Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rationalising Religion

Written in response to the near simultaneous deaths in France on Bastille Day and the sloppy 'coup' in Turkey, both of them reflecting the tension between the religious and the secular that confronts the West and the Middle East, with France and Turkey being  the meat in the sandwich - and with Mr Erdogan keep dogwhistling in his bid to create an extreme Islamic state under the guise of claiming 'secular democracy'.
Theme :-  Religion versus Spirituality. [Originally named 'howigotreligion' - or rather how I came to a better understanding of 'religion' as it is popularly perceived - changed to "Rationalising Religion" (this page).  Geology holds a somewhat special place in this on account of providing the time needed for evolution to happen (C. Darwin), and the key to understanding the likewise evolution of the environment in which we live ("God's works"). I wrote about the difference (as I see it) here [1, 2, 3 +post] before checking with the wiki and discovering that not enough is made of the difference between religion and spirituality, and the bewilderment (mine at least) that follows from trying to understand the connection between the material world that we can see, and the immaterial (subatomic) world that we can't.

So, .. 'Religion' - being the "God of Small Things".  All that's needed is inclusion of some word with an 'h' in it for there to presage some supernatural encoding to aid understanding all this,  and thereby the Meaning of Life in general.  (I'm a great believer in the memetic, political power of acronyms because they are all over the morning /mid-day /evening news, so they must mean something.   So "aitch" as the skeleton in 'ghost' - that dare not speak its name.   If that doesn't raise the hair on the back of your neck then .. .. (see me after the sermon).

.. .. .. Not the small things as Arundhati Roy means in the sense of the trivia of people's lives that arrange themselves in such ways as to have such a chilling effect on whoever reads them (as she no doubt intends), but in the literal sense of the structure of the particles, elements, molecules and cells of which we are made, and by which too in some mysterious ways (as are becoming partly known) we make that empathic connection to Ms Roy's narrative.

And so might we too begin with some 'small' but what others might consider sensational, events in some other people's lives.  Like : =>

"A gentleman dining at Crewe,
Found an elephant's whang in his stew.
Said the waiter, "Don't shout and wave it about,
or the others will be wanting one too."
"There was a young Royal Marine
Who tried to fart "God Save The Queen"
When he hit the soprano, out came the guano
And his pants weren't fit to be seen."     (More?)

.. and by asking the question, why is 'humour' (of an uncertain type) so universal, .. particularly when couched in smutty rime.  And why humour anyway?   And ask further, -->  what else of the human condition is 'universal', and why is it so.

The first two at least can be answered simply enough by seeing the decorum of propriety subverted by the absurd and surreal. There is just something about the connection between the rational and the irrational that allows the adult off the hook of propriety.


The limerick is the adult equivalent of the child's fart joke, and might be bolstered by a claim of sophistication (meter and rhyme) were it not that this too is the province of the child - the very young child, .. crooning and babbling in its cot, teaching parents how to make sounds that mean something in a child's world.  Adults might claim superiority by pointing to the limerick's bull's-eye way in which absurdity is delivered by the punch line, but would still have to go some to beat the Sound of Subversion punctuated with malodor, if the limerick is to hold its own.  The limerick has this kernel of the ridiculous (/contradiction) within it that can be unleashed in a moment. Likewise (come to think of it), young children are walking-talking kernels of subversion.  Propriety ('real') and the surreal are not to be evaluated on a par .. the surreal ('emotional') is just bursting to get out.

The point of this is in the encryption (/'embedding'). The two are not equals.  One resides within the other like an embryo - although which is the 'baby' (doing the slumming) can often be arguable.  In the limericks above, the sculpted joke of the adult can claim the high ground of reality and say that the 'emotional (/absurd)' resides within the 'real'(/physical), but this by no means precludes the converse.

So, with subversion /conversion, babies and bathwater in mind,  let's consider the roles of science and religion, noting that (*as_we_speak*) there are governments moving to decrease funding for science at the same time as there are advocates of religion proposing an increase in funding in that area, and that in this too is an example of encryption, or embedding - embedded within civilisation's reliance on technology to better our living standards (for example), is the religious instinct's emotional need to resist it. Conversely, embedded within religion is the urge to account for the world around, although simply attributing it to 'God' isn't really respectful of the human condition.  Historically, science has been the ultimate subversion of religion.  However precisely what this 'religion' is, is very difficult to specify. Its authority is merely stated as "Belief in God".  Which leaves us none the wiser, except that we are supposed to understand that it is something BIG.

Let me state at the outset that I am a-theist, .. which is to say I am 'without God', .. I try to be actively passive when it comes to other people's view /concept of God(s).  It's nothing to do with me.  Not my business.  And I see in that detachment something of a benefit when it comes to looking at the world and my connection to other people's views on the matter.  I am univested. I just don't see that 'God' (like people's concept of their gender) should be such an issue that we should be waving him /her (or sundry other pronouns) around in people's faces.  We're all a bit quirky (and murky) in one way or another so it's a personal thing.  In fact privately I might admit to be inclined towards a little personal spirituality myself in the sense of a natural appreciation of the numinous.  Who, after all, does not appreciate the innate beauty of nature and wonder at it's magnificence, or have the capacity to reflect on why we see it so rather than being impartial towards it.

