Category Archives: Philosophy

Government has become an Instrument to Legalize Sin

Now there are those who will scoff at the very mention of the word sin. But scoffing at sin is the same thing as scoffing at crime.

That is because crime is simply a human interpretation of sin. Crime has its origin in sin.

Judicial systems are an expression of our subconscious knowledge of right and wrong. Government is the mechanism we use to pass laws to give substance to that subconscious knowledge, and to prescribe appropriate consequences for violations. From earliest times, history testifies to the human quest for what we call justice – a more perfect set of laws that conforms to our inner knowledge of what is right and wrong, or good and evil.

That inner knowledge is based on certain fundamental underlying principles. Evidence of those principles can be found in the earliest legal codes from Hammurabi to the Ten Commandments, and the Edicts of Asoka, which demonstrate that the underlying principles have been entirely consistent throughout history.

Those who claim that our perceptions of right and wrong ‘evolve’ with social changes focus on the wrong issues. They focus on our interpretation of the fundamental underlying principles, and on the methods of proof and punishment, rather than on the principles themselves. In that respect, it should not be surprising that the methods of implementing the principles into systems of laws, and administering those laws and dispensing judgments, would reflect the times and the frailties of human beings.

So it is important to clearly distinguish between the underlying principles, and how human beings interpret those principles

The great Jewish philosopher, Philo Judaeus, made this distinction clear in respect of the Ten Commandments: “for it was suitable to [God’s] own nature to promulgate in his own person the heads and principles of all particular laws, but to send forth the particular and special laws by the most perfect of the prophets, whom he selected for his preeminent excellence, and filled with his divine spirit, and then appointed to be the interpreter of his holy oracles.”[1]

Philo recognized that the underlying principles are immutable and certain. It is the interpretation and implementation of those principles that are imperfect and corruptible.

That is the proper distinction between crime and sin. Sin is a violation of a fundamental principle, while crime is a violation of a human interpretation of an underlying principle. But there is a more destructive element to human law. Not only is the interpretation of the underlying principles susceptible to human mischief, human beings are also adept at circumventing the very principles on which the laws should be founded in order to serve their own particular interests, appetites, and ambitions.

The reason for this relates to the structure of the human brain. The brain comprises three principal faculties: instinct, reason and morality. These three faculties are clearly identified in Genesis 1: 26 – 31, as explained in the article Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day Six – Programming Human DNA: Morality, Reason and Instinct.

Instincts are indisputable; we are born with them. Human instincts are mostly indistinguishable from animal instincts – reproduction, survival and security. But humans have additional, peculiarly human, instincts, principally the instinct to conquer. Instincts are activated by the prospect of pleasure, or the fear of pain.

Morality is the counterbalance to instincts. It is our inner knowledge of right and wrong. Morality is a manifestation of our innate knowledge of the fundamental principles of right and wrong. The evidence for morality is everywhere – in our great legislative bodies, in our courts of law, in our religious institutions, the work of charities and philanthropists, and even in the writings of our great philosophers. That is because those principles are imprinted into our brains as a neurological moral network, or what the British IVF pioneer, Sir Robert Winston, calls a “morality module.” That network converts the raw mathematical data imprinted in our brains into moral principles, and enables us to judge our actions in accordance with those principles – if we choose to do so. When a fundamental principle of morality is violated, we experience a sense of guilt.

Finally there is reason. No one would dispute the human ability to reason, even if it is rather abstruse on occasion. But reason is a neutral faculty. More reason does not guarantee a better outcome, just as less reason doesn’t guarantee a worse outcome. Those who make the greatest sacrifice for others don’t generally rationalize their way to the sacrifice; they simply respond to what they know deep down is the right thing to do, even if it means sacrificing their own lives.

Reason in the service of morality is what makes an action right, or good, while reason in the service of instinct is what, on the whole, makes an action wrong, or evil. Reason in the service of instinct can justify anything. And more crucially, it will find justification for indulging certain primitive instincts in spite of the guilt. Reason is all too often employed to silence the guilt generated by morality in order to indulge the prospect of pleasure to be had by servicing some or other primitive instinct. Reason in the absolute service of instinct, without any reference to morality, is what we would call pure evil. It is most evident in psychopaths.

It is thus reason in the service of instinct, in varying degrees, that provides the basis of crime, and indeed other acts we consider unlawful.

There are two distinct aspects to crime. One is the physical act itself, and the other is the mental element that initiates the act. In law, this mental element is called the mens rea, or guilty mind. It relates directly to reason – intention, recklessness or negligence. It is not hard to identify most crimes and unlawful acts as being examples of reason in the service of instinct without regard to the guilt generated by morality. The action only becomes unlawful because someone commits an act knowing it to be wrong, or not caring whether it is wrong.

However, it would be delusional to think that human beings only become aware that certain actions are wrong when a law is passed to declare them so (the Thomas Hobbes view). If human beings don’t know that certain actions are wrong, then they wouldn’t know that there should be a law to prohibit them. That is how instinct operates in animals.

Our knowledge that certain actions are wrong precedes making the action a criminal offence. It is the presumption that everyone knows, or should know, that the action is wrong that forms the basis of the offence in the first place. We know that actions are wrong because they generate a sense of guilt if we even consider committing them, and we feel a sense of revulsion when such acts are committed by others.

The evidence is thus incontrovertible. This innate knowledge of wrong, that is made known to us by our “morality module” generating a sense of guilt, is what is more commonly described as sin. And how we translate that innate knowledge into rules of conduct for human interaction is what we call crime. The former is the more perfect version; the latter the more imperfect.

But it is the latter that provides the platform to attack the former. The perception today, and it is a perception those averse to any restraint on their actions are eager to promote, is that wrong is an entirely legislative prerogative. In this view, the only things that can be wrong are those things that the government tells us are wrong. And that is done through legislation.

Anything that is not prohibited by law must be permissible. Something not prohibited by law cannot therefore be wrong, even if it generates a sense of guilt. It is this rather warped and artificial conception of what is wrong that facilitates the legalization of sin. Adultery is a poignant example.

By predicating the whole concept of wrong on legislation, guilt is ridiculed as an emotional reaction of no real consequence. Guilt is portrayed as an artificial and self-inflicted condition because, it is asserted, it must be irrational to feel guilty about indulging in an act that is not specifically prohibited by law. And reason can easily be employed to justify this kind of self-deception.

Once the majority of people are persuaded that guilt is irrelevant unless it is a function of a legislative prohibition, then legislation becomes an instrument to suppress our innate sense of right and wrong. Sin is vanquished. And we become a Godless species of moral mutes in bondage to our primitive instincts. We thus lose our freedom to choose between right and wrong, and become slaves to the moral indifference of those with only the most tenuous connection to their own neurological moral networks, or indeed, totally disconnected from them.

However, this does not mean that morality will cease to exist. That is because the fundamental principles of morality are simply an expression of the moral dimension of the fundamental principles of physics. We can only delude ourselves for so long that we can somehow invent the laws of morality, just as we deluded ourselves about our knowledge of the laws of physics, and most likely continue to do.

Those who propagate this subjective distortion of right and wrong, and those who eagerly subscribe to the distortion, should be under no illusion that the consequences of ignoring the laws of morality will be the same as ignoring the laws of physics – disaster.

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This article is based on the book A ‘Final Theory’ of God by Joseph BH McMillan.

[1] Philo, Decalogue, XXXIII (175).

Will non-Muslims ever be permitted to debate Islam?

In his excellent book Civilization and Ethics, a penetrating analysis of the various religions and philosophies of the world, Schweitzer says this:
“In contrast to these monistic-pantheistic world-views, we find a dualistic outlook on life in the religion of Zarathustra (sixth century B.C. onwards), in that of the Jewish prophets (from the eighth century B.C. onwards), and in those of Jesus and Mohammed, this last, however, showing itself to be in all points unoriginal and decadent.”
That is a rather dismissive evaluation of Islam, so let’s test it by reference to some verses from the Koran itself.
Islam as “Unoriginal”

Before we start we should note two preliminary points.
First, what is meant by “unoriginal”? In general, a written work would be considered unoriginal if it were a copy or reproduction, in whole or in part, of another, already existing work.
Secondly, we should recall that the Koran was written during Mohammed’s lifetime (570 – 632 A.D.) – that is, many hundreds of years after the various books of the Bible; and in the case of the Torah, about two thousand years later.
In order to assess the originality of Islam, we will see what the Koran has to say about some seminal Biblical events: the Creation; the Garden of Eden; Adam and Eve; Cain and Abel; Noah; Abraham; Moses and the Ten Commandments; and of course, Jesus and the Crucifixion.
Yes, all those Biblical characters and events are referred to in the Koran, and many more – Lot, David and Goliath, Solomon, Elijah, Jonah, Joseph (of the multi-coloured robe fame), Job, John the Baptist, and the disciples, amongst others.
(References are to the English translation and commentary of the Koran by A. Yusuf Ali, by all accounts a respected and authoritative translation of, and commentary on, the Koran. For those who wish to read the verses for themselves, there are many internet sources. Please NOTE that where brackets appear in the verses quoted, that is because they are found in the original translation. They are NOT any kind of comment or interpretation on my part.)
The Creation

The Koran adopts the Genesis version of a six day creation: Sura VII: 54: “Your Guardian-Lord is God, Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days, and is firmly established on the Throne [of authority]:”
Compare Genesis 1: 1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
And Exodus 20:11: “For in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.” And see Exodus 31: 17.
Length of Days

According to Sura XXII: 47, “A Day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning.”
That is not unlike 2 Peter 3: 8: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Events in each Day

As for what happened in each of the “six days” of creation, the account in the Koran differs from the account in Genesis which, as I demonstrate in my series of articles Perspectives on the Scriptures, is being validated year by year with new scientific discoveries and theories.
This is the Koran’s version according to Sura XLI: 9 – 12:
9. Say: Is it that ye deny Him Who created the earth in two Days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds.
10. He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four Days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (Sustenance).
11. Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: “Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly.” They said: “We do come (together), in willing obedience.”
12. So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge.
This account gives a total of eight days for the creation, not six days – 2 days in verse 9, 4 days in verse 10, and another 2 days in verse 12. The answer, according to the Commentary, is that the 4 days in verse 10 include the 2 days in verse 9.
The Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve, and events in the Garden of Eden (referred to only as “the Garden”), can be found at Sura II: 30 – 39, and Sura VII: 11 – 25.
Here are verses 19 – 20 of Sura VII:
19. O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and enjoy (its good things) as ye wish: but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression.
20. Then began Satan to whisper suggestions to them, bringing openly before their minds all their shame that was hidden from them [before]: he said: “Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels or such beings as live for ever.”
Cain and Abel
We then find this account of Cain slaying Abel in Sura V; 30 – 34:
30. Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam. Behold! They each presented a sacrifice (to Allah): It was accepted from one, but not from the other. Said the latter: “Be sure I will slay thee.” “Surely,” Said the former, “Allah doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous.”
31. “If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: For I do fear Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds.”
32. “For me, I intend to let thee draw on thyself my sin as well as thine, for thou wilt be among the Companions of the Fire, and that is the reward of those who do wrong.”
33. The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: He murdered him, and became (himself) one of the lost ones.
34. Then Allah sent a raven, who scratched the ground, to show him how to hide the shame of his brother. “Woe is me!” said he; “Was I not even able to be as this raven, and to hide the shame of my brother?” Then he became full of regrets.
Noah and the Ark
Noah is mentioned in several places in the Koran. Here is the account given in Sura VII: 59 – 64.
59. We sent Noah to his people. He said: “O my people! worship Allah! ye have no other god but Him. I fear for you the punishment of a dreadful day!
60. The leaders of his people said: “Ah! we see thee evidently wandering [in mind].”
61. He said: “O my people! No wandering is there in my [mind]: on the contrary I am a messenger from the Lord and Cherisher of the worlds!
62. “I but fulfil towards you the duties of my Lord’s mission: Sincere is my advice to you, and I know from Allah something that ye know not.
63. “Do ye wonder that there hath come to you a message from your Lord, through a man of your own people, to warn you,- so that ye may fear Allah and happily receive His Mercy?”
64. But they rejected him, and We delivered him, and those with him, in the Ark: but We overwhelmed in the flood those who rejected Our signs. They were indeed a blind people!
For those who may be interested, a more detailed account of Noah can be found at Sura XI: 25 – 49, and again at XXVI: 105 – 122.
Abraham
Abraham is an important figure in Islam, and Sura II tells us how Abraham adopted Islam. Here are some of the verses:
127. And remember Abraham and Isma’il raised the foundations of the House [With this prayer]: “Our Lord! Accept [this service] from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing.
128. “Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy [Will], and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy [will]; and show us our place for the celebration of [due] rites; and turn unto us [in Mercy]; for Thou art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.

132. And this was the legacy that Abraham left to his sons, and so did Jacob; “Oh my sons! Allah hath chosen the Faith for you; then die not except in the Faith of Islam.”
133. Were ye witnesses when death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: “What will ye worship after me?” They said: “We shall worship Thy god and the god of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma’il and Isaac,- the one [True] Allah: To Him we bow [in Islam].
And that is followed with some advice on why Judaism and Christianity should be rejected:
134. That was a people that hath passed away. They shall reap the fruit of what they did, and ye of what ye do! Of their merits there is no question in your case!
135. They say: “Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided [To salvation].” Say thou: “Nay! [I would rather] the Religion of Abraham the True, and he joined not gods with Allah.”
136. Say ye: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to [all] prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah [in Islam].”
Moses
At Sura VII we find an account of Moses and Pharaoh, according to the Koran. I have included a few verses of this account because it is rather entertaining.
103. Then after them We sent Moses with Our signs to Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they wrongfully rejected them: So see what was the end of those who made mischief.
104. Moses said: “O Pharaoh! I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds,-
105. One for whom it is right to say nothing but truth about Allah. Now have I come unto you [people], from your Lord, with a clear [Sign]: So let the Children of Israel depart along with me.”
106. [Pharaoh] said: “If indeed thou hast come with a Sign, show it forth,- if thou tellest the truth.”
107. Then [Moses] threw his rod, and behold! it was a serpent, plain [for all to see]!
108. And he drew out his hand, and behold! it was white to all beholders!
109. Said the Chiefs of the people of Pharaoh: “This is indeed a sorcerer wellversed.
110. “His plan is to get you out of your land: then what is it ye counsel?”
111. They said: “Keep him and his brother in suspense [for a while]; and send to the cities men to collect-
112. And bring up to thee all [our] sorcerers well-versed.”
113. So there came the sorcerers to Pharaoh: They said, “of course we shall have a [suitable] reward if we win!”
114. He said: “Yea, [and more],- for ye shall in that case be [raised to posts] nearest [to my person].”
115. They said: “O Moses! wilt thou throw [first], or shall we have the [first] throw?”
116. Said Moses: “Throw ye [first].” So when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them: for they showed a great [feat of] magic.
117. We put it into Moses’s mind by inspiration: “Throw [now] thy rod”: and behold! it swallows up straight away all the falsehoods which they fake!
118. Thus truth was confirmed, and all that they did was made of no effect.
119. So the [great ones] were vanquished there and then, and were made to look small.
Sura V addresses the Covenant at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19: 5 – 9), but in the Koran it relates to the first three of the Five Pillars of Islam:
13. Allah did aforetime take a Covenant from the Children of Israel, and We appointed twelve captains among them. And Allah said: “I am with you: If ye (but) establish regular Prayers, practice regular Charity, believe in My apostles, honor and assist them, and loan to Allah a beautiful loan, verily I will wipe out from you your evils, and admit you to Gardens with rivers flowing beneath; but if any of you, after this, resisteth faith, he hath truly wandered
from the path of rectitude.”
Sura VII then gives this account of what happened next at Mount Sinai:
144. [Allah] said: “O Moses! I have chosen thee above [other] men, by the mission I [have given thee] and the words I [have spoken to thee]: take then the [revelation] which I give thee, and be of those who give thanks.”
145. And We ordained laws for him in the tablets in all matters, both commanding and explaining all things, [and said]: “Take and hold these with firmness, and enjoin Thy people to hold fast by the best in the precepts: soon shall I show you The homes of the wicked,- [How they lie desolate].”
And mercy will be shown to …
157. “Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own [scriptures],- in the law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good [and pure] and prohibits them from what is bad [and impure]; He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light
which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper.”
158. Say: “O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: it is He That giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His words: follow him that [so] ye may be guided.”
Jesus Proclaims Mohammed
Of course, Jesus also proclaimed the coming of Mohammed. This is from Sura LXI:
6. And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah [sent] to you, confirming the Law [which came] before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.”But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, “this is evident sorcery!”
But the crucifixion was an illusion …
VI: 157. That they said [in boast], “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no [certain] knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
And it is blasphemy to claim that Jesus is the Son of God …
V ; 19. In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say “Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His Will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all–every one that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things.”

