Saturday, August 01, 2015

Pandeism on how you know that a building had a builder.

This is in response to a question seen at "Yahoo Answers," posed as:

Though I am a Pandeist and not an Atheist, I proffered an answer, and I expand on this further here:

A building has builders because it is essentially defined as a thing built by builders. If you came across a cave in the wilderness, would you call it a "building"? Even if it was roomy enough for people to live in, or even to set up a commercial office in? Surely not, for it would not be a thing which was built.

Now, have you ever heard anyone refer to our Universe, or our Milky Way Galaxy, or our Solar System, or our planet Earth, as "a building"? Surely not, and so we know know that these things were not "built," or they'd be called "buildings."

But here's another thing, when you do see a building of any substantial size or scale, do you think to yourself that that building must have had a single "builder" acting autonomously? Or is it not the case in your own experience that *every* building beyond a rudimentary hut or the like must have *multiple* builders, working cooperatively? And perhaps many more people than you think, for it takes many men to manufacture materials used for even the simplest constructions -- loggers, smelters, machiners, mechanics, material scientists, glaziers, all manner of factory workers -- and it takes many construction workers wielding all many of tools (and separate still many makers of tools), and not only an architect but most likely a separate landscaper for the exterior and a separate interior designer for the interior, and everything else from food truck people to lawyers and accountants to make sure all the permits get filed and the taxes get paid. And the bigger and more complex the structure, the larger the number of people involved in the creation of it.

So if we are to assume from the building/builder(s) model that our Universe was god-built on some wholesale scale (ie built as a whole instead of being set forth pandeistically), it follows then that there must have been hundreds of trillions of gods involved in the process, boss gods and worker gods, some of these gods capable of directing the action but not designing or building the end product, some gods incapable of managing or constructing the project but ably tasked with designing some aspect of it or other, some gods not able to manage or design but able to carry out construction orders. Plus all their toolmakers and materials suppliers and lawyer gods and accountant gods to make sure all the divine permits get filed and the sacred taxes get paid.

Friday, February 13, 2015

DeismTV#14 - One Deist's Concept of God

I find this vid to be brilliant and wholly agreeable, except for the point that Pandeism does not require that God blew itself up -- there is one school of thought in Pandeism which proposes such, but Pandeism encompasses all theological models wherein God becomes our Universe, in such a way that it is not able to miraculously intervene in the goings-on of our Universe.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Somebody Else's Odd Video: "What does Pandeism mean?"

This may well be the most informative thing I have ever seen -- well, except for literally everything else I have ever seen....


Thursday, May 08, 2014

Council on Pandeism meeting text

Here is some of the text of the Council on Pandeism meeting which happened on May the 4th.... this was a Skype meeting, so most of the action was audio, but there were many comments typed out as well -- note that many of these comments were in response to spoken words so their context might be unapparent, but I still feel it worthwhile to post them as is -- and these are they:

[11:52:15 AM] Ivan Sanders: Can you see me
[11:53:22 AM] K Mapson: I can see and hear.
[11:55:42 AM] K Mapson: I am going to live-tweet the discussion, if that's okay with everybody.
[11:56:35 AM] K Mapson: or it's 9AM on a Sunday ;)
[11:59:35 AM] K Mapson: there are two really big camps out there -- indoctrinated theists, and reactionary atheists, and each wants to shoehorn everything which doesn't fit into their camp into the other, which hurts other theological models
[12:00:09 PM] K Mapson: can't tell you how many theists have come at me with purely anti-atheist arguments, and atheists with anti-bible arguments
[12:02:11 PM] K Mapson: Deists tend to be sympathetic, since Pandeism is a logic-derived viewpoint
[12:03:07 PM] K Mapson: well I mean that it is itself logical
[12:04:29 PM] K Mapson: Deism has always been targetted by the criticism that it can't explain why a Creator would create and then step away, not intervene. That is what Pandeism resolves within the deistic frame.
[12:08:12 PM] K Mapson: I think that's an absolutely good sense of motivation.
[12:08:35 PM] K Mapson: Over the 90s.
[12:09:31 PM] K Mapson: I remember first hearing about it from a lunchtime lecture from a philosophy prof.
[12:10:38 PM] K Mapson: He was a Hartshorne follower, and Hartshorne had written a snippet on it which intrigued the prof, I remember he got quite animated about the subject. So, it got me animated about it.
[12:10:53 PM] K Mapson: But really it took the Internet to find out anything about it.
[12:11:30 PM] K Mapson: Nope, he wrote a few paragraphs about it, in the 40s.
[12:11:47 PM] K Mapson: (pronounced Harts-Horne)
[12:12:23 PM] K Mapson: I know a lot more about Harshorne now than I did then (he went for Panentheism)
[12:13:06 PM] K Mapson: That's actually very controversial for theists, as process theology proposes a Creator which is constanly becoming (and so not "perfect" from the outset)
[12:13:34 PM] K Mapson: the theists want their Creator to be "perfect" -- and so incapable of learning/improving
[12:14:38 PM] K Mapson: the "-en" part is an appendix, an unnecessary addition for those who wish to have some part of deity watching over them (but apparently doing nothing whle people starve and suffer)
[12:15:31 PM] K Mapson: the Problem of Evil is, I think, the strongest argument for a Creator which has made itself wholly *unable* to intervene -- otherwise, if it had any sense of compassion, it would do so
[12:16:49 PM] K Mapson: Christians go berserk when you suggest God is the "author" of evil (but any Creator is necessarily the author of all things)
[12:19:43 PM] K Mapson: Taoism and Pandeism are *very* complementary
[12:21:03 PM] K Mapson: I'm getting every other word.... type it out?
[12:22:23 PM] Jaidyn Saunders: OK.  Ever since reading all I could about Pandeism, I have been hooked.
[12:23:19 PM] K Mapson: My experience has sort of been that All Roads Lead Back To Rome
[12:25:29 PM] K Mapson: Buddhism is awesome, but it has some problems as a theological model -- it provides excellent moral guidance, but it is in no way explanatory of *why* our Universe exists at all or what purpose it serves, or we serve within it....
[12:26:33 PM] K Mapson: ....and (in Tibetan Buddhism at least) there is a notion of wholesale reincarnation of the mind, which is simply not supported by science as yet. I don't need that presumption.
[12:28:18 PM] K Mapson: I think that's exactly right.
[12:29:12 PM] K Mapson: barely understanding anything now
[12:30:02 PM] K Mapson: better not to have it coming through all the time tho
[12:30:28 PM] Ivan Sanders: The question is:  What is our most effective route of educating people of the existence of Pandeism?
[12:30:44 PM] K Mapson: hey, you guys been watching Cosmos? great stuff, I think (sorry for the tangent, just came to mind)
[12:32:25 PM] Ivan Sanders: I would agree that people aren't educaed about it
[12:32:38 PM] Ivan Sanders: educated*
[12:33:34 PM] K Mapson: (but they did that bit on Giordano Bruno, which led some bloggers to talk about how Bruno was a Pandeist)
[12:33:43 PM] K Mapson: I'd like to add something which I think calls back a point raised much earlier....
[12:34:25 PM] K Mapson: ....which is that Pandeism is a good thing for the world -- it is a thing which, if people understood it and behaved accordingly, would be good for the world.
[12:34:57 PM] K Mapson: Which is something which I think has proved to be untrue under the theistic faiths, and which is not something atheism effects one way or the other.
[12:35:59 PM] K Mapson: if Pandeism is correct, then we are all part of a greater one, and ought to treat each other so
[12:37:05 PM] K Mapson: And science itself reveals that interconnectedness. We are biologically related to every living thing on our planet. And atomically related to every thing in our Universe.