But I do object to the sort of paternal theocracy demanding obeisance that infects 'religion' such as 'godly' people are wont to inflict upon us via the softer face of theology.  It does seem to me that people fail to make a distinction between the spiritual and the religious, and so on this occasion I am going to set aside my impartiality and indulge in some subversion, and even (by way of an S.O.S.) wave it about ('coz I suspect there are others who are "wanting some too".

[An' ain't gitt'n enny (!) (either).]

[And (like me) need rescued from their deficit.]

So, ...

'Religion (/God)'.  It all seems to me to be explained by understanding the duality (/bi-polarity, .. 'schizophrenia' almost) of encryption stemming from the conundrum of the 'Connectedness-but-Disconnectedness' of people.  You know the sort of thing, .. "I am a rock, I am an Island".  [?? .. "No man is an island"]   Hey! You!  Get offa my cloud.  ["Everybody needs somebody" etc.]  "Solitary confinement is the worst punishment the prison system can dish out."  And all of that.  There's a whole library of songs written around the misery and exultation of it.  The CBD is apparently a health issue ('coz there's too much /not enough sex in it).. but when you get to thinking about it, well, .. maybe not.  Here's the Hash that Nash made, which is another good place to start.

(by Ogden Nash) :-
"Let's think of eggs.
They have no legs.
Chickens come from eggs
But they have legs.
The plot thickens;
Eggs come from chickens,
But have no legs under 'em.
What a conundrum!"

And when it comes to Meaning in Life, ..that, in an eggshell, is *it*.  It's a bit of a teaser, but I reckon he has his finger on the pulse.

(Seeds.)  "Pulse".  I mean 'bean'.  .. I'm thinking about beans just now because I just planted some not so long ago and they're coming up quite nicely now it's rained.  Amazing, isn't it, .. that encrypted in that little seed is a 'code' of some sort that, given the necessary extraneous addititives (like rain, nutrients in the soil, and some sun, will grow and make lots of other beans - on a stalk that Jack himself would be proud of.

The bean, .. the seed, .. gets right to the heart of the issue of the chicken and the egg.  So here's the deal about 'schizophrenia' /split personality ["Encryption /embedding", .. /baby and bathwater.] :-->

By itself the seed (with its encrypted puzzle) has no value.  To become 'real' /"realise its full potential", /become *real* in its environment",  it needs those extraneous additives of rain, nutrients, sun, and soil with its bacterial load.  In fact we could say that the seed is, in a sense, *of* the environment, and even its apotheosis in the way that its disparate elements are synthesised into the phenomenon we call (sentient) 'life' [encrypted in the seed]; life *is* (in a sense) the environment itself become conscious, .. or the agent by which it does.

I confess I've never read Lovelock & Margulis's thesis on the "Gaia Principle" because from a geological point of view (abiogenesis + evolution) the concept seems to me to be fairly and logically obvious, and the study of geology anyway reveals the expanded version.  [Science is like that;  what in the beginning is awa' wi' the faeries and controversial, in a very short time becomes 'Monday's mundanity', self-evident and of little further interest to most people once the conundrum is cracked.]

Now we could shortcut right here and conflate this connection between life and the environment with 'God' or the 'will of God, but it's a cop-out; science will deal properly with this one too once neuroscience and quantum science get together and work it out.  At the moment the latter is still trying to grapple with gravity and electricity.  While knowing much about what both can do (and putting it to use) those knowing most about both still can't provide an answer to what they actually *are*, in terms that are not just essentially a restatement of the question.

But here's the mean bean trick - the 'catch' if you like.  The plant that the seed grows into dies every year, but makes an abundance of new seeds before it does.  Keep planting and the plants keep dying.  But the seed goes on forever.  Not the same seed, but the coded encryption that makes seeds - which is the essence of life.  It doesn't _ even _ miss _ a _ beat, .. but only so long as the sun shines, the rain rains and there is food to help it grow.  The seed (the encryption of life) is immortal - BUT ONLY IF EXTERNAL (wildcard?) CONDITIONS DEEM IT SO (AND THE PLANT THAT GERMINATES KNOWS HOW TO MAKE SEEDS ISN'T FOR SOME REASON STERILE) - each batch different from the seeds that went before, but seeds nevertheless.  The plant itself is doomed from the moment it is 'born'.  Disposable.  There is death in life, and life in death - PROVIDED THE EXTERNALITIES ARE FAVOURABLE, .. or it all falls in a heap. So you can see what Ogden was getting at when when he was having a laugh about chickens.  The chickens themselves keep carking, .. but it's the egg that's the thing - the cradle of life, .. forever and after.  And by extension, the environment that sustains it.

So which has priority? - eggs, or chickens?  The seed, .. or the environment?  As the seed, Life keeps pushing Death out of the way.  And Death - is the sacrifice that must be made for Life to flourish.

