Morals, Altruism, and Self-preservation

Morals, Altruism, and Self-preservation

By Alan D Griffin

It seems to me a ” moral apparatus” is simply the ability to control our behaviors beyond that of simple action/ reaction and instinct. But “proper” behavior is learned and is a matter of what the consensus is of how to behave within a specific society or subculture of a society.
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Now it does seem what bubbles up as proper behavior in most cultures and subcultures is they usually have some notion of the harm principle and biological altruism attached to them. But I would argue this is still a product of self preservation or at least the preservation of our genes.
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I would go as far to say the ability to have empathy and sympathy developed from a place of self preservation.
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We develop a system of proper behaviors as a safety net for the unknown or to have some predictability of outcomes. We don’t know which side of a situation we will find ourselves on so an agreement to behave in such a way which reduces the potential for harm in others reduces the chances of harm coming upon ourselves or our offspring.
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The same is true of Altruism. The soldier who jumps on the grenade comes from a place of believing that other soldiers would do the same thing for you. The vervet monkey sounding an alarm that a predator is near reveals his location to the predator but is done in hopes the monkey on the otherside of the group will do the same if a predator approaches from their direction. It is a probability bet. The probability is the predator is going to approach from a different direction from the side you are on more often than it will approach from your side. Same with the grenade is it more probable that the grenade will land closer to someone else than it will you.
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Now we don’t like to admit that the harm principle or altruism comes from a place of self preservation. But something noble and selfless.

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But why is someone who acts in such a way considered noble or selfless and then admired?
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Because someone is willing to do without for others or sacrifice their self for others that type of person is beneficial to our own self preservation.
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Consequences for acting improperly are not only as a way to insure we are all holding to the agreed upon behavior but also it gives us predictive ability of what the consequences may come to us if we decide to act improperly.
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This is the part of punishment or consequences no one wants to admit or cop to but having stated consequences for improper behavior comes down again as a tool for self preservation and risk/reward decision making.
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A “moral apparatus” is then abilty to act in the interest of others self- preservation ( to care for others) with the assumption it will be reciprocated ( care for me).
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Loyalty it seems is a notion that I can count on you to adhere to the agreed behaviors to give me a sense of security and allow me the predictive ability to gage how and when you will behave that is in the best interest of my self preservation.
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Disloyalty is the breaking of the agreement to behave in a certain way, which then takes away my sense of security and my predictive ability to gage how and when you will behave in such a way which puts my self preservation at risk.
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Fairness is also a matter of self preservation.
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I may kill the buffalo today and I share it equally among the tribe not out of the goodness of my heart or out of an innate sense of fairness but because I know I might not kill a buffalo tomorrow or in the next months but others will and by being fair today will lead to my fair share tomorrow or next week. When someone acts unfairly it incenses us because we were counting on our fairness being reciprocated and when it is not it endangers my self preservation and disrupts my abilty act fairly due to the insecurity of self preservation based on someone’s unfairness. It is a basic breakdown of social constructs which were constructed in the first place for self preservation.
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The whole idea of morality comes down to self preservation. Biologically speaking.
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What the Great Debate is Really About

What the Great Debate is Really About
By Alan D. Griffin

Ultimately, I believe that more genuine compassion toward our fellow man is what we are all striving toward and concerned about at the end of the day.

The Great Debate at its heart seems to me has less to do with if a God exists or not and more about how the concept of God is used.

It can be a concept that delivers hope and a sense of community ( which is why theist argue in defense of it) and then it is also used to divide humanity into in-group/ out groups and to justify the mistreatment of various people groups ( which is why atheists rail against it).

The concept of God is a neutral vessel on its own, it is what we fill the concept with that makes it emotionally charged and divisive.

The Sensation of “Otherness” and “Other Than”

The Sensation of “Otherness” and “Other Than ”

By Alan D. Griffin

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The idea of the Sensation of “Otherness” and “Other than” seems to be a reoccurring theme in relation to God-talk.

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My question is this:
Isn’t the sensation of the presence of “selfness” a better explanation than the sensation of “otherness”?

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Please someone explain to me why the sensation of “otherness” should lead to a belief that there is an “other” would make more sense than the sensation of “otherness” is the result of one simply experiencing one’s true self?

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Our identities are built from without, not from within. From the very moment we arrive in this life what we label as self is anything but the self. what we identify as self is wholly “other”.

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Are we a good son/ daughter?
We determine this solely from our perception of our parents perception of us.

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Are we a good student?
We determine this solely from our perception of our teachers perception of us.
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Are we a good friend?
We determine this solely from our perception of our friends perception of us.

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Are we funny?

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Are we annoying?

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Are we loving?

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Are we caring?
All are determined by our perception of other’s perceptions of us.

