sub-replacement fertility, and before mutation accumulation has reached a level sufficient to prevent fertility. This will probably have accelerated the severity of mutation accumulation, and increased the risk of mutational meltdown.
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Monday, 15 September 2014

God and entropy

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Did God make entropy a law of the known universe, or is entropy prior to God and God constrained by entropy?

Could God have made a world without entropy, could He have made this world without entropy - a world that was not tending to corruption and chaos - and if so why didn't he?

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For the medieval 'scholastic' theologians, the mortal sub-lunar world was the place of entropy - of decay, death and sin - and the Heavenly world was a place of eternal and perfect harmony. Entropy was therefore pretty much a product of Satan and his demons (all entropy is evil, but not all evil is entropy).

But it is hard to make such a world picture coherent, and hard to understand how two such different worlds can have any meaningful relationship (i.e. an always-corrupting and death-filled world of entropy, versus an eternal and changeless world of perfection).

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Although entropy is destructive of life, we moderns find it hard to imagine life without entropy; in the sense that any active process would seem liable to accumulate damage.

Or, to put it the other way around, if something is static, eternal and perfect - and therefore invulnerable to entropy - we find it hard to suppose that it is actually alive.

So the medieval view of divinity and Heaven seems to secure invulnerability to entropy only at the cost of something that sounds very much like death!

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I think that a Christian requires that a life, a specific life, must have a distinctive and personal essence which is eternal and indestructible - despite entropy.

Rather than zero-entropy stasis; what I think this implies is an eternal, active, energy using-and energy-generating process acting to purge entropy from each eternally-living entity.

In a nutshell, this is the process of making form, structure, organization - as a fundamental principle.

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So, anything alive is alive because of the form-generating principle; and also tends to lose form and die due to entropy - the end-result depends on the relative strength of these processes of form versus entropy.

On this earth, it seems entropy is stronger than form (death is stronger than life) - so all living forms will sooner or later be overwhelmed by entropy, and will die.

Eternal life requires the opposite predominance - of form over entropy, life over death - so that although (presumably) entropy continues to occur, it is continually purged and structure continues... forever.

The possible implication is that we inhabit this high entropy world for a reason to do with the domination of the process and tendency of change - corruption, ageing and sin. But also that this mortal life is temporary and will necessarily end in death. The domination of entropy will end.

And that our habitation of this entropically-dominant kind of world is not an accident, but in some way a part of God's plan for us.

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Sunday, 14 September 2014

William Arkle on God's motivation for creation


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From "Wisdom" in The Great Gift by William Arkle, 1977


My understanding of this absolute form of wisdom depends on an ability I believe we have to resonate with the deep heart of our being into the deep heart of the Creator's being and feel, with that very deep sense of in-feeling, how the Creator felt towards creation before it began.

In other words one can learn to feel what it was that the Creator was longing for, aspiring to, or simply desiring, from the great work and the great effort that he has engaged in in what is known to us as creation.

Now, if we can feel with all our deepest understanding, our deepest intelligence and our deepest perception, what it was that the Creator looked for, above all else, in creation, then, and only then, shall we be close to the absolute point of wisdom which I believe is in the absolute point of deepest desire in the heart of the Creator's being.


As I myself attempt to do this, I come away with the understanding that the greatest longing that was in the Creator's heart before creation, and which brought about creation and brought into existence the individual beings, who each of us is in the Creator's eyes and to one another, was the desire to have real individual friends, in the deepest possible meaning of that word.

Friends to share his understanding, his joy and his wisdom within the context of real friendship, which creates a vital relationship between each friend and the other friend, from which ever-renewing possibilities and responses can grow.

My feeling is that the Creator first of all wished to bring into existence real and individual children, whose nature was based on a part of his own divine nature, but the characteristics of which were to be developed by each of those individual children as they grew up in the universes, or the universities, of his creation. They would develop in the nature of their own individual spirits, so that each of those children would become a unique individual child and then, hopefully, would become more than a child - would wish to grow into a mature condition which was not as a child to the Creator, but was as an individual being to the Creator.

Thus all these beings could each have creative relationships of friendship and gladness with one another and with the Creator. Not with the Creator as a special 'God' individual, who was not approachable as other friends are approachable, but He himself wanted to be able to befriend us and have a creative friendship with us as we befriend one another and have a creative friendship with one another.

