A00: Preface

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Book 1: Its Preludes



▼  
A THEORY OF RELIGION
  ▽
  ▽

Centuries of debate on the origin of ethics come down to this: Either ethical precepts, such as justice and human rights,
• are independent of human experience [Transcendentalism], or else
• they are human inventions [Empiricism].
The distinction is more than an exercise for academic philosophers. The choice between the assumptions makes all the difference in the way we view ourselves as a species. It measures the authority of religion, and it determines the conduct of moral reasoning. — E.O. Wilson, Consilience

This is a book about a theory of religion. If you have never felt a need for one of those, you might wonder why it is so important that it deserves a book today. Wasn't that sort of thing settled long ago?

The short answer is that there are as many theories of religion as there are people who have thought about the question. (200 historical theories are epitomized here.) More to the point, your theory of religion — even if it is implicit and unarticulated — determines how you respond to religious ideas, and whether you or they are in control. Some consequences of various theories indicates how often — and how unpredictably! — a theory of religion affects real life (these are not hypothetical, but paraphrases of actual statements, some related earnestly, some inscribed in sacred texts and political platforms:

Some people will see an implicit (if erratic) ‘historic increase
J Dewey (1947) A Common Faith (Yale, New Haven CT): 8.
in the ethical and ideal content of religions’ in that list, and a suggestion that ‘the process of purification may be carried further’ and the list extended
† There will be more lists. They may be a habit left over from an earlier life as a Buddhist. (Lists are for 1-dimensional sequences; tables for 2-dimensional collections, or occasionally 3-dimensional, with one coarse-grained, e.g., good, neutral, bad, indicated by colored boxes.)
. Anthropologists suggest that there have been somewhere between 3500 cultures
GE Swanson (1960) The Birth of the Gods: The Origin of Primitive Beliefs (University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor MI): 32.
and 100,000 religions
AFC Wallace (1966) Religion: An Anthropological View (Random House, NYC).
to date. We have field work for 1257 cultures, of which 556 are statistically independent. (For example, the 2000-odd Christian sects of the US are not independent, and count as a single religion in this approach, despite their antagonistic incompatibility.) In other words, we have a minimum of 556 conflicting sets of god-prescribed behavior, each with equivalent empirical support from its embedding culture.

Unfortunately, we can no longer reach a consensus view because there are contradictory instructions on central issues. With a strictly statistical approach, if we believe that our choice is the one that god prefers, our probability of being right is 1 in 100,000 (or less, if the ‘right’ religion isn't among the ones we've counted). Curiously, this seldom bothers believers, who seem to know instinctively that the other 3 religions they have heard of are wrong. The penalty for choosing the wrong religion, according to some of the others, is eternal damnation, so the stakes are high. The True Believer is betting everything on hearsay — for the very best Scripture is hearsay from the outset. The human mind cannot live comfortably with this level of anxiety, and customarily protects itself by making an arbitrary choice and an irrational denial of uncertainty.

△  
Authorial Bias
  ▽

None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary [simplicity]. [Thoreau wrote ‘poverty’ here, ‘voluntary simplicity
R Gregg (1936) The Value of Voluntary Simplicity (Pendle Hill, Wallingford PA).

not having been thought of.] — Thoreau, Walden

A trianglar plot: every interior point represents a mix of 3 components adding to 100%.
◀  
Fig. 0.1
  ▶
The Author's Religion. A theological triangle plot on which admixtures of 3 religions may be shown. Somewhere in the golden blob (centered at 5% Q1 Yeshuanity, 40% Jatakan Buddhism, and 55% Agnostic Panendeism) lies my current philosophical orientation, suggesting that my bias is unlikely to fit most expectations. The inset (a theological trigonal bipyramid of 2 tetrahedra with the triangle as a common base) indicates additional influences. (For the relation between the two views, consider the standard quantum-mechanical problem of the particle in a box.) ‘Follow those who seek the truth’, said Vaçlav Havel, but flee from those who have found it.’

Using the words ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in a discussion of religion suggests that one declare his own bias. As best I can tell, the major components of my own ‘religion’ are more or less as shown in Fig. 0.1.

Figure 0.1 also suggests the experiences which contribute to locating the blob. Note the persistent effect of early exposure, and the relative influence of limbic (Seminary) and cortical (MIT post-graduate) education. As with most deist agnostics, the resulting philosophy is a deeply empowering commitment to an optimistic vision of human possibilities.

A-Images/0.2_DesertRat.jpg
◀  
Fig. 0.2
  ▶
Old desert rat seeking inspiration (Artist: © Vanilla Beer). ‘It is in the deserts and high places that religions are generated. When men see nothing but bottomless infinity over their heads they have always had a driving and desperate urge to find someone to put in the way.’ —
Sir Terry Pratchett (1996) Hogfather (HarperTorch, NYC): 280.

In the time-honored manner of creating our gods in our own image, I accept the possibility of reincarnation being part of ‘this something’ because if it were my universe, that's the way I would run it, anything else seeming both wasteful and uninteresting. (We know so little about our world that any scientist worth his salt can suggest mechanisms that do not conflict with anything we have learned.) A naturalistic world view admits that there is a vast amount that we do not understand about the universe — such as why there is something rather than nothing, and why, if there is something, it is this something.

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△  
THE ROAD AHEAD
  ▽
  ▽

Some believers accuse skeptics of having nothing left but a dull, cold, scientific world. I am left with only art, music, literature, theater, the magnificence of nature, mathematics, the human spirit, sex, the cosmos, friendship, history, science, imagination, dreams, oceans, mountains, love and the wonder of birth. That’ll do for me. — Lynne Kelly [… cats?]

We will try to ascertain why religion is so important to us, how it got that way, what its original function might have been. Almost incidentally we will also be testing a question central to the usual interpretation of religion: Do supernaturalism and magical thinking work
† Manifestly, they ‘work’ in the sociobiological sense of generating community and synthetic kinship. The question asks whether they have any effect on the physical world.
?

Some
† E.g.: DS Stove (1989) ‘The Oracles and their Cessation’ reprinted in M Kuijstens (ed) Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness (JulianJaynes Soc, Henderson NV, 2006): 268–294.
would reduce the 200-odd theories of religion below to two categories: religion as racket, and religion as madness. If this is realistic, we are adding a third category, religion as a way to increase viability, a function that was entirely positive, biologically defensible — and deplorably short-lived.

We can't have killed for religion in the days when it worked, so we need to discover what went wrong. We want to see where, when, and why this occurred. We might like to make religion a Good Thing once again, in which case we need to know how to fix it, and how it might once again become helpful to us instead of a source of difficulties. The better teachers — Socrates, Buddha, and Zoroaster come to mind — suggested to their disciples that their own teachings could be, and should be, improved. (There is little to be hoped for from the rigid systems of those who claimed to have the final vision of human progress.)

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A Long Time Ago
  ▽

Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again. — André Gide

We might take the epic of Gilgamesh, from Mesopotamia ~2100 BCE, as our earliest example of written religion. Fragmentary cuneiform tables occur over a 2-millennium span: Fig. 0.3 reproduces a late version (and the earliest discovered).

../_A/A-Images/0.3_Gilgamesh.jpg
◀  
Fig. 0.3
  ▶
Gilgamesh in cuneiform. The Assyrians got the story from older Mesopotamian cultures, and this tablet is a late version. After
George Smith (1880)The Chaldean Account of Genesis, revised and corrected by AH Sayce (Charles Scribner's Sons, NYC)
,
who discovered, reconstructed, and translated this tablet, and died at 36 of dysentery on a later expedition hunting more tablets.

This tablet was found in the ruins of Ashurbanipal's Royal Assyrian Library, Nineveh, which was destroyed ~600 BCE, some 3500 years after the flood described by the tablet. The library was on an upper story; the tablets were broken, burned, trampled by treasure hunters, and suffered further cracking by salt crystals after various local floods. Some 20,000 fragments were salvaged by the British Museum, and over the years, reassembled as shown, and translated to tell the story of Noah (although he is here called Izdubar, and his ark landed on Mount Nizir).

