Contact: Science, Religion, Mystery, Myth And The Human Experience


After seeing “Contact” for the (at least) fourth time, i have once again to admit what deapht it has.

It possesses Mystery in the true sense of the word.

The movie is after Carl Sagans story and stars Jodie Foster as Dr Arroway.

Cooks, scientists and religous people

One interesting thing is how it is fully clear that you can  exchange the experiences of the characters with eachother.

Arroway is supposedly the one representing science at first (or on surface rather) as oppose to Father Joss (Matthew McConnaughey) representing faith but by the end of the movie, though officially  being a scientist and empiricist  she rather represents the Mystic (the one with direct experience) as oppose to Father Joss being the one with learning within a particular Theology.

The rather militairistic charachter by James Woods might seem like the champion of rationalism and empiricism but takes on a role just as much in tune with the inquisition.

Arroway even ends up in a trial, expected to prove her experience or at least explain it.

This seems to be the fate of those who believe in non official truths as well as those disbeliving in sanctioned ones through history.

In short, at first Arroway must defend herself against faith, “Do you consider yourself a spiritual person”, “We dont even know if they [the extraterrestials] belive in God” only to at the end have to defend herself against empiricism.

Symbolism and connections


I have sometimes, as an ancestor venerating Heathen, wondered about me asking the psychopomps of my ways to bring those that has gone before me to me what these people would say, considering that they must have been of different or no religions.

Will they wonder or cry out in outrage at Odin or Freya showing them the way to the shrine or do they percieve something else (like Archangel Gabriel or a relative) guiding them?

Before you say anything, i´m fully aware that the question is only relevant within a metaphysical and cosmological field connected to my myths and rituals. Whether there are any psychopomps or ancesteors at all doing anything is another question.

It still leads to religous, cultural and personal symbolism.

When Arroway finally end up in Lira (?) she does so in a place looking like Pensacola, met by her late and much missed father.

One might ask how much of our experience, not only religous, mystical or emotional but even “empirical” that is actually a form of myth, saturated with symbolism.

Near death experiences often have dead relatives greeting and leading the person.

Religous symbolism is usually at least somewhat connected to culture.

Our culture detirmines a lot of how we percieve our “everyday and ordinary” world and interactions in it.

If a more intense experience takes on a “look” of familiarity to make itself accessable (whether a deliberate act of its own or an effect of us being us) i am not at all surprised.

The circle

That all of the experience seems to take place in the vessel of Arroways transportation makes it very much a symbol of the cirle that a ceremonial magician can relate to.

The whole thing is a bit “holodeck”, with the landscape being much bigger than the locale in wich it is experienced.

I guess in a way it is just as symbolic of the temple, sweat lodge, synagogue, mosque or any other place wich in itself is very finite but has an infinate experience within it.

Fittingly the vessel is spherical (magical circle) with circles around it making it look like an atom (a symbol of the Atheists) thus in a sense placing Arroway in the center of both myth and science.

Relative or absolute…and does it matter?


The question is not wether Arroway had a mystical experience (she cant prove or share it with anyone) or a physical one (the vessel and whole operation being based on science) or even wether reality is a relative or absolute experience.

The story is about the awe of existence and how we relate to it differently depending on place in life…but at the same time depending on time, personal experience (in a sense mystery and initiation) and view point how the people are exchangeable and thus relative.

That is, some reactions might be more human than connected to what we react to (in a sense the creationists are the heretics of today).

Not only is myth often based on history, history is often based on myth as well.

That is, all being questioned and a true skeptic questioning even empiricism and skepticism itself, life becomes less absolute.

If we knew truth, why would we have to search for it?

Can we search for truth if we do not know what it is?

The humbling answer must be that relative or absolute, absolute knowledge will always be relative.

Misotheism and Maltheism


In my history i have been accused of “blaming God” for my obstacles.

It´s funny how if a person thinks a supernatural entity goes out of “his” way to help a person one s considered to have faith.

If one believes in a good, benevolent God one is a beliver and if it is followed by acts, cultic or otherwise one could be considered religous.

If one belives in a bad, mad, deluded, sadistic or evil God, creating the world for his own means, going out of his way to personally sabotage one…..strange looks follows.

 

 

Yet, ideas like these are not new or unique in any way.

The Gnostics saw the creator God (or Demiurge) as evil or deluded in some of the traditons lumped together under that name (Gnosticism).

