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November 1st, 2012


STATS, POLLS ON CONVICTION WITHOUT KNOWING
The Dilemma of the Infinite Defined



The human race, whose intelligence dates back only a single tick of the astronomical clock, could hardly hope to understand so soon what it all means.
— Sir James Jeans
The Stars in their Courses (1931)

The stream of human knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality. The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of this realm.
— Sir James Jeans
The Mysterious Universe (1930)


The life of God — the life which the mind apprehends and enjoys as it rises to the absolute unity of all things — may be described as a play of love with itself; but this idea sinks to an edifying truism, or even to a platitude, when it does not embrace in it the earnestness, the pain, the patience, and labor, involved in the negative aspect of things. GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL, The Phenomenology of Spirit

"WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report from the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life shows that the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion is growing at a rapid pace. About one-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under age 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling. In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).
"This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives. However, many of the country's 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), more than a third classify themselves as "spiritual" but not "religious" (37%), and one in five say they pray every day (21%).
"The growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans – sometimes called the rise of the 'nones'– is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32%), compared with just one in ten among those who are 65 and older (9%). And young adults today are much more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives..."

god (n.)    O.E. god "supreme being, deity; the Christian God; image of a god; godlike person," from P.Gmc. *guthan (cf. O.S., O.Fris., Du. god, O.H.G. got, Ger. Gott, O.N. guð, Goth. guþ), from PIE *ghut- "that which is invoked" (cf. O.C.S. zovo "to call," Skt. huta- "invoked," an epithet of Indra), from root *gheu(e)- "to call, invoke." But some trace it to PIE *ghu-to- "poured," from root *gheu- "to pour, pour a libation" (source of Gk. khein "to pour," also in the phrase khute gaia "poured earth," referring to a burial mound; see found (v.2)). "Given the Greek facts, the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound"
faith (n.)  mid-13c., "duty of fulfilling one's trust," from O.Fr. feid, foi "faith, belief, trust, confidence, pledge," from L. fides "trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, belief," from root of fidere "to trust," from PIE root *bheidh- (cf. Gk. pistis; see bid).
belief (n.)  late 12c., bileave, replacing O.E. geleafa "belief, faith," from W.Gmc. *ga-laubon "to hold dear, esteem, trust" (cf. O.S. gilobo, M.Du. gelove, O.H.G. giloubo, Ger. Glaube), from *galaub- "dear, esteemed," from intensive prefix *ga- + *leubh- "to care, desire, like, love" (see love (v.)). The prefix was altered on analogy of the verb believe. The distinction of the final consonant from that of believe developed 15c."The be-, which is not a natural prefix of nouns, was prefixed on the analogy of the vb. (where it is naturally an intensive) .... [OED]

Belief used to mean "trust in God," while faith meant "loyalty to a person based on promise or duty" (a sense preserved in keep one's faith, in good (or bad) faith and in common usage of faithful, faithless, which contain no notion of divinity). But faith, as cognate of L. fides, took on the religious sense beginning in 14c. translations, and belief had by 16c. become limited to "mental acceptance of something as true," from the religious use in the sense of "things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine" (a sense attested from early 13c.).



The tiresome argument that amounts to the old saying, "If God is good, he is not great. If God is great, he is not good," sounds to me more like people who are pissed off with God, not like an argument for an absence of deity.  I ask: He? Great?  Good?  We are the apes who stood upright an hour ago.  Yes, we must make judgments for our daily lives - street safe to cross or Hitler bad for world; but these are hardly objective absolutes but pragmantic judgments also known to rats and roaches. “Anyone who fights with monsters should take care that he does not in the process become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

An ultimare being either is or is not.  Making judgments about what such a being should or should not be doing reminds me of the proverbial comment by a son of his father's daily prayers at table. "I got tired of hearing my father try to tell God how to run the universe." If their is an ultimate Being, it must certainly be beyond our comprehension. This, of course, doesn't say anything about prayer or the right to make our own value judgments about life.  It does render such in more proper perspective.