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This is one of several phrasing's of William Arkle's fundamental and much-needed insight - which he got through personal revelation; since understanding this early in 2014, I have found it to be wonderfully helpful and clarifying. 
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Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Origins of Life problem reconceptualized - implications of the new replication-entropy-natural selection idea

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Continuing from:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/reconceptualizing-natural-selection-as.html

The origin of life is not a problem!

Since replication is built into things, and can be 'taken for granted' (many inorganic molecules and other structures with propagate and make copies of themselves, in the right environment)

- then if we define 'life' in terms of replicating entities subject to natural selection (which is the usual modern concept of life, that embraces viruses and other things that lack a 'metabolism') it can be seen that life is something that can be taken for granted.

Life is something that happens whenever there is propagation or copying of any structured entity (such as a molecule or a process).

So, life will be starting all the time and all over the place; but the big problem for any replicating entity is that entropic damage with rapidly accumulate, generation upon generation and most lineages will rapidly become extinct after just a few generations.

So, we can envisage a world in which life is not a problem, life is starting out again and again and all over the place; but almost all instances of life very rapidly become extinct.

The primary function of natural selection is therefore to combat entropic damage, and to enable life lineages to survive.

Natural selection would be most likely to kick in where there is massive overproduction of 'offspring', that is to say overproduction of replicates and propagated copies of all types. In such a situation, a large population and more time make it possible that some variants will be sufficiently stable as to maintain themselves against entropy (e.g. actual crystalline structures such as we observe in the world are examples of successful variants of sufficient stability or accuracy or repair as to combat entropy).

So the proper way to consider natural selection in relation to the origins of life is not to think about how replication began in terms of replicators developing adaptations to enhance the survival of their information, but to consider how entropic accumulation and extinction was avoided.

It is the difference between explaining life as something which originates in adaptation, and explaining how life is spontaneous but with an intrinsic tendency to die (death being entropic loss of structure and organization).

So the focus shifts from explaining the origins of life to explaining the continuation of life; from explaining how life is formed to explaining how the extinction of formed-life is prevented.

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(Note - in a phrase, I am suggesting that the Origins of Life is primarily a Red Queen phenomenon; 'running to stay in the same place' - i.e. there must be an active process in order to sustain life as it is.)

Friday, 12 September 2014

Who is Jehovah/ God in the Old Testament - an update

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Continuing from:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=jehovah

I was recently reading Blake Ostler, who is my go-to guy on theology - and he argued that it looks as if the term Jehovah, or God in the Old Testament, is not used with consistency. It usually refers to Jesus Christ, in his pre-incarnate form, but not always - sometimes God refers to God the Father. And sometimes this cannot be clearly established.

All of which suggests the matter of distinguishing whether the Father or Son is referenced is not always important.

This is supported by the data cited in FAIR Mormon

http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_the_nature_of_God/Elohim_and_Jehovah

SO - despite what I stated here

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=jehovah

It seems that the name Jehovah is not always referring to Jesus, but sometimes and often, it is. 

I am pleased about this, it is something of a relief - because sometimes a strictly 100% identification of Jehovah with Jesus - which I thought was theologically insisted upon -  did seem forced

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Superstitious worry

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Superstitious worry is the fear that, if you stop worrying about bad stuff that might happen, then the bad stuff will happen.

Consequently, people deliberately make themselves miserable and resist allowing themselves to feel carefree - in case this provokes retribution.

I am sadly prone to this species of pernicious nonsense - and I guess I am not alone.

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Time and being - William Arkle's description of a mystical experience of 'Absolute consciousness'/ a glimpse of divinization

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From A Geography of Consciousness (1974) by William Arkle - pages 88-90

The Absolute [Real] Self is in a position... to experience and express the highest qualities and attitudes without distortion or compromise, for the nature of matter-consciousness at this level is extremely fine, responsive and vital; and almost devoid of the density and friction which is associated with physical matter. The experience of existence at this level of manifestation must consequently be blissful, exhilarating and free...

Since time is the result of friction, viscosity and inertia which results in opposition to movement, communication and adaptability; and since the actual experience of time as it comes to us is the same experience as space; it is the essential content of movement and the experience of movement.

If we, at the physical level, cut ourselves off from all movement in the world about us, we will cease to get any sense impressions and shortly experience the feeling of 'being' as distinct from 'living'.

This sense of being, without time or space considerations, is close to the true condition of Absolute consciousness. For a while, we still get some sense of continuing identity in some form of time sequence; this time sequence is not linked to anything which we can identify.

