Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sun Dec 16, 2018 7:58 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2
Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis 
Author Message
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6126
Location: Berryville, Virginia
Thanks: 1702
Thanked: 1851 times in 1411 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
Robert Tulip wrote:
In the context of my father dying this year from mesothelioma, I have recently read several books that claim a person’s attitude can influence their health. Lewis cites a range of evidence such as this study from the British Medical Journal to show how exaggerated and dangerous such claims can be when taken to extremes, whereas a more balanced view still recognises the importance of a strong appetite for life within a modern evidence-based value system.

The risks of unfounded optimism and blind faith are that people can avoid medical treatment in favour of alleged spiritual cures. In this chapter Lewis explores this wishful thinking, puncturing unrealistic beliefs.

Cancer generates strong negative emotion about unfairness and the harshness of reality, since most cancers seem to be random. Optimism helps people to cope, but can convey the hurtful message that those who died lacked enough hope. Lewis says the scientific evidence indicates that a positive attitude makes no different to cancer survival, since mechanisms such as the effect of stress on the immune system are not strong enough to measure. I find that hard to believe, and would be interested to see more analysis of this research.

I'm sorry to hear of your father's death, Robert. You had mentioned him a few times over the past years in your posts. One of the best "debunking" books I've read deals partly with the message of failure that can come across to the person with cancer if he or she isn't sufficiently upbeat about winning over the disease. The book is The Last Self-Help Book You'll ever Need: Repress Your Anger, Think Negatively, Be a Good Blamer, and Throttle Your Inner Child , by Paul Pearsall. Pearsall is a psychologist who tells of his own experience with cancer, and how unhelpful he found exhortations to "keep positive." The book is full of anti-bromides, as one reviewer put it.
Quote:
Lewis says mildly depressed people are more realistic than the buoyantly optimistic. Often there are sound reasons for depression based in people’s life circumstances. But more seriously depressed people often have distorted views and are often vulnerable. Psychiatry aims to help people to function, not necessarily to be realistic. People who have been devastated by adverse life events need a lot more help.

The tendency to oversell spills over into psychiatry, with inflated claims about transforming people’s lives where the reality is only a prospect of minor adjustment. Mild anxiety and depression can be completely normal, or just part of someone’s personality, but there is a tendency to treat these conditions as illnesses, even though such people can also be more sensitive and attuned and cautious. Mild conditions can benefit from counselling, while severe conditions need medication or can be untreatable.

Martin Seligman wrote that it behooves CEOs to keep such mildly depressed people around, because as advisers they often offer counsel that moderates irrational exuberance. The tendency for psychiatry to continually define new disorders is explored in another good book, Saving Normal, by Allen Frances.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks, Robert Tulip
Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:49 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5654
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2141
Thanked: 2076 times in 1572 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
DWill wrote:
I'm sorry to hear of your father's death, Robert. You had mentioned him a few times over the past years in your posts.


Thanks DWill, speaking of my father, here is his obituary.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
DWill, Harry Marks
Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:21 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Conversationalist

Book Discussion Leader

Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1167
Thanks: 1155
Thanked: 553 times in 455 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
Robert, thanks for sharing the obituary. It sounds like he was a wonderful man and a good father. The brief part about his home (your home) was fascinating and inspiring. Truly quite a loss. You have my condolences.

I also took the trouble to look up mesothelioma, hoping to have some insight into the course of the disease, and discovered to my embarrassment that it is not skin cancer at all. Sorry about that. It is interesting that 80 percent of cases seem to originate with exposure to asbestos, so there is still a candidate for blame. Not that such a candidate helps the sense of control, but one can imagine it might help with the process of putting together a sense of meaning in this mostly random process.



Sat Sep 08, 2018 3:38 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Conversationalist

Book Discussion Leader

Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1167
Thanks: 1155
Thanked: 553 times in 455 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
Robert Tulip wrote:
Integration into a social setting is exactly the purpose of a church congregation at the local parish level. There is an evolutionary adaptive quality of local religious practice that faces major selective pressures in adapting to modern culture.
The point was made to me long ago that Jesus's great religious innovation (or, in your perspective, the innovation of the early Christian church) was neither forgiveness nor the emphasis on the inner representation of the law, but the practice of intimate living among a small group of like-minded agents of the Kingdom (which of course may have come to him from Qumran or the ashrams of the East).

After being told, quite bizarrely really, that believing particular intellectual propositions will save you from hellfire, we have a tendency to think of Jesus in terms of particular teachings. But the understanding one gets from seeing the practice of relationship in action can shift that perspective dramatically.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The emergence of anonymous mass culture, alongside the conservative tendency of churches to be slow to update their doctrine, and the tendency of rational people to give too much weight to the surface irrationality of church practice and belief, all mean the ability of church to build community is in decline.
There is something to this, but there are arguments out there that the ability of anything to build community is in decline. People don't even fracture over big questions of authority and purpose anymore, they fracture over "sensibility." ("If someone doesn't think George Carlin and John Oliver are funny, well, I don't want to know them." That kind of attitude.)

One of the most important arguments in "Habits of the Heart" is that communities of choice can never substitute for communities of proximity. If we can manage to get along with the people we are thrown together with (there's that word again) we are plunged into a much more authentic meaning than comes from the process of getting along with people who agree with us about life's big issues (which of course is difficult enough). If this sounds like saying that you have to discuss politics and religion with people you disagree with, so that awkward Thanksgiving Dinner experience takes over your life (sorry for the North American reference - it's about getting together with distant relatives who see life differently), well to some extent it is. But of course one of the ways of getting along with those people who see life so differently is to learn to see the world from a different perspective (or one could just move to Europe). And that rounds out a person's values in a way that doesn't usually happen from discussions with like-minded people.

Robert Tulip wrote:
It is quite natural that rational people refuse to countenance that false claims and seemingly meaningless rituals can contain hidden value, when this alleged spiritual value is hard to see as explicit conscious content, and its allegorical meaning is never explained in ways that make scientific sense. The churches give priority to the comfort of believers over the needs of non-believers, but that points to areas of dialogue and reform that are essential to rebuild church credibility.
Well, oddly enough the allegorical meaning is always explained in plausible terms, in my experience. Even in the evangelical church I grew up in, the minister spent much more time relating the subject to the experience of the congregation than elucidating theological implications. There were two vital principles in operation: "put the hay down where the cows can reach it" which is about not storing wonderful theological insights like grace up in the unreachable parts of the barn; and "not being so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good" which is about avoiding the escapism temptation that comes with supernaturally oriented religion.

The falsity of the traditional, literal claims is much more problematic when they are used as a club to try to compel submissive behavior in others than when they are used to extract implications for good living. I think it's fine for churches to set aside claims of authority based on the supernatural, but it's more important to dwell on the lessons actually taught, like removing the beam from one's own eye first, instead of stroking people's sense of spiritual superiority over others.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
We are terribly impressed by pharmacological success against mental illness, but that is partly because that is the type of intervention we are most enamored of. The idea that our whole society and economy might be called on to make space for those who are facing tough mental challenges seems too "religious" for the most driven people to take on board. Perhaps we could begin to think about what kind of mental illness being driven is.