Now reading all this, one could be forgiven for concluding that Mohammed simply plagiarized large parts of the Bible so as to portray himself as the focus of events. And that could only be construed as “unoriginal”. The Koran, on the other hand, argues that Mohammed was illiterate (“the Unlettered Prophet”) so he could not have read the Scriptures. Instead, A. Yusuf Ali’s Introduction to the Koran says this:
“C.29.-The Chosen One was in the Cave of Hiraa. For two years and more he had prayed there and adored his Creator and wondered at the mystery of man with his corruptible flesh, just growing out of a clot, and the soul in him reaching out to knowledge sublime, new and ever new, taught by the bounty of Allah, and leading to that which man himself knows not. And now, behold! A dazzling vision of beauty and light overpowered his senses, and he heard the word “Iqraa!”
“C.30.-“Iqraa!” — Which being interpreted may mean “Read!” or “Proclaim!” or “Recite!” The unlettered Apostle was puzzled; he could not read. The Angel seemed to press him to his breast in a close embrace, and the cry rang clear “Iqraa!” and so it happened three times; until the first overpowering sensation yielded to a collected grasp of the words which made clear his mission; its Author, Allah the Creator, its subject, Man, Allah’s wondrous handiwork, capable, by Grace, of rising to the heights sublime; and the instrument of that mission, the sanctified Pen, and the sanctified Book, the Gift of Allah, which men might read, or write, or study, or treasure in their souls.”
In other words, the author of the Koran is God Himself.
And that may explain why Muslims are so sensitive about any scrutiny or criticism of Mohammed. In respect of any other religion, philosophy, ideology or belief, the normal way people come to subscribe to them is by evaluating the text, then deciding whether the text justifies the claims made. But in respect of the Koran, Muslims insist that the starting point should be accepting the claims, and then reading the text in that light.
Which is why Muslims believe that the Jewish Scriptures and the Gospels got it wrong.
So how, according to the Koran, could the Jews and Christians have made such fundamental mistakes? Well, perhaps that is where the ‘decadent’ part of Schweitzer’s description comes in.
Islam as “Decadent”
According to the Koran, the Jews and Christians falsified their Scriptures.
The Jews
In respect of the Jews, we find this at Sura II:
75. Can ye (O men of Faith) entertain the hope that they will believe in you? –Seeing that a party of them heard the Word of Allah, and perverted it knowingly after they understood it.
And this in Sura V:
14. But because of their breach of their Covenant, We cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard: They change the words from their (right) places and forget a good part of the Message that was sent them, nor wilt thou cease to find them–barring a few–ever bent on (new) deceits: But forgive them, and overlook (their misdeeds): For Allah loveth those who are kind.
The Christians
In Sura V, we read this about the Christians:
15. From those, too, who call themselves Christians, We did take a Covenant, but they forgot a good part of the Message that was sent them: So We estranged them, with enmity and hatred between one and the other, to the Day of Judgment. And soon will Allah show them what it is they have done.
Then both Jews and Christians get a dressing-down for hiding the true message:
16. O People of the Book! There hath come to you our Apostle, revealing to you much that ye used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary):
17. There hath come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book, —

Consequences for the Jews and Christians for perverting the Message
From Sura II:
87. We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of Apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you an Apostle with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride? –Some ye call impostors, and others ye slay!
88. They say, “Our hearts are the wrappings (which preserve Allah’s Word: We need no more).” Nay, Allah’s curse is on them for their blasphemy: Little is it they believe.
89. And when there comes to them a Book from Allah, confirming what is with them, –although from of old they had prayed for victory against those without Faith, –when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognized, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of Allah is on those without faith.
90. Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that they deny (the revelation) which Allah has sent down, in insolent envy that Allah of his Grace should send it to any of His servants He pleases: Thus have they drawn on themselves Wrath upon Wrath. And humiliating is the punishment of those who reject Faith.
And the Commentary to those verses says this:
C.47.- (Verses 87-121)-The people of Moses and the people of Jesus were given revelations, but alas! They played false with their own lights, and, in their selfishness, made narrow Allah’s universal message. To them it seemed incredible that His light should illumine Arabia and reform the world. But His ways are wondrous, and they are clear to those who have Faith.
Made them “apes and swine”
This is from Sura V:
62: Say: “O People of the Book! Do ye disapprove of us for no other reason than that we believe in Allah, and the revelation that hath come to us and that which came before (us), and (perhaps) that most of you are rebellious and disobedient?”
63. Say: “Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from Allah? Those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped Evil; –these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even Path!”
And from Sura II:
65. And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed of the Sabbath: We said to them: “Be ye apes, despised and rejected.”
66. So We made an example to their own time and to their posterity, and a lesson to those who fear Allah.
Which the Commentary explains like this:
“The punishment would be, not for the breach of the Sabbath in itself (by the Jews), but for the contumacious defiance of the law.”
Special mention of the Jews
Again from Sura V:
65. Many of them dost thou see, racing each other in sin and rancor, and their eating of things forbidden. Evil indeed are the things that they do.
66. Why do not the Rabbis and the doctors of law forbid them from their (habit of) uttering sinful words and eating things forbidden? Evil indeed are their works.
67. The Jews say: “Allah’s hand is tied up.” Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter. Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched: He giveth and spendeth (of His bounty) as He pleaseth. But the revelation that cometh to thee from Allah increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. Amongst them We have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment. Every time they kindle the fire of war, Allah doth extinguish it; but they (ever) strive to do mischief on earth. And Allah loveth not those who do mischief.
What Jesus really said to his disciples
According to the Gospel of John, this is what Jesus said to his disciples concerning the Holy Ghost:
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” John 16:7
The Koran says otherwise. We find the ‘true’ version of what Jesus said in Sura VXI:
6. And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the apostle of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of an Apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.” But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, “This is evident sorcery!”
7. Who doth greater wrong than one who invents falsehood against Allah, even as he is being invited to Islam? And Allah guides not those who do wrong.
8. Their intention is to extinguish Allah’s Light (by blowing) with their mouths: But Allah will complete (the revelation of) His Light, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it).
9. It is He Who has sent His Apostle with Guidance and and the Religion of Truth, that he may proclaim it over all religion, even though the Pagans may detest (it).
Jihad
As we have seen, Islam means “submission” or “surrender”. “Submission” to the “will
of Allah”.
And this “submission” requires observance of the Five Pillars of Islam: affirming that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah (the Shahâdah); ritual prayer five times a day (Salâh); giving alms on a determined scale (Zakâh); fasting during Ramadân (Sawn); and a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime (Hajj). Jihâd, or “holy war”, is sometimes called the “sixth” pillar, although it is not generally regarded as universally obligatory as long as a “sufficient number” participate.
But Jihâd also has another implication; compelling others to accept Islam. Here is Sura IX:
29. Fight those who believe not in God [Allah] nor the Last Day, Nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden By God and His apostle, Nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth [Islam], (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], Until they pay the jizya With willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
And verse 20 of Sûra IX says this:
20. Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main, in God’s cause, With their goods and their persons, Have the highest rank In the sight of God: They are the people who will achieve (salvation).
And from Sura III:
151. Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, For that they joined companions with God, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: and evil is the home of the wrong-doers.
And the duty of Muslims, according to Sura VIII:
38. Say to the Unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from Unbelief), their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them).
39. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.
And from Sura XIII:
13. See they not that We gradually reduce the land (in their control) from its outlying borders? (Where) God Commands, there is none to put back His Command.
And finally the punishment that awaits those who resist is found at Sura V:
35. On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person–unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land–it would be as if he slew the whole people: And if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our Apostles with Clear Signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.
36. The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: Execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: That is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;
37. Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: In that case, know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Conclusion
So there we have Albert Schweitzer’s assessment of Islam, and there we have a selection of verses from the Koran which could be taken to relate to Schweitzer’s assessment.
The question is: will we ever be permitted a debate on what all this means, other than on terms dictated by Muslims themselves?

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Perhaps there is hope for Humanity’s moral destiny after all!

In my latest book, “A ‘Final Theory’ of God”, I made these comments in the final chapter regarding my purpose for the book:
“The task of A ‘Final Theory’ of God is to awaken the human spirit to its true moral purpose, and its true moral destiny.
“It aspires to awaken in humanity, and especially in those who hold in their hands the power and resources to influence the course of government, science, philosophy, and religion, the moral purpose and destiny that is ‘written’ in our hearts, and in our minds, so that humanity can shake off the shackles of bondage to our primitive instincts and work towards a new vision. A vision true to humanity’s moral purpose and destiny: a model of government and justice that reflects the Universal Moral Law.
“It urges science to re-tool its energies and investigations to the discovery and explanation of the link between the laws of physics, chemistry and biology, and the moral aptitude of the human organism to recognize the laws of morality that are embedded in our minds. Sir Robert Winston has made a start with his recognition of a “morality module” in man, but the task is immense. The focus must be re-orientated to make the connection between the fundamental laws of physics, and the fundamental principles of the “moral law”, and the curious human ability to ‘see’ those laws.
“Instead of tearing apart the very notion of a moral purpose to the human species, science should set itself to explaining why that moral purpose won’t be silenced.
“A ‘Final Theory’ of God provides a ‘brief’ to philosophers, jurists, politicians and political scientists, theologians, and economists, to apply themselves to the task of interpreting and implementing humanity’s moral destiny in cooperation with scientists. Each must inform and learn from the other. Vanity must be overcome, and discipline-centric research set aside. The goal must be clear – reinvigorate the human spirit in its true moral purpose, and set humanity on course to fulfill its cosmic destiny.
“Nothing could be more important.
“Before we venture out into the far reaches of the cosmos, let us prepare a gift for whomever and whatever we may find out there; a gift we set by example right here on Earth. Let us not be a cosmic Columbus, visiting upon the universe death and destruction, oppression and hate, strife and discord, greed and indulgence. We must be a beacon of light, not a harbinger of death.”
But after publishing the book, I feared that science would lead us down the road to a ‘Final Theory’ of Despair.
Then I awoke this morning to an article that gave me hope. Of all places, I found it on my Twitter page. A Follower had posted this link: http://phys.org/news/2015-01-explores-universe-morality.html#jCp
It referenced Dr Kelly Smith of Clemson University, a Philosopher and Evolutionary Biologist, who has suggested that the tendency of the universe to naturally produce complexity has distinctly religious overtones and may even establish a truly universal basis for morality.
Now that is essentially the argument of my book.
However, there are some areas in which Dr Smith and I may disagree at present, especially as to whether a moral dimension to the laws of physics suggests a Supreme Lawmaker, but at least there is a glimmer of light from the scientific community. We may also disagree on the role and significance of ‘reason’ – I consider it to be a highly over-rated commodity. For those who claim it, it is like “banging on the table” (Alf Ross, in respect of Justice).
But what I found very encouraging about Dr Smith’s hypothesis is his understanding of how the moral dimension to the laws of the universe may relate to other life in the universe – if there be such a thing.
According to the article,
“[Dr] Smith feels another similarity to religion is the potential moral implications of this idea. If evolution tends to favor the development of sociality, reason, and culture as a kind of “package deal”, then it’s a good bet that any smart extraterrestrials we encounter will have similar evolved attitudes about their basic moral commitments.
“In particular, they will likely agree with us that there is something morally special about rational, social creatures. And such universal agreement, argues Smith, could be the foundation for a truly universal system of ethics.”
Now, I may disagree with certain elements of what has been ascribed to Dr Smith, but I can agree with the effect a universal moral law would have. This is what I say in the very first chapter of my book regarding extraterrestrial intelligence:
“If the Laws of Physics and the Laws of Morality are the same thing, and as we shall see that is exactly what the evidence suggests, then Stephen Hawking will have nothing to fear from aliens. If the Principles constituting a Final Theory of the universe also turn out to be the Principles of a ‘Final Theory’ of morality, the one thing we could be fairly sure of is that if aliens had mastered the physical Principles so as to be able to traverse the universe, they would also have mastered the moral Principles – because they would be one and the same. So rather than embarking on a Columbus-style subjugation and extermination of the human race, as Hawking fears, the aliens would more likely school us in the error of our ways and divert our ability to reason away from a frantic and fanatical servicing of our primitive carnal instincts and bring it into the service of the Principles of morality.”
Where scientists, philosophers and theologians will go with this is yet to be seen. But I find Dr Smith’s direction of research most encouraging.
Hopefully others will take up the challenge.
Joseph BH McMillan is the author of “A ‘Final Theory’ of God” and “Freedom v A Tyranny of Rights”
Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Philosophical Origins of the Modern Liberal Fundamentalist State – Part II

“Hereby it is manifest that during time when men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man.”
And then there is this: “The desires, and other passions of man, are in themselves no sin. No more are the actions that proceed from those passions till they know a law that forbids them; which till laws be made they cannot know, nor can any law be made till they have agreed upon the person that shall make it.”
That is Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) in Leviathan, also known as the Matter, Form, and Authority of Government – which really says it all.
This is quite frightening stuff, but remarkably, such sentiments still represent exactly the modern Liberal Fundamentalist state.
What Hobbes is saying is that human beings are too stupid and selfish to act in their own long term interests, or to ‘know’ what is right and wrong. So, he says, we need to elect one or more of our number to tell us how to act in our own best interests, and to tell us what is right and wrong.
He doesn’t explain how a group of stupid, selfish people, electing a stupid, selfish person from their midst, suddenly endows that person with the ‘wisdom’ to know what is right and wrong, and to act in a way that does not reflect his own stupid and selfish character.
Yet that is precisely what modern day politicians claim is the effect of their ascendance to power – that somehow they gain some superior ´wisdom´, ´conscience´, and sense of ´justice´, to the rest of us.

John Locke (1632 – 1704)

So although modern day ´philosophers´ will claim that Hobbes´ was too crude, the fact remains that his formula is precisely the model of modern day Western democratic government.
John Locke ‘refined’ Hobbes’ model. He started his ´philosophy´ of government with what is my Principle 1 – that no person has any natural authority to tell another person what to do.
He agrees that the natural state of man is “a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature; without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.”
He also said that men are in “a state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another.”
So, at first sight, it seems as though Locke is heading in the right direction.
But Locke carried with him plenty of baggage. He was an academic at Oxford University, then later the personal physician and companion of a certain English nobleman called the Earl of Shaftesbury. Locke was also teacher to Shaftesbury’s children.
I always find it ironic that someone so absolutely beholden for his living to another, especially an English nobleman, should be preaching about freedom.
And this quickly comes out in his writing.
Unlike Hobbes, Locke looks to the law of nature; “for the law of nature would, as all other laws that concern men in this world, be in vain, if there were nobody that in the state of nature had a power to execute that law, and thereby preserve the innocent, and restrain offenders.”
So, within 3 numbered paragraphs of his Second Treatise, Locke is already looking for someone to govern; to enforce the “law of nature.”
Accordingly, after justifying, in his chapter “Of Property”, why the likes of Shaftesbury can legitimately ‘own’ enormous amounts of property, to the exclusion of “common possession,” Locke latches onto the concept of “the majority”, and the “perfect democracy.”
Locke claims that “no one can be put out of [his freedom, equality, and independence], and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent.”
Phew, so far so good!
And “consent” is exactly what Locke claims men do, “for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another.”
But here is where Locke becomes bankrupt in his ´thinking´. He is unable to identify any principles to which all people would consent in order to conduct relations within their new community, so he simply claims that man “divests himself of his natural liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, … by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community, for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any that are not of it.”
And where do the ´rules´ to govern come from? Alarmingly, Locke says this: “ … the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest.”
So there it is – a “right” of the “majority” to dictate to the rest of us.
And done, says Locke, because “when any number of men have, by the consent of every individual, made a community, they have thereby made that community one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only the will and determination of the majority; … it is necessary the body should move that way whither the greater force carries it, which is the consent of the majority: … and so every one is bound by that consent to be concluded by the majority.”
What a devious little man! But I’m sure his noble Earl was pleased.
Locke’s ´thinking´ is a perfect example of turning logic on its head. We consent to relinquish our freedom to the majority, so that I have unwittingly ‘consented’ to be ruled by “that way whither the greater force carries it, which is the consent of the majority.”??
How can I consent to relinquish my consent to the consent of the majority, but still retain my freedom?
But this inverted logic is only the start of Locke’s ‘treatise’.
He goes on to claim that men give up their freedom “to be regulated by laws made by society.”
Locke argues that man consents to “give up the equality, liberty, and executive power [he] had in the state of nature, into the hands of the society,” because of “three defects” which make “the state of nature so unsafe and uneasy.”
Those “three defects”, he claims, are: no “established, settled, known” laws of right and wrong to settle controversies; no “known and indifferent” judges, with authority to determine disputes by reference to laws; and lastly, no “power” to execute punishment.
So, Locke argues, man consents to give up his condition of freedom (or as Locke describes it, “the equality, liberty, and executive power [he] had in the state of nature”), only “with an intention [to] better preserve himself, his liberty and property.”
Thus, says Locke, “the power of the society, or legislative constituted by them, can never be supposed to extend farther than the common good; but is obliged to secure every one’s property, by providing against those three defects above-mentioned, that made the state of nature so unsafe and uneasy.”
After briefly outlining the bounds of government, Locke sets out his idea of the “perfect democracy.”
“The majority having, as has been showed, upon men’s first uniting into society, the whole power of the community naturally in them, may employ all that power in making laws for the community from time to time, and executing those laws by officers of their own appointing; and then the form of the government is a perfect democracy.”
Locke then delineates the “bounds” of government: to govern by promulgated established laws; the laws must be “designed for no other end ultimately, but the good of the people;” government “must not raise taxes on the property of people, without the consent of the people;” and the legislator must not “transfer the power of making laws to anybody else.”
The “good of the people”? Tax, by consent of the majority? The “common good”? The majority ‘consenting’ on my behalf? “the greater force carries it, which is the consent of the majority”?
What on earth is left of my freedom?
I have sacrificed freedom to the common good, to the majority, to the “greater force” of the “consent of the majority”? I have agreed that the majority can consent to government appropriating my property under the guise of tax?
Oh Yes, I nearly forgot! If government is naughty and ventures beyond its mandate, say by imposing additional taxes, we can – wait for it – we can be “aggrieved.” And we can take our grievance to ….? Well – to the government. And if government laughs at us, what then? “The appeal lies nowhere but to Heaven.”
I’m not kidding, that’s what Locke says. The nobleman, the Earl of Shaftsbury, must have been pleased with his child-minder!
But it gets worse. “The legislative can never revert to the people whilst the government lasts; because having provided a legislative with power to continue for ever, they have given up their political power to the legislative, and cannot resume it.”
Really? Where, and when, exactly did man consent to get ‘Shafted’ by government.
But can we please perhaps vote a government out which has abused and exceeded its mandate?
Well, “if [the people] have set limits to the duration of their legislative, and made this supreme power in any person, or assembly, only temporary; or, else, when by the miscarriages of those in authority it is forfeited; upon the forfeiture, or at the determination of the time set, it reverts to the society, and the people have a right to act as supreme, and continue the legislative in themselves; or to erect a new form, or under the old form place it in new hands, as they think good.”
So here is the first big problem. If the government has abused its mandate to please the majority who, for example, want the minority to be compelled to hand over large amounts of property to the majority, how do you get rid of the government?
You can only do so if you can get the majority to relinquish its iron grip on your possessions! Remember, it’s all about the “greater force” of the “consent of the majority.” How likely is that?
The other possibility Locke envisages is the people expelling the government. But this he reserves only to the case where government uses force upon the people without authority and in breach of its mandate. Then, says Locke, “the people have the right to remove it by force.”
Fat chance!!
By this time, government has, by majority consent, usually reserved most or all force to itself. So the aggrieved have to overcome two obstacles: the majority; and if they can achieve that, the power the people have vested in government. And, of course, all governments make insurrection a criminal offence, even a treasonable offence, entitling government to suspend all ‘rights’; in the common good, and for the preservation of law and order, of course.
Locke himself describes this state as “a state of war with the people.”
Now, anyone thinking this through should quickly see that placing government in the hands of a majority, and endowing it with absolute authority to use force, makes it impossible to remove government so long as it attracts majority support, no matter how much it tramples over its original mandate. And the easiest way to maintain majority support is to take from the minority and give to the majority. But we are not talking here about some tiny proportion of the people having their freedoms trampled on. Usually it means 50% or more of the people, as any Western democratic election shows.
Even providing that “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” as in Amendment II of the United States Constitution, does not come close to curing this mechanism of oppression.
The well regulated Militia would have to be a rival army equal to, or more powerful than, the government forces, to be effective in such a circumstance. Government can also simply define what this Militia may comprise, as it does, or simply maintain that the military forces of the state are that Militia.
Most governments also simply restrict the “right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
Any half-wit should know that no government is going to allow an effective rival army to exist to act as a regulator of its affairs and power.
If we follow Locke’s ‘reasoning’ through therefore, we discover that man has consented to surrender his freedom in order to attain those basic securities necessary to remedy the defects of man’s state of nature, what I call his condition of freedom, the three rather insignificant “defects” of his freedom, only to find he will be subject to the whim of the majority, backed up by a force that he has no hope of challenging. In man’s condition of freedom, the principal threat came from those of relatively equal strength to himself; under Locke’s formula, the threat is from an immensely more powerful entity, supported by an easily manipulated majority.
Who in their right mind would consent to such an inversion of threat?
‘Nanny Boy’, Shafter’s child-minder and ‘companion’ – companion? Hmm? – reinforced his vision of tyranny in a piece of drivel called A Letter Concerning Toleration.
Nanny Boy poses himself a hypothetical question: “What if the [government] should enjoin any thing by his authority, that appears unlawful to the conscience of a private person?”
Well, Nanny Boy says this is unlikely to happen – because remember, there are such great people in government as Shafter – but if it does, we should follow our consciences and bear the consequences of the unlawful law.
But he goes even further. A private person – note, no longer a free person – should “abstain from the actions that he judges unlawful; and he is to undergo the punishment, which is not unlawful for him to bear; for the private judgment of any person concerning a law enacted in political matters, for the public good, does not take away the obligation of that law, nor deserve a dispensation.”
To compensate for the loss of freedom, Locke offers us religion. As long as we are all free to follow our own religion, we should be grateful. So our freedom has been reduced to freedom of religion. But that itself depends on government ‘tolerating’ our religion.
Nanny Boy thus distinguishes between “political society” and “the care of each man’s soul.” And the care of our souls must be “left entirely to every man’s self.”
And “political society is instituted for no other end, but only to secure every man’s possession of the things of his life.”
It is the duty of government, says Nanny Boy, to safeguard men’s lives and their property. “Therefore the [government] cannot take away these worldly things from this man, or party, and give them to that; nor change propriety amongst fellow subjects (no not even by a law), for a cause that has no relation to the end of civil government.”
Then Nanny Boy poses another hypothetical question. What if government does make laws taking away from one person and giving to another? What if government makes laws “to enrich and advance [it’s] followers .. with the spoils of others. What if the [government] believe[s] that [it] has a right to make such laws, and that they are for the public good; and [it’s] subjects believe the contrary? Who shall be judge between them?”
“I answer,” says Nanny Boy, “God alone.”
So there we are! By ‘consenting’ to relinquish only a tiny fraction of our condition of freedom, so as to have a common mechanism to protect that freedom, Nanny Boy leads us into servitude. Our only remedy is to appeal to Heaven, and to God.
This all brings me to ‘rights’. What a convenient and devious little device.
Nanny Boy refers to ‘rights’ as “civil interests.”
These “civil interests” are the governments business, says Nanny Boy, which must be distinguished from “religion”, which is not the government’s business.
Government “neither can nor ought in any manner to be extended to the salvation of souls.” This is reserved for “religious society”, the end of which “is the public worship of God, and by means thereof the acquisition of eternal life.”
But the government even has a part to play here. This is where Nanny Boy throws us the crumbs left over from our freedom. It is the “law of toleration”. The government’s “duty in the business of toleration” is “certainly very considerable.”
So, together with our “civil interests,” the “law of toleration” in respect of religion constitutes the sum total of our ‘rights’. That’s all that is left of our freedom; which is nothing!
But what exactly are these ‘rights’, this combination of our “civil interests” and “law of toleration.”
Man’s ‘rights’, says Nanny Boy, are “life, liberty, health, and indolence of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture and the like.”
Anyone violating these ‘rights’ is “checked by the fear of punishment.”
That punishment is deprivation of that person’s civic interests. Taking away from him in proportion to what he has taken from another.
According to Nanny Boy, government should be restricted to remedying these violations. That is the end of civil government.
So when Locke says the government cannot take property from one person and give it to another “for a cause which has no relation to the end of civil government,” this is what he means. Civil government should be restricted to restoring to one person what has been taken from him by another. It does not entitle government to take from one person and give to another because government thinks ‘justice’ requires a different distribution of wealth between people; or because government believes that everyone should be ‘entitled’ to health care; or because government thinks people should be ‘entitled’ to an income in their old age; and so on. Those things are specifically excluded, even by Locke. It is no business of government, says Locke, to take from one person and give to another because one person has provided for his health, old age, and so on, and another hasn’t.
On that I agree with Locke. Freedom includes, and necessarily implies, freedom to screw up. It does not mean freedom to screw up, and then require another to pay to sort out the mess.
But let me return to the other element of Nanny Boy’s ‘rights’. That is tolerance.
In short, Nanny Boy says we have a ‘right’ to expect the government to tolerate whatever religion we wish to pursue in order to save our souls.
But there are certain exceptions: “opinions contrary to human society, or those moral rules which are necessary to the preservation of civil society”; religions which pay allegiance to other governments; and atheists.
So it is this hodgepodge of ‘rights’ that today supposedly constitutes our freedom.
But these ‘rights’ are a dismal failure. They do not enhance our freedom, they undermine and diminish it. They are a charter for oppression and tyranny.
They constitute a tyranny of ‘rights’; the enslavement of man; the enshrinement of ignorance and oppression.
They are the enforcement of pity, sympathy, and compassion. They are charters for abuse, open to what Nietzsche called “interpretation”.
And this is all because Locke, and his imitators, started from the wrong end. They sacrificed man’s freedom for ‘rights’. Whereas they should have preserved man’s condition of freedom absolutely, subject only to those principles men freely and universally agree to adopt. Not by majority consent, but by universal consent.
So Locke took the same ‘social contract’ approach as Hobbes – that man is compelled by the State and society to act in the common good. But he also mobilizes God who, by dispensing rewards and punishments in eternity, knocks some further sense into man.
As Schweitzer says, “the essential point of distinction between them is that with Hobbes society alone plies the whip, while with Locke God and society wield it together.”
Neither could see that before we cede any authority to someone else, including government, we all need to agree on the principles to which they must adhere in exercising that authority.
Now I should give credit where credit is due. Locke did establish rudimentary procedural safeguards against abuse of power by government; he just couldn’t come up with any “ideas” when it came to finding substantive safeguards to protect individual freedom. So he gave us the booby prize – ‘rights’. And now we are showered with ‘rights’.
But we do not build a temple of freedom by stacking one right on top of another like bricks; instead, we build ourselves a prison, a prison governed by a tyranny of rights.
Thanks a bunch, Nanny Boy!
Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights Reserved

