Class Warfare Blog

July 31, 2020

Astrology Has an Interesting History

Filed under: Culture,History,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 10:09 am
Tags: , ,

Astrology goes way back so I assume it has a pre-history (going back 6000+ years or so) but there is little we can learn about such beliefs before there were written records of what they were. In any case we can learn two things from this long-standing belief. For one, people looked up and studied the points of light in the night sky and the other is that they knew fuck all about what was really happening.

In our western tradition it seems that astrology took off with the ancient Greeks, four to five centuries BCE. It seems to be founded on a belief that the gods or a god set “the heavens” in motion and that those same gods mapped out human destinies onto those motions and positions.

Okay, time for a little science. The vast majority of the planetary bodies formed from an accretion disk that was rotating around our star. Consequently, all of the planets formed in that manner exist in the same plane (roughly) and orbit the Sun in the same direction. Consequently mapping the positions of the planets against the circular horizon (circular in appearance any way) gives a reasonable structure as to the positions of the planets in the night sky.

Also, all of the other stars are so far away that their motions are imperceptible from here, they are the “fixed starts,” meaning fixed into positions. They rotate about an axis viewed from where we are, many videos show this phenomenon and these appear frequently on our TVs. This rotation of the “fixed starts” is an illusion, of course, based upon the fact that the Earth rotates once per day on its axis. (And for those looking for deity designs in that one day per rotation fact, that is just where we got the time term of a “day.” Light to dark and back to light seemed to repeat and it did . . . because of the Earth’s rotation. (Which is slowing down, by the way, by 1.78 milliseconds per century!).

So, the positions of the fixed starts didn’t change in relation to one another. The only things that changed positions were the planets and moons of the planets. And back in the Greeks hey day, there were five known planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) and the Moon and the Sun. The Babylonians, apparently, invented the zodiac, being sets of fixed stars wrapping around the skies equator, to provide locations in the night sky that (a) could be referred to, and (b) found. The planetary bodies were then mapped as they made their way around this circle.

To believe in astrology, and let me be clear, almost everyone did back then and possibly many, many still do, one has to believe in predestination, that is a destiny for each of us has been ordained (usually by the gods or a god), and you have to believe that your destiny has been mapped by the gods onto the positions of those planetary bodies around the zodiac. (Those “bodies” positions, btw, are perfectly predictable using the laws of science, so changing someones destiny would require a god to shift the position of a planet or two and then change everyone’s memories and all records of that change. (Whew!)

While there has been much written about and claimed for astrology, no mechanism has been given for the direct influence of the planets on our lives, so the gods have to be behind this, ordaining what will happen and then expecting us to seek security through secret decoder rings or whatever.

Knowing what was going to happen to one in a time in which life was far from predictable was very much to be desired, so people consulted astrologers frequently, especially when large undertakings were in the offing. If such an undertaking were fraught with danger and loss, well, destinies were in the control of gods and there were rituals and sacrifices to gain a change in fate. These practices fit hand in glove with the thinking of those people at that time.

The astronomers of the time, who also believed in astrology, didn’t see a connection between their mathematics-based exploration of the skies with astrology, but if they had, there is one thing they could have discovered.

If one plots the positions of the planets on the horizon, as is apparently done in serious German schools of astrology to this day, you can get certain arrangements of the “planets” around that circle and various interpretations can be made.

But, how many unique “prognostications” can be made from these arrangements for any particular day? Hundreds, thousands, maybe. But circa 500 BCE there were roughly 90-100 million people alive on Earth. If they were all to ask for a horoscope to be cast on a particular day, would they each get a forecast unique to them as an individual? I doubt it. There are not enough “heavenly bodies” being tracked and positions they could be in to cover that many people.

Now there are 7+ billion people on Earth. We are not limited to the five observable with the naked eye planets as were the ancient Greeks, but even if we include all of the planets and many of their moons, are we going to come up with 7+ billion unique horoscopes? (Inquiring minds want to know. Note For those not of a certain age, this phrase was used to market a supermarket tabloid, called the National Enquirer. They were famous for defending themselves, in court, during a libel suit by saying “Everybody knows we make this stuff up.”)

