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Okay, well I thought this time that I would actually
cover some of the biblical stories.
So, and, hopefully a number of them. Um.
As I said last time, I'm going to go through this,
well, as fast as I am able to,
I want to do as complete a job as possible
and of course, the probability that I'll get through the entire Bible is very low.
But we'll get through a lot of the major stories in the beginning of it
and that's a good start.
And then, you know, assuming that this all goes well
then maybe I'll try to do the same thing again either in the fall or next year.
Assuming everything is still working out properly next year.
It's a long ways away.
Alright, so...
I guess we'll start.
So, last week I talked to you about a line in the New Testament that was from John,
and it was line that was designed to parallel the opening of Genesis.
And it's a really important line and I thought
I would reemphasize it.
Because the Bible is a book that's been written
forward and backwards in time,
in some sense, like most books.
Because if you write a book, of course,
when you get to the end, if you're the writer,
you can adjust the beginning and so on.
So it has this odd appearence of linearity
but it really isn't linear.
It's like you're God, in some sense,
standing outside of time,
that's your book,
and you can play with time anywhere along it.
And the people who put the books together took full advantage of that,
and that makes the story...
It gives the story odd parallels in many, many places
And this is one of the major parallels, at least
from the perspective of the Christian interpretation of the Bible,
which of course includes the New Testament.
And so, there's this strange idea
that Christ was the same factor or force
that God used at the beginning of time to speak habitable order into being.
And that's a very very strange idea,
you know,
it's not something that can be just easily dimissed as superstition
partly because it's so strange.
It doesn't even fit the definiton of a superstitious belief.
It's a dream-like belief, in some sense,
and what I see many of the ideas in the Bible as
is these dream-like ideas that
underlie our normative cognition and
that constitute the ground from which our more
articulated and explicit ideas have emerged.
And this one idea is so complicated that it's still mostly embedded in dream-like form
But it seems to have something to do with the primacy of consciousness,
and this is one of the biggest issues regarding the structure of reality,
as far as I can tell,
because everyone from physicists to neurobiologists debates this.
The stumbling block for a purely objective view of the world seems to me to be consciousness.
And consciousness has all sorts of strange properties, for example:
it isn't obvious what constitutes time or at least duration in the absence of consciousness.
And it isn't also easy to understand what constitutes Being in the absence of consciousness,
because it seems to be the case...
Well, if a movie is running, and there's no one to watch it
- I know it sound like the tree in a forest idea, but it's not that idea at all -
if a movie is running and no one's watching it,
then in what sense can you say that there's even a movie running?
Because the movie seems to be the experience of the movie,
not the objective elements of the movie.
And there's something about the world, at least insofar as we're in it as human beings,
that is dependent on conscious experience of the world.
Now, of course, you can take consciousness out of the world and say:
well, if none of us were here, if there was no such thing as consciousness,
then the cosmos would continue running the way it is running,
but, of course, it depends on what exactly you mean by the cosmos
when you make a statement like that,
because there's something about the subjective experience of reality
that gives it reality.
Or at least that's one way of looking at it.
And since we're all pretty enamored of our own consciousnesses,
although they're painful, because they define our Being,
it's not unreasonable to give consciousness a kind of metaphysical primacy.
And it's a deeper idea than that,
because there are physicists and they're not trivial physicists,
like John Wheeler,
who believes that in some sense consciousness plays a constitutive role
in transforming the chaotic potential of being into the actuality of Being.
He actually thinks about it - he's not alive anymore, but
he actually thought about it as playing a constitutive role.
And then, from the neurobiological perspective,
or from the scientific perspective,
counsciousness is not something we understand,
I don't think we understand it at all.
It's something we can't get a handle on
with our fundamental materialist philosophy.
And I don't know why that is.
It's quite frustrating if you're a scientist, but it isn't clear to me
that we've made any progress whatsoever in understanding consciousness,
even though, well, we've been trying to understand it for hundreds of years
and even though psychologists and neurobiologists and so forth
have really put a lot of effort into understanding consciousness from a scientific perspective
in the last 50 years.
Anyways, what seems to me is the idea
that God used the Word to extract habitable order out of chaos
at the beginning of time, which is roughly the right way of thinking about it,
seems to me deeply allied with the idea that
what it is that we do as human beings is encounter something like a formless and potential chaos,
I mean, we're not omniscient, obviously, and we can't just do whatever we want,
but we encounter a formless and chaotic potential.
