Religion of Immortals (Pantheon speculative fragments)

For the next volume in the Pantheon series, I will focus on an alien race that lives on the gas giant that orbits the star Arcturus. They acquire the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden, which causes them to become immortal, as well as transform their entire world into a lush paradise in eternal bloom.

Tree of Life from Fountain

New religion of Immortals
Not only did the Tree of life turn the sentient species Arcturians (of the planet in the Arcturus system) into immortals, it also abolished individuality. A Christ-like figure was responsible for implanting the seed of the tree of life, and gave up his life, only to be resurrected. However, this did not turn him into the son of god, the messiah, for the tree of life actually turned the entire race into a Christ-like symbol. Continue reading Religion of Immortals (Pantheon speculative fragments)

The failure of philosophy of religion

Angel’s Cry

This semester I’m taking a graduate course in the philosophy of religion. I already took one as an undergraduate, but under a different professor who was a proficient expert on Hegel. This time, the current professor seems far more culturally informed and global, which leads to an entirely different angle to assess religion philosophically. Continue reading The failure of philosophy of religion

the Book of Truth

The Book of Truth

(a classic from my heydays on IIDB, 6 years ago)

One day in heaven, the philosopher was walking with God, waxing philosophical.
God: Everything you ever wanted is here.
Philosopher: Everything? Do you mean the Truth, too?
God: Why, yes. If its true, its in the Book of the Truth.
Philosopher: What’s that?
God: Come follow me.

They walk towards the Official Library of Heaven, where all the books that have ever existed, or will exist, are located. In the center there’s a tall podium with the biggest book ever lying atop of it, and open. The golden letters are printed in type 6 font, new roman times style, on the finest paper.

God: Every single truth is in this book.
Philosopher: Indeed? All true sentences?
God: But of course. I am essentially omniscient and I also know this to be true. That’s also in there!
Philosopher: Au contraire, mon deux.
God: What?
Philosopher: I can think of at least one true sentence that cannot be in there.
God: Surely thou jest!
Philosopher: Not at all, your eminence.
God: Alright, what is this sentence? I warn you it cannot be meaningless. I am wise to the art of sophistry!

The philosopher takes a piece of a paper and writes “This statement is not in the Book of Truth.” God’s eyes bulge, and He begins to stammer.

Philosopher: Is this sentence in there? If so the book contains a falsehood. If not, then the book does not have all true sentences. Therefore it is not the Book of Truth.
God: Oh, dear. I hadn’t thought of that. I should have never made that Cretean….

Truth? Pshaw!

by Stephen Doyle

While vacationing in Italy, I had the opportunity to flex a couple of neurons. My family is full of devout Catholics, and my youngest aunt Costanza (Costu) has the “gift” of speaking in tongues. That means the hardcore Catholics pray with her, and sometimes that sets her off in a indecipherable tongue-speaking frenzy. My uncle Michael can interpret her, so the message isn’t lost.

Moreover, Costu is also intelligent, having graduated from MST in Rolla. So she wanted to discuss philosophy with me, and she wanted to know what was my “truth.” It was early in the week, and I thought it would be a good idea to get this over with so we all can enjoy our fantastic resort.

As somebody well read in post-modernism, asking the very question “truth” sets off alarms. Such questions like “what is X” are classic questions of philosophy, but after Nietzsche, they no longer have any place in our society – all and any answer has no credibility – but I couldn’t answer like this to my Aunt. So I had to speak in the right language, and speak about the game of philosophy. Continue reading Truth? Pshaw!

Philosophy of the gods, part 1

Kaeli vs elder god Orcus, by Awet Moges

In this blog I will be drawing a distinction between two philosophies – one espoused by Kaeli and her guru, Cartaphilus, and the other, by the Elder gods. (Click here for Part 2) Hopefully this will explain how Kaeli’s worldview compares and contrasts with those of the elder gods.

The insurgents
Kaeli’s innermost beliefs are buttressed and articulated by the radical ideas of the anarchist, Cartaphilus. The elder gods, on the other hand, serve as the antithesis to her defiant stand, as the wizened cynics who disdain the fervor of youth. Continue reading Philosophy of the gods, part 1

Deconversion

by Chris Madden

I don’t have a dramatic story to share: my deconversion was a slow process that began in childhood. It began when I, a bored catholic boy started to discuss religious matters with a young child of a Jehovah Witness family. We went over the differences in our religions, but even then, I could tell that his faith limited the bounds of our discussion, and that I had hardly any of my own. I remember asking Matt which bible he used, and he simply declared it to be the first one. I did not press matters there, and did some researching of my own. I asked his mother if I could borrow those short books they had around the house and I enjoyed reading the extensive explanation in their stories that expanded the bible stores. Lovely paintings. Of course my mother didn’t like this and insisted that I study our religion before I start to investigate others, and of course I readily ignored her advice. Continue reading Deconversion

Do you praise or condemn the dead?

