The Flood? Garden of Eden?

James sent me a copy of an email from a Muslim friend, regarding the flood and Noah. James recommends I might comment on it.

To me, such stories are mythology, just as the stories of Hercules, Zeus, and Narcissus are mythologies in Greek society. They start us off in a certain direction and seek to make us understand why a civilization believes as it does.

A study of the Masonic literature, especially Morals And Dogma, written by Albert Pike and published in 1871, reveals interesting tidbits about the development of Jewish history.

“The dominant system among the Jews after their captivity was that of the Pharoschim or Pharisees. Whether their name was derived from that of the Parsees, or followers of Zoroaster, or from some other source, it is certain that they had borrowed much of their doctrine from the Persians. Like them they claimed to have the exclusive and mysterious knowledge, unknown to the mass….They styled themselves interpreters; a name indicating their claim to the exclusive possession of the true meaning of the Holy Writings, by virtue of the oral tradition which Moses had received on Mt Sinai…”

If you put that in context with Jesus’ constant condemnation of their control of the law, of their claiming themselves as representatives of the people, it begins to make sense, “teaching for commandments the doctrines of men”.

The book tells of the Ormuzd, of whom Mithras is chief. Then you gradually see the development of the Thoughts of Ormuzd, the IDEAS which he conceived before proceeding to the creation of all things. The IDEAS are supposed to be superior to men. They are, wrote Pike, “the tutelary genii,”, protecting all men from the fall to the regeneration.

Ahriman was the dragon, whom we recognize as Satan or the serpent-tempter. After 3000 years, Ormuzd had created the material world in six periods. According to the story, Ormuzd and Ahriman concurred in the creation of man. When the first man and woman had been created, Ahriman tempted and seduced them, bringing evil. These doctrines, writes Pike were “sparingly borrowed by the Pharisee Jews”.

But Pike also points out that the people who accepted the message of Jesus were neither Pharisees or Sadducees, but the humble, common people.

If we look at the teachings of Jesus and his condemnation of the Pharisees, it would not be absurd to think he also condemned the mythology of Zoroastrianism that accompanied Pharisee thought. The “interpreters” as they styled themselves, the keepers of the secrets, or what later became known as Cabala, was condemned by Jesus, who said they were preventing the people from entering the “kingdom of God” there, at that time.

With the teachings of Paul, a former Pharisee who then completely challenged the whole concept that any human mind could be subject to God, the doctrines of “mystery religions” was challenged, only to be gradually resurrected by Constantine.

The oral traditions of the Pharisees took the form of Mishna, Gemarra, and Talmud, which is the chief work that Rabbis today study. It might surprise you to know, however, that it was the Babylonian Talmud that is highly regarded among Jews, the document beginning in Babylon after the captivity, embracing Persian religion, and further spreading from Babylon to embrace the world with its interpretations regarding money, usury, laws, banking, and legislation that “explains” the commandments given at Sinai.

Writes Pike: “The sources of…the Kabalistic doctrines, are the books of Jezirah and Sohar, the foremer drawn up in the second century, and the latter a little later; but containing materials much older than themselves. In their most characteristic elements, they go back to the time of the exile. In them, as in the teachings of Zoroaster, everything that exists emanated from a source of infinite light….With the idea so expressed is connected the pantheism of India. The King of Light, the ANCIENT, is ALL THAT IS”.

And of course you can read about the blending of religions under Constantine with Krishna, Indian and Persian religions blending with mystery religions that became what we know as Christianity today.

But it is these traditions of men that both Jesus and Paul, and the disciples, challenged.

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world…(Colossians 2:8)”.

“neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions…”

The mythology that found its way into the Old testament was placed there by the evolution of the Jewish culture in captivity, after the Oral tradition” of Moses, the “traditions of men” condemned by Jesus who taught that all people have the right to be heard, to know the law, and to be protected by that law.