So, in order for one to continue to believe in astrology, one has to believe in: determinism, our destinies are created by a god or gods which have the power to change those destinies, and that somehow, some way, 7 billion different horoscopes can be created on any day of the year.

This is why astrology qualifies as a religious belief, a belief in the absence of evidence, not because of the evidence.





July 28, 2020

Motivations According to Conservatives

Unemployment insurance has been, irrationally, deeply controversial. It has always faced bitter opposition from conservatives who claim that it would discourage workers from seeking jobs.

This is a part of their “those people are lazy” mindset which is joined with the belief that if “those people” didn’t have to work, they wouldn’t.

Let’s see how this belief plays out if taken to heart.

In our “pay as you go culture,” you have to pay for everything: you pay for the food you eat, for the shelter over your head, and you pay for the utilities to keep that space livable, you pay for health care. You pay for all of this by getting a job that pays “enough.”

Let’s do an experiment—one that actually has already been done any number of times, but hey, this might be the first time you thought this through. Let’s offer someone who has one of those “keeping body and soul together” jobs, one that pays just enough to be able to pay the rent, keep the TV on, and feed himself (no family), the same amount of income, but he doesn’t need to go to work to receive it.

The conservatives will immediately see this guy in a hammock sipping a mint julep. He just got his ticket punched to Easy Street! Well, we all now know what “staying home” is like during this pandemic. Does it feel like Easy Street? “Are we not entertained?” So, after lolling about for a bit, this “lazy bum” we are paying to do nothing gets the idea that he could get a good job and really expand his income. After all, the government is covering his nut, but not for vacations, cars, or a family. Do, you think this guy would settle for another boring dead end job like he had before? I tend to think he would aim higher. If he applies for 10 jobs but doesn’t get one of those, what has he lost? He still has food and shelter, so he is not desperate. I think we can count on human ambition being at least moderately high. Having that minimum income to backstop him, he is less likely to settle, not more likely.

And what does this say about the shit jobs people were doing for poor wages? What would happen if people said “Why should I break my back for little more than the basic income I get automatically?” Quite a number of those jobs would go wanting. Consequently . . . if you believe in market forces . . . those jobs are not worth doing, or if they are, higher wages are going to have to be paid to entice people to do them.

And, what would a lot of people opting out of the job market do for those seeking jobs? Hmmm . . . fewer applicants for the same number of jobs means higher employment rates. Conservatives can’t argue this is false because they have been claiming for years that Mexicans, illegally in the U.S., are taking jobs away from Americans. We have argued that there aren’t a whole lot of Anglos seeking work in the roofing business in the Texas summer or in the fields picking vegetables, but the conservatives insist that Mexican “illegals” are taking those jobs away from Americans. If so, it has to work both ways. If poor people stop applying for the shit jobs they have been doing, there will be more jobs for Americans who want them.

Now, small business owners will complain (they have little power otherwise) that if they have to pay higher wages to keep people in the jobs they have on offer, they will go out of business. Again, let’s consider a small thought experiment. So, you Mr. Small Business Owner advertise for an employee to fill one of your shit jobs, and several desperate people apply. You pick one and you train them. They perform in a lackluster manner and quit or get fired after a short stint “on the job.” And so, you are back advertising for a replacement . . . again, which you will hire, train, and . . . well, I think you see the cycle. If, on the other hand, the job pays well, and this owner tells an employee they have to pick up the pace, they are much more likely to do so, because the impact of losing a higher paying job is greater. Many people won’t want to lose such a job and so will try harder. Fewer adverts get put, less time is spent training new employees, less over time is paid covering for employees who got fired/quit, etc. Which process is less expensive to the SB owner? I don’t think the answer is obvious.