Old as this story is, it and all of the traditional aspects of religion are late developments. Theology (conjectures about the existence and nature of gods) is irrelevant for the first 30-odd millennia. Soteriology (concern about personal salvation) is not important until the dawn of history. Our interest begins with the Urzeit of Fig. 0.4.

A-Images/0.4_Timeline.jpg: A logarithmic timeline, 100,000 to 1,000 years ago. At 65 ka, ‘Out of Africa’. Between 40 and 25 ka, ‘Critical Period’. To the side, arrows denoting ‘Middle’ and ‘Upper Paleolithic’ bracket the critical period. Between 30 and 12 ka, ‘Ice Age’. At 28 ka, ‘Paleolithic figurines’. At 8.1 ka, ‘Mini ice age’, and as the ice melts, at 76 ka, ‘Noah's Flood: oral traditions’.  At 6 ka the diagram is shaded above and white below; the shading represents time not accepted by Biblical literalists. Akhnaton, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed show up at appropriate times, and a block between 2 and 3 ka is marked ‘Axial Age: Myth-free ethics’.
◀  
Fig. 0.4
  ▶
Religion Timeline. (The scale is logarithmic in time Before the Present
† For the sake of precision in the radiocarbon-dating world the ‘present’ is defined as 1950. A few centuries in the Urzeit are mere noise on this scale.
, so ‘BCE/CE’ is ~2000 BP). The Urzeit, or critical period for the invention of religion — 40,000–25,000 years ago — , long antedates known religions. We will explain these dates below, but it is important to understand how distant a time we are dealing with. Polls suggest that the colored area (before Bishop Ussher's date for the Creation) does not exist in the minds of half of the US population, indicating a massive failure of 5th-grade education.
It was while modifying this diagram that I noticed the simultaneity of the Urzeit and the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic Transition, which became a key ingredient as the hypothesis of synthetic kinship developed.

Paleontology, anthropology and sociology combine to suggest that:

Religion is coterminous with culture, with few exceptions, none of which got far out of the Middle Paleolithic
† Much has happened since the Paleolithic — including transmission of religion to societies which neither invented it, nor got out of the Paleolithic by themselves.
. We will see that religion was necessary for this step. On the other hand, the 100,000 religions display an amazing variety of beliefs. One suspects that the details of belief are irrelevant, and that the essence was something very simple.

This is important enough to re-phrase. Without religion, we would still be food-cooking chimpanzees. The essential component of religion had to be something that a smart chimpanzee could understand.Hypostatic union
† The cause of the schism between Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, once a matter of life or death for the baffled laity.
’, for instance, does not qualify.

If 35,000 years seems long ago, it is less than the assumption of received wisdom, which is that

Like most behavior that is found in societies throughout the world, religion must have been present in the ancestral human population before the dispersal from Africa 50,000 years ago. —
N. Wade (2006) Before The Dawn, Discovering the lost history of our ancestors (Penguin Books, London).

— a hypothesis that we strongly reject. Magical thinking, superstition, ritual, and more usefully, totemism, yes; religion, in the critical sense of synthetic kinship, no. Not for another 20,000 years.

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Degrees of Certainty
  ▽

Having now used both ‘theory’ and ‘hypothesis’, we should be clear about the difference, because science distinguishes categories of certainty more precisely than does casual conversation. In general:

  • Conjecture: Formally, an unproven theorem, like the Goldbach conjecture: Every even integer can be expressed as the sum of two primes. (A large integer might someday falsify the conjecture.) Informally, ‘an opinion based on incomplete information’.
  • Hypothesis: A proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation. Example: Religion was once a good thing. Strictly speaking, hypotheses should be accompanied by ways to falsify them: all I can suggest here is that I deem religion responsible for the most important evolutionary event in the last 200,000 years, for which there is no convincing alternative explanation.
  • Theory: A system of ideas that explains something, based on general principles independent of the ‘something’. E.g.: The theory of evolution explains most of what taxonomy, comparative anatomy, physiological development, and DNA analysis have discovered, using the principles of descent with modification and natural selection.
  • Law: A statement of fact, deduced from observation, and often expressed as an equation, to the effect that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present. The First Law of Thermodynamics, dE = dQ + dW
    † dE is the change in energy of a system, dQ the change in its heat content, and dW the amount of work involved. The sign convention is IUPAC's, in which transfer inward is positive and outward negative, so that work done by the system on the environment (i.e., useful work) is negative. Other conventions exist.
    , colloquially ‘Energy is conserved’, has never been known to fail, despite the trickery you may see on You Tube.
  • Axiom: Initially, ‘a claim which could be seen to be true without any need for proof’, and this is the sense that we will use. The disciplines of mathematics, logic, and philosophy have found this definition too sweeping, and generally use axiom to designate the initial assumptions of an argument.

Where, in this sequence, does our subject matter lie? ‘This much is certain’, says
The Encyclopedia of Sacred TheologyKuyper, A (1898) Vol. 2, Transl. JH de Vries (Scribner's, NYC): 146.
,
‘that all religion assumes communion with something that transcends the cosmos.’ The ‘something’ is ordinarily a divinity, and the certainty implies that Gods exist is axiomatic. Considering the importance we attach to religion, prudence suggests regarding this as a conjecture.

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What Religion Did For Us
  ▽

My ideas are new, and therefore I have been obliged to find new words, or to give new acceptations to old terms, in order to convey my meaning. — Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws

After the appearance of Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) — that is, Homo sapiens sapiens with overall modern human morphology — some 200,000 years ago, the fossil record shows that we essentially had our current brain size and manual dexterity. Nevertheless, we spent the next 160,000 years living like food-cooking chimpanzees
† 31-year-old Kanzi, a bonobo with primitive language skills, also lights fires and cooks his own food, clearly preferring it cooked to raw. People have been cooking food for nearly 2 million years.

————
RW Wrangham (2001) ‘Out of the Pan, into the fire: from ape to human’ in FBM de Waal (ed.) Tree of Origin (Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge MA): 119–143.
.

It is the claim of this book that we would still be doing that, had we not invented religion. Although received wisdom
J Dewey (1947) A Common Faith (Yale, New Haven): 7.
suggests that ‘concretely there is no such thing as religion in the singular. There is only a multitude of ’ religions
† There are nevertheless any number of attempts. One which I particularly enjoy for its adroit circularity, is: ‘to clarify the terminology … religiosity is understood to be the mental ability to be religious; religiousness is the individually varying psychic and behavioral manifestation of religiosity, and religion is the local and culturally based symbolic niche, in which the development of religiosity to religiousness occurs’. Charity precludes a citation for this quote.
, if we consider what religion did for us, the problem goes away. The definition used here will make better sense when its terminology is explained in detail, but in 25 words (discounting the parenthesis):


NewIdea

Religion is the synthetic kinship that got us out of the Middle Paleolithic. It increased viability, so that by the Neolithic, it bequeathed us pothodoxy

(the genetic need to believe implausible stories as proof of synthetic kinship).

Because this definition is so specialized, I will also use 2 other definitions in the appropriate contexts:

  • The vernacular usage that deals with gods and their instructions to us — so long as these instructions are consistent with synthetic kinship;
  • A more adventurous usage that describes potential philosophical structures that would be beneficial as we attempt to construct a stable, sustainable culture. These may range far beyond the vernacular concept of ‘religion’ in their extension of synthetic kinship, but they all fall within Tillich's broad rubric of ‘ultimate concern’.

Coupled with the mythic backstory of the front end paper, the major definition is flexible enough to offer a division of labor to reconcile the dichotomous alternatives of the chapter epigraph: It is the Transcendental task

NewIdea

of the gods to generate a universe that makes possible the Empirical human task of implementing ethical precepts.