Lewis may be terribly impressed by psychiatric drugs, but I am not. Drugs for depression and anxiety are a Band-Aid over the gaping wound of social dysfunction. The collapse of local community identity, vision and care is a primary cause of the epidemic of mental illness, in my view. Until people find ways to restore local connections, through new forms of religious identity, the problems will only get worse.
Haidt is out with a new book arguing, apparently, that the epidemic of anxiety and perhaps depression is due to the loss of "play" in which children try out their social skills in an unsupervised setting. I don't know that any of us knows the answer, but there certainly seem to be powerful undercurrents of social disruption from all the societal change that is going on.

I do think that the loss of church community is a genuine loss for society, but that is based more on my own experience than on social science.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The productivity of competitive economic growth has downsides with the exclusion of those who can’t keep up, leaving aside the ignored ecological risks.
If my personal diagnosis of the modern economic situation is correct, we will soon be learning more than we wanted to know about the inadequacies of the modern economy. Just as central planning failed when the economy reached a stage at which quality of output mattered more than quantity, so corporate capitalism may be failing as the economy reaches a stage at which it is no longer worthwhile from a purely private perspective to employ large segments of the work force. Writing so many voters off as "those who can't keep up" is a dangerous practice for democratic values.

Robert Tulip wrote:
if we produce abundance through accepting the morality of ‘to those who have will be given’, we will obtain the resources for works of mercy that treat the least as if they are Jesus Christ, distributing the wealth created by the driven.
That may turn out to be an actual solution, but it doesn't ring true for my instincts about human nature. Rather I think we will make some major changes in the treatment of intellectual property and the ability to shelter multinational income from taxation, while finding social mechanisms to build up economic connections converting leisure by the more productive into empowerment for those who "can't keep up" without it.



Sat Sep 08, 2018 4:38 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5654
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2141
Thanked: 2076 times in 1572 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
Continuing response to post166419.html#p166419
Harry Marks wrote:
I have no reason to believe that religion would be any better at self-criticism than, say, academia, which is really bad at it.
A reason in principle is that religion claims that self-criticism is central to morality. The Biblical critiques of hypocrisy, such as the criticisms of pharisaical morality by Jesus Christ, illustrate that Christianity aspires to accurate self-criticism. For example, an understanding of penitence and contrition can see forgiveness as conditional on understanding that what you did was wrong, and how and why it was wrong.

All that is of course only an ideal, since the mainstream Christian vision is perverted by fantasy, with untrue myths accepted as fact, leading to pervasive assumptions that often undermine any efforts at self-criticism. A problem in human psychology is that people confuse the ego with the self, meaning that academics, churchmen, businessmen and all practical people develop an arrogant attitude in which self-awareness is brushed aside in favour of worldly ambition.
Harry Marks wrote:
I see very little willingness to believe that people can commit to the values of traditional religion without the supernatural language to back it up.
Mythology in religion appears in the literal acceptance of supernatural language. In memetic terms of cultural evolution, functional myths are durable, stable and fecund, displaying adaptive traits that are robust against competition.

The psycho-social problem here is that moral values are always embedded in a complex narrative. That means in practice it is immensely difficult to sustain values outside the story. This is something I want to return to in discussion of Chapter Five where Lewis celebrates the philosopher Immanuel Kant and his idea that modern rationality involves a maturing of human thinking.

I don’t see maturity as so simple, since this problem of embedding values in story indicates that psychology of the unconscious is far more complex than the surface rationalism perceives.

My view is that it is possible to retain the supernatural language of religious practice, for example praying to God as Heavenly Father, while completely gutting that language of literal content in terms of entailed belief in God as a personal entity. I don’t see that as deceptive, but rather as a conscious way to commit to values through acceptance of the cultural form in which values are transmitted, while seeing the language as pointing to a deeper allegorical meaning and a way of being open to mystery.
Harry Marks wrote:
Some of this is the fear that religious leaders feel to confront supernatural claims as the motivation for religion. They may believe rightly that they would no longer be supported without it. Or they may have their own motivated reasoning telling them that they chose correctly when they decided on religious leadership as a path in life.
These are powerful problems that need to confront how society has largely moved on from the comforting acceptance of simple pieties, leaving churches somewhat stranded. There is certainly a fervent audience for supernatural claims, but this audience is generally viewed with derision and contempt by the modern secular world. Preaching to the choir ignores the world.

Furthermore, supernatural claims are seen as morally suspect, as a corrupt way to justify social control and exploitation, especially with the appalling sexual assault crisis of the church. One way to help bridge the divide may be to retain conventional language in worship while offering a critique in the preaching, explaining that all the claims of religion have to be assessed as parable. Churchgoers have been systematically lied to for such a long time that there is a wrenching jolt involved in assessing what is true and false in the heritage of faith.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Last edited by Robert Tulip on Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:25 am, edited 1 time in total.



The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Harry Marks
Sun Sep 09, 2018 3:02 pm
Profile Email WWW
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6126
Location: Berryville, Virginia
Thanks: 1702
Thanked: 1851 times in 1411 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
Robert Tulip wrote:
DWill wrote:
I'm sorry to hear of your father's death, Robert. You had mentioned him a few times over the past years in your posts.


Thanks DWill, speaking of my father, here is his obituary.

What an accomplished man he was, and a clear and elegant writer from the sample I read (also courageous to suggest some way to go for Australian poetry). Anyone would be lucky to have such dinner-time conversations. Also it's clear the apple didn't fall far from the tree.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Chris OConnor, Harry Marks, Robert Tulip
Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:49 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Conversationalist

Book Discussion Leader

Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1167
Thanks: 1155
Thanked: 553 times in 455 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
I have no reason to believe that religion would be any better at self-criticism than, say, academia, which is really bad at it.
A reason in principle is that religion claims that self-criticism is central to morality. The Biblical critiques of hypocrisy, such as the criticisms of pharisaical morality by Jesus Christ, illustrate that Christianity aspires to accurate self-criticism. For example, an understanding of penitence and contrition can see forgiveness as conditional on understanding that what you did was wrong, and how and why it was wrong.
Yes, point taken. We tend to emphasize to each other that we are all sinners, but one is meant to be on the road away from that sort of thing, and self-criticism is a big part of that.

The non-dual approach, which Tat Tvam Asi would understand though not necessarily thinking of it as part of Christianity, suggests that you see yourself accurately but then trust the relationship of belonging to God and being loved by God to bring internal change, rather than trusting will-power. This has a lot to recommend it from the standpoint of modern neuropsychology as well. But even in that relaxed approach, seeing accurately is important.

Robert Tulip wrote:
All that is of course only an ideal, since the mainstream Christian vision is perverted by fantasy, with untrue myths accepted as fact, leading to pervasive assumptions that often undermine any efforts at self-criticism.
I think this could use some further analysis, but I tend to see the mechanism as a kind of Jungian shadow issue. The typical supernaturalist is putting trust in, and identifying with, the power of the Almighty, and many, many of them feel that it is going to somehow take care of them in life, and many, many of them feel they must project an image of Pharasaical purity as part of the power dynamic (but really for the sake of their lame ego).