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So and and so forth etc. etc… we build our perception of self from others and wholly from others.

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We label this ” otherness” as self.

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So when we are able (and if we are able) to perceive ourselves unhinged from our perception of other’s perception of us. This is quite a different sensation. This is the “self”, the authentic “self” wholly built within and not from without.

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But then we find this to be quite a conundrum.

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We have already from a very young age associated “other” as “self”.

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So what do we do when we experience the “self” unhinged from the ” other” ?

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We feel quite compelled to label the ” self” the authentic “self” as “other.”

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Thus the sensation of experiencing oneself is mislabeled as a sensation of experiencing “otherness”.

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Can anyone give justification for why this is not the case?

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Why does this explanation make less sense than there is some unknown “other” that is being sensed?

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“There was a young man who said though, it seems that I know that I know, but what I would like to see is the I that knows me when I know that I know that I know.” — Alan W. Watts
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This sense of ” other than” seems to me to be a product or by-product of the level of awareness we have reached.

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It comes from the fact that we are not simply aware but aware that we are aware. The fact that we have introspection, retrospection, and abstract thinking creates the sensation of “other than”.

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I think the Alan Watts limerick speaks directly to this.

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I know ( aware)

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I know that I know ( aware of being aware)

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I know that I know that I know ( aware that we are aware of being aware).

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The I that knows me when I know that I know that I know. ( The Sensation of “other than”).

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This “other than” in my opinion is the infinite regress of the infinite progress of higher levels of consciousness.

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If I were to see the I that knows me when I know that I know that I know. I would simply strive to see the I that knows the I that knows me when I know that I know that I know. and so on and so forth at infinitum.

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We are able to step out of ourselves and look back at ourselves as “other than” Thus we have the sensation that there exists something “other than”.

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I find this makes quite a lot of sense. I find it has warrant and justifiablity. Is it fact ( an undebateable proposition) far from it. But, I feel it has legs.

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your thoughts?

All I Know is I Know Nothing.

All I Know is I Know Nothing.

by Alan D. Griffin

It seems in the early attempts at epistemology the goal was to try and determine if what we believe about the world is the case for how the world actually is. It seems that it was realized that we can not ever really “know” if what we believe about the world is an accurate depiction of the reality of the world and in fact we can’t even know that. So it seems the original goal of epistemology begins with the socratic paradox which interestingly, is not found anywhere to be said by Socrates The Paradox is simply ” All I know is I know nothing.”

So then the goal of epistemology seems to shift from trying to determine if what we think about the world is actually the case to trying to determine what it is which would give us a higher level of confidence that our beliefs about the world are more than likely the case. The goal of epistemology shifts from trying to find certainty to trying to determine probability. And with it the definition of what epistemology is attempting to answer as well as a the definition of Knowledge and knowing.

I was watching an older episode of The Place with Ozy from 2 years ago titled ” The Usefulness of the Great Debate ” In this episode Ozy brings up a town which is actually a Hollywood set town in which there is what seems to be a barn but is actually only a facade of a barn. He then gets into how our confidence in the belief that there is a barn on the hill should be adjusted accordingly if one knows this is a town full of facade structures even if it is actually a barn and not a facade” This is what got me thinking and led to this post.

We as people are limited by the ability of our brains to correctly interpret sensory perception. We can only access the world through our senses and are dependent on how our brains interpret that sensory data. We also have reasons to believe based on evidence that our senses can trick us as well as our rational thinking. This information alone should decrease our confidence in our beliefs about the world just as having the information that barn in a town full of Hollywood sets should decrease our confidence that what we think is a barn actually is a barn. So it seems that we are back to ” All I know is I know nothing.”

The majority of what we classify as knowledge is merely assumption of varying degrees. The division between rationalism, which is the position that reason has precedence over other ways of acquiring knowledge, and empiricism, which is the position that the senses are the primary source of knowledge remains a core issue in epistemology.

The answer to this should be which that only a perfect blending of empiricism and rationalism can we have a significantly high enough probability to label something as knowledge and accepting that knowledge is never about certainty. But it seems you can have confidence in the high probability that a conclusion is actually the case if it is understandable, purely empirically and purely rationally.Also the conclusion of the empirical data cannot be contradictory to the rational data or vice versa. Any concept that does not meet this criteria should significantly lower the confidence in the probability that it is actually the case. If the assumption or belief requires a leap of faith, either rationally or empirically, there is a higher probability that the conclusion is incorrect. This is why I self label as an apistevist. I can not label something as knowledge that has less than the highest possible probability of being actually the case as knowledge. I operate under faith and assumptions about the world all the time but these are merely my beliefs which I find moderately probable enough to find reliability in them but they fall short of the requirement for knowledge which is that which holds the highest probability for actually being the case. So therefore I reject faith as a method for knowing.