This implies — in contrast to wishful thinking about Raptures and Mahdi/Armageddons — that we are here for the long haul. Sustainability becomes the first requirement of our civilization (and thus of our religion), and it is incredibly more important than, say, the stock market or individual ‘salvation’.

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△  
VIABILITY
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  ▽

We have twice used ‘viability’ without defining it. A numerical definition
AWF Edwards (2000) Mathematical Genetics 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK).

from mathematical genetics will repair that oversight:

  • Viability is the fraction of children who survive to breed.
  • Evolution is an increase in viability.

The definitions are not trickery, but common-sense. Statistically, barring disasters, other populations are stable. As we go up the phylogenetic tree, viability increases. Despite a generation time as short as 20 minutes, the mean number of bacteria does not increase, so all bacterial ‘descendants’ die. A codfish may lay 100 million eggs — of which 2 survive to breed. A cat may have 75 kittens — of whom 2 breed. Americans in 1920 needed 3 children
MM Knight, IL Peters, P Blanchard (1921) Taboo And Genetics: A Study of the Biological Sociological and Psychological Foundation of the Family (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, London): Ch. 4

to maintain a stable population. Today it takes 2.2 children
† This decrease is sociomedical, and a demonstration that evolution proceeds at all levels simultaneously. DNA, chromosomes, organelles, cells, organs, individuals, groups, societies, and civilizations all interact, and some thrive better than others. The one which can devote the least effort to reproduction has the most resources for leaving a better environment for its offspring and thus improving their probability of survival.
per family, of whom 2 breed. There would be less unhappiness if we could reduce this number to 2.1.

Add to these definitions 2 facts — that children are not identical to parents, and that some children thrive better than others — and we have the crux of the story told by Anaximander, Linnaeus, Hutton, Cuvier, Malthus, Lamarck, Lyell, Darwin
† Darwin acknowledged 34 previous writers who ‘believe in the modification of species, or at least disbelieve in separate acts of creation’.

————
C Darwin (1859) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (John, London). Ch. 1 ‘Historical Note’
, Wallace, Mendel, Wegener, Bateson, Galton, Fisher, Haldane, Wright, Morgan, Huxley, Sutton, Dobzhansky, Müller, Beadle, Watson, Crick, Nierenberg, Todd, Gould, Eldridge, Margulis, Kornicki, and the hundreds who filled in the details. The result is that a larger fraction of our children survive. That's all there is to evolution.

Nevertheless, this approach is likely to be a stumbling block for fundamentalist believers, unhappy to find ‘religion’ paired with ‘evolution’. The definitions leave those who reject evolution in the uncomfortable position of approving of childhood mortality. (The easiest way out is denial of the validity of mathematical genetics, an arcane discipline that few have met. Unfortunately, that's a bit like denying mathematics, since it is a discipline of pure logic, given the observable laws of genetics.)

However much denial soothes the fundamentalist soul, the fact remains that we can measure the exceptional increase of viability that occurs when the first intimations of religion appear in the fossil record. This so far exceeds
NewIdea road sign
natural variation that we may take it as marking the moment that we left the animal kingdom for the untried human experiment
† This approach yields an origin for humanity which accords neither with anatomical nor theological dating. Nonetheless, I stand by the interpretation that we were Jared Diamond’s ‘third chimpanzee’ up to this moment, but not thereafter.
An analysis of recent human evolution by linkage disequilibrium finds no indication of the resulting regional population increase — but notes that growth was ‘probably episodic’, since the method is insensitive to local events.

—————
• J Diamond (1992) The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee (Vintage, London).
• J Hawks &4a (2007) ‘Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution’ Proc Natl Acad Sci US 104(#52): 20753–20758.
.

△  
Aside: Mechanisms of Evolution
  ▽

It appears that some genes have flowed ‘randomly’ through the biosphere, almost as if all life forms constituted one global organism. — Dutta & Pan (2002)
C Dutta, A Pan (2002) ‘Horizontal gene transfer and bacterial diversity’ J Biosci (Suppl. 1) 27: 27–33

Evolution is going to play a major part in what follows. For anyone uncomfortable with evolutionary explanations, there is an excellent discussion of the interplay of biological and cultural evolution (with 70 references in one footnote) in van der Dennen's Origins of War, and since this is completely relevant to the origin of religion, I recommend it to anyone to whom evolution seems mysterious, suspect, or superfluous.

The limitations of speciation by accumulation of small changes were recognized by Darwin. Since his day several faster ways to generate new taxa have been recognized. The box below updates the 8000-year-old description prevalent in the Bible Belt, where these facts seem not to be taught in middle school.

Another common sticking point is that evolution denies us any special purpose in the grand scheme of things, and this offends many people's amour propre. There is an obvious response to this desire for significance, which we will come to in due time.

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Pothodoxy
  ▽

The gods denied mankind many gifts, and attached hard conditions to most of those which they granted. But for all their withholding of certain gifts and their tainting of others, they sought to compensate by giving an extra allowance of credulity. — W. J. Ghent, Our Benevolent Feudalism.

Initially, I hoped only to understand how the need to believe an implausible story became important
† The life of a solitary individual in the Paleolithic was likely to be short and brutal. Sabertooth cats abounded, and hunting was a cooperative activity, so a solitary individual was in serious trouble. Ostracism was both a death sentence (unless one could find another accepting tribe) and a customary way of dealing with troublemakers among foragers. Anything that encouraged belonging was advantageous and strongly selected for. Today, alleles for belonging are no longer needed to stay alive, so a few of us have lost them?
. A

Later, after constantly italicizing need to believe, I bowed to lexical invention to ‘define our maps of meaning onto word forms’
M Donald (1993) ‘Précis of the Origins of the Modern Mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognitionBehavioral and Brain Sciences 16: 737–791.
:

pothodoxy, n. (Gk. pothos, ‘craving,
NewIdea
yearning’ + doxasia, ‘opinion, belief’; cf orthodoxy, ‘correct opinion’) the apparently genetic need to believe an implausible story (particularly when there is contradictory evidence), initially as proof of membership in a supra-tribal synthetic-kinship group.

The bit about evidence is needed because quantum field theory is as implausible a story as we have, yet it is our most numerically accurate theory. Thus, pothodoxy describes belief in a 6000-year-old Earth or angels with 70,000 pairs of wings, but not belief in the Copenhagen or Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which is a currently undecidable choice.

Pothodoxy is more fully characterized by Nicholas Wade as
The Faith InstinctN Wade (2009) The Faith Instinct (Penguin, London): 244.
— an altogether gentler and more sympathetic book than this one, yet including examples of pothodoxy ‘compelling [people] to override the strongest human emotions, including those of self-preservation and the protection of family’. I take ‘Gibbon's Gambit’ as the type example of pothodoxy:

So urgent … is the necessity of believing, that the fall of any system of mythology will most probably be succeeded by the introduction of some other mode of superstition. — Gibbon
E Gibbon (1776-88) Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire O Smeaton (ed.), 3 vols. (Modern Library, NYC, 1932): I, 432.
.

‘Pothodoxy’ implies more than fanatical belief and misevaluation of probability, and carries connotations of a pathological predilection for supernatural dualism.

△  
Coyotl as Metagod
  ▽

In a book like this, it is convenient to posit a neutral god free of sectarian baggage. Southeast of Drake's Bay, on the slopes of Mt Tamalpais, lived the Miwoks. Like everyone in western North America (except paleface invaders), they knew that Coyotl was responsible for mistakes in the tapestry of the world. The Great Spirit is an unapproachable deist god
† ‘Historically, a pure theism is all but impotent [and a pure deism compounds the problem]. … There are plenty of people who call themselves Theists and not Christiana. Well, I venture to say that is a phase that will not last. There is little substance in it. The God whom men know outside of Jesus Christ is a poor nebulous thing, an idea and not a reality. You will have to get something more substantial than the far-off god of an unchristian Theism if you mean to sway the world and to satisfy men's hearts’ — Alexander MacLaren (in a sermon on John 14:1).
, remote and impersonal. Coyotl is a shapeshifting creative emissary
† If it be objected that this violates monotheicity, and that the Great Spirit is sufficient, I offer Maimonides's suggestion that division of labor is efficient — as well as necessary to explain the multiplicity of divine messages. There is also Swinburne’s point that ‘evidence for one god makes more reasonable the postulation of another one’.

