Ponderable Aspects of God

While in a classroom with other students, I made a statement the ensuing argument prevented me from setting straight. The 40% tolerance for accuracy I quoted for carbon dating tests (1/6/76) was arrived at as follows: I have read literary arguments presented in several articles and books by various authors, stating tolerances as varied as anyone could imagine, anywhere from 10 to 40%, depending on the writer. (I am also under the impression that newer techniques have been devised with something like +/- 15% accuracy, depending on materials and circumstances). Paying attention to publishing dates, and making an effort to discern an author’s viewpoint, were items I had not yet learned to regard as important.

Now: to reject a scientific concept—one approved by actual scientists—without learning as much as one can about it and trying it out however one can, seems to me dishonest. So, just because it seems questionable to certain people (as all concepts seem questionable to somebody, really), and because no testable, better alternative has ever been announced, I felt the most honest approach would be to accept the loosest tolerance as valid for my own considerations, since it would include the others. I would, by effect, understand the tightest tolerance as “pro”, the loosest as “against”, and the middle as “cautiously noncommittal”.

Choosing the most honest approach should, arguably, yield results closest to trustworthy, which is what we should desire. So, is a 40% tolerance too loose to be useful? The honest approach requires us to try it out instead of poo-pooing it with no kind of test. What, after all, do we have to fear? Is the possibility that we might learn something that much of a threat? Why be dishonest?

(Ref: www.bradshawfoundation.com/herto_skulls.php ) If the oldest human skull has been aged at 160thousand years, how far wrong can that be​? Pondering it, I used the loosest tolerance to figure a range of 96 to 224thousand years. If science ages the Earth at 4.5 million years and the universe at 12-13billion years, but my religion tells me the whole shebang was created 3,400 years ago, how do I resolve that? Even if I decide that Eve and Adam (or, Lilith and Adam) stayed clear of the Tree of Knowledge for 13billion years (or, 5.2billion at minimum) so they could live that long, from where can anyone concoct even a hint of substantiation?

My teacher makes a habit of demanding proof that what we say in class is true. This puts the would-be speaker in a dilemma if “proof” requires equipment or materials beyond his means, or he talked about his subjective concerns. The subjective, being about the contents of our own minds, cannot be made available as objective “proof” beyond the fact that he was talking about it. That gives us firsthand information that always requires verification; it must never be accepted as proof.

Proof is “that which convinces”. Taken to their roots, no concepts are ultimately provable. They can only be validated with evidence or inferred. Because science makes no claims beyond the measurable and ponderable (scientists and publicists are not “science”—beware your sources!), science makes no determinations about abstract ideals or beliefs.

While those schools of thought we refer to as “religious” do deal with with the imponderable and immeasurable, they also claim divine right to determine the concrete nature of existence. To claim divine right, they are saying, “God has spoken and determined this: [‘What a god named God is said to have told someone.’] Being immaterial, God has no demonstrable, ponderable existence. Still, can we not ask, “What of the soul that is the self within us? Is that also immaterial? We know it exists. Everybody recognizes it within themselves and others as being their own unique selves among others much the same.” I have arrived at a conclusion that a soul separate from the self obfuscates the issue and fails to support all claims on life beyond the grave. Beyond that, I find it easy to agree with the many depictions in the Bible of the spirit as “the breath of life.”

For whatever it’s worth, science finds its own immaterial god in mathematics. Among the many differences that make science’s the superior god are:

  • Universal direct interpretation between cultures.

  • A powerful god all can follow with no need for threats.

  • Built-in methods of verification.

  • Easy to understand basics eliminates need for dangerous priests.

  • Does not require missionaries to make its value obvious.

  • Requires no preachers to keep the flocks in line.

  • Honored by all levels of society.

Yet, by any believable standards for existence, numbers, the stuff of mathematics, being immaterial, do not exist. From my own viewpoint, considering everything else I have done, I do not think I am being ridiculous. It seems plain that, since all of humanity harbors their own beliefs about gods while maintaining reasonable consistency in mathematics, that all of us are polytheists, blasphemers, or heretics. The important difference between gods and numbers is that which gives numbers their power and defines the weakness of gods, that disparity in calculating numbers can be resolved by finding a mistake, whereas no gods have ever been found to direct uniform arrival at a resolution. God-speak stays open to interpretation and tampering, spawns apologia, which spawns new cults, which become the basis for new cultures and subcultures. That shows why god-speak became divisive and weakening (divide to conquer) while mathematics enables stability and solidarity (unify and activate to strengthen).

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

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Memetics

Sometimes scientists seem obliged to ask silly and deceitful-sounding questions. We must keep in mind that real scientists have spent the better part of a decade or longer going to school to learn to ask those irritating questions, and argue for and against what seem like idiotic viewpoints, however much they may remind us of certain seven year old children. Those questions are part of a ritual that belongs to a necessary ongoing process as a series of events they must perform whenever new subject matter has been presented to their midst. Once they have determined for themselves if it is important enough to bother, then rid themselves of all the ghosts that might rise up from hidden closets to bite them, and beaten the bushes free of all the goblins they suspect to be hidden there, they can then get on to more important matters. Memetics, being somewhat new, is still undergoing that process.

