Avoiding Babylon and the Quest for the Grail of the Unholy  (Part 1 of 1)

0001 The actual title of this blog is Looking at Avoiding Babylon’s 2023 Year in Review Podcast.

0002 One avenue to the podcast is https://spiritustv.com@avoidingbabylon.

At the moment of this writing, these comedic, yet earnest, podcasters are also on youtube and rumble.

0003 The current title employs an Arthurian legend riff, because, if anything, the four interlocutors in this video elaborate a sign-relation specifying what Pope Francis, seemingly simultaneously pope and poseur, means to each one.  The appropriate Tarot card is the Hierophant.  So, that is what I will label this confluence of fallible human and political position.

0004 In general, the sign is a triadic relation where a sign-vehicle stands for a sign-object in regards to a sign-interpretant.

Here is a picture.

0005 In a specifying sign, a content-based sign-vehicle (SVs) stands for a situation-based sign object (SOs) in regards to the question of what it means to me, operating on the potential of ongoing content (SIs).

The actions of the Hierophant play a prominent role in the year-end review.  These actions serve as a specifying sign-vehicle (SVs) that stands for the reviewers drinking from a chalice of unholiness (SOs) in regards to what the news events of 2023 mean to traditional Catholics (SIs). 

0006 Here is a picture.

0006 Now, the members of the discussion do not quest for the grail of the unholy.  Rather, they suffer it.  The elixir that they reluctantly imbibe is a distillate of the rotted fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, vaporized and condensed by nefarious operators similar to those fingered in Charles Theodore Murr’s book (2022) Murder in the 33rd Degree.

0007 Razie Mah offers two snapshots of this distillate.

One is Looking at Sam Smith and Kim Petras’s Music Video (2022) “Unholy”, presented in Razie Mah’s blog on February 11, 2023, several days after the Grammy awards.

Two is Looking at Carlo Vigano’s Speech (2021) “How the Revolution of Vatican II Serves the New World Order”,presented during July 2022, in the same blog.

This is what the talents at Avoiding Babylon taste.

0008 So, what is this distillate?

Well, the answer is obvious.

The distillate is the liquid in the grail of the unholy.

Surely, the elixir is spiritual.  But, it is not the blood of Christ.  Its mash is stamped from the modern grapes of alienation and resentment.

0009 At this moment, pause, and take a glance at the title of this blog.  The title proposes a quest, not for the distillate, but for the grail of the unholy.  The grail is the vessel, the cup, the chalice of what is unholy.

0010 Spoken words are so slippery.

Perhaps, the following articulation is more suitable.

I propose a quest for the doctrine of original sin.

0011 The doctrine of original sin is the vessel of the unholy, purchased by Christ in the transaction of all time, bringing good out of the fall of Adam and Eve.

0012 But, has not Augustine’s doctrine of original sin been disproven by modern science?

This is a very good question.

To witness one Christian author caught in the tentacles of this “has not”, consider Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) “The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”, appearing in Razie Mah’s blog between November 30 and 1, 2023.

0013 I propose that Avoiding Babylon pose this question to their audience, in an open forum, along with the following queries. (1) Is Augustine’s doctrine of original sin still valid after modern science demonstrates that there is no genetic bottleneck, as would be expected if Adam and Eve are parents of all humans? (2) Does Augustine’s diagnosis of concupiscence still apply? (3) What about other diagnoses, such as the Protestant’s doctrine of total depravity?  Do they still apply? Finally, (4) are there any alternate formulations of original sin proposed after Augustine but before the modern Age of Ideas?

0014 I suspect that the answers will be: (1) No.  (2) Yes.  (3) Yes, look no further than the demos-racket party members and their rino consorts beholden to the glow-baloney-ists. (4) Yes, Thomas Aquinas proposes that original sin is the deprivation of original justice.

0015 In a subsequent open forum, I propose that the audience of Avoiding Babylon riddle this question.  Does Aquinas’s proposal that original sin is the deprivation of original justice apply to human evolution?

In other words, is there a twist in human evolution?

Is human evolution shaken, not stirred?

Has the living world of humanity changed?

Is the German word, “Lebenswelt”, appropriate?

What if our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in?

0016 Why stop there?

Can the Lebenswelt that we evolved in correspond to an era of original justice?

Can our current Lebenswelt correspond to an era of original sin?

0017 Of course, with questions like these, an open forum may descend into chaos.  To date, no one seems willing to connect the dots, except for Razie Mah.  That give this literary figure a certain daring.  He even proposes a label for the transition from the Lebenswelt that we evolved in to our current Lebenswelt.

The label is “the first singularity”.

Yes, there is an archaeology of the fall.

0018 If Aquinas’s concept of original justice applies to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, then how are we to envision this… um… Edenic existence?

Perhaps, inquirers may consider the lives of newborns, infants, toddlers and young children.

These innocent creatures did not evolve to grow up in civilization, did they?

0019 Two recent blogs by Razie Mah assist in opening the modern mind to the possibility that we evolved to be what children expect us to be, which is nothing like what we adults actually are in today’s unconstrained social complexity.

One is Looking at John Deely’s Book (2010) “Semiotic Animal”, appearing from October 30 to 2, 2023.  John Deely (1942-2017 AD) is the only postmodern semiotician buried in the cemetery adjacent to Saint Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  His last student, Brian Kemple, runs the Lyceum website and is worthy of an interview.  So are the contributors to his online journal, Reality.