[12:38:22 PM] K Mapson: It is somewhat amazing to me that people who understand that we all come from stardust can at the same time be opposed to drawing a spiritual or metaphysical understanding from that very knowledge.
[12:39:28 PM] Ivan Sanders: I think spreading Pandeism and Pandeist thought through scholarly writings will help because it will educate those who already think (the scholars). The more people who think and write about Pandeism the better.
[12:39:42 PM] K Mapson: I think for one thing we need to get out there in the world with a published book which focuses on this model, instead of glancing upon it.
[12:41:32 PM] K Mapson: Raphael Lataster is working on a book which will cover Pandeism at some length (or so he tells me).
[12:42:17 PM] K Mapson: Haisch would be "The God Theory" ("Mind of God" is Paul Davies)
[12:42:27 PM] K Mapson: sorry, not to be a smartass....
[12:42:42 PM] K Mapson: there's a lot of books out there to keep straight!!
[12:42:55 PM] Ivan Sanders: There sure are
[12:43:46 PM] K Mapson: I see these authors, Haisch, Davies, Dawe, even Scott Adams, writing about the same essential idea, but every time inventing a new name for it.
[12:43:56 PM] Ivan Sanders: The religious scholarly world is full already, it seems. Is there room for Pandeism?
[12:44:11 PM] Ivan Sanders: Are scholars interested in reading works on Pandeism?
[12:44:35 PM] Ivan Sanders: I read reddit pretty much every day... :(
[12:45:50 PM] Ivan Sanders: We could even write about religious market saturation.
[12:46:31 PM] K Mapson: this'll take a few minutes....
[12:48:43 PM] K Mapson: I think Adams is simply being flippant (or guarding against theological critics)
[12:49:22 PM] K Mapson: it doesn't matter that Adams disclaims unnamed portions of it, the book captures one formulation of the idea
[12:49:50 PM] K Mapson: though I don't subscribe to the 'God blew himself up and is dead as a doornail' version, either
[12:50:54 PM] K Mapson: Id o get pushback from theists who assume that Pandeism means 'God is Dead'
[12:51:44 PM] K Mapson: Definitely!!
[12:52:05 PM] Ivan Sanders: The big crunch has not been discounted by science, which I like.
[12:52:15 PM] K Mapson: One might put it that we are a dream our Creator is having in order to understand itself.
[12:52:35 PM] K Mapson: My larger response was that some time ago I got Project Gutenberg to take up Max Bernhard Weinstein's 1910 book which goes on at good length about Pandeism throughout, but it's on the back burner for them now, and is in a years-long queue. A translation of that book into English would provide information in the context of the true age and historic scope of the theory.
[12:53:00 PM] Ivan Sanders: Thank you Mapson, good addition.
[12:53:54 PM] Ivan Sanders: This is a nice literary interpretation of Pandeism, Jaidyn.
[12:54:43 PM] K Mapson: I agree with that, but I believe the Universe is not simply a thing set forth for entertainment, but to fulfill an actual need to learn -- a need so strong that our Creator ought to feel like a person dying of thirst needs water.
[12:55:00 PM] Ivan Sanders: Interesting.
[12:55:57 PM] K Mapson: It is indeed excellently framed. Wonder if Warren Sharp is somebody we could communicate with....
[12:56:12 PM] Ivan Sanders: Maybe, lets follow up on that if we can!
[12:57:12 PM] K Mapson: I've heard of this multiverse thing, but I hain't never seen one. ;)
[12:57:22 PM] Ivan Sanders: Ohhh Mapson
[12:58:04 PM] K Mapson: a logical interpretation -- not 'scientific' so much as consistent with science
[12:58:42 PM] K Mapson: we can't claim to be able to prove such a thing through scientific-type means, but we can show that science does not contradict it
[12:59:13 PM] K Mapson: "I am every kind of scientist."
[1:00:09 PM] K Mapson: it would be the source of all of them, I think
[1:01:00 PM] K Mapson: no matter how many there are (if there are many) the question remains at the very bottom of inquiry, why do conditions exist which allow Universes to arise at all, one or many
[1:03:49 PM] K Mapson: the notion of a multiverse is not a point of agreement amongst scientists tho -- it is a theory with interesting potential, but a dearth of practical evidence
[1:06:52 PM] K Mapson: yes -- and learns thereby what it is like to exist as we do
[1:07:41 PM] Ivan Sanders: What becomes of our consciousnesses after we perish?
[1:07:57 PM] K Mapson: but I think, as well, that we are still on a path not yet complete
[1:08:29 PM] K Mapson: I think we have much evolution before us before we reach the potential programmed into our Universe.
[1:08:59 PM] K Mapson: imagine what our descendants 100,000 years from now might be capable of thinking and experiencing