Conservatives seem to think the very best motivation for poor people is desperation (you have all seen the drug company commercials showing poor people unable to afford the medicine their dependents need, the problem is not invisible). They, of course, reserve special scorn (“lazy and shiftless”) for the racial minorities who are poor, but all of the poor are painted with their wide brush. (They work out their schemes on the Black and Brown poor, and then they always bring it home on the White poor . . . always). On the other hand, in their lives and the lives of other white, privileged Americans, their salaries are more than adequate to meet a family person’s nut for the whole family, and while it may not be enough to pay for a McMansion, or private schools for the kids, and a Porsche, it is enough for cars, vacations, a paid healthcare plan, and a few splurges, etc., and the motivation preferred by this class is greed, pure and simple. They laud hedge fund managers and other financial fat cats as examples of what you can do if you apply greed to your work life.

So, basically, conservatives have very low opinions of the motivations that move people and I suspect that is because they have a low opinions of people in general, other than themselves and their close associates, of course. And I wonder where they learned to have a very low opinion of people . . . religion!

Such a Deal!

I was reading a blog post on Bruce Gerencser’s web site recently and he ripped off yet another thought-provoking statement. Here it is:

“Cultural Christianity is all about what people say and not what they do. This is the predominant form of Christianity in America. When asked, do you believe in the Christian God? most Americans will say, Yes! It matters not how they live or even if they understand Christian doctrine. They believe, and that’s all that matters.” (Bruce Gerencser)

Here is a key flaw in the fundamentalist/evangelical Christian viewpoint. Basically they say, to be saved from the terrible fate of God’s curse, all you need do is accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. That’s it. Accept Jesus and . . . done deal . . . you are saved.

You don’t have to do anything else. You don’t have to join a particular church, as the Catholics do. There is no requirement to do good deeds. You do not have to donate money to the cause. There is nothing else you need do to avoid the Lake of Fire you were condemned to.

Consequently, many Christians (most?) violate Christian mores/ethics in great number. This is the allure apparently. You need do very little and Bingo! you are saved. Of course, the religions promoting this theological point are really missing the mark. If Christians were, in addition, supposed to do good works to maintain their “Get Out of Hell Free” status, they could be doing a great deal more good in this country, and the world, too. Imagine that churches could put on brag sessions in which members would “share” all of their good deeds done each week. “I helped an old lady to cross the street.” “I mowed my disabled neighbor’s front lawn.” “I visited a sick congregant in the hospital.” “I volunteered at the food bank all day Saturday.”

Natural competition and good, old fashioned one-upmanship would lead to an expansion of such efforts. Who cares if these actions are ego-driven, good things are getting done. But unlike Noah’s Ark, missing this boat apparently is no big deal.

Making Christians by asking very, very little of them is a proven path to success, success in the form of numbers of congregants. But now that people are thinking more and have more access to information and other people via the Internet, it is becoming apparent to many others that there is an even lazier way to avoid that Lake of Fire—become an atheist!

Become an atheist and voilà, you are no longer subject to the curse of a god which does not exist. And, there are no church meetings, no dues or tithes, no required beliefs, no deadly sins, in fact, no sins at all. No singing songs along with a bunch of other people who also cannot sing. No listening to lectures that are boring in the extreme. No effort need be made whatsoever.

Disbelieve and you are saved—saved from a fate worse that death and the myriad things listed above, and that is only a partial list.

Disbelieve and you are saved. Much easier than believe and you are saved.

July 26, 2020

Those Death Panels . . .

Those “death panels” the Republican opponents of the Obamacare legislation warned us about have finally popped up . . . in the Republican state of Texas!

Texas hospital forced to set up ‘death panel’ as Covid-19 cases surge


July 25, 2020

With Apologies to Lerner and Loewe

Musical theatre for 2020 and possibly the campaign song for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign:

Why can’t the poor be more like rich?
The rich are so honest, so thoroughly square;
Eternally noble, historically fair.
Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat.
Why can’t the poor be like that?

Why does every one do what the others do?
Can’t the poor learn to use their heads?
Why do they do everything their parents do?
Why don’t they grow up, well, like the rich instead?

Why can’t the poor take after the rich?
The rich are so pleasant, so easy to please.
Whenever you’re with them, you’re always at ease.