Why Government and Big Business are Intent on Destroying the Last Remnants of Marriage, Family and Faith

The last century has seen a concerted campaign by Western governments to erode the important role played by marriage, family and faith in people’s lives.

‘Controlling behavior’

The latest assault on these institutions comes from the British Government, which is to introduce a new law of “controlling behaviour” to make it a criminal offence, under threat of a 14 year prison sentence, for a husband, for example, to ‘monitor’ the activities of his wife if he suspects that he is being deceived.

According to the Daily Telegraph of London, the new law will make it “illegal for someone to exercise ‘coercive control’ over their partner. It means [that] for the first time men who control their partners through threats or by restricting their personal or financial freedom, could face prison in the same way as those who are violent towards them.” And “there will be no statutory time limit for the offences, meaning abuse dating back years can be taken into account.

But such a law will not be peculiar to Britain. According to the Telegraph, similar laws have been implemented in the United States which “led to a 50 per cent rise in the number of women coming forward to report domestic abuse.” Many other Western countries have similar laws, while yet others will no doubt follow suite in short order.

It seems most curious that governments that justify monitoring our every movement and our every word, on the basis that we ‘have nothing to fear if we have nothing to hide’, should consider it worthy of criminal penalty if a husband or wife does the same.

In the vast majority of cases, a husband or wife will have far better justification for resorting to such measures than government. So perhaps it would be more appropriate to apply an offence of “controlling behaviour” to governments and their agencies.

Reasons for the New Law

But why would Western governments be so determined to introduce laws that will quite patently serve only to further undermine marriage and family?

The most obvious reason is that the majority of people have been conditioned, mostly willingly, into believing that promiscuity and adultery are a ‘right’, and they see no reason why their ‘freedom’ to indulge that ‘right’ should be inhibited in any way by the small ‘inconvenience’ of marriage, or children.

Governments have been eager to promote that perception, and for good reason. It undermines the institution of marriage as a sanctuary in which people find refuge and strength. People derive their moral compass from the family, not from government. And when family is the centre of people’s lives, governments have less control over them.

So governments needed to drive a wedge between husbands and wives. And the best way to do that is to engender mistrust between them. That was done by promoting sexual ‘liberation’. Promiscuity before marriage has the natural effect of eroding the sanctity of marriage. Marriage becomes just another in a series of relationships (see article The Meaning, and Essential Ingredients, of Marriage). That inevitably leads to instability because, quite naturally, one or both parties will feel apprehension about the other’s previous sexual partners and practices. And apprehension leads to suspicion. When someone then becomes suspicious that they are being betrayed, they take measures to protect themselves and their security, and especially the security of their children. In fact, they have a moral duty to do so.

Yet, the consensus is that someone’s previous life is not the business of the person they marry, and with whom they have children. ‘What I did before is none of your business!’ is the usual refrain.

This mistrust between husbands and wives was further compounded when government declared that there should be no penalty for adultery. In fact, the person who does the betraying is often rewarded, which is hardly a disincentive.

Adultery has thus become commonplace. People see it all around them, every day. So it is not unnatural that they should fear that their own spouses may be doing the same, especially when patterns of behavior and routines suddenly and inexplicably change. So it should not be surprising that they would want to reassure themselves.

Having created this state of extreme distrust between the sexes, government is now intent on criminalizing the consequences. That is because government has declared that the kind of ‘controlling behavior’ such distrust engenders is ‘abusive’; it is, according to government, akin to physical violence.

There can be no doubt that once this law is introduced in Britain, there will be a concerted campaign by government and the sponsors of the law to exacerbate the distrust that already exists between husbands and wives. Even the slightest suspicion will be considered an infraction of the law and portrayed as ‘abusive’, requiring intervention by the police. The law will amount to a license for infidelity which will cause further discord in the family – hardly a conducive environment for children. But then, the object of the law is to facilitate infidelity and undermine family, not to create a harmonious environment for children.

Even where there is a strong suspicion of betrayal, voicing concern or requiring proof to the contrary will be considered abusive. That will leave spouses with only two options: To suffer the humiliation of being a victim of infidelity in silence in the hope of keeping the family intact for the sake of the children, or walking out and getting a divorce. And that will simply add to the number of children from broken homes, and thus compound the social problems already prevalent in society.

If government was even remotely interested in providing secure and stable environments for children, it would be taking steps to strengthen families, not destroy them. And the way to do that is to encourage parents to be thoroughly open with each other, not secretive and evasive. Parents should have shared bank accounts so that each can monitor the family’s finances; they should have unrestricted access to each other’s passwords for email and social media accounts; each should encourage the other to check email and social media messages as a means of reassurance; each should have mobile phone passwords for the other, and be encouraged to check calls and costs; and each should, as a matter of course, recount to the other their day’s activities.

Partners in marriage, and indeed any kind of personal relationship, especially when children are involved, have an obligation to make every effort to reassure each other. Each needs to ascertain what causes the other discomfort or apprehension and do whatever is required to allay any fears.

Parents should recognize that such actions are not concessions, and neither do they amount to submissive behavior. They are fundamental obligations parents have towards each other so as to provide the kind of harmonious environment for bringing up their children. These are the actions that create trust between people. But today, trust is something people believe they can demand as a ‘right’, not something that has to be earned.

Families are built on sharing and reassuring, not on secrecy and suspicion. A divided institution is weak, unstable and contentious.

And it is just such weak, unstable and suspicious families government wants to create. So it portrays such obligations as ‘abuse’.

The difference between marriage and work relationships

In order to fully understand governments’ intent and method to destroy marriage, family, and faith, we should briefly note the fundamental differences between marriage and work relationships.

Marriage has at its heart the aim and expectation that the relationship will result in the creation of a new human life, whereas work is a means of providing for our physical needs. Work is what we do to provide for our families. We do not have families so that we can work.

Of course, government has sought to invert the obvious commonsense of that premise by promoting the silly idea that the most important issue in life, apart from sex, is ‘career’; and many have been keen to delude themselves with that fiction.

But irrespective of that self-deception, the fact is that a relationship that has as its focus the wellbeing of a human life – and not any human life, but the human life that two people bring into this world by their own voluntary act – must necessarily attract fundamentally more onerous obligations on the parties than a relationship that involves stacking shelves, tending a check-out, treating patients, servicing clients, or pleasing shareholders. All of those things simply involve catering to the needs of others.

The elements for a strong and stable marriage and family

The obligations that attach to two human beings who create new human life form the bonds that define marriage and family. And they comprise three principal elements.

First, both parties have an obligation to ensure that the relationship is unique, exclusive and special for the benefit of the new life that is the objective of the relationship.

Secondly, it requires the autonomy of at least one of the parties. At least one of the parties must be free from the authority of other human beings; that is, not in service to a boss, patient, corporation, client, shareholder, or institution. The autonomy of at least one party to the relationship establishes the autonomy of the relationship itself. And there can be no doubt that, in the main, women have the unique strengths and qualities to secure such autonomy within a relationship.

And thirdly, the relationship requires a moral authority to bind it together, but which subjects neither party to the dictate of the other. And only mutual faith in God can provide such an impartial moral authority.

It is precisely these elements that define marriage and family, and which make it autonomous and secure, that are an impediment to government and big business exercising absolute control over people. So they have come under relentless attack.

How government seeks to undermine marriage, family and faith.

In respect of the first element, we have already seen how government, with the aid of devious marketing strategies by big business, has created the perception that uninhibited sexual indulgence is a ‘right’. That has created distrust between the sexes, thus undermining marriage and family. And those who have the autonomy, self-respect and self-discipline to resist indulging their new found sexual ‘liberties’ are made to feel “thoroughly ashamed”. Embarrassing someone into abandoning deeply held convictions is itself blatant emotional abuse, yet it is rife. But it is not only emotional abuse. Young people, and especially young girls, are pressured and ridiculed into turning their bodies into little more than pleasure-generating objects, and that is tantamount to physical abuse. And once they succumb, the consequences are irreversible.

In respect of the second element, the campaign by government and big business focused on belittling, ridiculing, and denigrating the autonomous role of mothers as the anchor of marriage and family. Mothers were portrayed as being ‘tied to the sink’, occupied in ‘baking cookies’ or knitting, and incapable of engaging in ‘intelligent conversation’ because they are focused on ‘bringing up children’. The most unpleasant aspect of this ongoing campaign is that it was, and still is, conducted mostly by women – women exhibiting the worst aspects of “masculine stupidity”. It is surprising that the women who engage in scorning those women who dedicate their lives to their children and families are unable to recognize that they are attempting to inflict emotional abuse on their fellow human beings, and indeed fellow women. Perhaps it is self-guilt that generates the kind of hostility that can only be assuaged by attempting to humiliate others.

This campaign also appealed to human vanity. Remarkably, many women easily succumbed to the peculiar notion that ‘autonomy’ was to be found in submitting to the authority of another in the workplace. They deluded themselves that being ‘chained to the bosses desk’, or punching timecards in a factory, or filling in timesheets in some office, gave them ‘freedom’. It was more ‘satisfying’ to please the boss than cater to the needs of their own children – probably because the latter is considerably more demanding than the former.

The final element of marriage and family that had to be undermined was belief in God. God provides a moral authority that transcends government, and transcends ‘career’. God provides the moral authority that determines the obligations we have, first and foremost, to our children. That requires one parent, at least, to be autonomous, which deprives big business of compliant labor. But perhaps even more concerning to business and government, God also provides a meaning to life that does not require the pointless and useless branded products produced by big businesses. And that is not good for demand. Those who have God don’t need logos to give their lives meaning.

So those who believe in God are ridiculed for the “narrowness of their intellects.”

The campaign to belittle those who believe in God has as its objective establishing government as the supreme authority, and the supreme lawmaker. Restraint in action should not be as a result of recognizing obligations that emanate from a Supreme Lawmaker, but by fear of punishment from government. God is replaced by ‘values’, which need to be imposed on children from an early age. Of course, nobody can identify the ‘authority’ for these ‘values’ other than the dictate or custom of some person or group of people. Then the only ‘moral’ prerogative is that anything goes as long as you can get away with it.

That gives government the authority to determine what is right and wrong, and compel people to obey under threat of sanction.

Belief in God directly challenges that ‘authority’. So God had to go.

The proper context and true intent in destroying marriage, family and faith

We can now go back to the issue of “controlling behavior”, and see it in its proper context and true intent.

Those very obligations and elements that are the rock on which marriage and family should be built are an impediment to government exercising unfettered authority and control over people. Neither are they conducive to a compliant and submissive workforce, and an easily manipulated market for pointless products.

The very qualities that give strength to marriage and family are the qualities government and big business want to appropriate and subvert to their own authority. And they have already achieved that for the most part. These new offences are directed at eliminating the last remnants of resistance.

A comparison between ‘abuse’ in marriage and the workplace

In order to ascertain what exactly this new law would consider to constitute ‘abuse’ in marriage, it would be informative to conclude this analysis with a comparison of the respective conditions under which parents operate in marriage, and the conditions imposed on them in the workplace.

So let’s start with that notion that pre-marital sexual practices and partners have nothing to do with the other party to a marriage; that refrain of ‘what I did before is none of your business.’

Those who invoke this ridiculous refrain in marriage should perhaps attempt to invoke it at an interview with a prospective employer. They could tell that employer that their previous education, interests, work experience, possible criminal convictions, are none of their business. They could insist that the prospective employer should simply ‘trust them’ to be the perfect person for the job.

In order to test the arguments and conclusions in this short article, I recently applied for a job as “Warehouse Operative” with a global corporation.

The job involved stacking shelves, so it seemed that my work and life history could hardly be relevant. On the contrary. But they were not looking for any higher qualifications, or even experience, in shelf-stacking, but they did require disclosure of pretty much everything else about my life, and they required the authority to conduct extensive and intrusive background checks, including police checks. That involved waiving most legal protections for personal data. And any untruthful or inaccurate information would be grounds for summary dismissal without pay, and a claim for compensation should the company suffer any damage as a consequence. Then there were the stringent confidentiality agreements, preventing disclosure of any information about the company, of whatever nature, to any other party. All for the privilege of stacking shelves.

Why would stacking shelves entitle an employer to such a detailed history of a person’s life, while creating new life gives no such entitlement?

Common sense would dictate that it should be the other way round. Parties to marriage are far more vulnerable to betrayal and deceit than a global corporation. And the consequences are considerably more damaging, especially for children.

However, if a party to a relationship contemplating marriage and children required the kind of detailed disclosure from the other party that is required for a shelf-stacking job, that would be regarded as ‘abuse’. So people contemplating marriage will just have to rely on blind trust; or better still, simply don’t get married or have children.

Yet, this kind of absolute disclosure for a job is just to get in the door.

Once in the door, things get considerably more tyrannical. In the case of the Warehouse Operative, an outline of employees’ duties was provided by a representative of the company to the mass of applicants who had been herded together like cattle at market – men and women, young and old.

Some of these duties were set out in a detailed employment contract that had been handed out to the candidates. But remarkably, the candidates were told that they need not read the contract, nor the waiver of legal protections against hours worked, because the contract was non-negotiable.

