Friday, March 07, 2008

Shall we put down a few bucks for a Covenant Zone travel and scholarship fund?

American politics can be confusing to those of us raised in the parliamentary tradition. Apparently Al Gore could be the next president. A British bookmaker is offering 50-1 odds. I'd never thought I'd say it, but old Al is looking kind of good right now...


Dag said...

I woke from a deep sleep for what I thought was no good reason, and I turned on the computer to check my email, a bad habit I have, only to see that 'Peers again has an idea both shocking and profound: The Goracle as Prez. Will I return to anything like untroubled sleep this night or any other between now and Nov.? I have serious doubts.

Hey, if there's a travel fund in th works, put me in for a ticket out of here, to -- I don't know anymore. Where can we run to to hide effectively from this lot? I think we're stuck with staying and fighting. So, it's education.

How To Guides.... Let me think.


Rob Misek said...

A fishing/camping trip sounds good.

Merely a few hundred years before Christ there were great philosophers and authors who valued and debated absolute and changing truths. They had a covenant of the truth.

To them the universe was an open book and no knowledge was forbidden. They questioned the existence of Gods and were persecuted for it, not by God but by people, just like today.

Here is a quote from Socrates before his trial and sentence to death,

"He brings a wonderful accusation against me, which at first hearing excites surprise: he says that I am a poet or maker of gods, and that I invent new gods and deny the existence of old ones; this is the ground of his indictment."

The world would be a better place if more people valued the truth instead of persecuting people for their interpretation of God.

truepeers said...


Leaving the natural world aside, isn't one's interpretation of God the same thing as one's take on human truth?

As for tolerance, I'm all for it in general. It's just that some people's interpretation of God requires them to hate me for what I am. And how can I tolerate that? Is God love? Does he demand universal obedience to but one historical revelation? How can I not, in good loving faith, persecute people who hold to the latter view?

Rob Misek said...

"The world would be a better place if more people valued the truth instead of persecuting people for their interpretation of God."

"It's just that some people's interpretation of God requires them to hate me for what I am."

Persecuting someone for their interpretation of God requires the persecutor to hold a different interpretation of God. Who is right?

I'm afraid I don't know how to leave the "natural" world aside. Perhaps you can explain how human intelligence is unnatural.

The truth may be our (yours and mine)shared interpretation of God, but it is not everyones.

If both God and truth were the same, they would share priority.

Knowing that the truth can be discerned through honesty, intelligence, logic and science any interpretations of "God's word" could not contradict the discerned truth.

Here is a challenge for any fundamentalist to justify his persecution of others without circular referrences to interpretation of religious scripture.

The truth is the only thing we all can share in peace. Join with me in a covenant of the truth.

truepeers said...


A quick answer will have to do for now. I wouldn't say that human intelligence is unnatural, so much as it is unlike anything else in the animal world. Human symbolic language means that the ways we think, while not divorced from the animal world, are something more than animalistic.

But the point I was trying to make is that you can do natural sciences without ever having to get into theology. You can simply study the creation for what it is and how it works. But when it comes to studying humans, as symbolic language users, you cannot go far until you deal with the paradoxes of the relationship between God and man, e.g. did we invent "God" or he us, and in any case how could either relationship come into being at the origin of humanity.

Truth has a priority in the natural sciences, but shares it with God or "God" in the human sciences.

In any case, I think you're right that the only thing we can all share is an honest search for our common human origins, the truth about the relationship between God or "God" and man.

Rob Misek said...

I don't believe we exist in two different dimensions defined by the words natural and human. Instead, we merely exist.

We can help another perceive our spirituality, but we cannot condemn another's spirituality.

Our social relationship is between one another.

As such, we can peacefully differ in our spirituality, but we cannot peacefully disagree on the truth of our social existence.

covenant said...


Why can't we disagree on the truth of our share social existence in good faith?

Well, to get at the answer you have to recognize that there are indeed two different dimensions, or domains, of existence. THere is a material or physical, and a transcendent or symbolic domain. We share in both domains, but it is the latter one that makes us human.