“Belief started to be about ideas instead of practice after the scientific revolution, the Protestant Reformation, and the Council of Trent. Catholics never went quite as far as the Protestants in this because Trent was still very concerned with ritual-tidying up the liturgy and telling people to go to Mass.
”Religion is a practical form of knowledge. You learn by doing it, like dancing or driving or swimming. You can't learn to swim by reading a text; you just have to get into the pool and flap around until you acquire the knack. It takes years of disciplined, dedicated hard work before a dancer can move with grace, but if she works at it, she can take human movement into a new sphere.” Karen Armstrong

Intelligence – loosely defined – may be characteristic of complexity at all levels.  Stephen Wolfram – no friend of religion – observes, “In ontology (theory of being) the Principle of Computational Equivalence implies that special components are vastly less necessary than might have been thought. For it shows that all sorts of sophisticated characteristics can emerge from the very same kinds of simple components. (My discussion of fundamental …also suggests that no separate entities beyond simple rules are needed to capture space, time or matter.) Arguments in several areas of philosophy involve in effect considering fundamentally different intelligences. But the Principle of Computational Equivalence implies that in fact above a certain threshold there is an ultimate equivalence between possible intelligences. In addition, the Principle of Computational Equivalence implies that all sorts of systems in nature and elsewhere will inevitably exhibit features that in the past have been considered unique to intelligence - and this has consequences for the mind-body problem, the question of free will, and recognition of other minds. It has often been thought that traditional logic - and to some extent mathematics - are somehow fundamentally special and provide in a sense unique foundations. But the Principle of Computational Equivalence implies that in fact there are a huge range of other formal systems, equivalent in their ultimate richness, but different in their details, and in the questions to which they naturally lead.” Why this would apply less to Reality as a whole than to mental processes, let alone some of the alternatives Wolfram references, I can’t imagine.
The problem with surveys of religious beliefs is they really don’t ask the most meaningful questions.  One European-wide survey asked “Are you absolutely certain that God Exists?”  -- I imagine that an avatar or ipsissimus of the Krishnamurti stature might be able to give a confident answer, but certainty on a question so stated is guaranteed to get a lot of “nos”.  Certainty is not part of the human condition, about pretty much everything. What is being detected here is the obvious – the young pay less attention to questions of ultimates than the older, generally speaking – one must have some experience with mortality and infirmity and uncertainty about the future to be motivated to have much of an opinion.  

There is a gross failure to distinguish between spirituality – which, imho, is growing in strength, and organized religion which, where it retreats into fundamentalism and obligations rather than spiritual sustenance and experience (not universal, but common in traditional Western Religions) increasingly loses its attraction, especially for the young.
 “Unaffiliated” doesn’t mean unspiritual…it means that the traditional religions are offering form, not substance. As the survey notes “, many of the country's 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), more than a third classify themselves as "spiritual" but not "religious" (37%), and one in five say they pray every day (21%).”

Interestingly, the oft-connected question of survival of bodily death and the existence of a deity or deities are linked, as if they were the same question.  Dispite Christianity's emphasis on belief=immortality=necessity of belief, one can be interested in survival without any religious viewes.  Indeed, though we note the startling similarity between what are called "religious experiences" and reported Near Death Experiences, as Noyes, Fenwick, Holden and Christrian note, of a disproportionate number of NDE experiencers, "Their increased spirituality did not necessarily translate into greater participation in organized religious activities.  Indeed, some NDErs reported that these activities seemed less meaningful..." (Handbook of Near Death Experiences, p.48)
 The 'spiritual, not relious' are not best characterized as “nones” but rather as non-traditional.  Even the survey of “more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public)” (in a population of 300 million people 94%) is probably not a growing number of such but perhaps a larger number ‘coming out’ in a more permissive society.  Further, there are vast differences between the proposition that one does not know what Ultimate Truth (if any) there is – in a sense we are all “agnostics” – and some agnostics – such as the American Humanist movement or the Society for Ethical Culture are religions, just not deist religions.  “Atheists” also takes in a range of opinion, from organized (or merely militant) opponents of a belief in a deity or deities as wrong and harmful, to people who are really just angry with God (real or otherwise), but, in a certain sense, all Buddhists are atheists, but many Buddhists are religious, simply not thinking that religion is about some ultimate cosmic Being.  Are they ‘atheists’ or are they religious?  In reality, they are both.  One point underplayed – and it is true in Africa, Europe and the USA, the fastest growing organized religion by far is Islam.  The implications of this fact are vast and consequent.  I’d say the reason is that, while the West putters along with no strong ideology sacred or secular, Islam is clean, clear and appeals at a very very primal level. Nature abhors a vacuum.