For science to develop memes about memes, they must undergo a process that, because it may be seen as self-referencing, could become particularly hazardous. They could screw it up with one brief statement that would take a hundred years to get undone. Look at what happened to hedonism just because Epicurus lacked the concepts found in modern medicine and biology, and so failed to assemble a complete and cogent picture. This could be one of the most important topics to undergo scientific scrutiny since the inception of evolution, and has stirred up its share of quiet, almost surreptitious controversy. A growing number of books and papers have been published but, still, very few members of the public-at-large have ever heard anything about memes or memetics.

Of those who have, a large percentage feel threatened and defensive. I recall reading a page on the Internet that a person purporting to be a Buddhist had written, describing Buddhism as being ‘not a meme’ because Buddhists do not proselytize and coerce others into joining their ranks or go to wars against members of other religions. I appreciated his statements, and enjoyed the pleasant company I have shared with Buddhists in my lifetime. Still, Buddhism is a imemeplex (as Susan Blackmore named packets of memes, or meme-complexes) that, because it does not so deeply incite emotions, is simply less viral than other religious beliefs. Proselytization or not, people still accredit information about it, and adopt it if it fits their needs along with memes already hosted.

In spite of Susan Blackmore’s effort to discredit the idea of contagious memes, being viral is not necessarily a bad trait. It is, in fact, a one-word description of memes that have become effective at the act of replication, which is what memes do. Memes become contagious, or they die out. They have no choice in the matter. Memes become viral because they attract humans to ‘catch’ them, and so, good or bad, they must appeal to human nature to succeed, or learn to ride in a passive way on the backs of other memes. Our heads get full of them, both symbiotic and parasitic, because most are contagious.

In their efforts to justify and limit memetics to the notion of acquiring them only by obvious acts of imitation, previous writers appear to have gone out of their ways to nullify the value of innovation in the generation of memes. Surely we cannot disagree they are passed on by imitation, but where do they come from? The argument so far has allowed mutated mistakes or trial and error to be responsible for the creation of all new memes, and saying the large brains we possess were developed because we needed them only for the complicated processes involved in doing imitations.

Most of evolution has advanced not in a smooth flow like imitation/mutation would exhibit, these people are quick to alert us, but in wide plateaus with unexpected changes. Why should the evolution of memetics be different from the rest of existence? I will acknowledge we build upon all that has gone before, and use the tools we already possess for the purpose of making new kinds of tools, but have none of these people ever set down in a quiet place to do the pondering required for an act of innovation? Does living in an ivory loft so insulate one from the vagaries most of us face in life that they do not know how much easier simple imitation is, than to come up with an original solution to a difficulty one is facing?-to ask the question, “How do I deal with this?” and contrive a unique answer derived from what we already know? Protected people may never have experienced that process and realized the joy that accompanies its success. My diplomas are written in the lines formed on my tired bare hands, exactly the way of most common folks with whom I’ve worked. Few of us would trade lives with any of those who devalue ours, when their pronouncements seem to so strongly indicate their humdrum lack of real experiences. C’mon, people, liven up!

Blackmore pointed out that making tools by trial and error is not an easy undertaking, and that people could be taught the various required tasks. So, who was the first teacher?-an innovator? Someone had to figure them all out at the beginning, even if one step at a time: Would not the first person to cogitate relationships and realize the possibilities of designing and forming a stone tool be the one using the most brain power? It would seem apparent at first blush, but the argument will be that he or she merely imitated stones found in nature that worked to perform a task. Okay, then: Who had the brain power?-the first one to observe how to make a certain stone perform a task, even if by accident?-or those who first learned the tasks required to make copies?-or those to whom they taught their innovative new skills? How about those doing advanced work that required tools in the first place? This may seem like nit-picking, but I have a point to make later on that involves the evolution of events and processes, and I want you to be able to come back here and pick out the steps involved in the origination of memes and see that they are a natural occurrence and a necessary step that evolution must take as a iiblind force working toward its apparent goal.

i I would as soon stick with the common term ‘program’ as I would to go along with all the contrived names. Applied to systems of thought generated by combinations of memes, it serves as well as it always has done when memes, unrecognized as such, were referred to by other names.

ii John David Garcia has passed on now and his books are out of print. If you can get a copy of his works, grab it. While I harbor doubt about many of his ideas, my thoughts here were derived from The Moral Society. He also wrote a book about Psychotherapy, and one entitled Creative Transformation; a Practical Guide for Maximizing Creativity. ISBN 1-87826-001-4. Refer to: http://www.see.org/