My brain can function improperly and so can yours, but if my brain, your brain, and the majority of brains validate each other in concert with what we individually determine to be the case empirically and rationally then we have the highest possibility and reliability that our brains are perceiving the world properly. So providing evidence to support or prove a claim which is available to everyone is how we determine if something is most likely actually the case or just faulty reasoning or sensory perception. It isn’t perfect but it works well enough for us to function and to function in conjunction with others.

your thoughts?

The Only Justification Atheism Needs

The Only Justification Atheism Needs
By Alan D Griffin
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The only justification atheism needs is to demonstrate the lack of justification that a god or gods exist.
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Now, do not misunderstand what I am saying. I agree that an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
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The terms atheism and theism are simply labels identifying which way one leans in regards to the God/ Gods question.
As an atheist my response to the question does God or Gods exist must be what do you mean or what are you referring to with the term God?
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The term God is very ambiguous. The uses of this term incapsulates a whole host of ideas and attributes that are not consistent nor intrinsically attached to the term God in any meaningful way.
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I cannot claim no God exists only that all of the concepts of God/ Gods which I have been presented with lack any justification for thinking they exist.
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This is what is intended when you hear atheists say atheism is not a claim but a rejection of a claim.
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All the Gods with proper names from whichever religion or mythology all lack justification to reasonably accept that they actually exist.
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The same is true of the Gods built on similes. There is no justification why God is like a, b, c rather than x,y, or z. There is no basis for making such comparisons. It seems this is also the case of statements such as “God is Love” or “God is Goodness” any more than there is justification for saying God is Hate or God is Evil.
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Now if you someone associates the term God as the neighbor’s dog then I can find justification that this God exists. Or that God is merely an abstract concept because it seem God is minimal an abstract concept since we are able to have a discussion about a God or Gods. If God is just a substitute term for some scientific principle or principles then I can except those concepts of God as existing. Such as saying God is the singularity from which the universe expanded, or God is the law of physics, or God is Energy, etc.
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Atheism in common usage is a lack of belief in God. Since the term God can be used for virtually anything or any concept it seems to me unreasonable to lack a belief in a term which can be represented by any object, living thing, or concept. I don’t think that is what anyone is trying to communicate with the term or label of athiest or atheism.
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Atheism to me is not actually a lack of belief in the existence of a God or Gods per se because first it would have to be clear on exactly what a God is before you could determine if it is justified as existing or not. It is a lack of belief in what people associate with the term, what attributes, qualities, and characteristics that are described as being embodied by the term which lacks any credible justification.

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Why would atheist even care about such things?
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Because many of those who believe God/ Gods with proper names exist and believe their particular amalgamation of qualities, attributes, and characteristics associated with this concept of God with a proper name are accurate. The really unnerving part is there is no justification that any of these Gods with proper names exist but societies expect everyone to find a particular abstraction to be authoritative and therefore can and should be the foundation of laws and socio-political policies.
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Most atheists do not care what someone believes except when such unjustified beliefs are use to regulate society or the treatment of people. This is why most atheists speak out in an attempt to demonstrate how ludicrous it is to base a society on a construct that has no justification for even existing or justification for the attributes assigned to such a construct.
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So atheism needs no justification beyond pointing out that there is no justification for thinking any proper named Gods or Gods built on similes exist.

