Friday, 28 February 2014

What happened at Christ's Atonement?

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It is sometimes hard to grasp that Jesus Christ did more than one thing for us; what he did cannot be reduced to a single explanation or principle.

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What Christ did could not be done by God the Father; and it could only be done by the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension - and also the atonement. It could not be done any other way except the way it was done.

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What Christ did could only be done voluntarily, by Christ's free choice to be incarnated as a mortal man, and to experience all that came after - step-by-step all the temptations, joys, sorrows, love and suffering - all chosen.

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Without Christ, when Men died their spirits would remained severed from their bodies (always maimed, no resurrection), their 'selves' would be incomplete, and their sins would be retained and have effect through eternity.

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If there had been no atonement, Men would have been resurrected to eternal life; but that life would not be Heaven, but instead an endless perpetuation of earthly life - with a continued accumulation of sin and the effects of sin, and no ability to escape the worst of people and the worst of their acts - it would therefore become an ever-worsening Hell.

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Christ's atonement freed us from that horrible possibility, and now we may be resurrected with perfected bodies and cleansed spirits: Christ absorbed our sins.

But what does this mean, how can it be understood?

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The atonement does not really make sense as a physical process - because it is essential that our acceptance and love of Christ be a voluntary choice.

That is the clue - it is a choice of a relationship.

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I understand the atonement to be a matter of making it possible for us to join the divine family of God.

It is a matter of a new, and perfected, and eternal, set of relationships as Children of God; living in the Family of God - potentially enjoying relationships with God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, our families, 'neighbours', and any Men who choose (or rather, who accept) this Heavenly life.

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The atonement makes it possible for these divine family relationships to be permanent (once we have chosen to accept them).

Without the atonement we might 'change our minds' or exercise our freedom of choice, our autonomous agency, to reject and attack these relationship (and make Heaven into Hell).

Without the atonement we might destroy good and embrace evil by our future choices.

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However, our cleansing and perfection done by the atonement makes it possible for our choice of good to be a permanent and binding choice - it is not just about Christ having absorbed and negated all past sins (wrong choices), but all possible future sins (wrong choices).

The atonement thus negates all false and fake realities.

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The atonement made it possible for us to be both free and safe. It made our salvation irrevocable.

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Rejecting the offer of a personal relationship with a personal God; yearning for loss of person-hood, for a return to unconscious, un-aware impersonality

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It would feel wrong to us if our God made it a condition of our eternal life that we should befriend Him in a personal way, so we enhance the meaning and value of that friendship when we realise that it is an unconditional choice, just as real friendship should be. But there is also nothing wrong in choosing to unite with all the beautiful values and qualities which belong to the Divine Impersonal Being. Therefore if we unite our impersonal nature with the impersonal nature of God, then that is a proper expression of our Divine Individuality.

William Arkle - Caption to a painting

http://www.billarkle.co.uk/greatgift/pictureseq/fset051.html

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My understanding of this, would be that a person who chose to unite his impersonal nature to the impersonal nature of God would be someone who either simply did not, or could not, believe in God as a person; or who did believe in a personal God but could not love him - or, it may be a person who rejects the gift of consciousness which comes from being a Son of God (one of the Children of God).

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My understanding is that humans have an unique personal spark, some essence which precedes us becoming a Son of God - and it is this which is the cause of our autonomy, our free will.

When we became Children of God, to this personal spark was added a spark of God Himself - and this spark of God is what made us conscious, aware, capable of relationships (and that we all share this spark is what makes us really and truly children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ).

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But the spark of divine consciousness brings with it attachment, especially empathic pain, worry, regrets, sorrow - all the intrinsic realities of family relationship - and some people find this awareness simply too painful, a source of intolerable suffering.

At a profound level such persons reject the spark of God, and yearn to return to their original state of being an unique personal spark yet unaware, unconscious, assimilated to the universe.

To such souls, God provides the third option - neither Heaven nor Hell but the opportunity to "unite with all the beautiful values and qualities which belong to the Divine Impersonal Being" - in an unchanging, eternal, present state without memories or anticipations.  

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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Self-extermination by sub-replacement fertility

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All the secular populations of the developed world, plus a lot of religious people, are self-exterminating by sub-replacement fertility.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/who-are-most-deluded-religious-or.html

This is probably why there is zero practical resistance to Western populations being replaced by mass migration from the fertile parts of the world -

http://www.spi.ox.ac.uk/fileadmin/documents/PDF/WP33_Third_Demographic_Transition.pdf

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My reading is that, at some deep and barely-conscious level, the secular Western world hates itself so powerfully, that it believes it deserves to become extinct and be replaced; and The West is covertly yet swiftly working to achieve self-extermination.

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Sub-replacement fertility is made possible by multiple, widespread and cheap reproductive technologies - contraception and abortion - which allow people to have sex without procreation.

Therefore, most babies born in the West (expect for the offspring of those to unintelligent or feckless) are nowadays chosen - and en masse the secular West is choosing the path of self-annihilation.

The exceptions, those with chosen above-replacement-level fertility, are devout and monotheistic religious groups.

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The implication is, I think, that to avoid nihilistic despair, modern Man needs:

1. To be religious

2. To believe in a personal deity

- because 'Eastern' style religions and spiritualties (including New Age), which lack a personal deity, are not able to sustain above-replacement fertility - and therefore, like secular groups, impersonal religions exhibit apparently high levels of existential self-hatred with consequent slow-suicide at the population level.

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Social networking etiquette

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What does a teenager do when s/he is standing in a group with several 'pals' who are all socializing with other not-actually-present people by poking their mobile phones?

I guess the only acceptable thing to do is retaliate - start prodding at your own smartphone. Fight rudeness with rudeness.

Otherwise you just have to stand around like a servant awaiting the Master's orders.

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Supposing you were standing with friends and instead of talking you pulled-out a book and started reading?

Doesn't happen; but if it did, it would be regarded as rude.

So why isn't social networking in company regarded as rude?

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What seems to have happened is that social networking inherited the etiquette of the telephone - which has always led to appalling acts of rudeness.

When the phone rang, people would break-off (almost)anything - any conversation, no matter how important or serious, and (almost) any human interaction - to rush and answer.

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I can remember travelling for five hours, at his request, to meet-with and chat-to to a famous medical Professor. Yet after I arrived he spent almost the whole of our relatively brief time together (including while driving me - one handed - to the railway station in his car) talking on his mobile phone to people he presumably regarded as more important than me.

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So people give a similar priority to social networking that they did to telephoning - despite that the excuse of expensiveness and urgency (which originally, I suppose, justified dropping everything for the telephone) no longer applies.

Consequently, rudeness begets rudeness.

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A loving personal relationship with God cannot be coerced, therefore Hell cannot be the *only* alternative

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A passage from William Arkle's mini-book Equations of Being (excerpt posted below) evoked some thoughts about salvation. Although I have not previously encountered the argument, I find the logic compelling.

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Our personal loving relationship with God (with Jesus Christ) must be freely chosen - otherwise it is not love; and therefore this personal relationship cannot be imposed under duress.

Therefore there cannot be a straight either/or dichotomy between Christ and Hell: it cannot be either a personal relationship with Christ; or else eternal torment in Hell if you reject this. (Because that would be coercion.)

(I say 'cannot', because I find it inconceivable that our loving God would have set things up like that - with salvation as a pseudo-choice; the opposite of a real choice.)