Leavening of the Pharisees And Truth

When I was in the marines, I became a baker, and later a baking instructor. I liked this for two reasons: first it avoided the militaristic BS that the “grunts” had to endure, and second, bakers had nice little ways of getting even with officers who had to eat the baker’s food preparations. I passed on this wisdom to my students when I became an instructor.

Two things about leavening:
1.It will expand within a loaf until it consumes all available fuel
2. Salt acts to retard the growth of leavening

So, as a baker, when I see Jesus telling his followers “ye are the salt of the earth”, I see individuals who act to retard the growth of power and general BS.

I find this relationship between leaven and truth to be quite interesting today. For example, in a book by Rudy Rucker called Mind Tools: The Five levels of Mathematical Reality, Rucker explores the relationship between mathematics and truth, and comes to interesting conclusions paralleling the biblical teachings regarding leaven. Here is a statement I found interesting, toward the back of the book:

“Higher properties–such as truth, beauty, or virtue–are prospective. There is no fixed rule or token by which you can recognize the true or the beautiful or the good: these human ideals are not computable. Nor is there any kind of program or attitude that will enable any individual person or school to produce all truth or all beauty or all goodness. Our highest goals are not to be exhausted by the logical working out of any single system.”

Let’s look at that last statement. It does have a solid connection to the idea of “leavening” in the bible. If any single system continues to grow and grow, and claim to represent truth, whether it is biblical truth, or a god-king who claims his word is truth and cannot be questioned, or any system whatever that seeks to extend itself until it controls all activity, will be false.

We can be certain that such a system will be false. Alonzo Church, who studied Godel’s theorem, developed the theorem telling us that no simple yes or no answers can be given for important questions. Godel’s theorem tels us that no logical program can hope, even in the limit, to answer all the questions. As Rucker writes:

“After the work of (Alan) Turing, Church, and Godel, the old dream of capturing all truth in a finite logical net can be seen to be thoroughly bankrupt. Turing’s analysis of computation suggests that every finitely given logical system(including human beings) is subject to the theorems of Godel and Church. Godel’s theorem tells us that no programmatic method can generate all truth; while Church’s theorem tells us that we are unable to predict the consequences of the programs that we do devise.”

Therefore, if “God” and “truth” are the same, we can be certain that no single religious or logical concept of man can fully represent either one!

No government can represent all truth, and no religion can fully represent God, which strongly suggests that neither church nor state are legitimate authorities over the human mind!

Is that bad? Should we despair because we can never develop such a system? Rucker suggests this to be a reason for joy!

“A world where there is no Godel’s theorem would be a world where every property is listable–for any kind of human activity, there would be a programmatic description of how to carry it out[which, after all, is what religions and governments have proposed to do for centuries]. In such a world, it would be possible to learn a hard and fast formula for ‘how to be an artist’ or ‘how to be a scientist‘. It would just be a matter of learning the tricks of the trade….Our world is endlessly more complicated than any finite program or any finite set of rules. You’re free, and you’re really alive, and there’s no telling what you’ll think of next, nor is there any reason you shouldn’t kick over the traces and start a new life at any time”.

In history, we see Jesus constantly condemning the “leaven of the Pharisees”. And what were the Pharisees doing? Well, constantly condemning and judging those who didn’t wash according to tradition, who didn’t observe specific rules and formal laws established for standards of “righteousness”. In short, they were pretentious.

Not only were they pretentious, but Jesus said they “shut up the kingdom of heaven” and they “take away the key of knowledge” to the people. In short, they taught that it was possible, by observing “programmatic” laws, rules, and rituals, to be “sinless”.

In fact, that problem came to a head when Rabbi Hillel, a contemporary of Jesus, stated that, by the process known as his “Seven Laws”, it would be possible for humans to establish proper guidelines for obedience to God, that the human mind, in fact, CAN be “subject to God’, provided it follows proper procedures and disciplines, or in other words, providing it establishes rote, programmable, finite and rational processes of thought.