The Metaphorical and Symbolic Nature of Jesus

The Metaphorical and Symbolic Nature of Jesus

By Alan D. Griffin
Jesus of the New Testament in which Christianity is based was initially meant to be understood metaphorically and symbolically.
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You find nowhere in the synoptic Gospels Jesus claiming to be the son of God.
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In the Gospel of John which is much more a theological dissertation than an attempt at a historical account of Jesus as the Synoptic Gospel portray. But, In John 10:30 Jesus States ” I and the father are one” when the Jewish authorities take offense he refers them to Psalms 82:6-7
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I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.”
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This passage among others demonstrates the metaphorical idea of being a Son of God not the son of God but embodying the essence of what God is meant to represent.
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Jesus was never literally the son of God nor did he ever claim to be and to much disappointment to C.S. Lewis he was also neither a liar nor a lunatic.
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Jesus was a follower of John the Baptist from the Essenes sect of Judaism who was a philosopher and social revolutionary who spoke out against the ill treatment of the Jews by the Romans and against the corruption of the Temple by the Sadducees for monetary gains.
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The Essences who were a sect of Judaism that had a mystic element to their beliefs who conformed to the most rigid rules of Levitical purity while aspiring to the highest degree of holiness. They lived solely by the work of their hands and in a state of communism, devoted their time to study and devotion and to the practice of benevolence, and refrained as far as feasible from conjugal intercourse and sensual pleasures, in order to be initiated into the highest mysteries of heaven and cause the expected Messianic time to come wanted to protect Judaism from further Hellenistic influences and rejected violent attempts to revolt against Rome. John the Baptist a desert ascetic condemning Jewish political and religious leadership preached repentance was probably a member of this group
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John 1: 4-8 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
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The philosophy of Plato concerning the cosmic dualism of the material and ethereal realms and the immortality of the soul incorporated with Persian Zoroastrian beliefs about the cosmic battle between good and evil had infiltrated Jewish thought and religion by the lifetime of Jesus. The Roman occupation and the Imperial cult is the source of conflict in the life and death of Jesus as well as the entire New Testament. This culmination of diversity and the rapid exchange of ideas brought about by the Roman road and port systems placed Jesus in unique historical and geographical setting.
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According to the Synoptic Gospels Jesus seems to be a disciple of John the Baptist destined to surpass him. This leads me to the conclusion that if John the Baptist was a member of the Essenes than his cousin Jesus, according to Luke’s Gospel, would also be part of that sect.
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Jesus’ teachings, sayings and actions would also seem to line up more with what we know about the Essenes than the other three known sects of Judaism in the first century.
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Combining what I have learned about the Prophets of the Hebrew Bible in studying History of the Old Testament Biblical Religion and the teachings and behavior of Jesus in the Gospels and my studies of the historical New Testament, Jesus seems more of a socio-political revolutionary than a religious leader.
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The Prophet Amos especially preached on reformation of the treatment of the poor and marginalized when facing the impending Assyrian invasion around 722 BCE.
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The main motivation for this was that to withstand the Assyrians they would require this segment of the population to be willing to fight off the invaders for the Kingdoms of Israel and of Jerusalem to stand a fighting chance and under their current treatment the poor and marginalized were more likely to simply flee than to stand and fight.
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Lack of these reforms resulted in the conquering of Israel and much of Judah except the city of Jerusalem who became somewhat subservient to the Assyrians and forced to pay homage to Assyria to insure their survival.
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The prophet Jeremiah preached the same message to improve the treatment of poor and marginalized population prior to Babylon conquering Judah the people did not listen to either prophet and the Assyrians and Babylonians eventually won out.
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Jesus picked up on this idea and went out of his way to support and keep company with the poor, the outcast, and marginalized population to achieve a climate of peaceful revolt against the Roman occupiers.
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We have seen the astounding affects this method of social revolution can have in our own time with Mahatma Gandhi in the early 20th century and the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s led by Dr. Martin Luther King.
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Jesus’ ministry stoked the fire of social revolution and his intentional capture and crucifixion he thought would be the push his revolution needed to change the dynamic of the Palestinian region.
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Jesus removed the man- made boundaries which keep people divided in to groups. A division amongs people promoted by those in power to maintain control. For a population divided among themselves and focused on such divisions cannot stand against the powers that be.
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Jesus closed these divisions through his own example as well as his teachings,such as the Beatitudes found in the Sermon on the Mount and he created a network of sharing of Goods and Wealth among his followers which strengthen their position and improved the livelihood for all. This was the Agenda and Message of Jesus.
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Jesus is not claiming to be THE son of God but a son of God. He is simply claiming to be the personification of his own abstract notion of God. Therefore, Jesus would be God as well as that which flows from God, dare I say the son of God, at least his personal notion of God. And he is also trying to get his disciples to also understand this by asking “Who do they say I am?” and asking “Who do you say I am? He is implying if they believe it and that is their subjective perspective of him then that is who he is, he is only what they think him to be at least in their own subjective perception.
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Just as angels can be perceived as men and men as angels.
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His Gospel is that the Kingdom of Heaven is all around us and men do not see it. This is the Good News. This is the point of his parables and why only those who have eyes to see will see it and ears to hear will hear it. This is the Gospel of Jesus which is vastly different than the Gospel of Paul.
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Jesus spoke in metaphors and parables which Jesus tells also further drives this point home and the resurrection was no different.
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The purpose of Parables
Mark 4:10-11
Matthew 13:10-15
Luke 8:9-10
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“My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.”- John Dominic Crossan
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The reference to the resurrection in The verses in Mark 8:31-38 is also speaking metaphorical and is pointing back to the earlier passage concerning the death of John the Baptist and him being raised from the Dead in Jesus in Mark 6:14-16.
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Mark 6:14-16
14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
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Jesus is teaching that as he was the metaphorical resurrection of John the Baptist mentioned Mark 6:14-16 that he will also be resurrected in his disciples and they become the resurrection of Jesus and just as Jesus had followed John the Baptist even unto death as the Resurrection of Jesus they will also have to pick up their cross and follow him. Because the message, the agenda was that important. The ideas, the agenda of Jesus is what was resurrected and worth dying for. The apostles and disciples operated in the name of Jesus, which means they operated based on the outline Jesus provided. This was common to write and behave in the name of someone else. In the spirit of a person. This type of writing is known as Pseudopicgrapha. They did not see this as plagiarism but a continuation of that persons ideals after they had died.
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The apostles and disciples of Jesus are the metaphorical body of Christ. The church itself, is the Resurrection of Jesus. This is what is being referred to when Jesus says “Where two or more are gathered I Am there”…. get it? The Paraclete or counselor Jesus spoke of was his own spirit which would guide his followers after his death. This is not a seperate entity or persona from Jesus. The “Holy Spirit” it is not the third person of the unified godhead.
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Following the example of the historical Jesus is being Christ-like. To focus on people and disregard man- made divisions which come between them. Unification is the Spirit of Jesus. The “Holy Spirit” if you will.
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The literal interpretation of the Resurrection led to a Theological need for the concept of the Trinity.