Robert Tulip wrote:
A problem in human psychology is that people confuse the ego with the self, meaning that academics, churchmen, businessmen and all practical people develop an arrogant attitude in which self-awareness is brushed aside in favour of worldly ambition.
Very well said. The shadow sides of those ego dynamics can be pretty convoluted as well. The ego does not have to be resistant to self-criticism, of course, but in practice it works very hard at it for most of us.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
I see very little willingness to believe that people can commit to the values of traditional religion without the supernatural language to back it up.
Mythology in religion appears in the literal acceptance of supernatural language. In memetic terms of cultural evolution, functional myths are durable, stable and fecund, displaying adaptive traits that are robust against competition.
In liminal times, on the cusp of the old and the new, the durability and stability can be a problem. It's one reason I like your vision of interpreting the mythology in terms of natural cycles (I realize you didn't originate it, but you do explain it often). It has some potential to bridge between the old "enchanted" view and a scientifically sound view. I do worry that it leaves gaps that are too large in what can be transferred from the old symbolic system.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The psycho-social problem here is that moral values are always embedded in a complex narrative. That means in practice it is immensely difficult to sustain values outside the story.
Theologians are paying a lot of attention to this these days, as you may know. There is open talk of a "post-modern" use of language, in which the psychological dynamics involved are encountered as much as, or more than, the literal story itself. Where a traditional reading the Sacrifice of Abraham would emphasize obedience and testing, a post-modern reading might emphasize the abolition of child sacrifice, the role of God providing a new view of sacrifice, and even some overcoming of murderous Freudian tendencies by faith.

The connections between story and values are somewhat flexible. The part of Christianity that attaches importance to Original Sin, for example, is much reduced from 50 years ago and shrinking fast. Human fallenness is not seen as a function either of Adam and Eve's choice or of sexuality, but rather the story is seen as an effort to capture something real and important about human nature.
Robert Tulip wrote:
This is something I want to return to in discussion of Chapter Five where Lewis celebrates the philosopher Immanuel Kant and his idea that modern rationality involves a maturing of human thinking. I don’t see maturity as so simple, since this problem of embedding values in story indicates that psychology of the unconscious is far more complex than the surface rationalism perceives.
Well, you are hardly alone in looking for things like emotional balance and humility about the limitations of reason. Jung puts a lot of structure on our relationship to the unconscious, and so maybe you do to. I think that mode of analysis will have a voice for a long time to come, but I also think Jung himself would argue for relating to it as a source of insight rather than a new set of doctrines.

Robert Tulip wrote:
My view is that it is possible to retain the supernatural language of religious practice, for example praying to God as Heavenly Father, while completely gutting that language of literal content in terms of entailed belief in God as a personal entity. I don’t see that as deceptive, but rather as a conscious way to commit to values through acceptance of the cultural form in which values are transmitted, while seeing the language as pointing to a deeper allegorical meaning and a way of being open to mystery.
The main problem I have with this is the singular "a" deeper allegorical meaning. Often there are competing themes being embodied in a story, as with Persephone or with Theseus or even with Cain and Abel. Most particularly if we are going to remain open to mystery, I think it would be helpful to think in terms of layers of allegorical meaning and tensions between competing principles.

Robert Tulip wrote:
These are powerful problems that need to confront how society has largely moved on from the comforting acceptance of simple pieties, leaving churches somewhat stranded. There is certainly a fervent audience for supernatural claims, but this audience is generally viewed with derision and contempt by the modern secular world. Preaching to the choir ignores the world.
Yes, the broader lay church needs to work harder at integrating its vision with modern realities. However, you should be aware that the derision and contempt of modernism is often motivated by derision about values such as self-improvement as well. I find that there is still a surprising amount of sympathy for supernatural notions such as all of us being Children of God and looking forward to being reunited with loved ones after death. If these notions are held humbly and not wielded as a club, they tend to be received with a certain respect.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Furthermore, supernatural claims are seen as morally suspect, as a corrupt way to justify social control and exploitation, especially with the appalling sexual assault crisis of the church.
Which of course stems from bad theology in the first place, and sociology that started down the road of social control without careful consideration of the temptations and perversions that would expose the church to.
Robert Tulip wrote:
One way to help bridge the divide may be to retain conventional language in worship while offering a critique in the preaching, explaining that all the claims of religion have to be assessed as parable. Churchgoers have been systematically lied to for such a long time that there is a wrenching jolt involved in assessing what is true and false in the heritage of faith.
The Progressive approach tends to be to tell all the truth but tell it slant. The process of thinking in terms of Crucifixion and Resurrection as parable, for example, is usually exemplified without being imposed. The authoritarian approach has usually been stripped away, and it would be suspect to replace one set of doctrines with a different, "true" set.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
Robert Tulip
Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:30 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5654
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2141
Thanked: 2076 times in 1572 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
Harry Marks wrote:
In liminal times, on the cusp of the old and the new, the durability and stability [of religious memes] can be a problem.
Evolution proceeds, as Gould argued, by punctuated equilibrium. Long periods of stability are followed by short periods of crisis. The opportunity of crisis creates what you call a liminal time, a threshold where an old way is no longer viable but a new way has not yet been defined. The old durable stable forms are no longer productive, and enter a time of collapse while various new ideas contend.

We are seeing such a change for Christianity today. The old emphasis of the church on the literal truth of its teachings has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. The likely result, as the cultural evolution process determines what aspects of traditional religion remain adaptive, is that emotionally comforting messages and rituals will continue to assist in social binding, while their literal content will gradually come to be viewed as entirely symbolic and poetic. That is a good thing, and looks like a return to how Bible teachings were originally intended.
Harry Marks wrote:
It's one reason I like your vision of interpreting the mythology in terms of natural cycles (I realize you didn't originate it, but you do explain it often).
In fact Harry, I am not aware of anyone else who has taken the analysis of myth in terms of astronomical forcing to anywhere near the extent that I have, such as in my recent widely ignored essay on The Precessional Structure of Time. My argument there is entirely original. I propose that the actually observed natural cycles of our planet should be regarded as the base upon which the ideational superstructure of religious myth has evolved. While there is an element of astrological speculation in such discussion, just in seeing the heavens reflecting earth over long periods, I try to limit the arbitrary factor by a focus on the orderly physical cycles that drive natural climate change.

Previous arguments along these lines that I have been read have been entirely metaphorical, failing to embed concepts such as the zodiac age in actual dynamic cycles of earth’s orbit. I consider that I am proposing an entirely new and rigorous scientific approach to myth, but it seems too transformative for people to engage on.

The most elegant dimension of this analysis is how it provides a parsimonious scientific explanation of the emergence and meaning of Christianity, based on the hypothesis of unconscious reaction to encompassing natural cycles. When we study the actual natural cycles observed by astronomy, my discovery includes observations such as that the equivalence of the metaphorical and real seasons of fall. These occur at the same time, with the mythical fall from grace happening while the perihelion advances through the season of fall, presenting a correlation that suggests causality.
Harry Marks wrote:
It has some potential to bridge between the old "enchanted" view and a scientifically sound view.
The bridge here rests in the placement of Christology within an accurate modern cosmology, viewing the actual cycles of the solar system as the wholistic context for the evolution of life on earth and for how Christianity can remain an adaptive ideology.