That's not just quirky, it's positively, excruciatingly, exquisite - a sado-masochistic coup-d'etat, .. not just adminstered to humanity, or even all living things, but to existence in general.  No wonder it's a question that has defied [Gee, that's awfully close to "deified"] a real answer since time immemorial in all cultures.  But to say it is all too hard to be bothered thinking about (so let's not bother) (and just say something about 'God') is no answer at all.  Curiosity will have its way despite The Wheel of Death for those who venture into forbidden territory and look for an answer (--> think Richard Dawkins and evolutionary biology) .. but before that :-
" Eduard Lhuyd (1660-1709)  maintained .. "that fossils developed from "moist seed-bearing vapours" which rose from the sea and penetrated the earth, perhaps carried down by rain." (link)
"Thinking"?  ..  Sure, .. if it's rain that makes things grow, why not think of the rain as planting the 'seeds' as well?  And if the rain comes from the sea (and the vapours get elevated to the heavens before falling on the land)  then (by the grace of God) the seeds must too.  Association => causation.  We're still doing it, in science [e.g., global warming.]
"The central problem in science, as in everyday life, is how to differentiate between real causal effects and the spurious ones that are due to confounding variables."  ... He suggests that our "trouble with science" may lie in the fact that evolution has left our minds better able to cope with day-to-day social interaction, than with the complexities of the external world."   [Peter Taylor, flyleaf review of Robin Dunbar's book, The trouble with science.]
So why not just 'pass', .. not think about it, .. leave it to the Big Guy, ..and have faith.  .. in ..(whatever).   (Though there is irony in the evolutionary fact that seeds did, in fact, come from the sea.

That conundrum about life and death must have occupied the minds of people since earliest times so you can see how they could come  up with a creation story like Adam and Eve, because obviously it must focus back to the original seed.  If there is an abundance of people today (i.e., in the last several millennia), and seeds propagate, then obviously human life must have begun with ... well, .. certainly a lot fewer than are around today, .. and if "few", then why not just two?  Two, after all, are all that's needed.  (Logical, see?)

"Two?  Just two?   How come?"
"Well, .. God put them there."
"In some nice place that would allow them to multiply and prosper so that we could get to where we are today."
"But, ..."
"Don't worry about it.  Ours not to reason why.  It's in the book."

It is the seed though, that has the 'balance of power' so to speak, .. people themselves are just the vehicle, the tree of its life.  (So where did the seed come from?)  Not only is all the information' to make a 'plant' encoded (/embedded) in it, but also the information required for that plant to make more seeds - which is a cyclicity that is very remarkable indeed, and one very much worth thinking about.  A seed, encoded with the information to make more seeds that are all different, even to their fingerprints  [Why did 'nature' do it that way, instead of just bequeathing eternal life to individuals?].
(Answer :-  Because life would have been obliterated as soon as the environment changed and the living was no longer easy.  Life and the environment are one.  With the cascade of different seeds from successive generations of plants germinated (according to the externalities of the changing environment), there will always be seeds suited to change, provided the environmental change is not so drastic that it kills all the plants before they are able to make seeds.  So, .. a bit of code with a circular loop encoded.  (What could be 'simpler'? )
So when I read ...
"The figures for a 2010 Eurobarometer survey in the European Union (EU) reported that 20% of the EU population claimed not to believe in "any sort of spirit, God or life force".[28]".
... I find myself having a curious double-take on that phrase "spirit, God, or life-force" because obviously there is a 'life-force' in the 'push' for the seed to grow, whether it be vegetable or animal) (leaving aside 'mineral' for the moment, though the reader might care to read Gene Ellis's view here)  It's not enough for there to be the active encouragement of sun and rain and nutrients [i.e., for the externalities to 'pull' the seed into action], the seed itself must be programmed to make use of those externalities.  It must be *viable* of itself, it must (when push comes to shove) have a life of its own that can wriggle and squiggle and push itself into the daylight (so to speak) when the conditions are right to find the sun that will make the chlorophyl that will .. ..

Now, .. hold it right there (Google moment coming up).  Chlorophyl converts sunlight to the sugars that feed the plant, but is it made by  sunlight? If the seed germinates when it is dark (no light) then it must be heat that is needed (partly at least) to activate the seed, not light. In fact some seeds need quite a lot of heat to activate them (after a bushfire for instance), - and some say the chemical ingredients in smoke are needed too. [more "externalities"].  And plants don't do too well in the winter.   So, some mulling curiosity might lead to a research opportunity about what exactly it is that seeds need to trigger germination and keep them living.   Who knows, somebody might even get around to thinking about it (more), and finding out.


Goodness!  All that wriggling, squiggling and looking for a partner and trying to make sure we gets there first (when push-pull comes to shove) (and all the emoticons that go with it) (it's complicated).  The equivalent in the plant world is a little different but there's no denying an overall similarity/analogy when it comes to seeds making plants /animals and the importance of 'externalities' ["Yeah, let him win, .. Big bully, ..they deserve each other anyway".] [=>Or be a stromatolite and get there first - and last - by sitting back and doing nothing.]

Whether or not to attribute this connected world of the seed<-->externality to (a) God in the usual sense of the word (Heaven, Angels, Seraphim, Cherubim and the full heavenly chorus -  and pink-winged unicorns raising us up to our true exalted selves when we're no longer functional) is another thing; there's a whole lot of things that used to be attributable to a 'God' or gods that are quite easily explained today by science (if we can be bothered to think about them), so whether or not a god is involved means addressing the question what we mean by 'God'(s), and what the nature of this 'life-force' might be - always with the caveat of 'schizophrenia' (seed + externalities) (divorced from each other but inherently conjoined)  hanging over everything - as well, of course with the understanding that the seed is comprised of the elementary particles and molecules which combine to encode this facility for repetition /reproduction down the generations.

