God and Lizardmen

I want to start by saying that I’m not being at all facetious with this post, nor do I intend to be disrespectful, blasphemous, or snidely disingenuous, although I’m sure my commentary will strike some nerves. 

For years, in my 20s, I was a mostly-convinced atheist.  I admired the few people I knew who were card-carrying versions.  I think my lack of belief at that point was due to the heavy proselytizing to which I’d been subjected in younger years.  During my few years of church attendance, one of my Sunday school teachers was a fount of what would be called urban legends today, and she spouted them with the same fervor she gave to Bible verses.  As I grew older, it all seemed to be highly questionable.  Then I began to read the books of Carl Sagan who, while not denying the existence of God, essentially said that the only truths are those which can be reliably replicated using the scientific method.  Dr. Sagan avoided direct comments on religion whenever possible, or so it seemed to me.  His work made absolute sense to me.

Then I accumulated more life experience, and in doing so, I witnessed some occurrences that couldn’t be explained by staging experiments.  Nor, to my mind at least, were they mere coincidences, although I’m sure logical explanations could be posited.  In short, at present, I tentatively embrace the existence of an amorphous Something that’s bigger than all of us, even if it’s only Jung’s collective consciousness or overarching Nature.

My prompt for writing this post was a NY Times article I read the other day which discussed some of the beliefs of QAnon followers.  Specifically, there was mention of the Nashville bomber’s conviction that shape-shifting alien invaders have killed high-ranking government and corporate leaders and taken their places.  These creatures’ natural form, so the belief goes, is that of giant lizards; while they’re waiting to assume leadership positions, they live in Earthly sewers. 

I’d venture to assume that, to most inhabitants of our planet, such Lizardman hypotheses are bizarre in the extreme.  QAnon supporters are said to number in the millions, however, although many do not believe in all of the theories put forth on the various sites frequented by followers.  To come to accept the existence and malevolent purpose of these aliens, of course, one has to get past the obstacles that tend to work against such acceptance; the difficulty of mastering interstellar travel being the most obvious.  Nevertheless, QAnon-ers either don’t consider pesky logical restrictions, OR they go whole-hog and buy into the concept that the Lizardmen are indeed capable of navigating from some distant planet.

In the Comments section of the above-referenced article, wherein the possibility of the Nashville bomber’s mental illness was being debated, a reader posted the following:

            “You can believe unlikely things and not be mentally ill.  Take, for example, every
            Christian you’ve ever met.” – James Crawford, Nashville, TN

This short observation stopped me in my tracks.  Sure, for most of my life, I had not espoused Christian concepts.  But I hadn’t really thought in terms of delusion about the ironclad, unshakable surety that millions of people have about Heaven, Hell, and an omnipotent, omniscient Being.  I just put it down to a faith that I don’t share, and left it at that.

Naturally, most Christians were raised in the faith and don’t really question it.  As Scarlett said to Rhett, “Oh, there is [a Hell].  I know there is.  I was raised on it.”  So most Christians will answer that, yes, they do believe in a Father and Son, at least, even absent any proof.  But they feel they don’t need scientific proof.  Well, neither do QAnon-ers. 

In totally objective terms, then, does it make more logical sense to believe in a God out there somewhere, wielding power over all realms, than it does to be convinced that alien lizards are in charge of the U.S. government?  Obviously, it’s possible to believe in both, neither, or one or the other, but why?  Is it purely a matter of choice or background? In all seriousness, I invite readers to weigh in on my questions.  I ask because I, too, am puzzling on the answers.

52 thoughts on “God and Lizardmen

  1. Those lizardmen have a lot to answer for.

    Or are people simply relying too much on their lizard brains?

    Speaking of aliens pulling the levers of power, it’s worth watching “They Live,” a perfect satire of the Reagan ’80s that’s still relevant today. Obey! Reproduce! 🙂

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  2. I wonder if I will be able to answer briefly when it’s past my bedtime?
    I have identified as a Quaker non-theist – though sometimes I have my doubts.
    With regard to: “In totally objective terms, then, does it make more logical sense to believe in a God out there somewhere, wielding power over all realms, than it does to be convinced that alien lizards are in charge of the U.S. government?” Logically, no (tho’ I’m not sure how objective that is).
    However!
    One of today’s pre-eminent Atheists (one of the 4 referred to as ‘The four horsemen of the apocalypse’) namely Richard Dawkins, in his book ‘The God Delusion’, compares belief in ‘God’ with belief in the ‘flying pink spaghetti-monster’ (substitute Lizardmen if you prefer). He observes that no-one believes in the latter. (was it worth writing a book about?).
    Of course no well-informed sane person believes in Lizardmen, or spaghetti-monsters.
    So what about belief in God? Well, maybe it depends on what you mean by ‘God’. (‘God or whatever you call it’ as some Quakers say).
    Dawkins claims that the God he is talking about is more or less the God of the Abrahamaic religions, the Father, or ‘skyfather’ if you like. Of course, not many people today believe in a god quite like that. (Quite like what you might ask?). Apart from biblical reference (in Jesus’s words) to the Father, the idea of the ‘skyfather’ is drawn from many sources but perhaps particularly the wonderful paintings of the ‘skyfather’ by William Blake. It’s fairly certain that he didn’t believe in a skyfather and perhaps the paintings are a sort of knowing blasphemous joke?

    But millions (billions in fact) do apparently believe in a ‘God’ of some sort and have done for thousands of years. (So we can leave Lizardmen and spaghetti monsters out of it really – there just isn’t the evidence!).
    Dawkins would have us leave God out too (there just isn’t the evidence).
    However, it still depends on what you mean by ‘God’. What do billions of good people believe in? A god which they create in their own image perhaps?
    In all the major religions of today (and some minor or ancient ones too) there have always been people (a minority perhaps?) who claim to have a direct personal experience of God – or the Goddess, or the Spirit, or the Light, or the Christ within, or the pearl of great price, or ‘the ground of our being’, or maybe Buddha nature, samadhi, nirvana, enlightenment etc. etc. etc. (the divine presence etc.). Over the centuries, that adds up to quite a few people. Have they all been mistaken? And even if they have, what is it that they believe in or experience?

    A question worth asking I think. Perhaps there is such an experience (of the divine presence?) which may or may not have a material or physical explanation – or a physiological, psychological, mental, emotional, ‘religious’ or spiritual one (explanation). Did I mention Alex Comfort’s book ‘I and That – a biological basis for religion’ previously? (If you can’t get hold of that he also wrote ‘The Joy of Sex’ – some editions with illustrations from the Karmasutra).

    Maybe God is a symbol, or a metaphor, for some aspect of the human condition, for Love, goodness, Fate, Infinity, the Void, Silence, Eternity (I could go on but it’s getting late).

    Whether he/she or it exists or not, he probably isn’t a Lizardman, Lizardwoman or spaghetti monster of any hue, capable of flight or not.

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    1. By, “God,” I mean an entity, being, or presence that exists separate from the physical plane, who has the ultimate power to control events, OR at one time had the power to control events (under the clockmaker theory). I think that covers the majority’s concept of a Judeo-Christian god. I leave out Buddhism because it centers around a person, even if deified, along with indigenous, shamanistic beliefs, as I’d opine that their gods are not entirely separate from the physical plane. That is, for example, spirits who inhabit trees, rocks, waters, and animals. And btw, such spirits seem to me to make more sense than a Father out in the ether, although I have no logical basis (!) for that feeling.

      I can’t speak to anyone’s personal experience of / contact with God. At the risk of insulting those who’ve experienced such, I would comment that such encounters are entirely subjective and, as I see them, are the result of profound desire or desperation. A willful self-delusion, if you will, a mind playing tricks. And we don’t know enough about the human brain [yet] to be able to say with any certainty that those experiences emanate from a separate being, regardless of the number of people throughout history who have documented them.

      Interesting that you’d mention God as a metaphor or an entity created in people’s own image. I understand that the Romans, as one example, believed that their gods existed because the Roman people believed in them. Therefore, more devotion would make a god stronger. I wonder if, conversely, they thought that if a god lost followers, he/she would falter or disappear?

      Have not read Dawkins, but am delighted at the image of a flying pink spaghetti-monster!