The entire point of Christology, the study of Christ, is to explain how human life connects to ultimate truth. This theory of connection was previously postulated through the mythical equation between Jesus of Nazareth and Christ the King. Conventional theology describes this connection in terms of the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures in the one messianic person. Such language has the character of idealistic myth, forming the basis for an enchanted world view, replete with miracles and supernatural cosmology.

The interesting thing for Christianity in terms of my astronomical analysis is how the Biblical theory of Jesus Christ as the least being first, redeeming humankind from the fall from grace, can be understood within a coherent epistemology. The myth of Christ emerges as a highly plausible social and intellectual reaction to the context of human evolution against orbital drivers at millennial time scale, thereby achieving the bridge you mention between theology and a scientifically sound view.
Harry Marks wrote:
I do worry that it leaves gaps that are too large in what can be transferred from the old symbolic system.
That is a natural concern, since all such investigations fall under the suspicion of undue magical speculation. For my own perspective, this question of gaps is about religious psychology, about how religion can cope with a transfer from a magical to a scientific epistemology.

As we have discussed, values live within stories. This context is rather like how cells live within blood and die when they are separated from their living source of sustenance. It is very hard to tell how well values will survive outside the mythological framework of the traditional stories that gave them social meaning. That is a big part of why Young Earth Creationism has proved so robust against challenge, that Jesus is defined by Paul as a reaction against Adam, as without Adam the Jesus story loses much of its imagined salvific power.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
The psycho-social problem here is that moral values are always embedded in a complex narrative. That means in practice it is immensely difficult to sustain values outside the story.
Theologians are paying a lot of attention to this these days, as you may know. There is open talk of a "post-modern" use of language, in which the psychological dynamics involved are encountered as much as, or more than, the literal story itself. Where a traditional reading the Sacrifice of Abraham would emphasize obedience and testing, a post-modern reading might emphasize the abolition of child sacrifice, the role of God providing a new view of sacrifice, and even some overcoming of murderous Freudian tendencies by faith.
The meaning of postmodern in this context is just the analysis of traditional beliefs to see how they hold concealed meaning. This process is called deconstruction, removing Christianity from its privileged status of unquestioned traditional authority as Gospel Truth by challenging its assumptions.

The postmodern approach here is not about the relativist claim that rival meanings are equally valid. From my close study of Heidegger, one of the fathers of postmodern deconstruction, I have an intense suspicion about use of postmodern reading to relativise meaning in the sense of the claim that alternative approaches can’t be measured against each other. Deconstruction of conventional logic is however often essential to raise important questions about how we test our views.

I agree with Aristotle that a statement cannot be true and false, and that allegory has a different epistemic status to fact. There is nothing ‘modern’ about reading the Bible literally – such reading is defiantly pre-modern, so allegorical and psychological reading are often more modern than postmodern.
Harry Marks wrote:
The connections between story and values are somewhat flexible.
The attempt to retain values while discarding the story that was its carrier vessel seems one of the most difficult problems in the psychology of religion. Rationalising tendencies can have unintended consequences of hollowing out the vitality of faith. I think it is important to retain a respect for stories even where a conventional literal reading is discarded.
Harry Marks wrote:
The part of Christianity that attaches importance to Original Sin, for example, is much reduced from 50 years ago and shrinking fast. Human fallenness is not seen as a function either of Adam and Eve's choice or of sexuality, but rather the story is seen as an effort to capture something real and important about human nature.
The big change for Roman Catholic dogmatic conceptions of faith such as Augustine’s idea of Original Sin arises from the collapse of the union of church and state. I quite like the hermeneutic of suspicion in Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism, where imperial value systems are subjected to searching deconstruction. There is a major unconscious factor in conventional moral teachings like Original Sin, for example in how they support social stability, and how people prefer stable order over the chaos of messianic politics, leading the conventional church to reject the alternative epistemology of original blessing.
Harry Marks wrote:
you are hardly alone in looking for things like emotional balance and humility about the limitations of reason. Jung puts a lot of structure on our relationship to the unconscious, and so maybe you do to. I think that mode of analysis will have a voice for a long time to come, but I also think Jung himself would argue for relating to it as a source of insight rather than a new set of doctrines.
Symbols gain their power through their unconscious resonance with factors that create emotional appeal. It is possible to deconstruct symbols in order to bring these unconscious factors into conscious awareness. The inherent uncertainties in analysis of the unconscious in psychology require caution, humility and tentativeness in conclusions. Yet I do think one source of insight in analysing the psychology of religion is how the myths about God map to actual natural processes, especially the role of the sun as the source of light, life, order and stability.
Harry Marks wrote:
Often there are competing themes being embodied in a story, as with Persephone or with Theseus or even with Cain and Abel. Most particularly if we are going to remain open to mystery, I think it would be helpful to think in terms of layers of allegorical meaning and tensions between competing principles.
Yes, that is very true. In the example I just gave, the role of the sun as the source of light and life is in tension with the religious idea that an original cosmic order is manifest in the word of God, a sense that the divine transcends even the glory of the sun. The tendency in Christianity, due to the sclerotic nature of tradition, is to find such psychoanalytic discussion too difficult.
Harry Marks wrote:
the derision and contempt of modernism is often motivated by derision about values such as self-improvement as well. I find that there is still a surprising amount of sympathy for supernatural notions such as all of us being Children of God and looking forward to being reunited with loved ones after death. If these notions are held humbly and not wielded as a club, they tend to be received with a certain respect.
Humility in this area involves expressing mythological language as poetry. Belief in life after death is a subjective comfort that people can find emotionally meaningful, even while they have no wish to assert that any of it is literally true. Modernism is strongly associated with the mid twentieth century philosophy of logical positivism, the assertion that the only meaning is what science can measure. The failure of positivism to provide emotional comfort and belonging indicates the ongoing psychological need for religious poetry.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Furthermore, supernatural claims are seen as morally suspect, as a corrupt way to justify social control and exploitation, especially with the appalling sexual assault crisis of the church.
Which of course stems from bad theology in the first place, and sociology that started down the road of social control without careful consideration of the temptations and perversions that would expose the church to.
I fear the priest sex crisis is far more central to the DNA of churches than they have been able to admit. Priestcraft has always been intimately entwined with political power, and until the internet this enabled a culture of impunity and social control. It will be interesting to see how the vital functions of religion can be disentangled from the tares that have strangled it within the institutional church.
Harry Marks wrote:
The process of thinking in terms of Crucifixion and Resurrection as parable, for example, is usually exemplified without being imposed. The authoritarian approach has usually been stripped away, and it would be suspect to replace one set of doctrines with a different, "true" set.
I think this concept of true doctrine will evolve organically, recognising that we are in a liminal transition time beset by uncertainty.

My view is that we can hold to certainty in science, for example by starting with simple ideas such as that night follows day, and then looking at what further ideas we can logically and systematically build upon such simple objective entailing foundations. Considering your example of resurrection and the cross, the vast abundance of symbolic meaning in relation to the clash between good and evil and in the seasonal rebirth of new life presents a wealth of valuable systematic interpretation without need for recourse to the miraculous.

