Thursday, 1 September 2016

Continued on my main site

I consider theology and economics to be the same thing: the pursuit of the kingdom of God (a society based on logic). I recently updated my main economics site, and my theological meanderings continue there. Especially in the new essays section.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Gen 7:6 dating Noah's fire

Yes, the fire, not the flood. The source material says we should be looking for a fire in the city of Shuruppak, and that is exactly what archeology finds.


Noah's flood is a great example of Bible Goggles, because it works on two levels.

1. Global or local?

Bible Goggles make us read a local flood as a supernatural global floor. When the Bible says the "whole world" it can only mean the world they knew e.g. in Luke "all the world should be taxed" meant the Roman empire. Noah did not know what was beyond his horizon. Why else did he send out a dove to find out?

2. Scholars look in the wrong place

Scholars wear Bible Goggles when they accept the supernatural idea that people can foretell global catastrophes. That is not in the text. Most of the story of Noah (e.g. most of Genesis chapters 5 and 6) is about how the lord god foresaw the flood, but as we saw in the documentary hypothesis fiasco, the lord-gods are human rulers and so they can only make human predictions. They are not supernatural. Yet most scholars assume the text requires supernatural powers.

Scholars link Noah's flood to memories of gigantic flooding events in history. For example, the Black Sea may have flooded spectacularly in 5600 BC, Leonard Woolley famously discovered that Abraham's city of Ur had a massive flood around 3500 BC, and others found evidence of major floods in other Sumerian cities in 3000 and 2600 BC. One was in Noah's city of Shuruppak (around 3000 BC) so this looks like a direct hit. But this presupposes that either (a) the lord-gods had supernatural abilities to see the future, or (b) the text is a lie, completely made up much later. Because the text is about how the gods caused the flood and prepared for it.

So scholars either believe the supernatural or they reject the text. So supernatural Bible Goggles destroy the Bible. Again.

What the text actually says

The text is all about foreseeing the flood. Flooding could to some extent be foretold: it would always happen at the time of the spring melting in the mountains. No doubt the rulers had some idea of natural cycles so could say this year's flooding was likely to be heavier or lighter than usual. And if they saw some storm clouds rolling across the plain you could predict the flooding would be worse the next day. So it is perfectly reasonable to say the lord-gods foretold a larger than average flood one year, and pinpoint the worst day just before it happened. But they do not have modern science or supernatural abilities to say "this would be the biggest flood for a thousand years".

So the question becomes, why were the lord-gods so certain that this flood would kill everybody?

The answer is in the source material. It was not just a flood. The earlier Gilgamesh and Atrahasis versions adds crucial details. The lord-gods destroyed the dams, making the flood much worse. They had prepared the people by withholding grain to ensure a famine, and finally they burnt everything just to make sure.

The context

It is important to see the flood in context, as it is a natural extension of what went before. All human history shows conflict between the rulers and those they rule: when pushed too hard the people rebel. Gilgamesh is no exception: Gilgamesh himself is a brutal ruler, killing and raping whoever he wants. Genesis speaks of great violence, sparked by the sons of god (i.e. the younger generation of lord gods) taking whoever they wanted.

Enoch and other later texts describe a long series of conflicts between the lord-gods, their sons, and the poor people, often involving burning of cities. Eventually the lord gods decided to wipe out the whole troublesome city and start again. Tyrants have always used genocide as a last resort. This is how they did it:

They waited for the worst floods

The text talks about a 120 year build up, and the final event taking place when storm clouds approached. 120 years may be an exaggeration, but naturally they would await the best possible moment in the normal flood cycle.