Two is a series of examinations of the works of Michael Tomasello, recently retired Co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany (and may be living near Duke University in North Carolina).  These will appear from March 31 to January 4, 2024 (and will be wrapped into an e-book titled, Comments on Michael Tomasello’s Arc of Inquiry (1999-2019), soon to be available at smashwords and other e-book venues).

0020 So, the question is, “Are these little tykes expecting us to be, who we evolved to be? And, if so, then why do we seem to fail to live up to their expectations, say nothing of our own expectations for ourselves?”

I suspect that Dr. Tomasello might want to take a swing at that hardball question.

0021 Imagine the implications of associating Aquinas’s original justice to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

0022 As for our current Lebenswelt of original sin, the prior specifying sign says that Pope Francis, as a premier news maker of 2023 (SVs), stands for traditional Catholics being forced to drink elixir from the grail of the unholy (SOs) in regards to the question of what it means to believers, who are concerned about ongoing events (SIs).

0023 Of course, scientists like to call these news items, “memes”, easily transmitted virus-like units of cultural information.  Today, memes are everywhere.  They are incessantly broadcast.  So if the Hierophant employs memes, then what is the nature of memes?

Here, Looking at Daniel Dennett’s Book (2017) “From Bacteria, to Bach and Back”, appearing in Razie Mah’s blog in December 2023, offers a notion that memes, bits of gossip, pithy justifications of concupiscence, demoralizing proclamations, and label-attaching accusations involve the specifying sign (as already noted) as well as the interventional sign.

0024 The interventional sign?

The interventional sign is like a mirror of the specifying sign.

In a specifying sign-relation, the content-based sign-vehicle (SVs) is picked up by the senses as a mind-independent being.  The situation-based sign-object (SOs) is mind-dependent.

In an interventional sign-relation, the content-based sign-object (SOs) is available to the senses as an apparently mind-independent being, which is totally backwards from the specifying sign.  The perspective-based sign-vehicle (SVi) is mind-dependent.

0025 For the interventional sign-relation, a perspective-based idea in the mind of someone (or something) (SVi) stands for what the participants sense (SOi) in regards to the content-based question, what is happening, drawing upon the possibility that ‘something’ is happening (SIi).

0026 Here is a picture for the meme at hand.

0027 Note that the sign-object of the interventional sign (SOi) is contiguous with the sign-vehicle of the specifying sign(SVs).

However, the interventional sign-relation is much more difficult to assess than the specifying sign-relation

0028 The lesson is on display in Avoiding Babylon’s podcast of the year 2023 in review.

The Hierophant offers an elixir that tastes like poison to traditional Catholics and the interlocutors ask what is happening.  They cannot figure out the potential of ‘something’ happening’ because they cannot ideate, much less imagine, that the current Hierophant is an object (SOi), called into being by an alien intelligence guiding what is happening and the potential of ‘something’ happening (SIi) in the process of implementing an alien idea, plan or judgment (SVi).

0029 Now, substitute the word, “unholy”, for “alien”.

An unholy idea (SVi) stands for this Hierophant making the news (SOi) in regards to the question of what is happening arising from the potential of ‘something’ happening (SIi).

0030 No, this does not sound like concupiscence.

This sounds like something far more deranged.

0031 Has the Yaltaboath of Modernism found its Voice?

Does the Modern Yaltaboath seek to destroy the chalice of the unholy, which has been disproven, then disregarded, but still retains its power to contain the elixir of whatever idea, plan or judgment that our unconstrained minds can conceive?

Will Avoiding Babylon conduct a quest for original sin?

Will they seek to discover the cup of the unholy capable of containing the juices of Modernism?


Looking at Joseph Farrell’s Book (2020) “The Tower of Babel Moment” (Part 1 of 10)

0001 The full title of the work before me is The Tower of Babel Moment: Lore, Language, Leibniz, and Lunacy.   The author is one of the wandering stars of our current age, an era when academics award more doctorates than any job market can absorb.  Professors with sharp elbows occupy the few available academic positions, leaving brilliant and successful graduates, the ones with sharp minds, to find places in heaven knows where.

Farrell finds a spot on the internet, that once verdant pasture of free expression, and establishes his own scholastic exploration outside of modern institutional constraints.  In short, he founds his own school.  Those who listen to his voice offer remuneration.  God bless all concerned.

0002 The work before me offers speculation on the nature of the titular biblical story.

Farrell proceeds by way of a spiral staircase of observations and… may I say?.. expansive “measurements”.  Measurements of what?  The literature of the seventeenth century?  The titans of the late Renaissance?  Yes, that will do.

0003 My goal in this examination is to shoehorn Farrell’s exploration into a category-based nested form composed of category-based nested forms.  The interscope is elaborated in A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction, by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.  Of all procrustean beds that I have at my disposal, the interscope is most accommodating.

Here is a diagram of the interscope.

0004 The method is simple.  First, associate features of Farrell’s argument to elements in the above matrix.  Second, discuss the implications.

Each nested form consists of four statements, the most paradigmatic of which goes like this.  A normal context3 brings an actuality2 into relation with the possibilities inherent in ‘something’1.  The subscripts refer to the categories of Charles Peirce.  Thirdness brings secondness into relation with firstness.

The nested form is fractal.  An interscope is a category-based nested form composed of category-based nested forms.  A two-level interscope associates with sensible construction.  A three-level interscope corresponds to social construction.  Note how the labels change from 1, 2 and 3 to a, b, and c.