One rich man in a million may shout a bit.
Now and then, there’s one with slight defects.
One perhaps whose truthfulness you doubt a bit,
But by and large we are a marvelous sort!

Why can’t the poor take after the rich?
‘Cause the rich are so friendly, good-natured and kind.
Better companions you never will find.

Why can’t the poor be more like the rich?
The rich are so decent, such regular chaps;
Ready to help you through any mishaps;
Ready to buck you up whenever you’re glum.
Why can’t the poor be such chums?

Why is thinking something the poor never do?
And why is logic never even tried?
Applying for welfare is all they ever do.
Why don’t they straighten up the mess that’s inside?

Why can’t the poor behave like the rich?
If I were one of the poor who’d been to a ball,
Been hailed as royalty by one and by all;
Would I start whinging like a jilted lover,
Or carry on as if my home were in a tree?
Would I run off and tell no one where I’m going?
Why can’t the poor be like me?

Adapted from “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?” from My Fair Lady by Lerner and Loewe.

July 24, 2020

Oh, Wow!

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:17 am
Tags: , , ,

From time to time I like to check in to see what the other side of the god argument is saying, so I bit on this book: God’s Grand Game: Divine Sovereignty and the Cosmic Playground by Steven Colborne.

This chap seems to be taking all of the god claims to heart and looking seriously at the consequences. I believe his viewpoint is: it is all true and you will agree with me if you just follow along.

Here is all of Chapter 4 (This is as far as I have gotten as this is a bit f tough sledding.) I also hope that doesn’t violate fair use regulations but as I am not profiting from this I suspected that it is not.

God in Inanimate Objects

It is easy to see how God is active in living creatures, but it is perhaps somewhat more difficult to envisage what ‘God is doing’ in the case of inanimate objects, like tables or books. When I look at a table and investigate its nature, an obvious question arises — is God making the table be, or can the table be without involvement from God?

The table existing without involvement from God would have to mean that there is some part of the cosmos in which God is not present. But this cannot be, as God by His very nature is omnipresent. Therefore, there must be a sense in which the table is ‘in God’, or, put another way, God’s being must permeate the table. It is natural, then, to assume that God is holding the table in existence. The table appears solid and stable, and it is perfectly possible for God to create these qualities in the table. God is, after all, omnipotent, so holding a bunch of atoms in place for a few hundred years does not pose the slightest problem.

Another aspect of God is that He is wholly in the parts as well as the whole. This means that each individual part of the table contains the fullness of God. It should not be hard to imagine, then, that God, in His infinite power, can create subtle change in such objects over time. We are talking, for instance, of objects like the table fading in colour, becoming infested by woodworm, or drying out. If the smallest particle is just as present to God as the whole table, then God can affect change on any level.

One might naturally ask, what would become of the table if God’s involvement were taken away? Could it exist without God? We have already established that God is everywhere, so we would have to conclude that there can be no table without God.

Taking all of this into account, should it not be possible for God to make major unexpected changes in the order of things? For instance, if God wanted my table to vanish before my eyes, is this not possible? Remember, we are saying that God is holding every particle of the table in existence. I would have to conclude that, yes, it is as possible for a table to vanish as it is for a man’s pain to vanish, as I described witnessing in the chapter “How Do I Know God Exists?”. God could remove a table from existence in a flash, if He desired. So why, then, do we not see more instances of this?

Well, it is perfectly possible that God likes order. Perhaps regularity is one of the things that gives God pleasure. This is understandable if we remember that God has all of eternity at His disposal. God might like to make some things appear and disappear (like a flash of lightning), and cause other things to remain for hundreds of years (like a table). Evolution (in objects as well as animals) may well please God, as the unfolding of His will and His plans provide our creator with anticipation and something to look forward to.


So, if I burn a table on a bonfire, I am burning god? (Throw on a beef steak and burn him at the steak?)

