Nature of Reality, Will the Real YHWH Please Step Forward, 5) About Reality…
YHWH in the Dead Sea Scrolls
“My” Car, My Imagination
We need to see the difference between reality and imagination, between real things or real knowledge about something that is real, and knowledge about an idea.
Bear with me, there is a point to all of these seeming distractions…
I am going to describe my ideal car. My car is sleek and efficient, and uses only a gallon of fuel a year. It is very strong, can haul a semi-tractor-trailer rig with no problems. My car can beat your car in all categories. It is faster than any other car, never breaks down and never needs repairs. I could park it on the sun and it would not get hot, in the snow it doesn’t get cold. I can drive it in the water and it will not sink, the tires act like paddle wheels both powering the car and steering the car. I could use it as a tugboat to haul the USS Ronald Reagan.
This is one way to describe “my car.” I define what I mean and call it mine, a perfectly legitimate use of English. Everyone is OK as ling as I am not under the illusion that it is a real car.
Here is another way to describe my car.
My car is a five year old Subaru Forrester with 72,000 miles and paint issues, it gets about 25 MPG.
The point here is that I can imagine something that isn’t real, or, I can go examine the car and get the specific details at are real. Both can be called “my car,” in English. We can use that term for real or imaginary terms. I could insist and refuse to change my mind that my car (the imagery one) is real and refuse to listen to reasonable questions, or even to the direct evidence (someone showing me my Subaru). In other words, you could march me out to my driveway and show it to me and I could refuse to believe it even though I use it every day as it really is.
To believe that something is real which is not real is called a superstition (remember that word) or a delusion according to the specifics of the belief.
If I make an admixture of true and imaginary beliefs about my car, say, that I believe my Subaru only uses a gallon of gas a year no matter how far I drive it, then I am deluded. If I believe god is a pole I carved and set up out on the corner, that is a superstition. If I simply make up a god, or allow some other person to make up what they want to believe about god, that is a superstition if they think it is real.
A professor at Stanford said, if there is a true God, then believing what is true about that God is not a religion, it is a belief in what is true.
In a very real sense, a religion is something people make up to try to reach god(s) or God.
Anyone who has raised children understands that they first deal in concrete things, what is, and then start to use abstract thinking which includes making things up.
This isn’t necessarily bad, or we wouldn’t have Lord of the Rings or the Tails of Narnia, Star Trek or Star Wars, Pride and Prejudice or Romeo and Juliette, but we must understand the difference between the two.
That which is made up exists in minds and is communicated through stories, and never the twain shall meet, except that they do intersect, and then we need to study to see what is real and what is not.
The Apotheosis of George Washington
Here is a story about someone you will recognize about an admixture of true and untrue things:
He was a noble but common person with strong character, and though he had a strong sense of loyalty to the government and served it well for decades, he was appointed to lead the revolution against that government. Being a strong leader, he refused to take leadership of the new country until he was chosen by his peers to lead the new government. He also fought deification by his peers, that is, they wanted to give him titled of nobility, he refused. Cities are now named for him, monuments created, his image is on money, he is called the “father” of the country. He was glorified by his countrymen and, I have seen the painting where he is in fact treated as a deity, but only in the painting. It is in the Capitol rotunda and it is called the Apotheosis of Washington, or, his deification.
I took a picture of it, he would be the person at the bottom of the middle ring, the position of the god.
When his father noted that a cherry tree was cut down, and asked who had done it, he was so honest that he immediately confessed and told his father he had.
He was so strong that he once through a silver coin across the Potomac River.
He had lost his teeth, and had wooden dentures carved for himself.
If you are knowledgeable about everything stated above you can divide the truth from the false by the photo itself, that is, everything above the photo is true, and that below, false.
So we can make up false stories about real things.
With Washington, it went a little further, though no one ever worshiped George Washington, but in the Natural History Museum there is a statue of good old George dressed and poised as Zeus.
So, why Zeus, and who was he?