School Shootings: Mental Health or the Legality of Guns in 4 Parts

Silk thechool Shootings: Mental Health or the Legality of Guns in 4 Parts
By Alan D. Griffin
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All the mass shootings over the last several years has very little to do with access to guns and more about how we now hold children accountable as if they were adults, the addiction of adolescents to social media, a disconnect and lack of the development of relationships with other actual human beings in face to face situations, and a failure of society to identify those children which are ostracized and disconnected from their peers and trying to resolve the internal conflict within these individuals which ultimately results in these sorts of violent outbursts.
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Part 1: Why Can’t We Settle This At The Bike Rack?
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There are a growing number of stories and policies which are punishing children with developing brains as if they are adults with fully functioning brains. This is one key ingredient to the mass shooting epidemic in our country, I will discuss a few examples.
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A Kindergarten boy eats a chicken nugget into the shape of a gun and says ” Bang! Bang!”and they try to charge him with a terroristic threat.
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A 4th grade boy writes a sweet note to a girl he like and is charged with sexual harassment.
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If you get in a fight, which is part of growing up, the the police are instantly involved and the children no matter how young and undeveloped are charged with assault.
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These consequences follow you throughout life and should not be used against children with developing brains and immature emotional control.
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The consequences are no longer minor such as paddling, detention or in-school or out of school suspension but are serious and involve arrests and trials.
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Then you have such adult over reaction to such behaviors which is causing a greater difficulty for children to deal with bullies within the rules and social mores of the subculture children undoubtedly have.
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Bullying has always been a problem in school but that is part of growing up and dealing with conflict that they will all also face as adult and these conflicts are needed to develop proper skills of conflict resolution as adults adult interference although done with the best intentions ultimately is crippling our children their emotional well being and their development of critical conflict resolution skills.. We were ALL once children and those conflicts as children help build character in each of us. Did we forget?
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We all know the ” find an adult or tell a teacher” doesn’t work and ultimately makes matters worse because it simply enrages the bully, makes the victim untrustworthy to the other children and the child is bullied in more creative and covert ways as a result. It simply does not play out in the subculture of children in the way we as adults would like to believe it does.
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When we were children we would simply duke it out at the bike rack after school. The issue is dealt with the bullying stops and the victim gains self confidence by defending themselves and the Bully learns a valuable lesson on the consequences of treating people badly.
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Half the time the bully and the victim became friends as a result or at least the bully would think twice about bullying someone. The consequences besides the occasional black eye or bloody nose were uncomfortable and taught a lesson about using violence to quickly or to solve every problem but the consequences included paddling, detention or suspension but did not have long lasting adverse consequences to the life of the child.
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The consequences are now so high with the threat of arrest and criminal charges that the victimized children are left with no way out and as I already stated getting adults involved in kid business only makes matters worse. So, what happens?
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The victim is left to internalize the pain and helplessness day in and day out until it finally crescendos and one day in high school or college the kid snaps no longer able to take it and brings a gun to school to take his revenge on a lifetime of victimization and being left defenseless by adults and their over harsh punishment for self defense.
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One main reason for all the school shootings is because we took all the power away from children to solve their own conflicts and we have significantly stunted their ability to handle conflicts as adults also.
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So this over reaction by adults is not making things better but worse and as long as we continue there will be more shootings in school and we will have a whole generation unable to defend themselves, their values, or this country and have a severe mental retardation to conflict resolution all because we have bad memories about some mean old bully in 3rd grade. What happened to handling it at the Bike Racks?
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Part 2 The role of social media and social disconnect.
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Social media is a Dopamine induced addiction and has profound effects on undeveloped brains of adolescents. Here is a link to a great explanation of this major problem:
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The addiction to dopomine brought on by Social media causes a severe depression for those adolescents who are not successful in social media, shunned, bullied, and ostracized in such platforms. Social media status is unequivocally linked to self- esteem and self-worth. This and the lesser degree of person to person physical face to face relationships plays a significant role in mental illness of many in the millennial and subsequent generations.
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Part 3 : Fast pace living and lack of involvement of adults.
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We are living in a extremely fast pace culture and we as adults are overwhelmed by our schedules and over scheduling and we are nit taking the time to be involved with the inner workings of our children’s lives or the lives of their friends. We want to spend the time, be involved, and pay closer attention to the tell tell signs of potential problems and dangers with our children and their peers. We simply don’t have the time and this must change we must acknowledge this and take responsibility as adults as a generation of parents but what we can’t do until we figure that out is keeping asking how nobody noticed how nobody saw the mental illness or cries for help or attention. How did it happen? Why did nobody notice? Because we ALL were to busy, We ALL did not take the time, we ALL were to caught up in our own little bubble to notice. We as a Generation are at fault for these children slipping through the cracks and cries for help and attention not heard which leads to these over the top and violent outbursts as school shootings are. We must stop and acknowledge this fellow adults instead of shouting out why did this happen?
It must be our lax gun laws!
Wrong answer!
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Part 4: Guns Don’t Kill People
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Most guns were legally acquired by law abiding citizens which the gun laws would not effect anyway. And even if such guns were banned it only would stop those who respect the laws of acquiring them anyway and these from are not the people we need to worry about. If we have learned nothing else from the alcohol prohibition and the war on drugs is making things we don’t like illegal doesn’t work and creates a great economic niche which provides a great source of revenue for criminals and even worse very organized crime.
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Guns have always been a part of U.S. culture and we have always have had access to guns and there have been millions of guns in the U.S. for a long long time but the trend in school shootings has only occurred over the last 20 years. There is much much more going on socially and culturally underlying these mass shootings than simply access to guns.
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There are more guns in the USA then there are people an estimated 357 Million as of 2013 of which a estimated mere 5 to 10 million are AR-15’s. If school shootings were simply a result of access to guns we would have millions of school shootings occuring so it seems to be quite obvious merely access to guns or AR- 15’s in particular is simply not the cause of mass shootings nor is simply reducing access to guns the solution to school shootings.
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Jesus Would Never Be A Christian