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  3. If one believes that God is, one will come to understand that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. I know that it’s the earnest intentions that reveal the most. One who puts their all into the awareness of God will surely find that undefinable presence. To be asking these questions that would identify oneself as a seeker of the deepest most mysterious relationship; is to be living a lucky life. It proves that this superficial illusion has lost it’s hold on the seeker. One enters into a partnership that goes beyond the body/mind experience, and the dance of two lovers ( the loved and the beloved) enters a void where all definable perceptions disappear. There is a scintillating radiant beauty in the fact that God cannot be defined. Any definition is lacking and insufficient. Nobody can define adequately that which has no beginning or end. There’s a word used by some when asked to point out God, and it is THAT.
    I believe in a synchronicity that occurs when your heart’s desire is led by pure earnest intentions. Begin by asking, “who am I?” If any of this “God stuff” is real; I would posit that ……
    “ shit will happen”! “Revelations will occur!”… Why wouldn’t God reveal all that is? God’s not hiding, one just has to develop correct awareness. I’m sure it will all be revealed. From my perspective it’s the most exciting game the body plays; and the results are truly liberating…. there’s freedom in this relationship you enter into that is beyond the body/mind web we have been snared by.
    As far as reptiles go… they are part of a fanciful trap that is only a temporal blip on the fabric of eternity. What you are seeking lies before the void and all that sprung forth from it’s stirring.
    Here’s an interesting clue…
    Find out where you were eight days before you were conceived and stay there!
    When it comes to this “God Path”
    I love the line of the Beetle George
    If you don’t know where you’re going
    Any road will take you there
    I’ve just tried to describe the road I travel….
    Finding a road is so worth it… because most all of what is being offered up these days seems so superficial…
    ✌🏼❤️🙏

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  4. one is impoverished who has a personal, single god to whom s/he bows and scapes, bestows her/his gratitude toward, and then beseeches that god to gift her/him w/ that god’s favours and beneficence, such as one’s health, paths to success, ambition, will, victory in battle, etc. best to have gods in and of everything everywhere, including those integral to one’s self. diversity rocks!

    we seem to be the only species which is resoundingly gormless enough to oppugn, ‘why am i here?’ well, one is ‘here’ to survive, after which one’s molecular matrix will denitrify into the cosmic soup and transmogrify into either another feckless species who wastes time belabouring the same nescient oppugning. or, one whose quantum particles join star nurseries and transmutate into a molecular salmagundi that simply carries on until the next dismantling, denitrification, devolution, evolution or nothing of the sort ensues.

    an intriguing and acutely-scalpalled treatise on this subject is cosmologist lawrence krauss’ 2012 publication, “A UNIVERSE FROM NOTHING: Why there is something rather than nothing”… ideations to ruminate over.

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  5. have no clue, trevor. a neologism perhaps? it was accepted as spelled, not flagged in red by denise’s site when written. so i assume it’s legit. ask sir webster [merriam, that is].

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  6. IMO “God or whatever you call it” can be considered “the things we don’t understand”. That said, I think the animists have the best framework. Things we don’t understand invest (exist) in physical things. From micro- to macro-scales. I like to imagine the (expanding? contracting?) universe as analogous to a “living” organism (or organisms).

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  7. I’m fairly fortunate to say the least. At a very early age I was “ dragged” to a Catholic Church every Sunday in an itchy wool suit; as Flash Gordon was busy inside the television box at home freeing the universe from doom and destruction. I have never forgiven “God” for this transgression. But, although I protested much, I must say there was a fascinating desire drawing me towards Christ. But having very little interest in any form of reading at that young stage of life, I can only say that the pull was magnetic rather than knowledge based.
    My curiosity only came as a young teenager; simply because I was starting to fall asleep at night and dream the exact events of the very next day. These dreams were so specific in detail that when I was living through the experience the next day I would become mesmerized by even the specks of dust on a piece of pottery that stood out from the night before. It was a feeling of being suspended inside a play that was previously lived out. Of course my friends thought I was off my nut, so I internalized all of these strange happenings. It was then I turned to books and have been led through a life of dreaming and fascinating about what it is that ever was. Synchronicity has been there all the way and it has revealed the understandings as needed. The Beetle George was a big factor early because he flowered and his freedom of exploration helped me to fly from the nest of archaic thought forms that were limiting. It’s been an amazing trip to say the least but I would say that being given the gift of dreams early on helped me to start the search away from the temporal physical towards the unnameable Absolute. I am a master of no belief, but I’ve certainly looked into most all of the major and minor ones; and there is a common thread that I’ve discovered woven in to the deeper aspects of each.
    There was a point that I decided to devote the time to studying in depth the foundation of my introduction to the spirit. I wanted to go back to where I had taken my first steps. So, I spent three years in a school going over the text of the Bible with Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. Slow walking through each word. By that time I was fascinated by the ideas from distant teachings about the death of self. The idea that it was not “I” who lived but the Christ Spirit that was animating this life. In the books of the Bible especially Collosians, I was stoned by this understanding. I spent many years among folks who hungered deeply and went into the prison ministry with a friend to teach while I hanging out was with this merry little tribe. It was a beautiful time; but I was moved on by the play of life and through many natural synchronistic moments I became further mystified by the walk. I am never amazed by the strange happenings because I have been in these situations in the dream world. I constantly had the comfort of knowing I have been in this place before to help the understanding that it was all being woven together seamlessly. Probably the most profound junction occurred when I was attending a meditation retreat with Master Charles Cannon. He taught me the understanding that in life as I live through it…everything is appropriate. He spent years on a path to self realization in India and came back to the states and helped expand development of brain wave entrainment through music that helps put one’s mind into the deeper states of awareness. He mapped the brainwave patterns of monks who spent their lifetime in the practice of meditation. Then created sounds to produce those patterns in ones brainwaves. The music helped match your brainwaves to the monks when they were in the deeper theta/ delta regions. It was there that I was told by the instructor that there is one book that unites and sums it all up succinctly. If you could have only one book this is the one he would keep. So naturally I got it and it brought all of the understanding to a conclusion. Sadly, I never got to go back and give him a big hug. He was in Mumbai with Master Charles holding a class and after the evening session he went to the hotels cafeteria with his daughter for a snack and was gunned down by a foolish person talked into participating in a terrorist attack.
    I was given a great pearl and he left my life. But I had found the explanations about what I understood but was unable to articulate about. It was just one of those knowing moments where you feel it all come together in a beautiful tapestry. The book was written by the non dual-Advaita teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj….. I Am That is the title. It is a destroyer and he is certainly not for the meek. He doesn’t mess around.

    I’ll leave you with a list of teachers and books; (some of the more recent teachers have media content where their understandings are kept before the public by the devoted ) I still enjoy going further with wise souls so I keep going back for an ever expanding awareness.

    Talks With Ramana Maharshi… Ramana Maharshi
    He’s famous for the phrase, “go back the way you came” David Goodman is a student who is chronicling Ramana’s teaching and has done a magnificent on of keeping this gentle giants life’s teaching alive.

    Douglas Harding… The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth… there are some astounding brilliant observation exercises that you can find on YouTube ( very short blips)that put a new “view” on what we are actually looking out at the word from. Simple yet profound.

    I Am That… Nisargadatta Maharaj…
    Consciousness and the Absolute … this book is a favorite of mine
    I’ve been through most all of his material which is simply the recording in writing of the inquiries from seekers who came to his small room above his cigarette shop in Bombay, India. The books were produced by Jean Dunn, Robert Powell, and there’s a student of his who I love
    Stephen Wolinsky
    I found Stephen through a very cool organization of quantum physics freaks and non dual teachers
    It’s called …Science and Non Duality
    They have tons of things online at YouTube…
    Here’s a few of my favorites from there…
    Peter Russell …..The Primacy of Consciousness
    and another is From Science to God
    Rupert Spira….and his teacher Francis Lucille
    These two put you into a very soothed and smooth perspective…. sitting under their teachings is sort of the other end of the spectrum from Nisargadatta’s blistering teachings …

    I also love this book by Fritjof Capra …
    The Tao of Physics….

    Here’s a guy in Fairfield Iowa who records interviews that are online with people who are seeking self realization. He’s from the Science and Non Duality group ….
    Buddha At the Gas Pump … hosted by Ric Archer and his wife Irene

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  8. Fascinating and very useful post, Utejack. I appreciate the list!

    I’ve delved briefly into the concept of synchronicity, and it resonated deeply with my long-held suspicion that there are no meaningless coincidences.

    I’ve read a bit about entrainment through music, and have downloaded some instrumental meditations. I found them to be innately peace-granting.

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    1. Here’s one more that I cannot believe I left out. He’s a very wise soul who has been sending me a beautiful teaching every day in my email that is deep and expanding. His name is Richard Shelquist, and he operates a site called

      https://wahiduddin.net/index.html

      The daily mail is called …Bowl of Saki
      He’s a Sufi and I’m not sure if you have ever been exposed to the poetry of Rumi, Omar Khayyam,
      Khalil Gibran…. so very love oriented
      When I read the Bowl of Saki daily it inspire your greater nature and is a good primer for the day to come….

      I told you I have turned over many rocks looking for the common thread… I believe I’m an infected addict….

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      1. “infected addict”??? on the contrary, not an aleatoric chance, utejack; your comments indicate a far more sane, balanced, and equiponderent mindset than any addict in my crwth! you are preternaturally humble in your edifying elenchi, as well as gracious in the delivery thereof. i appreciate and applaud your intellectual munificence in sharing these thought-provoking gems w/ ponderment’s readership. my family and i are esurient for more. you might be intrigued to know that i cc and re-post your thought-foragings to my entire family and a select few in our adytum of friends.