The result of this experience is that we are made more aware than usual of the fact that innermost consciousness is concerned with qualities and attitudes which it has to learn to generate on its own without outside stimulus. When it has learned to do this, it has also learned to be truly creative, and may be said to be a god.

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I interpret this passage as describing how - in thought but not in practice, in consciousness but detached from 'the world' - we may glimpse and actually experience what it is like to be further advanced in the process variously described as spiritual progression, theosis or divinization.

Such knowledge is motivating and inspiring; and may be necessary in order that we know where we are going, what direction to aim-at, and how to recognize progress when we achieve it.  

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I also find Arkle's descriptions of the nature of time (the result of friction, viscosity and inertia) and 'spiritual' matter (extremely fine, responsive and vital) - and their relation (the actual experience of time as it comes to us is the same experience as space) to be useful, and valid-seeming. They are similar to the accounts of Joseph Smith - representing another convergence/ mutual validation of Arkle with Mormon metaphysics.

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Understanding the Final Judgement

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A lot of modern people find it difficult or even impossible to square the basic and overall nature of Christianity with some descriptions of God's final judgement; in which our perfectly-loving Heavenly Father seems to be taking delight in consigning great masses of people to everlasting and unimaginable torment for what seem like rather trivial errors, incompetence, gullibility, ignorance and minor misdemeanours.  

They are not necessarily wrong: some descriptions of the Last Judgement are clearly based on such utterly different premises and ways of understanding that they really don't make sense at all in light of what sincere and real modern Christians can understand of the nature of their faith.

So, unless we can come up with a better while still valid description of Judgement, then this will be a very serious stumbling block for some of the people who would potentially make 'the best' Christians - those people naturally abundant in love, compassion, and fairness.

Here goes:

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Judgement is when resurrected Man, after death, is confronted by reality, and is made to understand it.

Then Man must choose - and this choice is God's judgement.

Either choose to acknowledge the primary authority, truth, beauty and virtue of God, to submit to the judgement of reality; and to join with God in pursuing His divine plan. 

Or Man will choose his own primary authority; each Man therefore locating truth, beauty and virtue in himself - and judging God and the divine plan by his own lights, and resolving to pursue his own individual plans.

Man has the power to reject God; God respects that power and gives Man what he has chosen. In one sense Man judges God and rejects Him; in another sense God judges Man by accepting that rejection.

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There is nothing strange or difficult about this understanding. A loving mortal human parent, and earthly father for instance, does much the same with his children when they grow-up. The analogy is close (although not, of course, exact in all respects).

A grown-up child can choose to remain part of his loving earthly family, and joined to the adventures and aspirations of that family in the world - he can remain a part of that loving network; or else the grown-up child can reject his family, cut himself off from the family, live existentially separate from the family, cease to love that family.

A good earthly father must respect that grown-up child's decision, yet without ever ceasing to love the child who has rejected him and his love, and the love of all the family.

And that father may become angry if the rejecting-child tries to poison the minds of the family, torments or exploits the family; the earthly father may need to be stern, and may need to exclude the rejecting and malicious child (whom, nonetheless, he continues sorrowfully to love).

The rejecting child has, in effect, chosen to live in a hell of pride, ego and isolation: perhaps a state of eternal torment. The loving father accepts this choice with sorrow...

- however the father's angry and stern judgement may insist that the chosen hell in which the rejecting child dwells is segregated from the family, is elsewhere than the family home - that the rejecting child is excluded from the family - and that the loving and innocent are to a sufficient extent protected from the direct and insatiable depredations of those who have chosen to dwell in hell.

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Why final judgment? Because it may be final - a choice may never be reversed.

But the two situations of salvation and damnation are not symmetrical. Salvation cannot in principle be reversed - because of its nature salvation is a one-way ratchet of spiritual progress; while damnation is a self-chosen doom of a type that our earthly experience shows may in practice be irreversible (the miserable, hate-and-resentment-filled addict to drugs, sex, or violence may in practice never repent).

The choice of salvation therefore caanot be reversed, while the choice of damnation may not be reversed.  

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Choice and judgement: Two sides of the same coin. Love and sorrow; anger and sternness - likewise.
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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Reconceptualizing natural selection as primarily concerned with counteracting entropy (e.g. mutation accumulation)

Reconceptualizing natural selection as primarily concerned with counteracting entropy (e.g. mutation accumulation)

Michael A Woodley and I have developed a new conceptualization of the fundamental process of natural selection. 