Jesus Would Never Be A Christian

By Alan D. Griffin

 The approach of History is to use a developed system of criterion to deduce what most likely occurred in the past. We can not ” know” what happened with absolute certainty simply because WE WERE NOT THERE.

There is no doubt historically that Jesus the man existed. He meets all the historical criterion needed to be deemed as a historical figure. 

Miracles by definition are not likely to occur so they are not historical whether they actually occurred or not.

What information can we deduce from the historical method about Jesus?

Jesus most likely:

Was born in the 1st century in Palestine.

Was Jewish

Lower class from a family who no longer held inherited lands.

Worked as a Tekton probably mostly with stone.

Began to travel and speak publicly.

The most likely actual sayings of Jesus are the parables.

He gained a significant following.

He was arrested and tried for sedition by Pontius Pilate.

He was crucified.

At some point at least some of his followers came to believe he rose from the dead.

Beyond this we can piece together a historical narrative from the Gospels focused on Jesus the man instead of the claims of his divinity and miracles attributed to him.

      Jesus was a socio-political revolutionary whose purpose was to reach out to the poor and marginalized masses to organize a peaceful protest and revolt against the Roman occupiers and the corrupt Sadducees who ran the temple.

Jesus was a follower of John the Baptist from the Essenes sect of Judaism who was a philosopher and social revolutionary who spoke out against the ill treatment of the Jews by the Romans and against the corruption of the Temple by the Sadducees for monetary gains. 

He also picked up on notions of the prophets Jeremiah and Amos that to be successful in any revolt or social change it begins and ends with the poor and marginalized masses feeling they are an important part of society. 

Jesus in the synoptic Gospels is not claiming to be THE son of God but a son of God. He is simply  claiming to be the personification of his own abstract notion of God. Therefore, Jesus would be God as well as that which flows from God, dare I say the son of God, at least his personal notion of God. And he is also trying to get his disciples to also understand this by asking “Who do they say I am?” and asking “Who do you say I am? He is implying if they believe it and that is their subjective perspective of him then that is who he is, he is only what they think him to be at least in their own subjective perception. This is the teaching behind the idea angels can be perceived as men and men as angels.

His Gospel is that the Kingdom of Heaven is all around us and men do not see it. This is the Good News. This is the point of his parables and why only those who have eyes to see will see it and ears to hear will hear it. 