What is a spiritual experience, and how does it bear on the subject of the existence of a cosmic being or beings?  Richard Bucke's curious collection over a hundred years ago offers consistent transformative experiences recorded through the ages.  The cultural-specific elements being a given, they are eeriely identical and not inconsistent with Near Death Experiences in modern literature.  
"The year of grace 1654, Monday, 23 November, day of St. Clement, Pope and Martyr. From about half-past ten in the evening until about half-past twelve, midnight, FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers nor of the Wise. Assurance, joy, assurance, feeling, joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ, my God and thy God. Thy God shall be my God. Forgotten of the world and of all except God. He is only found in the ways taught in the Gospel. The sublimity of the human soul. Just Father, the world has not known thee but I have known thee. Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy. I do not separate myself from thee. They left me behind, me a fountain of living water. My God, do not leave me. Let me not be separated from thee eternally. This is eternal life that they should know thee the only true God and him whom thou hast sent. Jesus Christ—Jesus Christ. I have separated myself from him; I have fled, renounced, crucified him. Let me not be forever separated from him. One is saved only by the teaching of the Gospel. Reconciliation total and sweet. Total submission to Jesus Christ and to my director. Continual joy for the days of my life on earth. I shall not forget what you have taught me. Amen." Blaise Pascal 1623–1772



Less raw, but of note, St. Teresa of Avila's effort to describe the experience:
"It will be as well, I think, to explain these locutions of God, and to describe what the soul feels when it receives them, in order that you, my father, may understand the matter; for ever since that time of which I am speaking, when our Lord granted me that grace, it has been an ordinary occurrence until now, as will appear by what I have yet to say.
"The words are very distinctly formed; but by the bodily ear they are not heard. They are, however, much more clearly understood than they would be if they were heard by the ear. It is impossible not to understand them, whatever resistance we may offer. When we wish not to hear anything in this world, we can stop our ears, or give attention to something else: so that, even if we do hear, at least we can refuse to understand. In this locution of God addressed to the soul there is no escape, for in spite of ourselves we must listen; and the understanding must apply itself so thoroughly to the comprehension of that which God wills we should hear, that it is nothing to the purpose whether we will it or not; for it is His will, Who can do all things."

Compare Carl Jung's account of his NDE -- "In a hospital in Switzerland in 1944, the world-renowned psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, had a heart attack and then a near-death experience.The following is an excerpt from his autobiography entitled Memories, Dreams, Reflections describing his near-death experience:"
It seemed to me that I was high up in space. Far below I saw the globe of the Earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light. I saw the deep blue sea and the continents.  Far below my feet lay Ceylon, and in the distance ahead of me the subcontinent of India. My field of vision did not include the whole Earth, but its global shape was plainly distinguishable and its outlines shone with a silvery gleam through that wonderful blue light. In many places the globe seemed colored, or spotted dark green like oxidized silver. Far away to the left lay a broad expanse - the reddish-yellow desert of Arabia; it was as though the silver of the Earth had there assumed a reddish-gold hue. Then came the Red Sea, and far, far back - as if in the upper left of a map - I could just make out a bit of the Mediterranean. My gaze was directed chiefly toward that. Everything else appeared indistinct. I could also see the snow-covered Himalayas, but in that direction it was foggy or cloudy. I did not look to the right at all. I knew that I was on the point of departing from the Earth.