Therefore there must be a kind of salvation which does not entail a personal relationship with Christ (this would be a lesser salvation for sure, but salvation nonetheless); and this salvation will be impersonal - will not involve a personal relationship with God.

So there must be at least three alternatives: Heaven, Hell and some Impersonal (yet 'pleasant') form of eternal life. 

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Such a lesser, impersonal but real salvation might perhaps be understood as broadly corresponding with the description of lower Heaven/s in Mormonism, or with the states of static, blissful, impersonal enlightenment of 'Eastern Religions'.


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[emphasis and paragraphing added]

...we are here introduced to another very important decision which our Creator had to reach in regard to His responsibility towards His children and pupils.

We have been led by much of religious thinking on Earth to the belief that our love for our God, in the individual sense, was the only way to eternal life in the Divine Society.

But, if we look closely at this, we will see that, here again, our Creators hands were tied. For, if He made the ‘personal’ love between Himself and His children a condition of their obtaining everlasting life, then this would be an improper pressure placed upon love and friendship, which may well force it into a distorted and unwholesome attitude.

It is over just this most tender and intimate relationship of real loving friendship that our responses must be most completely free, or else the great treasure is once again lost.           

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But if we now realise that there is another area of Divine Reality, which is not represented to us by the Person of God, but rather by the impersonal Divine qualities, we can see that it is possible for us to reach a state of ‘impersonal’ integration with the one Divine Life in respect of the collective features in it and in us.

In this way, the impersonal in us can love and unite with the impersonal in the Divine, thus giving a real and valid choice to ‘the way’ in which we endeavour to enter eternal life.

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This spectrum of approaches will then free our Creator from the abuse of His friendship, if it were the sole condition of our survival.

This is not to say that our Creator will not be sad in each case when His friendship is not noticed and valued, and is thus by-passed. But He must accept this as another equation of the total reality of Being in which His work has to be accomplished.

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In these cases, where individuality and friendship is not chosen as ‘the way’ to eternal life, but eradication of individuality or the Divine Ego is considered to be the highest achievement, the entity, while being harmonised back into the Absolute, may, nevertheless, be brought forth again in some other scheme of creation in which the presentation of ‘personal’ value is done in such a way that it is then chosen.

[Arkle is here implying reincarnation - but it could equally be taken to imply some form of post-mortal spiritual progression.]

For, while those who see the value of the friend can also appreciate the impersonal aspect of life, those who see the way to be impersonal find it very difficult to appreciate the more personal end of the spectrum of life, and they are thus inclined to lose sight of the creativity and on-going purpose behind our Creators motivation.
from William Arkle - Equations of Being 

http://www.billarkle.co.uk/prose/equations/chap06.html

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Why eugenics is bad

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Commenters are often surprised that, although I fully acknowledge dysgenic changes and over-population, I am against eugenics.

The reason is quite simple: I am a Christian, and eugenics is a secular, economic doctrine.

Eugenics gives primacy to secular economic priorities such as power, prosperity and efficiency.

And, like all secular ideologies, eugenics comes-up against the problem of motivation - how can people be motivated to make difficult changes and behave in the way eugenicists want them to behave?

We know, from experience, that the only secular motivations strong enough to drive policy are inevitably negative (sinful) incentives such as pride, selfishness, hedonism and hatred.

In practice I have no doubt at all, that any actual and implemented eugenic policy would be driven by negative motivations - and would therefore be evil in effect (whatever its supposed intentions).

There is no shortcut to good policies and good government - good policies and good government lie on the other side of religious conversion - in particular, on the other side of repentance where dwell honesty, humility, love and the desire to do divine work.

Any good policy (good overall and in the long term) must be motivated by love and humility towards God's purposes - and only after that attitude is 'in place' the right and proper and best (or, more often, least-worst) actions may become clear, along with the positive motivations necessary to their accomplishment.

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Venus and the Crescent Moon

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A few weeks ago, I saw the crescent New Moon and Venus in the sky close together at twilight - it was one kind of perfection; this morning I saw Venus and the Old crescent Moon together just before dawn, near the south eastern horizon and amidst the tangled bare trees - another perfection.

Venus as the Even Star displayed the poignancy of daysend, set against the hope of the waxing Moon; while as the blazing lamp of hope that is the Morning Star, she was balanced by the almost-expired waning Moon.

Venus is the loveliest heavenly object and our vision of angelic purity and perfection; the Moon always flawed, sometimes sickly, most often wondrous; always different, never repeating - a metaphor of this mortal life.

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Theosis/ Spiritual Progression/ Making Divine Friends

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I am pondering the work of William Arkle -

http://www.billarkle.co.uk/

by fitting his ideas into my existing scheme of understanding, where they seem to explicate, enrich and expand some vital elements.

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My understanding is that - thanks to the work of Jesus Christ - salvation is ours if we choose it; and the main purpose of Man's mortal life is 'theosis' - becoming more like God.

This entails following God's rules - because they are a summary of the intrinsic constraints of reality - but beyond that our job of theosis is creative (recalling that all creativity is within a framework).

Arkle's (strange) terminology has this in terms of a divine friendship. The main motivation God had for making Man was to have friends - and with this end he seeded sparks of his divine fire into each Man - this inner spark is then 'surrounded' by the products of our own choices and efforts.

But Men need to grow and develop to become loving friends of God (first commandment) - and the mortal context is loving family and other humans (second commandment). The growth and development are essential if we are to be real and distinct individuals, and not just clones or copies (because we want our eternal friends each to be different, and each also to continually develop, to grow).

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So we are to 'make' ourselves into friends of God and assist in the 'making' of other friends for God (and ourselves) - this is Arkle's way of explaining theosis in down-to-earth terms.

So theosis is this creative project (within constraints of reality) to choose and grow into divine friends of God. It almost-inevitably involves trial and error, but the experiences of temptations, and even errors, will be educative if they are unintended and repented.

Thinking of theosis as creative opens-up a positive an engaged attitude to life; and emphasises that the 'perfection' of mortal life is in its striving and growth towards a nature both divine and distinctive - not in its freedom from error nor conformity to a pattern.

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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Are biologists evil?

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It is a serous question (speaking, here,  as someone who is primarily a physician and secondarily a biologist).

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Are biologists as a class (on average, and in terms of particular individuals) exceptionally evil?

The answer is yes - so long as we understand that the worst evil is not what we do (because everyone does evil) but what we advocate: what we promote.

Biologists are exceptionally evil in the sense of being exceptionally active (and effective) in the promotion of evil.

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Interestingly this is true from whatever socio-political perspective you like to consider it - biologists are evil from the Left/ Liberal/ Politically Correct perspective because they promote eugenics, racism, sexism, and are apologists for inequality and Nietzschian domination; and biologists are also evil from the Religious Right perspective mainly because they promote atheism - but also relativism (metaphysical Darwinism), hedonism (in that promotion of gratification and avoidance of suffering are seen as primary motivations), and nihilism (in the sense that life is simply differential gene replication and nothing more, death is extinction etc.).

So biologists are evil from pretty much both sides and all angles - the exception being that nerdy, unstable and weakly-motivated fringe-Left position of secular Right libertarianism/ soft-fascism whose world view is, in a sense, primarily-biological (e.g. the Dark Enlightenment, Alternative Right, Reactosphere group).