That's always what we're grappling with
and somehow we use our consciousness to give that form,
and this is how people act.
Like, if you look at how they regard themselves, it's how they act,
because you say things to people, like: You shoud live up to your potential.
And you make a case that there's something about a person
that's more than what is, that yet could be,
if only they participated in the process properly.
And everyone knows what that means, no one acts like a mystery has been uttered
when you say that.
And you can see a situation in your own life that's full of potential,
you're often extremely excited when you encounter something that's full of potential
because what you see is something what could be, you see a future beckoning for you,
that could be if only you interacted with it properly,
and it activates your nervous system, in a very basic way
we even understand how that happens, to the degree that we understand how the nervous system works
because the systems that mediate positive emotion,
which are governed roughly by the neurochemical dopamine
and which have their roots way down in the ancient hypothalamus,
a very very archaic and fundamental part of the brain,
that responds to potential, which is the possibility of accruing something new and valuable,
it responds to potential with active movement forward and engagement,
and so we're engaged in the world that has potential and it looks like consciousness does that.
And so there's this idea that -
- and this is the main idea that I think is being put forth in Genesis I -
it's something like -
and you see this in mythology:
from what I've been able to gather, there's always three causal elements
that make up Being at the bottom of world mythology:
One is the formless potential that makes up Being once it's interacted with,
and that's generally given a feminine nature,
and I think that's because it's like the source from which all things emerge and rise.
It's something like that, it's more complicated than that, but it's something like that.
And then there's some kind of interpretive structure
that has to grapple with that formless potential,
and I think that's the sort of thing that was alluded to
by Immanuel Kant when he was criticizing the notion
that all of our information comes from sense data,
which would be the pure empirical perspective.
Because when you encounter the world,
you encounter it with that cognitive structure that already has shape,
and so it's already in you, this structure,
and without that a priori structure you wouldn't be able to
take the formless potential and give it structure
and I think that's akin in some way to the idea of God the Father,
and I'll try to develop that idea more,
it's the notion that there's something in all of us,
that transcends all of us, that's deeply structural,
that's part of this ancient, I would say evolutionary and cultural process,
that enables us to grapple with the formless potential and bring forth reality, roughly speaking.
And then there's the final element, and that element seems to be
something like consciousness itself, the consciousness that actually inheres in the individual,
so it's not only that you have a structure, it's that the structure has the capacity for action in the world.
And it's like...
You're the spirit that gives the dead structure life, it's something like that.
And, as far as I can tell, the triniterian notion that characterizes Christianity
is something like formless potential, which is never given the status of a deity in Christianity,
and then the notion that there's an a priori interpretive structure
that's a consequence of our ancient existence as Beings,
it goes back as far in time as you can go, the notion of a structure.
And then the idea of a consciousness that is the tool of that structure
and that interacts with the world and gives it reality.
And that's the Word, as far as I can tell,
and so the notion is that there's a father - and that's the structure - and that there's a son that's transcendent,
that characterizes consciousness itself,
and that it's the son - the speaking of the son - that is the active principle that turns chaos into order.
That's such a sophisticated idea, as far as I'm concerned,
because while there's something about it at least phenomenologically accurate,
because you do have an interpretive structure and you couldn't understand anything without it,
your very body is an interpretive structure, it's been crafted over, let's say, three billion years of evolution,
without that, you wouldn't be able to perceive anything
and it's taken a lot of death and struggle and tragedy to produce
you, the thing that's capable of encountering this immense chaos that surrounds us
and to transform it into habitable order.
And then there's the idea, too, of course, that's deeply embedded in the first chapters of Genesis,
which is a staggering idea, you know,
and certainly not one that's likely,
that human beings were made in the image of God,
both male and female were made in the image of God,
and that's of course a very difficult thing to understand,
partly because the God that's referred to in those chapters has a kind of polytheistic element
although it's an element that's moving rapidly towards a unified monotheism,
but it's not also obvious to me why people would come up with that concept,
because I don't really think that when we think about each other we immediately think godlike,
you know, the notion that every single human being,
regardless of their peculiarities and strangenesses and sins and crimes and all of that,
has something divine in them that needs to be regarded with respect,
and that plays an integral role, at least an analogous role,
in the creation of habitable order out of chaos,
that's a magnificent, remarkable, crazy idea,
and yet we developed it, and I do firmly believe that it sits at the base of our legal system,
I think it is the cornerstone of our legal system.