Later I discovered how high in space one would have to be to have so extensive a view - approximately a thousand miles!  The sight of the Earth from this height was the most glorious thing I had ever seen.
After contemplating it for a while, I turned around. I had been standing with my back to the Indian Ocean, as it were, and my face to the north. Then it seemed to me that I made a turn to the south. Something new entered my field of vision. A short distance away I saw in space a tremendous dark block of stone, like a meteorite. It was about the size of my house, or even bigger. It was floating in space, and I myself was floating in space.
I had seen similar stones on the coast of the Gulf of Bengal. They were blocks of tawny granite, and some of them had been hollowed out into temples. My stone was one such gigantic dark block. An entrance led into a small antechamber. To the right of the entrance, a black Hindu sat silently in lotus posture upon a stone bench. He wore a white gown, and I knew that he expected me. Two steps led up to this antechamber, and inside, on the left, was the gate to the temple. Innumerable tiny niches, each with a saucer-like concavity filled with coconut oil and small burning wicks, surrounded the door with a wreath of bright flames. I had once actually seen this when I visited the Temple of the Holy Tooth at Kandy in Ceylon; the gate had been framed by several rows of burning oil lamps of this sort.
As I approached the steps leading up to the entrance into the rock, a strange thing happened: I had the feeling that everything was being sloughed away; everything I aimed at or wished for or thought, the whole phantasmagoria of earthly existence, fell away or was stripped from me - an extremely painful process. Nevertheless something remained; it was as if I now carried along with me everything I had ever experienced or done, everything that had happened around me. I might also say: it was with me, and I was it. I consisted of all that, so to speak. I consisted of my own history and I felt with great certainty: this is what I am. I am this bundle of what has been and what has been accomplished.
This experience gave me a feeling of extreme poverty, but at the same time of great fullness. There was no longer anything I wanted or desired. I existed in an objective form; I was what I had been and lived. At first the sense of annihilation predominated, of having been stripped or pillaged; but suddenly that became of no consequence.
Everything seemed to be past; what remained was a "fait accompli", without any reference back to what had been. There was no longer any regret that something had dropped away or been taken away. On the contrary: I had everything that I was, and that was everything.
Something else engaged my attention: as I approached the temple I had the certainty that I was about to enter an illuminated room and would meet there all those people to whom I belong in reality. There I would at last understand - this too was a certainty - what historical nexus I or my life fitted into. I would know what had been before me, why I had come into being, and where my life was flowing. My life as I lived it had often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and end. I had the feeling that I was a historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing. My life seemed to have been snipped out of a long chain of events, and many questions had remained unanswered. Why had it taken this course? Why had I brought these particular assumptions with me? What had I made of them? What will follow? I felt sure that I would receive an answer to all the questions as soon as I entered the rock temple. There I would meet the people who knew the answer to my question about what had been before and what would come after.
While I was thinking over these matters, something happened that caught my attention. From below, from the direction of Europe, an image floated up. It was my doctor, or rather, his likeness - framed by a golden chain or a golden laurel wreath. I knew at once: 'Aha, this is my doctor, of course, the one who has been treating me. But now he is coming in his primal form. In life he was an avatar of the temporal embodiment of the primal form, which has existed from the beginning. Now he is appearing in that primal form.'
Presumably I too was in my primal form, though this was something I did not observe but simply took for granted. As he stood before me, a mute exchange of thought took place between us. The doctor had been delegated by the Earth to deliver a message to me, to tell me that there was a protest against my going away. I had no right to leave the Earth and must return. The moment I heard that, the vision ceased.
I was profoundly disappointed, for now it all seemed to have been for nothing. The painful process of defoliation had been in vain, and I was not to be allowed to enter the temple, to join the people in whose company I belonged.
In reality, a good three weeks were still to pass before I could truly make up my mind to live again. I could not eat because all food repelled me. The view of city and mountains from my sickbed seemed to me like a painted curtain with black holes in it, or a tattered sheet of newspaper full of photographs that meant nothing. Disappointed, I thought, "Now I must return to the "box system" again." For it seemed to me as if behind the horizon of the cosmos a three-dimensional world had been artificially built up, in which each person sat by himself in a little box. And now I should have to convince myself all over again that this was important! Life and the whole world struck me as a prison, and it bothered me beyond measure that I should again be finding all that quite in order. I had been so glad to shed it all, and now it had come about that I -  along with everyone else - would again be hung up in a box by a thread.
I felt violent resistance to my doctor because he had brought me back to life. At the same time, I was worried about him. "His life is in danger, for heaven's sake! He has appeared to me in his primal form! When anybody attains this form it means he is going to die, for already he belongs to the "greater company." Suddenly the terrifying thought came to me that the doctor would have to die in my stead. I tried my best to talk to him about it, but he did not understand me. Then I became angry with him.
In actual fact I was his last patient. On April 4, 1944 - I still remember the exact date I was allowed to sit up on the edge of my bed for the first time since the beginning of my illness, and on this same day the doctor took to his bed and did not leave it again. I heard that he was having intermittent attacks of fever. Soon afterward he died of septicernia. He was a good doctor; there was something of the genius about him. Otherwise he would not have appeared to me as an avatar of the temporal embodiment of the primal form.


