03/23/22

Looking at Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science” (Part 1 of 3)

0001 Jack Reynolds, Professor in Arts and Education at Deakin University, publishes a book with the subtitle, “A Hybrid and Heretical Proposal”.  The book concerns two views that seem to resist hybridization: phenomenology and naturalism.  Why?  Does each regard the other as heretical?

Plus, where does that leave science?

Hmmm.

0002 Razie Mah examines Reynolds’ book in Comments on Jack Reynolds’ Book (2018) “Phenomenology, Naturalism and Science”, available at smashwords and other e-book vendors.  The commentary is part of a series, “Phenomenology and the Positivist Intellect”.

0003 Phenomenology has an awkward relationship with science.  It situates hands-on natural science.  Yet, it competes for that role with visionary science.

Visionary science takes what is most precious to practicing scientists, the empirio-schematic judgment, and unfolds it into a situation-level nested form.  

Phenomenology competes with and excludes visionary science.

0004 Consequently, phenomenologists and visionary scientists despise one another.

Both work to situate hands-on natural science, represented as a content-level nested form.

Each offers its own situation-level nested form.

0005 Perhaps, this is why Reynolds’ proposal directs attention away from the point of contention.

Hands-on science is naturalism.  Hands-on science may be portrayed as the unfolding of the Positivist’s judgment into the content-level of an interscope.

Phenomenology and visionary science situate first-order natural science in very different ways.

0006 Phenomenology wants to consider phenomena in order to elucidate what the thing itself must be.

Visionary science wants to take an established scientific model and coronate it as what the thing itself must be.

03/7/22

Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 2 of 6)

0004 I have a joke.

A Christian theologian goes to the doctor and asks, “What is wrong with me?”

The doctor replies, “It might be original sin.  The stories of Adam and Eve don’t need to be reconciled with science.  But, Augustine and science, that is your problem.”

0005 Clouser relies on an interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 appearing in Joseph Soloveitchik’s book, The Lonely Man of Faith.  The title is ironic, since Soloveitchik is lonely in name only.  He is one of the leading Orthodox Jewish theologians of the twentieth century.

The things that Soloveitchik writes.  Some of them buttress Carol Hill’s argument.

0006 Here is the first point.

The Old Testament does not support the claim that Adam and Eve are the first humans.  After all, where does Cain get his wife?

0007 Ah, that goes into the problem of Saint Augustine.

Augustine misreads Paul’s letter to the Romans.  Well, actually, his Latin translation of Roman 5:12 has a crucial infidelity to the Greek text.  The Latin slippage implies that we are all guilty of Adam’s sin.  The Greek original suggests that we are all doomed because of Adam’s error.

The result?

The McGuffey Reader poetically waxes, “In Adam’s Fall, we sinned all.”

0008 Should Augustine have known better?  Should the translator be blamed?

These questions step around an issue so tricky that everyone walks around it.  Spoken words are slippery.

Augustine slips up.  But, the slip serves as evidence for an important point.

0009 Adam and Eve may not be the first humans on Earth.  But, they may be the first to rely on the slipperiness of spoken words to come to a conclusion that turns out to be highly problematic.

0010 Is this a theological implication of the first singularity?

03/4/22

Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 3 of 6)

0011 The first point keys into the second point.

Adam and Eve are the first humans in the history of redemption.  They are neither perfect nor immortal.  So, they screwed up.

0012 How did they do it?

They thought that they understood the meanings, presences and messages latent in their speech-alone words.

Ooops.

0013 This slip up brings Clouser back to Saint Paul, in his letter to the Romans, where Adam’s covenantal failure is compared to Christ’s covenantal success.

More or less, Paul says that sin enters the world through one man, Adam… but, wait a second… before Moses there is no law, so how can there be sin?

0014 In other words, the actuality of sin2 potentiating death1 in the normal context of the Mosaic law3 must have been functioning after Adam and before Moses, even though Moses is yet to be formally present.

0015 Clouser concludes that this imputation suggests that there are humans contemporary to Adam.  Plus, their sins are not held against them, because God has not made Himself known.

0016 However, there are other suggestions that come to mind with the hypothesis of the first singularity.

Before Adam, do humans have access to a (metaphorical, or perhaps, literal) tree of life, which conveys an immortality unfamiliar to what we civilized folk currently imagine?