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The only group who could conceivably be all-round pleased with the activities and influence of biologists would therefore be Satan and his demons - i.e. the forces of purposive evil, dedicated to the destruction of good!

Makesh yer fink, dunnit...

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Five years of avoidable misallocation

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At secondary school I spent five years allocated to the only groups where I had no friends.

So, in first and second year we were divided into six groups. I had friends in all of the groups except mine. I quite liked a couple of the lads - and was paralysingly in-love with one of the girls - but mostly it was just dull. Luckily, some of the academic subjects were 'streamed' and I had many friends in the top stream.

Then, from third through fifth year I was allocated to the only one of four houses in which I did not have any friends. Reasonable acquaintances - but nobody with whom I could relax and enjoy things.

The result was again a subtraction of possibilities. My sufferings were not acute, nor extreme - I merely suffered a much greater proportion of tedium then would otherwise have been the case; and since that period of life (aged 11-16) was one which is especially remembered, then this emotion is a large part of my memories for that era.

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The reason was apparently just random bad luck - these class and house allocations were done without taking any consideration for friendship or anything else. As kids, we were simply treated as interchangeable units.

It was apparently assumed that we would adjust equally to whatever situation we were placed in - and would 'make friends' in any class, equally well - or, anyway, what does it matter?

Considering how easy it is to make some adjustment for friendships (and enmity), and considering the importance and non-transferability of friendships, this attitude was very revealing.

(My kids schools have all allowed for a couple of friendships to be maintained in class allocation - unless there was a particular reason not to allow this.).

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When there is a significant problem, easy to fix, people know how to fix it; and yet it is not fixed - then it becomes interesting.

At one level, especially in terms of individual relationships between teachers and pupils, my school was simply superb - there was a great deal of care and personal attention. There was at this level a genuine concern that kids have a fulfilling experience, and a lot of teachers gave a lot of time and energy to that end (and I mean a lot - the teachers were a superb group of people).

But, despite this, in my school experience there were great tracts of registration, sports and lessons which were rendered simply dull by the lack of anyone with whom to share them. If I had been in any group, other than the ones I was in, things would have been significantly better - and yet there was never the slightest notion that pupils would be allowed or encouraged to change groups for friendship reasons, or that groups should be formed with this in mind.

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And this was, I think, purely due to an aggressively impersonal administrative attitude somewhere in the organization: a determination to ignore the human element in a situation when it would have been easy, natural, and all-round beneficial to take account of individuality.

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This is utterly characteristic of bureaucracy. The necessity sometimes to organize people as masses and to treat people as interchangeable units, encourages an intrinsic tendency to enjoy treating people as interchangeable units - the enjoyment being rooted in the fact that people are not interchangeable units, but can nonetheless be treated as if they were by exercise of power.

People in the administrative system then use the sometimes-need as an excuse for a very personal yet deniable satisfaction at their exercise of power, mixed with the enjoyment of a quietly-detached element of sadism at the sub-optimal human consequences.

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Monday, 24 February 2014

Anthropomorphic explanations are childish, ignorant and primitive - but is that a bug or a feature?

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Anthropomorphic explanations of life and living are characteristic of young children, hunter gatherers, and people with low intelligence.

But does that mean they are more, or less, likely to be true?

Naturally enough the fact that anthropomorphism is characteristic of childish, ignorant and primitive people means that adult, civilized and intelligent people tend to regard anthropomorphism as low status. But what about truth?

I would say that IF human life has meaning, THEN knowledge of that meaning ought to be built-into human beings (built-in by whatever generates the meaning) - so that undeveloped, unsophisticated, uninformed and unintelligent people would be exactly the kind of people to whom that meaning would be clearest.

So the simplicity and obviousness of anthropomorphism is a feature, not a bug: evidence that anthropomorphism is true, and not that it is an error.

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Who are the most deluded - the Religious or Atheists?

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People are always accusing each other of being dumb, crazy or mastered by wishful thinking - in fact, I personally do it a lot on this blog.

But aside from he said/ she said - what actual objective evidence could there be that somebody's ideas were false, a delusion?

Mostly it is that false ideas do not adequately model or predict reality - so that someone whose ideas are false finds that things based on those false ideas don't work.

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So the objective sign of false (potentially) ideas is maladaptive behaviour: but what behaviour counts as maladaptive?

We have to be careful here, because to be adaptive to 'the world' is merely to be 'worldly' - to seek short term happiness, status, pleasure and the rest of it.

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When we are talking about very general ideas, such as religions and ideologies - then the category of 'does not work' needs to be independent of those ideas or else the argument becomes circular.

In particular, the truth of ideas cannot be judged by the here and now emotional state of the people who hold them; and neither can it be decided by their popularity, prestige, 'success' or whatever - because that would be to beg the question.

To discover whether ideas are maladaptive (hence probably wrong) I think we need to focus on basic, biological outcomes such as:

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Birth rate

This is the most significant. Any society (nation, religion, religious denomination, or atheism) with average chosen fertility below the minimum replacement level - a birth rate less than two per woman, especially in a situation where it is probable that more than two offspring could successfully be raised to the age of sexual maturity) is deluded.

This is the only strictly biologically-valid sign of maladaptive ideas, since a fertility rate less than two is always a sign of severely reduced (negative) 'fitness' - nothing could compensate for sub-replacement group fertility.

This, of course, labels the whole of the West as fundamentally deluded; including almost all of Christianity.

But, within the West, the only groups who choose above replacement fertility are religious. One (or more than one) of these groups might be un-deluded - but all sub-fertile groups are necessarily deluded.

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I also suggest the following as probabilistic evidence of delusion:

1. Significant/ increasing rates of deliberate and purposive self-harm, self-mutilation (including tattoos and piercings), and repeated suicidal 'attempts' (parasuicide) are un-biological, maladaptive and evidence of delusion  - and these are especially significant of delusion when these are among women. Those who behave in this aggressive way towards their own bodies are, to that extent, objectively deluded (unless, of course, they explicitly repent, relabel, and repudiate their past behaviour).

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2. Focusing exclusively on secondary issues to the exclusion of primary issues.

This is very characteristic of modern society; of Leftism and the Mass Media - and so common in everyday life as to be almost invisible.

(Atheists are very predominately leftist/ liberal/ socialist/ communist/ and in favour of the sexual revolution.)

It includes things like ignoring the issues of food production when talking about agriculture, and ignoring education when talking about schools and universities, and ignoring truth when talking about research and scholarship, and ignoring the production of essential goods and services when talking about economics, and ignoring the prevention and suppression of crime when discussion the police, or ignoring defence when talking of the military.

Instead all attention is focused on secondary issues such as equality, Social Justice, diversity, Fairness, aesthetics, Rights... well, pretty much anything except the primary issue.

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How can this be seen? Well it is a matter of responses.

For example, if anybody brings up in public discourse the question of whether a scientist is truthful, or whether a scientific field is honest, or whether modern scientific organization systematically encourages and rewards lying - then this line of enquiry is met by silence, horror, aggression, denial... but never is this issue allowed to become acknowledged as vital to the basic purpose of science.

Because of this exclusion of what is a primary (indispensable) requirement for science, modern science is deluded: objectively deluded - and this is not merely a matter of opinion.

The same with respect to the military and police and medial schools when their recruitment and selection processes focus on factors like sex, class and ethnicity - they are objectively deluded in their attitudes.

