[FoRK] Re: "Thanks for the Facts. Now Sell Them."

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at gmail.com> on Tue Apr 17 13:11:28 PDT 2007

  I want to encourage Stephen Williams, then, to pursue
  his "church," and his secular response to "the purpose driven
  life."  What is real is actually Real.  What we need is people like
  Stephen, who can reach out to people, and explain how their life
  is structured.

  Stephen, if you're coming up with literal answers to
  "Why can't it be taught?", could I suggest a different question?
  Ask: "How can this be taught?"

  It's clear to me that it can.  Michael Dowd recounts reducing
  school children, and sometimes even grown adults, to *tears,*
  with his telling of the history of the universe, and the formation
  of the stars and galaxies, and the Earth, and the evolutionary
  tree up to who they are today.  I totally believe he's telling the
  truth.  If Michael can do it, I don't see why anyone else can.
  There are inspiring tellings of the story of the universe, there
  are inspiring tellings of the story of our history as humans, and
  so on.  Those of us who live in the US have heard inspiring tales
  about the American Revolution.  Some of us may have even
  felt pride, before, even though we know of the horrors and errors
  our nation has made as well.  No doubt, people in other countries,
  people on this list as well, feel some pride in their nations as well.
  I have seen it here, on this list.  A lot of this pride hooks in
  through the stories we've heard, and the feeling that the struggles
  that people who have come before have *meant something.*

  Can we extend that feeling out back, further along back than
  the Athenians, further back than the first people to discover fire,
  back to the proto-humans?  Can we further extend our feeling
  to the mammals that were living before them?  And can we
  extend our sympathies to our ancestors further beyond, to fish,
  to first cellular life, and so on?  Can we see our own latent
  possibility, in the great gobs of hydrogen gas, floating about?

  Jeff Bone, I know this is all new-age claptrap, as far as your
  eye can see, but I challenge you to tell me that this is

  I grant that this is an interpretation, merely a way of looking
  at things, but let me point out two things:

  1.  **Interpretation is unavoidable.**

  We can see an example of this, very clearly, in the statement
  that the universe is a "cold, hollow, soulless place."

  That is purely speculation -- I know, because I've checked the
  Universe in my apartment, and I can tell you-- it was *NOT* a
  cold, hollow, soulless place.  All of us were raised by chunks of
  universe called "people," and while some of the universe was cold
  and hollow and perhaps even a bit soulless, a *lot* of it wasn't.
  Everything that mattered *wasn't.*

  But the point is-  interpretation is unavoidable, even if you're an
  atheist.  You may personify the universe as an indifferent, glassy
  eyed person staring vacantly into the distance, or even as wicked,
  cruel, and sinful, but personify you must.

  The second point is:

  2.  **Choice of interpretation MATTERS.**

  That is, if you think that the universe is a cold, indifferent place,
  it matters in how you will live your life, in what you will chose to
  do, in what you will decide is worthy of protection, how you will
  socialize, and so on.

  I'm just intuiting, but I think that the "cold, indifferent place" story
  leads to something of a "bunker and siege" mentality, which then
  leads to something of "bunker and siege" actions.

  We're all living in stories.  We're living "I'm contributing to the
  world," or "I'm living off the world, like a worm," and so on.
  These stories live in larger stories, which live in still larger stories.
  Choice of story matters, and it determines how we move and
  what we do.

  So, we can't say it doesn't matter.

  Jeff Bone, people should "get a grip."  Well told, and I agree.
  But what are they going to get a grip ON?
  A cold, hollow, soulless world?  I see clearly why most
  people are refusing.

  Tom Higgins, you're playing exactly into what I described
  in my first e-mail:  You're thrusting the decision, "TRUTH
  or COMFORT", even "TRUTH or NEED" onto people.
  -- It's not a decision they don't even need to make in the
  first place!  It's the wrong question to throw at people!

  Listen to Richard Dawkin's talking with earnest and sincere
  wonder, about the evolutionary history that led to our lives,
  to your lives.  This isn't just some abstract theory;  This is
  the real thing!