Of course, those who could take the time to read the contract, and who were in a financial position to decline the job if they were not happy with the draconian terms, could simply walk out. But what I discovered is that a large proportion of the candidates had been compelled to apply for the job because they were in receipt of state benefits. If they declined the job, or were rejected for seeking to negotiate any of the terms, they would lose their state benefits. That would leave them and their families homeless and penniless. No doubt the representatives of the company were well aware of the plight of so many of the applicants, and so able to take advantage of the situation.

In effect, people were being compelled to labor for the company under duress and threat. But worse, if they found the conditions of work intolerable and resigned, or if they were fired, they would likewise lose their right to claim state benefits. And that is nothing short of forced labor.

Quite rightly, Western governments do not condone similar duress when it comes to marriage. Forced marriage violates the most fundamental principle of morality – freedom. People must be free to decide whether or not to assume obligations, especially the onerous obligations of marriage.

However, government does not consider compelling people to labor an infringement of their freedom. The argument is that welfare benefits are a privilege, and people should be compelled to take whatever job is available, or lose their ability to sustain themselves and their families. That enables big business to capitalize on the situation by imposing intolerable working conditions on employees knowing that if they refuse they starve.

But we should also consider for a moment the argument that welfare benefits are a privilege.

Human beings, by virtue of the simple fact that they are human beings, are free to provide for their survival and security, and are therefore free to access the resources of the Earth to do so. The Earth is a resource common to all who inhabit it. Human beings are no less free to access the resources of the Earth to eat, than they are free to access the air to breathe. So when a small minority of human beings, mostly under the guise of artificial corporate entities, appropriate to themselves the vast majority of the resources of the Earth, they do not become owners of those resources to the exclusion of all other human beings; they become trustees. And trustees have onerous fiduciary duties towards the beneficiaries of the resources they hold. As the Preacher says, “the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.” Eccl 5:9. That is a fundamental principle not only in the Christian and Jewish traditions, but all religious traditions of any worth.

To argue that superior entrepreneurial ability vests ownership in the resources of the world to the exclusion of others is exactly the same thing as claiming that superior strength does so. Economic tyranny can no more vest authority in one person over others than can any other kind of tyranny.

So the fact that giant global corporations and financial institutions have appropriate so much of the Earth’s natural resources to themselves does not deprive human beings of the freedom to provide for their survival and security, and it does not relieve those institutions of their fiduciary duties towards those deprived access to those resources. Neither does it vest in any one person, group of people, or institution howsoever constituted, an authority to subvert the life of other human beings to their control. Economic tyranny is no different to military tyranny. Against either, human beings are free to exercise their freedom to provide for their survival and security if it is denied them. And history bears testimony to that truth.

We should now address the actual conditions under which people labor, and contrast that with marriage.

In the case of the Warehouse Operative job, the representatives of the company briefly described employees’ duties. Nearly 12 hours a day alternately on day and night shifts; half an hour for lunch/midnight dinner: two 15 minute coffee breaks a day; work activities would be monitored to the minute, and recorded; toilet breaks would be timed, and a point would be deducted from employees exceeding the allotted toilet time allowed; time off sick would also lose a point; loss of three points would result in summary dismissal; no telephone calls, texting, emails, or web browsing during work hours; a security check on entering the warehouse for work; and constant CCTV monitoring of the interior and exterior of the premises.

And all this for the minimum wage.

Now, we should just imagine if a husband or wife sought to impose such conditions on one another. It would, quite rightly, be considered abuse. Yet government considers such abuse to be absolutely acceptable when inflicted by a faceless giant corporation on those who have no option but to accept such conditions if they want to survive. Government even facilitates such economic tyranny by applying the necessary duress and threats to provide corporations with the cheap labor they are finding hard to recruit in the Third World. (see article The Feudalization of Britain.)

Yet, that is precisely why government and big business are intent on destroying marriage and family. Once they do so, there is really little else in life but work. So people have been conditioned to believe that even such work is preferable to, and more ‘admirable’, than looking after children in our own homes in order to build strong marriages and strong families.

Of course, there are those who will argue that such work conditions are the exception, and that other occupations, as in the professions, are in fact ‘rewarding’ and ‘liberating’.

Well, to finish off, let’s just compare the conditions imposed in even a relatively high paying job, an accountant or solicitor for example, with the kinds of things government considers abuse in a marriage or relationship.

Strict working hours will be required, mostly nine to five. Hours worked will have to be recorded in timesheets, and reviewed by the boss or management team. Telephone calls will all be logged, and will have to be allocated to clients. Some calls will be monitored and recorded. Email and social media activities will all be monitored. Receipts for expenses incurred on work related activities will have to be submitted for approval. Lunch and coffee breaks will be time-limited. There will be regular ‘performance reviews’ to check that performance is in line with expectations, and that will include a full review of time keeping, personal use of telephones, email and social media, interpersonal interaction with other staff and clients, and so on, and so on. In other words, every single aspect of a person’s work, performance and activities will be reviewed to see whether they are making a sufficient contribution to justify their continued employment. And if the review proves negative, a warning will be followed by dismissal if the person’s performance does not show considerable improvement.

Imagine now that one spouse sought to impose such conditions on the other. Every single aspect of such ‘controlling behavior’ would be regarded as ‘abuse’ justifying police intervention, and a severe prison term, especially under Britain’s proposed new law. And that will even be the case where one spouse suspects the other of betrayal.

Imagine also an employee telling the boss that it is none of his or her business where they’ve been all morning when they should have been at work; or that it is none of the boss’s business who the employee calls, what emails they receive or send, or what they read and write on social media; or that the employee’s expenses should not be questioned; or refuse to complete timesheets on the basis that it is an unwarranted monitoring of their time.

Imagine too the consequences of an employee betraying the employee, especially if that employee happens to be a government employee with access to sensitive information.

And yet, by a staggering inversion of logic, submitting to such ‘controlling behavior’ in pursuit of a career is regarded as ‘liberating’, while anything remotely similar in marriage is considered to be ‘abuse’. And betrayal of spouse and children in marriage is considered almost a duty if someone does not feel totally satisfied, or feels that their ‘liberty’ is being even remotely inhibited.

But that is precisely the outcome sought by government and big business: a total erosion of the obligations we have towards our families and children, and absolute submission to government and big business.

Human beings have been institutionalized in the corporate image, leaving children to be groomed by government as tomorrow’s productive economic units, or more properly, economic serfs of the new financial lords of the world.

Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Chapter 3 – Adam and Eve; awakening the neurological moral network in the Human Brain.

The first question we need to address is whether the story of Adam and Eve refers to two particular individuals, or is a generic reference to the first of the species to acquire specifically human characteristics. And Genesis tells us that it is both.

The key to understanding the story of Adam and Eve is found at Genesis 5, verses 1 and 2:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him;

Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day they were created.”

The references to “the generations of Adam”, and “the day God created man”, clearly refer to a period of time, and a generic description of the first human beings.

The wording is the same as Genesis 2, verse 4 – “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” As we saw in respect of The Garden of Eden, this verse clearly refers to a period of time as well. Conflating the words “generations” and “day” can have no other reasonable explanation.

We then see in verse 2 that the “male and the female” are collectively called “Adam”. There is no mention of Eve.

Adam clearly thus refers to the first human beings endowed with human DNA. However, as we saw in the previous article on the Garden of Eden, there would have been two literal human beings in whom this DNA would have been activated, who must have joined up to create new human life in their own genetic image. References to the “woman” and “Eve” in these chapters tell us that although the story is generic, it also refers to literal people, literal events, and literal places.

So there would have been two, or more likely several, human beings with human DNA who were the ancestors of all other human beings.

As we have seen, the San people of southern Africa speak to the fact that Genesis is certainly referring generically to the first human beings. That is because the San people seem to be the descendants of that branch of the human species that did not succumb to the temptation of eating of the ‘forbidden fruit’.

Chapter 3 of Genesis addresses the branch of the early species that did take of the fruit, and who are the ancestors of so-called ‘civilized’ human beings.. And that is what we will now address.

Chapter 3 records what happened when the primitive instinct to reproduce was aroused by the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging in the act of ‘reproduction,’ not for the main purpose of reproduction, but with the principal aim of deriving physical pleasure from the act.

It is appropriate here to quote again from Philo: “For other animals pursue pleasure only in taste and in the acts of generation; but man aims at it by means of his other senses also, devoting himself to whatever sights or sounds can impart pleasure to his eyes or ears.[1] It is the transformation from the latter to the former that Chapter 3 addresses.

We should set out the whole account of this transformation:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.[2]

Before we analyze these verses, it is important to remember that we are looking at the symbolism of what is being said. But there can be little doubt that the symbolism relates to real events that took place many years ago, if not with just one such couple, then with several in various places over a period of time.

The important point to note is that these verses symbolize the first conflict between primitive human instincts and the promptings of the “morality module.” A picture is painted of a woman wrestling with the allure of pleasure by indulging in an act which her conscience is telling her is wrong. She is fantasizing; but about what?

Well, it is impossible to ignore the phallic imagery of the speaking serpent, so the most plausible explanation is that she is fantasizing about sex.

We should also remember that it was very likely that these early humans would have been living with, or at least in close proximity to, the species from which they had emerged, and even other species of primates that were genetically very similar to them. And these other species would also have been “naked.” And more tellingly, these other primates would have indulged in sex quite openly and casually, as they do today.

But at this stage, a number of characteristics had developed in the early human species which distinguished them from other primates. First, as we have seen, they had developed a higher level of communication, as well as an ability to ‘reason’. But they also had a partially activated “morality module” which acted as a restraint to their actions descending into an imitation of the species from which they had emerged. And that “moral law” acted by way of guilt aroused by conscience.

So these early humans would not have a conscious list of moral principles – only a strong comprehension that certain behavior was ‘wrong’.

However, the woman would have enjoyed the pleasure of intimacy with Adam. And this would have acted as a spark to ignite her ability to ‘reason’, and to consider other ways in which further pleasure could be had from the act of intimacy in reproduction.

And there would have been plenty of suggestions in the behavior of the more primitive primates living in close proximity. The imagery of the account of the woman being tempted by the serpent is then not hard to translate into a real picture. Although constrained by her moral impulses to refrain from sexual encounters other than with Adam, by observing the casual sexual interplay of primates around them, the woman begins to fantasize about what it would be like to do the same. She starts to imagine what ‘forbidden pleasures’ could be had if she just suppressed the feelings of guilt aroused by such fantasies.

No doubt she would have asked herself why it would be wrong for her to do what the other primates were doing. There was no consequence to them for doing it, so what could happen to her? Her ‘reasoning’ appears to have gone into overdrive to justify doing what she knew would be wrong by suppressing the restraint and guilt demanded by her newly acquired moral aptitude.

In the end, the woman succumbs to the allure of the pleasures to be had by indulging her sexual fantasies – “she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.”

And by employing the newly acquired ability to combine ‘reason’ with an ability to communicate, the woman persuaded “her husband” to do the same.

And what they did, it can only be concluded, is indulge in casual sexual encounters with members of the other species around them, and no doubt with other newly formed humans if and when they encountered them.

Now many reading all this about a woman fantasizing about imitating the sexual practices of apes, and engaging in sexual encounters with them, will no doubt ridicule the whole interpretation. So what evidence is there that human beings could act in such a manner, either back then, or now?

Well plenty, actually.

Let’s start with the fantasy part, and humans looking to apes for ‘moral inspiration’. And for that we need look no further than a professor of philosophy, no less – a certain AC Grayling. Grayling is so enamored by his ‘philosophical opinions’ that he set up his own university in London to propagate them. His university is called New College of the Humanities, of which he was appointed Master and Professor of Philosophy.

Grayling claims that the arts (books, music, films and so on) demonstrate the importance of intimate physical relationships to human beings, but laments that the traditional moral consensus that sex should be limited to one other person in a bonding for life, apart from a little youthful experimentation, somehow inhibits what he calls human “flourishing.”[3]

So Grayling cites the behavior of bonobo chimpanzees as a model for a better approach. Being the primates most like humans, Grayling says that the bonobo’s equivalent of shaking hands, or doing a ‘high-five’, is to engage in sex, and to do so often.[4]

Grayling thus claims that “pleasure is good – and sexual pleasure is very good.”[5]

According to Grayling, this all means that sex only becomes a problem when it is “rationed and starved.”[6] So his solution is sexual experimentation. And with a lot of practice, Grayling believes that ‘humans’ can better learn to ‘love’ and be ‘loved’.[7]

But if anyone inhibits your sexual self-indulgence, such as a wife or children, then they need to be made to understand that some human beings have certain “needs and interests,” which the victims simply have to “accept and tolerate … and be open-minded” about.[8]

And it is belief in God (religion) that Grayling claims inhibits this kind of sexual indulgence in the pursuit of human “flourishing” – so he devotes the first half of his book to ‘disproving’ the existence of God. Of course, by getting rid of God, the likes of Grayling hope to get rid of guilt and conscience as well.

Grayling’s ‘philosophy’ is really based on a simple premise – why shouldn’t we behave like animals?

So we see that what is said to have aroused the first woman, and the ‘reasoning’ employed to justify indulging the arousal, is something that has stayed with some members of the species up to this very day. And Grayling is not unique in that regard; it is not an uncommon phenomenon.

But is there any evidence that the first humans did interbreed with other primates? Again, the answer is yes.

In an article in the online journal Public Library of Science (PLoS), Dr Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Museum, and Professor Wil Roebroeks of Lieden University, say that “current genetic data suggest that complex processes of interbreeding and assimilation may have been responsible for the disappearance of the specific Neandertal morphology from the fossil record.”

In their conclusion, they say that “The momentous cultural changes that followed the arrival of AMH (anatomically modern humans) in Western Eurasia were not uniquely due to the residents’ cognitive or technological inferiority causing rapid and total replacement. The Neandertal demise appears to have resulted from a complex and protracted process including multiple dynamic factors such as low population density, interbreeding with some cultural contact, possible male hybrid sterility and contraction in geographic distribution followed by genetic swamping and assimilation by the increasing numbers of modern immigrants.”

And Villa and Roebroeks cite evidence of this interbreeding in modern human beings: “In 2010 a draft sequence of the Neandertal nuclear DNA provided clear evidence of interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans, estimating that Neandertal inheritance makes up 1–4% of the genomes of people outside of Africa. A revised estimate based on a high-coverage sequence of a Neandertal from the Altai Mountains now suggests 1.5–2.1%.[9]

Now I am not claiming that the story of Adam and Eve relates solely, or at all, to this possible interbreeding between humans and Neandertals. It is likely that the story relates to a much earlier time when humans were only just emerging as the species we recognize today as humans. The example of the interbreeding with Neandertals appears to be a continuation of something that had started earlier.

The real significance of the story, however, lies in its explanation of how the “morality module” in the human brain was initially activated.

But if the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” symbolizes the “morality module,” why, some will ask, would it be wrong to acquire “the knowledge of good and evil’?

The answer is that to awaken the ‘morality module’ the first human beings had to take some action which offended it. That produced a sense of guilt in the form of a conscience. And as we have seen, according to Genesis, the action which initially activated the “morality module” related to pleasure – “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was PLEASANT to the eyes, and a tree to be DESIRED to make one wise …”[10] As Philo says, “anyone who follows a reasonable train of conjecture, will say with great propriety, that the … serpent is the symbol of pleasure.”  And he goes on to say that the “serpent is said to have uttered a human voice, because pleasure employs innumerable champions and defenders who take care to advocate its interests, and who dare to assert that the power over everything, both small and great, does of right belong to it without any exception whatever.”[11]

The story of Eve’s (“the woman’s[12]) temptation, therefore, clearly illustrates the interaction between morality, instinct and reason.

The serpent represents the instinct for reproduction. The symbolism of the serpent ‘speaking’ relates to the allure of pleasure to be had by indulging the instinct for reproduction. And Eve ‘seeing’ “that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, …” symbolizes the human ability to ‘reason’ to justify taking actions that we ‘know’ are wrong.

The prohibition against eating of the tree represents morality – the neurological moral network within the brain that ‘speaks’ to us of the morality of certain actions, and acts as a restraint to actions which offend against it, if we listen. However, until this moment, the neurological moral network was subconscious.

But once the first humans succumbed to the allure of the pleasure to be had by indulging their primitive instinct for reproduction, the “morality module” (the neurological moral network) was activated. This is symbolized by the words “and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.”[13] They realized then that they were different to the other species around them, even those most like them, and that it was not appropriate to simply imitate animal behavior.

And this also suggests that the activation of the ‘morality module’ is directly related to human consciousness. It is only when humans activated the ability to judge their own actions that they became aware of the consequences of their actions, and thus their own mortality. And that brings about an awareness of ‘self’. That is the true meaning of the consequences God is said to have told Adam would follow should he eat of the tree – the Hebrew is not ‘thou shalt surely die’, but in ‘dying thou shalt die’.[14] The consequence related to the afterlife. And that gives rise to a distinction between life and death, and a consciousness of being alive.

Thus the very concept of morality, the human ability to judge its actions as right and wrong, triggers in the brain a sense of mortality, and thus an awareness of life. And that comes from the fact that humans can look at the behavior of animals, even ‘intelligent’ apes, and recognize that the same behavior in humans would be wrong. And that does not only relate to casual sexual indulgences with multiple partners, but to other things like violence.

Genesis tells us that once the “morality module” had been activated, it gave rise to a sense of guilt, and Adam and Eve are said to do what people do to this day in order to justify their actions; they “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden.” They attempted to escape the guilt aroused by their actions by seeking justification in their primitive instincts; in “the trees of the garden.” As we have already seen, the trees in the garden symbolize the instincts with which humans were programmed, amongst which are the instinct to reproduce. So when they are plagued by a sense of guilt, they seek to justify their actions by reference to their instincts. They ‘reason’ their way to a justification by attempting to convince themselves that they should not feel guilty because what they did was perfectly natural – just like the animals around them.

But clearly the guilt could not be easily silenced. And so, like today, they started the blame game – Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. In ‘excusing’ her behavior by claiming that “the serpent beguiled” her, the woman is essentially seeking to defend her actions by saying that the attractions of the pleasures she imagined could be had by indulging her primitive instincts were so strong as to be ‘irresistible’. So she should not be to blame.

But, of course, it was all to no avail.

Once they had crossed the moral threshold, no longer did they simply respond to an intuitive restraint from certain actions, they acquired the ability to identify and classify specific actions as right or wrong. Yet, on the other hand, they were also driven on by their primitive instincts. And their ability to reason compelled them to service those instincts, either from fear of pain, or the attraction of pleasure.

The ‘punishment’ that God is said to inflict on them clearly symbolizes the conflict with which humans would be plagued from then on – a conflict between servicing their primitive instincts, or servicing the promptings of their “morality module”.

We can see that the ‘punishment’ puts “enmity” between the attractions of pleasure to be had by indulging primitive instincts, like those of reproduction, and the consequences of doing so. They now realize that the act of reproduction is not simply something to generate pleasure and excitement, it is not simply a ‘romantic’ experience. It is, as John Stuart Mill said, “one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life.” And I would say, THE most responsible act.