————-
RG Swinburne (1968) ‘Miracles’ The Philosophical Quarterly 18(#73): 320–328
, approachable, not unfriendly, Delphic in advice, ironic in thought and deed — and a Trickster who never once suggested killing anyone.

‘Trickster’ is not a demeaning characterization. Buddha is well known for using trickery
SL McClintok (2011) ‘Compassionate Trickster: The Buddha as a Literary Character in the Narratives of Early Indian Buddhism’ J Amer Acad Religion 79: 90–112.
to bring his disciples face to face with assumptions and attitudes that stood beween them and enlightenment. Gods, religions, moralizers, and politicians without a sense of humor are among our deadliest and most superfluous creations.

A-Images/0.7_Coyotl7.jpg
◀  
Fig. 0.7
  ▶
A few of the shapes in which Coyotl has appeared to his people. Rasterwise from the upper left: as Kutchi to the Kwakiutl, as Enki to the Sumerians, as Weland to the Britons, as Kukulcan/ Quetzalcoatl to the Mesoamericans, as Ganesha (and others) to the Hindus, as Abrasax to the 2nd-century Basilidian gnostics, and as Tawsi Melech to the Yezidis. [Missing: Many. Pictures of Gsaabriel with 70,000 pairs of wings do not exist (Islamic aniconism discourages the depiction of sentient living beings), so imagination is required. Think ‘excessively long millipenne’.]

Coyotl is also known to the Cahuilla who lived in the foothills of Tahquitz Peak
† Originally ‘Takwish’, this rhymes with quits, not (as it would if it were Spanish), with Keats. He was a local chief who metamorphosed into a thunder-god.
— and to everybody in between. Meeting him on 2 of my favorite mountains makes him a natural choice. His utility to the philosopher is that he is a metagod: As Demiurge, he can create whatever he wants; as Trickster, he can tell any story he pleases; as Shapeshifter, he can appear in any form he chooses. Figure 0.7 shows a few he has used. As Creator, he has appeared as every demiurge from Abrasax and Bel to YHVH
† ‘YHVH’ is a courtesy to a venerable tradition of word magic. Based on Deuteronomy 12:4, the Talmud {Shev. 35a} forbids writing the name of the Old Testament deity explicitly lest the page on which it is written be accidentally destroyed. ‘YHVH’, without the vowels, seems to be a discardable form in aid of recycling. According to the Talmud {Kid. 71a}, even the pronunciation of ‘YHVH’ is proscribed: ‘Not as I am written am I pronounced. I am written yod he vav he, and I am pronounced alef daleth nun yod ’ — that is, Adonai, translated ‘Lord’. Although Shabbetai (17th cent.) and Akiva (19th cent.) state ‘emphatically that the prohibition applies only to the names in Hebrew but not in the vernacular’ {Encyc. Judaica 7: 682}, some still worry about discarding their deity's full name in English. I thank David Brin for bringing this to my attention.
and Zeus. As Trickster, he told everyone a different story. Why the Great Spirit sent a Trickster and Shapeshifter as demiurge remains a mystery. European theologians would have argued over it for millennia — with armies — without arriving at a satisfactory conclusion. A thousand Native American tribes simply accept it as an observed fact, like a rain shower, but the consensus is that this is a test. For reasons inscrutable to man, the Great Spirit wants people to be able to see through Coyotl's trickery (a skill somewhat lacking among palefaces).

Coyotl has left us any number of ‘revealed’ Words in the 100,000 religious stories, and one existing Work: the universe. I suggest that the manifest Work speaks louder than the multifarious Words.

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△  
ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS
  ▽
  ▽

The vernacular understanding of religion as the discipline which deals with theology and soteriology is relevant only to the last 5000 years. Our interest lies before, and after, this much studied period. Before, to learn what religion was for; after, because our planetary ecosystem will not survive the next critical century unless our belief systems match our world's needs. For too long, we have accepted as ‘religion’ whatever its prophet said. This is tantamount to believing a used-car salesman.

Religion can be usefully delimited by 2 requirements. It remains what it has
Take-home
become — a tribal marker — until it is
once again both Eirenic
† Note that this usage is distinct from the ideas of Church Father Irenaeus, and from the theological connotation of ‘irenics’ (the attempt to reconcile differences between Christian denominations).
and Gaian
† For the record, my thinking about Gaia dates from the early 70s, independent of James Lovelock's approach, which I will distinguish as ‘geophysiological Gaia’. She is capable of inspiring anyone who will pay attention to her.
.

△  
Eirenic — (after Eirene, goddess of peace)
  ▽

The first humans […lived] a ‘beast-like life’ without any arts or technologies, co-operation or society. Then they procure for themselves houses, skins and fire, and begin to live a settled existence with marriage, children, and family life. This leads to a softening, both physical and psychological, that enables them to begin to co-operate with one another and develop the first societies and language. — Lucretius (Emphasis added.)

Lucretius
G Campbell (2000) ‘Zoogony and Evolution in Plato's Timaeus: The Presocratics, Lucretius, and Darwin’. Pp 145–180 in MR Wright (ed.), Reason and Necessity: Essays on Plato's Timaeus (Duckworth and the Classical Press of Wales, London).
was among the first to address the question of how we became civilized. ‘Beast-like’ is too broad for our purposes, and I will focus on the behavior of the alpha-male of social animals, referring to it as ‘Instinct-I’. It gave us ownership of the planet, but alone, it is incompatible with civilization because its rule of social interaction — most highly developed in the chimpanzee-human clade — is ‘See a stranger, kill it!’.

The contrasting cooperative aspect is then ‘Instinct-II’. The range of the Instincts will become clearer as we go, but fundamentally:

Instinct-I = Me,   Instinct-II = We.

It is characteristic of Instinct-II that ‘we’ expands with individual development to include anything from ‘family’ to ‘universe’. A sine qua non for considering anything a religion is that it oppose Instinct-I in favor of Instinct-II, behavior we will term ‘Eirenic
† Bob Love presented a colloquial interpretation in US political terms that had escaped me: ‘The opposite of Me is either Them or Us, depending on whether you're an R or a D.’ This may make the whole 2-instinct approach opaque or implausible to the Rs.

——————–
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/14/1120166/-Ayn-Rand-on-Johnny-Carson-make-this-go-viral?detail=emailclassic
’.

Once upon a time there were two
Theater
handsome and phenomenally successful brothers (call them Abel and Baker — or better, Charlie and David), low on Instinct-II. One day a djinn appeared before them and granted them 3 wishes. Astonished, they nevertheless managed an immediate and instinctive: ‘We want it all!’. They agreed on good health in which to enjoy it all. Then, aware of how often 3 wishes have turned sour, they negotiated a day's postponement for careful thought.

That night, when David spoke to the djinn privately, he asked for ‘the quick demise of his brother’ so he could have it all. ‘Of course!’, said a relieved djinn, ‘I was afraid you'd make a 4th wish, and I'd have to disappoint one of you.’

△  
Gaian — (after Gaia, goddess of the earth)
  ▽

We (primarily, perhaps, US Republicans) fiddle while Rome burns. Table 0.1 lists some of the problems that we should be working on. Gaia is particularly at threat from half of these, (and Eirene the other half), but all of them threaten us. These are topics that churches should be up in arms about, because all of them have the potential to be culture-breaking.

