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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Substituting your own judgement for God's

It's not smart in principle, but the reality is that we don't have access to God's wisdom. The Bible was targeted toward the illiterate peasants that have always composed 95% of humanity. Even the intelligent and/or educated are not so far beyond them that the message is irrelevant. Even a supergenius eats, sleeps, and reproduces- shares the same environment as all other humans.

Incidentally, I think that the "asthetic sense" is the only "higher pleasure," the only human drive that is not straightforwardly derived from evolutionary psychology or some equivalent biological theory; this sense, combined with high intelligence, produces the individuals that L. von Mises calls "creative geniuses." I do think it can be described mechanistically, so I share the view of Neal Stephenson's fictionalized Dr. Leibniz on that. In fact, that sort of dualism- simultaneous naturalistic and spiritual explanations that are completely self-reliant but coincide in all observable results- is the underpinning of my philosophical investigations. But I digress.

Are there layers and layers of meaning in the Bible that can be peeled away by successive human civilizations and ever-greater intellects to yield new insights that are irrelevant to the peasants who cannot even conceive of their existence? Maybe. In fact, I guarantee that there are, but those avenues I've explored aren't that helpful.

Extramarital sex- is it immoral? Puritans say yes. Reading Noadic law and the Torah and even, questionable though they seem, the writings of John, seem to indicate that it's all good so long as the social structures provide for the offspring's health and development. That leaves us three or more categories of readers.
1) The peasants- marry, mate, and raise the offspring in accordance with their understanding. History says this model works. Adultery and unwed mothers are frowned upon, but the "real" reason for this is that the children are either uncared for or charged to the wrong man's accounts.
2) Heretics- Like peasants, but they live like animals. If not for the welfare state, they would be repeatedly wiped out by plagues and wars like in all previous epochs.
3) Cosmopolitans- the 5%. They have the capacity for abstract thought and as a result they do what they want. Their lives illustrate the aphorism "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
4) Creative geniuses - generally focused on their work, so they behave like peasants, ie, socially conventional with occasional drastic departures from the norm.

Plenty more, and anyway, I don't like arbitrary categorization because it's only the first step toward developing an axiomatic theory.

But the point is we all draw different things from the same immutable Word of God.

So is there more room for discretion for a supergenius? A judge is allowed to sentence someone to death due to his experience and the ideological might of the government. An individual is not. Yet both are equally constrained not to murder.

I'm out of time for today.

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