  Sometimes, I read people write about "what the universe is"--
  and I have to ask, "Do you even realize that you're talking about
  **yourself?**"  What do you think you are, if not universe?
  Are we somehow separate and distinct from the universe?
  Are we not part of, piece of, the universe itself?
  It's clear that the universe has the concept of "children" of it,
  and is capable of supporting "children," both in reality, and in
  concept.  Why then is it inappropriate to say that we are the
  universe's children?  We can trace a line up, up parent to
  parent to parent to parent, **all the way up** to the stars.
  This is not "airy fairy," this is real.  Do you know it?  Because if
  you knew it, you wouldn't be talking about the Universe as if
  it were this alien, distant creature, cruel and soulless.  Sure, we
  all have a wicked side, sure, we all know the cruelties of nature.
  I've read my Howard Bloom, great guy.  Global Brain has some
  wonderful stories in it about rape, I've read them.  But to interpret
  the world as if that's the only story-- what a horrible loss.  It's
  definitely a misinterpretation of the world.  But I don't see how you
  can even care about this discussion, much less anything, because
  to posit that there was something worth caring about it would refute
  your point.

  Bill, I don't think this "quest" is futile.  It's not my own quest, it's
  not a personal thing.  I've seen traces of these ideas in the movies.
  And look at Stephen, who's asking his questions right now.
  A lot of people are trying to figure out how to "do this thing."

  We don't need a new religion;  Religion is just ritual, tradition,
  culture, ... It's essentially "kink."
  What we care about are **ideas.**   As divided as atheists are
  in terms of communication channels, where they all agree is in
  a set of ideas.  I think they would all agree that there is no God
  floating around, judging people moment to moment.  That's the
  prototype for he definition of atheism, after all.  There are other
  ideas, that have strong resonance with atheists.
  We do not care about religions.  Religions can and are regularly
  subverted by ideas.  Religions aren't even a challenge, really,
  even.  We just need the right *ideas,* the right seed set.  I think
  we have them, and I think the time is right.

  Two recent movies have given me hope;  "Night at the Museum"
  had a scene, wherein the main character reminds all the animals,
  and people, throughout time and history, that we're all kin.
  And I saw evolution talked about in Happy Feet, and the multitude
  of people, and I saw them talking about how the idea of God is a
  social manifestation of the very real heart-song living inside each of
  us, but that, while it has some truth in that respect, that in reality,
  we live within a cosmic universe, complete with Hubble imagery,
  and that life really *isn't* all about penguins, in the end.

  I'm not about to tell you that these movies are the greatest works
  of mankind.  I am going to say, though, that I believe that these
  ideas are in the water, and that they have a chance.

  Anyways, please consider, thank you for the conversation;
  I'm happy to answer any questions, or elaborate on any ideas.
  I don't know you all very well, and I don't know the ettiquite of this
  mailing list very well, so please, feel free to redirect me, or talk with
  me in private.  But I really appreciate the discussion so far.

  Thank you,

On 4/17/07, Tom Higgins <tomhiggins at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 4/17/07, Aaron Burt <aaron at bavariati.org> wrote:
> > Ah, and that strikes at the heart of the issue.  Religions *do* provide
> > answers.  They may not be literally true, but many of them sound great
> > and reinforce the listener's beliefs and wishes.
> So given this ...The Magic Eight Ball is the next big religion?
> Answer Hazy try Again...yea this does sound like most religions.
> As to admen, let me take you to a scene out of the book Last
> Temptation of Christ, the one where an uncrucified  Jesus meets up
> with Paul who is still selling the story of a crucified Jesus. Paul,
> when confronted with the fact that here was Jesus and he was not hung
> out to dry,  goes for the best possible answer....It Doesnt
> Matter...HIS jesus died and HIS jesus rose etc etc etc. In short,
> truth is not needed, need makes the truth.
> NEED.. you need a daddy to be the protector and warm lap and
> disciplinarian...NEED becuase things just dont make sense all the time
> so SOMETHING NEEDS to make sense of it, whether it does or not.  You
> ae poor and you NEED money, you pray pray pray and if things work out
> you thank to the name you prayed to and if not you pray some more and
> fit the results to fit.
> Fulfillment of Need vs Pursuit of Truth   pick a path. (turn to page 58 now)
> -tomhiggins
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