The Curious Case of EXODUS 3:14
א  וּמֹשֶׁה, הָיָה רֹעֶה אֶת-צֹאן יִתְרוֹ חֹתְנוֹ--כֹּהֵן מִדְיָן; וַיִּנְהַג אֶת-הַצֹּאן אַחַר הַמִּדְבָּר, וַיָּבֹא אֶל-הַר הָאֱלֹהִים חֹרֵבָה.     1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the farthest end of the wilderness, and came to the mountain of God, unto Horeb.
ב  וַיֵּרָא מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה אֵלָיו, בְּלַבַּת-אֵשׁ--מִתּוֹךְ הַסְּנֶה; וַיַּרְא, וְהִנֵּה הַסְּנֶה בֹּעֵר בָּאֵשׁ, וְהַסְּנֶה, אֵינֶנּוּ אֻכָּל.     2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
ג  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה--אָסֻרָה-נָּא וְאֶרְאֶה, אֶת-הַמַּרְאֶה הַגָּדֹל הַזֶּה:  מַדּוּעַ, לֹא-יִבְעַר הַסְּנֶה.     3 And Moses said: 'I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.'
ד  וַיַּרְא יְהוָה, כִּי סָר לִרְאוֹת; וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו אֱלֹהִים מִתּוֹךְ הַסְּנֶה, וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה מֹשֶׁה--וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי.     4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said: 'Moses, Moses.' And he said: 'Here am I.'
ה  וַיֹּאמֶר, אַל-תִּקְרַב הֲלֹם; שַׁל-נְעָלֶיךָ, מֵעַל רַגְלֶיךָ--כִּי הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עוֹמֵד עָלָיו, אַדְמַת-קֹדֶשׁ הוּא.     5 And He said: 'Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.'
ו  וַיֹּאמֶר, אָנֹכִי אֱלֹהֵי אָבִיךָ, אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם אֱלֹהֵי יִצְחָק, וֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב; וַיַּסְתֵּר מֹשֶׁה, פָּנָיו, כִּי יָרֵא, מֵהַבִּיט אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים.     6 Moreover He said: 'I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
ז  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, רָאֹה רָאִיתִי אֶת-עֳנִי עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר בְּמִצְרָיִם; וְאֶת-צַעֲקָתָם שָׁמַעְתִּי מִפְּנֵי נֹגְשָׂיו, כִּי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת-מַכְאֹבָיו.     7 And the LORD said: 'I have surely seen the affliction of My people that are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their pains;
ח  וָאֵרֵד לְהַצִּילוֹ מִיַּד מִצְרַיִם, וּלְהַעֲלֹתוֹ מִן-הָאָרֶץ הַהִוא, אֶל-אֶרֶץ טוֹבָה וּרְחָבָה, אֶל-אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ--אֶל-מְקוֹם הַכְּנַעֲנִי, וְהַחִתִּי, וְהָאֱמֹרִי וְהַפְּרִזִּי, וְהַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי.     8 and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
ט  וְעַתָּה, הִנֵּה צַעֲקַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָה אֵלָי; וְגַם-רָאִיתִי, אֶת-הַלַּחַץ, אֲשֶׁר מִצְרַיִם, לֹחֲצִים אֹתָם.     9 And now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto Me; moreover I have seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
י  וְעַתָּה לְכָה, וְאֶשְׁלָחֲךָ אֶל-פַּרְעֹה; וְהוֹצֵא אֶת-עַמִּי בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִמִּצְרָיִם.     10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt.'
יא  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה, אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים, מִי אָנֹכִי, כִּי אֵלֵךְ אֶל-פַּרְעֹה; וְכִי אוֹצִיא אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִמִּצְרָיִם.     11 And Moses said unto God: 'Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?'
יב  וַיֹּאמֶר, כִּי-אֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ, וְזֶה-לְּךָ הָאוֹת, כִּי אָנֹכִי שְׁלַחְתִּיךָ:  בְּהוֹצִיאֲךָ אֶת-הָעָם, מִמִּצְרַיִם, תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת-הָאֱלֹהִים, עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה.     12 And He said: 'Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be the token unto thee, that I have sent thee: when thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.'