[1:12:13 PM] K Mapson: I think there is some means by which everything which happens in our Universe -- including thoughts and experiences of consciousness -- is recorded indelibly.
[1:13:13 PM] K Mapson: what some would call an Akashic record, but of all things, not simply of 'spiritual things'
[1:14:35 PM] K Mapson: I believe that any Creator which would go to the trouble of setting forth our Universe would do so in a way wherein all knowledge generated by such Universe would be retained within itself.
[1:15:09 PM] Ivan Sanders: I agree, Mapson, and I think this is important.
[1:16:00 PM] K Mapson: (Christians will tell you that this entire record exists in their god's mind before the Universe is even created, which begs the question, why bother creating it)
[1:17:02 PM] K Mapson: that the laws of physics provide for the retention of this information
[1:20:49 PM] K Mapson: The community of scholars has its own channels through which it must be reached.
[1:21:16 PM] K Mapson: (by 'scholars' here I mean the people who write articles that get published in the journals)
[1:22:23 PM] K Mapson: But it would be good to reach that community, because if publication-hungry scholars begin to investigate Pandeism, they will quickly generate insights into it)
[1:22:40 PM] Ivan Sanders: Exactly!
[1:23:47 PM] K Mapson: I am not especially astounded by that -- academic publishing is greatly driven by what is accepted within a certain orthodoxy.
[1:25:09 PM] K Mapson: that's one reason I want to get the Weinstein book translated and out there -- it shows that this theory was discussed a length a hundred years ago
[1:26:18 PM] K Mapson: yeah, no door to door
[1:29:54 PM] K Mapson: Christians and Muslims have a strong doctrinal compulsion to evangelize (to the extent that they believe they'll face eternal hellfire if they don't); atheists, I think, feel that they have a strong motivation to counter the damage that theistic faiths cause.
[1:30:04 PM] K Mapson: Yes, God's Debris, read it.
[1:32:04 PM] K Mapson: I agree with that.
[1:33:03 PM] K Mapson: I do wish we had a Pandeist equivalent of Neil de Grasse Tyson -- somebody who was really good at just talking and explaining this in conversation.... that's the top of my wish list.
[1:33:13 PM] Ivan Sanders: Mine too!
[1:34:17 PM] K Mapson: I very much appreciate what you've done with the website -- looks much better than anything I've come up with....
[1:34:42 PM] K Mapson: sound pretty clear to me
[1:35:15 PM] K Mapson: yes, exactly
[1:38:10 PM] K Mapson: I'm all here.
[1:38:42 PM] K Mapson: I'm glad to provide any of my writings for Koilas.
[1:41:32 PM] K Mapson: people have this idea (driven by theistic faiths) that 'science' is like another religion itself, when it is simply a methodology of determining and verifying physical realities
[1:42:09 PM] K Mapson: that's why you always hear creationists referring to 'evolution' as a "belief" when it is simply an understanding
[1:43:58 PM] K Mapson: yes, 100%
[1:46:01 PM] K Mapson: prayer to me is nonsensical, as it is an appeal to what one conceives of as an outside intervening force to bend the laws of nature to provide the praying person with some nonnatural benefit -- I prefer to focus on meditation, an inward-pointed seeking of truth
[1:50:14 PM] K Mapson: to what degree has the power of meditation been scientifically tested?
[1:50:52 PM] K Mapson:
[1:52:05 PM] K Mapson: So it seems a scattering of studies have been done, and have tended to show that meditation has tangible effects, though the reason these effects occur has not been delved more deeply into.
[1:53:57 PM] K Mapson: I  put it with the whole body of theological phenomena (revelations, prophecies, miracles, etc) -- a claim of such a thing is subject to scientific examination, but if it does exist, it is a side-effect of a pandeistic Universe, of our being part of an underlying unconscious mind far exceeding our comprehension
[1:54:43 PM] K Mapson: you know, the large-scale structure of our Universe (in terms of distribution of galaxies) is like a brain with 500 billion times as many neurons as a human brain
[1:59:38 PM] K Mapson: I'm relaxing.
[1:59:49 PM] Ivan Sanders: I think we all agree that meditation (and inward prayer) can be beneficial. By no means is it required by Pandeism or Koilas and should not be considered such. With that, we should be careful in how we word ideas about praryer and meditation, especially in anything we put onto the internet or print. Would you agree?
[2:00:03 PM] Ivan Sanders: prayer*
[2:00:31 PM] K Mapson: Prayer*   *results not guaranteed
[2:00:41 PM] Ivan Sanders: Yes!
[2:01:50 PM] K Mapson: good meeting so far
[2:03:58 PM] K Mapson: I like that we save trees by having it online instead of in print.