And the ‘punishment’ said to have been inflicted on Adam clearly relates to human beings falling into bondage of their primitive instincts. From that moment on, human beings would be driven to provide for their survival and security by relentless toil. The instincts for survival and security generate a fear of being unable to provide for themselves, and a fear of anything and anyone perceived to be a threat to their survival and security.

The words “in sorrow shalt thou eat of [the ground] all the days of thy life[15] clearly refers to the instinct for security; “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground[16] clearly refers to the fear of death, and the survival instinct.

But there was a far more unpleasant consequence of this awakening of the “morality module”. The previous mental tranquility of intuitively refraining from actions because they knew them were wrong, and responding to the promptings of their instincts “only in taste and in the acts of generation”, had been replaced with an obsessive preoccupation with the pleasures and fears aroused by those instincts. No longer were these first humans content to live day by day without the constant fear of want and death – now they were consumed by a passion to indulge the demands of their instincts so as to alleviate their fears, or feed their appetite for pleasure.

As Philo said, they condemned themselves to “an existence more miserable than death.”

They were expelled from the Garden of Eden. But this doesn’t mean that they were ‘expelled’ from their own brains. It suggests that they lost the mental tranquility they previously enjoyed, and embarked on a life of the relentless servicing of their instincts. And yet, at the same time, they would be plagued by the promptings of the “morality module” to moderate and control their appetite for pleasure, and their fear of pain.

And being deprived of the ability to “take of the tree of life” points to a clear consequence between regulating human actions in accordance with the “morality module”, or in service of human instinct. And that consequence, Genesis is telling us, relates to the afterlife.

From this point on, Genesis, and the Bible as a whole, records the conflict between human instinct and morality as it plays out in historical context.

So we see in the account of Cain and Abel that Abel’s endeavors were proving successful whereas Cain’s were modest. This fired insecurity in Cain, and wounded his vanity. Abel was seen as a threatening competitor who had to be neutralized. The symbolism of God speaking to Cain to ask why he is angry relates to Cain’s “morality module” intervening in an attempt to quell the anger. God says to Cain, “If thou does’t well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou does’t not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”[17]

The Hebrew for the last sentence actually says this: “And subject unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”

The message is quite clear – Cain has a choice about how to act. One choice is acceptable, or moral, the other is wrong, and will have consequences. The “desire” to satisfy his instincts is under his control – “subject unto thee.” And morality must rule over the desires of the instincts – “thou shalt rule over him.”

But, like Eve, Cain could not or would not listen to the moral ‘voice’ within him, and planned to slay Abel. We see that Cain “talked with Abel” before he implemented his plan. This is clear evidence that Cain was using ‘reason’, and the ability to communicate, in service of his primitive instincts, and not in service of the “moral law.” And even once he had killed Abel, he sought to deny any involvement, saying he does not know where Abel is. Furthermore, he also asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?

Cain’s reaction to the guilt that arises from his actions is first to lie, then to ‘justify’ the lie by ‘reasoning’ that he is not responsible for his brother’s welfare.

We see in Cain a regrettable model for those who believe that satisfying their own “needs and interests” at any cost is their primary ‘duty’ in life, and they ‘reason’ their way to justifying whatever actions they take in pursuit of their ‘goals’. And their goals are always the same – indulging their appetite for pleasure, and relieving the fear of their insecurities; in short, being in the service of their primitive instincts, and silencing the voice of morality whenever it ‘speaks’.

However, Cain realizes that he cannot completely silence the voice of morality, and finally acknowledges that “Mine iniquity is greater than can be forgiven.”[18]

And the only way he can live with the guilt of his conscience is to deny God – “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.”[19]

That, it seems, is the “mark” which God is said to have put on Cain; the propensity to apply ‘reason’ to justify the servicing of our primitive instincts in defiance of the “moral law” which created us, and which is within us. And humans accomplish that self-deception through the denial of a universal moral law, and thus a denial of God.

In that way, those who seek to impose their own authority and will on others are free to ‘make’ such ‘laws’ as best serve their own interests, and to implement such measures as are necessary to compel others to submit to those ‘laws’.

That is the meaning of Cain building a city which he names after his son Enoch.[20] God is replaced with the pursuit of power and wealth to feed vanity and allay insecurity.

However, at the end of Chapter 4, the story reverts again to Adam and Eve. Eve conceives and gives birth to Seth, and he has a son called Enos. And it is this strand of the genealogy of Adam and Eve that came to the realization that God is indispensable to human existence. That is because, after the birth of Enos, “then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” [21]

And it is this strand of genealogy that leads to Abraham and on to Moses, and the Ten Commandments. They were the ‘keepers’ of the moral law that reveals God’s Will.

It was through Abraham that “all families of the earth shall be blessed.”[22]

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”[23]

The crucial words in that last verse are “because thou hast obeyed my voice.” It was this strand of the human species that stayed most obedient to the principles of the “moral law”; and, it seems, most easily able to decipher it over the clatter of demands from our primitive instincts.

They were the people most able to recognize that the laws which govern the universe are moral laws; and those moral laws are an expression of a will, God’s Will.

Through Abraham’s descendents God’s moral law would be revealed not just to the Israelites, but to all humanity.

This is the “insight regarding God’s will” possessed by the Prophets.[24]

But this kind of insight into the moral dimension of the human mind was not exclusive to the Israelites. It has arisen in many people in many diverse areas over the millennia, at times more clearly than at others. But we can detect from these various sources an unfolding set of common principles, right down to modern Charters and Declarations of Human Rights.

What these sources reveal, however, is not a ‘building’ of moral principles to accommodate changing times, but a discovery of those principles that were well understood by our ancestors millennia ago.

So what we see in these first few chapters of Genesis is a perfect description of the origins of life and the universe that validate and preempt scientific discovery. And we also see a compelling explanation of human behavior, human consciousness, and the capacity for human evil and human good.

But most important of all, we see that the human capacity for moral judgment is a manifestation of the moral content of the laws of physics. And the human capacity for moral judgment finds expression in the human quest for justice, which reveals the human search for a supreme law and a Supreme Lawmaker.

Joseph BH McMillan

This series of articles titled Perspectives on the Scriptures form the basis on which is constructed A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

Notes

[1] Philo, On the Creation, LVIII (163).

[2] Genesis 3: 1 – 7.

[3] Grayling, ACX. The God Argument, page 192 and 199. A full Review of The God Argument can be read under Book Reviews on this website jbhmcmillan.com.

[4] Grayling, page 205.

[5] Grayling, page 206.

[6] Grayling, page 201.

[7] Grayling, page 202.

[8] Grayling, page 193.

[9] Villa P, Roebroeks W (2014) Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex. PLoS ONE 9(4): e96424. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096424.

[10] Genesis 3: 6.

[11] Philo, On the Creation, LVI (157) and (160) respectively.

[12] The name Eve is not used in Genesis 3 until verse 20 – “and Adam called his wife’s  name Eve …”

[13] Genesis 3: 7.

[14] Genesis 2: 17.

[15] Genesis 3: 17.

[16] Genesis 3: 19.

[17] Genesis 4: 7.

[18] Genesis 4: 13 – also translated “My punishment is more than I can bear.”

[19] Genesis 4: 16.

[20] Genesis 4: 17.

[21] Genesis 4: 20.

[22] Genesis 12: 3.

[23] Genesis 22:18.

[24] Wood, Leon J, The Prophets of Israel, page 63

Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Chapter 2 – The Garden of Eden: the Manifestation of the Laws of Physics as the Human Brain

The first thing we have to address in Chapter 2 of Genesis is whether, at the end of the sixth day, anything actually existed in a form we would recognize today as ‘reality’.

We should recall what Philo said: “Does [Moses] not here manifestly set before us incorporeal ideas perceptible only by the intellect, which have been appointed to be as seals of the perfected works, perceptible by the outward senses.[1]

Philo was talking about verses 4 and 5 of Genesis 2.

We should just remind ourselves of those verses:

These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground.

The physicist Max Tegmark claims something very similar in his new book Our Mathematical Universe.

Tegmark claims that “reality isn’t just described by mathematics – it is mathematics …”[2] And that includes human beings. In Tegmark’s Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH), “mathematical structure is our external reality, rather than being merely a description of it. This equivalence between physical and mathematical existence means that if a mathematical structure contains a self-aware substructure, it will perceive itself as existing in a physically real universe, just as you and I do.[3] And that, says Tegmark, means that “Through us humans … our universe has gained an awareness of itself, and we humans have created the concept of meaning. So in this sense, our universe doesn’t give life meaning, but life gives our universe meaning.[4]

And finally, on a note not dissimilar to the one made in respect of Day Six regarding morality and physics, Tegmark says this about mathematical structures: “we don’t invent mathematical structures – we discover them, and invent only the notation for describing them.”[5] Which would mean that if there is in fact a “morality module” embedded in the brain, it is likewise a “mathematical structure” for which we have invented words to describe, but one which, according to Tegmark, could be equally well described in mathematical equations. And as we shall see in the next article on Chapter 3, Genesis does suggest how this self-awareness, or consciousness, arises; and morality is central to it.

But there is a crucial difference between Tegmark and Philo. And that relates to how the “mathematical structures”, or “incorporeal ideas”, came about.

Tegmark claims that “there’s no making required” for a mathematical structure, “it simply exists.”[6] He thus gets round the problem of any sort of outside observer by claiming that “mathematical structures” are not made, they just exist, and humans, being “self-aware mathematical substructures”, give the “universe meaning” by virtue of having self-awareness. In short, humans do the observing, thus giving the universe meaning.

So Tegmark doesn’t really get round the problem we encountered in Day One, when we looked at the words “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” As we noted, there are only really three explanations of how the initial ‘material’ from which the universe and life were constructed arose: either we don’t know; or we simply claim that it has always been there; or we accept that someone or something put it there. And there seems to be no reason to suggest that if we describe the initial ‘material’ as a “mathematical structure” the mystery somehow goes away.

The second issue relates to the necessity for an observation. Tegmark cannot get round the issue by claiming that a “mathematical substructure” within the overall “mathematical structure” that is the universe, or multiverse, creates the “self-awareness” that gives the “universe meaning.” It is just another way of saying that humans do the observing.

Philo, on the other hand, sees the ‘mind’ of God behind the numbers: “And he [Moses] says that the world was made in six days, not because the Creator stood in need of a length of time…; but because the things created required arrangement; and number is akin to arrangement.”[7]

And this arrangement of numbers must have been the “incorporeal model” which formed the basis of what we see around us: “when [God] had determined to create this visible world, [He] previously formed that one which is perceptible only by the intellect, in order that so using an incorporeal model formed as far as possible on the image of God, he might then make this corporeal world, a younger likeness of the elder creation, which should embrace as many different genera perceptible to the external senses, as the other world contains of those which are visible only to the intellect.”[8]

The problem with Philo’s interpretation of Genesis is that it only works if we discount the possibility that the words “And God saw …” refer to the quantum phenomenon of an observation. But that would mean that the words “And God said …” and the words “And God saw …” are simply a duplication, or repetition, of the same phenomenon. But Genesis seems to have been written far too carefully for such a careless or superfluous duplication. The inclusion of the words “And God saw …” must have been deliberate, and significant.

So the most likely explanation is that Genesis is telling us that at the end of the six days, the ‘macro-world’ of galaxies, solar systems, stars and planets had all been “fully settled” as a consequence of the “irreversible effect” of an observation; an observation from a conscious outside observer – God.

That created the deterministic universe that is predictable, calculable, and explainable by the Classical laws of physics. As Rees says about his six numbers, “if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life.[9] So it is clear that the universe and life is dependent on the quantum phenomena of the micro-world transforming into the deterministic workings of the macro-world. Each step in the process was dependent on the previous step being “fully settled” – otherwise everything could be undone at some point in the future, just as happens in the delayed-choice experiments when an eraser device is inserted in front of the detector which should carry out the measurement, or observation.

And only Genesis provides such a model.

At this stage, the basic DNA structures, ‘modified’ or ‘programmed’ to transform into their intended life-forms, had also been created, but were still ‘dormant’. They needed the right kind of environment in order to be activated, and that included the need for water.

And that is what Genesis tells us they got: “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”[10] That is what science asserts is the only way that primitive life could have ‘evolved’ into the higher life-forms we see today – liquid water appearing on earth.

However, before we move on to consider the rest of Chapters 2, we should also recall that  Genesis explains why it is that animals have a limited ability to ‘reason’ and communicate’, whereas humans have an advanced ability. And most important of all, we should recall that Genesis also explains how human beings acquired their moral capacity. History records humanity’s relentless quest to give expression to its moral purpose in the search for that thing which we call justice.

Chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis go back to the time of the ‘awakening’ of the ‘morality module’ in the first human beings who experienced it, and the dilemma that ‘awakening’ created for reason when it was confronted with the competing demands of the faculties of instinct and morality. The stories of The Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve, are the story of that ‘awakening’.

But again, we should take each of the verses in turn in order to fully comprehend their significance, and symbolism.

First we see that God is said to form man from the ground: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”[11]

Starting with an account of human beings, Genesis is clearly telling us that the account which follows concerns the highest of the species, and how it came to be what it became. But as we shall see, this does not mean that other life did not exist.

Furthermore, this verse does not suggest that the human it is referring to was a human in its final form, in the “image of God”. It clearly refers to the physical form of the first human being, or human beings – a form that has life, but not much different at this stage to animal life that would have existed simultaneously.

In other words, this verse is telling us that the DNA which was to form the human species as we know it had not yet been fully activated. This early species would certainly have had the primitive DNA with which “every living creature that moveth[12] had been ‘programmed’, and it would most certainly have had the primitive physical characteristics that would have made it recognizable as an early form of the species. But only a very select few of this early species had the latent DNA which had been ‘programmed’ with the additional elements referred to in Chapter 1 – that is, morality, reason, an ability to communicate, and the innate ‘knowledge and understanding’ of how the universe and life functions.

The next seven verses then focus in on the first of the species that had the latent DNA that was to become human beings as we know them.

Now before we look at the account of the Garden of Eden, let me first say this. In addressing the symbolic account, I do not discount the possibility that a literal place existed which formed the basis for the story. In fact, there must have been such a literal place where literal members of the early human species lived who would eventually become the ‘ancestors’ of the modern species. The Bible as a whole often takes literal events to convey deeper symbolic messages. Proverbs tells us that.[13] Not only can a historical event be used to convey a moral message, often the event is a result of the workings of the human brain which reveal which aspects of the human character have been the motivation for the event. Actual events can reveal whether those events were motivated by reason in the service of instinct, or reason in the service of morality.

However, we shall leave the search for such literal places and events to the archeologists and historians – but with the caveat that just because ‘evidence’ of such literal places and events have not yet been discovered does not mean that they don’t exist. Discoveries are constantly being made of things previously regarded as myth, fable or speculation, like our examples of life coming from space, and life existing without sunlight.

But before we move on, we should clarify one further aspect of the events recorded in Genesis 2. We should remember that at the end of the six days all the laws which would determine how the universe and life would unfold had been put in place. And according to Genesis, the unfolding, or implementation, of those laws reveals God’s will, because the laws are God’s laws. So when Genesis 2 refers to God doing something, or saying something, we should read that not as God Himself doing again what He had already done in the first six days, but as His law being implemented, thus revealing His will. In that sense, references to God saying or doing something in these Chapters are in fact God doing those things, but through the agency of the law He created which reveals His will. This is an important point to note in order to understand the verses which follow.

So let’s return to the symbolic message conveyed by the Garden of Eden.

First we have these two verses: “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.[14]

Philo says this about these verses: “And these statements appear to me to be dictated by a philosophy which is symbolical rather than strictly accurate. For no trees of life or of knowledge have ever at any previous time appeared upon the earth, nor is it likely that any will appear hereafter. But I rather conceive that Moses was speaking in an allegorical spirit, intending by his paradise to intimate the dominant character of the soul, which is full of innumerable opinions as this figurative paradise was of trees.[15]

However, when Philo refers to the “soul” having “innumerable opinions,” he would have better referred to the Garden of Eden as being the human brain, or at least the DNA which had been ‘programmed’ to produce a brain with the ability to conjure up such “opinions”.

The reference to God having “planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed”, far better symbolizes that DNA which had been ‘programmed’ with those elements described in Genesis Chapter 1, which would have been latent in some of the early species. And those of the early species with this latent human DNA must have been physically present in some place on the Earth. So God putting man into the garden must symbolize the first of the primitive human species in which the latent elements of the more advanced DNA which was to form the species “in the image of God” began to be activated. And that activation, which would have been gradual, is symbolized by the words “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

The important words in this verse which point to the Garden being the human brain are “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow …” Those words reflect the words used relating to the forming of man – “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground ….” So when the trees are made to “grow” out of “the ground”, it clearly implies the “the ground” that had been made “man”.

That wording wonderfully conjures up the image of those latent elements of human DNA developing the brains of the first human beings in whom it was found. And the “trees” perfectly correspond to those elements of that DNA which we discussed in Day Six – “pleasant to the sight” refers to instincts; “good for food” refers to the innate ‘knowledge’ of how the universe and life functions; “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” refers to the “morality module”; and the “tree of life” refers to the ability of the human spirit to survive physical death. It should also be noted that the word “pleasant” is associated with the “trees”, symbolizing instinct: because, as we have seen, it is the allure of pleasure, or fear of pain, that fires our instincts into action.

However, all these elements of the human brain need some way to interact with the world of the external senses for them to have any significance. The human instinct for reproduction, for example, can only be activated when it perceives something that it recognizes as another of the species which causes an arousal of that instinct. The instinct needs to be ‘fed’ by sight. Likewise, the instinct for survival can only kick-in when the senses perceive some danger to survival – an unfamiliar sound, an unusual sight, another of the species perceived as a threat. The physical senses are what ‘feed’ the brain – only Genesis calls it ‘watering’ the brain: “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.”[16]

This verse very obviously refers to the nervous system of the human body which supplies the brain with the information it needs in order to act. And the reason it is so obvious is that the river didn’t go INTO the garden to water the trees, it “WENT OUT of Eden to water the garden.” It would be rather pointless for the water which should be ‘watering’ the trees in the garden to flow in the wrong direction. And as we have seen, the author/s of Genesis did not make careless errors.

So when we conceive of the Garden of Eden as referring to the human brain, and the river which flows fromEden to water the garden” as the human nervous system which ‘waters’ the brain by supplying it with the necessary information it requires in order to function, then the verse makes sense.

So what we have in these verses is an explanation of the first human beings in which the DNA developing the brain, which was ‘programmed’ with latent human characteristics, would give expression to those characteristics, and a description of the human nervous system which would feed the brain with the necessary information to allow it to develop those characteristics. And the information would be provided through the senses on the extremities of the body – the “four heads” of the river.

Verses 11 to 14 describe where these four heads of the river end up, and the references to what may have been physical places at the time would have been understood by the people at that time to make the connection between the places and the senses referred to. But for our purposes, the physical places are not important once we recognize that they refer to the senses and the nervous system which ‘waters’ the brain.

