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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pulp Fiction: The Sun Gods


When early humans looked at the sky and tried to make sense of the bright, shiny objects they saw there, they imagined that they were mystical beings, other non-earthly powers which must be influencing the earth in some way. As humans tried to make sense of these objects, their composition, nature and intent, so began the human centric and geocentric processes of theriomorphism, zoomorphism, anthropomorphism and personification.

Early humans interpreted the skies according to their needs, desires, wants, hopes and fears. That humans would personify and anthropomorphise the world through their personal or collective needs and wants is understandable and logical. Afterall, we cannot see the world through any interpretation except that of being a human, with all the limitations that that implies. So humans see the world through a process of "human centric tunnel vision".

The two "heavenly bodies" first worhipped by early humans were the moon and the sun. (The Egyptian god Horus had a hawk-like head with two eyes which represented the sun and the moon.) Whereas veneration of the moon was at its height during the hunting era, when humans progressed to an agrarian age, sun worship became the chief religious ceremony. As mankind further progressed with the observation of the skies, constellations were mapped and also attributed with powers which astrologers claimed influenced the lives of humankind. Observing the stars, the planets and the space in which these objects rested, (the heavens), was the realm of astrologers, necromancers, shamans, augurs, fortunetellers, druids, magi, seers, soothsayers and eventually, with the beginnings of the scientific process, astronomers.

A sun god is a god or goddess who represents the sun, or an aspect of it. People have worshipped the sun and solar deities for all of recorded history. Sun worship is also known as heliolatry. Hence, many beliefs and legends have been formed around this worship, most notably the various myths containing the "missing sun" motif from around the world. The "missing sun" motif is a theme in the myths of various cultures. It may have served to explain the disappearance of the sun at night. In Egyptian mythology, Ra passes through Duat (the underworld) every night. Apep has to be defeated in the darkness hours for Ra and his solar barge to emerge in the east each morning. In Japanese mythology, the sun goddess Amaterasu is angered by the behavior of her brother, Susanoo, and hides herself in a cave, plunging the world into darkness. In Norse mythology, both the gods Odin and Tyr have attributes of a sky father, and they are doomed to be devoured by wolves (Fenrir and Garm, respectively) at Ragnarok. Sol, the Norse sun goddess, will be devoured by the wolf Skoll.

The "missing sun motif" is probably the first religious indication of the concept of dualism. That is, an all powerful object or natural pheneomenum (the sun or daylight), is embued with holy supernatural characteristics in a continual combat against another powerful opposite, (the moon or night time.) The Roman Empire celebrated a festival of the birthday of the Unconquered Sun (or Dies Natalis Solis Invicti). This was celebrated when the duration of daylight first began to increase after the winter solstice, which was considered to be the "rebirth" of the sun. This religious title applied to at least three distinct divinities during the later Roman Empire: El Gabal, Mithras, and Sol. December 25 was also considered to be the date of the winter solstice, which the Romans called bruma. It was therefore the day the Sun proved itself to be "unconquered" despite the shortening of daylight hours. The Sol Invictus festival has a "strong claim on the responsibility" for the date of Christmas, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. Solar symbolism was popular with early Christian writers as Jesus was considered to be the "sun of righteousness."

Sun worship is a possible origin of henotheism and ultimately monotheism. In ancient Egypt's Eighteenth Dynasty, Akhenaten used the Aten solar deity as a symbol of a single god. The ancient concept of a solar barge, the sun as traversing the sky in a boat, is found in ancient Egypt, with Ra and Horus. The use of the title Sol Invictus allowed several solar deities to be worshipped collectively, In Germanic mythology this is Sol, in Vedic Surya and in Greek Helios and Apollo. The Mesopotamian god Shamash, plays an important role during the Bronze Age, and "my Sun" is eventually used as an address to royalty. Similarly, South American cultures have worshipped the sun god, Inti.