The secondary threats facing us are serious and widely understood: the Clash of Civilizations, Nuclear Weapons, the injustice and instability of Economic Inequality, the modern aberration of Fundamentalism. Fewer recognize the culture-breaking potential of the primary threats: Climate Variability, Monoculture Instability, Debt-based Money, Failed States, Feudofascism, and — overarching all others — Population Growth, which aggravates every destabilizing threat.


◀  
Table 0.1
  ▶
Once and Future Threats (not including natural disasters, which are also sometimes our own doing). The red boxes are held to be good things by those to whom they afford money or power, so left alone, their threat will only increase. The mainstream media would rather you worried about celebrity wardrobe malfunctions.
Widely recognized, but minor Consequences Desired or denied, but major Consequences
Nuclear weapons Nuclear winter; radiation poisoning; birth deformities Agribusiness Monoculture crop failure; superweeds; famine.

Economic inequality Civil war Debt-based Money Destruction of middle class, lifetime debt, financial malfeasance, inequality
Fundamentalism Irrational government; bad decisions; Inquisition Feudofascism Back to a millennial Dark Age
Clash of civilizations Permanent war Climate Change War, mass migration, famine, chaos
Failed states Contagious chaos Overpopulation Exacerbates all other problems

Our religions encourage biodiversity loss, ignorance of thermodynamics, short-term thinking, resource consumption, overpopulation, and other ecocidal stupidities. The challenge is to reinterpret existing religions in a way that motivates True Believers to survival-oriented action to minimize the primary threats. There is no dearth of work to be done. Environmental activism (e.g., Sea Shepherd
† Sea Shepherd's campaign of harassing the Japanese whaling fleet with ‘red paint, smoke bombs and rancid butter’ reduced Japan's 2010-2011 Antarctic whale killing to 20% of its planned goal {Hosa11}. Japan calls the hunt ‘scientific’, studying ‘mortality rates, whale stock numbers and structure, the role of whales in the Antarctic ecosystem and how environmental changes affect whales’. Do Japanese scientists find it necessary to kill Japanese citizens to study their mortality rates or numbers? See {Garl11} for an example of real cetacean science, an 11-year study of cultural transmission of social behavior which killed no whales at all. In fact, 22 years and 11,000 dead whales later, Japan has yet to produce any substantial research {Roes09}.

___________________
• P Watson as told to W Rogers (1982) Sea Shepherd: My Fight for Whales and Seals (Norton, NYC).
• T Hosaka (2011) ‘Japan ends Antarctic whaling season early’ Washington Post 2011-02-18.
• E Garland &8a (2011) ‘Dynamic Horizontal Cultural Transmission of Humpback Whale Song at the Ocean Basin Scale’ Cultural Biology 21: 1-6; doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011-03-019.
• JE Roeschke (2009) ‘Eco-Terrorism and Piracy on the High Seas: Japanese Whaling and the Rights of Private Groups to Enforce International Conservation Law in Neutral Waters’ Villanova Environmental Law J 20: 99–136.
) and whistle-blowing are, respectively, essential Gaian and Eirenic components of religion, however unpopular that makes religion with conservatives. The energy that inspires obsolete Instinct-I in the forms of jihad, terrorism, attacks on family-planning centers, attempts to revoke evolution, and the feudofascist urge to empower corporations to the detriment of people, is crying for redirection into repairing our life-support system and creating a sustainable life style.

Survival requires that we find something ecologically true and broadly popular, which pothodoxy can fasten onto. For evolutionary reasons, this will be difficult. But the alternative is truly unpleasant and fast becoming unavoidable. I will refer to the missing but essential ecological aspect of religion as Gaian.

Note that a religion can be Gaian without involving worship of Gaia. This is a courtesy to James Lovelock, who explained that his (geophysiological) Gaia should never be the basis of a religion, because religions are faith-based
† We will examine the curious phenomenon of faith later. It is an insipid shadow of what it replaced, and an exercize in self-delusion. [Click for more.]
. ‘The word I prefer to faith’, says Lovelock, ‘is trust. If we put trust in Gaia then it gives us something that will fulfil the same kinds of needs as religions have.’

Eirenic and Gaian considerations might seem disparate and separable. Their intimate relation is shown by 2 maps in Jared Diamond's Collapse
J Diamond (2005) Collapse (Penguin, London): 497.
. The ‘Eirenic’ one is labelled ‘Political Trouble Spots in the Modern World’ and the ‘Gaian’ one, ‘Environmental Trouble Spots in the Modern World’. The maps are identical, and in every case, mark places where one would not like to be.

△  
And a Counterexample: Feudofascism
  ▽

[E]conomic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. — M. Gilens & B.I. Page (2014)

All the nasty, mean things — republicanism, democracy, equality — are crawling into the light and claiming that they can replace a lineage of great kings. —
Lord Kiely a fictitious character in B Cornwell (1995) Sharpe's Battle (HarperCollins, NYC).

Sheep's clothing always appeals to wolves, so many nasty projects clothe themselves in religious attire. The historical poster boys of East and West were the Arab Conquest and the Inquisition, respectively. The modern replacement, 19th-century fundamentalism
† While fundamentalism appears to be simple literalism, historians find multiple roots. E.g.:
• Evangelicalism = ‘Warmhearted Spirituality from the Pietists
• + Doctrinal Precisionism from the Presbyterians,
• + Individualistic Introspection from the Puritans’;
• + Dispensationalism (England, 1830s). [Click to see Table 6.1.]
• + Biblical inerrancy (Princeton Theology, 1840–1920)

——————-
• Randall Balmer (2002) The Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism (Westminster John Knox Press): vii–viii.
• CI Scofield (1909) Scofield Reference Bible (Oxford).
• MA Noll (2001) The Princeton Theology 1812-1921: Scripture, Science, and Theological Method from Archibald Alexander to Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids MI).
, the darling of the far right, is hard to distinguish from Medieval beliefs.

Michael Moore places the beginning of the US decline at 1981-08-11, the day President Reagan threatened to fire nearly 13,000 air-traffic controllers. I place the beginning somewhat earlier: Reagan could not so easily have broken union power had the nation not already been cowed by a decade of decline. In the minds of the public, World War II was fought to defeat fascism. It turns out that in the minds of the US 1‰, it was fought to ensure that it was their fascism that survived. If today we are unhappy with the state of the country, it is because we are living in a quietly burgeoning fascist police state. That it has been imposed by gradual but determined undermining of the Constitution rather than brown-shirt stormtroopers
† It appears that ‘the people intentionally disrupting town hall events and trying to turn them into anarchic carnivals of rage and possible violence are literally, actually guilty of Brownshirt tactics.’

——————-
Gawker (2009) ‘Sorry, Reasonable Republicans, But These Are Literally Brownshirt Tactics’ Washington Post 2009-09-14.
is merely a sign that the 1‰ will turn to subtlety when brute force fails.

An appropriate definition of fascism is Mussolini's, which equates it with corporatism: government for the benefit of eternal structures creating essential products and performing necessary services (ensuring that we will always need them). The catch is that the laws then specify not that the products be designed for sustainability and the services for efficiency, but that the profit of their shareholders be the primary objective. Managers have no other accountability. The stakeholders — workers and consumers — have no representation among the directors, many of whom sit on multiple boards in aid of effective oligopoly (ie, minimization of competition, maintenance of prices, joint action against the nasty, mean things).