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There are probably some others.

But the general approach shows that we live in a deluded society (i.e. our secular society is deluded)  - and indeed almost all non-religious people, and most religious people are objectively deluded.

Self-identified atheists in The West are (I would have thought very obviously) among the most deluded people of all (and among the most deluded of any time in human history) since, as a class, they most strongly exhibit the above characteristics.

The fact that Western atheists regard religious people as deluded because they believe things that atheists happen to regard as absurd or silly or dumb or evil is irrelevant - this is just a matter of opinion.

And these are, after all, the opinions of objectively-deluded people - so they must be treated with special caution and scepticism.

Unless atheists could show that religious beliefs are objectively associated with maladaptive outcomes - such as sub-replacement fertility, self-mutilation or inability to perceive primary reality - then these accusations mean nothing - they are just exhaled warm air...

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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Problems with the explanation of Original Sin

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Original Sin is two things - what actually happened and the various explanations of what it means.

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IF Original Sin is taken to imply that Men are rotten at the core - then I fear it will be a lethal idea for many people in many situations in this world where the institutional churches certainly are rotten at the core.

Because if Christians cannot trust themselves, but instead regard themselves as fundamentally and intrinsically mastered by pride and helplessly subject to demonic deceptions - and furthermore a world where there is a high probability that any outside help mediated by humans is going to be corrupt - then there is no hope of us making right choices: no hope at all...

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The situation is strictly hopeiless because we cannot even choose the correct denomination, and within every denomination there are factions - and we cannot choose the right faction either.

there is no hope if Original Sin means we cannot make right choices from within ourselves, because then we cannot even decide who to trust.

And no hope means despair, and despair is a sin.

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So, if Original Sin is being understood to mean that we are rotten to the core and cannot trust ourselves, then we are simply doomed.

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(But, alternatively, if we can make good decisions about which person, denomination, religion to trust - then there must be some goodness at our very heart; and a strict/ extreme interpretation of Original Sin cannot be true.)

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Luckily, that 'strict/ extreme understanding of Original Sin as implying that all humans are necessarily rotten at their very core is not entailed by scripture, but is a secondary matter of explanation and extrapolation.

So Christians don't have-to believe in original Sin.

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However, it might - plausibly - be argued that without the concept of OS, then Christianity will be too weak and wishful and wavering - but we know from 180 years of the CJCLDS church that this is not necessarily so: Mormonism has conclusively demonstrated that a church and a people can be steady and firm in a Christ-focused faith while not believing in Original Sin.

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Some fear that it is only Original Sin which implies the absolute need for a Saviour, that if we were not all utterly rotten, we did not really need salvation; and if we dispense with OS we will, sooner or later, dispense with Christ...

But this tow-sided analysis is just too simple.

It is too simple to regard salvation as either/ or - either our doing, or Christ's doing - this either/ or dichotomy is too simple a dichotomy even for ordinary everyday life, such as understanding family disputes!

If we cannot understand a fight between two children if we insist in advance that the reason must be necessarily and inevitably and only either the full responsibility of one child or the other child - but not-ever both; then why should we expect to understand salvation that way?

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It is ridiculous to apply either/ or to salvation! - although it is a very typical philosophical error to fall into the trap of either/ or - often either zero or infinity - both of which are incomprehensible nonsense.

That kind of thing was built into philosophy from its very origins - and carried over into Christian theology. 

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In sum, Original Sin is not necessarily wrong, and/ because many or most great Christians have believed OS in some fashion - but they were able to be Christian and believe it only because, in practice, OS was not understood to apply absolutely, and because they lived inside a religious society and implicitly accepted the wisdom and goodness of some source of external spiritual guidance.

Modern secular people - adrift in a spiritual and ideological marketplace and with no implicit authority source - cannot really believe in, live by, Original Sin - but in attempting to do so they can destroy Christian faith in themselves and in others: they can induce paralysing despair in themselves and in others.

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Modern Christians will just have to be more sensible - and less philosophical - about these matters; because the theology of our relationship with God ought to be at least as complex as our ordinary everyday understanding of ordinary everyday human relationships - surely?

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Saturday, 22 February 2014

A metaphysical description of reality as three worlds (not the usual two)

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The highest world of ultimate reality is personal and dynamic and in time - but eternal.

It consists of the Holy Trinity, and other persons such as angels and Men; and these exist in time (linear, sequential) - life is essentially a story, open ended, life is work: life is doing.

Life is about Love, and love is between persons and personages, and it is always growing and changing.

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The lowest world of mortal reality on Earth is much the same; but temporally-bounded - it has a beginning with birth and an end with death; and the Earth itself and this world has a beginning and an end.

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But in between there is a middle world of (apparently) static, blissful contemplation.

In the middle world there is no time - or, at least, no time is perceived by consciousness - so the middle world is eternal, but instantaneously eternal in contrast to the serial eternity of the highest world.

Instead, consciousness is aware of itself as unchanging and in the present moment only - with no past and no expectation of the future. It is a state of pure being.

In this middle world, Love is like being bathed in continuous and glorious light; and like beaming such light out from oneself.

We get glimpses of this - short segments of it, hardly noticed before gone - here on earth in ecstatic trances.

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Our mortal life on Earth is inside the middle world, and the middle world is regarded as the highest world by many or most religions - for example Hinduism and Buddhism regard the middle world as highest.

Indeed, within Christianity - except for Mormonism, the highest reality of Heaven is conceptualized in terms of a type of middle world: Heaven is to dwell for eternity in the presence of God but in an essentially unchanging situation. God is understood to live outside of time and without change, with reality instantaneously available for His consideration and operation.

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The idea (my notion) behind this is that God made this world for us to undergo spiritual progression (if we so chose) towards godhood ourselves, with the highest goal to go to the highest world, there to become 'grown up' Sons of God in a personal relationship with our creator as the highest goal - but all this is conditional upon our free agency.

As pre-mortal spirits, we chose to become incarnate mortal Men - and but being an incarnate mortal is full of contingencies; and for many people and much of the time, the highest hope is to lose our serial, time-bound selves in a state of static bliss.

The middle world is not the highest world, nor is static bliss the highest spiritual state - but theyare acceptable, permissable states - acceptable to God, permissable by God. We are allowed to stay in the middle world as long as we want to.

*

That is, Men are free not to recognize God as a person of the same kind as ourselves  - nor to work towards a spiritual state in which we engage in a loving relationship with God (a relationship being in time and serial) - but instead to move into that static condition of pure but impersonal consciousness in the presence of God which is described above.

*

After a while in this state, we may begin to find it boring, or begin to feel sufficiently restored and re-energized after the exhaustion induced by incarnate mortality - then we may choose to move up to the higher level of Heaven, and to resume working on God's projects.

*

Friday, 21 February 2014

William Arkle on our heavenly family

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I am coming to recognize that the primary Christian reality is kinship, relatedness of persons, the union of family.

This is not so much a metaphorical way of explaining other things, as the bottom line - that by which everything else is explained.

It is, I think, the key.

**

Edited from Letter from a Father by William Arkle - this is God speaking:

http://www.billarkle.co.uk/prose/letterfromafather2.html

One of the most important ways I have chosen for you to learn what is vital for your understanding is to find yourself a part of a family situation on earth, for here you are able to go though the experience in one single lifetime, and with unbroken continuity, the experience of being a child, a mature individual and a parent.