In their view the real absolute and impersonal God (The Arche, Monad, Bythos and other names) did not, and will never create anything (though there are purely idealistic emanations from him forming the “Pleroma” or “fullness”.

Creation of a material world was seen as more or less a mistake (one of the Aeons of the Pleroma creatng the Demiurge or….”God”).

However, Gnosticism being emanationistic, influenced as it often is, by Neoplatonism, as spark of the Pleroma remains in man.

Notice how many mythologes includes a theme where the Gods or the God creating and keeping the cosmic order also want to prevent wisdom and knowledge ever reaching man.

Usually there is a bad guy ruining that (Satan, Loki, Prometheus).

Perhaps there is wisdom and “wisdom” (the Divine being protective and wanting to introduce it in its own time and perhaps in reasonable portions. Or the whole thing could be part of “the plan” as some religions would hold).

 

Suffice to say that who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in mythology is not as clear as it might seem.

Let us pretend that the terms “good” and “evil” are not philosophically imbecile and use them anyway.

 

Which one represents the true nature of "God"? From: http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2011/11/evil-god-challenge.html

 

Ancient polytheistic religions usually didnt have concepts like the Judeo/Christian “good/evil”.

Gods competed and reacted in different ways to eachother (as forces do).

Some forces where perhaps unbalanced. Some might be balanced but destructive to other forces or concepts but not “good” or “evil” in the way we usually think of it today (besides, morals differ between cultures and philosophies which ofcourse reflects in mythologies).

 

Anyway, misotheism (a dislike or distrust of Deity) or Maltheism (the belief in a malign Deity) are not stranger than the oposite and just as much part of Theological thinking as the oposite or any other viable philosophical concept of personal Divinity.

Neither Atheism, nor Satanism are escapes for the one who belives in an oppressive God.

Atrocities By Numbers


Atheists like to scream at the top of their lungs about the atrocities due to “religion”.

Not only are very few of those atrocities actually a result of religion or belief as some isolated phenomena (since reality is actually complicated).

But like other fundamentalists with a pet beliefsystem the modern atheist picks their favorite factoids and present them in a “convincing” manner to underline their outrage at those who do not agree.

Siege of Antioch by Jean Colombe.

All numbers below are approximation (and relative to how you count).

 

Dead in the Crusades:   between 15,000 and 25,000 men on “both” sides.

Dead through obesity in the US each year: 112 000.

 

Number of Suicide bombings In the ten years after September 11, 2001, : 336 sucide attacks in Afghanistan and 703 in Pakistan, while there were 1,003 documented suicide attacks in Iraq between March 20, 2003, and December 31, 2010.

Death by smoking or secondary smoke each year in the US: 443 000.

 

Witch Trials 1480 to 1750: 40,000 – 100,000 executions. Europe and North America.

Plastic Surgery: In 2000, 2,100 people died from complications and adverse reactions among more than 70 million surgeries, the National Center for Health Statistics says.

 

The Greatest Religous Wars: Thirty Years War: (Holy Roman Empire) Protestants / Catholics,1618 – 1648. 3 000 000 – 11 500 000
: French Wars Of Religion, (France) Protestants / Catholics 1562 – 1598. 2 000 000 -4 000 000.

 

: Second Sudanese Civil War (Sudan) Islam / Christianity 1983 – 2005. 1 000 000 – 2 000 000.

: Crusades (Holy Land, Europe) Islam / Christianity 1095 – 1291 . 1 000 000 – 3 000 000.

: Lebanese Civil War (Lebanon) Sunni / Shiia / Christianity 1975 – 1990 130 000 – 250 000

These numbers includes those civilians dead by disease, famine , massacre, genocide and the soldiers involved.

In other words, continuing at this rate, in 30 years more Americans will have died from being fat than all that died from any direct reason of the entire crusades (200 years of wars, famine and pestilances) and more Americans dies from it in one year than the highest estimates of all the Witch Trials in Europe and America for over 250 years.

Four times as many smoke themselves to death yearly in the US as died ,all in all ,through the entire Witch Trials.

In six years as many will have died from tobacco in the US as the highest estimation of all the crusades.

 

Creating scapegoats and fighting over beliefsystems as a way of counteracting religous intolerance?

Get a grip!

 

US Today,  Brian Levack : The Wich Hunt In Early Modern Europe, Helen Ellerbe: The Dark Side Of Christianity, US Comitee For Refugees 2001, John M Robertson: A Short History Of Christianity,

 

 

Christian Wingnuts And Modern Atheists Both…


1: Have a feeling of saving those of other opinions.