◀  
Table 0.2
  ▶
The Public Face of of Fascism. This is based on the work of Lawrence Britt
L Britt (2003) ‘Fascism Anyone?’ Free Inquiry
(the examples are mine; the numbers were his ranking). I started to add a 3rd column of rebutals by blogger ‘Fascist Heart’, but the points that were not merely ‘other political systems do it too’ were logically flawed. It is the gestalt that defines the policy.
Characteristic Recent US Examples
9. Corporate Power is Protected Corporate tax evasion; 2008 banksters unpunished; TPP, TTIP, TSA, …
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment Mandatory sentencing, 3 strikes, Privatized prisons
4. Military-Industrial Wars for profit 1965 Dominican Republic, 1983 Grenada, 1991 Gulf War (Kuwait and Iraq), 2001–2014 Afghanistan, 2003–2010 Iraq War
7. Obsession with National Security NSA et al., government attacks on software encryption
6. Controlled Mass Media Control via oligarchic ownership, news and analysis replaced by celebrity trivia and wardrobe malfunctions
14. Fraudulent Elections Unpunished fraud for Bush elections in 2004, 2008
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined The Supreme Court's 2014 Hobby Lobby decision is meant.
to create an area where religious exemptions trump civil rights, labor and environmental laws, and other core protections
10. Labor Power is Suppressed E.g., Gov. Scott Walker — but this is an ongoing battle, with the 8-hour work day called ‘vicious, needless, and in every way preposterous proposition’ in 1903.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause Karen Silkwood† (nuclear power), Cesar Chavez† (migrant labor), Jeffery Wigand (tobacco), Julian Assange (Wikileaks), Edward Snowden (NSA), Chelsea Manning (military), Aaron Schwartz† (copyright),
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights Dontre Hamilton† (Milwaukee), Eric Garner† (New York), John Crawford III† (Dayton, Ohio), Tanisha Anderson†, Tamir Rice† (Cleveland), Rekia Boyd†, Laquan McDonald† (Chicago), …
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption Revolving door, K-Street lobbyists, Obama's Monsanto appointments, Citizens United
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts Climate-change denial, evolution denial, reluctance to fund public radio
5. Rampant Sexism War on women
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism Donald Trump et al.

It is true that some corporations are idealistic in their youth: think of Google's ‘Don't be evil’. But the very fact that such a constraint needs mentioning suggests the inevitability of evil whenever it is profitable. Before long, what religious prophets decry as evil become the values of the 1‰: think of Gordon Gekko's ‘Greed is good!’ (Wall Street cinematic fiction, but an accurate portrayal, modelled in part on Director Oliver Stone's father and in part on a convicted junk-bond king).

The Anglo-Saxon dominance among the US 1‰ seems to inspire an attitude that can be traced back to Runnymede, where the barons of Britain limited the power of the crown with the Magna Carta. While this event has been seen as producing the seminal document of Anglo-American constitutional practice, it never occurred to the barons that it might apply to their serfs. There is a very medieval feeling to today's far right; not only do they want all the money in sight and control of the government, but they require serfs so they can feel superior. This combination of corporatism and feudalism I will call

feudofascism, combining the private psychopathy of the alpha male with the public sociopathy of the corporation.

Teddy Roosevelt was the first to counter feudofascism, with the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 (but first enforceable only in 1902 with the lost of the Supreme Court's fascist majority). Teddy went after robber barons J. P. Morgan, J.J. Hill, and E.H. Harriman — to the great dismay of Morgan, who objected to being recognized as a criminal. Suits against 44 other oligopolies followed. His ‘Square Deal’ included control of corporations, consumer protection, and conservation of natural resources — 3 processes that are again in need of attention.

It required considerable effort and sacrifice by outsiders to nip Hitler's ‘1000-year Reich’ in the bud. We do not have this advantage, for no outsiders are going to come to our aid. This is our very own ultimate concern; the defense of a unique idea — government for the benefit of the governed — whose roots lie in the Enlightenment and the vision of the prophets of the Axial Age
† The most realistic analysis of the historical Jesus is that he was a Hassidic rabbi whose agenda was the removal of the Roman overlord in favor of an earthly manifestation of the kingdom of god, governed by an ‘ethical code [whose] sublimity, distinctiveness and originality in form unparalleled in any other Hebrew ethical code’.

—————-
• G Vermes (1973) Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels (William Collins, London).
• J Klausner (1922) Jesus of Nazareth, His Life, Times, and Teaching (Macmillan, NYC, 1925).
.

Feudofascism is neither a scare word nor a conspiracy theory, but an observable process, recognized and quantified by academic specialists
M Gilens, BI Page (2014) ‘Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens’ Perspectives on Politics In press as of 2014.04.22.
, who call it by a gentler name: Economic Elite Domination. We can think of it is as ‘Rule by the 1‰’, as shown in Table 0.2. Using multivariate analysis, the authors tested nearly 1800 political decisions made between 1981 and 2002, ‘in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change’. The facts that ‘the people’ won 5% of the time, and that 5% and 78% do not add to 100%, simply mean that some issues were unimportant, and others were not resolved within 4 years of the survey.


◀  
Table 0.3
  ▶
How is the US Governed? The ‘characterizations’ attempt to encapsulate the descriptions in the papers. The data are a generation (and the 2014 election) out of date, so the 78% is low. ‘It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice – certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee.’ —
M Lofgren‘A Shadow Government Controls America’ Reader Supported News 2014-02-22.

Political Tradition Characterization Success Rate, %
* DEEP STATE n. A hard-to-perceive level of government or super-control that exists regardless of elections and that may thwart popular movements or radical change. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a prime international fascist example.
Public Appearance {Gilens & Page}
Majoritarian Electoral Democracy Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. 5
Economic Elite Domination Think tanks, lobbyists, bought politicians, and media ownership. 78
Majoritarian Pluralism Town Meetings, Occupy, and the dozen petitions we sign each week. 24
Biased Pluralism Legislation by ALEC. The ‘revolving door’ capture of regulators by the regulated. Multilateral Investment Treaties. 43
Actual Operations {Refs}
• M Ambinder, DB Grady (2013) Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry (Wiley) ISBN 978-1118146682.
• D Priest, WM Arkin (2011) Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (Little, Brown). ISBN 0316182214.
• PD Scott (2014-03-10) ‘The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld’ The Asia-Pacific Journal 12(10, #5).
Deep State* 1,271 ‘intelligence’ agencies including AFISRA, CIA, CGI, DEA/ONSI, DIA, FBI/NSB, I&A, INR, MCIA, NASIC, NGA, NGIC, NODNI, NRO, NSA, NSCOM, OICI, ONI, TFI,
and 1,931 private organizations, most without oversight, their authorization, rules, and purview unknown.
High; not measured

In the sort of democracy that the Enlightenment envisioned, the Deep State would not exist, the green rows would have a success rate of 99% and the red rows, 1‰, meaning that the 1‰ would have 1‰ of the political power. You may be sure that the greedy (why do we call them ‘elite’?), currently having all 3 branches of the US government in their pocket
† This is obviously a transient situation, but as of the 2016 presidential primaries, the candidates would — by my norms — be Hilary Clinton for the Republicans and Bernie Sanders for the Democrats, so far has the ‘center’a shifted right. As it was, the Republicans could not, in a starting field of ~20, field a single acceptable candidate unless a Hitler wannabe is your ideal.
, see a millennial opportunity to obtain 100% of the power over anything that they can agree on.

‘Promote the general Welfare’, said the US Constitution, and this was the goal of the Axial Age and all the better prophets. If a church isn't actively working to restore majoritarian pluralism, it isn't doing its job.


△  
△  
ROAD SIGNS
  ▽
  ▽

Donald Knuth, programmer extraordinaire, promulgated the use of marginal ‘road signs’ — cortical emoticons — to warn readers of what was coming and to help relocate interesting material. The set we use is:

  • TakeHome
    Take-home: Remember this, and act on it.

  • NewIdea
    New idea, or at least one that I can't blame on anybody else.

  • Research
    Needed research: Why hasn't this topic been studied and publicized? There are PhD theses lurking here.

  • Arithmetic
    Arithmetic or jargon: Skip and ignore if you don't find this useful.

  • Soapbox
    Soap box: Rant, but in a good cause.

  • Theater
    Theater: Plausible, highly probable fiction here; enjoy.

  • Book
    Scholarly material: ie, ‘I have done my homework’.

  • Enlightenment
    Enlightenment: essential ideas from 1750 or earlier (the icon is Thomas Jefferson).