After Adam and before Moses, are folk, living within our current Lebenswelt, trapped within the imputation of Mosaic law, precisely as Paul notes?

0017 See the e-book An Archaeology of the Fall.

Also, see Comments on Original Sin and Original Death: Romans 5:12-19.

These are available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

03/3/22

Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 4 of 6)

0018 Paul’s aside fits the triadic structure found in A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form.

Here is a picture for humans after Adam and before Moses.

Figure 1

0019 The normal context of the imputed Mosaic Law3 brings the actuality of sin2 into relation with the possibilities inherent in death1.

0020 Now, if I erase the normal context3 and potential1 and replace them with items from the stories of Adam and Eve, I produce the following nested form.

Figure 2

The normal context of the Garden of Eden3 brings the actuality of sin2 into relation with the potential of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil1.

0021 These two nested forms complement one another.  The theological implications cannot be ignored.  The Garden of Eden marks a transition from the Lebenswelt that we evolved in to our current Lebenswelt.  The first singularity is a scientific hypothesis concerning the nature of this transition.  The Mosaic law associates to our current Lebenswelt.

Adam and Eve are not the first humans.

Adam and Eve are fairy tale figures, standing at the portal to our current Lebenswelt.

Fairy tale figures are larger than life.

03/2/22

Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 5 of 6)

0023 A third point supports Carol Hill’s commitment that Old Testament “celebrities” are real people.

0024 Clouser’s terminology is revealing.  Adam and Eve are “celebrities”.  Are “celebrities” real people?

I can visualize the headlines in the netherworld at the moment when Adam and Eve achieve celebrity status.  “Adam and Eve Fall For It.”  Read all about it.

0025 The key is “read”.

0026 Undoubtedly, the Pentateuch is a compilation of oral traditions.  Once codified, during or after the Babylonian exile, the compilation becomes fixed as canon.  Codification raises a host of issues, such as the reliability of the preceding oral traditions.

Or, are these oral traditions already codified in secret documents?

Does the question sound absurd?

Oh, the slipperiness of spoken words.

0027 Am I worried about the reliability of oral traditions or the reality within oral traditions?

0028 The Biblical text itself conveys a reality, in the objective sense of the word, that is assumed by the subjective realities engaged by the underlying oral traditions.  Even if Adam and Eve are fairy-tale figures in text, they are real in an oral tradition.  Even if Noah is an epic figure in text, he is real in an oral tradition.

0029 Why do the writers of the New Testament take the realness of the Old Testament for granted?

Please do not quote me on what I am about to say.

Despite the fact that the Old Testament is written, the biblical oral traditions are alive and well at the time of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth.  Everyone knows that the words are now written, so they use the word “scripture”, acknowledging this fact.  However, even though Paul can read the written text, the apostles (and most early Christians) cannot.

My conclusion is that Jesus recites the scriptures, with as much precision as the written text.  So, does John the Baptist.  They draw crowds that already know the oral tradition and marvel at its theatrical articulation.  Jesus and John are performers.  What a performance they give.  They recite the scriptures so convincingly that members of the audiencewhisper to one another, “The kingdom of God is at hand.”

0030 The New Testament is composed while the oral traditions of reciting the scriptures are alive and well.  The spoken word renders a subjective reality.  In the beginning, is the word, which, dare I say, tells us that spoken words are slippery things.  Listen to the stories of Adam and Eve.

The objective reality conveyed in the written word enters the historical theodrama the moment when Christianity spreads from Israel.

Does that bring me back to Augustine’s slip up?

The slipperiness of spoken words also applies to the written text.

03/1/22

Looking at Roy Clouser’s Article (2021) “…Support of Carol Hill’s Reading…” (Part 6 of 6)

0031 Roy Clouser closes with a stern warning that the documentary approach, investigating the alleged secret documents underlying the Old Testament, should only be carried out by experts, who are convinced that their certification protects them from the fact that they, like Augustine, are vulnerable to the slipperiness of spoken words.

His article serves as a witness to a philosophical and theological world that has not come to terms with the implications that will follow once our scientific world comes to terms with the hypothesis of the first singularity.