Christian iconography adopted some of the artistic language of the religions which preceeded it. The depiction of Christ with a halo relates to late antiquity usage, but the radiated crown also appears and some of the earliest christian iconography uses the "sun burst motif". According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, an article on Constantine the Great: "Besides, the Sol Invictus had been adopted by the Christians in a Christian sense, as demonstrated in the Christ as Apollo-Helios in a mausoleum (c. 250) discovered beneath St. Peter's in the Vatican." From the beginning of the 3rd century "Sun of Justice" appears as a title of Christ. According to the Syriac bishop Jacob Bar-Salibi, writing in the twelfth century: "It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the "true Nativity" (my emphasis), should be solemnised on that day."

It is sometimes forgotten that the early Christians associated Jesus with the Sun. Among the church fathers, Cyprian speaks of Christ as Sol Verus, the "true sun," and Ambrose names him Sol Novus Noster, "our new sun". An interesting fact revealed in the old Roman calendars is that on the 25th of December each year they commemorated the new birth of Sol Invictus, the "unconquered sun." Cyprian invokes Christus Sol verus, and Ambrose Sol novus noster. Such sun symbolism was widespread. These early Christians used many hymns addressed to the Christ-Sun or to the Christos-Spirit, or to the Logos or Word. These terms were taken from the ancient Greek Mysteries; and the composition of these hymns, and the words could easily be construed as hymns to the sun. Which indeed was exactly what they were.

For example, the following verse from one such hymn:
Verusque Sol, illabere,
Micans nitore perpeti,
Jubarque Sancti Spiritus
Infunde nostris sensibus!(467)
That is to say:
O Thou, REAL Sun,
infill us,Shining with perpetual light!
Splendor of the holy (Cosmic) Spirit
Pervade our minds!

This is an early hymn to the Christ-Sun, used as late as the seventh century of the Christian Era and was probably in use for centuries.


'The Sun Gods'

(Contains some adult language)


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Link

48 Comments:

Anonymous Gadfly said...

RE: Early humans interpreted the skies according to their needs, desires, wants, hopes and fears. That humans would personify and anthropomorphise the world through their personal or collective needs and wants is understandable and logical.

What if the tendency of man to anthropomorphize the world around them is in fact the way it is supposed to be? What if a personal, creating God built man, male and female, in His own image so that by seeing anthropomorphic parallels in the world around him he was in fact seeing something of the God who was behind it?

When we observe that something "is" - in this case that man has a tendency to anthropomorphize - it does not answer the question "is this the way things should be?" with either a "yes" or a "no."

To criticize this tendency or to say that we should move away from it requires some justification, in terms of prudential or meritorious possibilities that might accrue.

11/3/07 11:02 pm  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Gadfly, there were a lot more gaps as you go back further in time.
2000 years ago, they couldn't explain lightning, so God must have done it.

BeepX2, they should have played "Walking On Sunshine" in the background of the Sun Gods video.

12/3/07 2:15 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
What if a personal, creating God built man, male and female, in His own image so that by seeing anthropomorphic parallels in the world around him he was in fact seeing something of the God who was behind it?
Seeing the vast pantheon of pantheists, polytheists, animists, shamanists, etc., I'll have to say:
BIG MISTAKE, then.
Oh well, nobody's perfect. Especially that cosmic babysitter.

12/3/07 7:17 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Gadfly:

RE: "What if the tendency of man to anthropomorphize the world around them is in fact the way it is supposed to be? What if a personal, creating God built man, male and female, in His own image so that by seeing anthropomorphic parallels in the world around him he was in fact seeing something of the God who was behind it?"

Then the process wouldn't be anthropomorphic. "Anthropomorphic" just means that we attribute human desires, characteristics, attributes, wants and needs onto the natural world and assume that the natural world thinks anf behaves like us.

It is the act of projecting one's own human thoughts and emotions onto the natural world. And then assuming that because mankind thinks this way, that this is how the whole universe thinks, or that the universe is capable of thinking.

What we have begun to understand from biology is that human thoughts are human specific. A cat may have thoughts, but it is consumed by cats thoughts, not human ones. It may believe that the entire universe is a reflection of itself, but this wouldn't make this assumption anymore true than when human beings do it.