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      2. Well that’s a kind gesture and it’s a tonic to know that others enjoy the words that get strung together. Thank them for me. That was a very kind thing to say.
        I was getting into the banter you and Denise shared yesterday at Bracing Views about how to approach family during these mixed up, troubled up times. I’m working on my technique to have a relationship with my Trump worshipping sister and her husband. Right now it’s strained and painful to be in the presence of each other. Here’s how it happens in WNC. A bit of background might make it clearer.
        My wife comes from a very small farming hamlet outside of Columbus, Ohio and grew up in a Christian environment. She’s just rural sweet. But, since she pulled up roots and headed south; she’s been flowering into a blossom of open perspective ; and has a profound practice in healing humanity on many levels; from the physical to the deeper subtle realms. For many a year now, she has diligently entered into a weekly practice with folks around the planet that get together online and study the finer points of esoteric healing . It’s an ancient practice and they also meditate and do healing sessions that help bring in the much needed light. They work with subtle energies and these prayer gatherings help raise humanities vibration so that our better natures dominate our life’s choices. Recently she’s started taking a class in esoteric astrology to help her understand the larger vibrational influences that are bearing down on our planet. I love this one line that I hear her pray at the end of her supplications. …
        “And seal the door where evil dwells!”
        She is such a force for good to all creatures big and small and all the elements in between. (Sssshhh..even fairies and sprites and such)!
        So how do you think that belief system goes over with a very judgmental hard right Christian perspective. Well, she’s going to burn in eternal damnation for this, as she’s been told by her extended family. You know those sights and people I’ve shared on this thread put me into the same cauldron. Now let’s add some of this into the recipe and see how it bakes. I haven’t voted for a major party candidate since the days of Mr. Carter. So every 3-4 years when election season comes round I get blistered for my world view and traitorous relationship with the direction of our nation. It got horrible when I voted for Ralph and not Bush 9-11 and although I didn’t think it could get any worse…. it’s only been a descent into the abyss since… this year we were the cause of the destruction of our fair nation when we voted for the UPS driver.
        I figured Mr. Hawkins had been trained to deliver, so what could go wrong if he got elected. To wrap this up we are one day, devil worshipping communists, another day we are heathen socialists, and on their days the list expands. Neither of us have fallen into the trap of the political “ism schism” game. We don’t fight. But, I remind them about policies from the War budget ( and they love their military), to inequality ( they are hyper capitalist to the core… unions suck, and neither of us deserve our postal benefits for our 30 years of extreme overtime and service to our community), there’s the migrants coming to take our jobs and become welfare burdens…my reminders about corporate welfare or the war displaced immigrant wandering class we so efficiently produce around the globe, are words of a bleeding heart lib-tard. The last year she leaves my presence yelling angrily and asking what’s happened to her brother. Steaming as she walks down the road to her house, or into another room if we are in her kitchen. Nothing has been working to stop the belittling mocking commentary directed our way.
        So what does one do? What can one do, when you cannot develop a normal topic with facts to buttress why one believes that our commons are in need of repair after the cataclysmic policies of vulture capitalism. How should one approach the heaven and hell line in the sand for the heathen practitioners of anything other than right wing fundamental prosperity gospeling. Tragically, we can’t get past two sentences anymore so we gave up visitation for our own health. We got tired of the berating beat downs. They come by periodically since the election; but it’s wired being in a room neutered and unable to be your true self. We are kind and try to be interested and positive about what they do from day to day. But she did wonder as she left yesterday why no one comes by to see them or talk to them about stuff. If I tried to confess why, I would have to drink a cup of blame. These are strange sensations that travel through the body at this time. We are just playing defense, I guess you could say; because we are not wise enough to pull a different rabbit out of our hat presently. It truly is an odd form of pain. I cannot grasp why these folks have turned so combative. It’s as if their anger has been increasing along with the trajectory of our military budgets…
        So, ….. what does one do? Well I’ll choose Word Press, Ponderments and BVs where I can be a bit off, but still leave with some skin on my hide. Plus there’s usually a tincture of healing words in the preparations created by the eminent Drs. Denise and Jeanie.

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      3. your exegesis is so awe-inspiring i even welcomed the extensive length of it, utejack, which is unprecedented given my failing eyesight and compromised attention-span. your experiences and dwindling relationship w/ your sister is a simulacrum, if not a precise replica, of my own w/ my sister. despite being a scant year older than i, she has divagated away from the trajectory i erroneously concluded we were both on, politically and socially, until she converted in her 40’s [we are now octogenarians] to the mormon cult and underwent ‘sacred’ born-again christian and born-again virgin ceremonies. she is terrified that, if she exposes one cell of her body to the ether w/out wearing her ‘magic underwear’, all items of which, top and bottom, have been ceremoniously cleansed and blessed each month by her temple priest, she will go straight to the hell-fires of damnation for eternity upon her earthly demise. after spending a lifetime in science as a marine biologist, you can imagine how catastrophically divisive our respective zeitgeists became over the subsequent decades. however, approaching my sister recently in a non-confrontational, non-judgemental spirit, demonstrating a deep curiosity about her selected path and rationale, has proved a brobdingnagian source of sibling cohesion and a mutual agreement that henceforth, we will proscribe religious, political, and social issues from our discussions. instead we bond over memories of our past, our other siblings, our parents, our extended family, the weather [she is even beginning to ruminate over the ‘possibility’ of climate change… monumental progress there], our childhood antics, the fun we had w/ mutual friends when we briefly spiralled into a vortex of juvenile delinquency, old boyfriends, teachers we giggled about when their backs were turned, instruments we played, the music we loved, peers in our past who are now dead, the tragedies our grandmother, mother, aunt, cousins, children, and ourselves have suffered…. and so we airily ‘balm-on’ in a fugue of foggy memories, but doing so has brought us more apposite… not so distressingly excised from each other’s lives. it has been worth the effort.

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      4. I’m happy that you and your sister are finding common ground to meet upon; and continue what was in the beginning, a budding friendship that seems to have sprouted up from the soil of childish wonderments, organic and pesticide free. ****( don’t forget to record your days “spiraling in the vortex” for your younger fans, to be replayed at the family gatherings….it will add icing to the cake of myths our paths have baked into our legends … and bring the laughter that the next generations will need to feel. Yes plenty of laughter, which is the best of medicine, as they clean up the mess we left them). ****
        My sister and I, too started as two peas in a pod. Division of our union seemed impossible. So, in my thinking, here’s what probably occurred.
        Life’s propaganda machine has been able to sway the minds of the weakest among us; and crevasse the bonds of love. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the believers at Corinth; and in my estimation, no better description defining the active force of the word “love” has ever been penned. Christians can become infected by the malignancy of judgement. It happens when they remain shackled to the Hebrew Law in the first 5 books of the Old Testament. Unless they die to that law and become birthed in love’s lifeblood; they are plagued by a spirit of judgement. They become useful tools for the oligarchs; and it is by design they have been herded into the elephants cage of hard right politics. The party of blame, name, and shame. Stop me if you find any of this love defining language, crafted by Paul, when used to describe the policies plotted by lobbyists for the billionaires and the paid for politicians.
        LOVE is, Patient, never jealous, not boastful or conceited, never rude, never seeks its own advantage, does not take offense or store up grievances,does not rejoice at wrongdoing, finds it’s joy in truth… there’s more in the letter; but that should make any Christian wedded to a political ideology that doesn’t match up to such purity; well … Stricken with an ancient Old Testament disease.
        My sister lives in the Christian house of Armageddon which is espoused to a final conflict, the “War to End All Wars”.
        It’s a dangerous game they have entered into by trying to squeeze the infinite beauty of love into the finite cage of Warmongering Vulture Capitalistic political practices.
        The ground of love will be the territory where the battles with our families should be waged. The forces in these words will keep our personal objections at bay and make space for any arrow aimed our way. The CPAC ( capitalist political action Christians) are no force when ramming themselves against the gates of Eden’s Love. It will be as if they too are dressed in “magical underwear “ that will cause them to wondrously disappear.

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      5. Thank you! While I’m not well versed (ouch!) in the poetry of Rumi, Omar Khayyam, and Khalil Gibran, I have read work by each of them. I particularly like the pieces I’ve come across by Rumi.

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  9. I vehemently disagree with your self-condemnation, Utejack, wherein you said you and your wife aren’t wise enough to pull a different rabbit out of the hat. The fact is that, when it comes to the Orange extremists, the white supremacists, the evangelicals, and others of that ilk, NO ONE has the answer. There is simply no reaching them, no chance of affecting their worldview. Millions of other people are in the same benighted boat as you and your wife.

    To cite a personal example somewhat akin to yours, over 40 years ago, my brother converted to a fanatical Baptist sect, virtually overnight. Upon pain of divorce, he forced his wife to comply with their medieval strictures regarding women: no wearing of slacks, no wearing of make-up, no smoking, no money of her own, even from her paychecks, total subservience. And then he divorced her, anyway, over some imaginary transgression, when his real reason was that he wanted his freedom. As for me, I was in league with the devil because I was a bartender, dispensing poison and corrupting the unwary.

    But he was my brother and I loved him, so I tried to do as Jeanie suggested, and ask the “why?” questions. I asked why he thought the copy of Bible in existence should be taken literally, when there are so many versions, compiled by numerous authors over hundreds of years. Because, my brother said, it’s the literal word of God, as imparted directly by Him, verbatim, to every one of those authors, and there are no internal contradictions. And why, I asked, did he think the world is only 6,000 years old, when the fossil record dates back millions of years? He quite seriously, with total conviction, informed me that God had made the fossils look that old, for his own purposes, which we can’t understand. At that point, with his condemnation falling on me, I gave up. Our relationship for many years after that was strained at best.

    So….you and your wife aren’t lacking in wisdom, tolerance, compassion, or understanding. Like so many others, you’re simply up against an unassailable wall of irrational, unquestioning (and unquestionable) fanaticism.

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    1. Thanks for the perspective. I’m in agreement with you that they will not be able to be reasoned out of their madness. It’s on them to figure this predicament out. My hopes rest on the Taxman, who just may be the one to expose the WPE … Rock on Mr. Vance…The IRS conquered Big Al Capone… then there may be crow served at CPAC next year… it is numbing seeing your loved ones turning into puppets

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  10. I think part of the frustration, Utejack, is the continual false equivalences and gaslighting. The ones who’ve gone down the rabbit hole contend that their beliefs are at least as reasonable and credible as the beliefs of those of us who think the idea of Lizardmen is insanity. The January 6th insurrectionists have insisted that they’re patriots who were trying to save democracy. The rest of the world doesn’t see them that way, but that only makes them more adamant.