In this situation, if you will only learn to pay close attention to it, are all the mysteries of the universe that matter to you.

If you take the trouble to stand apart and observe closely all the relationships that exist in your family situations, you will be able to observe as completely as you will how the problems of life arise, why they arise and how they are solved.

The family situation is a very special gift to you and one day you will be surprised that you took it so for granted.

*

I have not yet explained to you that you are not my only children, and that I have not brought you all up in the same way. I explained that I have gradually brought the physical universe into being by planning it and organising it at more ethereal levels of manifestation where the stuff of manifestation is more responsive and mobile. These levels are called by you more heavenly levels of being, for in them everything is more in harmony and more expressive of the intense beauty which to me is so valuable.

As these ethereal forms of manifestation were brought into existence, so did I cause other of my children [,the angels ,] to be born into them. They grew up and matured in these conditions where their attention was filled with the direct and indirect presence of your mother and myself.

We wished them to become familiar with us in this way because we were going to need them as helpers while our plan of creation grew outwards from us to more remote and unconditioned levels where our personality also became less dominant, and where other personalities, your own, would in future time be able to grow up in a slower and more difficult environment but a more independent one.

*

You understand that, at this very point in my description, you are face-to-face with one of the great secrets of my work, which, until now, has been kept hidden from you for the children of heaven have never had that independence that you have had.

They have been through happier times, but they have had greater need of me and my strength, for they were not weaned at the beginning on the strength and independence which you have been weaned on...

Slowly you will come to understand that the standing alone and apart in my universe, without being able to detect me directly, is a gift to your development which my other children have not had.

*

This gift is a painful gift for much of the time, but the depth of the understanding it produces is far greater than the understanding produced in the happy states of heaven where the qualities of my being are dominant. For joy and delight fill the days of these heavenly children, but such lessons are one-sided and do not teach them the intrinsic values of such delights because they are not valued against the experience of their opposites.

You, on the other hand, value all these opposites from the very beginning and in so doing gain an insight which is beyond my ability to explain to you at this stage, but I can say that your more detached and objective judgements will one day put you in a position where the added depth of your understanding will show you the merit of my endeavour...

*

Try to become clear in your own understanding how you feel towards your own children of earth. When you feel clearly the real depth of the attitudes you should properly find within yourselves towards them, then nearly all of the questions you have about my attitudes towards you will be answered.

For, if you have not yet learned to love your own children properly, then you are not yet ready to learn how I feel towards you.

If you are not aware that your responsibilities towards your loved ones are an exact analogy of my responsibilities towards you then you have not begun to understand why I have put you on earth.

**

Social networking services plus smart phones is crack cocaine for young women

*

Crack cocaine is so pleasurable for its users that compared with it nothing else matters so much - it is highly addictive, dependence producing, and withdrawal leads to misery and drug-seeking. Many or most humans are pretty much helpless in the face of experiencing crack cocaine - the drug is stronger than human agency.

The combination of 'social networking services' (Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube etc) with ubiquitous mobile smartphone technology seems to have an analogous effect on young women: compared with messaging nothing else matters, they are pretty much helpless - the drug is stronger than their agency.

*

That this is a fact is obvious - just look around you.

Whether sitting, standing or walking; in private and in public, alone or with friends and family around them; at work or in leisure; eating or at the toilet; in any time or place possible, young women are social networking in preference to anything else.

Nothing else matters so much.

There has never been anything like this in the history of the world!

*

Does it matter? Is it just a bit of a laugh - nothing to worry about?

Well, does it matter how people spend nearly all of their time; or not?

You tell me.

*

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Since nothing can be known in and of itself - how does God know?

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Perhaps the whole of philosophy originated from the attempt to understand how it is possible to know (epistemology) - it may be that the metaphysical schemes were driven by this question.

I think that the monist metaphysics of mainstream Christian philosophy is organized-around the intuition that reality must be 'inside' God or else God cannot know reality; and if God cannot know reality then neither can we - there can be no real knowledge.

*

(A God which is inside a pre-existent universe, from this perspective, can never know it - can 'only' have theories about it - and if God doesn't know the universe, he cannot master it... This is assuming that we insist on an omnipotent God, rather than a God which is 'merely' vastly, incomparably and incomprehensibly powerful.)

*

But this argument does not necessarily work, because all these things (metphysical descriptions) work by analogy - and 'even-if' the universe is inside God, then that is no reason - no reason whatsoever -why God should understand it, know it.

The fact that something is inside oneself does not make it more understandable than something being outside oneself. We do not understand our hearts and kidneys, we do not even know when a cancer is growing inside us - our insides might as well be outsides from the point of view of knowledge.

And this even applies to the brain and mind - the part of our mind which knows is a tiny part of the operations of the mind.

*

There is no way of imagining a situation in which knowing is natural, intrinsic, and self-validating.

To insist on this leads to nihilism. 

The framing of the question renders it unanswerable - we can successfully critique and expose the flaws in another person's views, as monists successfully critique pluralists - but all possible articulated views are incoherent hence indefensible - and monism is itself incoherent hence indefensible!

*

My impression is that epistemology as a whole is a badly-framed question, a red herring, at the deepest level nonsense, a confusion, an artificial artefact of some kind.

So, if not - then what?

Human understanding necessarily is in the way of relationship narratives - stories.

And/ yet/ if you try to unpack, translate, summarize the stories - to capture them in non-stories and detach them from human relationships (detach them from motivation and purpose and choice)  - then the incoherence of metaphysical questions comes flooding-back to suck you down towards nihilism!

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Note added: The first and second commandments (to love God and neighbour) are about relationships; Scripture is full of people and stories; Jesus taught mostly by stories. Clearly relationships and stories are primary for Christians. If we can't comprehend (relate to) people, relationships and stories as primary; but must translate everything into impersonal, abstract (legalistic, philosophical) principles (laws, rules, regulations) then it is pretty difficult to be a Christian - because we will get Christianity at second hand and without the intrinsic power that comes from personal engagement. Often, and now, abstraction yields apostasy.

What is hypocrisy? What hypocrisy is not

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Hypocrisy is NOT failing to practice what you preach.

(Otherwise we could preach only sin - which is, in fact, pretty much, the currently-permitted situation.)

Hypocrisy is falsely claiming to practice what you preach.

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

William Arkle on the nature of mortal life

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From The Great Gift - by William Arkle, 1977

http://www.billarkle.co.uk/greatgift/text/resolutionofgrief.html

I suppose we can develop anger and impatience with the Creator and the way He has designed His system of teaching. We might feel angry that He hasn't stepped in and done more to remind us of what we would have liked to have been doing.

But on the other hand, we discover, the more we look at it, that the Creator's teaching method is to allow us to make mistakes and to allow us to get ourselves out of our mistakes. The deeper the mistake we make and the more we have to struggle to get out of that mistake, the more we are going to learn about the nature of our being...

*

He doesn't want holy and righteous and over-good beings to share his life with him. He wants these qualities in their proper proportion but only as secondary natures to the Divine nature itself, which is loving and caring and ongoing and friendly and creative...

You see that friendship to us, and I'm sure also to our Creator, is more important than our ability to avoid making mistakes.