We shall see in a later chapter after we see who YHWH is so we can compare and contrast the two.
For this chapter, it is sufficient to say that I can make things up and call them “mine,” and I can own real things and call them “mine,” like my car, and I can call other things “mine” and tell you true or false things about them. I could tell you about my kids, and, say, brag too much, or, about Yosemite, and brag about it, but you would understand it is “mine” only in that it is owned by the government that at least calls itself the government of, by, and for the people.
I can also make gods out of real people (Roman emperors called themselves gods), or as with Washington, we can simply make things up about them. The stories can be mixed with reality in any kind of admixture.
This is how language works, how cultures work.
Picture for the next few moments the Lincoln Memorial, hereinafter just referred to as “Lincoln”. Take only the marble seated figure, not the building, not the man, the rock.
Is it alive?
No? How do you know Lincoln isn’t alive?
Well, what is it made up of? What are the components of this thing we are discussing? While the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, this only goes so far.
With Lincoln, the statue never moves, it is unchangeable, immutable, immovable, impassible (it means having no passion, no pain or emotions, no happiness, no unhappiness, no sadness, no joy, no jealousy, no wrath, it doesn’t like or love, abhor or detest things).
It is impersonal, that is, has no personality, and so is not a person (remember, we are not talking about Abraham Lincoln, rather the Lincoln Memorial Statue). It was put into place in 1921 (it opened May 30, 1922, statue made by Daniel French, 1920), and has not yet moved. It was moved into place by men, in three pieces, put there, and does not have the power to move itself, it is immovable, immobile, inanimate. It is in the perfect position, at least according to certain people who first described it, notably Henry Bacon, the architect, and, if it moved, it would no longer be in that position and so not be the monument we all know and love, they could have made a statue of Adonis from the same marble, it would not have been Lincoln. But it would have largely had the same characteristics, would it not? So we can attribute equality to equal things because A=A, and to dissimilar things we say they are different. Let’s compare Abraham Lincoln to our “Lincoln” and to Adonis made from the same marble:
Impassible, or Impassioned?
Abraham Lincoln 1863
Mobile (until they killed him)
Lincoln Statue or Abraham Lincoln?
So our marble Adonis is more similar to Lincoln than Lincoln is similar to Abraham Lincoln himself.
Fortunately for us Lincoln is inanimate. I went there in 1974, several times since, and in 2005 it was still there, it hadn’t moved at all. It never changes, in fact, it cannot change, it is inanimate.
The word “inanimate” has a duel meaning. The core word means it doesn’t move. The secondary meaning “inanimate” acquired and is almost exclusively used to mean is that it isn’t alive. Things that are not alive don’t move unless moved upon, i.e. some force moves them.
Grinding Away Lincoln, A Mind Experiment
Bear with me, this will make sense much later.
In your mind, grind away the marble of Lincoln until it is a slab of marble 1” tall. You can keep the original footprint if you like, that footprint is 19 feet square.
Now we have lost Lincoln, the marble memorial itself is almost gone.
But, not good enough for my no dimensions metaphor, you still have a 19’x19’ x1” tall three dimensional something, you need to remove all the dimensions. You need to grind away that last inch of marble to remove the dimensions, otherwise the footprint of the statue continues to exist. You have to grid away that last inch. Once that height is gone, so is the length and width.
Your mind experiment is almost complete, but next, I want to visit Lincoln. Where do I go to do so?
“But wait” you say, “Lincoln is no place!”
“Right you are,” is the only thing I can say. “Lincoln was here, now he is not, Lincoln is gone!”
If not the adverb where, then when can I go see him?
Sorry, there is no time left. You cannot see him “now” because “now” is current time, and Lincoln does not “now” exist in my thought experiment.
Lincoln no longer exists in time, it is no longer subjected to the dimensions.
We have killed Lincoln, again. Oh, Captain! My Captain!