In a context of paradigm shift, a basic rule of psychology is that an old idea never dies until a better one comes along. So it is inevitable that clash of ideas will involve doctrinal dispute with the central myth of Christianity that the gospel events occurred as described in the Bible. New ideas will only succeed if they are intrinsically linked to the sceptical methods of scientific discovery with the constant humility of being true to what evidence and logic reveal.
(edited)


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Last edited by Robert Tulip on Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.



The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Harry Marks
Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:59 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Conversationalist

Book Discussion Leader

Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1167
Thanks: 1155
Thanked: 553 times in 455 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
Robert Tulip wrote:
The old emphasis of the church on the literal truth of its teachings has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. The likely result, as the cultural evolution process determines what aspects of traditional religion remain adaptive, is that emotionally comforting messages and rituals will continue to assist in social binding, while their literal content will gradually come to be viewed as entirely symbolic and poetic. That is a good thing, and looks like a return to how Bible teachings were originally intended.
I think this summary of the change underway does not go nearly far enough. Your paragraph defined a decline in literalism accompanied by a continuation of ritual and emotional comfort, in keeping with pre-Constantinian Christianity. What is actually happening is a much more thorough organic development of social practices associated with mutuality.

There is a large academic infrastructure in place whose purpose is not well-defined: train the next generation of pastors/ministers, but train them to do what? What seems to be taking hold there is a sense that we can use modern methods of systematic investigation and linkage between able and motivated minds to put the heart of religion to work in people's lives without having to nail down the "beliefs" involved. Applied religion is not replacing theoretical religion, but people are voting with their feet for the social infrastructure of applied religion.

Megachurch development of small accountability groups were an early example. Large festivals such as Wild Goose and Greenbelt were a development along the same lines. Most hospitals now have chaplaincy, and the growth of Hospice has put in place some of the learnings from the chaplaincy programs. The feedback loops with psychology and sociology departments are naturally growing apace.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
It's one reason I like your vision of interpreting the mythology in terms of natural cycles (I realize you didn't originate it, but you do explain it often).
In fact Harry, I am not aware of anyone else who has taken the analysis of myth in terms of astronomical forcing to anywhere near the extent that I have, such as in my recent widely ignored essay on The Precessional Structure of Time. My argument there is entirely original. I propose that the actually observed natural cycles of our planet should be regarded as the base upon which the ideational superstructure of religious myth has evolved. While there is an element of astrological speculation in such discussion, just in seeing the heavens reflecting earth over long periods, I try to limit the arbitrary factor by a focus on the orderly physical cycles that drive natural climate change.
Well, I suppose I drew the wrong inference from references to Jung's discussion of Aions, etc. Thanks for explaining. I have my doubts as to whether a tradition of remembering climate cycles could have managed to be preserved and passed on to Bronze Age astrologers, alchemists and gnostics, but, well, some surprises are no doubt still waiting for us from pre-history. I don't want to engage on the specifics, in part because I think natural order influences are likely to be a minor part of the root system of ancient and medieval religion, despite the heavy influence already noticed from the annual cycle of seasons and days.

People have fed in lots of other strands of human experience, including sibling rivalry and family dysfunctionality in general, pride and folly, greed, oppression, militarism, sadism, totemic animal traits, storms, shipwrecks, herbal lore, evil witchcraft, animal breeding, and on and on, into mythological story-telling. I suspect we have a better chance positing psychological forces as the controlling factors than natural forces. Still, the appreciation of "order and stability" is one of those psychological forces, and work like yours may help to give it its due.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The most elegant dimension of this analysis is how it provides a parsimonious scientific explanation of the emergence and meaning of Christianity, based on the hypothesis of unconscious reaction to encompassing natural cycles.
Sometimes parsimony is in the mind of the analyst.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
It has some potential to bridge between the old "enchanted" view and a scientifically sound view.
The bridge here rests in the placement of Christology within an accurate modern cosmology, viewing the actual cycles of the solar system as the wholistic context for the evolution of life on earth and for how Christianity can remain an adaptive ideology.
I suspect other bridges are possible and may be opened up by archetype-based investigation.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The entire point of Christology, the study of Christ, is to explain how human life connects to ultimate truth. This theory of connection was previously postulated through the mythical equation between Jesus of Nazareth and Christ the King.
Recent Pauline scholarship suggests that he made a strong connection between the Resurrection and the commencement of the Messianic Age, or Kingdom of God. Paul's own vision seems to have cemented this for him, and his calling to the Gentiles was evidently encompassed in the transformation he experienced. It seems to have been connected to Messianic beliefs that the whole world would be reached before the End of the Age.

For Paul, ultimate truth was evidently strongly tied to agape, loosely the idea of altruism. His binational origin and strong Pharasaical training may have led him to contrast Yahweh's ethic of covenant over against polytheistic ethics of appeasement. He handles the Lordship of Christ lightly, and seems more attached to community identification such as "the Church of God" and "in Christ." The connection, for him, between human life and ultimate truth seems to be more in terms of destination than revelation.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Conventional theology describes this connection in terms of the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures in the one messianic person. Such language has the character of idealistic myth, forming the basis for an enchanted world view, replete with miracles and supernatural cosmology.
There seems to be a bumbling process, which one might call Progressive Mysticism (exemplified by Thomas Merton and Simone Weil but gathering momentum), toward re-enchanting in a post-modern understanding. Easily moving between poetry, metaphor and hesitant psychology, it perceives the enchantment within ordinary life. I copied a quote onto another thread (Ch. 5 of this book, I think) which exemplifies it wonderfully.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The interesting thing for Christianity in terms of my astronomical analysis is how the Biblical theory of Jesus Christ as the least being first, redeeming humankind from the fall from grace, can be understood within a coherent epistemology.
I am most interested in rendering that sort of thing in terms of the redemptive possibilities opened by modern economic forces. Instead of an eternal round of extraction by violence, we have voluntary exchange as the sine qua non of advanced living, and the great task of subduing violence merges with the great opportunity of seeing meaning in ordinary, reciprocal and mutual relationship.

Robert Tulip wrote:
As we have discussed, values live within stories. This context is rather like how cells live within blood and die when they are separated from their living source of sustenance.
I rather like that comparison. As with the way Hariri sees structures of understanding leading to large scale coordination of efforts, we can understand the longing for meaning as a longing for some overarching narrative into which the other narratives can fit. I still think science is just the backdrop for that - it is one kind of "ultimate" narrative, but lacks the capacity of self-control that we find in religious understanding. As much of Christianity moves toward suspicion of authority claims, it should not be surprising that suspicion of scientific authority claims come with the process.

