Comprehensive Meta-Axiomatization of Theology and Religion
The criteria for a successful axiomatization is that any proposition within the universe of discourse covered by the topic is derivable, or its negation, as a point within the vector space covered by the instantiated axioms. A particular choice of axioms that instantiates the meta model represents a philosophy for the topic. A valid model must adopt a position for each meta axiom. The axioms must partition the space (i.e., be mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive) .
A. Meta Model for Theology
A1. Cosmology -- The directionality of time (tau) and its analog vs. digital nature. The Genesis Story tells what happened at tau = 0 and the logic of what happened next, and so on. Does time only tick forward in a linear, incremental, monotonic fashion? Is there a minimum delta-t such that time is unresolvable below that threshold?
A2. Ontology (Metaphysics) -- With regard to the granularity of space (omega), is omega analog, digital, both, or neither, and/or does omega have multidimensional orthogonal directions? Is there a minimum delta-x such that voxels (volumetric pixels) are not resolvable below that threshold? If so, this would specify a maximum entropy or "information content" for the universe.
A3. Epistemology What is your position with respect to the mind/body problem and self-awareness? Does the mental world of thoughts, numbers, geometrical figures, and other mathematical objects have an autonomous existence or are they simply emergent properties of the electrical activity of synaptic neurons in the brain?
A4. Determinism -- Regarding destiny, fate, or preordination, is there such a thing as randomness or stochastic processes or is there only "God's Will"?
A5. Teleology -- Is there free will, i.e., can there be purposeful initiative by individuals determine the future course of events.
A6. Ethics -- Negative Form of the Golden Rule - "One shall not do unto others that which we agree they would not want to have done unto them." Conversely, "one shall be free to maximize one's own self interest (maximize one's personal objective function) subject to the constraint that no other human(s) suffer as a consequence." Furthermore, animals consumed for food or confined in zoos should be treated as humanely as possible. Obviously, the exonerating principle of "Self Defense" applies somewhere in a footnote.
B. Meta Model for Religion
B1. Origins -- Is there a formal collection of stories/fables/myths/folklore about origins and/or what constitutes a virtuous life. (Is there a Bible/Talmud/Koran/Egyptian Book of the Dead [with such Chapters as Genesis or Revelations?]) Is there a catechism or indoctrination process to establish proficiency in this collection?
B2. Prayers -- Is there a collection of Prayers, Hymns, Benedictions, and Recitations for appropriate occasions?
B3. Ceremonies -- Are there Ceremonies to cover Births (Baptisms), Marriages, Deaths, and Holidays (like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter)? Holy Communion?.
B4. Eschatology - Last Rights and Last-Will-and-Testament for the Legal Disposition of Property to One's Heirs Upon One's Death. Is there a default Intestate Declaration of primogenitor? Are there rules for the respectful disposition of the corpse or remains (burial in a casket, at sea, cremation, dissection by medical students, etc.)? Are there rules for "Code vs. No Code" in a hospital setting? Are there rules about respectful periods of mourning or expression of grief?
B5. Afterlife -- Heaven? Hell? Limbo? Purgatory? Reincarnation?
B6. Morality -- Four Cardinal Virtues: Wisdom, Courage, Truth, and Justice; Cardinal vs. Venal Sins; Ten Commandments. Is there a Prime Directive to "go forth and multiply" or some such pronatalist imperative? Are there prohibitions against premeditated murder or suicide, but with exceptions or extenuating circumstances for war and/or self-defense? Is there a prohibition against incest (sexual relations with parents, siblings, children, and/or first cousins)? Also, are there prohibitions against divorce, marrying a widow, a meretricious marriage (marrying under a false name), bigamy/polygamy, failure to consummate a marriage, failure to produce progeny, homosexuality, prostitution, sodomy, infidelity (adultery)/ maintaining a mistress or lover, and related variants on the state of matrimonial bliss.