A turtle may have thoughts, needs and desires, but its thoughts, needs and desires are turtle ones. "All the thoughts of a turtle are turtle." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The moon, stars, constellations, and the sun (regardless of ancient human beings assuming otherwise), do not have human thoughts, desires, needs or wants. There is no evidence to suggest that these non-living things have thoughts at all. Yet mankind has made thousands of myths about how the inanimate celestial bodies act upon humans with a "human-like" will.

To spend a lifetime assuming that the natural world is a reflection of our own human attributes and characteristics, is a lifetime spent in pandering to one's own human ego. But we do see this in little children, the world revolves around them. The universe doesn't revolve around us. The earth is a speck of dust amongst billions and billions and billions of specks of dust. All of humanity is even less than a speck of dust.

It is only when mankind assumes the position of an interested observer of the natural world; when he takes his desires, needs and wants out of the equation, that he is able to understand how the processes of the natural world work. Once humans realized that anthropomorphzing the natural world could only lead to a limited "understanding" of it, the scientific process was born.

The age of reason was born. I am not going back to the age of superstition, no matter how hard I am prodded.

12/3/07 9:26 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE BEAJ

Yes, I suppose I could have used that music too. I liked the idea of using the "Pulp Fiction Soundtrack" though. Maybe I will make another one with that song as well.

12/3/07 9:27 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Gadfly: Remember the river spirits we talked about a couple of posts ago? They were no longer required to explain the currents as I recall, because we now understand a enough of hydrodynamics to explain this phenomena.

Same thing with god, as Beep has so eloquently pointed out. Once we managed to explain what the "holes in the veil of night" (stole that from Raymond E Feist) really are, the need for the spiritism simply vanishes because we now have a reasonable and logical explanation based on hard evidence and fact.

12/3/07 10:09 am  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

Basically anything human beings don't understand, they rely on a "god" as the cause. I believe that is why the christian right is so angry. Each day science discovers something to debunk their beliefs. Pretty soon their "god" will be debunked and then what will they use for an excuse to be so damned mean and hateful.

12/3/07 11:22 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

BBIM
Re: Then the process wouldn't be anthropomorphic. "Anthropomorphic" just means that we attribute human desires, characteristics, attributes, wants and needs onto the natural world and assume that the natural world thinks anf behaves like us.

To anthropomorphize doesn't require that we actually assume that the natural world thinks and behaves like us. It is to understand the world in analogical terms. To say that the world has purpose and meaning is not to ascribe to inanimate objects a sense of their own meaning yet it is to speak about the world in anthropomorphic terms. To say that the fog comes in on little kitty feet is not to believe that the fog has feet.

13/3/07 9:16 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

BBIM:
Re: What we have begun to understand from biology is that human thoughts are human specific.

I am glad biology is catching up. Christians have been saying this for years. A human cannot transcend his/her own limitations. We cannot conceive any thought that is not conditioned by our own experience. That is why human beings cannot conceive of God as He truly is in Himself because He is beyond the realm of space and time. We have no conceptual frame work for actually allowing us to think about that other than in abstractions.

13/3/07 9:20 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

BBIM
Re:
Once humans realized that anthropomorphzing the natural world could only lead to a limited "understanding" of it, the scientific process was born.

That's quite an oversimplification I think. Depending on where you trace the birth of the so-called scientific process I think that you will find that it was not "anthropomorphizing" that posed the barrier but rather the economic/cultural problems of communication (i.e. the printing press) and the introduction of the university system. The roots of both, in Western Civilization, growing out of the impetus of Christianity.

It is silly to think that Medieval Scholars like Thomas Acquinas thought of the external world in the same way that animists did.

13/3/07 9:31 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Ted
I don't think I have ever defended animists nor denied that superstitions and superstitious people existed. To the extent that human beings were and are motivated to give credence to the idea that behind the mysterious things of the universe there lay an unseen world of the Spirit, I have said that comes from a unique quality in man which correctly causes him to ponder that the world of the senses is not all there is.