[2:04:57 PM] K Mapson: But all changes must be changes in accordance with logic.... I've seen some internet communities where 'facts' can change solely based on the number of members of one community of interest being brought into the discussion.
[2:06:07 PM] K Mapson: Case in point, Wikipedia, where for example their is a page on the 'Genesis creation narrative' where every other such theology is called a 'myth' because of the numbers arising against calling *their* myth a myth....
[2:07:48 PM] Ivan Sanders: Collaboration is only as good as the rules set forth. I believe we should create a canon of literature about Koilas. This creation (Bhago) should be changeable and should be a collaboration. The facts should not be based on members thoughts, but in reality, logic, reason.
[2:08:20 PM] Ivan Sanders: I think, with that, we should update it periodically to reflect changes in science.
[2:11:30 PM] K Mapson: We all know how to contact each other.
[2:13:21 PM] K Mapson: Well you know I've tried my hand at writing one -- and I have hundreds and hundreds of pages of rephrasing of the same notion to show for it. There are people who write books and people who do other things, and I'm still discovering which of those I am.
[2:13:44 PM] Ivan Sanders: Sounds like you're on board with the concept of the Bhago?
[2:14:49 PM] Ivan Sanders: A collaboration of our ideas for Koilas that we can update and change somewhat regularly to reflect the scientific understanding of the universe.
[2:15:37 PM] K Mapson: I'm on board. There are others we know are interested, I think.
[2:15:43 PM] Ivan Sanders: Great!
[2:17:58 PM] K Mapson: voted on by whom though? the three of us? anybody who wishes to vote? must be some intermediate
[2:18:12 PM] Ivan Sanders: That is a good question we should ask ourselves.
[2:19:44 PM] K Mapson: I think that is a reasonable approach
[2:21:47 PM] Ivan Sanders: A good way of conducting the creation of the Bhago is creating an outline of what we would like to see in it. From that we can distribute the writing tasks accordingly. You may already have something that fits a portion of our outline, and we can use that! All writings that contribute to the Bhago should use Koilas terminology (Deiwos, It, Bhago, Koilas). Eventually, it should come together as a nice piece of work.
[2:23:08 PM] Ivan Sanders: If nobody is opposed to this approach, I will begin creating an outline using google docs, one that everone can contribute to.
[2:23:45 PM] K Mapson: I look forward to it.
[2:27:24 PM] K Mapson: I would like to add to this my encouragement that we all keep putting the word out on the various venues through which thought is distributed on the Internet. It doesn't really take an extensive amount of writing to post things (even links to things) on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and other blogs and forums and such.
[2:28:41 PM] Ivan Sanders: Any way we can spread Pandeism is good, in my opinion (outside of knocking on people's doors).
[2:30:01 PM] K Mapson: I'm good, brother. Going to save the text from this conversation -- any objection to posting the whole thing somewhere?
[2:32:04 PM] K Mapson: I kind of think we cross the bridge of having large numbers when we have large numbers.
[2:32:47 PM] K Mapson: We have no "keepers of the flame" and ought to be as open as possible
[2:34:55 PM] K Mapson: Jaidyn, are you on Twitter?
[2:35:14 PM] Ivan Sanders: I'm not opposed to meeting frequently and discussing ideas. I think that could benefit our project as we can come together and talk about what we have written and changes/additions/deletions.
[2:35:39 PM] K Mapson: I see Ivan and other pandeists there frequently, so I don't feel alone in the pursuit.
[2:36:01 PM] K Mapson: I don't suppose you're on Wikipedia?
[2:36:32 PM] K Mapson: I very much enjoyed this, and I am sure that we can get more people in future meetings
[2:38:07 PM] Ivan Sanders: Being the most active Pandeists, what impact can we have?
[2:39:05 PM] Ivan Sanders: I think we ARE Pandeism right now
[2:39:19 PM] K Mapson: It is more than us, though.
[2:39:28 PM] Ivan Sanders: I hope so!
[2:39:44 PM] Ivan Sanders: I would love to get them engaged in our conversations.
[2:40:26 PM] K Mapson: I'd like to get the people out there like Bernard Haisch and Paul Davies and Bernardo Kastrup to at least be more aware that what they're writing of exists under another name
[2:40:46 PM] Ivan Sanders: That would be an excellent impact to have.
[2:41:02 PM] Ivan Sanders: I wish they would engage us in the conversation too. And hopefully they will.
[2:42:41 PM] K Mapson: (shorter meeting next time tho)
[2:42:58 PM] Ivan Sanders: Hopefully!
[2:44:09 PM] K Mapson: This was great, glad we're on this track, brothers.
[2:44:37 PM] K Mapson: no, that's good
[2:45:21 PM] K Mapson: take care