Since they have the “truth” it is ok to persecute those who disagree, bombarding them with argument after argument until they give up, not because they are convinced but because they are tired and overwhelmed.

Imagine living in Catholic Europe in the High – Late Middle ages, when everybody was shanting the same poppycock until you either ended up in mortal danger or complied.

Today Atheism (which is not a new idea. There are mentions of atheists in Norse Sagas written in the 1200´s) has taken up a similar role of converting those straying from the straight and narrow to the truth.

Somehow, they have both “gotten” something that the whole rest of the world has missed and now they have to help all the other poor bastards.

And when the numbers of adherents go up that makes them happy (as oppose to many pre Christian, as well as contemporary ,often ethnic,”religions” who couldnt care less about numbers and have no interest in growing for its own sake.).

 

2: Pretend to be persecuted (by eachother and in general). Just like Pagans in the 60´s blamed it all on the Christians, todays Atheists blame it all on “religion” (a concept that is almost worthless and undefinable by the standards of serious anthropology) and Wingnuts blame it all on the Gay, political left or pretty much anything else.

3: Make easy answers by pointing out the horrors that are the results of whatever they dislike (by a good use of selective viewing. Worked for Nazis since the 1920´s so why not?).

The Christian blaming a lot of things on the lack of morals in society (as if Atheists where less moral???).

 

Westbourough Baptist Church.

In Sweden we have had sexual education since the mid 50´s, naked pictures, diagrams and the whole song and dance.

What country has more teenage pregnancies, Sweden or the US???

The Atheist blaming things on “religion”, as if it was some separate thing in itself ( I would argue that terms like “religion” and “magic” are ethnocentric construcs of a Judeo/ Christian society.).

The fact that Nazi and Communist death camps alone has a body count dwarfing any crusades, suicide bombing or similar must mean that politics and ideology (including democracy) are “evil” and should be abolished too???

4: Narrows down wide topics like belief, the existence of God (or lack of it), ethics and so on to one ontology, one epistomological model and so on.

They then carry on as if it was the “real” way of seeing things / thinking.

For Atheists that would be using materialism as ontological model and approach it only by rationalism and empirism and simply ignoring all other philosophy since the dawn of mankind up till now.

Christians love throwing value conservatism around, declaring society under threat of moral breakdown without their mythology to back it up.

 

Atheist symbol. The “Atom” design incorrectly implying a connection to science.

 

5: Using bogus science to further their agendas and reasoning.

For Atheists it is usually hard sciences. For Christians often soft sciences.

Examples being trying to prove that God (another silly term that means nothing in itself) doesent exist by using physics.

Or trying to actually find Noa´s ark on mount Ararat by launching expeditions and using “archeology”.

The physics in this case arent bogus, only the application of it.

A bit like proving an apple tastes good in inches.

The archeology however is total make belive.

If i where to launch an expedition to a Norwiegian fjord, sending down divers  and finding more and more “evidence” that the Hammer of Thor was down there, people would regard me as insane.

 

6: Insist on using narrow definitions of whatever they attack. Definitions that generally dont fit most of what actually gets implicated in the attack.

Usually “religion” to an Atheist means something resembling Christianity or at least Abrahamic religions.

Historically, monotheism, faith based religions and so on are not the most common (most pre Christian European religions where polytheistic and orthoprax, leaving your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and anything else  going on in your head private….usually, it would seem, even from the Gods, them not being omnipotent, omniscient or even necessarily Omnibenevolent .).

The fact that Christianity is so dominating today can be blamed mainly on Constantine II, not on any inherent quality or flaw in the religion(s) itself ( pre Nicean).

In short, by being made a state religion in Rome ( = the known world) it got a head start and a mentality of proselytisazion that other cults generally didnt have.

Pre Christian Rome had a policy (for their own reasons if nothing else) of toleration to the cults in lands they occupied as long as the cult didnt threaten the empire (as was the case with the Jews and the Druids and the pre Nicean “Christians”).

Often foreign cults where even imported and sometimes even incorporated into the main cult.

The same can be said about the Hellenistic world.

Serapis. Egypto/Hellenistic God
Picture: Open Source

There where syncretic cults all over Europe and Northern Africa.

In Norse sagas there are warnings (some of them from the God Odin) about being too “devoted” ( = over sacrificing ).