As soon as we make a mistake we become, so to speak, unholy, unsaintly, unrighteous and not good. But in correcting those mistakes we gain understanding, and when we have truly gained a lot of understanding we become wise, and when we become wise we realise that wisdom is far greater than holiness or goodness or righteousness as we understand those things.

For wisdom is the highest expression of love in action and from it such qualities as holiness, and righteousness and goodness are spin-offs. They are not the primary objective of wisdom. The primary objective of wisdom is to be itself - wisely to he its loving creative nature. Wisely, that means to the best advantage of all its friends and all the situations that it is aware of. 

*

If we take a narrow view of the Creator's purpose for us, it might be the attainment of the ability to stay in a heavenly world that He created for us somewhere. To do that, the sooner we become holy and good and free of any sort of mistake the better.

But if we do that, then we are surely going to limit our ability to learn; to learn to understand who we are, to learn to understand all the qualities that are available for us to understand, because we will limit the mistakes that we are going to make and, therefore, we will limit the understanding that comes to us through the correcting of those mistakes. 

*

I feel that it is possible to say that, if the Creator had simply wanted us to become beautiful, righteous children who did nothing but be good, as it were, and delight in the Divine quality of loving, blissful, beautiful serenity, then He would have arranged for us to be born directly into heaven where we would have been with all these qualities.

But if that had happened, then we would have lacked the understanding we are gaining through living through all those beautiful, heavenly qualities and their opposite, such as ugliness and unkindness and hatred and confusion, and pain and sorrow and grief and loneliness.

Now, through the understanding of these, negative qualities, we come to know what positive qualities really are; but if we had only known the positive qualities, we wouldn't truly have known what they were. We would have been with them but we would have had nothing to compare them with. And it is only through the art of comparison that we come to an under- standing of the qualities that we handle and are capable of handling. 

*

We cannot become the friends, that the Creator wishes us to become to one another and to Himself, if we have not got the ability to understand the nature of the qualities that are available to our being.

It's no good if we simply live as heavenly beings in heaven because we would have little companionship with one another, or for the Creator, in a creative sense. We would have no ability to discuss the merits of the qualities that we know about.

But if we have lived through them, as we do on earth; and their opposites, as we do on earth, then we would develop an ability to understand, objectively, the significance of beauty, of truth, of honesty, of things like kindness and care.

How would we know about loving kindness or loving care in a place like heaven? There would be no need for kindness or for caring as we know it, everything would have been taken care of. There would be nothing to be kind about.

We would be with the quality of love, but we wouldn't be able to express it in the form of care, and we wouldn't know very much about the sort of qualities that come out of the experience of great friendship.

And these are the things that I think the Creator longs to give to us and wants to share with us in His nature.

*

The modern world is selecting for pure fertility

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Consider world population, and how long it has taken to add each billion to the world population - plus projections for the next couple of billion people over the next thirty or so years.

1804 1 billion
+123 years

1927 2 billion
+33 years

1960 3 billion
+25 years

1975 4 billion
+12 years

1987 5 billion
+12 years

1999 6 billion
+12 years

2011 7 billion
+14 years

2025 8 billion
+18 years
 

2043 9 billion

*

Since there were first 2 billion people in 1927, in the lifetime of those yet living - the human species has added another 5 billion!

What does this imply about natural selection?

In broad terms these numbers confirm that what is going on is that world population growth is driven by what I call (with not much exaggeration) pure fertility - which is to say that those parts of the world population grow which have the highest fertility - which have the most babies - and 'nothing else' matters.

*

In other words, the genes of those humans who had the most babies are those which have been proportionately amplified in the gene pool of the human species. Roughly, all babies born have added to the gene pool.

This applies whatever the cause of having the most babies - religion, living in a low technology society, desire to care for for many children, fecklessness, impulsiveness or inability to plan, hyper-promiscuity, even mass rape... all the genes associated with all causes of high fertility have been amplified - and amplified a great deal as a proportion of living humans.

*

Likewise, in this post 1927 context of adding a billion people or two people every  generation, those groups who were of low fertility, who did not even reach replacement fertility (having less, perhaps much less, than two children per woman),  have had their contribution to the actually existing world population completely swamped - it would have declined a lot anyway, but the sub-replacement fertility has further diminished the contribution - and this contribution will be further diminished by the consequent high average age of the remaining population.

(In a population average age 45, the average women is infertile, indeed the great majority of women are infertile.)

*

In the past, human population was (almost) never kept down by low fertility, because fertility was always at above replacement levels - far above replacement levels.

What kept the world population down to a billion and less up to 1804 was that there was enough resources to support that many people - any children who were born above this level would die - fertility was, in this sense irrelevant.

Repeat - pre-1804 fertility was irrelevant. 

But what the modern world excels at is keeping children alive up to reproductive age - since 1927 every child born (more or less, approximately) - wherever that child is born and whoever are its parents - has been (one way or another) raised to adulthood and reproductive capacity, and this continues. 

*

So, over the space of about 100 years we have gone from a pre-1800 world where fertility was irrelevant to the natural selection of humans - that is, selection for pure mortality; to a post 1927 world where human evolution is almost entirely being driven by birth rates - a world of pure fertility.  

The average modern human, especially the average modern young human, is essentially a product of very rapid short term selection for pure fertility.

This is a new and unique situation in its scale - genetically its effect would probably be similar to the situation after a genetic bottleneck when the population has gone very low - e.g. due to most of the population having been wiped-out and a new population being founded from the survivors (e.g after a severe plague or natural disaster); or the 'founder effect' of a small population inhabiting a new environment rich in resources and without predators or diseases - when the constraint on population growth is, briefly, 'pure fertility'. 

*

Or the situation resembles the population growth of parasites who enter a new naive host environment that is helpless to restrain growth of the microbial invaders - when selection is for virulence rather than resistance.

In a nutshell and by analogy - a (pre 1804) human population being selected by pure mortality was being selected for resistance to the environment; but a (post 1927) human population being selected by pure fertility is being selected such as to enhance its virulence.

*

How does high intelligence evolve?

*

http://iqpersonalitygenius.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/how-does-high-intelligence-evolve.html
*

The devil tells only one lie...

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From John C Wright's blog

http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/02/david-warren-defies-the-empire-of-lies/#more-9910

...The devil only tells one lie, but we are prone by our fallen nature to believe it, and so he need not invent any other. He told it to the mother of the race in Eden, when he slyly implies that God did not want her to achieve the goodness and divinity the apple of Knowledge of Good and Evil would bestow. He failed to mention that God from the beginning intended man to be divinized, to suffer apotheosis, to become like Him, of His nature, to become creatures of pure love as He is pure love.

The devil has only one lie: God is not the source of goodness (says the devil) God is the barrier between you and goodness. To reach goodness, destroy God and toss Him aside. 

(I am reminded, silly man who reads children’s books that I am, of the promise made by the White Witch to Edmund when she tempts him with Turkish delight: namely, that he shall be a Prince in Narnia. She did not tell him that he already, by virtue of being a Son of Adam, a King in Narnia. The Green Witch says the same lie to Rilian in a later book, telling him to conquer a country which, had he only known it, was already his by right, and eager to welcome him.)

So, here. The Progressives in their smirking self-righteous piety and grotesque self-imposed ignorance are henchmen of the devil. Some know it, most do not. They stand between a woman and her human nature, her happiness, her children, and they speak the selfsame lie. The source of your happiness is the barrier to happiness. Destroy the source of your happiness, toss happiness aside, and you will be happy.