The next verse is curious, because we see God putting man into the garden for a second time: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.[17] The crucial difference, of course, is that this time the man is put in the garden “to dress it and to keep it.” On the previous occasion, he was just put in it.

This suggests that the human brain had now fully developed with all the necessary characteristics with which it had been ‘programmed’. The latent ‘genes’ had been activated, or as the Encode Project would say, had been ‘switched on’. But, as we shall see, not all were fully functioning. It was now the task of those human beings to develop those characteristics within the brain – “to dress it and keep it.

The next verse is also crucial to understand why the “man” is put into the garden a second time: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[18]

Now, before we get into the meaning of these verses, we should note that the original Hebrew did not say “thou shalt surely die”, but “in dying thou shalt die”. This distinction is crucial, as we shall soon see.

So here we see the next difference with the second time God puts “man” into the garden. God is said to speak to him, or more properly, “commanded” him. And the word used to express the commanding of the “man” is that which was previously used in Genesis 1: 22 – “SAYING”. “God commanded the man, SAYING”. That is almost identical to the words in Genesis 1: 22, except that there God “blessed” the animals. And we should remember that the word “saying” symbolizes a lack of comprehension on the part of those ‘hearing’ the words, or at least a limited comprehension of the significance of the words being spoken.

The symbolism of God commanding the “man”, in conjunction with the word “saying”, tells us that the “morality module,” which the “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” represents, was still dormant, or latent. Although it was physically present in the brain, it had not yet been activated. However, the words indicate that when the first humans would be ‘tempted’ to take some action that would offend against the moral precepts (principles) of the “morality module”, they would ‘know’ that what they were doing was wrong, and that there would be a consequence. So this first human, or these first humans, would have simply recognized certain things as wrong, without ‘rationalizing’ their actions as right or wrong. They would have intuitively found certain behavior of the species from whom they had emerged ‘wrong’, but as yet not be able to identify why. That is how they would have known themselves to be different. So whereas the species from whom they had emerged may have regarded killing, raping and pillaging of members of other tribes as something to admire and celebrate, these first humans would have felt not just unease at such actions, but revulsion. The same would apply to casual sexual practices and violence between members of even the same tribe or community.

The remarkable thing about the innocence that clearly defined these human beings before they succumbed to the temptations of their primitive instincts is that there are just such people alive today. They are the San people of Southern Africa, also known as the Bushmen. Anthropologists and geneticists identify some of these tribes as the ancestors of all human beings.

The next verses in Genesis explain the further development of these the first of the human species.

So we see God speaking again, but not to “man” directly: “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

Before we look at the meaning of these words, we should deal with another little bit of ‘housekeeping’ on translation. The original Hebrew for the word translated as “meet” was actually “as before him”. So the first verse in which the word is used should read “I will make him an help as before him.”

Now the first thing we should note is that God is said to have seen that the “man” was alone, and that it was “not good” that he should be alone. This suggests that of those of the species that had the fully ‘programmed’ human DNA, only a very few, or even just one, appeared to have survived. The rest must have died out.

And because of what follows, it is certain that Genesis is here focusing in on the first male, or males, of the species in whom the fully ‘programmed’ human DNA was present. But when Genesis refers to this first “man” being “alone”, it does not necessarily mean that he was physically alone. He must have been the offspring of a mother and father. And no doubt he would have been part of a group or tribe of people. But, as we have seen, the reason he would have been “alone” is that he would have recognized that he was in some fundamental respects very different to those around him. He was the first of the species with fully ‘programmed’ human DNA. Philo noted this when he said, in relation to the creation of man in the image of God, that “all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus.”[19] This first “man” was thus the first to assume the “distinctive [human] form.”

The reason that it was “not good that the man should be alone” is that his instinct was to reproduce, but there was no female of the species who would have shared the fully ‘matured’ human DNA. To this first “man”, reproducing with what ostensibly would have been another ‘species’, would have seemed like bestiality.

This would have caused a great dilemma for him; and that dilemma would have caused frustration. But in doing so, it appears to have activated additional elements of the human characteristics with which his brain had been imprinted by the fully human DNA. Accordingly, the fact that the words follow the words “And the LORD God said …” must symbolize the law of God responding to the unnatural condition the first of the human species encountered – being “alone”, without another of the species with whom he could reproduce. Since that was contrary to the will of God as expressed in His law, those elements of the human organism were activated which would seek to rectify this unnatural condition. The symbolism of God speaking is the expression of God’s will through the law responding to the situation.

So the words “I will make him an help as before him” can only symbolize the activation of the ability to reason to a higher level, compelling this first human to examine the life around him in the hope of finding another living thing like him. The words “as before him” then make sense. He was seeking another like him so that together they could be as the species before him – that is, joining together with the opposite gender to create new life, and so perpetuate the new species.

However, by looking differently at all the life about him, this first human appeared to activate another latent characteristic of the brain ‘programmed’ with human DNA – the language module. These verses clearly refer to the activation of the innate human ability to communicate – Adam started naming the animals. And that would also have led to a limited activation of the innate ‘knowledge and understanding’ programmed into the human brain by human DNA. That is symbolized by Genesis saying that God formed out of the ground the animals that were brought to Adam. This all suggests that as Adam realized he was different, he began a search for a companion so that this new species could be as the species was before – a community. And in his search he began to ascribe sounds to represent the different species he encountered. But it also suggests that in doing so he began to question where they all came from, and indeed where he came from. And all of this is the result of God’s law reacting to the situation through the vehicle of the human brain in order to give expression to God’s will. It is this expression of God’s will that is symbolized by God ‘speaking’ – He is speaking through His law in order to express His will: the creation of an organism in His “image”.

But Adams’s search proved futile: “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” Or, with the correct translation, “there was not found an help as before him.” This first of the species found that he was alone, the first of a kind, different to everything around him. It is also these closing words that give confirmation to the fact that these verses in which the animals are ‘made’ and brought to Adam to be named, symbolize the activation of certain elements ‘programmed’ into the human brain by human DNA – the words show that what preceded was a quest for something which did not come to fruition, at least not fully – a help for Adam as was before him.

So it seems that this first of the human species must have settled for one of those around him, even though they would have been a different ‘species’ in some major respects. And so this fully ‘programmed’ human DNA must have again become dormant: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.”[20]

There then follow these verses:

“ And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”[21]

The symbolism of “Adam” going into a deep sleep means that the fully formed human DNA he was carrying around would have been passed through several generations while remaining dormant. So a number of the pre-human species may well have had this dormant DNA, or at least dormant genes within that DNA, as part of their genetic make-up, but it did not manifest itself as a human species for some time. Then, by a coincidence of probabilities, the dormant DNA was activated in both a male and female of the species at the same time, and those two would have been in close physical proximity, perhaps even within the same tribe or community.

And immediately they recognized each other as being different from the species around them, and virtual mirror-images of each other, except one was male and the other female. As Philo said, “although all the individuals of the race had not yet assumed their distinctive form; since the extreme species are contained in the genus, and are beheld, as in a mirror, by those who are able to discern acutely.”[22]

The human species was finally to begin propagating. And the effect of this mutual recognition was that some element of the “morality module” was activated: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”[23]

These two of the emerging new species, human beings, were aware that the new life they would create by joining together in a physical relationship would be unique, exclusive and special; in their image and likeness. And that, they understood, imposed on them fundamental obligations towards each other, and the life they would create. That is symbolized by the words “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.” They recognized that this new relationship between members of the new species was different to what went before. They recognized the importance of monogamy. The joining together of a male and a female to create new life makes them “one flesh” in the new life they create. And the obligations which attach to that, both before and after they “cleave unto” each other to become one flesh, require that they forsake any and all other relationships. Like the new life they create, their relationship should also be unique, exclusive and special – for the benefit of the new life they create.

But clearly, there is also another meaning to the words “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother.” These first two of the early human species would have been aware that they were different even to their own parents, and that required that they leave the community from which they came, including their own ancestors.

However, at this stage, there would still have been an innocence about them. Only a small element of the “morality module” had been activated – that element which compelled them to recognize the fundamental nature of their relationship to the exclusion of others, and the obligations which would attach to them by virtue of creating new life – becoming “one flesh.”

That is the message in the next verse: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” The reason that “they were not ashamed” was that they did not look upon the physical body, and the act of procreation as something to be exploited for the primary purpose of generating physical pleasure.

And the San people mentioned above have precisely the kind of innocence we are talking about here. For the most part, the San people resisted the impulse to activate the “morality module”. They were content to listen to the “voice” of the “moral law”, whereas another branch of the species chose to challenge that “voice”.

It is this branch of the species that Genesis addresses in Chapter 3, represented by Adam and Eve.

And that will be the focus of the next and final abridged extract of A ‘Final Theory’ of God.

By Joseph BH McMillan

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

 

[1] Philo, On the Creation, XLIV (129).

[2] Tegmark, Max. Our Mathematical Universe, page 254 – Tegmark’s emphasis.

[3] Tegmark, page 323.

[4] Tegmatk, page 391 – Tegmark’s emphasis.

[5] Tegmark, page 259.

[6] Tegmark, page 323.

[7] Philo, On the Creation, III (13).

[8] Philo, On the Creation, IV (16).

[9] Rees, Martin. Just Six Numbers, page 4.

[10] Genesis 2: 6.

[11] Genesis 2: 7.

[12] Genesis 1: 21.

[13] Proverbs 1: 1 – 7.

[14] Genesis 2: 8 – 9.

[15] Philo, On the Creation, LVI (154).

[16] Genesis 2: 10.

[17] Genesis 2: 15.

[18] Genesis 2: 16 – 17.

[19] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (76).

[20] Genesis 2: 21.

[21] Genesis 2: 22 – 24.

[22] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (76).

[23] Genesis 2: 24.

Joseph BH McMillan reviews Philosophy is not Dead by Dr Steven Yates

The biggest problem I had with this book is that it is only available on Kindle, and I like to scribble my thoughts in a book as I go along.

But that small inconvenience aside, this is certainly a book worth reading.

The picture it paints of modern society, diseased with mindless materialism and suffocating political correctness, while sacrificing freedom for indentured slavery to corporate tyranny, is reminiscent of Albert Schweitzer’s The Decay and the Restoration of Civilization (available through Amazon as The Philosophy of Civilization). Of course, Yates does not refer to Schweitzer, because the philosophical ‘establishment’ determined some time ago that Schweitzer was not one of them – perhaps because he blamed “the suicide of civilization” on “philosophy’s renunciation of her duty.”

It is sobering to see that the deficiencies of civilization and philosophy (or philosophers) identified by Schweitzer almost a century ago are much the same deficiencies identified by Yates in 2014.

It is not surprising then that Yates admits that, from the outside at least, philosophy “may look dead – on life support, perhaps.” For some time now, my own view has been that philosophy is in danger of becoming nothing more than an ‘extravagant academic indulgence’ – and from what Yates says about academic philosophy, for those ‘blessed’ with tenure to this exclusive club, philosophy is certainly not dead – the party is in full swing; even though no one is really interested in what they have to say.

This book does not purport to be a definitive work, but rather sets out some preliminary issues that Yates believes need to be addressed if philosophy is to play any significant part in determining what ‘civilization’ may look like in the future. Yates devotes the last three sections of the book to giving some of his preliminary thoughts on the issue.

But for me, it is this statement from the section Materialism or Moral Agency? that holds the key: “Morality absent an authority transcending culture, reason, the quest for happiness (and to avoid unhappiness), commercial gain, etc ., cannot hold.”

Such a morality can only have freedom as its defining principle. And that happens to be the theme of  A ‘Final Theory’ of God – which is my modest attempt to awaken the human spirit to its true moral purpose, and its true moral destiny.

Yates sees philosophers as being “most qualified to serve” the cause of the revival of civilization, but insists that they would need to assume a more prominent place in the public conversation in order to carry out the task. He does acknowledge, however, that the current state of academic philosophy is not particularly well-equipped to assume that role, and that non-academic, or specifically non-tenured philosophers, simply don’t have the funds to indulge in such a luxury.

For me, it matters not who initiates a fundamental reappraisal of the way we live, only that it happens. But I am inclined to think Schweitzer was right: “Civilization can only revive when there shall come into being in a number of individuals a new tone of mind independent of the one prevalent among the crowd and in opposition to it, … It is only an ethical movement which can rescue us from the slough of barbarism, and the ethical comes into existence only in individuals.

I look forward to seeing what Yates concludes philosophers can do, and how, in what, no doubt, will be a more definitive exposition of the preliminary issues he has identified in Philosophy Is Not Dead.

Philosophical Origins of the Modern Liberal Fundamentalist State – Part I

Like everything else in life, all philosophy can be reduced to simple analogy.

I shall demonstrate this by reference to those philosophers who have had the most dramatic impact on the way we think and behave today.

Jeremy Bentham (1784 – 1832)

Few people outside of academia will have heard of Bentham, never mind understand how much influence his ‘thinking’ has had on their lives.

Bentham traveled back in time to the Garden of Eden, there to dig up the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and plant in its place the tree of pleasure and pain. And it is of this tree that Adam and Eve ate, claims Bentham.

“Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure.” Pain and pleasure, claims Bentham, determine what we ought to do, what is right and wrong, what we say, and how we behave. He acknowledges that he cannot prove this, but claims that is because “that which is used to prove everything else, cannot itself be proved.” Convenient!

So Bentham claimed that he had discovered the philosophical calculator, or what he called “felicific calculus” – happy arithmetic. Punch in the data, and out pops the answer. This is Bentham’s “principle of utility” – every action is determined by “the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question,” and that is done by adding to “the sum total of his pleasure,” and diminishing the “sum total of his pains.”

Now if Bentham were true to his thesis, even pain should be capable of producing pleasure. Some people sacrifice and endure pain because it relieves their consciences; others because they derive a kind of pleasure from starving themselves of pleasure for what they consider some higher calling, or for the benefit others may derive from their sacrifice; others will even sacrifice their own lives for the benefit of others, or simply because they cannot face another day of their high pleasure diet. In short, Bentham could simply have said that all actions are selfish.

But he couldn’t do that. If he did, his “felicific” calculator would not work: punch in 2 and up pops 4; punch in 4 and up pops 3. Suddenly we have a hall of mirrors. So Bentham simply declares that any principle which differs from his “principle of utility” must “necessarily be a wrong one.”

He identifies two wrong ones: “asceticism” and “sympathy and antipathy.” The former are religious people who court pain as a matter of “merit and duty” because of the “narrowness of their intellect,” and those who want to cleanse themselves from “the sordes of their impure original.” The latter are those who approve or disapprove of actions because of their own prejudices.

Bentham didn’t seem to recognize the irony in identifying these ‘exceptions’ to his principle. If there are people who do not always seek to maximize pleasure, and some who even court pain, then mankind cannot be under the “governance” of pleasure and pain as Bentham defines it.

But that does not deter Bentham. Instead of re-evaluating his “principle of utility,” he simply says that those who do not respect it “must always be regulated” to prevent them “doing mischief.” And they must be regulated by his “principle of utility.”

And this ‘regulation’ must be done by government: “the business of government is to promote the happiness of society, by punishing and rewarding.”

So Bentham hands government two electrodes: one to infuse pleasure; the other to inflict pain. Thus government compels everyone to be happy. Use of the electrodes is determined by the “effect” actions have on others pursuing their pleasure. Sometimes it is necessary to modify behavior by applying the pleasure electrode to infuse a “disposition” for the kind of pleasure that has a “tendency” to be less harmful to the pleasure of other, while the pain electrode should be applied to those who seriously malfunction – those who simply cannot get enough pleasure, irrespective of the “consequences” to others.

If Bentham’s analysis were purely academic, it could be almost entertaining. Unfortunately, it is the model of the modern democratic state. The right to “the pursuit of happiness” is even enshrined in the United States Declaration of Independence. And Western government and society are slaves to the pursuit of pleasure – as long as it does not harm others, of course.

The ‘harm principle’ which has emerged from the “principle of utility” dictates virtually every aspect of modern life, and has defined modern ‘morality’. ‘Morality’ is a function of pleasure; everything and anything which enhances pleasure is good, as long as it does not “harm” others; and everything and anything which inhibits the indulgence of pleasure is bad. Bentham’s contempt for ‘morality’ is the staple of today’s society: “we see the emptiness of all those rhapsodies of commonplace morality, which consist in the taking of such names as lust, cruelty, and avarice, and branding them with marks of reprobation.”

Thus, for decades, we have been showered with “studies” and “research” which ‘prove’ that this or that action, or this or that indulgence, does not cause “harm”. Or “studies” which show that inhibiting certain indulgences does cause “harm” to those who want to engage in them. To put it crudely, ‘morality’ today means doing whatever gives you a kick, as long as it does not ‘hurt’ someone else.

Now on the face of it, who could object to that? The problem is that we know little, if anything, of the consequences of defining human beings as nothing more than creatures in search of pleasure. What we do know is that modern Western society is plagued by a myriad of ailments. Divorce is soaring; juvenile delinquency is out of control; crime is commonplace; drug and alcohol abuse is rampant; teenage single mothers are a dime a dozen; venereal disease is as common as the common cold; and so we could go on. Yet, we do not question whether the ‘philosophy’ of modern society may be the problem; a ‘philosophy’ which has it origins in Bentham’s “principle of utility.” Instead, we call on government to wield the electrodes more, especially the pain electrode, in the hope that government can “regulate” us out of the mess. So humans are being reduced to a species lower than Pavlov’s dogs, except government does not wield a bell to make us salivate, it wields Bentham’s electrodes.

Bentham’s claim that man is governed by pleasure and pain, and must therefore always seek to maximize pleasure, is the same thing as saying that because a car consumes fuel, its sole purpose and use is to consume as much fuel as possible. He cannot conceive that a car may have a purpose other than the consumption of fuel.

Neither can he conceive that this relentless consumption of fuel may release harmful emissions into the atmosphere which may, in the end, see the demise of the car entirely, and the destruction of the environment as we know it.

But at least in respect of carbon emissions we have started questioning the true effects; we haven’t even started questioning the true effects of the relentless pursuit of pleasure.

John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873)

Bentham’s “principle of utility” has been ‘refined’ by others. Mill, for example, argued that intellectual and aesthetic pleasures should be accorded more weight than purely sensual pleasures. That’s like arguing that a car consuming high-octane fuel is preferable to a car consuming regular fuel.

Philo (20B.C. – 40A.D.)

Bentham was not original in claiming that man is governed by pleasure and pain. Philo had the pleasure advocates in his day, and predicted others, such as Bentham.

Now when I talk about Philo, I don’t mean the character played by Clint Eastwood in the film Every Which Way But Loose. I mean Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Egypt, who lived at about the same time as Christ, although there is no evidence that they ever met each other.

It is appropriate here to bring in Philo because he specifically talks about the Garden of Eden, which is where I started with Bentham.