That's the notion that everyone is equal before God, which is, of course,
a completely strange idea, it's very difficult to understand
how anybody could have ever come up with that idea,
because the manifold differences between people are so obvious and so evident
that you could say the natural way of viewing human beings is in this extremely hierarchical manner,
where some people are contemptible and easily brushed off
as pointless and pathological and without value whatsoever.
And all the power accrues to a certain tiny aristocratic minority at the top.
But if you look at the way that the idea of the individual sovereignty developed,
it's clear that it unfolded over thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands of years
before it became something firmly fixed in the imagination
that each individual had something of transcendent value about them,
and I tell you, we dispense with that idea at our serious peril.
And so, if you're going to take that idea seriously,
which you do, because you act it out, otherwise you wouldn't be law abiding citizens,
you act that idea out, it's firmly shared by everyone who acts in a civilized manner.
The question is: Why in the world do you believe it?
Assuming you believe what you act out, which I think is a really good way of fundamentally defining belief.
So that's the sort of ideas, that there's this God of tradition and structure,
that's God the Father, who uses the Son,
which is more of an active force, and primarily something that's verbal,
which I also think is extremely interesting,
because it's associated not with thought precisely, but with speech,
and I think the reason for that is that there's something to speech that's more than mere thought,
and I think part of the reason for that is that speech is a public utterance,
and, at least in principle,
speech is something that's shaped by the existence of everyone else, at least across time,
because when you speak, your speech is put forward in the world as a causal element
and it's also subject to criticism and cooperation and mutual shaping,
and so there's an idea here, too,
that the cognitive processes that bring habitable reality out of uninhabitable chaos
have this collective and public element,
which is part of the reason, by the way,
that I'm an advocate of free speech, let's say, above all,
because I don't think, although it is the case,
for example in the Canadian Bill of Rights,
that every single right has equal value.
That's the theory.
It's an idiotic theory because it's absolutely impossible
for a large set of rights to have absolutely equal standards and stats.
That cannot happen, there's no way that that can ever work,
but that is the legal judgement.
But I think it's a huge mistake, because free speech has this divine quality, let's say,
that you can't escape from, because it's the thing that manufactures everything else,
you know, and I do think that the dream
that you can think of as encapsulated in the stories of Genesis
is the dream by which human beings dreamed up the idea that we would now consider consciousness,
because it took us a long time to figure out the word consciousness,
it's not like it's bloody obvious,
who knows how many thousands of years -
or who knows what struggles we had to undertake to abstract out something like consciousness,
and how we had to represent that dramatically, say, or symbolically,
or in a dream-like fashion, before we could actually
formulate the term and localize that to some degree in people.
It's very sophisticated.
So John makes the case that,
well, there's an emanation of God or an element of God,
the transcendent consciousness, something like that,
that acts directly and in a sort of living way with the underlying potential of the world,
and I think that that's phenomenologically accurate
and I do think that that's the way we regard our lives,
because, you know, when you think about it, too,
we tend to think that what you encounter when you're looking at the world is the material world,
but that isn't how you act.
You do act as if you're in a place of potential
and also in a place of potential that you can actually transform,
which is also something extraordinarily strange, you know,
because we do treat each other as if we're capable of
bringing new forms into the world in some permanent manner.
And we treat each other as if we have free choice and free will,
and perhaps we don't,
but it's certainly the case that societies that are predicated on the idea that we don't
don't do very well.
And societies that are predicated on the idea that we do seem to do a lot better.
Plus, people tend to get very annoyed at you if you treat them
like they're automatons that lack free will,
that's something people find very,
I would say, constraining, slave-like, about that even.
The demand that you don't have actual autonomy-
And even worse that you're not responsible for your choices
It's an insult to someone to suggest to them
that they're not responsible for their choices.