The table is maybe a bit too weird a place to start. How about: “God, in His infinite power, can create subtle change in such objects over time. We are talking, for instance, of objects like the table fading in colour, becoming infested by woodworm, or drying out. If the smallest particle is just as present to God as the whole table, then God can affect change on any level.”

We have to ask, why an omnipotent god would use his powers to stick the atoms of every fricking object in the universe together? This has to be incredibly boring stuff. He is omnipotent and this is what does with his powers . . . hold the atoms of a table together? If he were to get distracted, would the table fall apart?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to have such a god create universal rules regarding the stickiness of atoms and use those to hold the atoms of things together. We could call them, I don’t know, chemical bonds, for short. No? I do note that none of the properties of the Christian god is that he is “all-intelligent.” (What would that be in Greekish? Omni-smart? Omni-percipient, Omni-éxypnos?) Maybe he is dull enough that he thinks he has to hold together every damned thing. Why use gravity to hold together stars and planets when . . . you can do it yourself?

As to my question: if he were to get distracted, would those objects fall apart? This is apparently how he makes things disappear or appear out of nothing, as we have all seen happen, like . . . never. Really, this has never been seen in all of human history and you’d think that in one of those “I am the Lord, your God . . .” moments this is a trick that would be really convincing to bystanders, not to say any persons who were disappeared and then reappeared. Imagine the conversations later! “I am telling you Shalom, you disappeared for like a quarter of an hour and then you were brought back. Where did you go? Did you get to see Heaven? (. . . or Hell?)”

Again, it makes sense that all of the sticking together of parts be on automatic and then God can just overrule the rules whenever he wants to make things appear and disappear, no?

Does Occam’s Rule apply to gods?

Amazing, absolutely effing amazing, s    i    g    h   .

July 19, 2020

The “Respect My Beliefs” Campaign

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:09 am
Tags: , , ,

Note What you have come to expect on sabbath days, a religious post! Enjoy!

* * *

Well, maybe it is not a campaign, but it is a trope of the modern Christian movement. I have argued that any one demanding that atheists respect their religious beliefs is wrongheaded. You see respect is earned, not demanded. I acknowledge that people have such beliefs. I actually think that many are sincere in those beliefs, but respect them? No, not in the least. I do not respect anyone who elevates the supernatural, the mythological over the real. I just do not and will not.

And should not this be a two-way street? I firmly believe that sciences, especially foundational science like physics, chemistry, and biology are the best sources we have of information about the nature of reality. Are my beliefs respected? Not particularly, I guess they must be the “false beliefs” the religious rail about so often.

I see preachers telling us that the “Blood of Jesus” will save us from the COVID-19 disease (and then contracting it and dying, which should be a sign from god, but apparently . . . is not). I see people wanting to refuse medical treatment, even inoculations because of “religious beliefs.” These particular so-called beliefs actually endanger the rest of us by keeping a population of the disease ridden alive in our communities.

That other people are claiming that, for instance, being required to wear a mask and distance ourselves minimally from others violates our rights under the Constitution is equally ridiculous but doesn’t make the religious claims less ridiculous. And the religious are claiming special privilege for their beliefs.

Basically, I think you can have any cockamamie belief you want, but once you step into the realm of bad behavior, you lose my respect and you can even gain my opposition.

I just got off of Quora and someone summarized this point this way: “I think that any atheist who respects all god-based religions is a fool. Atheists, in being atheists, have no respect for gods, simply because they do not believe in them. So an atheist who respects god-based religions is respecting other people’s worship of the very thing that he or she does not believe exists, which is foolish.”

And . . . I keep coming up with additional points as I type . . . is the respect I should offer like the respect that Christian fundamentalists extend to Catholics? (They are not True Christians™.) or Muslims? Or any sane theists and Scientologists? Most religions don’t respect other religions because, well, they are just wrong, that’s why. So, we are supposed to respect all of them when they don’t respect one another. Talk about setting a high bar, much higher for atheists than for True Believers™.

July 17, 2020

Oh, Oh, Oh, the Cancel Culture

The American Right Wing has lost its mind again. And it is such a small thing it is hard to find once lost, so I feel for them. I also wonder why they call it a right wing as there is no left wing any more and a bird consisting of one wing and a body cannot fly . . . but I digress.