The Gospel of John is much more a theological dissertation than an attempt at a historical account of Jesus’ deeds and sayings and is closely related to gnostic beliefs with a few differences. John’s Gospel resembles Gnostic beliefs in many significant ways such as  the belief in spiritual rebirth, dualism between the forces of darkness and light, and division of the cosmos into two realms the realm of the material and the realm of the spirit. John disagrees with the Gnostic idea that Jesus was a spiritual being which only seemed to be material. Instead John Insists that Jesus was a real material person. This was the reason Jesus is more of a physical being in his Gospel because he is demonstrating Jesus was a material not just a spiritual being. In John is where you get a resurrected Jesus who is more physical like eating and drinking, doubting Thomas touching the holes in Jesus’ hands etc..

The Gospel of John ( 95CE) is a theology attempting to sell the divinity of Jesus some 60 years after Jesus’ death. The author definitely was not an eyewitness. This is in no way an attempt to tell the story of Jesus’ life and ministry as the Synoptic Gospels do.  

The author of Mark does not mention the resurrection. Seems to be an important detail to leave out of the story of Jesus. No other Gospels existed at the time of Mark so the only reason to leave it out is because it was not part of the Jesus story at the time Mark was written (70CE).

Matthew ( 80CE) and (Luke 85CE) both have a resurrection story. Most Historians believe this is from Q a second source for both Matthew and Luke. Mark was their main source and ends with Mary finding an Empty Tomb, running away, and telling no one. Mark leaves a kind of cliffhanger and so Matthew and Luke developed a better ending using Q.

So Matthew and Luke do not corroborate each other’s stories only that they used a shared source document. So authors of Matthew and Luke we are not getting eyewitness accounts ( Luke admits as much) but hearsay from author of Q.

The Resurrection was always meant metaphorically. Jesus was Jewish, monotheistic, and believed in one God ,YHWH. Deuteronomy 6:4 (NRSV) 4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Other verses include Isaiah 45:5, Psalm 86:10, Psalm 83:18, Malachi 2:10, etc…

   Jesus spoke in metaphors and parables and the resurrection was no different. The ideas, the agenda of Jesus is what was resurrected and worth dying for. The apostles and disciples operated in the name of Jesus, which means  they operated based on the outline Jesus provided. This was common to write and behave in the name of someone else. In the spirit of a person. This type of writing is known as Pseudopicgrapha. They did not see this as plagiarism but a continuation of that persons ideals after they had died. 

The apostles and disciples of Jesus are the metaphorical body of Christ. The church itself, is the Resurrection of Jesus.  This is what is being referred to when Jesus says “Where two or more are gathered I Am there”…. get it? The Paraclete or counselor Jesus  spoke of was his own spirit which would guide his followers after his death. This is not a seperate entity or persona from Jesus. The “Holy Spirit” it is not the third person of the unified godhead.

“My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.” – John Dominic Crossan

Following the example of the historical Jesus is being Christ-like. To focus on people and disregard man- made divisions which come between them. Unification is the Spirit of Jesus. The “Holy Spirit” if you will.

This is the Gospel of Jesus which is vastly different than the Gospel of Paul.

Paul never met Jesus, did not witness his ministry, did not witness the resurrection, and swears he did not get any of his information from the Apostles. Paul did not see Jesus on the road to Damascus but a blinding light and heard a voice claiming to be Jesus and the men with Paul saw nothing. My personal belief is that after witnessing the humble way in which Stephen died by being stoned to death was the initial catalyst for Paul’s ultimate conversion.

 Another theory is Paul infiltrated the Jesus cult to destroy it from within by distorting Jesus message intentionally I call this the undercover cop theory. I don’t think this is the case but a possibility. And just like many undercover cops the lines get blurred and you begin to identify more with the members and Ideas of the group which is infiltrated and the initial purpose of infiltration is lost or becomes less black and white. So in this scenerio Paul sought to destroy Christianity from within and was ultimately converted instead.

 Paul’s message distorted the teachings of Jesus  possibly on purpose and as a result he put the focus on Jesus the man as deity while simultaneously drawing attention away from the actual message of Jesus to gather the poor disenchanted, disenfranchised populous on his side and engage in peaceful protest and civil discord against the Romans as well as the corrupt Sadducees who ran the temple.

Paul’s depiction of Jesus had a distinctly different message and agenda than that of the historical Jesus. Paul’s message was of Jesus’ divine nature and his role as a savior who offered rewards in an afterlife for those who stood firm in the face of Roman persecution.

From what we are told in the synoptic Gospels about Jesus he would be last person to ever embrace Christianity.

Jesus is depicted as someone who had great compassion and concern for all humanity and took special interest in those which were the most diverse from him and viewed the world which were most foreign to his ideologies.

He was depicted as someone who disregarded in- group/ out group identifiers and boundaries.