To do that to someone from a legal perspective you have to argue something like diminished capacity
Well you're mentally ill or you don't have the intellectual capacity
Or you were addled by some substance or you had a brain injury or something
and that's why you're not responsible for your actions
Otherwise, part of the respect that you give to another human being
is the assumption that they're responsible for their actions
And some of that can be if you do something bad then you're responsible for it
But part of that too is if you do something good, you're also responsible for that
And that also seems necessary because-
I mean, it's gotta be more annoying than anything else you could imagine to strive virtuously
let's say to produce something of extreme value and then to be treated as if that was a mere deterministic outcome
and that your actual choices had nothing to do with that
People find that sort of thing extraordinarily punishing
I know that there are debates about all these things
and debates about free will and debates about the nature of consciousness but
I'm trying to take a clear look at how people act and how they want to be treated
and then trace it back to these old ideas to see if there's some metaphysical connection
So here's how the book opens
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth
The earth was without form and void,
and darkness was over the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters
Now this is a hard - what would you call - narrative section to get a handle on
Because in order to understand it properly you have to actually look behind it.
So there are a lot of pieces of old stories in the Old Testament that flesh out the meaning of these lines
And I can give you a quick overview of it.
One of the ideas that lurks underneath these lines
Although you can't tell because it's in English
You have to look at the original languages
And of course I don't speak the original languages so I've had to use secondary sources
Too bad for me
But the "without form and void and the deep" idea
You see, that's associated with this notion of endless deep potential
So for example, the words that are used to represent "without form and void"
Are something like - well one is -
I'm going to get this partly wrong
Tohu wa-bohu
and another one is Taom
and it's important to know this because those words are associated with an earlier Mesopotamian word which is
Tiamat. And Tiamat was a dragon-like creature who represented the salt water
And Tiamat had a husband named Apsu
And Tiamat and Apsu were sort of locked together in kind of a sexual embrace
and it was that locking together of Tiamat and Apsu
and I would say that's potential and order- something like that
or chaos and order. They were locked together.
And it was that union of chaos and order that give rise, in the old Mesopotamian myth which is the Enuma Elish, to Being
to the old gods first and then eventually as creation progressed to human beings themselves
and so there's the idea lurking underneath these initial lines
that God is akin to that which confronts the unknown and carves it into pieces and makes the world out of its pieces
and the thing that it confronts is something like a predatory reptile - something like a dragon or it's something like a serpent
and I think part of the reason for that, and this is a very deep and ancient idea, is that -
[exhale] this is where it gets so complicated to do the translation -
partly that is how human beings created our world. Like we went out beyond the confines of our safe spaces, let's say,
our safe spaces defined by the tree or defined by the fire
and we actively voyaged outward to the places that we were afraid of and didn't understand
and conquered and encountered things out there
like literally animals, like mammoths and snakes and predators of all sorts
and as a consequence of that active brave engagement with the domain of what we did not understand -
the terrifying domain of what we did not understand -
that the world in fact was generated
and that idea lurks deeply inside the opening lines of Genesis,
and it's a profound idea in my estimation.
I think also that the way our brains are structured - and this is something that I'm going to try to develop more today - is that
the ancient circuits that our ancestors used to deal with the space beyond which they had already explored
so that would be home territory
so that's that unknown territory
that's characterized by promise
because there are new things out there
but also by intense danger
because we're prey animals
especially millions of years ago
when we were very young
we had to go out there and encounter
things that were terribly dangerous
and there was a kind of paternal courage
that went along with that
and it was the spirit of that paternal courage
that enabled the conquering of the unknown
and there is no difference between
the conquering of the unknown and the
creation of habitable order.
The thing is, that as our cognitive faculties have developed,
to the point where we're capable of very high levels of abstraction,
the underlying biological architecture has remained the same.
So I don't think it's too much to say at all
that the circuits that engage you - for example
when you're having an argument about something fundamental
with someone that you love.
So you're trying to structure the world around you,
jointly, to create a habitable space
that you both can exist within.
You're using the same circuits - the abstracted version - that our archaic ancestors
would have used when they went out into the unknown itself
to encounter beasts and predators and geographical unknowns.
It's the same circuit, it's just that we do it abstractly now instead of concretely.
Of course it has to be the same circuit because evolution is a very conservative force.
What else would it be?
I think this it why it is so easy for us to demonize those people who are our enemies
because
our enemies confront us with what we don't want to see.