Deader than a doornail

In passing, I made the argument that because an individual’s life project was closed, we no longer have any right to vilify him for his shortcomings – that we should be honoring his contributions of society instead, especially if we (media and public) have been vilifying him the entire time until his death.

Before death, an individual’s life is an open book, a project to be completed. That’s when we have free reign to disparage and criticize for the wrongdoings or failures. After death, the meaning of the individual’s life is complete, a closed book, and finished.

Michael Jackson’s death has closed off all his possibilities, and puts him at the mercy of others – us. As long as he was alive, he could, through his actions, change the meaning of his future, and his past as well. Continue reading Do you praise or condemn the dead?

None the Wiser

[Thoth, a god of wisdom and current consul of Teotihuacan, journeys to the bottom of Yggdrassil the world tree, in order to discuss with an ancient god of wisdom, Mimir, about the new radical, Cartaphilus, whether to oppose him or endorse him. Thoth removes Mimir’s decapitated head from the Well of Urd.]

Mimir: Who bestirs Mimir from the comforts of oblivion?

Thoth: It is I, son of Ra, and I seek your advice.

Mimir: Well met, Thoth. But we gods of wisdom hardly need advice.

Thoth: Yes, but your wisdom is distinct from mine: it is not as contaminated by the hysteria of contemporary ideologies. All the same, I request your wisdom regarding this new radical, Cartaphilus.

Mimir: Cartaphilus, the impetuous immortal? You have traveled very far just to discuss a misguided liberator.

Thoth: These days, the merest mention of his name is tantamount to political suicide.

Mimir: He reminds me of the original liberator. Prometheus.

Thoth: Indeed. It seems both Prometheus and Cartaphilus share an unhealthy obsession with mortals.

Mimir: Quite. Whereas Prometheus condemned the mortals of Midgard to consciousness with his myopic intelligence, Cartaphilus condemns mortals of the universe with his call of radical emancipation.

Thoth: Hubris is another thing Prometheus and Cartaphilus have in common.

Mimir: The Olympians were prudent to hide the sources of life from mortals. But that arrogant Prometheus decided to reveal them. The irony is that, despite his claims of lucidity, Prometheus ended up being the father of all misfortunes of the mortals.

Thoth: He was always scolding mortals for being too comfortable with original idyll and their lazy conformity to the laws of animal nature.

Mimir: By introducing self-consciousness to the species, Prometheus divided man from the sources of life he used to enjoy. That compelled man to analyze those sources and reflect on their meaning. Consequently, original happiness was replaced with the curse and torments of titanism.

Thoth: Mortals were doing quite well without self-consciousness? They had hitherto been merely drooling apes. You could hardly tell them apart.

Mimir: Yes and yet, consciousness began a spectacle in everyone that ceased only with the end of the human species.

Thoth: Despite all his foreknowledge, Prometheus never anticipated this.

Mimir: A feckless and blundering humanitarian, a deadly philanthropist whose excuse was illusion. Prometheus, by handing man over to history, banished him from the perfect present.

Thoth: We did applaud Zeus for punishing Prometheus, and applauded Heracles for freeing him with equal vigor.

Mimir: At once the first zealot of science, and the worst modernist, his sufferings console man for his pyrrhic victories. As an instigator of indiscretions, Prometheus idealized knowledge and action and consequently ruined existence. This dereliction of knowledge and destructive curiosity ended the golden age.

Thoth: Undoubtedly. But what to do with our modern-day Prometheus?

Mimir: Cartaphilus, like most moderns, is in a hurry to expedite the onset of a utopia and institute it for perpetuity. His impetuousness does not come from anxiety but from the idolization of euphoria, a secret and morbid craving for Hyperborea.

Thoth: He is convinced that his revolution will be the final one.

Mimir: Because he thinks it’s up to him to complete history for all mortals. History belongs to him alone; thus, he must close it. As if Truth has finally has chosen to reveal herself!

Thoth: Has Truth made a great error?

Mimir: Error is but the fate of others. Never Cartaphilus’.

Thoth: Cartaphilus desires victory over his race, his peers, over us gods, and seeks to revise our work and correct its imperfections. He claims that whosoever doesn’t try or doesn’t think it his duty to try, has given up his destiny, from either wisdom or weakness.