The three-level interscope allows the visualization of virtual nested forms, composed of elements within one column.  For example, the virtual nested form in the realm of actuality turns the second column into a category-based nested form,where a perspective-level actuality2c (as virtual normal context) brings a situation-level actuality2b (as virtual actuality) into relation with a content-level actuality2a (as virtual potential).

0005 Farrell opens chapter one with his personal discovery of Leonard Bernstein’s recorded lectures, titled “The Unanswered Question”.  In these lectures, Bernstein discusses Noam Chomsky, who has his own unanswered questions.  Chomsky, in turn, provokes Farrell to ask his own unanswered question, “How do linguists go about demonstrating linguistic universals?”

A universal may be regarded as an observable feature “measurably” appearing in all spoken languages.

0006 Phonologists find common observable features in the sounds of speech.  Common sounds are attributed to the anatomy of the head and neck.

Etymologists find common observable features in closely related words in different languages.  The words are similar and not identical, because they arise from isolation and drift among speaking populations, in a manner similar to biology’s slogan, “descent with modification”.

0007 The key?

Universals imply common origins.  For phonologists, the universal is biological.  For the linguist, the universal is… perhaps lost… in the recesses of time.

0008 A dramatic hypothesis stands against this key.  A sudden change may destroy the common language of humanity.  That change may be labeled, “A Tower of Babel Moment”.

0009 Years ago, Farrell proposes a wider context to this type of hypothesis.  The scenario includes ancient cosmic wars and world grids.  But, these are other books, and other matters, than the text at hand.

0010 So, before going on to chapter two, let me draw some associations.

On the content level, the normal context is language3a.  The actuality may be called a “topology”, or a map of all spoken languages2a.  The potential is that universals imply common origins1a.

The normal context of language3a brings the actuality of cross-language maps2a into relation with the potential of ‘the idea that universals imply common origins’1a.

On the situation level, the normal context is a civilizational moment3b.  The actuality is the Tower of Babel (the biblical story)2b.  The possibility is ‘discontinuity’1b.

The normal context of a civilizational moment3b brings the actuality of the story in Genesis 112b into relation with the potential of a discontinuity1b that corresponds to God confounding the common language of the plains of Shinar.

0011 Here is the two-level interscope.


Looking at Joseph Farrell’s Book (2020) “The Tower of Babel Moment” (Part 10 of 10)

0109 Farrell dares to worm a way into the fruit of the knowledge of the natural and the social sciences.

What does this examiner see?

Welcome to the postmodern version of the Tower of Babel.

0110 There is a new science in town.  It is the science of psychometrics.

If the natural sciences stand for “science” for commoners, and if the social sciences constitute “science” for the technocrats running the modern administrative state, then the psychometric sciences define “science” for the movers and shakers constructing the modern Tower of Bab-ilim on the banks of the river, Potomac.  Turn on corporate television.  It is your gate to the gods.

0111 I leave to the reader, the exercise of transmuting the following figure with the social construction of the postmodern west in mind.

0111 With this transmutation, the spiral of Farrell’s speculation becomes a vision to behold.  How does one worm into the fruit of the contemporary tree of knowledge, with all of its exoteric and esoteric dispositions and powers?  One proceeds just as Farrell does, with an open heart and and an imaginative mind, in the conviction that, in the end, God reveals all truth.

0112 My thanks to Joseph Farrell for publishing such a wonderful and provocative book, with arguments worthy of the procrustean bed of the three-level interscope.


Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 1 of 22)

0001 The book under examination is published by T&T Clark in New York, London and Dublin, carries an ISBN number: 978-0-5677-0635-5, and presents the full title of The Origin of Humanity and Evolution: Science and Scripture in Conversation.

This examination considers the book from the point of view of Razie Mah’s three masterworks, The Human Niche, An Archaeology of the Fall and How To Define The Word “Religion”, corresponding to the Lebenswelt that we evolved inthe first singularity and our current Lebenswelt, respectively.

Needless to say, in this volume, Andrew Ter Ern Loke is not aware of the scientific proposals offered by Razie Mah’s masterworks.  His goal is to formulate a point of view whereby the role of Adam and Eve in Augustine’s Christian tradition does not contradict the modern view of human evolution, which is surpassed by Razie Mah’s corrective.

The goal of this examination is to show that Loke intimates the proposed scientific corrective, even though he is unaware of its existence.

0002 According to the back cover, in 2022, Andrew Ter Ern Loke is an associate professor at Hong Kong Baptist University.  In the acknowledgements, the author thanks scientists, philosophers, a historian of science, biblical scholars and theologians for helpful discussions.  Among the list is William Lane Craig, whose recent book, The Historical Adam, is reviewed in November 2022 in Razie Mah’s blog.

Loke’s book is dedicated to a computational biologist, Joshua Swamidass, who proposes a technical solution that permits all humans to descend from one male, named “Adam”, and that one “Adam” corresponds to the one mentioned in Genesis 2.4 on.

0003 Technical solution?

There are two stories of human origins in the formerly Christian West, the Christian ones are found in Genesis and the modern Western ones concern the scientific disciplines of natural history, genetics and archaeology.  So the question arises, asking, “How do these match?”

They would match if “Adam” is the first human.  After all, the name, “adamah”, is ambiguous, referring to humankind, the male of the species, as well as one apparently ill-fated fellow once living on an island, in a special place called, “Eden”, near the confluence of four rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates.