The GRG Theology and Religious Orientation is hereby instantiated as follows:
A1: Time (tau) is a relentlessly digital, monotonically-increasing variable that started at time = 0 (The Big Bang) and is ticking along up to the present day. There is a minimal increment (delta-t) below which one cannot predictably measure a subinterval. The units of delta-t can be measured in seconds to some negative exponent. As a corollary, there is no such thing as time reversal. Time only appears to slow down when the observer approaches the speed-of-light, which for our purposes is as much in the realm of science fiction as are the time-travel movies that Hollywood is so fond of making (because they're easy and cheap to make and the audience readily understands them; Reality is much harder to understand.).
A2. Space (omega) consists of three linear orthogonal directions (x, y, z). Units are measured in meters. There is a minimal length below which the corresponding voxel cannot contain a bit of information (0 or 1). As a corollary, the universe has a finite informational entropy. There may be higher-dimensional spaces in which omega is embedded, but this shall remain the domain of mathematical particle physicists and shall have no practical application except aesthetic, i.e., when we finally discover the "holy grail" of physics, which is "the mathematical theory of everything."
A3. We have no opinion about the proper way to reconcile the mind/body problem. Neither do we have a position concerning a classical problem of epistemology: solipsism. There is no experiment that we can imagine, notwithstanding Rene Descarte (I think therefore I am [Cogito ergo sum]), that would properly rule out the possibility that the entire universe is a figment of someone else's imagination. As a corollary, creating an AI at the level of "Hal" in 2001: A Space Odyssey will go a long way to reconciling the problem of "self-awareness," or how it could be that I believe that I am me and that this potential delusion is in fact reality, i.e, when I go to sleep at night and wake up the next morning, it is safe to assume that I am the same "me" and my existence had no sharp discontinuity during the middle of the night. Acham's Razor disallows the hypothesis that there is some sort of evil trickster in-the-sky or Wizard of Oz that is manipulating all of us like on a bad Star Trek movie. At least we will soon be able to inspect Hal's software, when we figure out how to build him at last in the coming decades, and then answer the question of what it takes for an organism to have the self- emergent property of self-awareness given a sufficiently complex thinking apparatus (brain) with the linguistic skills needed to syntactically, semantically, and pragmatically use self-referential personal pronouns correctly (I, me, you, we, us, them, etc.). .
A4. There is no determinism. There are only stochastic events. The universe is a random clockwork. It has no purpose. If God, the Father, can be thought of as having created the "Big Bang" at tau = 0, he has long since exited the stage. God, if he ever existed, or Nature if you will, is not cruel, merely disinterested. He is merely indifferent. There is no guarantee that the human species has any exalted role to play in the "grand scheme of things." If we were to become extinct, none of the survivors, if there were any, would shed a tear for our sake. If we ever were the children of God, our parents are dead. We are therefore essentially on our own; and we may do as we wish; our behavior/culture/civilization need not conform to any natural law in order for us to be fulfilled or enter through the gates of Heaven. The argument for the existence of God by design (nothing as complicated as humans could have ever happened by chance; it had to be intentional) has failed to pass the test of biological science. Those who devoutly believe in a Divine Will, need to get a life, in the same way that the Pope recanted his attack on Galileo about the location of the center of the universe.
A5. Teleology: There is free will. If there were a Prime Directive, it would be to pass on your DNA or the principle of the "Selfish Gene" (The traditional Biblical admonition or mandate to "Go Forth and Multiply" should be generalized to "Invent whatever species will fill every niche of a dynamically-changing ecology, like a fluid takes the shape of its container.) How long would our species have survived if the gene(s) for experiencing an "orgasm" had been inadvertently disabled?
As a corollary, we are under no compulsion to follow the ramblings of a charismatic leader who imagines that there is a Divine Order, which he, as Prophet, clearly sees and reveals to us.