יג  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים, הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי בָא אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאָמַרְתִּי לָהֶם, אֱלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם; וְאָמְרוּ-לִי מַה-שְּׁמוֹ, מָה אֹמַר אֲלֵהֶם.     13 And Moses said unto God: 'Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them: The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me: What is His name? what shall I say unto them?'
יד  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה; וַיֹּאמֶר, כֹּה תֹאמַר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶהְיֶה, שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם.     14 And God said unto Moses: 'I AM THAT I AM'; and He said: 'Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: I AM hath sent me unto you.'
טו  וַיֹּאמֶר עוֹד אֱלֹהִים אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, כֹּה-תֹאמַר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵיכֶם אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם אֱלֹהֵי יִצְחָק וֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב, שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם; זֶה-שְּׁמִי לְעֹלָם, וְזֶה זִכְרִי לְדֹר דֹּר.     15 And God said moreover unto Moses: 'Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you; this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations.
 Moses, be it noted, is an Egyptian name, and the Exodus, though persistent in the Hebrew Scriptures, is unlikley to have been a single event, but probably represents a conflation of a series of events from the expulsion of the Canaanite Hyksos ( Egyptian heqa khasewet) from Lower Egypt (circa 1560 BCE), down through disaffected marginalized escapees from the dying  Canaanite cities of the late Bronze Age (frequently under Egyptian Authority)  to the remote Judean Highlands (circa 13th century BCE or earlier).  But the specific core episode of the Burning Bush is clearly a mystical experience, resembling all other such experiences, whether it happened to  the semi-mythic Moses or is simply grafted onto the Exodus story.
Here it gets interesting.  Asked who or what it is, the voice says - uniquely in the Hebrew Scriptures, 'ehyah-asher-ehyah' inadequately and frequently translated 'I am that I am'.  The Jewish Publication Society in their 1917 edition went along with this uncomfrotable translation.  By the time the JPS applied modern post Qumram translation skills (1960s on) they gave up and simnply transliterated the Hebrew as "Ehyah-Asher-Ehyah". A mexchanical translation yields:" and~he~will~SAY    Elohiym [Power~s]    TO    Mosheh [Plucked.out]    I~will~EXIST    WHICH    I~will~EXIST    and~he~will~SAY    IN-THIS-WAY    you(ms)~will~SAY    to~SON~s Yisra'el [he~will~turns.aside El]    Ehyeh [i~will~exist]    he~did~SEND~me    TO~you(mp) ". Clarke's Commentary struggles with it:; "I am that I am - אהיה אשר אהיה Eheyeh asher Eheyeh. These words have been variously understood. The Vulgate translates Ego Sum Qui Sum, I am who am. The Septuagint, ֵדש וילי ן̔ ם, I am he who exists. The Syriac, the Persic, and the Chaldee preserve the original words without any gloss. The Arabic paraphrases them, The Eternal, who passes not away; which is the same interpretation given by Abul Farajius, who also preserves the original words, and gives the above as their interpretation. The Targum of Jonathan, and the Jerusalem Targum paraphrase the words thus: "He who spake, and the world was; who spake, and all things existed." As the original words literally signify, I will be what I will be..."