It draws on diverse perspectives such as a couple of years of conversations about the cause of decline in intelligence (g) since Victorian times (especially the importance of mutation accumulation due to the massive decline in child mortality rates - http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=mutation), the work of WD Hamilton on the evolution of sexes, Graham Cairns-Smith's work on the origins of life, an old paper of mine on 'endogenous parasitism', recent discussion on the implications of the 'mouse utopia' experiment and more.  

Obviously, this is being written-up in a referenced form for publication - but I am posting an outline of the idea because it is quite straightforward and may attract some useful preliminary feedback.

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The essence of the idea is that replication is not the main problem for living entities, indeed replication can be taken for granted.

The big problem for living entities is entropy; the main answer to entropy is natural selection, and the main anti-entropic mechanism of natural selection is massive overproduction of offspring with various means of selectively culling the most entropically-damaged offspring.

In terms of genetics; this could be understood in terms of saying that something like mutation-selection balance is the essence of natural selection

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On Graham Cairns-Smith's conception of life, natural selection is built-into reality – NS is simply a part of the world – certainly part of chemistry (e.g. crystal propagation), probably physics too. In evolutionary terms, there is no dividing line between organic and inorganic, alive and dead.

Therefore, Life (in the sense of replicating entities subject to natural selection) is to be found pretty-much everywhere – not just in biology.

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So the main problem for a living entity is not to make copies of itself, replication can be 'taken for granted' as a kind of universal phenomenon, but the main problem is to counteract entropy.

Entropy, that is to say random damage to replicating entities from many sources and copying errors during replication, is inevitable. Indeed, entropy will tend to degrade any identifiable structure, and any form of organization. Over time, the tendency is for all structure and organization to be returned to randomness.

This means that all lasting structures and all types of organization must overcome entropic degradation.

So, any actually-observable entity has already solved the problem of entropy to the extent that it is indeed observable! Any structured or organized thing which exists has solved the problem of entropy such that it at least came into existence, was sustained long enough to be observable by us, and - unless it is unique - has some mechanism for making more-of-itself: for replicating.

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Furthermore, entropy affects all replication - so there are errors in replication that enter in the transmission of information between parent and offspring.

In a nutshell, this means that there is an unavoidable, intrinsic and cumulative entropic tendency for the fitness of any naturally selected lineage to decline to zero - to extinction, to non-life.

An example of this would be the tendency for mutations to occur in each parent organism, to be transmitted from parent to offspring - with new mutations occurring during the replication process, and for such mutations to accumulate generation upon generation until extinction.

Indeed this is not just additive accumulation, but there is a tendency towards a positive feedback cycle, in which mutations damage functionality which leads to more and additional, and uncorrected mutations.

So, the suggestion is that the fundamental problem for any entity is not replication, but combating entropy.

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One implication is that the basic function of a molecule like DNA is not a matter of achieving replication - because replication would already have been happening, and can be taken for granted; DNA (and its evolution) is primarily about a mechanism of more-accurate/ less error-full replication.

So, the main question for living things is: how is entropy controlled?

And the main answer is: Natural Selection.

The context of Natural Selection (NS) is thus massive over-production of offspring (and spores, seeds, ova, sperm etc), and the strongly-selective reproductive-culling of offspring to eliminate accumulated entropic damage (such as mutations).

Thousands or millions of offspring (etc) may be generated, and selectively eliminated.

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So, the context of the intrinsic decline of fitness in all replicating entities means that the main thrust of evolution by natural selection is simply to maintain fitness - to prevent extinction from intrinsic entropic tendencies - and not to improve fitness, nor to evolve adaptations.

So, this is a Red Queen phenomenon (in which there is running fast just to stay in the same place). Natural selection is necessary to maintain fitness in the face of the entropic tendency for fitness to disappear.

In other words, the phenomenon described as mutation-selection balance is not a specific, contingent, occasional circumstance: but the normal and indeed primary nature of natural selection as it applies to a genetic organism.

The genetics of NS is not primarily about evolving new genes but primarily about preserving from (entropic) destruction what are already-successful genes. It is about preventing the intrinsic tendency towards corruption/ degradation of an already- known-to-be-successful genetic recipe.

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In sum, NS happens in what are ‘already fit’, already replicating, massively-over-reproducing, entities. Lacking which, fitness inevitably regresses to zero.

So – the main thrust of evolution (NS) is to maintain fitness. (A Red Queen sort of thing.)

The usual method for combating entropic damage is massive overproduction of offspring, and therefore Disposable Offspring.