Mimir: Pithy sophism. Prometheus tried to one-up Zeus. But Cartaphilus, a soi disant demiurge, tries to one-up us all and inflict the humiliation of a utopia superior to ours. That is Prometheus all over again, Titanism to a whole new level. The desire to equal the gods by stealing our powers.

Thoth: As long mortals are shackled by sin, they will never enter paradise. Thus they must be freed.

Mimir: Cartaphilus and every other utopians are consciously or unconscious Pelagianists.

Thoth: Yes. Pelagius, who denied the fall, rejected Adam’s lapse the ability to indoctrinate posterity. Adam only suffered a personal turmoil, and disgraced himself alone, and didn’t know he would bequeath the human race his flaws and misfortunes. Mortals are born free, good, and lack original sin.

Mimir: That is a very generous observation, yet very false. Pelagianism is the heresy of utopians.

Thoth: Whether consciously or unconsciously, Cartaphilus subscribes to pelagianism, the idolatry of progress. Revolutionary ideologies are its conclusions, in which mortals make up a mass of sentient beings freed from original sin, infinitely malleable and, self-directed, capable of anything.

Mimir: What an optimistic vision of the nature of mortals! There’s no evidence that their nature is any good. Only those with an inferior will are spontaneously good, and the rest must devote themselves to be good. Whosoever succeeds does so only at the cost of efforts that embitter them. Evil is inseparable from action, and therefore, all action is necessarily directed against another person or thing, and at most, against themselves. Mortals will only at another’s expense.

Thoth: So, the only way Cartaphilus could construct a society where mortals never harm one another is if he limited it to anemic ones.

Mimir: The nature of mortals follows a dynamic principle, one that sustains the fever of change and provokes events. If this is absent or removed, then utopia is possible. Mortals are resistant to true happiness, even though they long for the institution of an ideal society that promises happiness. If that takes place, they will suffocate in it.

Thoth: In other words, satiety is much worse than poverty.

Mimir: Mortals need tension and challenges in order to evolve. What could they do with perfection?

Thoth: True. Cartaphilus, as an anarchist is the last and greatest of all pelagians. His freedom rejects all religions, including those of the most progressive gods, and substitutes for them a new variant of worship – self-love – more brilliant and impossible than the existing ones. Cartaphilus curses the religions and demands their abolition because he sees them as an obstacle to the free expression of mortal nature that was fundamentally good. Now it’s because mortal nature was corrupted that religion was born.

Mimir: Were religious instincts to vanish, then mortals would give themselves up to evil without any restriction whatever.

Thoth: Cartaphilus’ idea of destroying all authority indeed remains the greatest ever conceived.

Mimir: Alas, the human race who fathered Cartaphilus is now extinct. But perhaps they had to fade to vanish from current age to validate his theories?

Thoth: Well, we don’t even have the luck of believing in destruction because we gods are already secularized anarchists. Also, we already understood the urgency and ultimately, the uselessness of destruction. No matter how succinct our denials are, we cannot destroy the objects of nostalgia.

Mimir: The dreams of mortals survive our wisdom. Even though they have given up on the geographical reality of paradise, it resides in them a dimension of their original ego. Can they recover it?

Thoth: Cartaphilus is convinced of that possibility if his program becomes a reality.

Mimir: And once they do, will they realize the ultimate glory? It is not their gods they will see but the eternal present freed from becoming, and eternity itself perhaps.

Thoth: The remedy of the ills of mortals resides within themselves, in the timeless principle of their nature. Even if we gods proved this principle to be false, mortals are convinced that some part of them escape duration.

Mimir: It is useless to recover the old paradise or march towards utopia. One is inaccessible and the other is unattainable.

Thoth: The only paradise lies deep within their being. In order to find it, Cartaphilus must have inspected every past and possible paradise, loved and hated them with clumsy zealotry and scrutinized and rejected them all with competent disappointment.

[Silence interrupts them.]

Mimir: You did not come here for advice.

Thoth: You are every bit the god of wisdom. Nothing escapes your attention. Admittedly, I traveled far away from the pretentious and self-serving rhetoric of Teotihuacan to hear the strongest case against Cartaphilus. Yours.

[Thoth bows, and departs.]

Mimir: There is no difference between a god and a mortal who substitute one illusion for another. The fables of golden age are equal to the vapor of utopia.

As things fell apart…


A Pantheonic dialogue

LAKSHMI: Can you tell me how everything went wrong?