This pondering is the root of all man-made religious systems. I have said before that such ponderings cannot truly rise to the God who is beyond space and time. That the only way that a true understanding of the Spiritual world can be attained is for that world to make itself known to man (revelation).

13/3/07 9:42 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Ted... continued
So, I think we need some precision in terms but whether we call it "projection" or "anthropromorphizing", within certain limits I do not disagree.

What I do dispute is that just because science can "describe" the world as it is perceived by man, that this is all there is to the world.

13/3/07 9:43 am  
Blogger Dikkii said...

Beep - great post. Very informative. I've often wondered about this thing that humans have for the sun.

One little quibble, though, Aten isn't really an anthropomorphisation as there appears to be little evidence to suggest that human characteristics were ever grafted on to the "sun disc". In fact, describing Aten as a deity appears oversimplistic, as Aten appears to have been merely revered, rather than worshipped. That is, Aten seems to have been more of a glorified 'mascot' than anything else.

Gadfly wrote:

That is why human beings cannot conceive of God as He truly is in Himself because He is beyond the realm of space and time. We have no conceptual frame work for actually allowing us to think about that other than in abstractions.

I think you'll find you're wrong about that. Genesis 1:27

13/3/07 9:57 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

BBIM: "scientific process" - Roger Bacon is probably where we should trace the birth of the modern scientific process (as opposed to the ancients like Aristotle). He lived in the early 1200's and though in trouble with the church he maintained a view of a God centered universe throughout.

13/3/07 10:04 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

dikkii
Gen. 1:27 is a great text... coincidentally I'm preaching on it this Sunday. How does it prove my statement wrong?

13/3/07 10:08 am  
Blogger Dikkii said...

Gadfly wrote:

Gen. 1:27 is a great text... coincidentally I'm preaching on it this Sunday. How does it prove my statement wrong?

Lets look at your statement again.

You said:

That is why human beings cannot conceive of God as He truly is in Himself because He is beyond the realm of space and time. We have no conceptual frame work for actually allowing us to think about that other than in abstractions.

Yet Genesis 1:27 says that:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

This statement unambiguously reinforces the preceding verses whereby God creates man in His image.

Not exactly sure why you still think that we can't conceive of God after this - it pretty much specifies what our conception of God must be.

13/3/07 10:22 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

To have an idea of God, such that He is infinite, etc. is not to know Him "as He is", in other words to know Him as we would know another person with whom we are acquainted.

Humans were created in the image of God and therefore we bear some aspects of Him, some reflections as it were. We are spiritual beings as well as physical. We are thinking, reasoning beings, etc. But God is Spirit, He is not material. He is beyond space and time. We cannot conceive of this. We cannot even grasp the idea of an infinite universe other than to speak of it using the abstract term "infinity."

13/3/07 10:27 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

dikkii - continued

Take an example: If there were a creature who existed on the planet jupiter - we could not conceive of what that creature would look like because we have no frame of reference for thinking about it. The only way we could conceive what that creature might be like is if we actually come in contact with it.

A Being outside space and time lies beyond our capacity to conceive in our mind any understanding of Him other than descriptive terms - i.e. abstractions.

13/3/07 10:32 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "To anthropomorphize doesn't require that we actually assume that the natural world thinks and behaves like us. It is to understand the world in analogical terms."

In religion and mythology, anthropomorphism refers to the perception of a divine being or beings in human form, or the recognition of human qualities in these beings.

Many mythologies are almost entirely concerned with anthropomorphic deities who express human characteristics such as jealousy, hatred, or love.

The Greek gods, such as Zeus and Apollo, were often depicted in human form exhibiting both commendable and despicable human traits.

Numerous sects throughout history have been called anthropomorphites, including a sect in Egypt in the 4th century, and a group in the Roman Catholic Church in the 10th century, who literally interpreted Genesis chapter 1, verse 27: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

From the perspective of adherents of religions in which the deity or deities have human characteristics, it may be more accurate to describe the phenomenon as theomorphism, or the giving of divine qualities to humans, rather than anthropomorphism, the giving of human qualities to the divine.