The usual, background situation was that replication was not a problem, and sufficient offspring survival could be taken for granted in the immediate short –term – the problem was the distal long term of a few generations ahead at the point when the tendency was for mutation accumulation to destroy fitness.

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Short term fitness, over the next few generations, was not the major problem - since there was such over-production of offspring; therefore long-term fitness beyond the next few generations is THE major problem.

Therefore, because in this conceptualization, natural selection implicitly looks-forward several generations,  so this is not about the single organism and its fitness but is instead a 'group-ish theory' kind of selection process.

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With such a concept, it is trivially easy for individuals to ‘sacrifice’ their own fitness to some degree, or even the fitness of the immediate next generation or two - when the longer term fitness of the group of descendants is significantly enhanced. (This is a consequence of short-term replication being 'taken for granted' due to the context of massive over-production of offspring.

There is a very low cost to ‘adaptations’ which somewhat lower individual fitness if there is a fitness advantage in the next few generations – because the next few generations are almost guaranteed – they are not the big problem. The big problem is entropy, hence mutation accumulation – and that takes a few generations.

A pay-off two or three generations down the line is therefore almost-directly selected for, in the sense that the short term costs are trivial in the context of massive overproduction and a world of replication-not-a-problem.

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Sexual reproduction was, by this account, relatively easy to evolve; because it enabled better control of entropy (see the work of WD Hamilton - but replacing/ adding to 'parasites' with spontaneously occurring entropic damage), e.g. the purging of mutations, the purifying of the gene pool of second, third etc –generations of offspring.

What gets naturally selected is therefore fitness down-the-line.

In a sense, the proximate locus of natural selection is a few generations ahead; specifically the future generations whose fitness would have declined to zero absent the operations of natural selection.

(This is different from the main emphasis of the conceptualization of mainstream selfish gene theory - which only very seldom allows for the possibility of long-term 'group' fitness advantage overcoming a significant short-term fitness disadvantages. In our view the short-term disadvantages are trivial in effect in a context of 'replication taken for granted' and the usual situation of massive overproduction of offspring.)

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The new conceptualization of NS implies that ‘competition’ with other living things is mainly about preventing the accumulation of entropic damage. Competition with other living things, including other members of the same species, is primarily about the purging, purifying or culling of a large majority of offspring - as the primary method for removing what would otherwise be fitness, lethal accumulations of mutations.

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Note added 11 Sep 2014:

New concept of Natural Selection: RES
1. Replication
2. Entropy
3. Selection

1. Replication is taken as given, 2. entropy tends to degrade structures and organization to stop replication (extinction of lineage), 3. natural selection controls the entropy - lineage is maintained.

By contrast -

Traditional concept of Natural Selection: ERS
1. Entropy
2. Replication
3. Selection

1. Entropy generates variants 2. some of which replicate, and 3. some of these undergo natural selection to expand and create a lineage.

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Note added 18 September 2014

Another way of conceptualizing this is to regard 'mutational meltdown' as a universal process, which always threatens extinction  - and therefore requires mechanisms and process to overcome this intrinsic tendency.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutational_meltdown

Mutational meltdown was first described as a threat for small populations of asexual organisms; later this was widened to sexual organisms and then to large populations - so mutational meltdown has gone from being a specific case to probably a universal possibility.

In effect, I am suggesting that the primary functional necessity for living things is avoidance of mutational meltdown - and all actually observable living things have solved this problem to the extent of their lineage surviving long enough to be observable.
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A proud day! - I am mentioned in an article by Scyld Berry: probably the best cricket writer in the world

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http://the-doosra.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/saeed-ajmal-banned-by-scyld-berry-in.html

Very unfortunate, however, that the occasion should be the banning of Saeed Ajmal - who is my favourite bowler currently active in world cricket

http://the-doosra.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=ajmal
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What should single men *do*?

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Some ideas, or notions - from a perspective which sees current arrangements as extremely bad and contributing to vast misery and despair.

I am implicitly referring to able-bodied men in decent health, who can work and make a living.

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Given that it is generally much better to be married and to have children; what about those men (and it would mostly be men) who do not marry, do not have children - and whose lives are therefore celibate (as the ideal)?

1. Do not live alone. People are not meant to live alone: it is bad for them.

If you have one and if possible, continue to live with your family. If you don't or can't, then live communally in some kind of structured environment (like a college, boarding school, the military or other community). Or with a group of friends or similarly-placed men. At least have meals together.

But if no such thing exists, as is usually the case, the prospects are indeed bleak. Finding some such environment should be a life-priority. 