Robert Tulip wrote:
It is very hard to tell how well values will survive outside the mythological framework of the traditional stories that gave them social meaning. That is a big part of why Young Earth Creationism has proved so robust against challenge, that Jesus is defined by Paul as a reaction against Adam, as without Adam the Jesus story loses much of its imagined salvific power.
YEC has drawn much of its resilience from the dynamics of counterculture. Just as Wm J Bryan opposed Darwinism partly because he detested Social Darwinism (and his counterpart in the Scopes trial defended Leopold and Loeb), today's YEC's resent academic arrogance and the insistence that society should elevate technical competence over mutuality and living right. There's also a nasty side to that counterculture, claiming that elites are oppressing "Christian culture" (as the KKK inevitably branded itself) in order to maintain power.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The meaning of postmodern in this context is just the analysis of traditional beliefs to see how they hold concealed meaning.
I'm not too sure about "just" in that sentence, but I do think that is how the process mainly goes in Progressive Christian circles. It seems to me that there is a certain self-consciousness about getting behind the authoritarian use of text in the traditional framework (see "deconstruction" below) and a suspicion of supposedly value-free scientific analysis in the modernist framework.
Robert Tulip wrote:
This process is called deconstruction, removing Christianity from its privileged status of unquestioned traditional authority as Gospel Truth by challenging its assumptions.
Technically, deconstruction doubts all privilege for authorities and urges questioning of all assumptions. In practice it seems to boil down to a search for hidden, implicit claims to authority and pats itself on the back most heartily when it can find a kind of conspiracy between the hidden authority claims and the overt value claims.

Examples could include deconstructing "bourgeois democracy" which manipulatively maintains a hold on power by money in contrast to its claims of democratic goals, or "disaster porn"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Uninhabitable_Earth

Robert Tulip wrote:
The postmodern approach here is not about the relativist claim that rival meanings are equally valid. From my close study of Heidegger, one of the fathers of postmodern deconstruction, I have an intense suspicion about use of postmodern reading to relativise meaning in the sense of the claim that alternative approaches can’t be measured against each other. Deconstruction of conventional logic is however often essential to raise important questions about how we test our views.
This sounds right to me. At its lowest, deconstruction can be just knee-jerk "what about"-ism, claiming to show that all perspectives are manipulative and in the end if you aren't using other people you are being used. More sensibly, it can be a source of humility about one's own claims to moral authority.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
The connections between story and values are somewhat flexible.
The attempt to retain values while discarding the story that was its carrier vessel seems one of the most difficult problems in the psychology of religion. Rationalising tendencies can have unintended consequences of hollowing out the vitality of faith. I think it is important to retain a respect for stories even where a conventional literal reading is discarded.
You make it sound like the vitality and the respect are quite voluntary. This is a doubtful proposition. I think the most successful efforts at "re-vitalization" or even "re-enchantment" go about it by setting up the values tensions which were released by the powerful mythological stories, seeing how the "events" operated on that tension, and translating it to equivalent tensions in the lives of the listener.

A really oversimplified version is Camus' "Myth of Sisyphus." He isn't really much interested in the original, except as a dramatization of his view (also found in "The Plague") that we don't achieve salvation but we achieve purpose by pursuing it. A much better version is in talk of the "Resurrection Event" by which even the sheer persistence of the radically caring early church amounts to a story of the Resurrection of Jesus. It has the virtue of fitting the spiritual and sociological orientation of the early church, as well as the Messianic confrontation by Jesus the Suffering Servant. What it lacks, of course, is appeal to the supernatural for divine enforcement.

Similar re-enchantments can be done with Achilles and Odysseus, with Orpheus and even Persephone, and famously with Oedipus and with Jason and Medea. Garry Wills' "Nixon Agonistes" might be seen as an example, playing as it does on Milton's comparison of Samson's tragedy to that of (putatively) Cromwell's Commonwealth.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The big change for Roman Catholic dogmatic conceptions of faith such as Augustine’s idea of Original Sin arises from the collapse of the union of church and state. I quite like the hermeneutic of suspicion in Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism, where imperial value systems are subjected to searching deconstruction. There is a major unconscious factor in conventional moral teachings like Original Sin, for example in how they support social stability, and how people prefer stable order over the chaos of messianic politics, leading the conventional church to reject the alternative epistemology of original blessing.
Well, that's good enough, but the perils of Anarchy don't need to be reinforced with notions of Original Sin, and original blessing does not have to reinforce messianic politics. I have read 100 pages or so of a different work by Said, and found him insightful enough if rather plodding and rather dedicated to blaming his chosen villains for every wrong in sight. I am fine with using deconstruction to bring us to a less certain, but more empathetic, reading of power structures.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Symbols gain their power through their unconscious resonance with factors that create emotional appeal. It is possible to deconstruct symbols in order to bring these unconscious factors into conscious awareness. The inherent uncertainties in analysis of the unconscious in psychology require caution, humility and tentativeness in conclusions. Yet I do think one source of insight in analysing the psychology of religion is how the myths about God map to actual natural processes, especially the role of the sun as the source of light, life, order and stability.
I was challenged by our church to take up some of the work of Thomas Berry, on finding an I-Thou relationship to nature. Not sure where I will start - maybe "The Great Work". But I would tend to see integration with science along those lines. Just as a working knowledge of psychology can help us engage more insightfully and generously with the people close to us, so science can help us recapture the awe and gratitude that are despoiled by a priority on extracting from nature.

p.s. another glimpse at post-modern communication in religion:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletter ... ood-place/



Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:23 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5654
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2141
Thanked: 2076 times in 1572 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
Harry Marks wrote:
Your paragraph defined a decline in literalism accompanied by a continuation of ritual and emotional comfort, in keeping with pre-Constantinian Christianity. What is actually happening is a much more thorough organic development of social practices associated with mutuality.
The theme of ritual comfort was central to the Constantian settlement, setting the non-disturbance of pious myth as the core task of the church, in contrast to the pre-Constantinian tumult of conflicting ideas on religion. The nature of pre-Constantinian Christianity, up to the early fourth century, is heavily contested, and the views of the losers of the contest are mostly lost, in line with Orwell’s dictum that who controls the past controls the future.

My view is that Christianity began as a Graeco-Jewish mystery invention combining Greek philosophy with Jewish prophecy. The New Testament is an imagined Platonic Republic with Christ as the philosopher king, created by a secret Gnostic society of enlightened initiates.
Harry Marks wrote:
There is a large academic infrastructure in place whose purpose is not well-defined: train the next generation of pastors/ministers, but train them to do what? What seems to be taking hold there is a sense that we can use modern methods of systematic investigation and linkage between able and motivated minds to put the heart of religion to work in people's lives without having to nail down the "beliefs" involved. Applied religion is not replacing theoretical religion, but people are voting with their feet for the social infrastructure of applied religion.
The problem is that what you call ‘theoretical religion’ is ossified, fossilised, petrified and even turned to stone, by the weight of its internal contradictions. These could be managed in Orwellian fashion while the church controlled the present, but now that its alliance with the throne has slipped away into the mists of Christendom, the church faces an impossible blackwhite task in asserting that the Bible is Gospel Truth.