A6. Ethics: Confucius' Golden Rule: "Do not do unto others that which you believe they would not wish to have done unto them." This Negative form of the Christian Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.) is quite sufficient. The standard Golden Rule is no more tenable in real life than the late Dr. Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics." Note that Confucius lived [551 - 478] B.C. So the Confucian Rule antedated Jesus of Nazareth by ~500 years. It seems to me that he deserves more credit than we normally give him in Western civilization.
B1. Teach your children the Revised Book of Genesis above along with everything else, and they'll be better positioned to handle the extraordinary scientific discoveries that are expected in the future. In the mean time they need to be aware of the multicultural proliferation of superstitions that have paralyzed men's minds for centuries...
* 0. The flat plate of the Earth is suspended on the back of a turtle, which in turn rests on the backs of not one but four elephants. (Don't ask what holds up the elephants? Or you might be considered a smart alec.) If these choices seem odd to you, The Flat Earth Society provides us with richer detail: The world (with its oceans) is flat; thus, if your boat goes too far beyond the horizon, you could easily fall off, a perverse disincentive for exploration by ship or any oceanic navigation far from land.
* 00. The naked-eye astronomers of ancient Egypt could identify about 3,000 individual stars that they grouped into a zodiac of 12 constellations. Explanations for the origin of the "Milky Way" were various. These astrologers imagined the night sky to be a tent-like canopy, stretched taut from horizon to horizon and anchored by the mountains of a flat, stationary Earth. The constellations traveling systematically across the sky, with planetary motions in a separate spheres, were thought to be close at hand, watching over mere mortals, like parents tending their children at play. The presence of constellations in different parts of the sky actively influenced the course of human affairs. Babylonians raised astrology to a fine art.
* 000. The Earth is a spherical globe suspended on the shoulders of Atlas.
* 1. The Lost Continent of Atlantis
* 2. The Bermuda Triangle
* 3. The Shroud of Turin
* 4. Prognistications of Nostradamus
* 5. A dragon consumes the sun during a Total Solar Eclipse and subsequently spits it out.
* 6. Hidden Codes in the Bible (Steganography)
* 7. Nessy, an affectionate diminutive for The Loc Ness Monster
* 8. Crop Circles in England (the movie " Signs" starring Mel Gibson earned $60 M in its opening weekend)
9. The Abominable Snow Man (Yeti, Sasquatch, "Big Foot," there is a Bigfoot Society! There is also a Flat Earth Society!!)
10. Psi (Telepathy, Precognition, and Psychokinesis) (Dr. J. B. Rhine of Duke University)
11. Dousing (Searching for water with a stick)
12. Ouija Boards
13. Psychic Medium (Conversing with the "dead" by holding hands around a table)
14. UFOs, Flying Saucers, and Alien Abductions (there are people who seriously deny that we ever landed on the moon! It was all a "fraud" perpetrated by NASA/US Intelligence Agencies for their own nefarious agenda!)
15. Astrology (Sign of the Zodiac to Predict your Future), Soothsayers, Fortune Cookies
16. Palmistry (Chiromancy)
17. Phrenology; Evidence from holes drilled in the skulls of "patients" c. 5,000 B.C. presumably by "doctors" suggests that madness (possession by a devil) was "cured" by allowing the demons to escape through the hole made by a trephine. In more modern times, exorcisms by priests and Prefrontal Lobotomies also seem to have worked.
18. Crystal Balls/Pyramid Power (Rosicrucians)
19. Tea Leaves
20. Tarot (and other Fortune-Telling) Cards
21. Reading out loud from the Egyptian Book of the Dead can revive the dearly departed, and other forms of Magical Thinking related to speech (reading a translation in English no less; given that there was somebody listening with the power to intervene and who knew what the original text meant in its native language, do you think that they would also understand English and know what you were talking about when you read a translation?); Speaking in Tongues (Glossolalia); Possession (Exorcism).