The lord gods starved the people

The lord gods had arranged an artificial famine, so the people were already on the brink of starvation. From the Atrahasis account:
Cut off food supplies to the people,
let plant-life to feed them be scarce;
The lord gods destroyed the dams and river banks

Sumerian life depended on constant irrigation, both to "divide the land from the waters" and provide fresh water for crops. Gilgamesh and Atrahasis both record how the minister of canals was a key figure. The people who planned the flood was the top leader, his number one fixer, the chamberlain (i.e. the inner circle) and one other person: the minister of canals. From Gilgamesh tablet 11:
The hearts of the Great Gods moved them to inflict the Flood.Their Father Anu uttered the oath (of secrecy),Valiant Enlil was their Adviser,Ninurta was their Chamberlain,Ennugi was their Minister of Canals.
So they told Utnapishtim, their friend, to build a big boat to escape. The boat was not lifted up by the flood, but had to be lowered with great difficulty into the river:
The launching was very difficult.They had to keep carrying a runway of poles front to back,until two-thirds of it had gone into the water
This must have been a year when they expected greater than normal natural floods (Genesis says they had planned something like this for 120 years). So when they saw rain clouds as well they decided this was the moment to destroy the canals and make it much worse:
there arose from the horizon a black cloud. Adad rumbled inside of it,before him went Shullat and Hanish,heralds going over mountain and land. Erragal pulled out the mooring poles, forth went Ninurta and made the dikes overflow.
Since the lord gods were the human rulers, their heralds would be their servants. Naturally they did all this in the name of their gods, as kings always did. Pulling out mooring poles and making dikes overflow sounds like general destruction of the canal infrastructure. This interpretation is supported by their use of fire:

The lord gods burnt everything

Immediately after destroying the dikes we read this:
The Anunnaki lifted up the torches,setting the land ablaze with their flare.Stunned shock over Adad's deeds overtook the heavens,and turned to blackness all that had been light.
So the smoke of burning buildings filled the sky.

The aftermath

What the lord-gods did was so shocking that Utnapishtim (Noah) decided to live as far away as possible. And when Sumerian king lists record that the rulers then abandoned the city (Shuruppak) and moved their base of operations further upstream to Kish. The destruction was so shocking that it was seen as a turning point in history ever after. It no doubt contributed to the rise of monotheism: these are not the kind of lord-gods you want to worship, the only lord should be God himself (i.e. logic)

Dating the fire

In conclusion, when looking for the flood we are not looking for something so big that it could not be predicted: we are looking for the kind of flood that would happen every few years and probably be hard to spot archaeologically. But something else would stand out: the burning of the city. So let us look at what we know about Utnaphishtim's city of Shuruppak:
Shuruppak became a grain storage and distribution city and had more silos than any other Sumerian city.  ...
At the end of the Uruk period [4100-2900 BC] there was an archaeologically attested river flood in Shuruppak.  ...
The city expanded to its greatest extent at the end of the Early Dynastic III period (2600 BCE to 2350 BCE) when it covered about 100 hectares. At this stage it was destroyed by a fire which baked the clay tablets and mudbrick walls, which then survived for millennia.
To summarise:
  1. It was the number one city that provided food to the others. This agrees with the king list's statement that overall kingship was there. it also agrees with the above account that the lord gods had their seat there, and were in a position to starve everybody else.
  2. it did have a great flood, which many believe could be Noah's flood. But would the rulers have known enough about this in advance?
  3. It was finally destroyed in fire, in about 2350 BC.
Open an old Bible, one with the dates in the chapter headings (as calculated from the Bible itself by Archbishop Ussher). And what do we see? The flood is dated to 2348 BC.


How accurate are the dates?

Obviously the dates could be inaccurate for a number of reasons I have seen a spread of dates for the end of the Early Dynastic III period (the time when Shuruppak burnt), and a single new discovery could shift it again by hundreds of years. Plus, I argue elsewhere that the compilers of Genesis simply made their best guesses to fit dates to events. I am not stupid enough to enter the minefield of Biblical dating. My point is simply that the Bible text tends to agree with history, as far as we can tell. We only have problems when we put on supernatural goggles and read things that it does not say. No, the flood was not global, and no, the rulers were not supernatural beings with power to foresee unexpected floods.