In the meantime (until we get used to the idea and lose interest)  the realisation of this connectedness of (sm)all things evokes an awareness of beauty and wonder, and at the same time, fear, because awareness without understanding - particularly if the situation is threatening (like the finality of death and the destination of your mortal soul) - can be quite distressing for the small mind trying to confront large conundrums when it wants to try to understand but doesn't have a clue where to begin.  Some people think that it's not the 'seed' that's the main thing but the 'externality', or perhaps not even that so much as its connectedness to that externality,  . the link(s) that bind, that is 'God'.   So, wh..?  Whe..? ??
[Note here to include our facination with origins also through archaeology and ancient texts.]

This is where the religion-of-old confronts the science of the new and the dichotomy between the 'why' and the 'how'.  Every time Science provides an answer to the question, "Why is such-and-such" so, Religion calls it a 'how', and attributes 'why' to something externally ethereal, sublime and transcendent, .. a 'guiding purpose' of sorts expressed in the beauty and connectedness of things it names as 'God', which says (according to 'scripture'), "Thou shalt have no other god but me".  Religion appears oblivious to this somewhat narcissistic, homocentric projection, and mandates faith and belief in a creator.

"Belief"?   *What* people believe is none of my business.  But I do take issue with belief itself, i.e., the barrier that gets in the way of the inclination to think, and, difficult though it may be, rationally explore this curious sexy quality of the CBD (Connectedness-but-disconnectedness) of things,  .. the belief that subverts our rational *consciousness*  that makes us sentient beings able to deal with the cruelty of the environment in such a way that helps our survival.  Other life forms struggling to survive might take issue with our presumption that this sentience is a peculiarly human attribute.  The further view that inanimate things don't have the same sentience as living things further highlights this conundrum of connectedness, that sets life apart from inanimate things, yet essentially binds them.  Is it this connectedness, this 'cement rather than the bricks', that describes the mystery of connectedness that infuses everything, expressed particularly as 'life', and even more particularly as human life, that some (apparently) call 'God', or 'life force' :-:-: "if we don't know, then some 'body' or some 'thing' must?  "How else can there be such 'perfection' that appeals so excruciatingly to our sense of order and wonder, if there is not meaning and purpose, some "intelligence" (like ours) (that *knows*) (if only..), behind it?"

You know what they say :-:  "You are what you eat".  What underscores the connectedness of the self with the environment more graphically than :- 

Maybe what they also say - "You are what you do" (/do what you are").  So say your grace, and know the extent to which you are part of the environment, and vice versa in the way that the bacterial load we carry ensures our cellular (sentient) selves.  And know that :-

(Yeah, .. well, ..)   Leaving aside 'externalities' for the moment,  let's consider some basic aspects of ourselves now.  'Me' will do (since I'm waving myself about).  It seems to me that in this contract of life and death there is an obvious bi-polarity /schizophrenia about me in the sense that one half of me is consciously sentient with all the quirks, quarks and quarms of cognition that get me through the day and coddles me in the environment, but come night time and I have to sleep, the other ('unconscious') half of me keeps going.  I know that I dream, .. but is this dreaming (the 'embediment' within) 'sentient' too, if it is oblivious of the real world?

This is the half that couldn't care that much about all my QQQ's at all, so long as my PiPeeP's are well regulated, which business is that of 'housekeeping', .. keeping the blood clean, .. the circulation going, the lungs breathing and so on, .. and generally paying attention to my wellbeing as best it knows how.  In my waking life it also equips me with 'gut instinct', emotions, sexual definition /gender proclivities, and meaning (/'intelligence').  Not sure about that last one but you know what I mean, .. notions of what's good for me and what's not, and when 'not enough' might in fact be too much, and that send a message to my sentient half that I need to slow down, .. pull my head in a bit, and (everyday) make me fall asleep so it can give me the once-over and prepare me for the next day. All of which helps towards an empathic connection with the 'externalities' around me (food /water /air), without which I wouldn't exist.

It is, in short, the autonomic nervous system, well known as the "inner self" that everybody wants to get in touch with once they get a sense that they need to slow down, and a holiday if possible.  It operates to our constant well-being, or (to put it spiritually) "to our eternal good".  Somehow too we are aware that everybody else's inner self must too, .. and that it is on this level that an empathetic connection is made.  The 'outer self', the one we present to the outer self of others, is a different story.

The transaction between the inner selves of people is epitomised in the simple respectful greeting of a "hello".  That of the outer self is more intrusive, like a nosey question, or (in extremis) bullets from a gun.

Everybody has probably had an encounter with the inner self at one time or another.  I know it is a bit retro to be suggesting it, but in looking at the religious literature I find that substituting the term 'inner-self' for 'God' makes it all read very well and even (through the murk of metaphor) quite intelligible.