0032 Surely, Clouser is on target, in that a rabbi is chosen for intelligence, rather than theatrical genius.  But, occasionally, both gifts arrive at the same doorstep.  Ask the followers of Rabbi Joseph Solovietchik.

0033 I suspect that commentary by Orthodox Jews will swivel on the tiny stone of the first singularity.

Why?

Is this the stone that the scientific builders rejected?

Or, is it a jewel that turns the imagination?

The early stories of Genesis are insider fairy tales about the social trends towards unconstrained complexity in the Ubaid and Uruk archaeological periods of southern Mesopotamia.

Swivel and turn.

0034 Orthodox Jews might appreciate another work by Razie Mah, also available at smashwords and other e-work venues.

Comments on Jeremy Cohen’s Essay (1980) “Original Sin as the Evil Inclination”

This electronic work belongs to the series, Reverberations of the Fall.

01/20/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 10 of 16)

0058 In chapter four, Mark Smith addresses the question, “Is Genesis 3 about human sin?”

After covering what modern scholars say about the text and conditions of Genesis 3, the question turns to production3Hand writing3V.  Readers seek to interpret both the conditions2H and the insights2V of the author.  These are tied to the author’s scope1H and charism1V.

As far as conditions go, I speculate that the conditions2H include the increasing social complexity of the Ubaid villages, then the Uruk townships.

The authors are the daughters of Seth, who gradually compose the early stories of Genesis, as well as one for Noah, plus more.  The stories are maintained by the women of Seth, then afterwards, the women of Israel.  Then, the bards of Israel take them for their own, around the time of (or later than) Ezekiel.

0059 These conditions explain how the stories can be so ancient, yet showing the patina of post-exilic editing.

Plus, these conditions explain why the lessons of the Genesis 1 are declared in the time of Moses, while the lessons of the stories of Genesis 3 are ignored.  Adam and Eve belong to the stories of the women, not the men, of Israel.

The bards of Israel account for why the stories of Adam and Eve find their way into the writing of Genesis.  Their genius forces the redactor’s pen.  But, the written scriptures are new, compared to the age of the oral tradition.  Consequently, the stories of Adam and Eve make a dreamy impression in the time of the Second Temple.

The bards, the wandering preachers of Israel, also account for the conditions surrounding John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth.  No one seems particularly surprised by their appearance.  They recite the scriptures just like all bards do.  The audiences attend to their words.  The kingdom of God is at hand.

0060 These conditions are radically different than those intimated by Mark Smith and colleagues, who examine only the patina and not what might lie beneath.  Smith wants to retrieve insights by considering only the surface conditions.  His procedure is to begin with the explicit writing of Genesis 3, particularly concerning the choice of words.

0061 He starts with the word, “evil”, first mentioned in regards to the tree at the center of the garden.  The scriptural Hebrew, ra’, means poor in quality and disagreeable, as well as wicked and harmful.  For example, if a fruit is poisonous, then it is ra’.  An inedible fruit would fit the idea where God commands Adam not to eat, if only for health reasons.  But, this idea is dispelled as the story plays out.

0062 Then, there is the creation of woman from Adam’s rib.  God fashions all sorts of animals, who get names, but none are sufficiently helpful.  Adam tends a garden.  Adam domesticates animals.  They all live in paradise, offering a hint ofthe Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

God, not Adam, insists that it is not good that the human should be alone.  He then fashions a woman from Adam’s rib.  Adam is overjoyed at the introduction.

Here is the etiology of woman, according to the daughters of Seth, who tell fairy tales to their children, about the beginning.

01/19/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 11 of 16)

0063 What does the woman want?

Trees are all over the garden.  But, there are two notable botanical specimens.  There is the tree of life, somewhere in the periphery.  There is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, placed right in the center.  So, I already know what the woman wants.  She wants to be center stage.

0064 The tree in the center of the garden has not attracted Adam’s curiosity, so far.  He is happy with a tasty garden, attentive domesticates, and the rib-helper.  Wow, she is the most.

0065 Yes, the woman has desire.  Sure, the trees are good for food and beautiful to behold.  In Genesis 2:9, the author uses the word, “nechmad”, meaning desirable.