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    1. your insights, veracity, and capacity for understanding issues comprehensively are outstanding, denise. i always read your blog first; it improves the taste of my morning coffee.

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  11. As with you and your sister, Jeanie, so my brother and I have consciously created a way to get along. And yes, it has meant foregoing discussion of all religious and most political topics, current events, and so on. To be sure, it makes for some rather stilted and repetitive conversations, at least, to my mind, with the number of proscribed topics. The emphasis, though, has to be placed on the willingness to keep

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    1. as utejack reminds us in his reference to paul’s letter to the corinth crwth, love comes before all else; it is the ‘zenith-reach’…i.e. to be a love-zealot. tho’ not a subscriber to religiosity of any persuasion [as stated previously, i’m a nullifidian], paul’s letter in the NT is one of the most enduring, meaningful, and inspiring passages ever carved into my heart. thank you for bringing it onboard ponderment’s luminous vessel, utejack.

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  12. Oops! Accidentally brushed the “post” icon.

    To continue, the willingness to abandon divisive discourse and the determination to maintain a relationship. There came a time when I simply refused to tolerate being preached at and condemned for my “hell-bent” life choices (e.g., the sinful bartending job I mentioned). I was especially offended because my brother himself was by no means lily-white by anyone’s standards, but he excused his own conduct via some seriously twisted reasoning, as many religious fanatics do. At the breaking point, I told my brother that either he’d cease all the preaching and proselytizing, or I wouldn’t speak to him. It actually took a couple instances of my hanging up on him during phone calls, and then a period of silence on his part, but eventually he decided that our relationship was more important than his mission to convert me. I would have mourned the loss of any but the most formal, necessary communication, certainly. Better that situation than enduring the constant preaching, however.

    You and your wife, Utejack, would seem to have a trickier situation, more difficult in degree rather than in kind to mine and Jeanie’s. Dealing with an entire fundamentalist family instead of just one zealot has to be exasperating and saddening on an exponential scale. Add to that their apparent UNwillingness to come to a compromise….you have your work cut out for you. They won’t change, and you two have done nothing worthy of censure. I feel for you.

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  13. Interesting question you pose DD, re: is it just as foolish to believe in Lizardmen as it is to believe in a God? While I don’t believe in either, strictly speaking, I would posit that believing in lizard-people is actually WAY-more physically possible than believing in an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent being. When you learn about the staggering size and age of the known universe, it quickly becomes apparent to a rational person that no sensate entity could be present in even one-billionth of that space, nor could it know everything about or control even that relatively ‘small’ portion. If believers want to attribute it all to some magical, unknowable explanation, then there’s really no point in discussing the topic with them since they’re engaging-in some classic argumentation fallacies (which are easily found on many atheist/agnostic websites or books). While the idea of lizardmen is just juvenile science-fiction, I can entertain the idea that perhaps in 500 or 1000 years, with advances in bio-engineering, it might(?) be possible to physically make a lizard man.
    That being said, I find it highly improbable that in a relatively open society like the current US that a conspiracy of that magnitude could ever last for long, among other problems with it (ie; what attraction would a relatively simple species like we humans hold for advanced beings like that? And if they’re that advanced, why worry about keeping it a secret from us? etc, etc)

    Gratuitous comment: if there was a god of some sort, it would certainly have to be labeled a sadist, judging from ALL the horrible suffering by billions of INNOCENT people (not to mention animals) through the millennia, especially since this god would’ve created each and every one of these entities….just to see them ‘twist in the wind’ — a virtual textbook definition of a sadist, and a super-one at-that.

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    1. the paragraph below from the bible’s OT is so shockingly, viciously violent, is it any wonder religious groups, particularly the judeao~christian genera, have created such destabilizing havoc and enmity in their respective cultural zeitgeists? at least the q’ran never enjoins its readers to violence, and the buddhists disdain violence altogether. the ATLANTIC article claims that 96% of all americans believe in god. is it not stupefying to entertain the notion that you eddie s, and i are in a minority of only 4%…. most baffling. indeed. i’m quite dubious about that figure.

      please indulge me a wee oeillade of the heinously heralded OT deuteronomy here:

      “Should your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or your daughter or the
      wife of your bosom or your companion who is like your own self incite you in
      secret, saying Let us go and worship other gods’ … you shall surely kill him.
      Your hand shall be against him first to put him to death and the hand of all
      the people last. And you shall stone him and he shall die, for he sought to
      thrust you away from the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of
      Egypt, from the house of slaves. —Deuteronomy 13, 7:11

      [bertrand russell]: the trouble w/ this country is that the stupid are always
      cocksure and the intelligent are always filled w/ doubt.”

      i would amend bertrand’s apothegm to include: “the fearful, the easily intimidated, and the intellectually incurious”.

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      1. JM – thanks for the replies! (I’m still lucky(?) enough to be working full-time and then-some, so I don’t have much opportunity to read/comment a lot, esp on this old tablet, hence this tardy reply.).
        Yes, I too would be skeptical of the “96%” figure for ‘believers’ in the US. While I might entertain the idea that perhaps that percentage had responded positively to a question regarding their belief in a ‘god’, I would tend to attribute about 30-40% of those responses to people just reflexively saying that since it’s the ‘religiously correct’ thing to say in our general society, and they just haven’t thought about it seriously… more of a family or community ‘tradition’ as opposed to a well-researched/critically pondered decision. And with a vociferous right-wing castigating people who are non-believers, they’ve probably learned to take a path of least-resistance and feign religion. (I always recall being an idealistic college freshman in Sociology 101 some 50+ yrs ago, and hearing the prof say something to the effect that “even IF you’re an ‘agnostic/atheist’, it’s advisable to just choose a religion to use when the question comes-up in casual conversation or job interviews, etc — it will make things go along more smoothly.” I was a bit taken aback by his pragmatic approach to it, but in some respects I can now see some sense to it. Religion is one of those things that a significant minority get very passionate about, and they’re not open to rational discussion about it, so it can be best not to even broach the subject. Otherwise you can spend a lot of time/angst arguing with a believer, only to have them fall-back on the old “Well, that’s what I believe…it’s a matter of faith”.:

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      2. …and thank you, eddie s, for indulging me w/ the odd oeillade at my oft-maverick remarks, particularly regarding fundamentalist manifestations of religiosity. i suspect that american bible-beaters’ de-haut-en-bas attitudes toward those of us who resist their hellfire-and-brimstone condemnations feel empowered by identifying w/ their vindictive, punitive, and jealous god-daddy- invigilator floating about in the welkin.

        as you hypothesize, perhaps many americans feel apprehensive about admitting their recusancies. only the exiguous minority do not feel intimidated by divulgating our atheism, agnosticism, or nullifidianism. whenever my children were compelled to check the religion box, they entered “poseidonism” in the ‘optional religion’ box at the bottom of the form.

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    2. here is the complete article by paul bloom:

      The Atlantic Monthly | December 2005
       
      Is God an Accident?

      Despite the vast number of religions, nearly everyone in the world seems to believe in
      the same things: the existence of a soul, an afterlife, miracles, and the
      divine creation of the universe. Recently psychologists doing research on the
      minds of infants have discovered two related facts that may account for this
      phenomenon. One: human beings come into the world with a predisposition to
      believe in supernatural phenomena. And two: this predisposition is an
      incidental by-product of cognitive functioning gone awry. Which leads to the
      question …
      by Paul Bloom
      …..From Atlantic Unbound:

      Interviews: “Wired for Creationism?”
      Paul Bloom on mysticism, fundamentalism, and the elusive nature of art.

      I. God Is Not Dead

      When I was a teenager my rabbi believed that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who was
      living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was the Messiah, and that the world was soon
      to end. He believed that the earth was a few thousand years old, and that the
      fossil record was a consequence of the Great Flood. He could describe the
      afterlife, and was able to answer adolescent questions about the fate of
      Hitler’s soul.
      My rabbi was no crackpot; he was an intelligent and amiable man, a teacher and
      a scholar. But he held views that struck me as strange, even disturbing. Like
      many secular people, I am comfortable with religion as a source of spirituality
      and transcendence, tolerance and love, charity and good works. Who can object
      to the faith of Martin Luther King Jr. or the Dalai Lama—at least as long as
      that faith grounds moral positions one already accepts? I am uncomfortable,
      however, with religion when it makes claims about the natural world, let alone
      a world beyond nature. It is easy for those of us who reject supernatural
      beliefs to agree with Stephen Jay Gould that the best way to accord dignity and
      respect to both science and religion is to recognize that they apply to
      “non-overlapping magisteria”: science gets the realm of facts, religion the
      realm of values.
      For better or worse, though, religion is much more than a set of ethical
      principles or a vague sense of transcendence. The anthropologist Edward Tylor
      got it right in 1871, when he noted that the “minimum definition of religion”
      is a belief in spiritual beings, in the supernatural. My rabbi’s specific
      claims were a minority view in the culture in which I was raised, but those
      sorts of views—about the creation of the universe, the end of the world, the
      fates of souls—define religion as billions of people understand and practice
      it.
      The United States is a poster child for supernatural belief. Just about
      everyone in this country—96 percent in one poll—believes in God. Well over half
      of Americans believe in miracles, the devil, and angels. Most believe in an
      afterlife—and not just in the mushy sense that we will live on in the memories
      of other people, or in our good deeds; when asked for details, most Americans
      say they believe that after death they will actually reunite with relatives and
      get to meet God. Woody Allen once said, “I don’t want to achieve immortality
      through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.” Most Americans have
      precisely this expectation.
      But America is an anomaly, isn’t it? These statistics are sometimes taken as
      yet another indication of how much this country differs from, for instance,
      France and Germany, where secularism holds greater sway. Americans are
      fundamentalists, the claim goes, isolated from the intellectual progress made
      by the rest of the world.
      There are two things wrong with this conclusion. First, even if a gap between
      America and Europe exists, it is not the United States that is idiosyncratic.
      After all, the rest of the world—Asia, Africa, the Middle East—is not exactly
      filled with hard-core atheists. If one is to talk about exceptionalism, it
      applies to Europe, not the United States.
      Second, the religious divide between Americans and Europeans may be smaller
      than we think. The sociologists Rodney Stark, of Baylor University, and Roger
      Finke, of Pennsylvania State University, write that the big difference has to
      do with church attendance, which really is much lower in Europe. (Building on
      the work of the Chicago-based sociologist and priest Andrew Greeley, they argue
      that this is because the United States has a rigorously free religious market,
      in which churches actively vie for parishioners and constantly improve their
      product, whereas European churches are often under state control and, like many
      government monopolies, have become inefficient.) Most polls from European
      countries show that a majority of their people are believers. Consider Iceland.
      To judge by rates of churchgoing, Iceland is the most secular country on earth,
      with a pathetic two percent weekly attendance. But four out of five Icelanders
      say that they pray, and the same proportion believe in life after death.
      In the United States some liberal scholars posit a different sort of
      exceptionalism, arguing that belief in the supernatural is found mostly in
      Christian conservatives—those infamously described by the Washington Post
      reporter Michael Weisskopf in 1993 as “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to
      command.” Many people saw the 2004 presidential election as pitting Americans
      who are religious against those who are not.
      An article by Steven Waldman in the online magazine Slate provides some
      perspective on the divide:

      “As you may already know, one of America’s two political parties is extremely
      religious. Sixty-one percent of this party’s voters say they pray daily or more
      often. An astounding 92 percent of them believe in life after death. And
      there’s a hard-core subgroup in this party of super-religious Christian
      zealots. Very conservative on gay marriage, half of the members of this
      subgroup believe Bush uses too little religious rhetoric, and 51 percent of
      them believe God gave Israel to the Jews and that its existence fulfills the
      prophecy about the second coming of Jesus.”

      The group that Waldman is talking about is Democrats; the hard-core subgroup is
      African-American Democrats.
      Finally, consider scientists. They are less likely than non-scientists to be
      religious—but not by a huge amount. A 1996 poll asked scientists whether they
      believed in God, and the pollsters set the bar high—no mealy-mouthed evasions
      such as “I believe in the totality of all that exists” or “in what is beautiful
      and unknown”; rather, they insisted on a real biblical God, one believers could
      pray to and actually get an answer from. About 40 percent of scientists said
      yes to a belief in this kind of God—about the same percentage found in a
      similar poll in 1916. Only when we look at the most elite scientists—members of
      the National Academy of Sciences—do we find a strong majority of atheists and
      agnostics.
      These facts are an embarrassment for those who see supernatural beliefs as a
      cultural anachronism, soon to be eroded by scientific discoveries and the
      spread of cosmopolitan values. They require a new theory of why we are
      religious—one that draws on research in evolutionary biology, cognitive
      neuroscience, and developmental psychology.

      II. Opiates and Fraternities

      One traditional approach to the origin of religious belief begins with the
      observation that it is difficult to be a person. There is evil all around;
      everyone we love will die; and soon we ourselves will die—either slowly and
      probably unpleasantly or quickly and probably unpleasantly. For all but a
      pampered and lucky few life really is nasty, brutish, and short. And if our
      lives have some greater meaning, it is hardly obvious.
      So perhaps, as Marx suggested, we have adopted religion as an opiate, to soothe
      the pain of existence. As the philosopher Susanne K. Langer has put it, man
      “cannot deal with Chaos”; supernatural beliefs solve the problem of this chaos
      by providing meaning. We are not mere things; we are lovingly crafted by God,
      and serve his purposes. Religion tells us that this is a just world, in which
      the good will be rewarded and the evil punished. Most of all, it addresses our
      fear of death. Freud summed it all up by describing a “three-fold task” for
      religious beliefs: “they must exorcise the terrors of nature, they must
      reconcile men to the cruelty of Fate, particularly as it is shown in death, and
      they must compensate them for the sufferings and privations which a civilized
      life in common has imposed on them.”
      Religions can sometimes do all these things, and it would be unrealistic to
      deny that this partly explains their existence. Indeed, sometimes theologians
      use the foregoing arguments to make a case for why we should believe: if one
      wishes for purpose, meaning, and eternal life, there is nowhere to go but
      toward God.
      One problem with this view is that, as the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker
      reminds us, we don’t typically get solace from propositions that we don’t
      already believe to be true. Hungry people don’t cheer themselves up by
      believing that they just had a large meal. Heaven is a reassuring notion only
      insofar as people believe such a place exists; it is this belief that an
      adequate theory of religion has to explain in the first place.
      Also, the religion-as-opiate theory fits best with the monotheistic religions
      most familiar to us. But what about those people (many of the religious people
      in the world) who do not believe in an all-wise and just God? Every society
      believes in spiritual beings, but they are often stupid or malevolent. Many
      religions simply don’t deal with metaphysical or teleological questions; gods
      and ancestor spirits are called upon only to help cope with such mundane
      problems as how to prepare food and what to do with a corpse—not to elucidate
      the Meaning of It All. As for the reassurance of heaven, justice, or salvation,
      again, it exists in some religions but by no means all. (In fact, even those
      religions we are most familiar with are not always reassuring. I know some
      older Christians who were made miserable as children by worries about eternal
      damnation; the prospect of oblivion would have been far preferable.) So the
      opiate theory is ultimately an unsatisfying explanation for the existence of
      religion.
      The major alternative theory is social: religion brings people together, giving
      them an edge over those who lack this social glue. Sometimes this argument is
      presented in cultural terms, and sometimes it is seen from an evolutionary
      perspective: survival of the fittest working at the level not of the gene or
      the individual but of the social group. In either case the claim is that
      religion thrives because groups that have it outgrow and outlast those that do
      not.
      In this conception religion is a fraternity, and the analogy runs deep. Just as
      fraternities used to paddle freshmen on the rear end to instill loyalty and
      commitment, religions have painful initiation rites—for example, snipping off
      part of the penis. Also, certain puzzling features of many religions, such as
      dietary restrictions and distinctive dress, make perfect sense once they are
      viewed as tools to ensure group solidarity.
      The fraternity theory also explains why religions are so harsh toward those who
      do not share the faith, reserving particular ire for apostates. This is clear
      in the Old Testament, in which “a jealous God” issues commands such as:
      “Should your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or your daughter or the
      wife of your bosom or your companion who is like your own self incite you in
      secret, saying Let us go and worship other gods’ … you shall surely kill him.
      Your hand shall be against him first to put him to death and the hand of all
      the people last. And you shall stone him and he shall die, for he sought to
      thrust you away from the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of
      Egypt, from the house of slaves. —Deuteronomy 13, 7:11

      This theory explains almost everything about religion—except the religious
      part. It is clear that rituals and sacrifices can bring people together, and it
      may well be that a group that does such things has an advantage over one that
      does not. But it is not clear why a religion has to be involved. Why are gods,
      souls, an afterlife, miracles, divine creation of the universe, and so on
      brought in? The theory doesn’t explain what we are most interested in, which is
      belief in the supernatural.