When we die it's the autonomous nervous system that's the last 'light' to go out.  The blood stops cleaning, the heart stops beating, and the nutrients and other 'externalities' that the body has accumulated to sustain itself are gathered back into the material world, .. and the 'light' just, .. well, ..  goes out.  [Programmed cell-death --> Use-by date reached.  Nothing we can do about it.  'Twas ever thus.  Nobody escaped death yet. Etc., etc.]  It's in the Grand Plan of the Gross National Product.

"The light"?  What light? Well, .. one light I *do* know of that keeps going all by itself in the dark is the light of the mind that illuminates my dreams, that the system switches on so it can clean all the fluff out from under the bed.  It's there all along, day and night, though of course we tend not to notice it when we're awake, but it keeps going, pumping the heart, cleaning the blood etc, and could illuminate our life too if only we knew rightly how to switch it on and cajole it into connectness with our conscious self so that it might extend its natural benificence to our waking life.  Perhaps we too could walk on stormy waters  instead of being buffetted this way and that.  In fact, maybe it doesn't "go out", .. maybe, .. as those of near-death experience vouch for, .. it switches on, and is "that bright land, to which I go".   By what neural agent do we experience that 'light' in our dreams?.
.....The Ghost in the Machine.................... ?

And so I find 'God' explicable and self-evident as a statement of both the (embedded) inner self and its connection to the external world, helped by an awareness that our corporeal physicality is the sum of its atomic, molecular and cellular parts and the electrochemical forces that bind all living things, and about which there is much that we don't know, but could get to know if we could be bothered to think about it.  If we can't be bothered, and are happy to remain in ignorance because our capacity for curiosity falls short, then so be it ("whatever floats your boat").

And I include myself in this.  I find the particulate world beyond my comprehension, and my understanding of electricity and electrostatic force barely extending beyond the fluff in my navel.  But I don't attribute it to 'God'.  Well I might, .. and could, if I was so disposed.  But I don't.  I know there is something there worthy of attention and, given a proper clue that is relevant to what else I know, and time to think about it, I think I could find it all really quite interesting [helping me to make connections] because it is telling me that this physical world that impinges on our experience (within which we are embedded) is an illusion in a sense, and that it really exists (if we care to think about it) as its elemental parts on a scale that is below the radar of our palpable world.  It doesn't frighten me as a no-go area inhabited by 'gods', and although it invokes a sense of wonder, it doesn't encourage me to subjugate myself to any omnipotence.  Quite the opposite.  I feel validated, and priviledged to be alive, but of course I attribute that directly to my mother and father rather than credit some omnipotent 'deity'.  'Indirectly' taps into something inexplicably else.

In fact I think it would be really interesting [/connected'] to know - "if only I had the time" - and a stronger inclination to know why my senses do not readily know of this sub-molecular /atomic world that winks in and out of existence when I look very closely at it down my handy electron microscope.

However I need to think about it before I can get motivated.  Something is making me lazy and preventing me from doing that. The mind is preferring to be disconnected and should I be concerned about that?  Well, maybe, but I'm happy that others who know more than me in that department are working it out for me and though I may take issue with some of the things they say, and if I did then it would be from a standpoint of knowledge and understanding that I do so, not from one of faith and belief.

But with this realisation about self and connectedness comes another, which is that if you think you have this personal 'god' embedded within you and so don't much have to bother, think again, because though it is true in a way, in another it isn't.  We only have it 'on loan', so to speak. It is only with us for a short while.  We should pay more attention to it, nurture it.  Corporeal well-being is only one of its briefs, and through keeping us well (despite our best efforts to thwart it) is giving us a clue about its other, which is everything emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

Anyway [cop-out here] - how do I know that I'm cognitive enough to even begin to think?  How would I know if I do?  And if I did and were so inclined, would I see it the same way as others, unfazed as they might be by this boundary between the quantum world [that determines my neural circuitry and the way it works to make me cognitively aware (and rational - or not), that I am much excluded from, and the 'real-but-unreal' one that I live in?  And how do I rationalise the interface between the quantum and the palpable world?

Frankly, I find the concept of scale invariance ["from the scale of the universe to a billionth the size of the atom"] across this divide into the particulate world (where "elementary particles are like peas in a football park; Fig.1) difficult, and the literature around it quite impenetrable.  It seems to me to smack much of the homocentric mind that has given us Plate Tectonics.  And so (by extrapolation) I am suspicious of what others say about it.

Fig.1.  The 'Alpha' point (?) - ("I'd forget my balls if they weren't in a bag.")  Meaning they are; i.o.w. is it an alpha, or an X? - is a good question :-: +infinity and -infinity?

The interface between reality (above the line, with its atoms and elements and molecules and substances and planets and stars and galaxies) focussing down to the subatomic world below the line, in which particles are the size of "peas in a football park".  What does it mean to live at the interface between +infinity and -infinity?  Are we really so special?  I don't think so. Not even the trick of being able to carry marbles around in a bag warrants that!

 Above the alpha point (the cross-over point in the sketched line that looks like the Greek letter alpha) reality opens out to the infinity that I know of and can observe.  Below it, I close the loop because given that we begin with the small size of the atom, I find the quantum world and the concept of minus infinity difficult and fraught with problems.  A billionth the size of the atom (according to the "Principle of Scale Invariance"), just doesn't do it for me, and besides it is still finite].  It seems difficult to me anyway, to be sized infinitely smaller than something that is effectively zero in the first place.  If the atom is the smallest indivisible part of the element, what can reducing it to a billionth of its "smallest individible size" possibly mean, even if meaning is expressed in unassailable mathematics?