2. Work is not enough. Work and leisure is not enough.

You must be religious, and live a life of service in a (real) church if you are not to go off the rails psychologically and spiritually - one way or the other.

3. If possible and appropriate, befriend and become attached to some family or families that you can help in whatever ways they need, and where you can become 'part of the family' to some extent.

The life of a 'live in' servant of some type may be suitable (caretaker, gardener etc) as long as it is not solitary.

4. If you are a Christian with a 'monastic' tradition of the religious life, consider living in a religious community, and serving that community in whatever capacity they need - perhaps as a 'lay brother'.

The above list is far from exhaustive - but the problem for single men is, and doubtless always will be, a real one - and, psychologically, a big one.

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Note added: I think the point I most would emphasize is that the single man must not make work his priority, and fit everything else around it. Nor should he live for his leisure: for weekends and holidays. Neither of those will be effective, and either may prevent him finding what he really needs. The strategic priorities, that towards which he plans and schemes, should be along the lines described above. For example, he might seek a job in a place where there is a good church, or to stay with his family. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Advocacy of sin is the worst evil: worse than actually sinning - some implications

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Which is why the mass media is by far the most evil entity which has ever existed.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/the-evil-of-mass-media-greatest-evil-of.html

It is generally not understood, even by Christians, that it is standard Christian doctrine that advocating sin is far worse than actually sinning. The reason is that sinning (to some significant extent) is unavoidable and a part of the human condition, while advocating sin is deliberate.

So the primary virtue is to advocate virtue; the worst sin is to advocate sin.

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Actually being virtuous is certainly a good thing, the best thing - but is not always possible to everybody - for reasons of character and circumstance, weakness and ignorance.

Intellectuals preen themselves on their virtuousness because they refrain from violence and theft  - yet theologically speaking modern intellectuals are - as a class - practitioners of deliberate evil on an vast scale in their systematic destruction of truth, beauty and virtue.

And, of course, the biggest and worst evil of the class of intellectuals is to advocate evil by inversion of the good: to claim ugliness is beauty (eg. mainstream modern art, design and architecture), to enforce wickedness as a higher virtue (eg. the sexual revolution as positively-depicted in a million novels, movies and TV shows and a billion news items), and to enforce distortion and suppression as the essential truth (e.g. the narrowing and ever-more-aggressively false doctrines of political correctness).

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The corruption runs deep, yet not so deep that intellectuals have utterly lost subliminal awareness of what they are doing. This combination accounts for the prevalent misery, angst and anger of the dominant classes having a different quality from that of the past - a undertow of self-hatred and suicidal despair.

Despair is the key concept: the absence of real hope: hope of good that is real, objective, permanent.

(The creed of the modern intellectual is that no good thing is real, objective and permanent.)

The creed of the modern intellectual is implied-despair. Not the direct preaching of despair as a principle - but rather preaching of a set of non-beliefs that must lead to despair - because there is nowhere else for them to lead...

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There is then - understandably - a craving for escape... but an escape merely into distractions that are pre-acknowledged to be unsatisfactory and unsatisfying because they are regarded as untrue.

(We are allowed to escape, sometimes, but only if we regard the escaped-to word as untrue. An imagined world must be acknowledged as fundamentally imaginary.)

Having demolished (to their own satisfaction) the objective validity of God; the intellectual elites have recently demolished (to their own satisfaction) the objective good of marriage and family - and they are left only with a life based-on 'work and leisure'...

Work and leisure are all that remains. There is nothing else.

Yet work has long since been exposed as a fraud and demolished (to the satisfaction of elites) by Marxism/ Socialism/ Liberalism/ Leftism...

So leisure is now the whole thing - a life aspiring to leisure, and yet leisure pre-acknowledged merely as a pastime - something to pass-the-time... a search for distracting novelties.

Sexual novelty, travel to new places, buying new stuff, doing new things... that is IT: the whole thing. That is the highest conceivable aspiration of the modern intellectual elites and the world they propagate 24/7 via the mass media, the world to which we are addicted, the world to which we are electronically plugged-in: a world which is, in its primary operations, built-upon the deliberate advocacy of sin: that is, the deliberate destruction of good.
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http://addictedtodistraction.blogspot.co.uk/

An "Outward Bound" course on the Moray Firth and the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland - summer of 1976

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I had a grim time overall, much like military basic training - but the 1976 summer was the hottest and driest on record, and the photos are quite interesting.
http://baronofjesmond.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/outward-bound-burghead-scotland-summer.html
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