Every word we write here belongs to a transcendent domain. You can read the letters (or hear the sounds) and your mind can associate these letters (or sounds) to come up with the word, but the word itself does not exist anywhere in the material world. Your computer exists in the material world, but the word "computer" does not; only the letters or sounds c-o-m-p-u-t-e-r have a material existence. The word "computer" is not permanently imprinted anywhere in your's or anyone's brain; your brain merely makes associations among the letters or sounds to come up with the word, to pull it out of nowhere, as it were. All language is transcendent, strange as it may seem.

In other words, our words don't belong to any one of us; they exist among us or above us. they only work because of our shared community life that remembers the associations of letters or sounds and the relationship between the consequent word or sign and the thing to which it refers.

All culture is scenic, public, collective before it can be privatized in the individual imagination. This is the truth of our social or human existence: we are social beings before we are individuals. This, in brief, is why it is foolish to deny our shared humanity.

Rob Misek said...

"Why can't we disagree on the truth of our share social existence in good faith?

Well, to get at the answer you have to recognize that there are indeed two different dimensions, or domains, of existence."

Actually I perceive it to be much simpler.

We simply can't honestly agree on something when we are lying about it. Spiritual deceit is self-deception. Social deceit is what causes public conflict.

Material things don't lie or agree on anything so they are irrelevant to the process.

Therefore there is no need to perceive our existence in two separate dimensions.

truepeers said...


you talk as if you never had to face paradox, that truth were a simple, already decided, question for you. You sound rather more like Spock from Star Trek, than fully human, to be blunt.

So let's be blunt. Let's say I am coming at you with a big club in my hand and saying I'm going to bash you over the head. Will you pick up your club and try to bash me first, or will you try to engage me in an exchange of a shared truth that we need not bash each other with clubs? Talking might save you, then again it might not... Are words or clubs more true?

Quite aside from whether or not I may agree to your truth, the question before you even open your mouth is paradoxical. Can we humans stop our propensity for physical violence with mere words? Well we know from history that sometimes the answer is yes, or sometimes no.
We do indeed know that there are two domains of existence, one that relies on the reality of shared faith, and one that does not.

But even if we both agree on the importance of words over clubs, I still may club you over the head, because I don't like what you have done with words. You see, maybe there is a third party in our dispute, a guy with a really big club who is coming to get both of us. The only way for us to survive is to agree on a shared tactic to defeat him first. Traditionally, we have always survived by agreeing not to tell the hungry bastard where each of us hides. But now, I'm tired of that game and want to kill our common enemy, once and for all. After all, he's getting closer and closer to our hiding places with each search. You're more cautious, thinking I am losing my mind and will only get us both killed. I have a plan to get the bastard, but it's risky, and relies on both of us doing our jobs.

Human life is full of such problems that are inherently paradoxical, open-ended, outcomes uncertain. The "truth" we have to share is a leap of faith and no one can be sure it is true until it is long proven and thus no longer of much use in figuring out our latest problems.

Rob Misek said...

I fail to see how your head bashing example is relevant.

Our perception of theoretical dimensions won't stop the axe from falling.

Only an agreement to share social truths will do that.

We can discern the truth with honesty, intelligence, science and logic. It is somewhat of a coincidence that Spock was the logical science officer who was also intelligent and honest.

Personally, if you were unwilling to be honest or incapable of intelligence and came at me with a club, I'd shoot you.

truepeers said...

But Rob, the point is you can't solve all problems with a technological fix and just trump clubs with guns. I ask you to address the dilemma I pose, and your response is to step out of the given reality and into a gun-slinging fantasy. How logical is that?

When you're in a situation where you can gain something by letting the bad guy eat me instead of you, and where you genuinely fear I will feed you to the bad guy for the same advantage, and yet it's a situation where both of us could gain a lot more from trusting and co-operating with each other, only you can't know in advance that I will play along, you are in a situation where you can only have the best outcome if you operate on good faith, and not with pure logic and reason. Life is paradoxical; you can't just solve it with guns. It's paradoxical because that's the nature of and precondition for the transcendent domain of shared language or truth.

Rob Misek said...

Your situation is fantasy.

You try to compare an environment with a long history of violence to one of sudden and unexpected violence and self defense.

Those are different situations with different outcomes.

Long term, sharing the social value of the truth is the recipe for lasting peace.

Short term, which I am also prepared for, I will use the gun.

Our ability to plan and develop technology is what makes humans intelligent.

It is not paradoxical when it is understood.