According to their beliefs, the deity or deities usually existed before humans, therefore humans were created in the form of the divine.

However, for those who do not believe in the doctrine of the religion, the phenomenon can be considered anthropomorphism.

In fact, Stewart Elliott Guthrie, in his book Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion (1993), theorizes that all religions are simply anthropomorphisms that originate in the human brain's tendency to over-detect the presence or vestiges of other humans in the natural world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropomorphism

RE: "That is why human beings cannot conceive of God as He truly is in Himself because He is beyond the realm of space and time. We have no conceptual frame work for actually allowing us to think about that other than in abstractions."

If you can't conceive of a god because he is beyond space and time, you really need to stop pushing it.

And certainly, the early christians did NOT consider their god to be beyond space and time, this is purely a modern invention in order to make the abstraction unknowable and unexaminable.


RE: "This pondering is the root of all man-made religious systems. I have said before that such ponderings cannot truly rise to the God who is beyond space and time. That the only way that a true understanding of the Spiritual world can be attained is for that world to make itself known to man (revelation)."

Revelation, in too many instances, appears to me to be whatever someone can make up in their own head and attribute to a"god cause.

The early church fathers were past masters at it and set the tone for this self deception. Revelation appears to be no more than the individual's human need to have the ego salved.

Consequently, revelation, is for many believers, whatever thoughts and ideas they generate in their mind and attribute to god.

The concept of revelation, is more than likely, an example of theomorphism, or the giving of divine qualities to humans.

Which also goes a long way to explaining why there are so many nutty religious believers.

Re: tracing the scientific process

The scientific process did not start with one man or with one woman. It evolved as a means to understand the natural world as the supernatural theory is not a process which provides testable knowledge about the natural world.

The supernatural theory only states that a human-like being created the natural world. The processes of this supernatural being cannot be observed, examined or tested.

What CAN be tested, observed and examined, are the processes of the NATURAL WORLD. That supernaturalists then claim that their humanlike god is responsible for these processes, is just a
wilfull,deliberate act of religious kleptomania.

13/3/07 10:47 am  
Blogger Dikkii said...

Gadfly, all of this is largely irrelevant.

The point that "Moses" makes in Genesis 1:27 is that God created Man (and Woman, for that matter) in His image.

Bringing different "avatars" (for want of a better word) of God into this discussion not only complicates things, but obfuscates them as well.

It also deviates from Beep's original point about anthropomorphisation of deities.

Or to summarise - Genesis 1:27 is a near-perfect example of anthropomorphisation as it clearly defines that our image of God must be a (wo)man-like image.

Other avatars might be different, but none are similarly described as His image.

13/3/07 10:54 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

In a world where anyone can claim their thoughts as divinely inspired, or a revelation; religion is the folly of man's ego.

13/3/07 11:19 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
He is beyond space and time.
Psalms 90:4. Newtonian physics posited that time & space were separate entities, Einsteinian physics showed they were intertwined. An immortal being, therefore, violates the laws of physics. Your deity is an abstract anthropomorphism of the universe at large, an effort to cast mankind's small shadow onto infinity.
Once we learn how to chat w/dolphins, they'll no doubt laugh at our bizarre ideas, & posit an eternal being (if they have 1) as having a dorsal fin, a blow hole, & that their deity swims thru the eddies of time & space.

13/3/07 5:11 pm  
Blogger Spike said...

Gadfly:

There are many SF writers who might take great offence at being told that they can't imagine what a being on Jupiter might look like. Although they don't agree, there are basic requirements that such a creature must fulfill. At the very least, it must be a persistant pattern, wether in radio waves diffracting through storms, or blimp-like herbivores. For more detailed analysis read "The Algebrist" by Iain M. Banks, or "Star Faction" by Ken Macleod.