In explaining the significance of Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Philo says this about the serpent that tempted Eve. “And the serpent is said to have spoken in a human voice, because pleasure employs innumerable champions and defenders who take care to advocate its interests, and who dare to assert that the power over everything, both small and great, does of right belong to it without any exception whatever.”

Now what I find particularly interesting about Philo is his explanation about the origins of pleasure. He says that animals “pursue pleasure only in taste and in the acts of generation,” that is, for reproduction. So it was with man, he says, until he succumbed to the serpent.

Philo explains it this way. “Now, the first approaches of the male to the female have a pleasure in them which brings on other pleasures also, and it is through this pleasure that the formation and generation of children is carried on. And what is generated by [pleasure] appears to be attached to nothing rather than to it[self], since they rejoice in pleasure, and are impatient at pain, which is its contrary.”

Philo is saying that man was once exactly like an animal, reproducing to ensure the survival of the species. Generally, animals instinctively reproduce at predetermined times and even places. Man, on the other hand, can and does reproduce at any time. But most importantly, man has the ability to reflect on the reasons for reproducing, the consequences, and the obligations that attach to, and arise from, the act of reproduction. Man has the ability to weigh in the balance the instinctive drive to reproduce, and the pleasure to be derived from it, against the consequences of the act. Humans can ask themselves whether they should engage in the act with this person, or at this time of their lives. They can ask themselves whether they should engage in the act of reproduction with only one person, or should they simply satisfy their desire for the pleasure derived from the act, irrespective of the number of people involved. And it is the ability to reflect on these questions which gives rise to what we call ‘obligations’, and what we call ‘morality’.

That is the fundamental distinction between Bentham and Philo. For Bentham, mankind is simply driven on by the pursuit of pleasure like a paper bag in a hurricane.

Philo sees this enhanced perception as an opportunity for man to rise above pleasure which, he says, if pursued for no purpose other than itself, is “more miserable than death.”

Philo warns that “those who have previously become the slaves of pleasure immediately receive the wages of this miserable and incurable passion.”

It is this ability to harness pleasure, and the ability it brings to designate acts as good or bad, that defines man, and differentiates him from beasts.

So Philo would have seen that a car does have a purpose other than the consumption of fuel. He would even have noticed that the consumption of fuel for no other purpose than the consumption of fuel would cause harm to the environment. Philo had the benefit of witnessing the unrestrained pursuit of pleasure by the Romans of his day; a passion for pleasure which ultimately led to their downfall.

Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804)

Kant can be summed up like this: he would have noticed that cars do not simply consume fuel for the sake of consuming fuel; sometimes they slow down, and even stop, consuming less fuel; he would have noticed that there are signs which seem to have this effect on cars, and that these signs are mostly obeyed because of fear of the police.

What Kant claimed to have discovered is a moral faculty in man. He claimed that man is conscious of a “moral law” through reason, and that the ‘impulse’ to conform to this “moral law” is not through some “intervening feeling of pleasure and pain,” or even “intuition,” but through “the concept of freedom.”

This is how Kant sums it up: “these laws are only possible in relation to freedom of the will; but freedom being supposed, they are necessary; or conversely freedom is necessary because those laws are necessary, being practical postulates. It cannot be further explained how this consciousness of the moral law, or, what is the same thing, of freedom, is possible.” Perhaps Kant should have called his book on the subject A Critique of Pure Impractical Reason.

Kant’s “moral law” can be explained like this: the “law” part = freedom = freedom to choose; the “moral” part = good and evil. So the “moral law” means we are free to choose between good and evil. Using the motor car analogy, Kant is saying that there are signs (laws) which, if obeyed, make a good driver, but that we are free to obey them or not, and face the consequences. This is what he says: “There is something so singular in the unbounded esteem for the pure moral law [the road signs], apart from all advantage, as it is presented for our obedience by practical reason [freedom], the voice of which makes even the boldest sinner tremble [the police], and compels him to hide himself from it ..”

Obeying the signs defines a “person himself as a good or evil man.”

Now Kant does not advocate renouncing pleasure altogether, but only that when “duty [to obey the moral law] is in question we should take no account of happiness.” Using the car analogy again, all Kant is saying is that consuming as much fuel as possible is good, except when we come across a sign; then we should obey the sign, even if that means we don’t consume any fuel.

And that, thought Kant, is the purpose of a car – consume as much fuel as possible, except when obeying a sign means we should slow down, or stop: a kind of Utilitarian Buddhism.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

Nietzsche believed that only one kind of car mattered: the powerful, fast and glitzy sports car. All other cars are “common” – “similar, ordinary, average, herdlike.” They are all “mediocre.” Or at least that is the general consensus.

That is Nietzsche’s “will to power.” He despaired at the trend toward universal similarity; the creation of a dull world – “this degeneration and diminution of man into the perfect herd animal … into the dwarf animal of equal rights and claims.” Nietzsche did not want a world where everyone drives around in a Trabant, scrupulously obeying the signs, terrified that they may have an accident. He hated the “imperative of herd timidity: [that] we want that some day there should be nothing more to be afraid of!”

At least Nietzsche acknowledges that he has no idea of a car’s purpose. But since we have them, he says, we might as well have the most powerful, the fastest, and the most aesthetically pleasing, not one of those ordinary cars without style, with plastic seats, chugging along on a puny diesel engine.

And Nietzsche doesn’t care about carbon emissions.

Yet Nietzsche would be the first to acknowledge that his “will to power” is only his “interpretation.” The genius of Nietzsche is his observation that everything is “interpretation, not text,” especially when it comes to philosophy. In that he agrees with the Preacher in Ecclesiastes: “[God] hath set the world in [man’s] heart, so that no man can find the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” [Eccl 3:11], and “though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it” [Eccl 8:17].

Because we cannot, or have not yet, identified a discernible purpose for mankind being on this earth, says Nietzsche, we simply make up the rules as we go along. But sooner or later someone will come along to throw all these rules out the window, and impose his own tyrannical rules. Nietzsche says this: “It is interpretation, not text; and somebody might come along who, with opposite intentions and modes of interpretation, could read out of the same ‘nature’, and with regard to the same phenomena, rather the tyrannical inconsiderate and relentless enforcement of claims of power – an interpreter who would picture the unexceptional and unconditional aspects of ‘will to power’ so vividly that almost every word, even the word ‘tyranny’ itself, would eventually seem unsuitable, or a weakening and attenuating metaphor – being too human – but he might, nevertheless, end by asserting the same about this world as you do, namely, that it has a ‘necessary’ and ‘calculable’ course, not because laws obtain in it, but because they are lacking, and every power draws its ultimate consequences at every moment. Supposing that this also is only interpretation – and you will be eager enough to make this objection? – well, so much the better.”

Nietzsche was right, of course! We’ve had Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and now the likes of Al Qaeda. And there will be more. Ironically, though, the greatest danger stems from our so-called democratic institutions. The prospect of such a tyrannical “interpreter” gives government license to wield Bentham’s electrodes with ever greater enthusiasm and urgency. So we see a proliferation of laws to “regulate” us into discarding our ‘prejudices’ so that some day we shall have “nothing more to be afraid of!” – except, perhaps, our own ‘tyrannical’ governments?

But government has to protect us, we are told, not just from the tyrannical “interpreter”, but also from our own predilection for causing ourselves harm; especially through carbon emissions. And that brings me to Albert Schweitzer.

Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965)

Before I have every ‘philosopher’ screaming at me that Schweitzer is not a philosopher, let me acknowledge that. His existential tendencies, it seems, banished him from that exclusive club.

He said this: “In this world we can discover nothing of any purposive evolution in which our actions can acquire meaning.” So he agrees with Nietzsche and the Preacher on that.

But he claims that our “will to live” comes to the rescue. “As in my own will-to-live there is a longing for wider life and for the mysterious exaltation of the will-to-live which we call pleasure, with dread of annihilation and of the mysterious depreciation of the will-to-live which we call pain; so is it also in the will-to-live all around me, whether it can express itself before me, or remains dumb.

“Ethics consists, therefore, in my experiencing the compulsion to show all will-to-live the same reverence as I do to my own. There we have given us that basic principle of the moral which is a necessity of thought. It is good to maintain and encourage life; it is bad to destroy life or obstruct it.”

This is how Schweitzer describes “reverence for life” man: “Life as such is sacred to him. He tears no leaf from a tree, plucks no flower, and takes care to crush no insect.”

So Schweitzer wants us to fill our cars with unleaded fuel, take care not to splatter insects on the windscreen, and not drive over grass.

That, for Schweitzer, is the purpose of a car because, he says, we can never discover any other purpose.

So Schweitzer, even if he isn’t a ‘philosopher’, rounds off the ‘thinking’ that influences us today – consciously or unconsciously. An inspiration for the environmentalists, the greens, and even the animal rights brigade.

Conclusion

These ‘philosophers’, together with those who have ‘refined’ and expanded on their ‘thinking’, have thus defined modern Western ‘morality’. A ‘morality’ that is an amalgam of the pursuit of pleasure tempered by the ‘harm principle’, environmentalism, banishment of prejudice (for which read – those who do not subscribe to the accepted norms of political ideology), and the quest for safety, all held together by Bentham’s electrodes.

Yet this amalgam doesn’t identify the purpose of a car – it describes dodgem cars at a fair ground. And it has created the modern Liberal Fundamentalist state!

Furthermore, it has also created modern Logo Man – Nietzsche’s herd man with a brand. Life only has meaning in proportion to the accumulation of Logo’s: more Logos, more happiness.

And since we labor under the fiction that we agree to be governed by the majority, the majority is easily manipulated, by appealing to their ‘will-to-vanity’, into believing that the pursuit of Logos is the pinnacle of civilization – and ‘studies’ prove that!

That we ‘consent’ to be governed by the majority is again, not surprisingly, another philosophical ‘waste product’.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2007 All Rights Reserved

 

Perspectives on the Scriptures: Genesis Day Six – ‘Programming’ Human DNA: Morality, Reason and Instinct

What we saw in Day Five was the start of the re-establishment of the principles of quantum physics which had been subsumed into the Classical laws in the previous Days.

That statement may require some clarification.

We should recall that the first three Days of Genesis explained how the laws of quantum physics “morphed” into the deterministic, ordered and predictable world of Classical physics, giving us the physical universe of inanimate objects we see all around us; a world of physical objects lacking the kind of ‘freedom’ of choice inherent in the quantum laws of physics.

But when we get to Day Five, we find that animals are said to be ‘programmed’ with a limited ability to make choices. But that ‘freedom’ is limited to applying reason to service their primitive instincts.

And now, when we get to Day Six, and human beings, we see the ‘freedom’ inherent in the quantum laws being fully reinstated.

But first, Day Six deals with a continuation of the creation of animals that started in Day Five.

Verses 24 and 25 again have the three-stage ‘creation’. First, there are the words “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

Second comes the actual ‘making’ of those things – “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: …”

And third, we have the words “and God saw that it was good.” We have an observation.

However, there appears to be a major omission here; the words “And God blessed them, saying, …” do not appear. The reason for that ‘omission’ is that the life which emerges from “the earth” is a continuation of the life that was created in Day Five. But by putting this element of the creation into the same “day” as the creation of human DNA, clearly Genesis is telling us that some of the DNA that had been ‘programmed’ in Day Five had in fact been ‘programmed’ to manifest itself at a later stage, closer to when the DNA that was to become the human genome was ‘programmed’ to emerge.

In other words, the ‘programming’ of the DNA that was to become the ‘land animals’ was actually done in Day Five, but could only manifest itself in the form intended once it encountered the right kind of land environment. That is made clear by the words “And God created … every living creature that moveth …” in verse 21 of Day Five. That would have included what was to become the basic DNA of all animals.

So including the creation of “the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind …” in Day Six, demonstrates that those creatures would emerge shortly before human beings.

Then come human beings, and we find these well known verses.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [Genesis 1: 26]

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” [Genesis 1: 27]

The first obvious point to note is the words “Let us make man …” There is still the expression of an intended objective, but these words are very different to the preceding ‘creation’. Days One and Two had the words “Let there be …” Those words signified a qualitative change in matter and energy which already existed. Day Three then has the words “Let the watersbe gathered together …” and “Let the earth bring forth …” These words signify a manipulation of what had resulted from the qualitative change to matter and energy in Days One and Two. Day Four then reverts to the words “Let there be …” As we have seen, Day Four is a sort of duplication of Day One, but in the microcosm of our solar system.

Then Day Five and the first part of Day Six revert to the words found in Day Three – “Let the waters …” and “Let the earth …” Again, as we have seen, these words signify a transformation of the pre-existing DNA so as to accommodate itself to the environment that would emerge on Earth.

But in the case of “man,” the situation is very different. By creating man “in the image of God” it is clear that the ‘accommodation’, in the first instance, is not to the environment but to God Himself. In other words, “man” was ‘intended’ to have a purpose beyond simply an ability to “Be fruitful, and multiply”. When the author/s of Genesis described “man” as being ‘created’ in “the image” of their Creator, clearly they intended to impart the idea that “man” would assume responsibility for those matters over which God Himself would otherwise have had power, and that “man” would be endowed with the ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ to carry out those responsibilities which were being assigned to them – if they chose to make use of that ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ for the purpose intended.

As we shall see, the “image of God” in these verses thus clearly refers to “man” being ‘programmed’ with a moral aptitude. But this is not some kind of flexible ability to adapt moral perceptions to new environments; it is a set of absolute moral principles which are being ‘imprinted’ into the DNA, which would determine the structure of the human brain, or mind. Those moral principles, as we shall see, are humanity’s moral compass which enables human beings to chart their moral destiny.

They act as a ‘window’ into God’s Law, and God’s will.

So let’s dissect verse 26 into its various parts. First we need to consider the opening words – “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

This is what Philo says about those words: “So then after all the other things, as has been said before, Moses says that man was made in the image and likeness of God. And he says well; for nothing that is born on the earth is more resembling God than man. And let no one think that he is able to judge of this likeness from the characters of the body: for neither is God a being with the form of a man, nor is the human body like the form of God; but the resemblance is spoken of with reference to the most important part of the soul, namely, the mind: for the mind which exists in each individual has been created after the likeness of that one mind which is in the universe as its primitive model, being in some sort the God of that body which carries it about and bears its image within it.”[1]

So, according to Philo, the “image of God” relates to the mind, or we should better say today, the brain. But Philo goes further. He asserts that this “image” imprinted in the brain, or mind, is a manifestation of the entire creation. This is what he says: “Accordingly he [Moses], when recording the creation of man, in words which follow, asserts expressly, that he was made in the image of God–and if the image be a part of the image, then manifestly so is the entire form, namely, the whole of this world perceptible by the external senses, which is a greater imitation of the divine image than the human form is.[2]

But we should be careful not to construe the brain (mind) as a whole as the “image of God,” because, as we shall see, parts of the brain are also used for other purposes – purposes, moreover, as far removed from anything resembling morality as we could get.

So we are really talking about some element of the make-up of the brain that reflects what the Creator wanted it to reflect. It’s like a painter. First, he or she ‘sees’ an ‘image’ of some feeling or thought they want to portray. They want to express part of something within themselves. So they first get all their materials ready and mixed, prepare the canvas, then they apply the brush strokes. The resulting ‘image’ is an expression of something within themselves; expressed in the physical form of a painting. The physical painting is the ‘likeness’ of the original ‘image’, whereas the sentiment expressed in the painting is the ‘image’ of the inner-most stirrings of the artist.

And we see something similar in Genesis. Each stage of ‘creation’ starts with an expression of an intention – “And God said …

Then there follows the actual ‘doing’ or ‘carrying out’ of the intention – “And there was light,” … “And God made …,” … “and it was so;” … “And the Earth brought forth …;” and so on.

And finally, God observes what has been created, and gives it His seal of approval – “And God saw that it was good.”

It is this latter wording that brings the laws of physics and the laws of morality together. The final convergence of the various intentions, makings and observations, culminate in the reflection of the Creator who initiated the whole process. The entire ‘creation’ was an unfolding of certain laws that would, in their final incarnation, reflect the expressed intention of God – something that encompasses “good”.

In other words, the universe is an expression of God’s Will which reveals itself in the laws of physics – or, according to Genesis, God’s laws. And the ultimate manifestation of that will, and those laws, is a human organism, or in this case, the DNA which would become the physical form of a human being. However, the ultimate manifestation of God’s Will and God’s law is limited to that part of the human mind that is endowed with the laws of morality. The “image of God” is thus reflected in some physical structure within the human brain – and it is that physical structure that reveals the “likeness” of God.

Many other verses of the Bible confirm the idea that God’s Law, or God’s Kingdom, is part of the human mind. Deuteronomy declares that the commandments which are written in the “book of the law” are not “hidden” from us, nor are they “in heaven”, nor “beyond the sea”; instead, “the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.[3]

And Christ said: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU.[4]

Even the “Gentiles” are so ‘programmed’ according to the apostle Paul: “For the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law … which shows the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bear witness [to the law].”[5]

But in the Genesis account of the creation of “man” in the “image of God,” there is an even more powerful indication in these verses that the “image” refers to morality. And that is found in the remarkable way that Genesis introduces the plural when it comes to the creation of “man.” The words are these: “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness: and let THEM

That expression of ‘intention’ is then put into effect with these words: “So God created man in HIS own image, in the image of God created he HIM; MALE and FEMALE created he THEM.

So in the expression of ‘intention’ we have reference to the plural when God says “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness …”, whereas when it comes to actually ‘creating’ the “man”, it reverts, in the first instance, to the singular – “So God created man in HIS OWN image, in the image of GOD created he HIM …”

Philo says this about those verses: “very beautifully after he had called the whole race ‘man,’ did he distinguish between the sexes, saying, that ‘they were created male and female.’”[6]

Male and female created HE THEM.”

At the very heart of any notion of morality lies the relationship between two people, a man and a woman, and their joining together to create new life – a new human being which is in their genetic ‘image and likeness’. Only an imbecile would claim that the act of creating and bringing into this world a new human life does not attach any obligations to the two people who, by their own voluntary act, create new human life.

Even the Arch-Utilitarian John Stuart Mill said this about the creation of new human life: “It is not in the matter of education only, that misplaced notions of liberty prevent moral obligations on the part of parents from being recognised, and legal obligations from being imposed, where there are the strongest grounds for the former always, and in many cases for the latter also. The fact itself, of causing the existence of a human being, is one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life. To undertake this responsibility – to bestow a life which may be either a curse or a blessing – unless the being on whom it is bestowed will have at least the ordinary chances of a desirable existence, is a crime against that being.”[7]

Now, at first sight it may be tempting to link the words “male and female” to the words “Let us make …”, and conclude that the latter words mean that God had a female partner, or even that God Himself was ‘male’. But the words preceding “male and female”, as we have seen, revert to the singular when referring to God, and indeed “man” – “in the image of God created HE (God) HIM (man); …” Only then come the words “male and female created he (God)  them (male and female).”

But this all begins to make sense when we recognize that the “image and likeness” of God refers to the manifestation of God’s will in a universe governed by the laws God put in place to determine how it functions. That has been the message of Genesis since the start.