Yet that is exactly the process Jesus condemned when he quoted fro Isaiah “In vain do ye worship me, teaching for commandments the doctrines of men”. In more modern terms, the Pharisees were creating statutory legislation by which the people could be ruled. It was that very process of statutory legislation that Jesus condemned among the lawyers in Luke 11:52, by saying they “take away the key of knowledge” from the people.

And in fact, that is what Paul directly challenged in Romans 8:7. he told the people that the natural mind, my mind, your mind, is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God. In fact, Paul’s statement is mathematically correct! There can be no single system of human thought, in any method of rote or repetition, to represent truth!

That also parallels the statement of Claude Shannon when he developed information theory. The more a message is repeated, the less information it contains. In other words, the more any culture strictly obeys certain rules and rituals because they are convinced those rules and rituals come from some unquestionable source, the less they are able to adapt to change.

That is exactly the same question we face today, in regard to the U.S. Constitution. is it a “living document”, or should we follow the “original intent” of the founders?

Believe it or not, when Kurt Godel was studying for citizenship in the U.S., he declar

ed that the laws of the Constitution would lead to dictatorship!

As Godel was preparing fore his citizenship test, a judge mentioned that “wasn’t it wonderful that there will be no Hitler in this country?” To which Godel responded that in fact the laws of this country, as written, would very well lead to a dictatorship or tyranny. Fortunately, his friend Einstein, who knew of Godel’s misgivings, accompanied Godel to the test, and quickly diverted the conversation away from Godel’s findings.

But what led to Godel’s conclusions? Palle Yourgrau, in a book titled A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel And Einstein, writes:

“Years later, asked for a legal analogy for his incompleteness theorem, he would comment that a country that depended entirely upon the formal letter of its laws might well find itself defenseless against a crisis that had not, and could not have been foreseen in its legal code. The analogue of his incompleteness theorem, applied to the law, would guarantee that for any legal code, even if intended to be fully explicit and complete, there would always be judgements ‘undecided’ by the letter of the law”.

When you think about it, that is exactly what we are considering regarding Constitutional law today, and was the battle between Jesus and the Pharisees of that time. Can truth be found by any process of finite, programmed, rote law? Jesus and Paul said no, it cannot. The Pharisees said yes, it can. Today, we alternate between “originalism” and “living law”. But you will notice that either interpretation, as in the days of the Pharisees, is said to be decided by those who are “experts” in the law.

But there are no such experts, because no single human mind or system can contain all truth!

So again, Jesus and Paul were correct! And from that perspective, so are the atheists today!
There simply exists no “God” that can be contained as a “higher” process of human thought!
There is you, and there is me, and there is our right and obligation to consider others as we consider ourselves.

That, said Jesus, and correctly, is the truthful basis of all law and all commandments.


The God Factory

I bring attention to Al Dexter’s essay again because, while it is an excellent primer and a good beginning, his statement that the bible is a farce is not proven from the article.

In fact, he demonstrates by his conclusions that Paul was telling the truth, as far as truth can be proven.

From The God Factory, we can see that:
1.People will believe what they choose to believe
2.They will build religions based on those beliefs
3.Those beliefs will amount to a “factory” that produces over 38,000 versions of God within Christianity, at the last general estimate.

Does that prove Paul wrong? No, in fact, Paul seems to have anticipated exactly that process, and offered a system of thought that would have made Occam proud.

What is this principle of “parsimony” offered by Occam? If two or more(or in this case 38,000) theories are in competition, the one theory that takes all into account, makes sense of them, and fits into a logical framework, will probably be the truth.

Or, as I remember from the fictional character Sherlock Holmes, if we eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, will be the truth.

In eliminating the impossible, the first choice is, does God exist? Whatever views we offer, no matter how capable or complex, the conclusions we reach will only reflect our personal ideas regarding evidence.