13/3/07 7:29 pm  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

Perhaps my favorite book growing up (after my Children's Bible, of course) was an adolescent romance novel, the title of which I can't remember, but that involved the genocide of the Forest Folk by the Sun Worshippers.

The "romance" was the son of the sun folks' king and the forest folks' king's daughter falling for one another (via a "chance encounter", of course.)

Point is, reading that book (in 7th grade? 13yo) was the first time I can recall contemplating some concept of god which wasn't either xtian or jewish.

Despite her being a cluelessly insensitive bitch as a Math Teacher, I'll forever be grateful to Mrs W for including that book in her classroom library at our Catholic school.

13/3/07 8:52 pm  
Anonymous ted said...

Gadfly:

No, you didn't defend animism. But your point showed nicely how spiritualism, ascribed to the unknown, becomes obsolete once the unknown is explained.

So it is with god. You can't imagine or explain what might exist outside of time and space, so you assign it a "god" persona, just as the animists did with the river spirits.

Other than that, I think I'll just agree with KA's comment on this one.

As to science, I think it's more that science describes the world as it finds it, which is not always the same as man perceives it.

13/3/07 9:46 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Re: Anthropomorphisms -

There is a difference between depicting something in man-like images and believing that such is how the reality of that "thing" is. I think it is with a certain smug superiority that modern skeptics look back on their predecessors and essentially consider them so stupid.

Because an ancient worshiped before a stone idol did not mean that he though the god which the idol represented was actually the god itself. Noss (The Religions of Man) has a useful discussion of this in his work. He is of the opinion that what is most consistent among primitive religions was not the projection or anthropromorphistic (however you define it) tendency but the near universal idea that somehow there was some kind of life after death.

In other words, that somehow- variously conceived - there was a world of the spirit beyond the world of the sense. Anthropomorphism was an attempt to convey and depict that reality.

14/3/07 12:07 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Re: various comments -Beep & Dikkii about Gen. 1:28

To read Gen 1:28 as an attempt to project man's image on God is to read it exactly counter to its own statement.

Gen. 1:28 states that God put His image on man... that somehow man reflects the image of God - yes, Beep, this is theomorphism at least to a degree.

Scripture carefully distinguishes between something being "like" something and being "identical" with it. Of course there is progress in the Scriptural record in the manner in which man understood God. We call it progressive revelation.

The fullest revelation of God is Jesus the Christ. But the Scriptures are also very clear that Jesus is also the fullest revelation of Man.

True humanity is seen in ordinary man only in potential. We can say that ordinary man is "like" Jesus but not identical. In the same way we can say that ordinary man is "like" God, but not identical.

14/3/07 12:14 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Ted
RE: So it is with god. You can't imagine or explain what might exist outside of time and space, so you assign it a "god" persona, just as the animists did with the river spirits.

We will be right back to Wittgenstein if we go very far down this track but I agree with your general premise even if I disagree with your specific statement.

I agree that we use symbols (i.e. your term "god") to speak about things which we cannot finitely comprehend. We use a horizontal "8" to convey the idea of infinity. However I do not agree that we automatically assign it a "god persona." What we speak of are representations of things. The idea of "angels" in white robes and "wings" is useful but very few people actually believe that heaven consists in sitting on a cloud plucking a harp.

14/3/07 12:23 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

KA - Re: An immortal being, therefore, violates the laws of physics.

The whole idea of multiple parallel universes, as far as I understand it, postulates alternate simultaneous universes which are inaccessible by scientific measurement where there the "universal constants" may vary.

If that is the case then the laws of physics as we know them would be different in those universes. If you call religious views "an effort to cast man's small shadow into infinity" why do you not also castigate these theorists?

14/3/07 12:39 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Gadfly:

Perhaps I should have said "aspect". Persona is not really the right word.

The idea of "angels" in white robes and "wings" is useful but very few people actually believe that heaven consists in sitting on a cloud plucking a harp

Not clounds and harps perhaps, but surely all christians must belive that angels exist. I think most would probably picture them with wings too.

If that is the case then the laws of physics as we know them would be different in those universes.