  • BellTheCat
    Bell-the-cat: Good idea with a snowball's chance in hell of implementation.

  • Stop
    Stop this! Write Congress, join quangos, do whatever it takes, but get this stopped!

Clicking on an unfamiliar road sign will bring you to this list; the browser's Back button will return you to your text.


△  
Note: TRUE BELIEF
  ▲

The evolutionary explanation in the preceding footnote has been contested, in favor of Bertrand Russell's linguistic explanation in ‘On Denoting’
B Russell (1905) Mind 14: 479–493.
.
Basically, Russell showed that language permits us to create propositions of the sort ‘the present King of France is bald’, and then to argue the truth of this and draw conclusions. Since the present King of France is neither bald nor hirsute, Russell observes that Hegelians, ‘who love a synthesis, will probably conclude that he wears a wig’. This ability to discuss non-logical propositions and non-existent entities also means that it is difficult to keep them out of discourse when they offer plausible alternatives, so metaphysics enters our thinking unnoticed.

When language was new, all the might-bes of Emphante seemed worth discussing. Weeding Emphante's garden required ideas like the Empty Set, and the Law of the Excluded Middle. The Empty Set is empty, so that statements about its contents are neither true nor false, but meaningless
† Nothing in the Empty Set is red, so that ‘The contents are not red’ is not a false statement. But it implies that there might be contents, and that they might be blue, both of which are not true. ‘Not false’ AND ‘not true’ result in ‘meaningless’.
. The Law of the Excluded Middle (‘x cannot be both A and not-A
† Quantum mechanics notoriously defies the Law of the Excluded Middle (‘Is it a wave or a particle?’ to which the most succinct answer is ‘Yes’), which apparently applies only to ideas about objects large enough to be visible. Mystically inclined physicists — particularly Indians — are impressed by this, and feel that Indian philosophy anticipated modern physics by 4000 years.
’) is rejected by Hindu philosophy, which remains happy to pontificate about things that both are and are-not
† Ultimate Reality in Jainism may be summed up in the phrase ‘Pluralistic Realism’, known as the Sapta-bhang, or ‘7 maybes’. The choices are:
1) maybe a thing is;
2) maybe it is not;
3) maybe it is and is not;
4) maybe it is inexpressible;
5) maybe a thing is and is inexpressible;
6) maybe a thing is not and is inexpressible;
7) maybe a thing is, is not and is inexpressible.
[The chemistry professor and connoisseur of philosophical doctrines feels a deep need for examples of these choices. Just as a pedagogic tool.]

———–
S Rai (no date) ‘A Brief History of Eastern Ideas’ http://www.purifymind.com/EasternIdeas.htm
. However, by the time we had these tools, we had long since accepted much-beloved traditions about supernatural entities whom we did not wish to include in the Empty Set
† See how easily language allows one to slip into metaphysics? Half a dozen lines ago, we established that ‘Including something in the Empty Set’ is a logical impossibility.
. Belief was expected, and comfortable, and a natural consequence of listening to tales around the hearth.

The psychology of belief may be explained by this view of linguistics, but hardly its power, so I stand by my sociogenetic explanation. Were I by birth a Muslim, and sufficiently incautious as to let my views be known, I would (by community preference) be killed — not by sabertooth cats, but by Muslims infuriated by my unwillingness to accept their consensus. When the default option is to kill a stranger on sight, and the only protection from being killed is common belief, alleles permitting scepticism become very scarce in the population.

Perhaps an example of the variability of instinct would help. Certain hunting dogs come large and small, lean and blocky, black and brown, short hair and long, rough coat, curly, and smooth, — in short, a wide variety of alleles. Their individual behavior is similarly varied. The divergence of genetically determined proclivities is illustrated by Aileen Hennes's report of the behavior of 2 siblings, kept as companions (rather than caged, bored, and lonely in the native manner). ‘Molf’, tall, philosophical
† Remind him that he is not allowed to kill cats, and he spends a quarter hour puzzling over this inexplicable difference between his instincts and The Rules. It is a recurring problem which he has not satisfactorily resolved.
, and rough-coat gold, is a killer, running beside a deer and bumping it until it stumbles. ‘Yuri’, smooth, small, black, and the alpha male of his pack, is a herder. He will collect 5 deer and bring them home; or take 3 of 4 bulls while a farmer is moving them from one pasture to another, and herd them to the camping trailer: ‘People, look! Dinner!’.

As a result of our Middle Paleolithic propensity for killing the stranger, we have an impoverished allele pool compared to most animal populations, and our human ability to modify behavior by culture may temper the expression of what genetic variability we have, but that doesn't mean that it isn't there.


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vertical-align : middle ;
float : left ;
}

img.il {
float : left ;
margin : 2px ;
vertical-align : text-top ;
width : 32px ;
height : 32px ;
}

.im2 {
position : relative ;
top : 0 ;
left : 0 ;
margin-left : -4px;
vertical-align : middle;
float : left;
width : 32px;
height : 32px;
}

.ie {
text-indent : 0;
color : brown;
font-size : 0.85em;
font-weight : bold;
margin-left : 0;
}

img.cv {
margin : 5px;
width : 110%;
/* Missing code here? */
}

/* L I M E R I C K S */
.lim {
text-indent : 0 ;
margin-left : 200px ;
font-size : 1em ;
Line-height : 1.25em ;
}

/* L I S T S */

ul, ol {
list-style-position : inside ;
}

ol.b, ul.b {
font-weight : 700;
}

tr.rr {
color : red;
font-weight : 700;
letter-spacing : 1px;
}

.nobul {
list-style-type : none;
}

.li1 {
margin-left : 10px ;
text-indent : 0;
}

.li2, .li2r {
margin-left : 10px;
text-indent : 10px;
font-style : italic ;
}

.li2r {
color : red ;
}

ol.oA {
list-style-type : upper-alpha;
}

.ol1 {
margin-left : 50px ;
}

.ul1 {
list-style : bullet ;
text-indent : 0 ;
margin-left : 30px ;
color:red;
}

.o2 {
text-indent : 0;
}

ul.u2 {
list-style : none;
margin-left : 60px;
font-size : 1em;
text-indent : -20px;
}

.o3 {
margin : 0 0 12px 120px;
}

ul.u3 {
list-style : none;
margin-left : 80px;
}

.u4 { /* ‘My America’ list, D15 */
list-style : bullet;
margin-left : 60px;
}

.u5 {
list-style : circle;
margin-left : 20px;
padding-left : 20px;
}

.o4 {
margin : 0 0 12px 120px;
color : #054;
}

.o5 {
margin : 10px;
}

.ue {
margin : 0 0 0 120px;
text-indent : 0;
text-align : left;
color : #043;
}

ul.ui {
list-style-type : none;
margin-left : 0;
}

li.p4 {
padding-left: 8px ;
margin-top : 8px ;
color : black ;
font-style : italic ;
}

/* P A R A G R A P H S */
p {
margin : 5px 20px 5px 30px ;
text-align : left ;
text-indent : 30px ;
color : Black ;
line-height : 140% ;
}

.flu, p.flu {
text-indent : 0 ;
}

.clear {
clear: both; }

p.lh { /* L I S T H E A D E R */
margin : 12px 20px -10px 85px ;
text-align : left ;
text-indent : 0px ;
color : Black ;
line-height : 140% ;
font-weight : bold ;
}

p.tal {
line-height : 140%;
}
p.bc {
font-weight : bold;
text-align : center;
}
p.bcr {
text-indent : 0;
letter-spacing : 1px ;
margin : 8px 60px;
font-weight : bold;
color : red;
}
p.emp {
font-size : 1.1em;
background-color : #eff;
padding : 6px;
}

p.quf {
margin : 0 50px 10px 0px ;
text-indent : 0 ;
text-align : left ;
font-size : 1em ;
color : brown ;
line-height : inherit ;
}

p.repi {
margin : 0 20px 10px 150px ;
text-indent : 0 ;
text-align : left ;
font-size : 1em ;
color : #b00 ;
}
p.int {
margin : 0 10px 6px 5px ;
color : red ;
}
p.ix {
margin : 2px ;
text-indent : 0 ;
font-size : 1em ;
color : brown ;
background-color : white ;
vertical-align : top ;
}
p.not {
margin-left : 2px ;
}
p.poem {
margin-left : 80px ;
text-indent : 0 ;
}

pre {
font-family : “Lucida Console”, Monaco, monospace ;
font-weight : 700 ;
}

/* T A B L E S */
table {
border-collapse : collapse;
}
/* Preface: Definition of ReligioN */
table.t3, {
margin : -6px 10px 6px 30px;
border : black solid 3px;
}
table.t4 {
font-size : 105%;
width : 85%;
margin-left : 60px;
color : #b00;
border : 0;
}

