Monday, October 15, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again

Hello darlings, Pretty Lady is terribly sorry to be neglecting you. But it is time for her Autumn Fast, and she is wont to be a Bit Testy at times. Though this year is better than last, since she and her Gentleman Friend have been engaging in all sorts of Nesting behaviors, such as trolling antique stores, and the electrical aisle at Home Depot, which always puts her in a cheery mood.

Also, this priceless tidbit has given her quite the belly laugh:

[Hitchens] had just told us in strong terms about the failures of religion and its detrimental effect on our culture, and now he was explaining to us how the solution in the Middle East was to simply kill everyone who disagreed with you. He didn't relate the two parts of his talk, which was unfortunate.

...while I agree with his goal of working towards a rational, secular world, a triumph of enlightenment values, I disagree entirely with his proposed strategy, which seems to involve putting a bullet through every god-haunted brain.
What has Pretty Lady been telling you dears, about the Evolution of Moral Reasoning?

For this adorable little tandem of diatribes makes it crystal clear that a person's literal beliefs, or lack thereof, have nothing to do with the mode of reasoning, or similar lack thereof, used to arrive at them.

In the case of the redoubtable Mr. Hitchens, we have our Classic Case Study of the Stage One Moral Mind, better known as the Malignant Narcissist Pitching a Tantrum. Whether he screams 'Reason!' or 'Satan!' or 'Me me me me me!' as the fundamental tenet of his alleged belief system, matters not a whit. It is, simply, All About Him. This type of person is incapable of perceiving the separate existence or fundamental value of beings outside his own tiny, contracted, underdeveloped ego-mind.

Thankfully, a sizeable majority of human beings outgrow this stage once they move past the Terrible Twos. However, if a person remains mired in this psychospiritual mindset through adulthood, little short of Divine Revelation--with attendant lightening bolts--will alter his or her perceptions. Fortunately, this sort of thing happens with epidemic frequency. Which Should Tell You.

(It should be farther noted that mere intellectual capacity has no bearing whatsoever upon a person's level of moral development. Obviously our friend Mr. Hitchens is possessed of sufficient native wit to have acquired a book contract and numerous speaking engagements, and even goes potty all by himself.)

Our dear befuddled PZ, on the other hand, exemplifies the Stage Three Moral Mind, otherwise known as the Mostly Harmless Skeptic. He has, willy-nilly, absorbed the moral Rule Book of the Stage Two set, and is now confidently Striding Forth in his opinions, far enough to question the notion that the Rule Book was Divinely Inspired. However, he does not go so far as to pitch the rules out the window; thus the notion of systemic genocide makes the dear man a wee bit uncomfortable. When such individuals as PZ are in charge, things may go Horribly Wrong, but not usually because of wilfully Malicious Intent. These boys do their honest best with the tools at their disposal, and Pretty Lady honors them for it.

(For Pretty Lady's views on Stage Four Moral Reasoning, please see the rest of her archives.)

What Pretty Lady hopes is crystal clear, however, is that the notion that one may control one's environmental circumstances, including the behavior of others, solely through the machinations of one's ego-self is the TRULY irrational position. Reason is a splendid thing; would that more of us, including scientists, would apply it.


Desert Cat said...

For Pretty Lady's views on Stage Four Moral Reasoning, please see the rest of her archives.

Can't seem to locate it, either with google or with the site search bar above. Clue?

Pretty Lady said...

It's all that 'all paths lead to the same place, All is One, Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself' stuff that so annoys you, DC.

Chris Rywalt said...

I have a question regarding moral stages, sort of. On my way home yesterday I was thinking of your dictum (borrowed from somewhere else I can't remember right now) "The world is unfolding as it should."

Where does that put personal responsibility? If all actions are part of the world unfolding as it should, then no actions are wrong or harmful or evil or anything. They're all part of the proper functioning of the world.

I once asked a Catholic priest of my acquaintance why Judas was in Hell. It seemed to me, I reasoned, that Judas was just doing what needed to be done by betraying Jesus.

The priest replied that first, Judas wasn't in Hell for betraying Jesus. He was in Hell for committing suicide. Also for not asking for forgiveness, which he would have (of course) received. And as far as needing to betray Jesus goes, plenty of people were out for Jesus' hide -- Judas was not necessarily required to fulfill the Scriptures.

My point here, though, is not to discuss Christian dogma, but to point out that I've been asking a variation on the question for some time (since college when I knew the priest, anyway).

Anonymous said...

He was at the center of an important constitutional law case, School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp, back in the late 1950s.

I hope that what PZ writes about Abington Township v. Schempp ( is not typical of his blog WRT to accuracy. The case was decided in June 1963. Since I had just finished Kindergarten at that time and prefer to think of my school days as taking place in the sixties, I object to PZ's characterization of the case as "back in the late 1950s".