In short, take off the supernatural goggles and history suddenly makes sense.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Mark 1:1 the secret gospel of Mark

Bible Goggles and the Secret Gospel

The Secret Gospel of Mark is an allegedly longer version of Mark that is now lost. It is only known through photographs of a copy of a letter alleged to be by Clement of Alexandria, discovered by professor Morton Smith and publicised in 1973. Naturally most people assume it is a forgery.

If it is forgery then it is of no interest to this blog. So in this post I will give the evidence for it being genuine, and why it matters.

It matters because, quite apart from the contents of "Secret Mark", the letter shows that early Christians were urged to lie: Clement is arguing that discussing the book in public can only help the heretics, and therefore it should be denied under oath, even though it is a genuine document, Bible Goggles at their most blatant!

The case against Secret Mark

The case against Secret Mark is as follows:
  1. All we have is Morton Smith's photographs. We have no original paper (or papyrus) to examine. 
  2. A good friend of Smith's later fell out with him and loudly accused him of being a forger.
  3. Even if Morton did not forge it, perhaps some ancient enemy of Clement did.
  4. Smith was "a sharp witted" homosexual and the "secret gospel" appears to be sympathetic to homosexuality.
  5. The manuscript was said to be found in the Mar Saba monastery: but a 1940 novel, "The Mystery of Mar Saba" has some parallels to that discovery.
  6. Some say the handwriting looks like Smith's
However, each of these points is easily answered
  1. Monasteries do not exist for the benefit of foreign scholars. We cannot just drive up and take everything they have of interest. We used to in previous centuries, and as a result they tend to be very protective of their documents and beliefs. Also, they are monks, not professional archivists. So it is perfectly normal for texts to be hard to gain access to, or mislaid (either deliberately or by accident).
  2. The ex-friend provided no evidence for his claim. Of course he would suspect that if he now believes Morton was a Bad Person. Equally, a close friend would be utterly convinced that Morton was genuine. That is why we have to deal in evidence, not personal grudges.
  3. What is the motive for an ancient writer forging a letter attacking a book? Why not just forge the book? Or forge a letter supporting it? Very few people could read and libraries were harder to access, so there was no reason to be so devious as to make a letter pretending to oppose something you really wanted to support.
  4. Mind reading is not reliable. See below for a closer look at this and other possible motives.
  5. Likewise with millions of novels written it is inevitable that some will have parallels with the real world. I am reminded of my favourite comic creator, Jack Kirby, who wrote a story about an atomic bomb in the 1940s. This was before the bomb was made public. Atoms were hot science, and Kirby just thought "atomic bomb" sounded cool. The authorities contacted him to see if he must have access to top secrets. no, it was just coincidence. As for Morton Smith, he was professor of ancient history at Columbia University, and would be well aware of earlier discoveries in monasteries why would he copy a cheap novel?
  6. Other experts say the opposite.
The case for secret Mark

Scott Brown gives the literary case for Secret Mark being genuine in his book "Mark's Other Gospel". It rests on a detailed analysis of what we know about Clement and Mark, and is very technical. But for most people the big question is Morton Smith's motive. Why would a professor forge such a document?

What is the motive?

Brown never intended to be a Smith apologist. But since he found himself in that position he addressed the motive question in 2006 ("The Question of Motive in the Case against Morton Smith",
Journal of Biblical Literature Vol. 125, No. 2, pp. 351-383)
  1. Fame and glory? No critics have suggested this. Presumably it makes no sense. It would not make him rich. And Smith already had a good reputation, so why risk it with a claim that would one day be found out?
  2. Promoting homosexuality? That is not in the text and Smith does not argue it. Secret Mark hints at a purification ritual. The Essenes on the Dead Sea scrolls had such things. Smith spends 83 pages developing arguments for what it might be. As an off hand comment he once speculates if there could be a physical element. But that is not an argument, just speculation, and it is not based on anything in Secret Mark, but was based on the already known ritual of the eucharist (which symbolises physical union). In his later books he dropped the suggestion, clearly feeling it was unlikely.
  3. A private joke, to show that his peers were stupid? This claim rests on zero evidence, just mind reading. So this cannot be a serious hypothesis. However, when we look at known cases of such academic tricks, they are always small: such as humour (which the peers do not catch) or a nonsense article submitted to a prestigious journal to see if it will be printed. Instead, Smith spent many years on Secret Mark: the only joke would be on himself for wasting so much time on nonsense.
  4. A serious experiment to see if a forgery could be accepted as real? Then Smith would have admitted it, or at least left some written indication in his desk to be found after his death. He did not. 
Conclusion