And because of that our first response is to use snake detection circuitry on them.
and that accounts for our capacity - almost immediate capacity - to demonize.
And there's a reason for that,
it's not a trivial thing.
First of all it's a very fast response,
and second of all it's a response that has worked for a very very very long time.
You know, one of the variants of the hero -
and I would consider a variant of the hero
like a fragment of the picture of God -
is the heroic warrior who slays the enemy.
Of course, that's not precisely a politically correct representation of the hero in modern times.
Well, and no wonder!
But it's still something that you go watch in movies all the time and admire, right?
It's like, one of the most -
How many plots are there?
Romance and adventure, that's about it.
And most of the adventure genre is,
well, there's some enemy that's lurking in some form -
it could be human, it could be alien -
and someone rises up to go and confront it and maintain order, you know, it's like...
There's no getting away from that story.
And if you don't have that in your own life, then you play a video game where that's happening,
or you watch a movie where that's happening, or you read a book where that's happening
and it captures you.
Even if you're atheistic and your only religion is Star Wars, you know.
[laughter]
Well, really! Really! Right? Really, it still captures your imagination.
You act like someone who's possessed by religious fervor when you line up for three days
to be the first one into the theater, you know.
And all the while claiming that you're atheistic to the core, it's like...
[laughter]
Okay, so, this
"without form and void" is this chaotic -
and it's a hard thing to get a grip on, what exactly this means
But I can give you another kind of example of
how you would experience the formless chaos of potential in your own lives,
and even how the order that you currently inhabit can dissolve into that.
You know, in Dante's Inferno,
when he outlined the levels of Hell -
so Dante was trying to get to the bottom of what constituted evil in this representation,
so it's a work of psychology, and he's thinking,
there are various ways to behave reprehensibly,
but there's a hierarchy of reprehensible behavior, and there's something absolutely
the worst at the bottom.
And Dante believed that it was betrayal.
And I think that's right because, you know,
one of the things that enables
long-term peaceful cooperation between people is trust.
And I would also say that trust is the fundamental natural resource.
There's been some very good books written on the economic utility of trust, for example.
Societies where the default economic presupposition between trading partners is trust
tend to be rich, even if they don't have any natural resources.
You can see that, for example, with what happened with eBay, which I think was a kind of miracle
because what should've happened with eBay was that
you sent me junk, and I sent you a check that bounced, right?
And that was the end of eBay.
[laughter]
Right, right, exactly.
But that isn't what happened!
The default transaction on eBay was so honest that the brokers -
you could hire brokers to begin with, I can't remember what they were called exactly, but
you could pay someone a fee so that they would guarantee the transaction.
So, you know, you wouldn't send me junk and I'd actually send you a payment
and we'd pay 10% for someone to guarantee that.
The default trade was so honest that those things vanished right away.
And so that meant all this frozen capital, roughly speaking, which were all the junk that people
had lying around that someone else might want,
instantly became money. And the only reason that worked was because people trusted one another.
And so, trust is an unbelievably powerful economic force
maybe the most powerful economic force.
Anyways,
if you have a relationship with someone, it's predicated on trust, and part of the reason for that is that
trust is what enables us to look at each other without running away screaming.
And what I mean by that is that if I trust you,
then I don't have to take into account how complicated you are, because you're horribly complicated.
I think chimpanzee full of snakes, that's what a human being is.
[laughter]
And as long as you'll do what you say you'll do,
then I can take you at your word,
and your word simplifies you, and
you can take me at my word, and my word simplifies you, and then we can act like we understand each other
even though we don't.
But then, if that trust is betrayed,
then all the snakes come forth very very rapidly.
All of you, I suspect, have been betrayed one way or another
and so, what happens if you're in a relationship with someone
and you trust them,
then you make certain assumptions about the past, and you make certain assumptions about the present,
and you make certain assumptions about the future.
And everything's stable, so you're standing on solid ground.
And the chaos, it's like you're standing on thin ice.
The chaos is hidden. The shark beneath the waves isn't there. You're safe, you're in the lifeboat.
But then if the person betrays you - like if you're in an intimate relationship and the person has an affair
and you find out about it, then you think,
one moment you're one place, right? You're where everything is secure
because you've predicated your perception of the world on the axiom of trust,
and the next second - really, the next second -
you're in a completely different place.