**

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Hell - a test case for your idea of Christian evidence

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That there is a place or state of Hell seems clear enough to most real Christians - but what Hell means, who it is for - what kind of people, what kind of proportion of people - and the matter of whether Hell is a default state or if not whether it is an imposed punishment of a self-chosen destination... these are matters of great disagreement among Christians.

My purpose here is simply to point out that how Christians discuss Hell is specific evidence of how they understand and evaluate Christianity in general - and indeed each Christian can reflect on their own way of discussing the subject of Hell as a way of diagnosing their own evaluation scheme.

*

At one level it is trivially obvious that primary understanding of Hell comes from the authority structure of whatever Christian denomination to which you are affiliated - what I am interested by is what comes next. If further evidence is asked for, or evidence for the view of authority, then differences emerge.

For many people the proper way to understand Hell is to examine the Bible verses which reference Hell - or precursor or related concepts of Hell such as Sheol. These verses are then compared and synthesized to generate a picture of Hell.

I would call this a bottom-up or legalistic approach.

This view seems to suggest that Jesus Christ introduced Hell, and depicted it as a worse place than Sheol: a tormenting place rather than a place of ghostly dementia and witlessness; and that people were to be judged and sent to Hell.

It seems hard to avoid that Hell is a punishment - and Original Sin makes Hell seem like a default for humans primarily because of the transgression of Adam and Eve.

*

At the opposite extreme is the way I personally tend to approach understanding Hell, which is very 'broad brush' - and that is by (for example) looking at the overall implication of Jesus's ministry in the Gospels.

What I see there is that Jesus was clearly preaching Good News. For me this sets the boundaries for whatever concept of Hell is settled upon - that it had to be something which was Good News in the context of the New Testament, against the backdrop of Jewish and Pagan ideas about the afterlife.

Whatever Hell is, therefore, as a package the destiny of the soul after life as described and promised by Christianity must be much better than anything on offer from paganism and Judaism.

*

As further evidence, I take very seriously the broad brush context of the first and second commandments (to Love first God, then secondly they 'neighbour' as thyself) plus the repeated concept of God as Love; and the further consideration that all Men we are (in a profound sense) God's children (Sons of God).

So whatever Hell is, and whoever it is for, must be seen in a context of familial love, a Fathers love of children.

*

A third factor is that in my broad brush way of considering the Bible - the Old Testament is all about the free will, choice and agency of the 'characters' - Adam and his family, Noah, the Kings and Prophets, smaller characters like Ruth, and even baddies like the Pharaoh in Genesis... they are all seen choosing and taking the consequences of their choices - and everything hinges on these being real choices.

So, the fact that Jesus was preaching Good News, that God is love, we are his children, and we have real free choice including the freedom to reject the Good News... all these broad brush considerations set fairly sharp bounds for how a Christian should conceptualize Hell.

So I see what Christ did as wholly Good News, a gift of salvation-by-default; and Hell as an anomalous and self-chosen state (not a punishment, not a place someone is sent against their wishes) - a destination chosen by free will, and against the deepest wishes of God.

*

(This is not universalism nor Namby Pamby, Pollyanna-ish wishful-thinking - because I believe that many people have chosen, more are choosing and probably many more will in future choose, Hell - and that Hell really is Hellish. And also that Satan and his demons are at work increasing the numbers of people who make such choices. But although this situation surely angers God, as it would any loving parent if their children chose to reject family, goodness and love; this situation is primarily a source of deep, eternal sorrow to God - as it would be for any loving parent.)

*

And in all this, there has not been not much place for the close analysis of chapter and verse and unravelling hard or ambiguous passages; there is no role for legalism - leave aside the microscopic examination of individual words and issues of the translation of Hebrew or Greek concepts.

Now, ideally I would want to be able to synthesize the broad brush with the chapter and verse sources of evidence - because ultimately they are not in conflict, and all contradictions must be superficial and not deep, apparent and not real.

But what matters is which level is primary: what needs to be reconciled to what.

Many or most modern Christians are bottom up - and reconcile the broad brush with the chapter and verse - I am pointing-out that the top down and broad brush view is of at least equal validity to legalism (and has the great advantage of being much less dependent on the minutiae of translation and historical context).

*

People with quiet, soothing voices pronouce (voiced) D as (unvoiced) T (at the end of words)

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Just something I have noticed...

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The self-deception of high heels - and status

*

As very high heeled shoes are back in fashion yet again I reflect on the short termist, self-harming, self-deceptive attitudes which they reveal.

*

High heels often accomplish the short-termist goal of attracting more attention to a woman - because they give an illusion of longer and perhaps shapelier legs, and tilt the pelvis and create a compensatory  back extension in a way that will emphasize breasts and buttocks - extreme styles of high heels also advertize (whether or not she intends it consciously) a woman's sexual interest and availability, which also naturally attracts attention.

*

The disadvantage is that high heels make women believe they are taller than they really are; and since women strongly prefer men to be taller than themselves, from the woman's perspective high heels reduce the proportion of attractive men.

Men who would have been attractive without high heels, are rendered unattractive by the wearing of high heels.

(Obviously this effect of reducing the proportion of attractive men gets stronger as the woman wearing the high heels gets taller.)

Having artificially raised their internal standards of attractiveness by creating the illusion of height, high heel wearing women are then 'forced' to lower those selective standards by getting drunk.

*

High heels are thus rather similar to high status.

Women who undergo prolonged education and attain higher occupational status, by doing so reduce the proportion of men whom they find attractive - because just as women want men to be taller then themselves, so women want men to be of higher status than themselves.

*

Height and status are both comparative. A higher status woman finds fewer men attractive than a low status woman; a very high status woman finds very few men attractive.

Furthermore, a prolonged education or prolonged occupational training and serial promotion (which are typically what leads to high status) necessarily makes a women older and therefore on average less attractive - especially as a marriage partner and mother.

*

So as her education prolongs, her promotions accumulate, and as her status increases; on average a women finds that a smaller and smaller proportion of men are attractive to her - and at the same time she herself is getting less and less attractive. So this group of educated and high status women has the lowest rate of marriage and the lowest fertility from the combination of being more selective and less attractive.

And, in order to overcome her own paralysingly-selective attitude towards men, high status women often have to get themselves drunk in order to subvert their own, self-created, inhibitions.

So the net evaluative process at work in choosing a partner is some combination of status (and height) hyper-selectivity and its wreckage by intoxication.

*

(Also, self-intoxication in a woman is off-putting for a man looking for a long term, loyal, wife. So the kind of man a hyper-selective/ but intoxicated women ends-up-with is a biased in the direction of the kind of man who is, for whatever reason, attracted-by - or at least un-bothered by - habitual drunkenness in his sexual partner/s.) 

*

The whole thing is a real (and self-reinforcing) tragedy for so many people and in so many ways. People underestimate the ill-effects of their own psychological self-manipulations such as high heels and higher education... well they don't just underestimate them, they deny them altogether! But there is a mass of statistical evidence and logic - as well as personal observation - to confirm this stuff.

*

Monday, 17 February 2014

On 'giving the benefit of the doubt'

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Giving the benefit of the doubt to someone, or some organization, often seems to entail pretending you believe things you actually believe are lies...

Pretending that people you actually believe to be lairs are instead truthful...