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Pandeism and the world of Harold Ramis

Today I eulogize a gifted man the only way I know how: by writing about how his world is fully accounted for, and so superseded, by the theological theory of Pandeism.

....A Twinkie 35 feet long weighing 600 pounds....

But first, I note that Patton Oswalt tweeted thusly:

If a Twinkie represents amount of grief I feel when someone dies,
Harold Ramis' death would be a Twinkie 35 feet long weighing 600 pounds.

This, for the uninitiated, paraphrases a line from one of Ramis' most famous collaborations, Ghostbusters -- in the film, Ramis' character, the brilliantly named Egon Spengler, was estimating the amount of psychokinetic energy hovering over New York (as compared to its regular Twinkie-sized Twinkie amount). Historically and recently, a number of meganerds have posted blogs or comments to the effect that a 35 foot long Twinkie would actually weigh way more than 600 pounds.*, *, *, * But their projections are all based on the presumption that the 35-foot length of this Twinkie would correlate with a proportional increase in diameter. In fact, the correct question to be asking is, "If a Twinkie is 35 feet long, and weighs 600 pounds, what would be the diameter of this Twinkie?"

Assuming for simplicity that a regular Twinkie is 10 cm and weight 36 grams, a proportionally expanded Twinkie being about 10.66 meters would be 106 times as long as the norm, and indeed weigh as much as 1.2 million regular twinkies, i.e. 96,000 pounds. But to achieve a Twinkie of that length which in fact weighed 600 pounds, one would simply need to make the Twinkie's length much greater than its proportional increase in diameter. We would need to specifically make it's diameter somewhere between one twelfth and one thirteenth the normal proportion. I'm being a bit rough here, but I believe a Twinkie is about an inch and a half or so in diameter -- and yes, I know that Twinkies are not perfectly cylindrical (nor in a vacuum for that matter). But approximating them to be, we may confidently retort that Egon spoke of a Twinkie 35 feet long, and about eighteen inches in diameter down it's length....

And, yes, that's a big Twinkie -- and a heavy load of grief, appropriately carried for the passing of such a bringer of mirth.

....I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost....

And by the way, I don't mean here to dwell on whether Pandeism is specifically consistent with the spirit-filled world of Ghostbusters, which is after all only a fragment of Ramis' work. But, yes, I do confess that I've been asked more than once: as a Pandeist, do I believe in ghosts, spirits, communion with the deceased, and such? Is there room in such a theological theory -- founded on logical and reasoned examination of the proof available in observing our Universe -- for the historically (if anecdotally) widely-believed phenomenon of ghosts? And I would answer that if there are such things as ghosts, these too are simply manifestations of our Creator in the same way that we are ourselves such manifestations.

But at the same time, I must speak for the moments of the proof from my own perceptions. I have certainly been in the presence of what I would call residual spiritual energies. I have a theory in mind that if a person has habitual behaviours, then there may exist some energy of the person which has a certain memory for pursuing those behaviours. I have never had a two-way conversation with a "ghost," but if I did I'd account for that pandeistically!!

....So I Got That Going For Me, Which Is Nice....

But the real point here is how Pandeism would view the whole of the body of work left behind by Harold Ramis -- Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Vacation, Back to School, Groundhog Day, Analyze This. There were some flops as well, but I'm only looking at the hits here, and for good reason, a reason that gets right down to the core of Pandeism: because they bring people joy. And isn't that really what it's all about? Or, at least, what it ought to be?