      III. Bodies and Souls

      Enthusiasm is building among scientists for a quite different view—that
      religion emerged not to serve a purpose but by accident.
      This is not a value judgment. Many of the good things in life are, from an
      evolutionary perspective, accidents. People sometimes give money, time, and
      even blood to help unknown strangers in faraway countries whom they will never
      see. From the perspective of one’s genes this is disastrous—the suicidal
      squandering of resources for no benefit. But its origin is not magical;
      long-distance altruism is most likely a by-product of other, more adaptive
      traits, such as empathy and abstract reasoning. Similarly, there is no
      reproductive advantage to the pleasure we get from paintings or movies. It just
      so happens that our eyes and brains, which evolved to react to
      three-dimensional objects in the real world, can respond to two-dimensional
      projections on a canvas or a screen.
      Supernatural beliefs might be explained in a similar way. This is the
      religion-as-accident theory that emerges from my work and the work of cognitive
      scientists such as Scott Atran, Pascal Boyer, Justin Barrett, and Deborah
      Kelemen. One version of this theory begins with the notion that a distinction
      between the physical and the psychological is fundamental to human thought.
      Purely physical things, such as rocks and trees, are subject to the pitiless
      laws of Newton. Throw a rock, and it will fly through space on a certain path;
      if you put a branch on the ground, it will not disappear, scamper away, or fly
      into space. Psychological things, such as people, possess minds, intentions,
      beliefs, goals, and desires. They move unexpectedly, according to volition and
      whim; they can chase or run away. There is a moral difference as well: a rock
      cannot be evil or kind; a person can.
      Where does the distinction between the physical and the psychological come
      from? Is it something we learn through experience, or is it somehow pre-wired
      into our brains? One way to find out is to study babies. It is notoriously
      difficult to know what babies are thinking, given that they can’t speak and
      have little control over their bodies. (They are harder to test than rats or
      pigeons, because they cannot run mazes or peck levers.) But recently
      investigators have used the technique of showing them different events and
      recording how long they look at them, exploiting the fact that babies, like the
      rest of us, tend to look longer at something they find unusual or bizarre.
      This has led to a series of striking discoveries. Six-month-olds understand
      that physical objects obey gravity. If you put an object on a table and then
      remove the table, and the object just stays there (held by a hidden wire),
      babies are surprised; they expect the object to fall. They expect objects to be
      solid, and contrary to what is still being taught in some psychology classes,
      they understand that objects persist over time even if hidden. (Show a baby an
      object and then put it behind a screen. Wait a little while and then remove the
      screen. If the object is gone, the baby is surprised.) Five-month-olds can even
      do simple math, appreciating that if first one object and then another is
      placed behind a screen, when the screen drops there should be two objects, not
      one or three. Other experiments find the same numerical understanding in
      nonhuman primates, including macaques and tamarins, and in dogs.
      Similarly precocious capacities show up in infants’ understanding of the social
      world. Newborns prefer to look at faces over anything else, and the sounds they
      most like to hear are human voices—preferably their mothers’. They quickly come
      to recognize different emotions, such as anger, fear, and happiness, and
      respond appropriately to them. Before they are a year old they can determine
      the target of an adult’s gaze, and can learn by attending to the emotions of
      others; if a baby is crawling toward an area that might be dangerous and an
      adult makes a horrified or disgusted face, the baby usually knows enough to
      stay away.
      A skeptic might argue that these social capacities can be explained as a set of
      primitive responses, but there is some evidence that they reflect a deeper
      understanding. For instance, when twelve-month-olds see one object chasing
      another, they seem to understand that it really is chasing, with the goal of
      catching; they expect the chaser to continue its pursuit along the most direct
      path, and are surprised when it does otherwise. In some work I’ve done with the
      psychologists Valerie Kuhlmeier, of Queen’s University, and Karen Wynn, of
      Yale, we found that when babies see one character in a movie help an individual
      and a different character hurt that individual, they later expect the
      individual to approach the character that helped it and to avoid the one that
      hurt it.
      Understanding of the physical world and understanding of the social world can
      be seen as akin to two distinct computers in a baby’s brain, running separate
      programs and performing separate tasks. The understandings develop at different
      rates: the social one emerges somewhat later than the physical one. They
      evolved at different points in our prehistory; our physical understanding is
      shared by many species, whereas our social understanding is a relatively recent
      adaptation, and in some regards might be uniquely human.
      That these two systems are distinct is especially apparent in autism, a
      developmental disorder whose dominant feature is a lack of social
      understanding. Children with autism typically show impairments in communication
      (about a third do not speak at all), in imagination (they tend not to engage in
      imaginative play), and most of all in socialization. They do not seem to enjoy
      the company of others; they don’t hug; they are hard to reach out to. In the
      most extreme cases children with autism see people as nothing more than
      objects—objects that move in unpredictable ways and make unexpected noises and
      are therefore frightening. Their understanding of other minds is impaired,
      though their understanding of material objects is fully intact.
      At this point the religion-as-accident theory says nothing about supernatural
      beliefs. Babies have two systems that work in a cold-bloodedly rational way to
      help them anticipate and understand—and, when they get older, to
      manipulate—physical and social entities. In other words, both these systems are
      biological adaptations that give human beings a badly needed head start in
      dealing with objects and people. But these systems go awry in two important
      ways that are the foundations of religion. First, we perceive the world of
      objects as essentially separate from the world of minds, making it possible for
      us to envision soulless bodies and bodiless souls. This helps explain why we
      believe in gods and an afterlife. Second, as we will see, our system of social
      understanding overshoots, inferring goals and desires where none exist. This
      makes us animists and creationists.

      IV. Natural-born dualists

      For those of us who are not autistic, the separateness of these two mechanisms,
      one for understanding the physical world and one for understanding the social
      world, gives rise to a duality of experience. We experience the world of
      material things as separate from the world of goals and desires. The biggest
      consequence has to do with the way we think of ourselves and others. We are
      dualists; it seems intuitively obvious that a physical body and a conscious
      entity—a mind or soul—are genuinely distinct. We don’t feel that we are our
      bodies. Rather, we feel that we occupy them, we possess them, we own them.
      This duality is immediately apparent in our imaginative life. Because we see
      people as separate from their bodies, we easily understand situations in which
      people’s bodies are radically changed while their personhood stays intact.
      Kafka envisioned a man transformed into a gigantic insect; Homer described the
      plight of men transformed into pigs; in Shrek 2 an ogre is transformed into a
      human being, and a donkey into a steed; in Star Trek a scheming villain
      forcibly occupies Captain Kirk’s body so as to take command of the Enterprise;
      in The Tale of the Body Thief, Anne Rice tells of a vampire and a human being
      who agree to trade bodies for a day; and in 13 Going on 30 a teenager wakes up
      as thirty-year-old Jennifer Garner. We don’t think of these events as real, of
      course, but they are fully understandable; it makes intuitive sense to us that
      people can be separated from their bodies, and similar transformations show up
      in religions around the world.
      This notion of an immaterial soul potentially separable from the body clashes
      starkly with the scientific view. For psychologists and neuroscientists, the
      brain is the source of mental life; our consciousness, emotions, and will are
      the products of neural processes. As the claim is sometimes put, The mind is
      what the brain does. I don’t want to overstate the consensus here; there is no
      accepted theory as to precisely how this happens, and some scholars are
      skeptical that we will ever develop such a theory. But no scientist takes
      seriously Cartesian dualism, which posits that thinking need not involve the
      brain. There is just too much evidence against it.
      Still, it feels right, even to those who have never had religious training, and
      even to young children. This became particularly clear to me one night when I
      was arguing with my six-year-old son, Max. I was telling him that he had to go
      to bed, and he said, “You can make me go to bed, but you can’t make me go to
      sleep. It’s my brain!” This piqued my interest, so I began to ask him questions
      about what the brain does and does not do. His answers showed an interesting
      split. He insisted that the brain was involved in perception—in seeing,
      hearing, tasting, and smelling—and he was adamant that it was responsible for
      thinking. But, he said, the brain was not essential for dreaming, for feeling
      sad, or for loving his brother. “That’s what I do,” Max said, “though my brain
      might help me out.”
      Max is not unusual. Children in our culture are taught that the brain is
      involved in thinking, but they interpret this in a narrow sense, as referring
      to conscious problem solving, academic rumination. They do not see the brain as
      the source of conscious experience; they do not identify it with their selves.
      They appear to think of it as a cognitive prosthesis—there is Max the person,
      and then there is his brain, which he uses to solve problems just as he might
      use a computer. In this commonsense conception the brain is, as Steven Pinker
      puts it, “a pocket PC for the soul.”
      If bodies and souls are thought of as separate, there can be bodies without
      souls. A corpse is seen as a body that used to have a soul. Most things—chairs,
      cups, trees—never had souls; they never had will or consciousness. At least
      some nonhuman animals are seen in the same way, as what Descartes described as
      “beast-machines,” or complex automata. Some artificial creatures, such as
      industrial robots, Haitian zombies, and Jewish golems, are also seen as
      soulless beings, lacking free will or moral feeling.
      Then there are souls without bodies. Most people I know believe in a God who
      created the universe, performs miracles, and listens to prayers. He is
      omnipotent and omniscient, possessing infinite kindness, justice, and mercy.
      But he does not in any literal sense have a body. Some people also believe in
      lesser noncorporeal beings that can temporarily take physical form or occupy
      human beings or animals: examples include angels, ghosts, poltergeists,
      succubi, dybbuks, and the demons that Jesus so frequently expelled from
      people’s bodies.
      This belief system opens the possibility that we ourselves can survive the
      death of our bodies. Most people believe that when the body is destroyed, the
      soul lives on. It might ascend to heaven, descend to hell, go off into some
      sort of parallel world, or occupy some other body, human or animal. Indeed, the
      belief that the world teems with ancestor spirits—the souls of people who have
      been liberated from their bodies through death—is common across cultures. We
      can imagine our bodies being destroyed, our brains ceasing to function, our
      bones turning to dust, but it is harder—some would say impossible—to imagine
      the end of our very existence. The notion of a soul without a body makes sense
      to us.
      Others have argued that rather than believing in an afterlife because we are
      dualists, we are dualists because we want to believe in an afterlife. This was
      Freud’s position. He speculated that the “doctrine of the soul” emerged as a
      solution to the problem of death: if souls exist, then conscious experience
      need not come to an end. Or perhaps the motivation for belief in an afterlife
      is cultural: we believe it because religious authorities tell us that it is so,
      possibly because it serves the interests of powerful leaders to control the
      masses through the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell. But there is reason
      to favor the religion-as-accident theory.
      In a significant study the psychologists Jesse Bering, of the University of
      Arkansas, and David Bjorklund, of Florida Atlantic University, told young
      children a story about an alligator and a mouse, complete with a series of
      pictures, that ended in tragedy: “Uh oh! Mr. Alligator sees Brown Mouse and is
      coming to get him!” [The children were shown a picture of the alligator eating
      the mouse.] “Well, it looks like Brown Mouse got eaten by Mr. Alligator. Brown
      Mouse is not alive anymore.”
      The experimenters asked the children a set of questions about the mouse’s
      biological functioning—such as “Now that the mouse is no longer alive, will he
      ever need to go to the bathroom? Do his ears still work? Does his brain still
      work?”—and about the mouse’s mental functioning, such as “Now that the mouse is
      no longer alive, is he still hungry? Is he thinking about the alligator? Does
      he still want to go home?”
      As predicted, when asked about biological properties, the children appreciated
      the effects of death: no need for bathroom breaks; the ears don’t work, and
      neither does the brain. The mouse’s body is gone. But when asked about the
      psychological properties, more than half the children said that these would
      continue: the dead mouse can feel hunger, think thoughts, and have desires. The
      soul survives. And children believe this more than adults do, suggesting that
      although we have to learn which specific afterlife people in our culture
      believe in (heaven, reincarnation, a spirit world, and so on), the notion that
      life after death is possible is not learned at all. It is a by-product of how
      we naturally think about the world.