In the final analysis, we can never know ancient documents for certain. If we want proof we should only examine things that can be proven. This is why I argue that the Bible is best examined as an economic document: then it does not matter who wrote it, or when, because it can be tested in the here and now.

Monday, 28 March 2016

blog: BookOfGiants.com

An update on the plans for my book

So happy! I just registered "Book Of Giants .com" (no spaces). I can't believe that name was not taken. It must be a sign. :)

For the past few days I've been working on how to present my research in a popular format. A year ago I worked on presenting some of these ideas as a graphic novel, but the idea wasn't good enough. However, since reading Gilgamesh in more detail I now have an idea that will work.

Gilgamesh is all about the men versus gods, and life after death. It was the best selling book for the first three thousand years of civilisation, and rightly so. I plan to combine it with the best selling book of the last 3,000 years (the Bible) and bring them both up to date and extend them to the future. And all as an action packed adventure. Anyone who is interested in the themes can of course visit my web sites (or just Google) for the research behind the claims.

The working title was "The Book of Enkidu" (Enkidu was the Adam figure in Gilgamesh). So I quickly grabbed that "BookOfEnkidu.com" and was happy nobody else had taken it. If you have ever bought your own URL you will now that cybersquatter parasites sit on all the good names, in the hopes of extorting money from people for using them. So to find a good name that's available is wonderful.

Since registering bookofenkidu I've been working on the plot. For this book to succeed it needs a very clear plot. Nobody will read "the aimless ramblings of Chris Tolworthy" It has to be a page turner. That plot is now coalescing: it will be the history of the world told as man versus giants. I then mused that "book of Enkidu" is hard to remember, and tells the average reader nothing about the plot. Because very few people know who Enkidu was, and the word does not trip off the tongue. But "book of Giants" is much easier to remember and to say, and it tells you what to expect.

Naturally I Googled to see if "book of Giants" was already a well known title, and was thrilled to see something I had totally forgotten: it is the name of a gnostic text dealing with the Watchers of Noah's day! That is the heart of the story I plan to tell (it is the focus of the second half of Gilgamesh, and I think it tells the whole story in microcosm). So I was overjoyed. And to then discover that nobody has grabbed the name! Book of Giants it is then.

When will the book be published?

This book will be my magnum opus: my life's work, a summary of everything I have tried to say over the last 35 years. So it will not be rushed. Plus I am also working on a game which has a similar message, to open people's eyes to the huge ideas that link all humanity. The game should be ready in 2018. I expect the book will be launched at around the same time. Maybe earlier, as the book is a lot less work. But on the other hand the book needs to be perfect: I only get one chance, whereas the game will be constantly updated.

I'll keep you updated.

EDIT:
I should call this Bible Giggles, not Bible Goggles. I am grinning from ear to ear after reading the Dead Sea Scrolls version of the Book of Giants. When planning the plot of my book, it became obvious that I would need a Shaman character in order to explain the symbolism of trees, roots and connectedness in the form of a dream. And what do I find? The Dead Sea Scrolls version already has it! The dream and cosmic journey of Mahway! I must be on the right track.

And even funnier, making me laugh: I was planning the plot while at work. It was about challenging the gods, and I kept on humming Sinatra's ""I did it My Way." It should have been "I did it Mahway"



Ex 21:22-24 abortion

Abortion is a good example of wearing Bible Goggles. The Bible says one thing, but people read it as the opposite.