So the distinction between the sexes when it comes to human beings must have a moral significance. Animals also reproduce, in the main by male and female joining together, but Genesis does not refer to animals being created male and female anywhere in Days Five or Six.

We also see that Christ said that the concept of “male and female” is something integral to the laws which constitute the universe itself. When tempted by the Pharisees about divorce, Christ replied: “Have you not read, that which he [God] made them AT THE BEGINNING made them male and female, And said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. … Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but FROM THE BEGINNING it was not so.[8]

So the Biblical interpretation, even through the New Testament, clearly links the words “male and female” to a fundamental moral principle which was established “from the beginning.”

So what exactly does use of the plural mean in verse 26 – because it is the only place that it is found in Genesis in respect of God creating anything?

The answer must lie in the various means God is said to employ in the creation.

As we have seen, Genesis starts with “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Everything that was to be created thereafter was to come from these two things – in scientific terminology, matter and space.

But to transform the ‘material’ that was there at the beginning, God is said to have employed His spirit – “And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

The third element comes in God ‘speaking’ – “And God said …” We should note that this wording is different from the first words of Genesis which simply say “God created …

Psalm 33 puts it this way: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”[9]

So what we see is that when it comes to the creation of “man”, ALL the methods God employed in the creation of the universe are brought to bear – God Himself, the “spirit of God”, and the “word of God” as reflected in the words “And God said …”

In the Christian tradition this is called the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.

Philo has a slightly different interpretation of the use of the plural in this verse. His argument is that since God can only create that which is “good”, and since certain elements of human nature are not “good”, God had to resort to others when it came to creating those elements of human nature. He says this: “It is on this account that Moses says, at the creation of man alone that God said, “Let us make man,” which expression shows an assumption of other beings to himself as assistants, in order that God, the governor of all things, might have all the blameless intentions and actions of man, when he does right attributed to him; and that his other assistants might bear the imputation of his contrary actions. For it was fitting that the Father should in the eyes of his children be free from all imputation of evil; and vice and energy in accordance with vice are evil.”[10]

Philo does not say who he thinks God’s “other assistants” might be.

I do not consider Philo’s interpretation of these words to be correct, because, as we shall see, what Philo considers are those elements of human nature that tend to ‘evil’ or ‘vice’ are not in themselves ‘wrong’. In fact, they are essential for human survival: they are human instinct, and human reason. It is only when reason is applied to service those instincts in violation of the “moral law” that the actions become ‘wrong’, or ‘evil’. And when it comes to ‘programming’ human DNA with reason and instincts, God is not said to have resorted to “other assistants” – He does it Himself.

So we see that the final manifestation of all these ‘elements’ of God being brought together in the final act of creation is not a physical man and a physical woman, but the “image of God” as “male and female” – “male and female” representing the moral nature of what human DNA was being endowed with. The “image and likeness” of God can only thus refer to a moral law being embedded into human DNA, and “male and female” representing the very origin and heart of morality.

As we shall see, the Ten Commandments speak to precisely such a foundation to the moral principles they enunciate. Man free of the authority or “bondage” of his fellow man, subject only to the laws of God, and the joining together of a man and a woman to create new human life as the foundation of all other moral principles.

The “male and female” as the foundation of all other moral principles is best put by Philo when he considers the Fifth Commandment – “Honour thy father and thy mother.”[11] He puts it this way: “The nature of one’s parents appears to be something on the confines between immortal and mortal essences. Of mortal essence, on account of their relationship to men and also to other animals, and likewise of the perishable nature of the body. And of immortal essence, by reason of the similarity of the act of generation to God the Father of the universe.”[12]

But then, the question is whether science recognizes such a ‘programming’ of human DNA, and thus the human brain, with any such moral precepts?

And the answer is yes, although neuroscience is still in its infancy when it comes to this element of human DNA and the brain.

IVF pioneer, Sir Robert Winston, says that the human brain has “a sort of ‘morality module’ … that is activated at an early age. Evidence from neuroscience would back this up, to a degree.”[13]

But if the human brain has such a “morality module”, then it is clear that it is an integral part of human DNA, and human DNA is the product of the fundamental laws of physics, which in turn are determined by the properties of fundamental particles, which themselves are subject to the laws of quantum mechanics.

As we have seen, Weinberg says this about DNA: “no one doubts that with a large enough computer we could in principle explain all the properties of DNA by solving the equations of quantum mechanics for electrons and the nuclei of a few common elements, whose properties are explained in turn by the standard model.[14]

The genetic makeup of human DNA is thus an ‘image’ of the laws of physics, and more particularly, the properties of fundamental particles. And the properties of fundamental particles are determined by quantum mechanics – probability, and observation.

So if, as Winston claims, the human brain has embedded within it a “morality module,” that module is an expression of those laws which determined the physical structure of the brain itself. But more remarkably, it is an expression of those fundamental laws of physics, or some core part of those laws, not in terms of numbers and equations, but in terms of moral principles that we can ‘see’ in terms of words.

Genesis thus plots for us the process that established the universe we see around us, as well as the process which enables us to ‘see around us’ in the first place. But it also plots the process by which we are able to ‘see within ourselves’ – to ‘see’ the moral foundation of the universe, and the “moral law” in whose image we are created. And that “moral law” is embedded into the human brain as a “morality module”; a module that is the final manifestation of the fundamental laws which created it, and which it is.

That is why we can no more create the laws of morality than we create the laws of physics; we can only discover them. And the reason is that they are the same thing. An expression of God’s will in the form of fundamental principles and laws.

And even if we leave God out of the picture, any “morality module” can only be the manifestation of the fundamental laws of physics, which means that the final manifestation of those laws must be moral.

The argument that we ‘invent’ moral principles to adapt to our social environment can’t get around the problem, because that must mean that human DNA must have known that it should prepare itself with a moral aptitude (and genes) to prepare to adapt to the social environment it may “encounter downstream”. Humanity’s relentless quest for justice speaks to a moral stirring within human beings to express the moral law which is embedded within the brain.

So again, the only difference between science and Genesis is whether human morality, like the universe and life itself, is some improbable cosmic aberration of no special significance, or whether it is central to human existence as being a manifestation of the will and law of a Creator.

Although this moral dimension to the creation of “man” is, of course, central to the creation process, it is not the whole story.

The second part of the ‘intention’ expressed in verse 26 is this: “and let them [humans] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

However, when this stated intention is put into effect, we have wording that we have not seen before. In the case of the creation of life in Day Five, after the stated ‘intention’, we have the actual making of what was ‘intended’: “And God created great whales etc ….” Thereafter we have the words “And God Blessed them SAYING …” And we saw in the analysis of Day Five that such wording symbolized the ‘programming’ of animal DNA with a limited capacity to reason and communicate, and the basic instincts animals needed to survive and perpetuate.

In the case of humans, there is a subtle but fundamental difference.

After “man” is created in God’s “image”, and created “male and female”, which, as we have seen, symbolizes human DNA being ‘programmed’ with a “morality module”, we have these words: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every thing that moveth upon the earth.”[15]

The crucial words have been highlighted in bold.

First, we should note the difference in how God is said to ‘speak’ to animals and humans. In the case of animals, Genesis uses the word “SAYING”, whereas in the case of humans (“male and female”) the words used are “UNTO THEM”. The words “unto them” clearly imply a greater level of understanding between the one doing the speaking (God) and those He is speaking to (“male and female” – humans).

So the first thing these words clearly symbolize is human DNA being ‘programmed’ with a considerably higher ability to ‘reason’, as well as a considerably higher degree of communication skills. Talking to someone is very different to simply saying something. As we saw in the example given in respect of Day Five, one version is like ‘saying’ something to your pet, whereas the other is like talking to your children.

In the next verse, we find God again speaking to what He had created: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree yielding seed; and to you it shall be for meat.”[16]

Here the words are even more explicit in that they depict a level of explanation and ‘reasoning’ when God says “Behold, I have given you …” It assumes that what is being communicated is being understood by those to whom it is being communicated, and that requires an ability to reason so as to comprehend what is being said, and an ability to receive that communication.

There can be no other explanation for the different use of words in respect of humans and animals.

Human DNA was being ‘programmed’ with the ability to reason, and to communicate. Whether that ‘programming’ involved a specific gene or series of genes, or whether it involved ‘programming’ existing genes to ‘know’ that these abilities would be required in the future and so to prepare ‘reserve genes’ (or psuedogenes), is not really important. The fact is that human beings do have these abilities. And even if geneticists claim that it is a result of ‘evolution,’ then, as the article on the Encode Project shows, human DNA would have to have had the ability to ‘know’ that it should prepare itself with ‘reserve genes’ which could form the basis from which the DNA could ‘evolve’ to accommodate the future environment it would encounter.

But even if human DNA only has this ‘evolutionary knowledge’ that it should ready itself for some future environment which it can ‘foresee’, and so ‘knows’ what genes to make to respond to that environment, that in itself would be quite a remarkable matter – DNA that ‘knows’ about the theory of evolution and how best to ‘accommodate’ itself to it? And all without any ‘programming’?

Nevertheless, that humans do have the capacity to reason and communicate, or at least some of them, is a fact. The only debate can be how that came about: or more specifically, was there some “conscious outside observer” involved who did a little manipulating of quantum probabilities before locking in the desired result with an observation; or was it an impossibly improbable accident of the kind to be expected when we multiply the probabilities to an infinite degree – even though the probabilities of the wavefunction of each particle are themselves said to be infinite? And even then, there is still that irritatingly persistent observation problem!

Hopefully having thus settled the origins of reason and communication according to Genesis, we should look to see what God was said to have been saying to “man” when He spoke to them, and why.

So the next crucial words come after God is said to bless “man”. In the first instance, God is said to say to “man” exactly what He said to animals: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, …[17] We should recall that in the case of animals the words were “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters …[18]

It seems quite obvious that these words relate to instinct; the instinct to reproduce, and the instinct for survival.

So Genesis is telling us that humans and animals were ‘programmed’ with the same instincts to reproduce and survive. And the survival instinct encompasses a number of subsidiary instincts such as eliminating any perceived threats to itself, or its offspring, and conversely, the instinct to reproduce includes an instinct to protect what is reproduced so as to preserve that line of the species – to preserve that which is the image of the parents.

Furthermore, the instinct to reproduce must necessarily include some mechanism which attracts one gender of the species to the other, so that the act of regeneration may take place. And that requires an additional instinct for each gender to portray itself in a manner which would attract the attentions of the opposite gender. That is the instinct to vanity.

However, according to Genesis, when it came to humans, God saw fit to endow humans with a number of additional instincts.

The first of these human-specific instincts are set out after the reproductive and survival instincts symbolized by the words “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth”. Here is verse 28 again: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every thing that moveth upon the earth.”

The key words said to have been spoken to “man” are “subdue it [the earth], and have dominion over [everything else].

These words can only refer to “man” being ‘programmed’ with the additional instincts for security and invention, symbolized by the instruction to “subdue [the earth], … and have dominion over [the other creatures].” These additional instincts leave most human beings with a strong desire to impose their authority not just on their environment, but on other human beings, as a means of suppressing the fear of insecurity that fires the instinct for security. That is because, regrettably, the ‘instruction’ to the first human beings to “subdue” the earth did not include a prohibition against subduing other human beings. This is what Nietzsche called the “will to power”.[19] But, as we shall see, the ‘omission’ was not some ‘slip-up’ on God’s part. It was required in order to ensure that a fundamental element of God’s Law was preserved – freedom.

Moreover, the instinct for security requires an ability for cunning so as to enable human beings to devise means of attempting to outsmart opponents so as to eliminate any perceived threat to their security. And cunning very quickly assumes the guise of deception and deceit. However, to employ such instincts, humans resort to their ability to reason, and communicate.

So we see that our instincts for survival, reproduction, and security, are not in themselves ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’. It is only when we employ ‘reason’ to service those instincts in such a way as to deprive others of their survival or security, or we employ ‘reason’ to deceive others such as a wife, or husband, and children, so as to indulge our ‘reproductive’ instinct, that the action becomes ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’.

However, there is another dimension to these human instincts which make them vulnerable to manipulation by ‘reason’ – pleasure and pain. In order for instincts to serve their purpose, there must be some mechanism which activates them. And that mechanism is the fear of pain, and the appetite for pleasure. It is these elements of human instinct which, being susceptible to the manipulation of ‘reason’, are the source of all ‘wrong’ and ‘evil’.

‘Reason’ in the service of our primitive instincts in pursuit of the allure of the ‘pleasures’ to be had by indulging those instincts, or fearful of the ‘pain’ which may ensue if any such instincts are threatened, leads to deception, deceit, fraud, murder, theft, violence, and every other ‘wrong’ and ‘evil’ that human beings can conceive to visit upon their fellow human beings.

Human activity shows that although these instincts are ‘triggered’ by perceived expectations of ‘pain or pleasure’, with the additional ability to ‘reason’, any perceived threat of pain, or expectation of pleasure, as a result of an instinct being activated, becomes an end in itself. ‘Reason’ thus devises ways to limit any expectations of pain, and to service the expectations of pleasure, aroused by those primitive instincts.

As Philo said, “For other animals pursue pleasure only in taste and in the acts of generation; but man aims at it by means of his other senses also, devoting himself to whatever sights or sounds can impart pleasure to his eyes or ears.”[20] The device human beings use to “aim at” pleasure, and devote themselves to satisfying it, is ‘reason’.

However, Genesis does not end the ‘programming’ of human DNA with instinct. The next verses reveal that human DNA was also programmed with an innate ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ of how other life functions, which, in turn, could be applied either to service our primitive instincts, or in the service of morality.

Those verses are these:

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree yielding seed; and to you it shall be for meat.”[21]

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”[22]

The introductory words “And God said, Behold, I have given you …” refer to the human beings which God had created “male and female”. But what is also clear is that those introductory words also apply to the next verse, because the next verse is a continuation of the explanation God is said to be providing to humans. These two verses symbolize human DNA being ‘programmed’ with an innate, but latent, ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ of how plant and animal life functions, and the interrelationship between them. And to know how life functions, these verses also imply, by extension’, an innate ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ of what life is made of, and the physical and chemical laws which make it all function.

And it is this ‘programming’ that gave rise to Einstein’s amazement at the human ability to understand the workings of the universe when he noted that “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.[23]

Having thus ‘programmed’ human DNA with morality, reason, instinct, and an innate ‘knowledge’ of the laws which make it all work, Day Six ends again with an observation: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.[24]

This final observation is not just “good,” but “very good.” It was exactly what God had intended to make, and it was also His final observation.

The “day” then ends with the familiar “And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”[25] As we shall see momentarily, this would have been just before liquid water appeared of Earth. And according to Schroeder, “Petrographical evidence indicates that liquid water appeared on Earth … approximately 4 billion years ago.”[26]

So, at the end of Day Six, Genesis tells us that human DNA had been ‘programmed’ with three principal elements: instinct, morality, and reason, and reason could act as a sort of adjudicator between instinct and morality, if we elect to apply it to that purpose, rather than the pursuit of the temptations of pleasure held out by satisfying our primitive instincts.

If ‘reason’ in the service of primitive instinct were the whole story, human existence would be a very miserable experience – an existence “more miserable than death.”[27]

Luckily, God spared us that fate by creating us “in his own image.”[28] He embedded in our minds a “morality module”, which could ensure that “… [man] is not so completely an animal as to be indifferent to what [morality] says on its own account, and to use [reason] merely as an instrument for the satisfaction of his wants as a [sensual] being.”[29]

Therefore, all the evidence points to human DNA having been ‘programmed’ with the necessary information to create the human species, first in primitive form, but with the ability to ‘know’ what kind of environments it will encounter in the future so that it can ‘program’ itself to respond to those environments, and so create more sophisticated DNA structures.

However, the crucial point to note is that this ability to ‘know’ what environments it may encounter, and prepare itself accordingly, requires an ‘observation – a kind of ‘instruction’ as to what the future holds. And that ‘observation’, or ‘instruction’, could not come from human beings themselves because human DNA ‘developed’ from earlier primitive DNA which, in turn, appears to have been ‘created’ in the stars or supernovae. To acquire these remarkable capabilities, DNA needed an “outside observer” to tend to the ‘fine tuning’ in order to create what resulted in a human being endowed with a moral aptitude.

Once DNA had finally realized its full potential as a moral being, it was able to make moral choices, and thus begin to shape its own destiny. The probabilities inherent in fundamental particles manifest themselves in the human ability to make choices as to what actions they will take, and whether those actions will be in service of their primitive instincts, or in response to the moral principles, or “moral law” as Kant called it, embedded in the brain.

It was at this point in cosmic history that the “outside observer” passed humanity’s moral destiny to human beings themselves – “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.[30]

In terms of science, Michio Kaku puts it this way: “… in a quantum play, the actors suddenly throw away the script and act on their own. The puppets cut their strings. Free will has been established.”[31] However, according to Genesis, it is not the “puppets” that “cut their strings”, but the “outside observer”.

And so, when we come to the end of the six days of creation, we find that in the functioning of the universe and nature, God’s Will is expressed through God’s Law which permeates everything; it is what we understand, to a very limited degree, as the laws of physics. However, in respect of human beings, God’s Will is expressed by God’s Law being embedded in the human brain as a neurological moral network or “morality module”. But humans are not ‘governed’ by that law, they must freely choose it. The decision to follow God’s Will is theirs. However, as we shall see, God does attempt to guide our choice, and He has made valiant efforts to do so – mostly in the face of arrogant and ignorant resistance.

And with that in mind, we will next consider Chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis. And we will be introduced to the ‘pre-fall descendants’ of Adam and Eve – yes, alive and well to this very day.

By Joseph BH McMillan

The remaining articles on Genesis Chapters 2 & 3 will be published in the coming days.

Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2014 All Rights Reserved

Notes

[1] Philo, On the Creation, XXIII (69).

[2] Philo, On the Creation, VI (24).

[3] Deuteronomy 30:10 – 14.

[4] Luke 17; 21 – my emphasis.

[5] Romans 2: 14 & 15.

[6] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (76).

[7] Mill, On Liberty, Chapter 5, v. 15 – emphasis mine.

[8] Mathew 19: 4 – 8.

[9] Psalm 33: 6.

[10] Philo, On the Creation, XXIV (74).

[11] Exodus 20:12.

[12] Philo, Decalogue, XXII (106)

[13] The Guardian, 13 October 2005.

[14] Weinberg, page 32.

[15] Genesis 1: 28.

[16] Genesis 1: 29.

[17] Genesis 1: 28.

[18] Genesis 1: 22.

[19] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, para 36, page 48.

[20] Philo. On the Creation, LVII(162)

[21] Genesis 1: 29.

[22] Genesis 1: 30.

[23] Quoted by Rees, pages 11 – 12.

[24] Genesis 1: 31.

[25] Genesis 1: 31.

[26] Schroeder, The Science of God, page 90.

[27] Philo, On the Creation, LVIII (164)

[28] Genesis 1: 27

[29] Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, page 80 – my adaptations in square brackets.

[30] Genesis 2: 2.

[31] Kaku,  page 149.

 

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