Apologies for the Emo-moment
How to Make a Mummy
How to Make a Mummy
Mummies? Seriously? Here are some photos I took in the Cairo Museum:
The question here is, how do you make a living being into an inanimate object? The simple answer is, you remove any characteristic of a living thing, plus things that rapidly deteriorate him. This can be done slowly, and we have unfortunate examples, but let’s use a murderer who will be executed for his crimes. First he is arrested (the word means “stopped”), then chained, and then incarcerated. In other words you limit his ability to move, one step at a time.
Freedom is a fundamental characteristic of a free person, but every living person has degrees of freedom. After the trial and appeals, he is taken to an even smaller cell, he experiences even less freedom. Finally, heavily chained, he can hardly move except to shuffle down that last hallway.
Though the term “dead man walking” is used, it is out of respect for the last minutes of a living man’s life.
We can tell he is alive because he is moving, he is animate. He still has a degree of freedom because he is choosing when to inhale and exhale, where to step, etc. He is strapped to a table where he has even less freedom of movement, mostly his head can move, he is still alive. He is then killed by a mixture of drugs. The attending doctor knows he is dead when all motion has stopped and even his breathing and heart have stopped. All motion is gone, the person is inanimate, not moving, dead.
Forgive this gruesome illustration, but the point is that to kill a living being you take away all of the aspects of making him alive as defined by movements.
The evangelicals and their theological line of reasoning have done exactly this to YHWH by dosing him slowly with Socrates’ Greek hemlock. They removed all of his freedoms, freedom of thought and of movement, put him in box made in Greece, put a Christmas ribbon on it, Augustine sealed it up, never to be opened again.
What does this have to do with a mummy?
Everything is inanimate, dead, nothing moves, learns, grows, nurtures, none of the things a living being does can be done by Calvin’s god.
This isn’t YHWH.
Fortunately with the mummy pictured, this was a natural death, so much of what is needed to make the mummy, or to make a living being into a non-living being is done by nature, and here, some needs to be done by humans to preserve the tissues.
The brain and internal organs have high food value to fungi, bacteria, and insects, and so the fellow above has had these remove (he was no longer using them anyway), and they place them for storage into beautiful alabaster receptacles with carved figures as lids, as pictured. This alabaster box is Tutankhamen’s, it has four chambers.
You drain fluids, and generally dry the character out until there is only a shell left of the living being that used to be the Pharaoh, or wealthy person, perhaps a favored servant, even your cat.
Why the two illustrations, an execution and a mummy? Because the executed individual illustrates the slow removal of the freedom of movement and the mummy illustrates that you can still have, long after he has died, some semblance of what there originally was. If you knew the person you might recognize the mummy. But, as you know, they removed parts of the original. The executed man lost freedoms, the mummy lost physical parts, both are illustrations of something being removed, and something that can be done to living beings.
With the mummy you start with a total person then start removing freedoms, movement, and parts until you have, in New Jersey parlance, a “stiff,” a euphemism for a dead guy.
He is inanimate (he doesn’t move), immutable or inert (he doesn’t change), to be redundant, he is unchanging (the mummy pictured has been like this for 2600 years), he is an undifferentiated simple unity. He is impassible (it means having no passions, no emotions). He is dead.
The mummy was once considered a god, he made things, had a will, changed his mind, grew in character and knowledge, moved his position, he walked around, and ate things, he did other things living beings do, but then he died. They removed all the things that helped make him who he was a left only a shell. They made a mummy out of him.
My point here is simply that this is what modern theology has done to YHWH. This is how the Evangelicals, and most non-Evangelical Christians, most Christian denominations have killed YHWH and what is left behind is more like the mummy. Yes, we can wheel him out for people to look at and talk about the great things he did in the past, but that is over now, and this stiff is all that remains.
YHWH has been replaced with a non-living thing much as Lincoln is, somewhat like the mummy, but even more like the prisoner who slowly lost all of his freedoms. One at a time the freedoms YHWH illustrates he has in the Bible were eliminated from Christian theology. YHWH was killed slowly by removing his parts, his degrees of freedom.