The idea that the Bible is anti abortion is younger than the Happy Meal. Allegedly. Personally I hate abortion, but the Bible does seem to support it.:

Genesis 6:6 if you regret conception then apparently it's OK to terminate the result at any stage. I don't go this far, but the lord-god in Genesis does. (Note that the lord-god is not the same as God. See the page on the documentary hypothesis fiasco for details.)

Leviticus 24:17 says a life for a life, but this does not apply to the fetus (Exodus 21:22-24), implying that the fetus is not alive.

Leviticus 27:1-7 sets out various monetary amounts depending on age. babies are only considered after one month old (presumably because dying at or near birth was so common anciently?)

Numbers 5:20-22: This is probably the clearest support for abortion in the Bible. It uses some euphemisms, but scholars agree that verse 22 is talking about drinking something that causes miscarriage.

Jeremiah 1:5: one of a number of scriptures about God's foreknowledge, which of course extends before conception. However, Jeremiah apparently does not consider man "formed" until he comes out of the womb.

And of course, the conception of Jesus. Mary could have been stoned to death for premarital sex (Deuteronomy 22:21). Premarital sex often results in pregnancy, and the law allows for not only termination of the fetus but the mother as well.

The teaching appears to be based on evidence. That is, it is scientific. In ancient times they had no experience of a very early birth surviving, so had no reason to see it as a separate person. Though note Luke 1:41 - Luke is well known for exaggerating (that's another topic) but this at least reminds us that it is common for unborn babies to kick):
And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
So, according to the evidence, it would be reasonable to say that the Bible teaches the baby is formed during pregnancy: not a separate person, and not having any "rights" at first, but being very nearly a full person toward the end.

So that is what the Bible says. It is also the evidence of science. It was a normal Christian belief until very recently. It is also worth noting that the Didache (a popular list of Christian rules from around AD 100) condemns paying for abortion, in between references to love potions and infanticide:
 thou shalt not use philtres; thou shalt not procure abortion, nor commit infanticide; 
This seems to be condemning men who would drug a woman into having sex and then pay for an abortion. Pretty much any reasonable person can see that such practices are harmful to the woman and to society as a whole.

So, based on science, the Bible, and Christian tradition. a reasonable person who respects life would not have a big problem with early term abortion, but would grow more and more disturbed by the practice as the pregnancy goes on. They would also oppose forcing  awoman to do something she does not want to do.

There may of course be other reasons to oppose abortion, but science, the Bible, and Christian history seem to say the same thing. Yet if you Google the words "Bible" and "Abortion" then you will see endless web sites proclaiming the opposite. The Bible says one thing, but people read the opposite. Here are Bible Goggles at work.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Dan 2:44 Beasts, the stone, and the Trans Pacific Partnership

Last night God appeared to me in a dream.

Don't worry, I haven't gone mad. God is logic, and personification can make complex ideas easier to see, Anyway, this post is a stream of consciousness. About my current thinking about the book. This will probably only make sense in a year or two when the book is further developed. the I can look back and see, "ah yes, now I remember how it all started"

You have been warned :)

The TPP, as you may know, is a horrific piece of (effectively) secret legislation that further shifts power toward corporations and away from humans. I say horrific because, as a human, I naturally want humans to be in charge. Which just shows how stupid I am. Please let me explain.

Human evolution

Humans evolved to live in small groups on the African savannah. That worked OK for individual humans, because the groups could not get too big. We are hard wired to be unable to deal with more than, say, 100 other people. This limits the power of any individual. It means technology cannot develop (beyond simple tools and mud houses), so each individual is vulnerable: This creates equality. If any person gets too bad, two or three other people are enough to teach him humility.

So every individual was within reaching distance (literally) of being the most powerful human on the planet. Which wasn't saying much, as the ants and lions were pretty powerful too. But we each had our niche, and were able to live like that for hundreds of thousands of years. And our brains were wired to do this efficiently, so I have every reason to think we were generally happy.