And as such, unknown and completely unexplainable. You agree with my general premise but not my statement, but once again in the case of a supernatural god, we come to that which is unknown and cannot be explained.

14/3/07 1:35 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

For what it is worth, this post inspired a post on my journal where I have some gentle disagreements. :)

14/3/07 5:15 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Ted:
Re - but once again in the case of a supernatural god, we come to that which is unknown and cannot be explained.

Simply because we cannot "know" something in the sense that it is fully comprehended, it does not mean that we cannot know something about it.

We may not "know" what it is like to be completely transcendent but we can speak of it. We may not "know" the depths of infinity but we can use it in an equation, as in "the limit as n approaches infinity."

In the same way we cannot "know" God as He is, in the sense of the immateriality of His Person (God is Spirit) but we can know that as such He can be and is, omnipresent.

14/3/07 5:48 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
If you call religious views "an effort to cast man's small shadow into infinity" why do you not also castigate these theorists?
Well, 1st, I'm not sure that I adhere to these theories.
2nd, why should I? None of the multiverse theorists are trying to make over my govt., tell me how to live, enforce laws that I disagree w/, or jumpstart the apocalypse.
3rd, far as I know, no one in that field is propounding an anthropic principle.
Really, try to do better. That was weak.

14/3/07 6:43 am  
Blogger Dikkii said...

Gadfly wrote:

Re: various comments -Beep & Dikkii about Gen. 1:28...

You meant Gen. 1:27, of course.

Genesis 1:28 isn't really helpful to either your or our arguments.

But it's one ugly mother of a verse - see Ann Coulter's take on it.

Let's hope she's joking.

14/3/07 9:58 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Gadfly:

it does not mean that we cannot know something about it

Just as the animists knew something of river spirits, in that they manipulate the currents and have their own incomprehensible reasons for doing it, just like god.

the limit as n approaches infinity

You'll note, that although 'n' is approaching infinity, it still remains 'n'. Why? Because it is still an unknown, just like god.

In the same way we cannot "know" God as He is

Precisely.

but we can know that as such He can be and is, omnipresent

I could ask how he manages this, but that would be unknowable and unexplainable, wouldn't it?

But like Chris, I've been inspired myself. I didn't really make any gentle disagreements, but I am hoping to have some...:)

14/3/07 10:43 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE dikki

Coulter has a personality problem. She can't address issues as a sane, rational human being, which might be why she is a media whore for the conservative mentality.

She brings out the worst in all people. Those who agree with her, and those who don't.

14/3/07 2:17 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

KA
Re: You meant Gen. 1:27, of course.

Yes... 1:28 is the central text I am using this Sunday so it is more on my mind.

Re: 3rd, far as I know, no one in that field is propounding an anthropic principle.

I assume you meant anthropomorphic principle. Dawkins made a big deal of using the anthropic principle in The God Delusion and I imagine it is in fact being used also by Cosmologists who advocate multiple universe theories.

15/3/07 1:17 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

KA:
Re: Really, try to do better. That was weak.

I will earnestly endeavor to do so, but it really doesn't look like you responded to the point. Perhaps it needs to be more clear.

If the objection to a supernatural component to the universe is that it only stems from man's projection of himself, argued from the point of view that such a component is not verifiable by empirical methods - then why are not other theories which are postulated as being not verifiable by empirical methods not subjected to the same criticism.

If one assumes a standard for critique then one needs to justify why exceptions to that standard are warranted. Saying that someone might abuse one hypothesis (change the government) does not logically preclude it from being considered nor alter its truth content.

15/3/07 1:23 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE gadfly:

"then why are not other theories which are postulated as being not verifiable by empirical methods not subjected to the same criticism."

Firstly, the supernatural is not a theory. Just to get the language straight from the beginning.

Now, which ones?

15/3/07 1:58 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Beep
RE Firstly, the supernatural is not a theory. Just to get the language straight from the beginning. Now, which ones?