0004 Unfortunately, the scientific discipline of genetics rules out that option. Adam and Eve are not the first pair of humans.  Contemporary human population genetics shows no sharp bottleneck that would correspond to a single pair as the first humans (as proposed by Saint Augustine, over 1600 years ago, during the twilight of the Roman Empire).  This lack of correspondence opens the opportunity for other technical solutions, such as the genealogical approach by Joshua Swamidass and the approach formulated in Loke’s book.  Neither Swamidass nor Loke propose that Adam and Eve are the first humans.  Loke designates Adam as “God’s Image Bearer” and works from there.

0005 Here is a different way to look at the issue.

Imagine a map of the Nile, running up through Africa to the Mediterranean Sea.  Now, pick up a mental pencil and relabel parts of the great river.

0006 The first chapter of Genesis is the upper reaches of the southern Nile, with the great lake, named “Victoria” (to those who speak English).  Genesis 2.4-10 is like the lower reaches of the northern Nile, ending in the magnificent delta.  The Mediterranean is where history begins.

Imagine that there is a great waterfall between the upper and lower reaches, instead of a series of impassable rapids.  Upland from the waterfall is the time of De Nile.  Downland from the waterfall is the time of DeNial.  The waterfall is the first singularity.

A traveler, starting at the falls, can theoretically walk in both directions, along De Nile or along DeNial.  But, there is the challenge of the descent and the ascent.  Looking from the top of the falls, one cannot see the bottom.  Looking from the bottom of the falls, one cannot see the top.  However, at either location, the traveler knows that there must be a bottom and there must be a top.

Well, the traveler does not really know for certain.

The traveler only looks down from the top or up from the bottom and makes a guess about the other realm.

0006 As if to repeat the pattern, Loke’s book takes a turn near the middle of the text, in section five of chapter five, carrying the title, “The Image of God”.

Loke writes that Adam and Eve, labeled by God as “Image Bearers of God”, are the first human beings.  This does not require them to be the first anatomically modern humans or the genetic founders of all humans.  Rather, the key issue is how humans are defined.

0007 It is sort of like that imaginary waterfall.

If one stands upstream, which is highland and south, human beings are defined by the scientific scenario summarized in section 5.1.

If one stands downstream, which is lowland and north, various philosophers and religious traditions offer opinions as to what humans are.  Loke mentions Plato, Aristotle, Upanishadic Hinduism, Buddhism, Marxism, existentialism, sociobiology and contemporary philosophy.  Each has a unique definition of “the human”.

The waterfall is neither upstream nor downstream.  The waterfall is contiguous with both.

How does this division within continuity work?

0008 The Greimas square may assist.  The Greimas square is a purely relational structure that is useful for discerning a constellation of meanings that surround a particular spoken term.

A century ago, the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure proposed that spoken language consists in two arbitrarily related systems of differences, parole (French for “talk”) and langue (French for “language”).  One system is external.  Parolecan be scientifically observed and measured.  Langue is internal, only certain changes in physiological conditions can be observed and measured.

0009 So, the question arises, “How does one define any particular spoken phrase or word?”

That is the subject of Razie Mah’s masterwork, How To Define the Word “Religion”, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

0010 Happily, for this examination, there is method that respects the purely relational configuration posed by Saussure.

That method is the Greimas square.

0011 Here is a picture.

Figure 01

0012 The focal term goes with A.

The first contrast of A that comes to mind enters B.

Then, a term that contradicts B goes into C.  The term, “contradicts”, may be transliterated into “speaks against”.  So, C speaks against B.  Then, one finds that C complements A.

Finally, a contrast that comes to mind with C goes into D.  Then, one should find that D speaks against A and complements B.

0013 The Greimas square is a probe of the terms that are adjacent to (or metaphorically “near”) a focal term (A).

0014 The following figure applies to Loke’s discussion of Adam and Eve as the first “Image Bearers of God”.

Figure 02

0015 We are the descendants of Adam (A), so we are heir to his title, “Image Bearer of God”.

But, there is a problem.  Adam falls.  So do we.

In contrast, many philosophies and traditions define who we are (B) without regard to God’s original appellation.

Speaking against the philosophers and traditionalists, Adam is the first holding the title (C), which will be passed on to the rest of humanity by means that are not genetic.  So, despite all other opinion, Adam is… er, at least… was… until, you know, the unfortunate incident… the first bearer of this title.  I suppose he never lost the title…

…he just made a bad decision that doomed all of subsequent humanity.

In contrast, the Biblical use of adam (technically, “adamah”) is a pun which means “earth man” or “humanity” (D).

This raises the question as to whether adam as humanity (D) contradicts (A) humans labeled as the Image Bearers of Godand complements (B) “humans” defined by philosophers and other religious traditions.

I suppose that one could argue for “yes”, as well as “no”.

0016 As it turns out, the metaphor of a map of the Nile River, altered by a number 2 pencil, also fits into a Greimas square.

Figure 03

Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 2 of 22)

0017 What is a Lebenswelt?

A Lebenswelt is German for a “living world”.

0018 In chapter three, Loke discusses the time spans of creation.  The universe is around 14Byr (billions of years old).  The Earth is 4.5Byr.  If the solar system rotates around the galactic center every 250 million years, then the solar system has completed only 18 orbits of the galactic center.  The solar system is 18 galactic years old.

Does that seem old?

0019 Could there be an eyewitness to the evolutionary construction of our home, the Earth?

Plus, why would an eyewitness portray the vision as a sequence of seven days?