And, pretending that ideas and policies you actually believe to be of evil intent may actually be benign.

*

For reasons of expediency this kind of stuff is at least understandable - although surely not admirable: surely indeed a self-corrupting thing to do.

So why is convoluted dishonesty with oneself and others so often considered to be a Good and Christian thing to do?

*

When you believe that what you are being fed are lies and evil - why pretend otherwise?

Why pretend that 'otherwise' is nice; why pretend that being dishonestly-nice about what we believe to be lies and evil is characteristic of being a Christian?

Now that really is hypocritical.

*

Re-conceptualizing the nature and consequences of 'Eastern' impersonal religions in relation to the personal God of Christianity

*

What follows is an excerpt from the writing of a little known mystical author called William Arkle (he died in 2000). I know about him because he lived nearby when I was at school.

http://www.billarkle.co.uk

http://www.wessexresearchgroup.org/digital_08.html

I never met him (except once, in passing) but my impression is that he was a genuine mystic who had some real insights of potential value to Christians - although the context he worked in was very New Age. He uses Christian language, but also other concepts which are not mainstream and may well be contradictory to scripture (e.g. reincarnation).

It is almost as if Arkle was trying to rediscover afresh and for himself Christianity (which he already knew), entirely non-scripturally from the certainties of personal mystical insight.

This is often a pride-full and power-seeking thing for someone to do - but not always; and in this instance I think Arkle was essentially sincere and non-egotistical; I think he was essentially humble and not proud.  And this is why he was able to have some genuine insights.

*

However, what results from his subjective, meditative process is - almost necessarily - idiosyncratic, eccentric, and partial - and therefore sometimes wrong and (more than usually) potentially misleading; and his whole metaphorical and symbolic structure is not presented as being literally true but as a personal expression of personal insights - as a report of how things look to him: thus it was presented by paintings, poetry and music as well as prose and teaching/ lectures.

*

Anyway, I came across a very interesting perspective in the context of Arkle's main short 'summary' work - Letter from a Father - which has the character of God trying to explain his purposes to us.

I will add bold emphasis to highlight the striking points. Excisions are marked ...

*

http://www.billarkle.co.uk/prose/letterfromafather.html

In the beginning before time was, your mother and I had a longing in our heart to share our values and the substance of our being with others who could rejoice and be glad about them as we are glad about them. So we considered how we could do this.

We realised that to make living beings directly and ready formed was one way, and to make the seeds of this, and plant them in a situation which would cause them to grow in their own way, as a gradual process, was another.

There were two things we had to bear in mind. We had to decide how important to us it was that these children were real and not remotely controlled puppets. And we had to decide how we could guide and teach them what we knew they would have to learn without them losing the position of judgement for themselves over the values which we already knew to be good. 

We ... would have to be careful not to dominate them too much or we would destroy their individual differences and the integrity of their reality. But we also understood that they would have to grow into a certain type of person if they were going to be able to understand what we had to show them and give to them.

And of course we realised that they would begin their growth as our children, but that what we really longed for was not that they should be our children, but that they should slowly mature and become our companions and friends.

For our longing was to share this undemanding gladness in other centres of being who were in harmony with us but who were truly independent individuals to us. We understood this relationship to be the most delightful, and one which was open to endless variations, and these variations seemed to us of the greatest value since they had an absolute creative context between them.

In order that your being should mature slowly and fully, we had to think of a way to bring experience to you which would awaken you without overwhelming you, and in the process of awakening you enable you all to become different in your individual ways. As you already know, the quality of wholehearted affection and the quality of integrity or stability were two of the qualities most important to understand. Knowledge, both factual and of qualities, was also a part of this. 

... the individuality of your own being was of the essence of the matter from the very beginning. You were the one who was eventually to become aware of your own uniqueness and individual value, and you were to learn to carry the responsibility that goes with this gift.

We, most of all, felt as our deepest and dearest wish, when the time came that you understood what it was that we had undertaken on your behalf, that you would be glad, and choose to take up this option we have offered to you as our most loving gift, and live together with us as your friends and helpers.

But, as you know, in the case of friendship, the relationship between the two sides must be one of perfect balance and understanding and has to be freely and spontaneously taken up and maintained.

Therefore our purpose was to bring you to a stage in your experience when you could understand what we were offering as friends, but we had to arrange for you to have an alternative open to you, for friendship and love cannot be thrust upon people or they cease to be real.

Now, if you will follow me carefully I will try to explain what the alternative was. If you have understood that our personal love and friendship was one way for you to take, then our impersonal eternal being was another way for you to take if you so chose

In both cases you would come to eternal life, as this was the basis of our gift, but if you did not notice or did not respond to our personal nature, then you must be in a position where you could respond to all the qualities that we hold to be valuable but which do not involve our own personal love or friendship, thus uniting with our impersonal aura or being, which is itself bathed in love. 

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The striking idea I get from this is that the 'impersonal' religions we think of as 'Eastern' - Hinduism, Buddhism and the like - religions which lack a personal God - can be conceptualized from our Christian perspective as not so much wrong as incomplete

Or, they are religions deriving from the choice of accepting God as an eternal impersonal being; instead of accepting the offer of a relationship with God - in which God is a personage.

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Thus God actually is a personage, who wants more than anything to have a loving (familial, friendly) relationship with us persons; but since a loving relationship must be chosen, there is an alternative (there must be an alternative); and the alternative (for benignly disposed people) is as good a God can contrive.

The alternative is one of us of choosing not to regard God as a person but instead choosing to regard God as an impersonal entity: an eternal force or tendency or influence. 

This is, in effect, to choose to regard God in terms of what he does, rather than what he is. 

Arkle's notion here is that this is, in fact, a path to 'salvation' - that is, a path to eternal life; but to an eternal life of a qualitatively different, and non-personal, kind. 

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Perhaps I like this so much because it chimes with my idea that all religions are essentially honest about what they offer: all religions deliver on their promises. 

'Eastern' religions claim to deliver an impersonal kind of immortality, aspire to destruction or dissolving of the self and of attachments, regard reality as essentially im-personal and therefore regard personality as delusion, a drag, a trap. Life is suffering, consciousness is suffering - both to be escaped-from, as an ideal. 

Adherents of 'Eastern' religions want to dissolve or destroy their own personality, and do not want a personal God - and perhaps God gives them what they want; and does not give them what they do not want. 

*

Something similar was said about 'paganism' (and all other religions) by CS Lewis, that they were glimpses or partial forms of Christianity - but Arkle's idea is that the 'Eastern' impersonal path was actually provided by God, as an alternative and valid - albeit lower - form of salvation. 

The Eastern path is less than what God wants for us; but is nonetheless a gift from God to those who believe in God and in Goodness; but who choose not to accept the highest gift. These are not punished, but generously allowed to have what they most wish for. 

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NOTE ADDED: Perhaps the reason that this idea resonated immediately with me, is that God the Father must (surely?) be at least as loving towards his children as I am to mine. On this basis, if the children of a loving God chose to decline or reject His offer of a continuing and developing personal relationship after death (and denied His fatherhood and/or personhood) I assume He would nonetheless certainly try to fix things so that His children might live after death in a relatively benign - albeit impersonal - kind of existence - in fact the best existence that they could be induced to choose. It is a sad fact that we children so often refuse to choose our Father's best offer.