22. Voodoo (Haitian), Santorea (Cuban), Macoumba (Brazilian)
23. Acupuncture (Oriental); Shiatsu Massage (energy therapy)
* 24. Homeopathy (extremely low-dose poisons can be helpful)
25. Cupping (Burning a candle in the ear)
26. Invisible Auras (Energy "meridians" made visible with Kirlian Photography)
27. Kissing a frog, hoping it will turn into a Prince, Cupid, Tinkerbell, Thumbelina, Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas), The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, Storks deliver babies
* 28. Mars invasion ("We interrupt this radio program to bring you a news bulletin...")
* 29. There is a large face of a human being carved on the surface of Mars
* 30. A homonculus (miniature man) is contained inside each human sperm
* 31. Psychic Surgeons (in the Philippines)
32. Vampires (speaking of vampires, it was reported by Associated Press on Christmas Eve 2002 that in the country of Malawi (South East Africa) a man accused of helping vampires was stoned to death. Furthermore, three Roman Catholic priests were beaten by villagers who suspected them of being vampires; we imagine that the natives were restless over the rumor that the government was colluding with vampires to collect human blood for international aid agencies in exchange for food), Lycanthropy (Werewolves, Weretigers, wereleopards, werebears, werehyenas, werecrocodiles, werejackals, and even werebats), Frankenstein, Mummies who come back to life with the aid of nine tanna leaves
33. Black cats crossing your path, broken mirrors, Triskadecaphobia (Fear of Friday the 13th), Walking under step ladders, Four-Leaf Clovers, Rabbit's Foot
34. Witches, Warlocks, Wizards, Shamans, spell, hex, muse
35. Golem, Devils (Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, incubus (male), succubus (female)), Angels (cerephim, cherubim), Leprechauns, Ghouls, Ghosts, Spooks, Spirits, Goblins. Fairies, Elves, Sprites, Gnomes, Dwarfs, Sylphs, Phantoms, Ogres, Monsters, Dragons (at the edge of the ocean), Bogeymen, Zombies, and other assorted phantasmagoric demons
36. Chimera/Theriantropism (Mermaid, Unicorn, Sphinx, Cyclops, Griffin, Pegasus, Roc, Cerberus, Anubis, Centaur, Bucentaur, Minotaur, Manticore, Satyre, Dagon, Epimetheus, Phoenix, Basilisk, Cockatrice, Gorgon, Hydra, Harpy, Molaoch, Hippogriff, Thunderbird, Scylla, Dipsas, Pan, Lamia, Siren, Triton, etc.)
* 37. In Taoism Ching [= Essence (Semen for men or Menses for women)] is proportional to longevity (implies that men should have intercourse often but avoid ejaculation in order to hold their essence within their bodies).
* 38. Eating Royal Jelly for Queen Bees (Ambrosia = Food of the Gods) extends lifespan/health. Fact: Chicken have feathers; Implication: If you eat chicken, you too can grow feathers.
*39. If it's 1959 and some says to you, "I have it on good authority that the moon is uniformly covered with a fine deep layer of dust that will swallow you up like quicksand if you ever try to land on it," It's funny that in 1969 such persons all "pitched their tents and silently stole away in the night." Why didn't they stand up and get counted.
* 40. If you know your Blood Type (A, B, AB, O) you can extend your lifespan by taking certain actions, like proper diet.
* 41. Shark cartilage is good to prevent cancer. Assumed presupposition: sharks do not get cancer, and furthermore, it is their bones that protect them. Fact: Sharks do get cancer, and, by the way, even if their cartilage were to protect them in some way, it has been proven useless in ameliorating human cancer. However, this false logic has measurably reduced the population of sharks in the world's oceans. Although they are not yet an endangered species and they are not my favorite fish by any means (even though we are told that their fins are good in soup), what did they do to deserve this twisted fate?
42. Bile from rare Asiatic black bears is believed to have medicinal value according to traditional Chinese medicine. Therefore, "bear farming" involves the surgical implantation of drainage tubes to collect bile from captive animals. Injuries and infections suffered by caged bears has justifiably led to criticism by animal-rights activists.