GANESHA: I have gone through the events over and over and I remain at a loss how my plans crumbled, and I ended up 180 degrees from where I began.

LAKSHMI: Tell me.

GANESHA: After i acquired a Genesis planet, with the most advanced template I set out to create a race of sublime mortals. I learned from the mistakes of the elder gods and I intended to fulfill all the dreams of these mortals, satisfy their desires and ensure that happiness was a reality, not a mere ideal. My stratagems were put in effect to produce a perfect race that lives comfortably in utopia, and I would become the envy of all other pantheons.

LAKSHMI: That is why you created them as children – all the better to enjoy the world, live in the present and be carefree.

GANESHA: No matter how advanced my template was, these mortals were flawed . They did not remain idyllic for long. Much to my surprise, they grew… sophisticated.

LAKSHMI: They tired of being children?

GANESHA: Yes. They gained the ability to reason, and that caused a general mood of disappointment. Their childlike hopes disintegrated rather quickly.

LAKSHMI: But – the suicides?

GANESHA: That was my first sign. Through reasoning, they figured out how to kill off themselves. Once their hopes were dashed, they could no longer bear living. My ambitious project turned out to be a greater failure than any of the elder gods!

LAKSHMI: Weren’t you successful for several centuries of your rule?

GANESHA: Actually, I did try short-term solutions to solve this existential malady – I added more land to the world, and introduced more variety in nature with animals and plants. These changes did work for a while, and they distracted the mortals. As the years passed, the novelty faded, and they grew bored with life again. Even contemptuous! I could never return them to their original state as children.

LAKSHMI: Hmmm. Nothing new can outlast the invincible sequence of time.

GANESHA: I didn’t stop there. I tried introducing more obstacles in order to challenge them, force them to expand their reason and find solutions. I also proliferated the mortals into different factions, so they could not intermingle as easily and casually. They were strangers to one another, constantly misunderstanding each other, and that led to discord, violent conflict.

LAKSHMI: Wasn’t that Yahweh’s original error?

GANESHA: No, he did it too early, when the population on Earth was much smaller. Never mind that. Despite all the obstacles, and the increase in their intellectual activity, they lapsed back into boredom. Ennui seemed ineradicable.

LAKSHMI: Perhaps your template was not flawed.

GANESHA: Indeed, perhaps it was too advanced. Despite all their intellectual development, they are demanding for the presence of Truth!

LAKSHMI: No, it isn’t the template. It is time to abandon your original plan. Your problem is an excess of mercy, and that makes it easier for your mortals to take you for granted. I recommend you to answer their demands: Send them the Truth.

GANESHA: You’re mad. By doing so, won’t that turn them into gods?

LAKSHMI: Not exactly. Not even Truth could do that. In fact, she will pull off the opposite. She will destroy all their illusions, and become the Tyrant of the race.

GANESHA: Preposterous! Truth is Beauty. She reveals our beatitude.

LAKSHMI: Sure, but she shall reflect the mortals’ wretchedness instead. Not their beauty. For them the only truth is the falsity of all things, for they all are temporary, merely transient, and all their griefs are empty. These mortals will always remain dissatisfied, and their dissatisfaction continues to crucify them for all time…..

Mythos and Logos

Eye of Ra

There are two forms of knowledge: logos and mythos. From an old post of mine, based on Karen Armstrong’s division of knowledge:

Mythos: “myth”, from greek musteion – to close eyes or mouth. Myth as a mode of Knowledge was rooted in silence and intuitive insight, and gave meaning to life, human existence, but cannot be explained in rational terms. In the premodern world, mythical knowledge was complementary to logos.

Logos: “word” or rational, logical, scientific discourse

Both were essential and complementary ways of arriving at the truth for each had its area of competence. Myth was regarded as primary, for it dealt with the timeless or constant elements of human existence. Myth was about the origins of life, the very foundations of culture and the most essential nature of human mind. However, myth has little to do with practical stuff, or anything other than the meaning of life. If people cannot or do not find significance in their lives, despair is the result. The mythos of a society is the context that makes sense of the daily life, and points at the eternal and universal. Moreover, myth is rooted in unconscious. The various stories of myth, which were not meant to be taken literally, was ancient psychology. All these stories of heroes in the underworld, in labyrinths, and fighting monsters, was the premodern way of dealing with the obscure realm of unconscious, which is completely inaccessible to rational investigation, but had profound effects on experience and behavior. Since myth is absent in modern society we instead developed the science of psychoanalysis to deal with our inner world. Continue reading Mythos and Logos