Someone who spoke out often  against those who held too rigidly to religious doctrines, traditions, and Interpretations.

Someone who believed the abstract notion of a Heaven could be brought out of the abstract and into the concrete if only we could focus on what we have in common instead of what separates us.

He sought to bring up those who viewed themselves as undesirable, as unworthy of love and compassion and to show those that are proud an arrogant that they are not superior to anyone else.

A man who claimed to have said what you do to the least of these you do unto me. A man who washed his disciples feet and called all men friend.

Christianity on the other hand is based on letters attributed to Paul both disputed and undisputed which lays the ground work for the basic tenants and doctrines of Christianity. Paul although he does speak of Jesus’ teachings is more concerned with preaching about Jesus as a divine fulfillment of the Jewish messianic hope to all mankind than preaching the message of Jesus himself.  Christianity has been almost since the beginning a source of in- group / out group identification, telling people they are evil and bad, who are in desperate need of salvation, that they are not worthy of Jesus’ compassion which he gave freely and abundantly without stipulation while alive.

Convincing people Jesus is superior when Jesus was trying to do away with such notions.

Teaching people they must worship someone who lived his life worshipping others and who was admittedly against allowing anyone to worship him in life.

Using Christian ideologies to persecute others and their way of life. When Jesus embraced these same people and accepted them for their differences and shortcoming and never insisted that they change.

Jesus alive or dead, real or fictional, abstract or concrete can be nothing more than a model, an outline, a way of life worthy of pursuit. But, that is all nothing more nothing less an idol to look up to. A goal to strive for.

But, you are not he nor will you ever be and  that is ok and I think Jesus would like it better that way. He would celebrate the fact that you are unique and authentic,  that you are treating others humanely, and would remind you to always put people above any religious doctrine, traditions, or interpretations.

I find it to be very anti -Jesus to be a Christian.

Entertaining the Notion of an Afterlife

Entertaining the Notion of an Afterlife

By Alan D. Griffin

I do not think consciousness exists after your death nor does it need to. Every moment “you” experience in life was “you” but only for that moment. That “you” no longer exists in much the same way that yesterday no longer exists.

Are “you” the same person after reading this then “you” were before you read it? Of course not.

Just as “you” are not the same person “you” were at 5 years old or 10 years old. And who “you” will be tomorrow or 10 or 20 years is not who “you” are now.

So when people ask will “I” continue to exist or will my consciousness exist after my death? 

Or state that they believe they will continue to exist after death.

My answer or response is which ” I” , which consciousness, do you speak of? 

The ” I” you were in high school?

The ” I” you were yesterday?

The ” I” asking the question? 

The ” I” you will be tomorrow?

The ” I” at the moment of your Death?

 I would say none of these exist anymore whether you are alive or dead.

Your consciousness, or what some refer to as a “soul” or” spirit” is simply an amalgamation of your past experiences, how you perceived those past experiences, how you attempt to utilize both your past experiences and your perception of those experiences to predict future outcomes. Based on this you experience and perceive your present moment. This is constantly changing from moment to moment, experience to experience, and perception to perception. So what you call ” you” is ever changing and never remains consistent.

So what is one actually hoping for with the notion of an afterlife? That ” you” will continue to exist? Well that simply cannot be. This “you” cannot even outlive the moment you presently find your self in.

The best we can do is understand this and make the most of each and every unique experience of each moment through our unique perspective and by doing this realize each moment has meaning, has morality, has reason, and has purpose, but only for that unique moment. 

” Death is going to sleep and never waking up just as being born is waking up after never gone to sleep” – Alan Watts

What is the Purpose and Meaning of Life?

What is the Purpose and Meaning of Life?

By Alan D Griffin

The question of what is the purpose or meaning of life is one of the big questions everyone asks themselves. 

The answer is simply that there is no overarching purpose or universal meaning to life. 

You as an individual must discover what your purpose is and only you can determine what it is in your life which  has meaning. 

The key is to live a truly unique, original, and authentic life.

In the most  broad  and general sense it is to experience and be a part of other’s experiences. To Experience as much as possible and to move toward more novel experiences, in a way that produces the kind of experiences we want to experience. 

The goal it seems at least to me is to experience everything that is possible for one indiviidual or species to experience. 

Then there is death, the  last experience, there should be no fear of any experience especially the most mysterious experience of all. Death should be the exclamation point of all your other experiences.

 This is not the same as nihilism. Nihilism is the philosophy that life has no meaning. I believe life has meaning but the meaning is relative based on experiences.

I create myself a little everyday based on prior experiences and my perception of those experiences.

We are closer now to what we are going to be than we ever were before.

The neat thing about this question is that virtually everyone asks themselves this question and the answer can only be given by the one asking the question.