Our brief six thousand years as top species

Around 4,000 BC we invented proto-writing, and that's when it all went wrong. It enabled us to work in far larger groups. We were able to expand our cities through specialisation, and create imaginary gods to represent large groups of people: as long as people did what their god said then a human's 100 person limit could be expanded to 100 tribes of unlimited size. Granted, we had gods before that date, but writing gave them unlimited power.

This ability to work in groups let us dominate the world. But it did not change the fact that we were individual humans who evolved for much smaller groups on the savannah. The new system was great for the group, but horrible for the individual. We made ourselves cogs in a much larger machine. As individuals our food became worse our choices became fewer (unless we were the top human, and even that position could be precarious: change brings chaos and kings were always in danger of being toppled).

Why humans are no longer top species

Evolution works at the level of the system. Any system that competes for resources, randomly changes, and can pass on successful changes, will evolve. Brains and consciousness are secondary issues and a matter of definition.(1) What concerns us here is power: the ability to out-maneuver other systems for resources. By creating cities and nations and (Iater) corporations and networks we humans created systems that are more powerful than ourselves. Evolution takes time of course, and so for a long time these systems had no brains of their own. They relied on networks of human brains, so humans had unique leverage. Humans still felt they were in charge, even though 99 percent of humans were effectively slaves.

But then along came electronics. Telegraphs allowed information to travel faster than a human could follow it. Hard drives allowed information to be storied in quantities greater than a human could ever read. The Internet allowed more and more processes to be separated form the human brain and handled much faster and more efficiently.

The evolution of systems into more complex forms is hardly new. Mathematics evolved into physical forces.(2) Physical forces evolved into atoms.(2) Atoms evolved into simple molecules. Simple molecules into complex ones. Complex molecules into cells Cells into tissues. Tissues into organisms. And now, organisms into corporations. Each system combines to create the thing that enslaves it.

These more complex forms have the potential to be smarter than us. If only because they are made up of large numbers of us. Our individual stupidity as humans is illustrated by the enthusiasm with which we create our masters, while thinking that they serve us! Well yes they do serve us in a sense. In the same sense that a human body serves its cells, by providing their needs. But make no mistake: the body comes first, and individual cells are expendable.

I made this simple video to illustrate the point:
As I said, evolution takes time. We are still in the early days of corporate dominance. There are many tasks that still require humans. But that is a false security. If a human is easy to replace, and fears being unemployed and hungry, then the human must obey out of fear. Successful company chairmen work the longest hours and have no time to think of anything except the company: they are the greatest slaves of all because they have given not just their bodies but their minds to the beast.

In short, humans are no longer top species. Perhaps we will be completely replaced, or perhaps we will become cells in this larger body. "Will become?" We already are.

When did human dominance end?

Human dominance ended when as individuals we became unable to defeat our masters. Sure, our masters were always more powerful, but their total dependence on individual humans meant a Caesar or a Napoleon could be their master. But, starting with the rise of the Internet, corporations have become far more complex and faster moving than any human (or even small group of humans) can understand. Humans can now only stand and watch.

Which brings us to Daniel.

I referred to corporations as beasts. This is a good metaphor. Daniel refers to empires as horned beasts: alive, apparently stupid, yet likely to win in any fight with a human.

Large, apparently stupid systems have always been described as beasts, right back to Leviathan, the chaos of the ocean. The ocean was the source of long distance transport, and provided its own food, so our distant ancestors saw it as the great beast to defeat when founding the first empires. The Enuma Elish and its abridgment in Genesis both refer to civilisation arising out of its chaotic watery jaws. When Thomas Hobbes studied the power of the state he chose the same metaphor. The most famous beast is of course the Roman Empire (then embodied by Nero) in the book of Revelation.

Apocalyptic literature such as Daniel, Revelation, and especially Enoch, tries to put a time frame to the growth of these beasts. Daniel was dealing with a new upstart, Greece, so expected it to fall quite quickly (and it did). But as for the dominance of beasts in general, Enoch and Revelation estimate a seven thousand year continuance for life as we now it: six thousand years of life as it is now, then a thousand years when God defeats the beasts, then a new heaven and new earth. That turned out to be a pretty good guess. Six thousand years from the creation of writing to the industrial and IT revolutions, and probably another thousand years before it all settles down.