It seems to me that in the physicality of this subatomic world lies the key to understanding the neural makeup of the brain that functions to create the sense of self, or 'mind', and thereby the potential to touch it and experience the 'spirit' of humanity, .. a connection to ourselves and to others that, when we lose it, we get sick.

'Life-force' then is the force (from wherever it might derive) that pushes us over the hump, .. over the 'alpha-line', .. through the keyhole, .. and looks much to me like its manifestion might not reside in particles, peas /beans or mass of any sort, so much as in electrical (/electromagnetic) force that binds it, possbily some small-scale analogue of that lightning bolt that God throws down from the Heavens in Walt Disney's Film Fantasia (you know, ..the bit where they're treading the grapes to Beethoven's 'Pastoral', before they get deluged by the storm), directly analogous to the relationship that mass particles have with elements and the real world.  So what is the "embedded" real-ationship that mass has with electricity?  Or electricty has with mass?  Why is electricity polarised as just two sorts?  And what might the "0" in the middle (the absence of any) represent? There's a scale boundary applicable to mass that makes all those peas in the football park conceivable,  .. does electricity (/electromagnetism) have a scale boundary across that divide too?

[That fluff, .. it really does stick in the navel.]

So then our awareness of 'God' is just our awakening to the existence of this 'thing' making life (abiogenesis + evolution) (plus externalities) (repeat links) that resides within us , and by extrapolation everything else too, .. just as we are aware of the force of gravity when we fall, or electricity if we survive its strike.  'God' is the belief /knowledge /understanding that within us that there is the potential to be at one with the mysteries of existence and not to fear them, and even (if we care to) might learn to understand them (better).  And feel good about that.

'God' (written with a small 'g' because it is personal) then, is the self. Through understanding the benificence of the autonomous nervous system and its transformation to mind and the empathic connection to all living things and the inanimate material world, we come to realise (and are given the opportunity to understand) (if we are inclined to think about it and internalise it) the cause /causation of our existence. [That's "Cause" by the way (existential), .. not reason, or purpose (/not 'why') but just simply our existential *'is'* of place, space and time in the natural world, and the ineffable connections that binds us to all things. 

"The spirit of God is (/lies) within."

Nothing much to "theologise the sh** out of" in that one, is there? When the phrase is searched for in quotes Google returns 318,000 results for a "God is", but only 8 results for a "God lies". The reason I googled the difference was to discover exactly which was the phrase that gets most used. I thought both were used about equally. So is that overwhelming imbalance telling us what happens when theologians get in on the act and play loose with the lexicon by telling us that God doesn't lie, and the "the TRUTH (whatever it is) is within and "will set you free"?

Of course the spirit of 'God' is within (and everywhere else from here to the horizon). And beyond.  Where else would it be? ... in a book on a dusty shelf?

Nothing more exalted than that (though it is a remarkable thing) it is the orientation of our naturally beneficent, emotional /spiritual self, not the one that gets buffetted and corrupted by the exigencies and compromises of life that bend us into the crooked timber we present to the world, but the gold that is the spirit of the honest man - ("for a' that") .. (and a' that).

A personal 'god' because it's me, myself, and my business and nobody else's, charged with the onerous task of looking after me (because nobody else will once we exercise volition and chart our own way from that of others, or it gets decided  for us by 'life'.  Death will have its way of course, because it too is written in the plan in which for a cosmic moment we are priviledged to participate (for 'reasons' that very arguably have nothing to do with us).  That 'other God', the one that looks after everybody else, the one that is embodied in 'religion', is just the sum of the parts, codified for easy management.  Whoever puts themselves forward to manage that 'confederacy' /congregation of "deplorables" and "recalcitrants"  (but not always singing from the same song-sheet), /(dis-)connectedness, should be acutely aware that they have a scale problem to deal with, and that there is a pathology inherent within religion that can be dangerous.  Those who are not aware (and there seem to be very many) should butt out.  The sense of connectedness has to come naturally, .. from the heart. As with many things in human affairs (e.g., the difference between Justice and Law), when it comes to connectedness there is the danger of an inversion of sorts, where 'religion' comes to preside over 'spirituality' - when it shouldn't - at least not without due regard for their respective scales of agency.

Stories.  Well, .. at any rate I find the above a more credible explanation than the one about Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden and wandering desert tribes and sectarian slaughter, or the one about crucifying someone because he scattered shekels in a bank once.  But whatever you fancy.  You can read into this coupling of connectedness just about any story you like, but it diminishes not one whit the value (and power) of the analogy they communicate, .. the "just like, but difference" (encrypted) code we have to crack to understand our environment and others in it that give meaning in our lives.