To compare an Abrahamic cult to an ethnic cult in Papua New Guinea is just silly and childish.

 

There are a whole bunch of religions that does not have:

*A creator of the world.

*A God.

*A universe to have been created in the first place.

*Faith as a reqirement.

*An afterlife.

*Rewards after life.

*Punisment from previous incarnations.

*Proselytizing.

*Prayer.

*Meditation.

*A central moral.

*Dogma.

*Mythology.

*Priests.

*Centralized practices or lithurgies.

….and so on and so forth.

Some even blur the borders between religion and philosophy (and can be seen both ways, Buddhism, Daoism, Confusianism, Thelema, Discordianism. The list can be made long.).

Some practices can be seen as spiritual and/or ritualistic and with a heritage from religion and/or culture but has no set belifsystem (or a very broad inclusive one) connected to them (Freemasonry, Yoga, Tantra, Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Neoplatonism. ).

7: Selective historiocity.

Atheists and Christians alike forget that during the High Middle Ages it was Islamic thought that stood in the forefront of science and Christians who where the crazy, uneducated  “suicide bombers”.

 

Much of contemporary chemistry, astronomy, medicine, mathematics, geometry and so on goes back to Islamic thinkers of that time.

Atheists forget that atrocities towards those who have the wrong opinions in countries where Atheism where  / are mandated by law makes even the Spanish inquisition seem like a fart in space (Pol Pot, China, Soviet, North Korea and so on).

Pol Pot and his merry Khmer Rouge. All Atheists putting any Inquisitor to shame.

Photo: http://forum.valka.cz/ftopic16364.html

I do agree however that the “political ideologies” of those countries could themself be argued to be religions.

Christians fail to see that there is inherent in the very fabric of their religion  to make “all men disciples”.

That is, spiritual and cultural imperialism.

I am, i guess, lucky to live in a country where most people are secular and apotheistic (= dont give a flying f**k whether God exists or not).

Religion usually does not creep into politics, medicine, education or other secular areas.

When a Lutheran , an Atheist and a Heathen  end up drinking beer at the same table there are usually no “funny looks”between them ( if they are even aware of eachothers beliefs).

It leaves room for those with a beliefsystem or practice outside of the mainstream to practice in peace and the possability of a pluralistic society where even several contradicting answers to the same question can be considered “right”.

It might be seen as a bit post modern but i believe (belief again) in the individual, the rights of the individual and the individual experience of existence.

I belive in the individual expression and i belive that the individual is forever a mystery to any other individual.

Thus, what goes on in your soul (in lack of a better term) is beyond scrutiny or judgement from me.

I cant prove ( and have no interest in proving) the existence of God(s).

On the other hand´i can´t prove the existance of minds other than my own either.

I still find interaction with both rewarding.

Scepticon IV Talk (Greta Christina)


 

Interesting!
As a “theist” (in lack of a better term) who happens to agree with that “You can be good without God(s)” i still cant help feeling that a lot of this anger is more applicable to American society and Abrahamic religion.

Living in Sweden is a lot more of a secular environment.
We dont have the same “religous right” influncing everything.
In fact i would bet that most Swedes couldnt care less about what their neighbour belive.

My “religion” (again, terms) has little to do with faith (it is orthoprax), nothing to do with proselytazion and does not (generally) see atheism as less valid, moral or any other such poppycock.

I see my mythology as mythology, NOT history.
I do NOT think that my religion has a place in politics, courts, education, medicine or any other secular instance.

As a matter of fact i am often angry about the exact same things as the ones described here ( as a matter of fact, i agree with every statement here, and i´m still a polytheist).

My problem is that to me it feels like the same invasion whether it is a Christian or an Atheist trying to “save” me.

I´m leaving other people alone to believe as they do (and consider their beliefs equally “valid” to mine ) and have no interest in “saving” them (since i dont think they need saving).

Is it ok if i have my customs and beliefs in my privacy?

A very good talk though!
She is articulate, charming, funny and fair!

 

However….considering Nazi death camps and Communist millions of dead we should probably abandon politics and ideology as well (continuing the logic).

Free To Be Stoopid


I just saw a comment that an atheist is under no obligation to study or understand anything about religion to critisize it unless a theist proves the existence of Deity.

And on that note i will now write a detailed article critisizing Quantumphysics .

I dont know more than any other person about it, but i dont have to until a physicist proves an entire theory.

To use science in a discussion on philosophy is like using chemistry to explain the music of Mozart….