Pretty Lady said...

Chris, the quote you are referring to is from the Desiderata: "And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

Or, in other words, 'don't worry.'

Or, as Pretty Lady has been saying and saying and saying, 'You cannot possibly know the ultimate consequences of any action, unless you have access to universal consciousness. So do your best with what you've got, and turn the rest over to the Holy Spirit.'

This does not, in itself, obviate the notion of evil; it merely asserts that evil cannot possibly overcome, because to do so would violate the unified fabric of the universe from which all things arise in the first place.

BTW, I strongly suspect that Judas is not only not in Hell, but that he and Jesus cooked up that 'betrayal' stunt between them.

Chris Rywalt said...

I've read so many reworkings of the early Christian mythos I can't even tell which detail comes from which half the time. I think Judas was still the betrayer in Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, but I don't think he even existed in Behold the Man. I'm sure there's one where Jesus and Judas worked up the basis for Christianity together.

Chris Rywalt said...

Anyway, it seems to me you've still wiped out evil. If no one can possibly know the ultimate consequences of any action, then even murder could be a good thing. In fact, must be a good thing, if the universe is indeed unfolding as it should. Unless it only unfolds mostly as it should, with occasional setbacks, which get corrected later. In which case, what, we let evil acts go because we know eventually they'll be taken care of?

Pretty Lady said...

Have you ever noticed how the Bible defines the Fall as 'and then they had knowledge of Good and Evil'? At least the King James version says Good and Evil; the Catholic one that G.F. has says 'knowledge of Good and Bad.'

In other words, our making a distinction between good and evil IS the problem in the first place. It's a split, an entrance into time, cause and effect, action and consequence, a separation from timeless unity.

Evil acts occur; they can and shall be atoned for. 'Atone': 'At One.' No separation. No cause, effect or consequence. No good or bad.

If I'm being uncharacteristically brief, it's because I hashed this issue out at enormous length a few weeks ago with someone who has been accusing me of being an evil New Age softie for quite some time now, and am rhetorically spent.

Desert Cat said...

I currently have a little different take on the meaning of "knowing good and evil", and just what the fruit was.

I'm sure you must be familiar with the Akashic record? I submit that there is something beyond that even, called "The Archive" when it was presented to me as a temptation in a vision. Not just a record of all that has occurred, but an archive containing tomes upon tomes upon tomes describing how anything *anything* can be done. Vast knowledge that would enable the creation of things only dreamed of, inventions, breakthroughs, you name it. Vast stacks, accessed through an index...that "they" don't let you access directly. They must guide you. (Mm hm. No thanks. Because their appearance--wingless dragons, "basilisks" the called themselves--made it clear to me who I was dealing with.)

But I theorize that it was *that* knowledge with which our progenitors were tempted and succumbed. The knowledge of all things. Things for good and things for evil, (as well as the dawning awareness of the distinctions between them).

An innocent young child has no concept that he/she is capable of evil. But at some point in one's maturing process there is a realization of one's capacity to execute a terrible wrongness, and at that point true innocence is lost.

The problem is, our progenitors placed themselves in the hands of the enemy to seek out the answers to their questions, instead of trusting in the complete providence of God. Their separation came--fellowship was broken--because they chose to not trust God for all things.

And they knew fear when they realized the degree to which they were capable of violating the just precepts of their Creator, and worse that they had indeed just done so.

Re: Judas, there is precedent in the Old Testament of God using an evil man to accomplish his will. To paraphrase (too lazy to look up the reference): "(Certain) evil must come, but woe to him by whom it comes!" Thus just the fact that it worked to God's ultimate plan does not forgive the evildoer in God's sight. Elsewhere in the New Testament there is a similar discussion on this topic.

Yes, it sometimes annoys me, but I try to put myself at an objective distance to the concepts and consider it respectfully. You're way deeper than the typical New-Age fluffhead, and I'd be making a grave error to not give your thoughts serious consideration.

Chris Rywalt said...

Uh, okay. My initial reaction is to state that I now realize I'm dealing with two complete wackos. But that's unfair. Who am I to make fun of someone else's enlightened vision? Just because nothing so insane has ever happened to me. I shouldn't be so smug.

I used to know a lot about the mystic interpretations of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and all that. At the moment my brain isn't retrieving any of that, though. Not sure why. Even though it's early in the morning for me right now, I feel like I'm at the tail end of a long party. Brain not working. Eyeballs sluggish.

Desert Cat said...

Ooga booga! Don't worry Chris. I'm not concerned about being judged a wacko by you. Go ahead if you must.