Regarding the “cancel culture,” the Right is decrying the few protests that have resulted in right-wing speaker’s speaking gigs getting canceled, mostly because of Internet protests.

“Ow, ow, ow,” they cry, earning a Snowflake Award.

I have commented before on the role the Internet has played in the expansion of atheism and racism in this country. The Internet provides forums which creates distance between those interacting and, in many cases, anonymity. This has allowed many people, previously squelched by public opinion, to speak there minds.

In the case of atheism this has allowed many atheists to find out that they are not alone and there are a great many other people who have the same thoughts and attitudes. Since this has expanded and reinforced people of this ilk (of which I am one) and we do no harm to our fellow citizens, I consider this a net good thing.

In the case of racism, the exact same thing has occurred. Prior to the development of Internet chatting, racists were more and more isolated and racist comments became less and less acceptable across the country. The reason was public disapproval. Gossip and shaming are social controls that evolved millennia ago to help us keep society reined in. And then came the anonymity of the Internet and racists, separated from those who would chastise them for their comments, found fellow travelers and were reinforced in their attitudes. They discovered that they weren’t as alone as they thought they were. Since racists do harm to our fellow citizens, even if minimally spreading bad attitudes toward certain groups of people, I consider this a net bad thing.

And, now we are here.

Now we are seeing public gossip and shaming catching up with the special interest groups on the Internet. We cannot be present to squelch bad behavior but we can do it via the Internet! No longer are torch lit parades necessary to flaunt one’s approval or disapproval of a social group, one can do it from the comfort of one’s home while wearing pajamas.

And, who disapproves of this esteemed social mechanism rebalancing itself from having gotten out of whack through unforeseen new technologies? The bastions of the status quo, the protectors of tradition, aka cultural inertia, the supporters of social institutions like churches, police forces, the military . . . the Grand Old Party, the Republicans.

As always, in politics in this country, it really does depend upon whose ox is getting gored.

July 15, 2020

How Long Does It Take Life to Develop Complex Forms?

Life on Earth began sometime around four billion years ago but then things were rather boring for a long time and then . . . Kaboom! The Big (Life) Bang occurred.

Just half of a billion years ago, life was composed of individual cells occasionally organized into colonies, aka monocellular life forms. No plants, no animals, no much of anything. But then quickly, over roughly 10-50 million years (realize that 10 million years is just 1% of a billion years) we got what we now call the Cambrian explosion. From that came . . . everything else that has ever lived.

Acknowledging that the majority of all species evolving over the last half billion years went extinct, it basically shows that complex life only needs about a half billion years to evolve from simple lifeforms.

So, for those (and I was one) who used the span of all life on earth (~4 billion years) as the time scale need for life to develop elsewhere, we were wrong. It took very little time for single-celled organisms to develop but then they evolved very little for ~3 billion years . . . and then all Hell broke loose.

What were the causes of the Cambrian explosion? Answer: we don’t know. Was it aliens seeding the planet with complex lifeforms to evolve further? Answer: we do not know. Did God do it? Answer: Define God, then “no.”

But if the causes were all natural, there is now a considerable range of possibilities for the planets we are now observing orbiting other stars. If all the conditions are available for single cell organisms to live and for a Cambrian Explosion-type event to occur, the amount of time could be as little as half of a billion years or even less. If the conditions for a Cambrian Explosion-type event aren’t available, single cell life could continue, as has been proven, for many billions of years with little evolution. (Evolution as we know it requires that various traits be able to be passed on and with asexual reproductions there is only one process and that is making identical copies of oneself.) And, of course if neither set of conditions exist, lifeless planets may abound.

The fascinating thing, in my mind, is that many of these questions may get definitive answers in short order. Unfortunately I will not be around to hear them, but I suspect that knowing these answers will be “a good thing.”

July 14, 2020

The Gospel of John Begins With . . .