The answer to the second question is straightforward.  The Creation Story, the first chapter of Genesis, is used to establish the sabbath as the day of the Lord.  Work six days and rest, along with God, on the seventh.  If someone loses count, watch the phases of the moon.  The heavens keep track of time.  Time passes on Earth, as it does in heaven.

0020 The Creation Story takes us far upstream the river of time, to long before De Nile.  Loke quotes Saint Augustine, asking what kind of days are these.  They defy our sensibilities and challenge our imagination.  The Young Earth Creations reply, saying, “These are literal days, with evening and morning.”

So, they could belong to a visionary.

0021 To me, the first chapter of Genesis belongs to our current Lebenswelt, yet looks past its beginning (which I call, “the first singularity”) into the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  It is a recital, in speech-alone talk, describing a sequence of… can I say?.. developments that could not be witnessed by a person, except as a series of visions.

Here is a Greimas square where the Creation Story is the focus of attention.

Figure 04

The final term, D, contrasts with C, speaks against A and complements B.

D contrasts with C because it is like a formal cause compared to C as a final cause.

D speaks against A in that the story does not proclaim itself to be a vision.  How can it be a vision if the Genesis text does not say that it is a vision?  Well, some Biblical scholars say that the Creation Story is something like a vision.  It is the construction of the Temple of the Heavens and the Earth.   

Finally, D complements B, because the first chapter of Genesis is one of the oldest written origin stories known to scholars.  In fact, archaeologists conclude that the literary style of the Creation Story is very much in tune with other written religious proclamations of the ancient Near East.  The first chapter of Genesis may be older than writing.

0022 And, that brings me back to the term, “Lebenswelt”.

The animal version of this word is “Umwelt”, technically defined as the world of significance for any particular animal.  The dog’s Umwelt is full of aromas.  The bat’s Umwelt is full of acoustic echoes.  The eagle’s Umwelt includes tiny clues to the motion of animals through grass.  The human’s Umwelt includes all of nature, plus ourselves.  As soon as hominins start walking on two feet, their hands are free to gesture to one another.  So begins the evolution of our Lebenswelt, our world of significance.  Our Lebenswelt includes both nature and culture.  The German word, “Lebenswelt”, transliterates into “living world”.

0023 According to Razie Mah’s masterwork, The Human Niche (available at smashwords and other e-book venues), the human niche consists of the potential of triadic relations.  Signs are triadic relations.  So are category-based nested forms.  Consequently, our Lebenswelt is perfused with signs and category-based nested forms (which can be proto-semiotic).  Sign-processing is one of the key hominin adaptations.

0024 So, a question arises, “Is the first chapter of Genesis a sign of the evolutionary record?”

Loke does not address this question.Nevertheless it bears on his discussion on the time spans of geological and biological evolution in contrast to the days of creation.


Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 3 of 22)

0025 Is Genesis 1 a sign of the evolutionary record?

If it is, then it is a sign composed of signs.

In other words, the answer is not straightforward.

0026 Charles Peirce (1839-1914 AD), the founder of postmodern semiotics, defined a sign as a triadic relation.  A sign-relation consists of a sign-vehicle, a sign-object and a sign-interpretant.

Here is a picture of the sign-relation.

Figure 05

An encountered thing (sign-vehicle) stands for the hylomorphe, matter [substantiates] form (sign-object) in regards to Aristotle’s natural philosophy (sign-interpretant).

On the surface, the sign-vehicle associates to Peirce’s category of firstness, which contains only one element (however complex that element may be).  For example, an image or a person belongs to the category of firstness (there is only one of them) and may serve as a sign-vehicle.  Firstness is the realm of possibility.

On the surface, the sign-object associates to Peirce’s category of secondness, which contains two contiguous real elements.  Perhaps the most famous example is Aristotle’s hylomorphe.  Matter and form are two real contiguous elements.  According to my nomenclature, the contiguity is placed in brackets.  In the previous figure, I use the term, “substance”, to label the contiguity between matter and form.  Secondness is the realm of actuality.

On the surface, the sign-interpretant associates to Peirce’s category of thirdness, which contains three elements, one belonging to each category.  Thirdness brings secondness into relation with firstness.  Thirdness is the realm of signs, normal contexts, mediations, judgments and so on.

0027 So, why the qualifier, “on the surface”?

Take a look at the sign-vehicle.  Obviously, the sign-vehicle should belong to firstness, because it makes the sign-relation possible.  At the same time, the sign-vehicle is an encountered thing.  So, it must belong to the realm of actuality.  The sign-vehicle must be so actual as to trigger the operation of a sign-interpretant.  For example, a silver coin (sign-vehicle) stands for the metal silver [substantiating] a round imprinted form (sign-object) in regards to an Aristotelian view of money (sign-interpretant).  Come to think of it, the sign object also belongs to the realm of actuality.

0028 Why is the triadic structure of the sign-relation important?

Both Genesis One and the evolutionary record are actual.  Yet, on the surface, the Creation Story associates to firstness and the scientific evolutionary record associates to secondness.  So, the former should be taken as a sign-vehicle and the latter should be regarded as a sign-object. 

What do these associations imply?

Genesis One is a sign of the evolutionary record.

So, in a day-age association, the day corresponds to a passage in the Genesis text and the age corresponds to a period in the evolutionary record.  The day is the sign-vehicle and the age is the sign-object.  The sign-interpretant will rely on a sign-typology based on natural signs.