Which returns us to Arundhati Roy and *her* god of small things.  It's a powerful story by all accounts (I haven't read it) and gives us cause to reflect on many other stories, particularly the stories of old that inform us of our religious roots.  It is interesting to note that fanciful or not, the script in which they are written is immaculate, evidence no doubt of the erudition and education and therefore the authority and scholarship of their authors.  So they weren't your average goat herd, they were educated people who no doubt made it their business to look for financial support to ply their craft of story-telling just as writers and artists do today (and you know what *they're* like once they get hold of a theme) as artists of all denominations must if they are to eat, instead of getting a real job minding sheep or goats.  They would of course have tried to win support from some higher authority as might have a pacific interest in fueling suchlike stories to spread the memes of connectedness, with the benefit to national security and all.  So we'd be looking at writers who, just by the themes they were peddling and the appeal these would have to the public, would come to have authority virtually on a par with, if not greater than, that of the person providing them with financial support, thereby igniting the potential for power disputes.

And of course the memes-'n-themes /stories would be drawn from the social milieu and the celebrities of the time - just as they are today.

Fig.  Celebs telling stories - (Human 'signtists') then and now. (a) Ancient forum -  Male chavanist pig rabble-rousing the "Friends, Romans and Countrymen" (about lending their ears). (b)  Wimmin's world - Soft cuddly nightclubber using two fingers, promising bangs, and a baby-doll swimsuit to make a statement (about something on whatever takes your fancy) for whoever cares to translate it.  ("Allahu Akbar!")

You get a lot of time to think about things when sitting in a cave, whether it be by the Dead Sea of ancient scrolls (in refuges to keep them safe from rape and pillage), a study-corner in some palace, or anywhere else.   Support would no doubt be in the form of some sort of contractual engagement, like a weekly Sermon on the Mount, much as envisaged in the Monty Python film, Life of Brian :-
".. The film was named "greatest comedy film of all time" by several magazines and television networks, and it would later receive a 96% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus, "One of the more cutting-edge films of the 1970s, this religious farce from the classic comedy troupe is as poignant as it is funny and satirical."[5]   (Wikipedia)  [A very perspicaceous take on the whole story, i.m.o.]

And that's it, born to live and born to die, ["It's all a joke and a chase after wind."], and in between the opportunity to make of it what we will - eat whang soup or soprano-the-guano - our own personal narrative that documents our existence on Earth - in story and song - everything that is narcissistic of ourselves and exploitative of others, yet redemptive too in our capacity for empathic connection and reconcilliation, if only we can work out how to dig beneath the superficiality of our selves and mine its inner resources, deeply buried though that can be.  A love story of sorts. ... A hymn to humanity.   Story upon story upon story, too many of them somehow being about pain and suffering, reflecting this disconnection from the inner self.  ("I never felt more like singing the blues" ).  "Songs sung blue" ("everybody knows one"), .. Or what about poor Eleanor Rigby (?) who got buried with only her name to memorialise her.  Maybe more people can relate to her retiring ordinariness, than to Jesus Christ who got crucified for being an outspoken loudmouth advertising himself (like me) (and you) as the Son of God.  [The Who?] Or as near as makes no difference.  What was he planning to do after making the Middle East Great Again anyway?  Brush his hair?

Ah, .. the encryptions, the tropes, the metaphors, .. the themes,  memes and wannabe dreams.  What is more poignantly cruel than life ("at seventeen") [lyrics] if you're a young woman with 'issues'?

Here's Leonard Cohen's Song to Suzanne (covered by Neil Diamond).  Puts it in a nutshell, .. sort of:-

( (lyrics) (story)
" .. And when He knew for certain only drowning men could see him,
He said all men will be sailors until the sea shall free them"

Neil Diamond's version of it posted on youtube has something of a backstory to the song and frankly I think he does a better job of it than Cohen himself.  Love, abandonment and redemption are powerful stories that touch us to the core that we all share.  The power of love is not hard to relate to, nor is the sea of life on which we are all sailors, drowning in love that is unrequited, or was lost /misplaced /overshared /failed /never found), or was dedicated to an endeavour that failed :-: ["Allahu Akbar!" (?) (again).]

[ "No greater love hath any man, than for ["I scream, you scream, everybody loves ice cream" < and>  "I'll buy you one more frozen orange juice on this fantastic day"  ]

The encryption embedded in that one is exercising a lot of people right now :-: what sorts of drowning souls are so disconnected from themselves that they allow themselves to be taken over by voices telling them to slay those they most want to be connected with?  Fools?  .. Lost souls of  'sailors' who tried and failed?..  "heros in the seaweed"(?), just as Cohen himself seems to be recounting how he failed the love of his life, and thereby consigned both himself and his love to the 'seaweed' of the deeps.  ("However, she gave me a beautiful song...")  [and thereby a whole lot of $$$$.]

As for him looking down from the "lonely wooden tower", the power of analogy, and the danger that arises when a demagogue steps forward to wield it, .. ..  who knows, maybe The Donald will charm every world leader he has to deal with [1] and make the world a right safe place - by telling them their face is like it is.  (You reckon?) .. everybody will have a job, homes to go to and hot dinners, and pesky Meskies won't be a problem, 'coz he'll  know that Everly in her day job of keeping everybody in line will have to go and get peacefully married and have lots more lovely kids, once she's sorted out the Japanese mafia for good..  'Coz she's ('virtually') proved her dedication to Moms and Motherhood and is therefore worthy of Amercan citizenship.  The only unknown in this scenario however will be who gets the job of being the charismatic husband with big hands.  Who knows, .. maybe Trump with an eye for shoes himself will step forward to fill her very nice ones with the red button talking points.