43. Powdered rhinoceros horn is an aphrodisiac. Rhinos are now rapidly becoming an endangered species.
44. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: The Dinka Tribe of the Sudan performs a systematic ritual extraction of the six bottom font teeth of all boys over 12 years old (sacrificing the ability to chew is an apparently acceptable compromise for the sake of aesthetics). The Bantu Tribe (?) stretch ear lobes, the lower lips, and pierce the nasal vomer with animal bones for decoration. Body parts pierced (navel, nipples, eye brows, tongue, etc.) with metal studs are now popular in our own society, despite their medical contraindications .
*45. Piltdown Man
*46. Cold Fusion
Superstition is a large collection of unsubstantiated predictions about natural phenomena that have a strong intuitive and emotional foundation. Science, on the other hand, is not just a collection of isolated factoids but a set of evidence-based methods designed to describe and interpret phenomena, past or present, aimed at building a testable body of knowledge open to acceptance or rejection by reasonable lay persons within the framework of a model. The scientific method involves proposing hypotheses, designing experiments, gathering data, analysis of data by standard statistical methods, accepting or rejecting the hypothesis, followed by publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The literature of science continually evolves incrementally growing with our experience, occasionally stepping backwards whenever fraud is detected, but our knowledge, understanding, and capacity for intervention in the universe has never been greater as a result of these methods (science is the most powerful method for knowing the world that we have ever discovered, as we can always see further by standing on the shoulders of giants)...
Yet, the National Science Foundation Biennial Report (April 2002) on the state of public
science understanding reveals that adult Americans believe the following:
1. 30 percent believe that UFOs exist and are actually space ships from other worlds;
2. 32 percent believe in "Lucky Numbers";
3. 40 percent believe that Astrology is actually useful for prediction;
4. 60 percent believe in some form of Extra Sensory Perception (ESP);
5. 60 percent believe that Magnetic Therapy may have value; and
6. 88 percent believe in "Alternative Medicine."
That is why it is so important to remain skeptical whenever you hear something that doesn't sound quite right, and testimony that our school system has failed us in producing high-school graduates who know how to think.
B2-4. We believe that everyone should subscribe to a some sort of standard religion to cover these bases, as opposed to being an agnostic or an atheist. It doesn't much matter whether your religion is Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Tao, Unitarian, or other, since they all tend to provide the same sort of support functions at times of "life passage," except at the time you decide to marry someone else who may be of a different faith (persuasion), in which case, it may matter greatly. Changing to a different conventional religion for the sake of a future spouse that you care for should be no big deal. The clergy of each faith, however, may collectively have a different opinion. Most conventional religions tend to be dogmatically self-righteous about their faith, and hence the invention of the crime of "heresy" and the punishment of "excommunication," which in some sense corresponds t the crime of "treason" against the state.
B5: There is no afterlife. Sorry about that. As a corollary, there is no Heaven (nor Hell). As a further corollary, there are no angels [hierarchy](nor devils [cacarchy]). Sorry Virginia, neither is there a Tooth Fairy, a Santa Claus, nor an Easter Bunny, but we still manage to make it though the day, don't we? On the other hand there are parents/grandparents. The problem is that, statistically, they are doomed to go away before we do, leaving us to "spin slowly in the breeze." Did we deserve this? Usually, by then, we are so preoccupied with adult- type things, like earning a living and raising a family, that we don't seem to mind their absence, with due apologies to poets like William Shakespear and Edgar Alan Poe, who have eloquently complained about this capriciousness of the human condition.
B6: Our morality is essentially relativistic. If, throughout history, there has always been a ruling class, whether clergy or statesmen, they have always acted exclusively out of economic self interest. The governments in power today are no exception. The concept of "sin" (Right vs. Wrong as opposed to Good vs. Bad) was created by the aristocracy to make the lower/impoverished classes more malleable. Our regressive tax codes also function in the same manner, but, not surprizingly, that's beyond the scope of this discussion.