0028 To start, here are the day-age associations for days one through three.

Figure 06

0029 Here are the day-age associations for days four through six.

Figure 07

0030 Here are the verse-age associations for the creation of humans in the image of God.

Figure 08

0031 The first chapter of Genesis concludes with a sign of the Developed Neolithic, setting the stage for a second creation of humans, starting with Genesis 2.4.

0032 The Genesis day is the sign-vehicle.  The corresponding scientific epoch is the sign-object.

What about the sign-interpretant?

Peirce identifies three types of natural sign, based on the categorical qualities of the sign-object.

For an icon, the sign-object carries the categorical qualities of firstness.  So, I read a Genesis verse as a picture of the corresponding epoch.

For an index, the sign-object carries the categorical qualities of secondness.  So, I read a Genesis verse as something that points to a characteristic of the corresponding epoch, especially in regards to what the visionary must be wondering about the ongoing revelation.  An index points to the location of the witness.  The Genesis statements about morning and evening are indexes.

For a symbol, the sign-object carries the categorical qualities of thirdness.  So, I read a Genesis verse in terms of convention.  The declaration at the end of most days, where God declares the day, “good”, associates with symbols.

0033 Here is a list of the three types of natural sign.

Figure 09

0034 For example, in day four, the text points to a visionary, located on the surface of the Earth, looking up, and witnessing the haze of the atmosphere of the early Earth clear away as the atmosphere increases in oxygen content.

Here is a picture of the associations, based on sign-typology as the sign-interpretant.

Figure 10

0035 In sum, in day four, the stars, planets, moon and sun become visible.


Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 4 of 22)

0036 Of course, none of this sign business shows up in Loke’s chapter three, concerning the time span of creation, or chapter four, concerning the process of evolutionary creationism.

Nonetheless, the sign business is relevant because we are moving upstream from the falls along the metaphorical Nile.  Yes, this is the one on the map that we altered with a pencil.

0037 We regard the seven days of creation (A), while looking though abstractions that are typical of our current Lebenswelt (B).  In doing so, we cross a epistemological boundary between scripture and science (C), which must imply that a conversation may take place.  But, can a conversation proceed if one of the conversants says that each Genesis day is literally true and is composed of what we current label a “day”?  Yes, if the Creation Story is a sequence of visions (D).

0038 Here is a picture of the corresponding Greimas square.

Figure 11

0039 The focus is the first Genesis Creation Story (A, sign-vehicle).

The contrast is the idea that each day keys into Peirce’s typology of natural signs (B, sign-interpretant).

The actual correspondences (C) speak against the idea (B), just as any application of an idea speaks against the idea.  Since when are ideas perfectly applied?

0040 For example, the end of day three associates with the earliest photosynthetic life, which looks like slime.  Yes, mats of green or red or purple slime, bearing according to their slimes.  So, the visionary must be a little perplexed.

In day three, the Genesis text breaks the previous pattern, by mentioning two creations in one day.  The associations are to the formation of the earliest continents and to the earliest appearance of life on Earth, which includes photosynthetic bacteria, which form colorful mats on most anything wet.  In fact, the slime looks like anything but fruit trees bearing fruit and plants bearing seed.  These bacteria do not have chloroplasts, the photosynthetic organelle in almost all multicellular plants.  They are the precursors to chloroplasts.

0041 Consequently, the application of the idea of sign typology requires some interpretive flexibility.

Figure 12

0042 But, that does not mean that the interpretant of sign-typology does not work.  Rather, the idea seems even more promising, because the vision (D) is necessarily mind-boggling.  

0043 Consider three titles.

The Creation Story and Evolution

Genesis One As A Sign of the Evolutionary Record

The Creation of Man and Human Evolution

These titles are over twenty years old.

Yet, they are as fresh as the dawn of a new Age of Understanding.


Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 5 of 22)

0044 In chapter one, Loke describes three types of concordism.

Type A seeks to describe scientific information from scriptural passages.

Type B seeks to interpret scriptural texts in light of modern science.

Type C affirms that the Bible should be interpreted according to proper hermeneutical principles, such as taking into consideration its Near Eastern context, including Near Eastern literary genres.

0045 Clearly, the proposition that the first chapter of Genesis is a sign of the evolutionary record dovetails into all three, except for one caveat.  Replace the word, “science’, with the word, “semiotics”.

0046 Type A’ seeks to describe semiotic information from scriptural passages.

What semiotic information?

When reading a passage from any particular day in the Creation Story, ask first, “Is this an icon.”.  Can the evolutionary record be seen as an image of this verse?  If not an icon, ask second, “Is this an index?”  Does this verse point to either the corresponding evolutionary era, or to the location of the visionary, or to what the visionary must wondering.  If not an index, ask third, “Is this a symbol?”

0047 Here is an example.

Figure 13

Day two associates to the formation of the Earth and Moon.  During the formation of the solar system, the Earth forms as a super-hot little planet sweeping in debris within its orbit around the early Sun.  From the point of view of someone on the surface of the nascent planet, the firmament appears as “the waters above” separate from “the waters below”.  At the time, both the Moon and the Earth, are molten.  The molten above separates from the molten below.

The separation is an icon.  It is also an index, once God names one of the waters.  God calls the firmament, “heaven”.  The name serves as an index, but also as a symbol of what this means to the visionary.

So, I wonder, “Why this particular semiotic information?  Why does Peirce’s typology of natural signs allow me to appreciate the sign-vehicles of the Genesis texts as sign-objects in the evolutionary record?