And not only is that place different right now,
the place you were years ago is different,
and the place you're going to be in the future years hence is different.
And so, all of that certainty
that strange certainty that you inhabit can collapse into incredible complexity.
And you say, well if someone betrays you, you think,
"Okay, who were you?
"Because you weren't who I thought you were.
"And I thought I knew you. But I didn't know you at all.
"And I never knew you, and so all the things we did together,
"those weren't the things that I thought were happening. Something else was happening!
"And you're someone else.
"That means I'm someone else because I thought I knew what was going on, and clearly I don't.
"I'm some sort of blind sucker, or
"the victim of a psychopath or someone who's so naive that they can barely live.
"And I don't understand anything about human beings,
"and I don't understand anything about myself,
"and I have no idea where I am now.
"I thought I was at home, but I'm not. I'm in a house
"and it's full of strangers.
I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow, or next week, or next year."
All of that certainty, that habitable certainty,
collapses right back into the potential from which it emerged.
And that's a terrifying thing.
That's a journey to the underworld from a mythological perspective.
And that is really something worth knowing.
Because journeys to the underworld are extraordinarily common in mythological stories.
Like the hobbit going out to find Smaug, the dragon
and get the gold is the journey into the underworld.
Journeys to the underworld happen all the time, and
modern people don't understand what the underworld is except that we've all been there.
And we go there all the time.
And we go there every time the solidity and the stability
of the world that we've erected, at least partly
through our speech, is shattered because
some sort of snake appears - that's another way of thinking about it.
It's a really good way of thinking about it because
no matter how carefully you construct the little habitable area that's around you, there's always something
you didn't take into account, and there's always something that can pop up its head
and do you in and make you aware of your mortality
and age you, for that matter, or even kill you.
That's the permanent situation of life,
which is part of the reason why I think the story of
Adam and Eve, for example, is archetypal.
It's because we do inhabit walled gardens, right?
Because a walled garden is half structure, society, and
half nature, that's what a walled garden is.
A walled garden is a place of
of paradise and warmth and love
and sustenance, but it's also the place where
something can pop up at any moment and knock you
out of it, and I think part of the reason that that story
exists at the beginning of this collection of books is
because it explains the eternal situation of human beings. We're always in that situation.
We're in a walled garden.
Or we bloody well hope we are.
But there's always a snake. And it's even worse because
if there is a snake, we're exactly the sort of creatures
who are going to do nothing but go interact
with that snake the second that we can manage it.
It's definitely the case that if you want a human being
to muck around with something, the best thing to do is
to tell them not ever to do it, have anything to do with it.
Which is, of course, something you know if you have teenagers.
[laughter]
Or even children.
Or if you know anything about yourself, or your partner.
So, these stories are trying to
express what you might describe as an unchanging,
transcendent reality.
It's something like what's common across
across all human experience across all time.
And that's what Jung essentially meant by an archetype.
And you could say, well,
We tend to think that what we see
with our senses is real.
Of course that's true, but what we see with our senses
is what's real that works at the time frame
that we exist in, right?
We see things that we can touch and pick up,
we see tools, essentially, that are useful for
our moment-to-moment activities.
We don't see the structures of eternity,
especially not the abstract structures of eternity.
We have to imagine those with our imagination.
That's partly what these stories are doing—
they're saying, well,
There's forms of stability
that transcend our capacity to observe.
Which is hardly surprising—
we know that if we're scientists, right?
'Cause we're always abstracting out things
that we can't immediately observe.
But there are metaphysical or moral realities
or phenomenological realities
that have the same nature:
you can't see them in your life
by observing them with your senses.
But you can imagine them with your imagination.
Sometimes the things you imagine with your imagination
are more real than the things that you see!
Numbers are like that, for example.
There's endless examples of that.
I would say, well...
This is also a good way of thinking about fiction
because a good work of fiction is more real
than the stories from which it was derived.
Otherwise it has no staying power, right?
It's distilled reality.
Even though, in some sense, "it never happened."
It's like, it depends on what you mean by "happened."
Y'know? It's—It's—
It's a pattern that repeats in many, many places,
with variation.
You extract out the central pattern.