God of course is logic, the stone that is not cut with hands, but exists independently of our efforts, and smashes everything. The overall message is positive. The beasts will be defeated by logic in the end. Which brings me the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Why I now embrace the TPP

Until last night I hated the TPP and all it represented: the enslavement of humankind, probably the continued poisoning of the planet, and a few wars along the way. But as I said, God appeared to me in a  dream and I now see more clearly.

You could say that God appeared in the form of the TPP, and of Tesco, and of every other monolithic corporate system, and said "Love me".

Because the fact is that the age of humans is over. It was really over when they created writing, but being humans we were too stupid to see it.

Until last night I was incredibly frustrated and depressed by humanity and the future in general. Fixing the world would be so simple - just one easy change would make everything perfect - but we won't do it. Why? Because we are not wired for logic. Our brains are wired for small tribes. And if faced with anything bigger we either force the concept into our tribal structure (hence gods, and stories of good guys versus bad guys) or we panic and fight.

Take the Brussels terrorist attack for example. It was so predictable (not this particular attack but attacks in general). It was so easily avoidable (like all our problems). But how do we react? Do we say "let's make sure this cannot happen again?" No, we either wring our hands in sympathy, or we look for somebody to hate. Actually understanding and solving problems is not in our nature. Our brains are just too small.

I am acutely aware of the smallness of my own brain. I just spent thirty years focusing on one very narrow problem - how to fix everything at source. I am autistic, so focusing and abstracting like that comes naturally to me. But after finding the answer it just reinforced how stupid I am:

  1. First, because the answer was staring me in the face all the time: every careful thinker has come to the same conclusion. (See Adam Smith, Winston Churchill, etc.) Heck, it's the whole point of the Bible. But I could not see it, because thinking rationally is so hard. Like everyone else I wanted to see the Bible as supernatural.
  2. Second, because having answers is pointless unless you can share them. And ideas are extremely difficult to share. We delude ourselves that we are logical but we are not, we are tribal. We come to our ideas primarily because those in our tribe share them. We only make the tiniest of changes. An idea like "fix everything by replacing tax with rent" relies on so many underlying ideas that sharing it with even one person is a herculean task. Sharing it with enough people to create a critical mass? Far more sociable people than me have failed at sharing far simpler ideas.

Luckily, corporations do not have our limits. They can network and subdivide to handle ideas of any size. They are the only hope of doing it right. But will they?

The ultimate triumph of logic

Logic wins because it is how the universe is. Any idea that fights it will fail by definition. Bad ideas only appear to succeed because the alternative ideas are even worse, but we are too stupid dot see it. For example, Nazi Germany briefly succeeded because the rest of us had created a world in which such a horror could be born. And it failed precisely because it was a horror: it was inefficient. We cannot blame our creation, we collectively created those circumstances. But being stupid we refuse to admit it, or, if we do, we just wring our hands in self-hating guilt rather than simply fixing the problem.

Land rent will win because it is more efficient than taxation. Humans are incapable of grasping that in sufficient numbers, but corporations do not have those limitations. Of course, corporations will also do things wrong: they will probably poison the planet a lot more first, causing vast human misery and many new wars. But gradually the more powerful will defeat the less powerful. I think a thousand years was a good estimate.

Part of human stupidity is thinking that corporations are evil because they do such bad things. News flash: humans do all those things too. Corporations are just bigger. Yes, they have given us nuclear bombs and global warming, but they have also given us the lowest poverty rates since records began. We are cells in their body, and they work best if their cells are healthy.

The end of humanity

But what if, over the next thousand years of transition, corporations find away to not need us at all? Or to need so few that most of humanity dies? That is us thinking like humans again. In the early centuries humans will still be able to cause damage to corporations. Therefore they will want to keep us happy. They have not been feeding us out of the goodness of their hearts, but because it suits them.