We are therefore left with the conclusions above: people will believe what they choose to believe, based on the evidence and experience that formed their beliefs, which further means that it is impossible to determine whether or not there actually is a God.

Based on all likely evidence, therefore, we come to one conclusion whether there is or is not a God: In either case, such existence is not dependent on either our choice or our beliefs.

Whatever “is”, simply “is”, which leads me to Ayn Rand’s basic definition of reality, for “Ex-Android’s” benefit. In her book, Philosophy: Who Needs It, Ayn Rand points out that reality consists of two aspects: the metaphysical and the ‘man-made’.

The metaphysical, said Rand, simply is. It exists, and we are part of it. The ‘man-made’, however, consists of human ideas and interpretations as we apply out ideas to reality, and that ‘man-made’ aspect of reality is always subject to the choices we make as we try to understand it.

We are therefore Left with the conclusion reached by Ayn Rand and with Occam: whatever choices we make in regard to reality, there is no way to test those ideas to prove or disprove the existence of God.

If there is a God, therefore, we are left with the conclusion given by Paul in Romans 8:7. The natural mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God, which will result in exactly the same result as if there is no God at all.

Therefore, in either case, God or no God, we are left with one beginning point: If God exists, his/her/its/their existence cannot be dependent on our choices or beliefs in any meaningful sense.

That, in fact, is what Paul said, and also squares with the statement of Jesus in John 6:44 and Matthew 24:23.

When i realized this back in 1974, my parents each quoted a scripture, quite accidentally, that combined to create an “epiphany’ in my own mind. My father quoted from Romans 8:29-30, and my mother quoted from Galatians 3:29.

We know basically what these scriptures say if we’re ex-WCG, but what if the two scriptures actually referred to the same phenomenon? What if all those who were “Christ’s” were not only the children of the promise, but what if they were also foreknown, predestined, chosen, and called?

In other words, what if this is the deal God made with Abraham:

“Abraham, if you do as I ask, you will have a son. This I guarantee. But you will also have other children, born as Isaac, children that I will specifically foreknow and preselect. Each of these children will be born into this promise I make to you, and each of them will be my special choice, my selection, and you will be the father of all these children by promise, just as you are the father of Isaac by promise”.

So, putting Romans 8:29-30 and Galatians 3:29 together, we come up with this conclusion:

If ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed(as Isaac was), and heirs according to the promise(as Isaac was), and you will be foreknown(as Isaac was), predestined(as Isaac was), called and chosen(as Isaac was).

Basically this is what Paul said in Galatians 4:28: “Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of the promise”.

That is Occam at his finest! People can do as they wish, believe as they wish, experiment as they wish, and none of that will alter the deal made between God and Abraham.

In fact, Paul describes that process in Romans 9: 7-22.

“Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, ‘In Isaac shall thy seed be called’.
That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed”.

What promise? “At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son”. Paul leaves no doubt as to what “promise” he is referring to.
Verse 11: “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to the election might stand, not of works but of him that calleth“.

From that point, Paul continues to point out that it is simply impossible to become one of those “born of promise” by your own choice. In verses `16-22, Paul goes to great length to show it simply cannot be done.

Further, in Galatians 3:17, Paul points out that the promise came 430 years before the law, so the law, the covenant made with Israel at Sinai, cannot “disannul” it. In other words, the promise stands regardless of the law.

Whoever these “children of the promise” are, their personal choices do not affect the nature of God’s deal with Abraham in any way.

What if that is not true? Well, your choices will result in the kind of confusion of religions we see today.

What if it IS true? Same result! Therefore, Occam’s razor is satisfied! So is Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and all religion is discredited. No necessity of following any person who says “here is Christ”.

In either case, God or no God, same result. Prove me wrong.


Infinite Regress

Again, In Christopher HitchensGod Is Not great, Hitchens makes the valid point regarding infinite regress, or in other words, if God created the world, who created that God, and who created that God, and who created that God…into infinity.