/* T 11.1, T21.6 */

td.yel, tr.yel {
background-color : #ffc ;
}
td.grn, tr.grn {
background-color : #cfc
border-collapse: collapse;
border: transparent, solid, 0 px;
}
td.cya, tr.cya {
background-color : #cff ;
}
td.blu, tr.blu {
background-color : #ccf ;
}

/* T A B L E C A P T I O N */
caption {
font-size : 1em;
line-height : 1.4;
margin-bottom : 10px ;
text-indent : 0;
color : brown;
text-align : left;
min-width : 80% ;
}

caption.bi {
text-align : center;
}

/* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * */

.cen {
text-align : center ;
text-indent : 0 ;
border-collapse : collapse;
}

.r {
color : #d00;
font-weight : normal;
}

.rc {
color : red;
text-align : center;
font-weight : bold;
letter-spacing: 1px;
}
.cenlr {
margin : 6px 20px ;
text-indent : 0 ;
text-align : center ;
color : red ;
}

.f85 {
font-size : 0.85em;
color : black;
}

.sc {
font-variant : small-caps;
}

.n {
font-family : Serif, Times, Times New Roman ;
font-variant : normal ;
font-weight : normal ;
}

.Winn {
font-size : 2em ;
text-align : center ;
}

.num, p.num {
margin-left : 30px;
text-indent : 0;
line-height : 1.25;
font-family : Monaco;
font-size : 0.7em;
}

#p1 {
text-indent : 5em ;
}
.r {
color : #d00;
font-weight : normal;
}

.s1 {
visibility : hidden;
}
.s8 {
font-family : Papyrus, Andale, sans-serif ;
}

/* What Religion did for us */
.s11 {
font-family : Papyrus, Andale, sans-serif ;
line-height : 1.5;
font-size : 2.6ex;
font-weight : bold ;
letter-spacing : 1px ;
word-spacing : 2px ;
}

/* S T E P – W I S E I N D E N T I N G */
#sp1 { margin-left : 80px; }
#sp2 { margin-left : 90px; }
#sp3 { margin-left : 100px; }
#sp4 { margin-left : 110px; }
#sp5 { margin-left : 120px; }
#sp6 { margin-left : 130px; }
#sp7 { margin-left : 140px; }

.st {
font-weight : bold;
text-decoration : line-through;
}

/* T A B L E S */

td, th {
border : black solid medium ;
font-size : 13 px ;
padding : 3px ;
}

th {
font-variant : small-caps ;
background-color : #eee ;
font-size : 1.1em ;
}

tfoot {
border-top : double, 3px ;
text-indent : 0 ;
padding : 3px
font-size : 13pt ;
background-color : transparent ;
color : SaddleBrown ;
text-align : Left ;
}

/* Ch. 22 “warm interglacial” */
.t22 {
margin : 0 30px ;
border-color : transparent ;
background-color: #e0f0e0 ;
color : #603 ;
font-size : 1.07em ;
text-indent : 30px ;
line-height : 1.3 ;
}

#TOP {
margin : 0 20px ;
background-color: #ffd ;
border : transparent ;
}

.tim {
border ; transparent ;
}

.tcen /* Standard page-centered table */
{
border : black solid medium;
margin : 0px auto 4px auto;
color : black;
border-collapse: collapse;
}
.tcnn /* Narrower version of above */()
{
border-collapse; collapse ;
border : black solid medium;
margin : 16px 20px;
color : black;
width : 90%;
}
table.tcartoon /* Place-holder */
{
border : double;
margin : 60px;
padding : 40px;
text-align : center;
color : red;
}
table.app** { /* not used? */
border-collapse : collapse;
border : black solid medium;
}

.t0 {
margin : 5px 20px 10px 30px;
max-width : 98%;
}
table.t1 {
border-collapse : collapse;
padding : 1px;
width : 98%;
color : red ;
}
table.t2 {
text-indent : 0;
text-align : center;
padding : 20px;
font-weight : bold;
letter-spacing: 1px;
font-size : 1.0em;
line-height : 1.3em;
color : #e00;
background-color : #eff;
color: blue;
}

table.tx, td.tx {
margin-left : 0;
border : none;
font-size : 14pt;
line-height : 1.1em;
}

td.z1 {
width : 70%;
}
td.z2 {
width : 30%;
}

.tsam {
border : red solid medium ;
}

.ix { /* I N D E X */
border : #f8e5c3 solid medium;
border-collapse : separate;
vertical-align : top;
padding : 0px;
font-size : 14pt;
}

.tdiv {
text-align : center ;
font-variant : small-caps ;
font-weight : bold ;
background-color : #EEE ;
}

/* T A B L E C E L L S */
td.td0 {
border : black solid 1px;
padding : 2px 4px;
}

.td1 /* For Table 11.1 */
{
background-color : #f8e5c3 ;
border-style : solid;
border-width : medium medium medium 3px;
border-color : #000 #000 #000 #f8e5c3;
}
/* T A B L E S 11.1, 21.6 */
.td2 {
background-color : #80d0ff ;
border-style : solid ;
border-width : medium medium medium 3px ;
border-color : transparent ;
}

.td3 {
background-color : transparent ;
border-style : solid ;
border-width : medium medium medium 3px ;
border-color : transparent ;
}

td.tdl, th.tdl { /* [ */
border-style : solid;
border-width : 3px 0 3px 3px;
background-color : red ;
}
td.tdr, th.tdr { /* ] */
border-style : solid;
border-width : 3px 3px 3px 0;
background-color : blue ;
}

td.td4 {
border-style : solid;
border-width : medium 0 medium medium;
font-size : 3.5em;
}
td.td5 {
border-style : solid;
border-width : medium medium medium 0;
background-color : transparent ;
}
td.td6 {
border-style : solid;
border-width : medium 0 medium 0;
}
td.td7 {
border-style : solid;
border-width : 0 0 0 0;
background-color : #ccc;
}
td.td8 {
border-style : solid;
border-width : 0 0 0 0;
}
td.td9 {
border-style : solid;
border-width : 0 0 medium 0;
}
td.tda {
border-style : solid;
border-width : medium 0 0 0;
}

.tdb { /* Table 18.3 */
border-style : none;
border-color : transparent;
background-color : #008 ;
}

td.tg5 {
border-style : solid;
border-width : medium medium medium 0;
background-color : #dfd;
}
td.tg6 {
border-style : solid;
border-width : medium 0 medium 0;
background-color : #dfd;
}

/* INDEX COVERS */
td.cb tr.cb {
height : 250px ;
vertical-align : top ;
}
.cb {
position : relative;
z-index : 0;
left: 0px;
}
.cbtext {
z-index : 1;
font-size : .9em;
line-height : 1em;
text-indent : 0;
opacity: 1;
margin-left : 30px;
}
cbtext:hover {
opacity : 1;
}
cb:hover {
opacity : 0;
}

/* E P I G R A P H S */
p.epi {
margin : 0 20px 10px 150px ;
text-indent : 0 ;
text-align : left ;
font-size : 1em ;
color : #066 ;
line-height : inherit ;
}

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