The gospel we call “John” begins with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”

“The Word” has always puzzled me. Jesus was a word? My cartoon mind immediately came up with a scene pasted together from many movies in which a priest with an Irish accent (Pat O’Brien?) says, “Ah, it is a mystery, my son.” I have written recently that should a god want to communicate with us, there should be no mysteries. Such writings should be comprehended perfectly by geniuses and idiots and everyone in between, I mean if the god has no ill intent, in any case. But that was before, for now . . .

The Word . . .? WTF?

As I have mentioned I am reading a book on the roots of Western Civilization (The Passion of the Western Mind by Richard Tarnas) and a few things were made clear. Here are a couple of quotes, very slightly amended.

“. . . another Presocratic philosopher, the solitary and enigmatic Heraclitus (ca. 540 BCE–c. 480 BCE), introduced a similarly immanent conception of the divine intelligence with his use of the term logos (originally meaning word, speech, or thought) to signify the rational principle governing the cosmos.”

and . . .

“As ancient philosophy progressed, logos and nous were variously employed to signify mind, reason, intellect, organizing principle, thought, word, speech, wisdom, and meaning, in each case relative to both human reason and a universal intelligence. As the means by which human intelligence could attain universal understanding, the Logos was a divine revelatory principle, simultaneously operative within the human mind and the natural world.”

I inserted Heraclitus’s birth and death dates to show that these ideas were being formed many hundreds of years before the writing of the gospel we call “John” (written ca. 120 CE).

Now, what language do you think the Gospel we call “John” was written in, do you think? Most scholars believe that it was originally written in Greek. They think the original (we do not have any copies of the original to study, just copies of copies of copies, etc.) was written in Greek because of the quality of the language, the use of certain terns, the use of the Greek translation of the Old Testament when quoting the OT, etc. So, the Greek word translated by so many as “Word,” was what? If you guessed Logos, you got it in one.

Now, explain to me how someone who writes extremely good Koine Greek would be unaware of the philosophical meaning of the term logos? Any sufficiently educated Greek writer, able to pull off writing the gospel we call “John,” would have to be acquainted with the word logos and its many meanings. A word that stands for “. . . the means by which human intelligence could attain universal understanding, the Logos was a divine revelatory principle, simultaneously operative within the human mind and the natural world,” gets translated in its earliest, simplest, non-philosophical, non-religious meaning: word?

Now that’s a mystery!

Is this just clumsy translation? Is the writer assuming that all of his readers are well-versed in Greek philosophy so they know what logos stands for? It is clear that before Jesus became a character in this story, the Jews were very concerned about the effect Greek culture and philosophy were having upon their youths. So, one could assume that many well-educated Jews would be familiar with the subtle nuances of “logos,” but are we sure that we can assume that audience? And what about the translators? The translators of the Greek texts into Latin were translating for church elites, not the general public. But the educations of ordinary church priests was not deep or wide, so the chances of the wrong concepts being shared with the hoi polloi were quite high, even so. So, again, why deliberately oversimplify a translation? Down through the years, we got translations into native tongues that were intended for lay readers, and logos still ends up being translated as “word.”

Are they deliberately trying to infuse mystery where there is none? John’s implications that the “Word” was there at the beginning led to some minor wars being fought about Jesus being the creator of the universe and co-equal to God (even though he refers to God as his Father over and over and over as do Christians now. (If Jesus and Yahweh were both there at the beginning, how can one be the father of the other? How can this be in a monotheistic religion?)

Ah, it is a mystery, my son. (Thanks, Pat . . . you are dead, you know.)

What if, however, the word logos was shown to convey the meaning of “As the means by which human intelligence could attain universal understanding, the Logos was a divine revelatory principle, simultaneously operative within the human mind and the natural world.” Would we still have large numbers of fundamentalist Christians insisting that their books are more reliable than what one finds in the form of God’s Creation? Would they still insist that the Earth was 6000 years old and not 4.53 billion years old? Would they still insist that the universe was created in six days? These are just a few of those “are you going to believe me or your lying eyes” questions we face today.

I wonder.

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