I have used the term "hypothesis" previously... I used "theory" in the same sense... a developed idea based on a given set of presuppositions... see Miriam Webster ad loc para 2-4 & 6. It may not be the best word for a supernatural hypothesis but it certainly meets the conditions.

Which ones? We were speaking of the multiple universes theory.

15/3/07 2:33 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
I assume you meant anthropomorphic principle.
Same thing.
Dawkins made a big deal of using the anthropic principle in The God Delusion and I imagine it is in fact being used also by Cosmologists who advocate multiple universe theories.
I usually interpret a 'big deal' as having an entire chapter devoted to the concept, which he did not do. It's also called the 'Goldilocks Effect', & is a lynchpin of ID. Go look it up on answers.com.
I will earnestly endeavor to do so, but it really doesn't look like you responded to the point.
I did respond to your red herring. I don't care about the multiverse theory, it's not the topic under discussion.
If one assumes a standard for critique then one needs to justify why exceptions to that standard are warranted.
I'm starting to get the impression you only listen to what you feel like.
The critiqued here is the supranatural. The standard is: NO PROOF. You have none. The bible alone is on shaky ground. You can't prove a soul. You can't prove an afterlife. Prayer is proven to be useless. Unless you can provide solid, repeatable evidence, it's all an appeal to incredulity.
The standard against which all is measured is reality. Do get that straight.

15/3/07 3:58 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

KA:
Re: same thing

From Wikpedia:
Anthropomorphism is the attribution of uniquely human characteristics and qualities to nonhuman beings, inanimate objects, or natural or supernatural phenomena.

In physics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is an umbrella term for various dissimilar attempts to explain the structure of the universe by way of coincidentally balanced features that are necessary and relevant to the existence on Earth of biochemistry, carbon-based life, and eventually human beings to observe such a universe.

15/3/07 5:06 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
I know what it means, it's pretty much the same damn thing.
Try typing in 'anthropomorphic principle' in answers.com. Takes you straight to the anthropic principle.
I do take the effort to understand a phrase or term before I use it. Keep on splitting semantical hairs like that, it tells me you're running low on talking points &/or logic.

15/3/07 6:33 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Here:
"Anthropomorphic" Principle

"The Anthropic Principle is sometimes misspelled or pronounced 'Anthropomorphic'. Anthropomorphism is the assigning of human characteristics to non-human beings, inanimate objects, or natural or supernatural phenomena. Anthropomorphic Principle is redirected to this page to aid searchers in finding the correct spelling."

15/3/07 9:09 am  
Blogger Dikkii said...

Beep:

Coulter has a personality problem. She can't address issues as a sane, rational human being, which might be why she is a media whore for the conservative mentality.

She brings out the worst in all people. Those who agree with her, and those who don't.


I think you're right.

But sometimes I think that Coulter is taking us all for a ride and she's really a parody of your average "conservative commentator".

Just reading her entry in Wikiquote seems just too ironic.

15/3/07 9:31 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

KA Re: The Anthropic Principle is sometimes misspelled or pronounced 'Anthropomorphic'

Yes, it is an error to use the word "anthropomorphic" when one intends the word "anthropic" and vice versa.

Your original statement was that you did not think that the multiuniverse theorists were propounding the "anthropic" principle, which in fact many of them do. cf. the following quote from Wikpedia

String theory predicts a large number of possible universes, called the backgrounds or vacua. The set of these universes or vacua is often called the "multiverse" or "anthropic landscape" or "string landscape".

What you originally intended was that, to your knowledge, none of the multi-universe folk were propounding an 'anthropomorphic' view - which is probably true.

16/3/07 12:03 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
What you originally intended was that, to your knowledge, none of the multi-universe folk were propounding an 'anthropomorphic' view - which is probably true.
Exactly. Thanks for the correction.
Dawkins only mentioned it once (on 1 page) in the God Delusion - & I don't ascribe to everything he says. I listen, I don't follow. People that is.
The criterion for your superstition is still reality: untestable, unfalsifiable, amorphous, beyond the pale of physicality.
Mythology.

16/3/07 3:19 am  
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