Could it be that sign-processing is particularly relevant to how humans came to be?

Is sign-processing a human adaptation?

Are sign-interpretants built into our bodies and souls?

0048 Type B’ seeks to interpret scriptural texts in light of modern semiotics.

Can the associations in Type A’ be called an interpretation of scripture?

Or, do the associations in Type A’ call for an interpretation.

What do these types of semiotic information imply?

0049 Perhaps, Genesis One embodies more than an ancient Near Eastern depiction of the formation of God’s tent of the heavens and the earth.  It also serves as a lock, whose key is a principle that constitutes an adaptation into the human niche.  Sign-processing flows out of the headwaters of De Nile and carves the landscape above the treacherous falls.

0050 Type C’ is the same as type C.  The hermeneutics of the book of Genesis must take into account the genres of ancient Near East literature.  However, we must keep in mind that, even in the time of Moses, this literature is ancient.  By the time the so-called “redactor” starts weaving the various stories in Genesis into a (more or less) coherent frame, the oral traditions are so old that no one is aware that the Near East is littered with these odd little hills, containing the burnt remains of royal libraries, where clay cuneiform tablets have been fired into bricks.

0051 Thank God that these civilizations slavishly follow the writing techniques of their forefathers, the Sumerians, who carve out cuneiform wedges from wet clay tablets.  Whenever an ancient royal library burns, the clay tablets convert into brick tablets, capable of retaining their integrity while buried for thousands of years.

Archaeologists rejoice.  A handful of recovered cuneiform tablets convey a message that not Moses, nor Saint Paul, nor Saint Augustine, nor Saint Thomas know.  Genesis One is a sign of one of the most ancient civilizations on Earth.

Figure 14

Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 6 of 22)

0052 Why would God confound humanity?

Genesis One is a sign of the evolutionary record.

Genesis One can only be viewed as a sign of the evolutionary record in light of Peirce’s typology of natural signs.

Genesis One is also a sign of the oldest civilization of the ancient Near East.

0053 During most of the Bible’s theodrama, no one apparently knows this.

The stories of the Old Testament are remembered and retold by itinerate bards, as well as by temple priests.  The prophetic stories are collected, redacted, written, promulgated, misinterpreted and then fulfilled in the death and resurrection of one of those itinerate preachers, who started out as a carpenter.

The Bible, the union of the Old and New Testaments, promises the salvation of all who are baptized in the water of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus, that miraculous former carpenter, serves as the New Adam.

During this entire time, the so-called “literature of the ancient Near East” is the Father’s secret.  Yes, everyone knows that the Near East is ancient.  But, no one remembers that these ancient civilizations have voices of their own.  No one knows about the cuneiform tablets buried in those dusty tells. The West recovers fragments.  Revealing fragments.

0054 Why does God empower a secularizing West, still animated by Christian curiosity, to recover some of this long-buried literature?  

Why does God reveal this secret in the middle of the modern Age of Ideas?

May I call the revelation, “a divine accommodation”?

0055 The title of chapter two of Loke’s book is “Divine Accommodation and Its Implications for Biblical Anthropology”.

0056 What is the concept of divine accommodation?

The scriptures work according to a human mode of understanding, following appearances in the common manner, and taking into account the human point of view during particular historical moments.  Divine accommodation is relevant even when the historical moment passes and fades from memory.  After all, what does our modern Age of Ideas have in common with the ancient Near East?

The theologian and biologist Denis Lamoureux responds to the challenge of divine accommodation by separating the messages of the Old Testament from the presences of premodern prescientific ancient Near Eastern conceptual frameworks.  For example, ancient Near Easterners regarded the heavens and the earth as surfaces.  Here is the inspiration for the medieval alchemist’s vision of a mundane and a celestial earth.  What happens above, happens below.  One system dwells between two surfaces.

0057 The god of the storm rules between the mundane and the celestial earths.  What better way to portray the tempestuous nature of human affairs, in our current Lebenswelt, against the eternal rhythms of earth and sky?

0058 But, can we, mere mortals, extract message from presence without distorting meaning?

Lamoureux’s project poses a paradox.  It holds the message of the Book of Genesis in high regard.  It aims to disregard the… um… presence of the world in which the book is told.  The messengers of Genesis live in the cultural world of the ancient Near East.  The dramas of the Old Testament take place on the stage of a grand theater that we, moderns, now realize has a life of its own.  Yes, the life of the ancient Near East permeates a document that comes from God and thus, cannot error.

0059 Perhaps, there is another way to understand…

What if even the apparent errors manifest divine intent?

After all, most of the apparent scientific errors reflect the premodern cognitive frameworks of the ancient Near East.

0060 What if the truthfulness of scripture is not restricted to literal words on physical pages.  It makes me wonder.  What is “truth”?  Where did I hear that question before?  Is truth the opposite of false?  Or, is true the opposite of deception?  Is truth correct and honest?  If so, then how can truth survive even one civilizational turning?  A civilizational turning?  Yes, a civilizational turning occurs when a civilization realizes that everything it knows is wrong.

The book of Genesis tells of many civilizational turnings.  The stories of Adam and Eve correspond to one.  Perhaps, the stories of Cain and Abel correspond to another.  The civilizational turning between Cain and Lamech is as clear as day.  Lamech turns God’s protection of Cain completely around.  Biblical turnings occur within the civilizational turnings of larger Near Eastern societies.  The Genesis genealogies are lists that keep track of names, despite civilizational changes. No doubt, on the celestial earth, a story attends each name.