      V. We’ve Evolved to be Creationists

      This is just half the story. Our dualism makes it possible for us to think of
      supernatural entities and events; it is why such things make sense. But there
      is another factor that makes the perception of them compelling, often
      irresistible. We have what the anthropologist Pascal Boyer has called a
      hypertrophy of social cognition. We see purpose, intention, design, even when
      it is not there.
      In 1944 the social psychologists Fritz Heider and Mary-Ann Simmel made a simple
      movie in which geometric figures—circles, squares, triangles—moved in certain
      systematic ways, designed to tell a tale. When shown this movie, people
      instinctively describe the figures as if they were specific types of people
      (bullies, victims, heroes) with goals and desires, and repeat pretty much the
      same story that the psychologists intended to tell. Further research has found
      that bounded figures aren’t even necessary—one can get much the same effect in
      movies where the “characters” are not single objects but moving groups, such as
      swarms of tiny squares.
      Stewart Guthrie, an anthropologist at Fordham University, was the first modern
      scholar to notice the importance of this tendency as an explanation for
      religious thought. In his book Faces in the Clouds, Guthrie presents anecdotes
      and experiments showing that people attribute human characteristics to a
      striking range of real-world entities, including bicycles, bottles, clouds,
      fire, leaves, rain, volcanoes, and wind. We are hypersensitive to signs of
      agency—so much so that we see intention where only artifice or accident exists.
      As Guthrie puts it, the clothes have no emperor.
      Our quickness to over-read purpose into things extends to the perception of
      intentional design. People have a terrible eye for randomness. If you show them
      a string of heads and tails that was produced by a random-number generator,
      they tend to think it is rigged—it looks orderly to them, too orderly. After
      9/11 people claimed to see Satan in the billowing smoke from the World Trade
      Center. Before that some people were stirred by the Nun Bun, a baked good that
      bore an eerie resemblance to Mother Teresa. In November of 2004 someone posted
      on eBay a ten-year-old grilled cheese sandwich that looked remarkably like the
      Virgin Mary; it sold for $28,000. (In response pranksters posted a grilled
      cheese sandwich bearing images of the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley.) There
      are those who listen to the static from radios and other electronic devices and
      hear messages from dead people—a phenomenon presented with great seriousness in
      the Michael Keaton movie White Noise. Older readers who lived their formative
      years before CDs and MPEGs might remember listening intently for the
      significant and sometimes scatological messages that were said to come from
      records played backward.
      Sometimes there really are signs of nonrandom and functional design. We are not
      being unreasonable when we observe that the eye seems to be crafted for seeing,
      or that the leaf insect seems colored with the goal of looking very much like a
      leaf. The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins begins The Blind Watchmaker by
      conceding this point: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the
      appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Dawkins goes on to suggest
      that anyone before Darwin who did not believe in God was simply not paying
      attention.
      Darwin changed everything. His great insight was that one could explain complex
      and adaptive design without positing a divine designer. Natural selection can
      be simulated on a computer; in fact, genetic algorithms, which mimic natural
      selection, are used to solve otherwise intractable computational problems. And
      we can see natural selection at work in case studies across the world, from the
      evolution of beak size in Galápagos finches to the arms race we engage in with
      many viruses, which have an unfortunate capacity to respond adaptively to
      vaccines.
      Richard Dawkins may well be right when he describes the theory of natural
      selection as one of our species’ finest accomplishments; it is an
      intellectually satisfying and empirically supported account of our own
      existence. But almost nobody believes it. One poll found that more than a third
      of college undergraduates believe that the Garden of Eden was where the first
      human beings appeared. And even among those who claim to endorse Darwinian
      evolution, many distort it in one way or another, often seeing it as a
      mysterious internal force driving species toward perfection. (Dawkins writes
      that it appears almost as if “the human brain is specifically designed to
      misunderstand Darwinism.”) And if you are tempted to see this as a red
      state—blue state issue, think again: although it’s true that more Bush voters
      than Kerry voters are creationists, just about half of Kerry voters believe
      that God created human beings in their present form, and most of the rest
      believe that although we evolved from less-advanced life forms, God guided the
      process. Most Kerry voters want evolution to be taught either alongside
      creationism or not at all.
      What’s the problem with Darwin? His theory of evolution does clash with the
      religious beliefs that some people already hold. For Jews and Christians, God
      willed the world into being in six days, calling different things into
      existence. Other religions posit more physical processes on the part of the
      creator or creators, such as vomiting, procreation, masturbation, or the
      molding of clay. Not much room here for random variation and differential
      reproductive success.
      But the real problem with natural selection is that it makes no intuitive
      sense. It is like quantum physics; we may intellectually grasp it, but it will
      never feel right to us. When we see a complex structure, we see it as the
      product of beliefs and goals and desires. Our social mode of understanding
      leaves it difficult for us to make sense of it any other way. Our gut feeling
      is that design requires a designer—a fact that is understandably exploited by
      those who argue against Darwin.
      It’s not surprising, then, that nascent creationist views are found in young
      children. Four-year-olds insist that everything has a purpose, including lions
      (“to go in the zoo”) and clouds (“for raining”). When asked to explain why a
      bunch of rocks are pointy, adults prefer a physical explanation, while children
      choose a functional one, such as “so that animals could scratch on them when
      they get itchy.” And when asked about the origin of animals and people,
      children tend to prefer explanations that involve an intentional creator, even
      if the adults raising them do not. Creationism—and belief in God—is bred in the
      bone.

      VI. Religion and Science Will Always Clash

      one might argue that the preceding analysis of religion, based as it is on
      supernatural beliefs, does not apply to certain non-Western faiths. In his
      recent book, The End of Faith, the neuroscientist Sam Harris mounts a fierce
      attack on religion, much of it directed at Christianity and Islam, which he
      criticizes for what he sees as ridiculous factual claims and grotesque moral
      views. But then he turns to Buddhism, and his tone shifts to admiration—it is
      “the most complete methodology we have for discovering the intrinsic freedom of
      consciousness, unencumbered by any dogma.” Surely this religion, if one wants
      to call it a religion, is not rooted in the dualist and creationist views that
      emerge in our childhood.
      Fair enough. But while it may be true that “theologically correct” Buddhism
      explicitly rejects the notions of body-soul duality and immaterial entities
      with special powers, actual Buddhists believe in such things. (Harris himself
      recognizes this; at one point he complains about the millions of Buddhists who
      treat the Buddha as a Christ figure.) For that matter, although many Christian
      theologians are willing to endorse evolutionary biology—and it was legitimately
      front-page news when Pope John Paul II conceded that Darwin’s theory of
      evolution might be correct—this should not distract us from the fact that many
      Christians think evolution is nonsense.
      Or consider the notion that the soul escapes the body at death. There is little
      hint of such an idea in the Old Testament, although it enters into Judaism
      later on. The New Testament is notoriously unclear about the afterlife, and
      some Christian theologians have argued, on the basis of sources such as Paul’s
      letters to the Corinthians, that the idea of a soul’s rising to heaven
      conflicts with biblical authority. In 1999 the pope himself cautioned people to
      think of heaven not as an actual place but, rather, as a form of existence—that
      of being in relation to God.
      Despite all this, most Jews and Christians, as noted, believe in an
      afterlife—in fact, even people who claim to have no religion at all tend to
      believe in one. Our afterlife beliefs are clearly expressed in popular books
      such as The Five People You Meet in Heaven and A Travel Guide to Heaven. As the
      Guide puts it,
      “Heaven is dynamic. It’s bursting with excitement and action. It’s the ultimate
      playground, created purely for our enjoyment, by someone who knows what
      enjoyment means, because He invented it. It’s Disney World, Hawaii, Paris,
      Rome, and New York all rolled up into one. And it’s forever! Heaven truly is
      the vacation that never ends.”
      (This sounds a bit like hell to me, but it is apparently to some people’s
      taste.)
      Religious authorities and scholars are often motivated to explore and reach out
      to science, as when the pope embraced evolution and the Dalai Lama became
      involved with neuroscience. They do this in part to make their world view more
      palatable to others, and in part because they are legitimately concerned about
      any clash with scientific findings. No honest person wants to be in the
      position of defending a view that makes manifestly false claims, so religious
      authorities and scholars often make serious efforts toward reconciliation—for
      instance, trying to interpret the Bible in a way that is consistent with what
      we know about the age of the earth.
      If people got their religious ideas from ecclesiastical authorities, these
      efforts might lead religion away from the supernatural. Scientific views would
      spread through religious communities. Supernatural beliefs would gradually
      disappear as the theologically correct version of a religion gradually became
      consistent with the secular world view. As Stephen Jay Gould hoped, religion
      would stop stepping on science’s toes.
      But this scenario assumes the wrong account of where supernatural ideas come
      from. Religious teachings certainly shape many of the specific beliefs we hold;
      nobody is born with the idea that the birthplace of humanity was the Garden of
      Eden, or that the soul enters the body at the moment of conception, or that
      martyrs will be rewarded with sexual access to scores of virgins. These ideas
      are learned. But the universal themes of religion are not learned. They emerge
      as accidental by-products of our mental systems. They are part of human nature.