In regard to justice in the bible, Hitchens writes: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and the killing of witches may seem brutish and stupid, but if only non-sinners have the right to punish, then how could an imperfect society ever determine how to prosecute offenders? We should all be hypocrites.

” And what authority did Jesus have to ‘forgive’?….”

By combining the two, Hitchens demonstrates the flaw in his own argument. The principle of forgiveness as an aspect of justice is dependent on the very fact that we cannot resolve an absolute authority to define, or divine, justice. None exists. For if we try to punish according to absolute standards, we enter the slippery slope of degrees of evil.

Assuming that somewhere along the continuum “god created God, who then created God, who then created…we would not need to define which God created the law, but the process by which law applied to us as we judged others. What gave Jesus the right to “forgive”? What gives any person the right to forgive?

The answer to that is simple enough: because we can’t point to a God, an absolute God, to which we can show a direct line of authority, we are equal before one another. The judgement we render on others can only be just when all other possible alternatives are exhausted.

Does such an idea demand the existence of a God? Not at all, but if such laws are based in the idea of an authority that transcends the laws of men, then human law can never in any sense be absolute.

If law could absolutely represent God, there would be no need for separation of church and state. The state would speak its own authority to punish. But since the state cannot speak for God, and the church cannot show its own direct authority as representative of God, then the law must assume the innocence of the accused until proven guilty by one whom he has harmed.

In Isaiah 54:17, we see exactly that principle, the right of the accused for any reason to have the full vindication of God until proven guilty by unbiased witnesses. Notice, not just one witness, but at least two, and more if possible(Deut.17:6, 19:15).

Consequently, the law that presumes innocence has no power to claim to represent the one true God as an authority. In fact, it cannot logically claim to represent God at all, except to assume that the accused has committed no crime, therefore acquittal is to be assumed unless directly proven otherwise.

How could Jesus “forgive”? Because he, like all of us, could not judge or condemn others in the absence of proof. That was law as understood in Isaiah. Is an infinite regress required for such concepts? Not at all. In fact, such a law would allow for infinite regress and the assumption that man is incapable of judging in place of God.

If man is incapable of judging in place of God, can laws of man, of themselves, condemn? In what sense could an “absolute” law of man claim power over an infinite regress of values in which God cannot be proven? The law would be arbitrary and unjust. Therefore, the accused could only be accused, not by the laws of man but the accuser who actually suffered harm.

In law, this is called the presumption of innocence. It is also recognized under the Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. Under that law, therefore, Jesus was no more authorized to “forgive” sin than we ourselves, and in fact, forgiveness is the ideal whenever possible.

In fact, Jesus himself taught this directly in Matthew 5:25 and 18:15-18. He further emphasized “separation of church and state” by teaching that we should no longer practice an eye for an eye, but that we should “judge not, lest ye be judged(Matthew 7:1)”

Paul also taught settlement out of court, and added the principle of trial by a form of jury(1 Cor, 6), and further pointed out in Romans `12:19 that we should not practice an eye for an eye, but leave vengeance to God.

It was only AFTER Paul taught this precept that he then emphasized letting “every soul be subject to higher powers”. The “higher powers” did execute wrath. That was their job. It was their job because the servants of God could not do so for their own interests.

But the “higher powers” could not execute wrath in their own interest either. Their power of “wrath” was given ONLY after the people had tried other avenues of correction.

In fact, the “execution of wrath” was their only defined function, NOT the making of “moral” laws that forced people to recognize the needs of others by taxation.

“For this cause(execution of wrath) pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.”

It was in fact the power of the Pharisees to “shut up the kingdom of heaven(Luke 11:52)” to men that Jesus condemned as hypocritical. The right of reach individual to be presumed innocent was to be granted to all the people as a courtesy of law, so that the law itself could not condemn without the right of facing the accuser(Isaiah 50:8).

It is in this all important aspect of law that infinite regress is recognized and honored, and allows the individual the right to live in freedom without condemnation by the presumptions of other humans.