What I think will happen is that a new set of shared beliefs will emerge to provide a mythological framework for applied religion, due to the memetic utility of agreement about reality. Hence my view that the core myth must shift from belief that Jesus was real to an acceptance that he was purely imaginary, and that this construction provided the ethical basis for authentic Christian values of love, while the literal Jesus, beautiful as the story may be, was corrupted into a degraded political myth and should be read as pure parable.
Harry Marks wrote:
Megachurch development of small accountability groups were an early example. Large festivals such as Wild Goose and Greenbelt were a development along the same lines. Most hospitals now have chaplaincy, and the growth of Hospice has put in place some of the learnings from the chaplaincy programs. The feedback loops with psychology and sociology departments are naturally growing apace.
These pastoral activities are all great examples of the magnificent resources that Christianity provides for applied solace, and yet such good works lack the integrating factor of a shared vision, an explaining story, except one that is generally recognised to be false in its main particulars, due to its miraculous incompatibility with modern scientific knowledge.

So I think it is inevitable that the pastoral values of faith will gradually demand better social legitimacy through a mandate of an explanation of Christianity that makes scientific sense. My view is that the best way to achieve this is to recognise that Jesus Christ was invented as avatar of the zodiac age of Pisces. Unfortunately, this is a stumbling block to the religious and foolishness to the scientific, to paraphrase 1 Cor 1:23.
Harry Marks wrote:
I suppose I drew the wrong inference from references to Jung's discussion of Aions, etc. Thanks for explaining.
I appreciate that it is hard for anyone to engage with my efforts to explain the influence of ancient astronomy on religion, as it is such a generally wacky topic in view of the anti-science mentality of the New Age movement. Even Jung is generally disparaged in academia as engaging too much in pseudoscience.

In researching the question of how religion evolved, I simply think that some topics now rejected as pseudoscience need to be engaged more respectfully. In my essays on Aion and Answer to Job I explained some of my differences with Jung, who had great depth of spiritual vision but was far from achieving a coherent integration of zodiac ages with religious myth.
Harry Marks wrote:
I have my doubts as to whether a tradition of remembering climate cycles could have managed to be preserved and passed on to Bronze Age astrologers, alchemists and gnostics, but, well, some surprises are no doubt still waiting for us from pre-history.
The most fascinating datum here is that the Indian myth of the Yuga postulates a 24,000 year cycle of light and dark, in superb alignment with the actual physical planetary cycle of glaciation driven by precession. This myth flowed into the origin stories of Babylon, Greece and Rome, for example with the myth of the Golden Age in Hesiod and Ovid directly mapping the actual pattern of orbital change.
Harry Marks wrote:
I don't want to engage on the specifics, in part because I think natural order influences are likely to be a minor part of the root system of ancient and medieval religion, despite the heavy influence already noticed from the annual cycle of seasons and days.
A house is built on its foundations. A genetic system is built on its initial conditions. Regular patterns in initial conditions apply a selective forcing to everything within them, especially in stable natural cycles. Random mutations that align with the natural forcing prosper more than mutations that lack such alignment. The natural order influence of precession has been stable for the entire history of life, with this light and dark cycle of about 24,000 years surrounding all evolution over the last four billion years, as stable as the orbit of the moon.

A tree does not need to remember the summer to know when its sap should rise in the spring, and the same type of genetic pattern exists in our mitochondria, meaning that these slow orbital climate cycles could be hardwired into our genetic instincts.
Harry Marks wrote:
People have fed in lots of other strands of human experience, including sibling rivalry and family dysfunctionality in general, pride and folly, greed, oppression, militarism, sadism, totemic animal traits, storms, shipwrecks, herbal lore, evil witchcraft, animal breeding, and on and on, into mythological story-telling. I suspect we have a better chance positing psychological forces as the controlling factors than natural forces. Still, the appreciation of "order and stability" is one of those psychological forces, and work like yours may help to give it its due.
Evolution by natural selection operates primarily by the steady weak selective pressures that push an ecosystem in one direction rather than another. Of course there are a myriad of factors that determine the details of story, but the alignment of the big picture with the slow drivers presents a framework that helps to coordinate all the smaller elements into a coherent vision.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
The most elegant dimension of this analysis is how it provides a parsimonious scientific explanation of the emergence and meaning of Christianity, based on the hypothesis of unconscious reaction to encompassing natural cycles.
Sometimes parsimony is in the mind of the analyst.
Indeed, and the field of astrology is replete with false claims. But I am actually presenting a scientific hypothesis here, that mythological alignment with orbital patterns is more likely than nonalignment.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
It has some potential to bridge between the old "enchanted" view and a scientifically sound view.
The bridge here rests in the placement of Christology within an accurate modern cosmology, viewing the actual cycles of the solar system as the wholistic context for the evolution of life on earth and for how Christianity can remain an adaptive ideology.
I suspect other bridges are possible and may be opened up by archetype-based investigation.
The question here is how we can bridge religion and science. Now my favourite bridge is Bifröst, https://norse-mythology.org/cosmology/bifrost/ leading across the rainbow from the divine Asgard to our vale of tears. But that does not count as it is just a myth. The problem is that science has a cosmology that leaves humans as insignificant and meaningless on our pale blue dot, while religion has cosmologies that provide emotional comfort and meaning but are empirically untrue. Explaining how myth evolved in the context of the solar system as the wholistic home of our planet bridges these incompatible worldviews.
Harry Marks wrote:
Recent Pauline scholarship suggests that he made a strong connection between the Resurrection and the commencement of the Messianic Age, or Kingdom of God. Paul's own vision seems to have cemented this for him, and his calling to the Gentiles was evidently encompassed in the transformation he experienced. It seems to have been connected to Messianic beliefs that the whole world would be reached before the End of the Age.
This Messianic belief expressed in Matthew 24:14 https://biblehub.com/interlinear/matthew/24-14.htm has a remarkable alignment with zodiac age theory. The ancients are widely thought to have held the estimate of a Platonic Month or zodiac age at 2160 years, even though evidence for this is fragmentary. So the zodiac age transition from the Age of Pisces, now ending, to the Age of Aquarius has a strong match with this idea that the first coming of Jesus Christ was imagined as avatar of the Age of Pisces and the Second Coming is defined against the inception of the New Age of Aquarius. This line of thinking fits well with the idea from Psalm 90 and 2 Peter that a thousand years are as a day for God. Presenting the Genesis creation story as allegory for this myth, the seven days of creation from the fall in 4000 BC lead to the seventh day beginning after 6000 years or six days of God, placing the seventh day of rest and repair as beginning around now, through a planetary messianic resurrection involving a paradigm shift of values, aligned to the dawn of the Age of Aquarius as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Harry Marks wrote:
For Paul, ultimate truth was evidently strongly tied to agape, loosely the idea of altruism. His binational origin and strong Pharisaical training may have led him to contrast Yahweh's ethic of covenant over against polytheistic ethics of appeasement. He handles the Lordship of Christ lightly, and seems more attached to community identification such as "the Church of God" and "in Christ." The connection, for him, between human life and ultimate truth seems to be more in terms of destination than revelation.
Agape transcends even altruism into the universal love that connects God with the world as the basis of salvation. As to the ethics of appeasement, this is less Chamberlain than divine propitiation, efforts to forestall wrath. I think you are right that Paul’s vision of the abundant love of God enabled a creative vision of covenant within a monotheistic framework. Seeing this covenant vision as a purpose for life, moving toward the rule of Christ in love, does open ambiguous questions of Lordship. Paul expresses the rather paradoxical kenotic suggestion at Phil 2:5-11 that it is precisely his complete lack of ego in perfect selfless love that fits Jesus Christ to be king of the world.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Harry Marks
Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:35 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Conversationalist

Book Discussion Leader

Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1167
Thanks: 1155
Thanked: 553 times in 455 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Chapter 3 - Finding Purpose in a Godless World - by Ralph Lewis
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
What is actually happening is a much more thorough organic development of social practices associated with mutuality.
The nature of pre-Constantinian Christianity, up to the early fourth century, is heavily contested, and the views of the losers of the contest are mostly lost, in line with Orwell’s dictum that who controls the past controls the future.