      [lizard people too!}

      Liked by 1 person

      1. From a European point of view, there’s quite a lot of evidence there that both ‘Bush voters’ and ‘Kerry voters’ are stupid.
        Now, why might that be the case?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for including the article, Jeanie. Bloom’s analysis is interesting and I appreciate the fact that he deviates from more accepted wisdom to make his points. He does make some prodigious assumptions and leaps of logic, however. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that an inborn understanding of the duality between the physical world and the mental (social) world necessarily explains the belief in an immortal soul. There’s a difference between intuitively comprehending others’ thoughts and interactions and being convinced there’s an essence that doesn’t die with the physical body. Also, it seems that in some places, Bloom states that consciousness and a soul are the same, while in other places, he doesn’t equate the two. I don’t agree, either, that one must be religious to believe that some part of a person, a “spirit,” for lack of a better term, survives death.

        Then, in the discussion about design and intent, he recalls the film wherein geometric shapes move in certain ways, and subjects attributed intent to the shapes: “When shown this movie, people instinctively describe the figures as if they were specific types of people (bullies, victims, heroes) with goals and desires, and repeat pretty much the
        same story that the psychologists intended to tell.” It seems to me that if the scientists had intended to tell a story, the test subjects were not falsely or randomly perceiving motive or design. Bloom’s reasoning is faulty here, I think.

        Lastly, he says, “Most things—chairs, cups, trees—never had souls; they never had will or consciousness.” Again, I don’t think a soul and consciousness are the same thing, but even so, Bloom is omitting the beliefs of animists, who do, in fact, believe that rocks, trees, and other non-animal things have souls or spirits.

        I very much enjoyed reading Bloom’s theories, but I think his premises are a bit facile.

        Like

      3. aas w/ you. denise, i too do not embrace an armful of bloom’s comments. nevertheless, to be judicious and fair to bloom, i wanted to include his entire article so that multifarious readers could understand the context, make assumptions, and/or draw conclusions from his theses and propositions, woven into a comprehensive tapestry w/ the multifarious threads and colours on holistic display. everyone will determine, as you have, a mis-en-scène according to or condign w/ her/his particular mis-en-vue… videlicet, one’s life-long accretion of constituents that comprise the stratified layers accumulated by one’s experiences, ruminations, cynosures, mentors, innate curiosity, fearless oppugnings, or fearFUL absorptions of others’ formidable inquisitions. provender-for-thought only.

        on a personal level, as a scientist, i reject the notions of both ‘soul’ and ‘consciousness’, unless more precise definitions can be clarified that my deficient cortical furniture is able to dump into an envelope, affix a stamp, and post to the vulgate. every generation accumulates knowledge at an alarming rate; what is purported to be a reflection of veracity in 2021 will bear no resemblance to what will be thus considered verifiable in 2100.

        thank you for your patient and sedulous explorations of bloom’s article, as well as your own supererogative elucubrations on behalf of the hoi polloi.

        Like

  14. Point well taken, Jeanie, about veracity’s being relative to timeframe. Even as hypotheses will change, so will the ability to measure proof.

    I don’t reject the idea that “something” exists in humans—and even in all orders of animals—that exceeds and supercedes biological presence. As I’m not a believer in a capital-G Judeo-Christian God, I don’t believe humans are superior to and separate from the rest of Nature. Rather, I conceive of an overarching….”force,” if you will, that unites all. I don’t posit that this animation, to use an archaic term, is sentient, merely that there’s a connection on some level. My own experiences with as-yet unexplained phenomena have brought me to this very personal conclusion. I don’t think everything can be accounted for by biological/chemical factors, but I freely admit I have no scientifically provable basis for that rationale, merely my own observations. On the other hand, I’ve often wished I could believe in a beneficent Father out there in the ether, because such faith would be comforting.

    Like

    1. yes, a “beneficent father” would be preferable to the OT malignant one, denise [or to a malevolent, punitive mama-god for that matter], particularly as one creeps inexorably toward death.

      as an atheistic nullifidian, death is ‘the final solution’ to all molecular manifestations of one’s organic micro-moment, swaddled in a packaged incunambulum of selfhood, self-interest, and survival compulsions. it is increscently humbling to bear witness to the deterioration that becomes visually unavoidable as one passes through the inevitable depredations of deliquescence, marcescence, caducity, senectitude, and end-stage senescence when the organism can no longer keep the detritivores at bay.

      the buddhist concept of universal connectivity of all shared ‘star-stuff’ confabulations [borrowing sagan’s terminology] is a more comforting ideation than having monotheistic papa-gods who reign over the welkin and dispense random punishments to non-believers, iconoclasts, and the ‘unwashed’.

      returning those star-stuff molecules to neoteric ‘nurseries’ provides the usufruct for reconfigurations elsewhere in the multiverse w/, am sanguine, more advanced results than ‘homo sapiens sapiens’ regnancy on this scintilla of a planet, afloat for a scintilla of time, in the macrocosmos… and perhaps beyond.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. as a consociate sagan-aficionado, denise, you know the phrase well and have likely been inspired by sagan’s ineffable ‘usufruct’ of concepts and precepts, some of which have informed your own engaging mentations and hortative elenchi.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. perhaps we will meet the redoubtable sir sagan in a different quark-construct in an orbital plane that does not yet exist…. how i wish!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I sometimes wonder how many potential Christians have felt repelled from the faith altogether due to the vocal angry-God-condemnation brand of the religion? And could collective human need for retributive justice — regardless of Christ (and great spiritual leaders) having emphasized love/compassion and non-violence — be intrinsically linked to the same terribly flawed aspect of humankind that enables the most horrible acts of violent cruelty to readily occur on this planet (perhaps not all of which we learn about)?

    It seems that when a public person openly dreams about world peace and/or a clean, pristinely green global environment, theological fundamentalists immediately react with the presumption that he/she must therefore be Godless and, by extension, evil and/or (far worse) a socialist!

    On a theistic level, I believe that too many monotheists have created their God’s nature in their own angry, vengeful image. I personally picture Jesus as being one who’d enjoy a belly-shaking laugh over a good, albeit clean, joke with his disciples, rather than always being the stoically serious type of savior. Imagine a creator who has a great sense of humor rather than a readily infuriated streak!

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    1. Strictly a personal observation, but it seems to me that it’s the sole province of Old Testament, fundamentalist Christians to posit an angry, vengeful supreme being. From what I know of Greek, Roman, and Norse theologies, for instance, they contain gods who are fallible and who experience love, humor, irony, sadness, and joy, instead of simply being merely eternally ready to exact vengeance on transgressors. I’d think it would make perfect sense for a [G]god to have a capacity for humor!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. we are are our own gods swaddled in incunambula of self-absorptions, whether hebrew, evangelical, norse, xian, hindu, greek, roman, b’hai, zoroastrian, hezbollahn, shiite, shinto, sunni, or flying teapot orbiters. however, in order for our species to survive, we need to infuse those diverse incunambula w/ more compassion and respect for those outside our limited frames-of-reference. most religions are too tribalistic and self-promoting to embrace and be edified by iconoclasts, detractors, or recusants whose views are diametric to their own. the challenge is to maintain open dialogues w/ each other to unblock these adamantine religious costivities.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can agree with most of what you said; the rest, however, I still have to look up in my super-sized Oxford dictionary …
        Speaking from a purely spiritual/theological perspective, every Easter I think about the great irony of Jesus: Perhaps he didn’t die for humans as payment for their sins, the greatest being mostly the result of often-unchecked testosterone rushes; rather, Christ was brutally murdered because of humans’ seriously flawed sinful nature. Jesus was viciously killed because he did not in the least behave in accordance to corrupted human conduct and expectation — and in particular because he was nowhere near to being the vengeful, wrathful behemoth so many people seemingly wanted or needed their savior to be and therefore believed he’d have to be. Maybe Christ died in large part because people subconsciously wanted their creator to be a reflection of them, and their patriarchy.
        The people insisted on a messiah whose nature is of the unambiguously fire-and-brimstone angry-God condemnation kind of creator that’s quite befitting of the Old Testament, Torah and Quran. And, of course, Jesus also personally pissed off some high priests, money changers and Romans in-charge.
        All that rejection, regardless of his unmistakable miracles — inexplicably healing crippling ailments, the lifelong blind, and most notably defying death with Lazarus — that were quite unlike many contemporary fraudster faith healers.
        Maybe God became incarnate to prove to people that there really was hope for the many — especially for young people living in today’s physical, mental and spiritual turmoil — seeing hopelessness in a fire-and-brimstone angry-God-condemnation creator requiring literal pain-filled penance for Man’s sinful thus corrupted behavior (rather like an angry father spanking his child, really)? He became incarnate to show humankind what Messiah ought to and has to be.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. magnificent in its heartfelt eloquence and conjectures, fgsjr2015. may i have your permission to copy this excursus and divulgate it to family and friends who, unlike me, are practitioners of judaism, xianity, and islam?

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Soundly reasoned. From what little I’ve read, I’d agree with your take that Christ was murdered because he wasn’t what he was supposed to be. The Jewish messiah was prophesized to be a champion and a crusader against the Romans, and with his “love all” approach, he definitely didn’t fill the bill.

    Like

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