The pattern, purely, never existed in any specific form,
But the fact that you've pulled a pattern
out from all those exemplars means that
you've extracted something real.
And I think the reason that the
story of Adam and Eve—which we'll talk about
in quite a bit of detail today—
has been immune to being forgotten
is because it says things about
the nature of the human condition that are always true.
I can give you another brief example.
Like, people have a lot of guilt.
Y'know, there's a line of social psychology that
claims that most people feel that they're better
than other people.
I just don't buy that—that isn't what I've seen in my life.
Maybe I'm a bit biased 'cause I'm a clinical psychologist,
and I see more people who are
overtly suffering, maybe, than people do in general.
Although, I'm not so sure about that, y'know, because
you don't have to scratch very far beneath the surface
of most people's lives
before you find something truly tragic.
And I don't mean the sort of tragedy that
you whine about, I mean
y'know, your mother has Alzheimer's, or
your best friend committed suicide, or
you have a close relative with cancer,
you have a sick child, or
there's something wrong with you
because almost everyone has at least one
really terrible thing wrong with them.
And if you don't, hey, you will, so, y'know.
[laughter]
So, y'know, that
tragic sense of Being is there with people all the time.
And it's also the case that,
in my experience—
I rarely meet someone who says, "Hey, y'know,
"I'm doing everything I possibly can, I'm a hell of a guy,
and I can't see how I could possibly improve."
[laughter]
You meet someone like that,
you think they're narcissistic, right?
And you're right.
[laughter]
But most people don't feel that way! They feel like
they could do a hell of a lot better than they are,
and they're quite acutely aware of their faults,
and they don't feel that they're what they should be.
And you see,
what happens in the story of Adam and Eve as well
is that when people become self-conscious—
at least, that's how it looks to me—
they get thrown out of Paradise,
and then they're in history,
and history is a place where
there's pain in childbirth, and where
you're dominated by your mate, and where
you have to toil like mad—like no other animal
because you're aware of the future.
You have to work and sacrifice the joys of the present
for the future—constantly!
And you know you're going to die.
You have all that weight on you.
To me, again, that's just—
how can anything be more true than that?
As far as I can tell, that's just how it is for—
unless you're naive beyond comprehension!
There's something about your life
that is echoed in that representation.
And why it is that p— I mean,
we're such strange creatures because
we don't seem to really fit into Being, in some sense.
That's also what's expressed in the notion of the Fall.
The existentialists said people feel like they have
a debt that they have to pay off to existence
for the crime of their Being.
Something like that.
Maybe it's because we're acutely aware that we have to
offer something of value to the people around us so that
they can tolerate us.
Y'know, while we're going about our business, but
it seems deeper than that. It's that
human beings seem to exist in a post-cataclysmic
world, and that's exactly also what's represented
in Genesis. It's very interesting because
in the Adam and Eve story, there's two—
there's two catastrophes, essentially.
There's the catastrophe that occurs when Adam and
Eve wake up—which we'll talk about in detail—
and become self-conscious and know they're naked.
And their eyes are opened, right?
That's the terminology that's used, and to have
your eyes opened means to have a...
an increment in consciousness, essentially.
'Cause eyes are associated with consciousness
for human beings 'cause we're intensely visual animals.
And so the metaphor for having your eyes opened
means—is the same as the metaphor
of coming to consciousness, and as soon as Adam
and Eve come to consciousness, they
realize they're naked.
The classic interpretation of that is it has something
to do with sexual sin, and I don't believe that.
I don't believe that's what it means.
Although there are elements about that that're relevant.
It's more that to realize that you're naked...
It's like—y'know,
if you dream that you're naked and on a stage
in front of people, that's not a sexual dream, man!
Unless you're some kind of strange exhibitionist, right?
[laughter]
You wanna cover yourself up and get the hell off
that stage as fast as possible!
And so, to be naked in front of a crowd
is to have everyone—
it's to have the judgement of the social world focused
on your self-evident inadequacies.
And that makes people self-conscious.
That's a real human state—it's associated with
neuroticism in the Big Five trait model, but
people don't like that at all. They don't like having their
fragility and vulnerability exposed to the group.
It's one of the two major fears of people.
'Cause one is social humiliation.
And the other is something like mortality and death.