But what about later centuries? What about the year 2500 or 2800, when humans are completely irrelevant to the brave new world? Corporations have that covered as well. What is a human, except a set of ideas within a mechanical frame? Those ideas are evolving quickly to suit our masters. We are replacing more and more of our bodies: cars replace legs, phones replace memory, etc. Even our consciousness is evolving to fit in. Most people are far more interested in X-Factor (the Great Distraction) rather than politics. We are too stupid for politics, so our masters keep us distracted. By the year 2500 or 2800 humans will be so completely absorbed into the machine that we will be indistinguishable from any "artificial" parts of the system. Our transformation into efficient cells will be complete. Our minds will have become perfectly aligned to our role and so we will be happy.

The triumph of Paul

Throughout this Bible blog I tend to be scathing about the self appointed apostle Paul. He was the antichrist, the great fraud who taught nonsense and destroyed Jesus' movement. And yet... the more I learn about other thinking people, the more I learn that they are no more evil than I am, and no more stupid than I am. One thing is certain, Paul was smart. I wonder if, in the long dark nights (and these were the days before electronic distractions), Paul saw things more clearly than I did. I wonder if he knew that humans are weal and foolish. After all, isn't that his message? And he knew that the best we can do is accept whatever supernatural idea makes us happy, while not worrying. Jesus may have attempted (with some success) to make people good, but Paul could see it was ultimately a lost cause. What will happen will happen, so he created a religion that let people cope and be happy.

I planned to blog yesterday about how I needed to write two books, not one, and what I really wanted was the third book, about beasts. I now wonder if what I should really write is an apocalyptic work like Enoch or Daniel. But updated for the Google age.

In that book I would put only the best stuff. Just enough that anybody with an interest could Google the rest and put two and two together on their own. Most people would of course ignore it. But those who thought deeply about life would find it eventually, and discover it to be a good friend.

The book of Enkidu

It is traditional to write apocalyptic works under the name of an ancient patriarch, such as Enoch. It is also accurate: our identity is in our ideas, because if somebody shares the ideas attributed to Enoch then they are an Enoch. But the name Enoch is already overused. Besides, the book I have in mind probably has more in common with Enkidu (the Adam figure and co-star of Gilgamesh). I just noticed that "the book of Enkidu" has zero results in Google. So that will probably be the title. I just registered the domain.

You saw it here first.

Notes
(1) It can be argued that humans are not conscious and do not feel pain. I call on the analogy with lobsters. They lack the neural pathways that we consider essential, therefore they cannot possibly feel pain, right? Now look at humans from the point of view of the corporation. We do not appear on the stock exchange, so cannot possibly feel financial pain, We do not have PR departments who monitor news from our perspective 24/7, and we lack high speed trading software to react quickly, so we can barely be considered conscious of what goes on around us either. Concepts like consciousness and pain are entirely dependent on the system and its needs.

(2) Yes, mathematics evolves. All states exist randomly. The scarce resource is more complex mathematical systems. Patterns emerge from chaos. Larger patterns encompass smaller ones.



1 Kings 6:1: Solomon's temple

I'm just listening to Daniel Fleming on Ancient Israel. Very interesting stuff.


It all fits my thesis that the kings were the bad guys, and all their "look at how great I am" stories are propaganda.

As for whether the law of Moses was ever followed, that's up for grabs. He notes that the  building that might be the temple (but critics argue is not) is not as expensive as temples of neighbouring states, suggesting that Israel was poor. But it could also argue that Israel was decentralised: if Saul was the first king they ever had then there was no tradition of taxing the people, so of course early palaces etc would be simple. Unless the people had plenty of gold to steal, but what good is gold if everyone has equal shares of land? Amassing gold only is only useful if (a) you need insurance against ever being poor, or (b) you want to amass significantly more wealth than your neighbours. But with equal shares of land neither option is realistic.

However, I return to my position on yesterday's blog: the intelligent position is to admit what we do not know, and to focus on virtue. In this case, could the law of Moses actually do good? That is the only Bible question that matters.