Harry Marks wrote:I suspect Jungian insights are likely to prove the most helpful here. Perception of significance has a stronger influence on popular narratives than evidence of causality does.
Jungian psychology holds that people find meaning in popular symbols, more so than in objective facts. Perception of significance means how much people regard an idea as important and valuable. This subjective assessment congeals into myth when ideas have an enduring appeal, a process that Jung analysed under the concept of the archetypes of the collective unconscious.
The dilemma in the relationship between significance and causality is that scientists can plausibly argue that objectively they should be the same, ie that imaginative fiction is not really significant in the scheme of things compared to the grandeur of evolution and celestial mechanics, or at least that the significance in ideas amounts to their objective truth. For example, a novel is significant to the extend it reveals the human condition, a causal reality. And yet, in popular culture significance is entirely a subjective construction of mythology, based on whatever ideas people regard as most important regardless of their scientific content.
Harry Marks wrote:So we have "sympathetic magic" for example, a common way of ensnaring people's perception of significance to suggest, at a very gross level, that Cancer's are crabby, Capricorn's are stubborn, Leo's are regal and brave, Aquarians are servile, etc. etc. etc. Since the human mind loves to perceive patterns where none are present, "evidence" is recruited by confirmation bias to "prove" that "there must be something to it."
Sun signs have proven remarkably resistant to statistical corroboration. If these stereotypes had a strong causal basis they would deliver a strong p value in population level analysis. One study that supports sun sign statistical corroboration is The Astrology File by Gunther Sachs, but as with all astrological studies it has not been accepted by scientists. Tarvainen is perhaps the best contemporary expert in statistical analysis of astrology. His research has shown strong support for the existence of sun signs based on tropical astrology, but none based on sidereal division of signs.
Harry Marks wrote:
The idea that God and Christ (which means "Anointed One" or "Messiah") are fake is far less helpful than seeing these concepts as rudimentary intuitions about grand-scale spiritual forces.
To call something a fake asserts it has zero scientific authenticity, it is not what it purports to be. That is helpful as a critique of popular literal faith, whose objects (eg the Blessed Virgin Mary) are not what they seem. But calling Mary a fake is not helpful as a way of engaging with the mythological meaning of the stories.
Harry Marks wrote: "Fake" implies "invented to fool people" when it is probably more realistic to see these as "imprecisely intuited" and then "distorted by imperialistic tendencies in monotheism".
I appreciate your pushback against fakery as such a crude criticism Harry. If religious ideas are accepted as inherently metaphor, the problem of fakery does not arise – we don’t call Shakespeare a faker for saying all the world’s a stage. Fakery arises with the process of reification, with the dogmatic insistence that the metaphor is actually literal, and not a metaphor. That process is inherently deceptive and delusional, simplifying and distorting complex material.
The original Gospel stories were not invented to fool people, but their use by scheming bishops certainly had that objective. Richard Carrier presents a plausible account of the evolution of Christian fakery, suggesting that the original Christ in Paul’s epistles was intended as cosmic metaphor, then the next stage, Mark’s Gospel, was sacred allegory that also was not intended to be taken literally. Fakery then entered with the insistence from Luke and John that the Gospel story was true history, and subsequently ramped up as the church condemned all questioning of its fakery as heresy.
The “imperialistic tendencies” that you mention are an apology for fakery. Christendom saw Christianity as a useful fable for state security and unity, what Plato called a Noble Lie, and what Hitler called a Big Lie. The whole astronomical background was thereby junked by the empire as heresy, incompatible with simple literal dogma.
Harry Marks wrote: The urge to clarify that God and Christ have been elaborated as doctrine far, far beyond anything that can be based on evidence or reason is an urge born, I believe, of resistance to these imperialistic urges which should never have been part of a religion founded on a crucified and spiritually resurrected martyr.
Resistance to empire points to two conflicting purposes of religion, liberation and stability. Seeing faith as a basis for social stability produces the union of church and state, grounded in supernatural myth, with obedience and hierarchy seen as primary virtues.
Faith as liberation, as presented by the message of Christ in the Gospels, opens a messianic vision of salvation, the idea that the earth must be transformed into heaven. Messianic religion in this sense treats all religious stories as metaphor for natural events and processes, not as invoking a separate supernatural process of causation.
The transcendental hope within messianic religion is about imagining a better world together with a critical path analysis showing how to get there from here. This is where objective astronomy enters as a fundamental systematic ground for being in the world as care. And precession of the equinox through zodiac ages is the encompassing historic order of visual astronomy.