Everly's very nice shoes
".. are made for walking " ?
.. 'cos she herself doesn't seem to have much use for them in her speedy, barefoot world of running rings around men and keeping them off the grass, However he would have to invite all the rellies to the wedding, wouldn't he, .. which would require a back-flip on that promise of the wall, because she is of Mexican-Lebanese parentage.
"...and she says with a huge smile: ‘I came from Mexico, baby. If you’re Mexican and Arabic in the United States, it’s a long way to climb those mountains!’ " [link] (Or google |salma hayek on donald trump| )

Why "baby" I don't know.  Popular culture straight out of some 'book' I guess.  But as for attitudes to the Islamic population of America, the heat in that one that got him (the very definitive 'D. T.') (/'delirium tremens')] elected is a supreme example of 'birth of the embediment', and just shows how nuts people are, that they will elect an utter nutter who doesn't know a 7-11 /9-11 senior moment when it hits him.   (How he will go with his finger on those red buttons I don't know either.)

Well, there we go, .. the God of small things (as one's own personal spirituality) in its many diversities.  It's a personal thing, .. and, like an opinion, perhaps best kept to one's self.

But if we're going to deconstruct it then (and it is just my opinion) I think we should wrest spirituality from religion and ditch the dirt.   *SPIRITUALITY* is ours, and can be shared around in story, song, and deed, because as the light that illuminates the internal (/eternal) (seedy) self and cleans the fluff out from the navel it is intrinsically something good that connects us, and keeps the seed in business.  Which (by the grace of 'God') must get past adolescence before it can look after itself.   *RELIGION* on the other hand is the institutionalised management of people's spritual needs, coloured from having been marinated in the patriarchy and bloodthirsty stories of wandering desert tribes and their present-day militaristic moguls, and is the bathwater that should be thrown out - or at least sequestered in some other policy portfolio.  (Like football, maybe).  Dressed to the nines and burdened with official significations [1] [2]  in case people don't get it, .. that it *is* power - enormous power.  Ceded initially by warrant and the collective innocence of people, it draws to itself the authority to suck on their inherent un-goodness in some cosmic sociopathic gyre, eventually to preside over them like some genie,  until they, the people, held by a bond that must not be broken, find themselves in subjugation, fealty and fear.

A bit strong?  Not if you lived five hundred years ago before there was separation of Church and State over 'here', and at the present-day over 'there' [ [1] [2] [3] [4] ] .  Why is the Catholic Church so disliked in Ireland, the most catholic country in Europe?

{Insert So'C's  ["Child abuse and bondage".]  786952   [Also :-  Meanwhile S.O'C's impassioned appropriation of Marley's WAR [her view is directed at the Catholic Church and "religion";  Marley's is more broadly directed to social justice] has been vindicated (after two decades),

We need to nurture the source code (more) - spirituality / human rights and everything else that is positive to the human condition of connectedness that is not (by consensus agreement) offensive to others.  And take care to separate what is culturally positive of spirituality  (repeat link) from the grip of  'religion' (repeat link), with the future benefit of children in mind.  So far as adults go, once the child is born their use-by is effectively up so they don't count that much other than to supervise the transition of the next lot of children to adults..  'Religion' (at least as it is traditionally understood in its multiple denominational guises) divides more than unites and offers those who would (divide), the opportunity to use it so, certainly at the present time.

That, at least, is the story from Goodnews Week, where spirituality is intrinsically good and keeps us in daily shape.

What about Badnews Week, .. the view that humanity is intrinsically evil, .. grasping, exploitative, self-serving, uncaring and cruel towards others, and needs a list of instructions and a reminder to read them five times a day to keep us on the righteous path?  Well, that indeed is another face of the coin.  Not much is needed to recognise that as religion too. Some consensus (as just mentioned) is needed about what sort of world we would like our children /grandchildren to live in, and do more to foster it without allowing infants and adolescents to dictate the world that suits them so that they have to go through the pain all over again of experiencing what's best in the long term.

Two thousand years of story, .. and still going.  Why is the one that theology presents to us held up as the one most relevant?  Answer :- because another theme that has a powerful grip on us is our history, particularly ancient history.  Those privvy to 'scripture' stir it into the mix of religion and use it to augment their power of presiding over others, insisting that eating whang soup will prevent the guano when you hit the soprano and other such gobbledigook is good for us.  It's a business model, and a pretty good one as business models go - once you've cracked the nut and got one going that works well, don't change it.  But it *will* grind to a halt if something more relevant comes along to replace it.

"War Department" (1947) -->  "Department of Defence (1949)" --> [Department of Peace (1793)] (-->Department of Justice).  It all begins with how we educate children about the sort of world that we, from experience, think would be best for them to live in.  Unfortunately too much of experience that is useful gets left behind ("going forward").

Anyway, .. Ms Hayek (with or without shoes) can call me baby any time she likes.  I don't mind.

Summary :-  Connected at a deep level, but need air to breath, food to eat, and cuddled.  That's it.  Don't look further, 'coz we're as good as deid anyway.

(Read more?)

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