[chuckle]
Your typical agoraphobic, for example, gets to have both
those fears at the same time because she—
it's usually a she—
tends to believe she's going to have a very
spectacular and exhibitionistic heart attack in a public
place, and make a terrible fool of herself
while she's dying.
[laughter]
Requested P offer his look at human's appointment to further create.
Here's something interesting too; we will develop this a lot.
You see, when Adam and Eve eat the fruit,
when the snake gives them the fruit,
the thing that happens is their eyes are opened.
Okay, to me that means that they've woken up.
there's been an increment in their consciousness.
The next thing that happens is they recognize that they're naked.
To recognize that you're naked is to recognize that you're vulnerable.
Human beings are strange creatures [JBP bends over]
most animals are like this, and they're protected. But not us.
[stands tall] Our most vulnerable parts are displayed for harm and for everyone to observe.
Right, so we have that sort of bipedal self-consciousness built into us.
But what is really interesting, is that when Adam and Eve realize that they're naked
it's the same moment that they know the difference between good and evil.
and that -- God -- that, I just ground away on that for years
[just-out-of-vision stammers]
what's the relationship between consciousness, knowledge of nakedness and the knowledge of good and evil?
I think I figured it out.
I think it was that --
you see -- when you know that you're vulnerable....
And they also developed knowledge of death, right? So
So it's deep knowledge of vulnerability. They get embarrassed about that. They cover themselves up, right?
So that's culture.
So it's a very profound shock for them to recognize that they're naked.
It even makes Adam hide from God.
Then they develop the knowledge of good and evil.
Well, I think because, you see, human beings have this peculiar capacity that no other creature has,
which is I know how I can be hurt,
because I am aware of my own limitations. Painfully aware.
And now because I know how I can be hurt, I know how you can be hurt.
And I can take advantage of that.
And that's how evil enters the world. That's how it looks like to me.
I've got this expansion of knowledge. It says in Genesis that that gives people
another attribute of divinity: knowing the difference between good and evil.
It has nothing to do with animals
and it has nothing to do with Adam and Eve prior to having their eyes open.
But the cosmos switches when that self-consciousness manifests itself.
That's when the possibility of evil enters the world. It's something like that.
That's also echoed by the intimate relationship between the snake in the Garden of Eden
and Satan. [Stammers]
That's a very strange association.
It's like this snake also becomes the adversary of being.
and I think I'll jump very quickly into that, but
But I think that's because [first] there's the snake that bites you in the jungle;
and then there's the snake that lives in your enemy;
And then there's the snake that lives in your family if you banish the enemy to the netherlands.
Then there's the snake that lives in you if you remove yourself from your family.
And that snake that's in you -- right --
that's a psychological phenomena, that's
equivalent to transcendent evil itself --
the thing that inhabits every single person.
And that's why there's that association between the snake and Satan.
and that's where I think people have this... it's associated with our knowledge of vulnerability that gives us this constant capacity for evil.
Can you Imagine if you're a medieval torturer?
-- you know people don't generally imagine that sort of thing --
but people were medieval torturers and they were very good at what they did.
The only way you can be a torturer is to know what would hurt you.
Right, and so you exploit the knowledge of your own vulnerability to bring pain into the world.
I don't think you can lay that precisely at God's feet.
Now people have been arguing about that for a very long time.
The question for me that arose from that. Fine, like tragedy, you can lay that at God's feet.
Well if we didn't bring additional evil into the world, could we tolerate the tragedy of being without becoming corrupt?
Well I think generally the answer to that is:Yes, as I've seen people react
quite heroically to the arbitrary burdens of their life.
but malevolence: man, that lays them low.
It seems to be nothing but a destructive force.
I do believe this as well -- you see it in the Cain and Abel story -- that
the root for malevolence is the desire for revenge against God for creation itself.
I've read terrible things written by terrible people, trying to get to the bottom of things.
I've mentioned the Columbine killers for example.
It's clear. All you have to do is read what they wrote.
What they were doing was taking revenge against God. They knew that.
It wasn't unconscious. They'd been dwelling on this for months, plotting their revenge.
And it was against for being itself, for the crime of being.
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聖經系列二:創世紀 (Biblical Series II: Genesis 1: Chaos & Order)

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黃崇竣 發佈於 2019 年 11 月 21 日
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