My view is that Christianity began as a Graeco-Jewish mystery invention combining Greek philosophy with Jewish prophecy. The New Testament is an imagined Platonic Republic with Christ as the philosopher king, created by a secret Gnostic society of enlightened initiates.
One reason for doubting that origin story is the tight fit between the canonical gospels and the tradition of Messianic shalom. Repeatedly in the Marcan tradition (i.e. including Matthew and Luke) the disciples are urged, post-resurrection, to see the crucifixion and resurrection as fulfillment of scripture. The Gospels don't spend much time unpacking that, and I conclude that the early churches did a lot of explication in their meetings together. The resurrection is also consistently shown as a surprise.

Of course one can imagine a Gnostic Platonic vision with fulfillment of the Jewish scriptures as its central text. If, as most mythicists seem to believe, the dying and rising from other ancient traditions was married up with Judaism, it would be sensible for the inspired ones to see it as a fit with the shalom prophecies. One problem with that vision is that the Gnostic branch of early Christianity, to the extent we know anything about it, seems uninterested in the Messianic tradition.

I just heard a very interesting sermon explaining how the structure of Mark builds a vision of what is now called contextual theology, urging the reader to set aside "received" religion for ability to hear the marginalized and the genuine. Concern for the genuine certainly sounds like Gnosticism, but beyond a philosophical universalism it seems to have little interest in the marginalized. Concern for the poor was apparently part of the Gospel of Thomas sayings collection, but I don't see this as a good fit with an origin story in terms of Platonic ideals. At the least it would have to be grafted onto the Greek philosophy tradition.

I am barely even a dabbler in the mythicist approach, so there may be more that I am unaware of. But I like my hypotheses to give a better and better fit as I pursue them with more and more investigation, rather than receding into murky ambiguity.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
Applied religion is not replacing theoretical religion, but people are voting with their feet for the social infrastructure of applied religion.
The problem is that what you call ‘theoretical religion’ is ossified, fossilised, petrified and even turned to stone, by the weight of its internal contradictions. These could be managed in Orwellian fashion while the church controlled the present, but now that its alliance with the throne has slipped away into the mists of Christendom, the church faces an impossible blackwhite task in asserting that the Bible is Gospel Truth.
Well, the most respected scholars have not asserted that the stories in the NT are Gospel Truth for a long time now. Even Barth, the icon of orthodoxy, took a more post-modern view (long before post-modernism) in that he saw no alternative to accepting the Gospels for psychological, not evidentiary, reasons. The whole business of religion as control has been peeling back for four or five decades to make room for religion as spiritual relation.

Robert Tulip wrote:
These pastoral activities are all great examples of the magnificent resources that Christianity provides for applied solace, and yet such good works lack the integrating factor of a shared vision, an explaining story, except one that is generally recognised to be false in its main particulars, due to its miraculous incompatibility with modern scientific knowledge.
I urge you to consider the possibility that removing by even one more step, to acknowledge the ambiguity of "truth" in the context of mythos, will do a better job of integrating pastoral practice with unifying story than insistence on satisfaction of the rigidities of logos.

Robert Tulip wrote:
In researching the question of how religion evolved, I simply think that some topics now rejected as pseudoscience need to be engaged more respectfully. In my essays on Aion and Answer to Job I explained some of my differences with Jung, who had great depth of spiritual vision but was far from achieving a coherent integration of zodiac ages with religious myth.
Differences with the original bearer of insight are to be encouraged. Nothing says "dead" about a set of ideas like people arguing over faithfulness to the original "holy writ."
Robert Tulip wrote:
A house is built on its foundations. A genetic system is built on its initial conditions. Regular patterns in initial conditions apply a selective forcing to everything within them, especially in stable natural cycles. Random mutations that align with the natural forcing prosper more than mutations that lack such alignment. The natural order influence of precession has been stable for the entire history of life, with this light and dark cycle of about 24,000 years surrounding all evolution over the last four billion years, as stable as the orbit of the moon.
I find this interesting. One biological response to shifting forcing is simply to keep shifting back and forth - moths adapting to coal dust, and all that. But it seems possible that an adaptation which responds to conditions as they present themselves would do better than population shifts in response to the changes in conditions. After all, such population shifts derive from very significant differences in death rates.

On the other hand, it is difficult for me to imagine an adaptation that tunes into such changes in the trend when the random noise is so persistent and significant.
Robert Tulip wrote:
A tree does not need to remember the summer to know when its sap should rise in the spring, and the same type of genetic pattern exists in our mitochondria, meaning that these slow orbital climate cycles could be hardwired into our genetic instincts.
Well, this illustrates how the annual cycle is "tuned into." But for an adaptation to respond to the precessional cycles it would have to involve epigenetic accumulations, so that many generations of, say, low vitamin D, would accumulate to some signal the biology could respond to.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The problem is that science has a cosmology that leaves humans as insignificant and meaningless on our pale blue dot, while religion has cosmologies that provide emotional comfort and meaning but are empirically untrue. Explaining how myth evolved in the context of the solar system as the wholistic home of our planet bridges these incompatible worldviews.
I think you will find that even if the evidence is found to confirm some version of your hypothesis, the average person will find its emotional comfort and meaning to be invisible.

Robert Tulip wrote:
I think you are right that Paul’s vision of the abundant love of God enabled a creative vision of covenant within a monotheistic framework. Seeing this covenant vision as a purpose for life, moving toward the rule of Christ in love, does open ambiguous questions of Lordship. Paul expresses the rather paradoxical kenotic suggestion at Phil 2:5-11 that it is precisely his complete lack of ego in perfect selfless love that fits Jesus Christ to be king of the world.

The Lordship tradition seems stronger in the Syrian or Judean branch of early Christianity, with many ties to opposition against Rome. Paul refers to Jesus as Lord, but I think you are right that his kenotic understanding takes precedence over the contrast with Caesar that is woven into Mark. My injection of the covenant motif was mainly by contrast with pagan religions. Paul does not make a fuss over this contrast, taking it as given that paganism is idolatry, but I suspect the contrast was on his mind a lot as he moved around among Hellenistic towns. Acts records stories of tension with idolatrous cults as often as conflicts with synagogues.



Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:07 am
Profile Email
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:

Announcements 

• Promote Your Fiction Book on BookTalk.org
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:33 pm

• Promote Your Non-Fiction Book on BookTalk.org
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:18 pm



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2018. All rights reserved.


seo for beginners