0066 Then, the woman enters into conversation with the serpent, who also has desires.  Its desire is to manipulate her desire.  He wants to pitch a sale.  Immediately before Eve seals the deal, Eve notices that the fruit is “ta’awah” (desire) to the eyes and “nechmad” (desirable) to make one wise.  Then, the serpent closes the pitch with a promise that the purchase will open her eyes.  She will be like the gods, knowing good and evil.

0067 Then, Adam joins in and the eyes of both are opened.

They realize that they are exposed.

0068 This word, “teshuqah” (desire), shows up again in Eve’s chastisement, as well as in the Song of Songs.  In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the same word gains creepier overtones.  The clay, within the human person, desires to return to dust.  This is an insight2V.

0069 But, what about the conditions2H?

Is Genesis 3 about human sin?

Or, is it about giving one’s sons and daughters a little hint about the nature of desire?

There is a difference between desirable and desire.  Plus, the serpent can close on both.

01/15/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 14 of 16)

0085 In chapter six, Mark Smith asks, “Where does human evil begin in Genesis?”

In Genesis 3, Eve takes the fruit.

In Genesis 6, divine sons take beautiful daughters.

0086 Genesis 6:2 describes divine males commandeering human females.

What does this mean?

An extrapolation from Lamech offers an answer.  These men are “divine” in name only.  These wealthy and powerful “gods” have designs on women who attract their attention.

Does this sound vaguely contemporary?

0087 Then, there is the word for design, “yester”.

In Genesis 6:5, God admits that every design of the thoughts of civilized hearts is only evil, continually.

In Genesis 8:21, God, having let loose the civilization-destroying flood, regrets the act, but does not change the diagnosis.  The design (yester) of the human heart is to evil from its youth.

Its youth?

Think of the start of the Ubaid.

Unconstrained social complexity is a condiiton2H.

0088 Yes, evil in Genesis, associates to design.

The same word, “yester”, appears in Genesis 2:7, when God designs a man from earthen materials.

Smith notes that “yester”, design, typically applies to craftsmanship.  With the story of Noah, craftsmanship applies to thoughts.  So I ask, “What tool shapes thought?”  The answer is spoken words.  This is an insight2V.

0089 Various origin myths of the ancient Near East mention the Great Flood of Mesopotamia as a civilization-changing event.  By the time of the flood, evil and design are already joined.  Everyone knows it.

0090 As far as Mark Smith is concerned, by the end of chapter six, he covers the genesis of “evil”, “sin” and the fall(out).  He has only “good” and “original sin” left.

01/14/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 15 of 16)

0091 In chapter seven, Mark Smith asks, “Are humans basically evil, according to Genesis?”

The question brings the reader back to the word, “good”, appearing in Genesis 1.

The question brings the reader forward to the term, “original sin”, a concept that swims right below the threshold of consciousness, after Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans.

0092 The condition of the early stories of Genesis is that of a family tradition, with enough continuity as to construct fairy tales about the thousands of years of increasing social complexity in the Ubaid and the Uruk, culminating in the Great Mesopotamian Flood, centuries before the start of the Sumerian Dynastic.  

These stories are fairy tales, told to children in Seth’s family tradition for thousands of years.  These stories are preserved by Sarah, who steps (along with Abraham) out of the Sumerian world, presumably during the tempestuous culmination of Ur III.

0093 There is something problematic about speech-alone talk.  It facilitates unconstrained social complexity.  It inclines humans towards sin and death.

Technically, if there is such a thing as original sin, then how could Abel and Enoch and Noah be good people from the start?

0094 What gives?

Original sin is all about the polarity between Adam’s greedy act and Jesus’s sacrifice.  It is a way to describe the economy of salvation.  Noah’s flood story says it all.  The design of the thoughts of human hearts is continually evil.  So, we sin.  Plus, we repent of our sins.  That is the nature of our current Lebenswelt.

0095 Smith proposes that the fairy tales of early Genesis are constructed backwards, within the Yahwist tradition, in order to provide a front end to the stories of Noah’s flood.

Such speculation seems viable when one is only looking at the Biblical text.

How easy it is to forget the oral traditions that leave no written trace.

How easy it is to erase such traces, for the ones who write the script.