Thelema and Theism


“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”

In an answer on Tumblr it was stated that “Thelema is atheistic”.

I do not think this is entirely correct.

 

Stele

First of all we have to distinguish between atheism, nontheism, apatheism and so on. Atheism is a statement that one does not belive in the existence of Deity.

Several religions dont have a central God but this leaves them either nontheistic or transtheistic  Crowley mentions that we dont know wether God(s) exist or not (and it is not relevant to the great work any more than faith is ).

Buddhism and Taoism are fundamentally and originally nontheistic, or in short, religions without a central or creating Deity.

Later versions ,syncretized with local polytheistic cults have made them rather transtheistic. Meaning that there is no ultimate God. Ultimate truth is not a sentient being or “God” but a “state” (actually not even that term suffices….since no term does). Their Gods are in a sense like man (though on a “higher” level), on the way to the same goal, the same union or henotheosis with the ultimate.monadic truth.

Similar thoughts could be found in ancient Greece among several philosophers.

Terms like Kether (Kabbalah), Bythos (Gnosticism), Monad (Neoplatonism) and in the east Moksha, Nirvana and so on being this first emanation without duality (and thus obviously without a “personality” too).

To categorally say that all Thelemites are atheists is simply wrong ( i am not an atheist and i have been a “devout” Thelemite for over 20 years ).

Among fellow Thelemites there are differing ideas on Deity, cosmology, objective reality and even wether Thelema is a religion or not (Crowley makes statements to both ).

Defining Deity is a problem within comparative religion and philosophy of religion that one encounters rather soon.

Anthropologists have the same problems with “Religion, Magic, Good, Evil” and many other “Christocentric” concepts that doesent nessecarly apply to another culture or philosophy.

Besides, the argument is made that the only “Divinity” in Thelema is “the universe”. That would make it Pantheistic, not Atheistic.

In some cases there is not only cultural or philosophical differences to the concept of “Gods” but also demi Gods, daemones, angels, lwas / orixas and other supernatural beings to wich there are different opinions to wether they are “Gods” or not.

Clear is that Crowley did think of supernatural beings influencing the lives of man (in one way or another). I´m thinking of (some of ) “The Secret Chiefs” that seems to be more than human.

If Aiwass, why not Michael? If Michael, why not Thor?

There is also a statement that Satanists do not generally worship Satan or think of him a a literal Deity.

This is correct for LaVeyan Satanism (wich actually states that it is,literally, atheistic) and other “philosophical Satanism”.

There are however several (and quite diverse ) forms of Theistic Satanisms.

Both Gnostic such, “inverted Christianity” and others.

Just like entire ontologies, cosmologies and epistemologies of different religions differ, so does their concepts of “God(s)”.

The Greek “Theoi”, Roman “Dei”, Norse “Aesir” and Egyptian “Netjeru” are not understood exactly the same, even if Christian ethnocentrics call them all by the Germanic term “God”.

God is not even viewed the same way throughout Christendom (with rather big differences like unitarian, trinitarian and even monolatric views of him as a physical being ).

Complex philosophical systems focused on the individual such as Thelema will obviously render diverse thoughts on the concept too.

One Liber Al quote that is supose to disprove the existence of anything supernatural is: “Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof.” And, the text states that “there is no other God than me.” .

To ME it clearly says “there is no OTHER God than me”

If you now look at “Every man and every woman is a star”

The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.”

Hadit being a point of view (a center, a “star” or “khab”), Nuit being the starry sky, the circumference / sum of all possabilities, each star being a Hadit from it´s own point of view that statement makes perfect sense (and in a sense also proves your own divinity ).

In short, if Jehova literally exists, his “center” would also be Hadit and he to a “star”.

This would be equally true for Santa Claus though.

Liber Al II: 23 says : “I am alone: there is no God where I am.”

This being Hadit, too makes sense. Like the Thelemic Hermit (who is not alone at all in the traditional sense ) he says that he is “alone”. Being the center of the center of the center ad infinitum, ofcourse he is alone. Hence “center”. There can only be one absolute middle.

AC

The quote “There is no God but man” is also presented in the answer, given with a clear “only truth” interpretation despite the fact that this can be seen in a number of philosophical ways, including Gnostic ones, solipsistic ones and a bunch of others (and some of them combinable ).

The question is not “Is Thelema Theistic in any sense of the word”, but “Is this Thelemite Theistic in any sense of the word?”.

 

“Love is the law, love under will”