0061 If the history of the USA is any indicator, a civilizational turning occurs every orbit of the protoplanet Pluto, around 248 years.  The American revolution starts in 1776 AD.  America grows into a nation, then an empire, and then the empire collapses in 2024.  The stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Lamech may correspond to three Plutonic orbits.

Three fairy tales for three Plutonic orbits.

0062 One can say that the fact that the Bible is written in the literary genres of the ancient Near East is divine accommodation.

One can also say that Biblical inerrancy proclaims that the apparently erroneous “sciences” of the ancient Near East are part of the revelation.  The presence of the ancient Near East cannot be separated from the message of divine revelation.

0063 This implies that there is a hylomorphic aspect to Biblical revelation.

What is a hylomorphe?

A hylomorphism consists of two contiguous real elements.  Aristotle’s hylomorphe has two real elements, matter and form.  For nomenclature, I place the contiguity in brackets.  I suspect that a familiar term fits as a label for the contiguity,producing the hylomorphe, matter [substance] form.

0064 Similarly, Biblical inerrancy and divine accommodation are two real elements.  These two elements stamp a common metal.

Figure 15

Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 7 of 22)

0065 The normal context of modern Christian Faith3 brings the common metal of Biblical inerrancy and divine accommodation2 into relation with the possibility of Biblical and historical interpretation in the modern and postmodern age1.

Figure 16

0066 How can this be?

The recovery of cuneiform texts from ancient Near Eastern civilizations during the modern era gives me information that not even Moses was aware of.  The stories of Adam and Eve trace back to the earliest stages of Mesopotamian civilization.  The Creation Story is a sign of the evolutionary record and a sign of the ancient Near East.

0067 What is so important about the first civilization on Earth?

Remember the analogy of the great river running north from eastern Africa through Egypt, to the Mediterranean Sea? The southern and elevated part is De Nile.  Then, there is the imaginary falls (which is really a series of boat-crushing rapids).  Then, there is DeNial, running to the Sea and the start of history.  The Lebenswelt that we evolved in corresponds to De Nile.  Our current Lebenswelt corresponds to DeNial.  We, in our current Lebenswelt, are so estranged from the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, that all written origin stories of the ancient Near East (except for the anomalous Genesis One) depict a recent origin of humans.

0066 In some of the written origin stories of the ancient Near East, humans spring from seeds in irrigated fields.

On other stories, humans are fashioned from the blood of a defeated deity.

All are in accord in this one regard.  Humans are recent things.

0068 Witness the stories of Adam and Eve.  The manufacture of each person is quite specific.  They are fashioned during the Wet Neolithic of southwestern Asia (and northern Africa) at the confluence of four rivers, two of which are the Tigris and Euphrates.  The scene is depicted in Razie Mah’s masterwork, An Archeology of the Fall, as an island that rises out of river mud.  There, a garden grows.

The apparent error that four rivers flow out of Eden is not an error at all.  It is merely an appearance that locates the witness on the island.  On top of that, the other apparent errors of the making of Adam and Eve point to the genre of fairy tales.  Many aspects of the stories of Adam and Eve point to the location and timing of the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.  Many aspects point to the genre of fairy tale.

0069 When the modern inquirer stands at the bottom of the rapids separating DeNile from DeNial, which are really the same river, running from east-African highlands to Mediterranean-delta lowlands, we may correctly and honestly describe these the rapids as a giant waterfall, hundreds of feet tall.  No boat can pass from DeNial to De Nile, not even one carrying the (allegedly) feather-light soul of the Pharaoh.  Similarly, we, in our current Lebenswelt, cannot navigate back to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

The disjuncture is so great that scientists, fixed on accounting for the metaphorical lands around De Nile, cannot imagine the waterfall.  Instead, they see a series of rapids, which they label, The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution, or The Copper Age, or Trends towards Urbanization, or A Transition from Down-The-Line Trading to Organized Long-Distance Trade

0070 Of course, what scientist would model a series of non-navigable rapids with the conceptual apparatus of a huge impassible waterfall?

Oh, that is precisely what the writers of the ancient Near East do.

They cannot see the highlands above the rapids.  So, the Lebenswelt that we evolved in never comes to view.  The waterfall is so tall that it reaches from the earth to the heavens.  Or is it, from the heavens to earth?

0071 So, versus 26 and 27 of sura 15 of the Qu’ran says that humans are molded from dry clay.  And the jinn?  They are created from the scorching fire.  Perhaps, the jinn are associated to the same roaring fires that burned ancient royal cities and kilned cuneiform clay tablets into brick.

0072 Why do scientists not imagine the waterfall that is witnessed by every recovered origin story of the ancient Near East (with one exception)?

The scientific story of human evolution, dutifully recounted by Loke in section 5.1, is radically incomplete, because it cannot account for the testimony of all the written origin stories of the ancient Near East.  At the start of our current Lebenswelt, humanity is born again.

0073 Loke does not know about The First Singularity and Its Fairy Tale Trace, by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.  Loke has not heard about An Archaeology of the Fall.

Loke is not alone.  There is a scientific hypothesis that agrees with all those written origin stories of the ancient Near East.  Human evolution comes with a twist.  The Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia is the first culture on Earth to practice speech-alone talk.  At the time, all other contemporaneous Epipaleolithic and Neolithic cultures practice hand-speech talk.  Today, all civilizations employ speech-alone talk.