But the words carry the connotation "Existence Becoming Existence"  and the bare bones story is a man is in the desert, sees a vision which is inherently physically impossible (represented as a bush that burns but is not consumed, an 'eternal light'), hears a voice, asks who or what it is, and it says it/he is "Existance Becoming Existence" and that is the true name for all times.  The man is transformed by the experience.  Again it is the core mystical experience, told and retold as a core experience of the myth dream of Ancient Israel and, by extention, of the Monotheistic West.

    God, to me, it seems,
    is a verb,
    not a noun,
    proper or improper.
        Buckminister Fuller (1963)

Not to be outdone, the brilliant Richard Buckminster Fuller (12 July 1895 – 1 July 1983)  the American philosopher, systems theorist, architect, and inventor, known to many of his friends and fans as "Bucky" Fuller. He created and popularized terms such as "Spaceship Earth", ephemeralization, and synergetics, said pretty much the same of himself and all human beings, " I live on Earth at present, and I don't know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe." ( I Seem to Be a Verb, 1970). He also developed numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, the most famous of which is the geodesic dome.

Its interesting enough that in terms of biological time, let alone geological ntime, let alone since the Event that set the universe in motion, we just a moment ago climbed down out of the trees, stood upright a nanosecond ago, and try to figure out the nature of our own highly complexc minds, much less the consciousness or blindness of the interconnected and incredibly mind booglingly complex universe. Drawing conclusions about either us or it seems - I'd say, a bit premature.  
"There are moments of sentimental and mystical experience . . . that carry an enormous sense of inner authority and illumination with them when they come. But they come seldom, and they do not come to everyone; and the rest of life makes either no connection with them, or tends to contradict them more than it confirms them. Some persons follow more the voice of the moment in these cases, some prefer to be guided by the average results. Hence the sad discordancy of so many of the spiritual judgments of human beings; a discordancy which will be brought home to us acutely enough before these lectures end." William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience  Lecture I, "Religion and Neurology"



Guess What's Really Reshaping America?
by David Frum Oct 9, 2012 8:22 AM EDT
Here is an evolution so dramatic and significant as almost to qualify as a revolution.
Pew Forum reports that one in five Americans now disavows a religious affiliation. Among under 30s, one in three disavows a religious affiliation.
The unaffiliated have jumped from 15% to 20% in just the past five years.
Whenever you hear people say that "Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States," remember that's only true if you exclude "no religion" as a religious category. Otherwise, "no religion" is far and away the fastest growing - and the one with the most potential to reshape American society in the 21st century.
David Frum is a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Daily Beast and a CNN contributor.
For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.



“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”

― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.”
― Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception

"Ride the snake, ride the snake
To the lake, the ancient lake, baby
The snake is long, seven miles
Ride the snake...he's old, and his skin is cold

source click here



Footnote - The Hebrew Scriptures
Having been raised in - and being comfortable with - Reform Judaism, a decidedly non-fundamentalist version of Jewishness, I tend to look at The Tanakh (Hebrew: תַּנַ"ךְ) - The Hebrew Scriptures (usually meaning the Masoretic Text plus - as its full implications have become clearer - the impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the discoveries in modern times of archeological artifacts and Egyptian and Mesopotamian parallels) as something akin to the relationship of the classical Greeks to the Iiiad plus perhaps The Constitution of the Athenians (or Athenaion Politeia, or The Athenian constitution; Greek: Ἀθηναίων πολιτεία), or The Mesopotamian relationship to the Code of Hammurabi about (1772 BCE) and The Epic of Gilgamesh.  In short, the Hebrew Scriptures are the worked and reworked Jewish civilization foundational epic, not more, but not less, mostly dating in more-or-less current form back 2500 years with elements far older as well.  In short, the Hebrew Scriptures are the worked and reworked Jewish civilization foundational epic, not more, but not less, mostly dating in more-or-less current form back 2500 years with elements far older as well. It represents the poetry, laws. culture, ethics, history, legends and struggles towards epistimology of a people from their earliest beginnings through the first of many national tragedies and its immediate aftermath. The difference is the ancient civilizations of Greece and Babylon are gone, Jewish civilization has continued without interruption, layer upon layer to the present day, perhaps because of how it handled the aftermath of national tragedy - the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles.
The difference is the ancient civilizations of Greece and Babylon are gone, Jewish civilization has continued without interruption, layer upon layer to the present day. Arnold Toynbee famously and with some distaste, in , The Study of History, explored the rise and fall of not less than 21 civilizations. He found the Jewish People to be an historical anomaly.  
In this light, Apocryphal books like the  book of Jesus son of Sirach, Judith, Tobias and others are simply later, less foundational texts or "writings" (only chance seems to have made Daniel and Esther - the latter the only book of the courrent Hebrew canon not found in the Dead Sea cache- included.) Some apocalypses and Gnostic texts, earlier and later, are best seen as mystical or mystery texts of a stand-alone sort, and, in this view, only the almost certainly early and authentic Letters of Paul, aimed at Greeks and Jews and far more successful with Greeks and ultimately Romans, have given what became the canonical New Testament from being additional apocryphal texts of the late Second Temple period and early Second Exile period.  How The First Book of the Maccabees did not wind up in the Hebrew canon (it was written in Hebrew shoretly after the events it describes) probably has to do with the ambiguity in Second Temple Judaism about the Hasmonean Dynasty.





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