If it just so happens that we are, indeed, all part of our Creator, and our Creator is experiencing existence through us, is it not obvious that we ought to strive to have the most joyful experience of existence? It seems odd in this respect that many religions seem to have no room for the kinds of experiences which bestow unto us fullthroated, rib-shaking laughter. There is precious little that is intentionally funny in scripture. Theologian Alfred North Whitehead wrote that "the total absence of humour from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all of literature," and the Qu'ran is not much funnier. The Old Testament for example offers such advice as:

Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fools;
this also is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 7:3-6. But one must wonder, what would those folks think of the "was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor" speech in Animal House or that scene in Meatballs where the basketball team loses "with self respect" by pulling down the pants of their opponents and fleeing in the ensuing chaos? The men who penned the instructions, "let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking," Ephesians 5:4, would they scoff in derision at the classic candy-bar-in-the-swimming-pool scene in Caddyshack? Consider the hilarious comeuppance, in that very film, of the priest who golfs in the rain and takes the Lord's name in vain when he misses his last shot, only to be struck by lightning -- and who later turns up drunk and muttering "there is no God." And the bit in Groundhog Day where reporter Phil, stuck reliving the same day over and over again goes through a stretch of increasingly bizarre trysts with a local women. (One clever fellow has calculated that Phil spends in total over thirty-three years reliving that day).

But I propose that if our Creator shares in our experiences, then that includes every last guffaw of our laughter. Man was meant to laugh, and not only to laugh at highbrow things, but to laugh at fart jokes and awkward sex misadventures, at the mockery of stiff-shirted priests, at a series of cartoons making fun of a possible gay Jesus and Mohammad, and certainly of the story of the Buddhist asking the hot dog vendor, "make me one with everything." Harold Ramis had the wit to relay a story of a golfing Dalai Lama not paying Carl Spackler for his caddying in money, but instead with the promise that on his deathbed, Spackler would have total awareness.

And so, far from having words of condemnation for the varying degrees of irreverence with which Harold Ramis brought us to our knees with laughter, Pandeism would laud what Ramis gave so many, to share with one another and with our Creator -- the wonderful experience of laughter, the greatest gift one human can give another (except, naturally, for orgasms).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The infinite problem of infinite afterlives

The single most damning indictment against a deity establishing or allowing a strict dichotomy of eternal reward or eternal punishment is the inability of such deity to ameliorate such condition once it has been imposed. But some theistic accounts propose just such a dichotomy, specifically outlining categories of finite conduct which lead to infinite punishment -- even for those who would not naturally be aware that such conduct is condemnable.

Theists typically seek to sidestep the issue by proposing that human beings, having free will, are given the ability to choose to be so evil that forgiveness is not deserved. But once the punishment exceeds the wrong, unforgivingness itself becomes purely vile evil. At that point the finite wrong has already been punished, and the once-wrongdoer is being punished for nothing. A being would therefore itself need to be an infinitely evil scourge on the face of existence to permit an infinite punishment for a finite wrong. Naturally, it is a compoundedly greater error to make a binary inquiry of this, addressing only the punishment of the most evil humans. In fact, some faiths suggest a deity so basely evil that it would impose an eternal punishment on somebody who simply never came to believe in the existence of the deity in question despite living an otherwise good, even flawless life (and, perhaps, even if this disbelief is a logical response to incompetent evangelism).

Islam (so far as I am given to understand) avoids this fatal error by providing that the 'sinner' retains the ability to repent and obtain forgiveness even after death, i.e. even while in Islamic hell. Which is a more sensible thing, after all, since the infinite impossibility of such a thing would require a most sadistic elimination of free will. Simply put, if our minds continue to exist after death at all then we retain the capability to change our minds. If we can not change our minds, if we can not repent our wrongs, then the minds being punished are not truly our minds; they are no more than constructs of a static version of our minds, created for the sole purpose of having torment imposed upon them (if we ever actually existed in the first place). Conversely, if our minds (and their defining free will) are able to continue, then we are able to change our minds, and all must be able to go from a hell to a heaven or from a heaven to a hell based upon their change of mind. In other words, it can not be the case that the consequence is both infinite, and unfixable for the duration of that infinite period, for that would eliminate the free will from which the situation is claimed to arise in the first place, eliminating any justification for punishment.

Ultimately, the simple mathematical impossibility of a finite mind being fully aware of an infinite consequence is what makes infinite consequences inherently evil as applied to finite actors. The human inability to truly understand infinites is exemplified by the fact that we are only able to discuss the infinite through the use of finite symbols and representations. But of the entire set of "condemned" souls, there must be one which is, of that set, the least deserving of condemnation -- so the question remains, why does the least deserving condemned person remain condemned? And why would this condemnation persist even when the condemned person least deserving of condemnation had been fully punished or had fully repented after, say, one hundred billion years of torment? Why not, when the least deserving saved person is saved for all time, even if they become no more worthy of it after salvation, or are even able to slip into thoughts meriting condemnation?