Just as a matter of detail, it was induced by the meditative listening to a Dr. Jeffrey Thompson tape--"Awakened Mind". He is a researcher in brainwave entrainment technology. What he did was to take the recorded brainwave patterns of swamis, yogis, etc. when they were in a deep meditative state and created an entrainment pattern to match. To me it was quite unsurprising (in retrospect--once I did a little research into what I'd seen) to come face to face with that aspect of their paradigm.

Chris Rywalt said...

That actually sounds really, really interesting.

I was just thinking -- I think of this often -- that what I really want is my own isolation tank. Oddly enough, I heard comedian and all-around oddball Joe Rogan has one in his house, which he's used with DMT. Which would explain why he's completely insane, which would explain why he shows up on Opie & Anthony totally baked all the time.

Desert Cat said...

DMT is something I haven't tried at this point. I have the ingredients for Ayahuasca--just never got around to having everything right for it-- set/setting and required undisturbed time.

Pretty Lady said...

DC, would you believe that an old friend of mine is now living in Brazil with a man who produces 'the highest-quality ayahuesca in the Amazon'? She's got two children by him, now. She left Florida in 2001 with about $600 saved from waiting tables, stayed with me in Mexico for a few months, then continued south on foot with a band of gypsies and pack mules, and never came back. She emails me about once a year, but since she's living in the jungle she doesn't get to a computer very often.

Pretty Lady said...

Regarding The Archive--that sounds very similar to the library space described by Michael Newton, that doctor who specializes in regressing people to past-life and between-life memories, in his book 'Destiny of Souls.' Only the library he describes is primarily used for reviewing lives, decisions made, and the possible outcomes of paths not taken.

I do not regard knowledge itself as inherently corrupting--it is the intention behind the USE to which such knowledge is put which can be good or evil. Good, in my mind, is simply being in harmony and alignment with the will of God. Evil is the intention to separate oneself from the will of God.

Mystics tell us that separation isn't actually possible, of course; thus when a person tries to oppose God's will, he is still used by God in some way, but HE is smashed to flinders in the process.

BTW, have you read 'People of the Lie' by M. Scott Peck? My conception of evil was strongly influenced by that book.

Desert Cat said...

it is the intention behind the USE to which such knowledge is put

Right. And since I was not going to be permitted to peruse and research on my own, I knew that whatever I did would be under the direction (subtle or otherwise) of those who would guide my searches. To what use did they intend to put me?

It also occurred to me that they could not have exclusive access to the knowledge therein, even though access to this Archive was only through them. God himself knows everything, including what's in the Archive. And anything that I actually *need* to know he will tell me.

I'd never heard of or read that book.

Desert Cat said...

Here is more on Dr Thompson's research and his brainwave entrainment CD's. You can order them right from that site, or they are probably also available through most book and music vendors.

Chris Rywalt said...

Thanks, DC. I actually spent a little while yesterday looking over the site and looking for more information elsewhere. Curiously, I expected a page on Wikipedia debunking the whole thing -- Wikipedia's good for that -- but didn't find anything much one way or the other. It seems no one quite knows enough about the brain and how it works to have a good idea about whether this works or is nuts.

So let me ask you: You had this experience solely by listening to this CD? Were you using anything else like cannabis, LSD, a great blowjob, anything?

Chris Rywalt said...

I have read People of the Lie but it's been a long, long time. I honestly don't remember much about it. What I can remember is that Peck is extremely Christian but that he has some good ideas.

Desert Cat said...

At that time I had nothing else going on, just reclining in my hammock chair. But do know I'm no stranger to listening and watching with my inner senses--meditation if you will. Someone who pays no attention to their inner world may get little from the CD's.

The experience was like a waking dream, which makes it not unlike certain chemically-induced altered states I've experienced. Things unfolded in my head as I sat back listening to the CD, and the above was a focused and sustained sequence--a vision. TBH it's never happened to me since then while listening, although it almost always places me in a mildly altered state.

Doom said...

I had to laugh at this one. No, not because it is wrong. It just struck my funny bone. As well, I see myself at various stages when I am tired, hungry, sleepy, or otherwise stressed. And, sometimes I drop a level just because I can be a kid at heart. Childish ways and all.

But the last part was what really got me going. I guess, since I came to an understanding with God, I really do not worry about control of my environment, or even myself. Sure, I still try to do what is best for me, and those around me, certainly. But, I do not worry so much (mostly, I'm working on it), nor do I have a doubt that I am his tool, willingly or not (sometimes, yes, I fall even if this doesn't affect his design at all. Must be nice. :)

Anyway, I thought I'd drop a note and send my love. Platonic, sincere, friendly love. Be well.