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 Daniel Dennett’s Book (2017) “From Bacteria To Bach and Back” (Part 16 of 20)

0157 Now that I have arrived at a technical definition of the term, “meme”, within the framework of postmodern scholasticism, I may examine chapter nine of Dennett’s book (“The Role of Words in Cultural Evolution”) and chapter twelve (“The Origins of Language”).

0158 Dennett’s argument goes like this.

Words are a key ingredients to culture, because they belong to language.  Spoken words make excellent examples of memes.  Spoken words are like viruses.

But, I wonder, what about hand-talk words?

0159 Apparently, the idea that language evolves in the milieu of hand talk does not cross Dennett’s mind.  Indeed, many evolutionary biologists treat culture, in general, and language, in particular, as the actuality independent of the adapting species2a, rather than an adaptation2b.  Why?  They are convinced that humans have no ultimate niche, only a blend of proximate niches, all of which offer material or instrumental advantages or challenges.

0160 Au contraire.

According to the masterwork, The Human Niche (by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues), our lineage adapts to an ultimate niche1bthe potential1b of triadic relations2a, as well as diverse proximate niches, including various Pliocene and Pleistocene ecologies and environments.

Practical language2b is an adaptation to team activities and contributes to the expansion of the hominin neocortex between 2000kyr (thousands of years ago) and 800kyr.  Hand talk evolves from pantomime to rudimentary (team-specific) grammars.

General language2b is an adaptation that evolves within the milieu of hand talk, after the domestication of fire, around 800kyr (800 thousand years ago).  Hand talk evolves from rudimentary team-specific languages to fully grammatical general languages.

Here is a picture of the latter step.

0161 What is language in the milieu of hand talk?

Hand-talk consists of manual-brachial gestures.  Manual-brachial gestures work (that is, have the character of memes) because they picture or point to their referents.  In terms of semiotics, manual-brachial gestures are icons and indexes.

When these are routinized, symbolic processing starts to occur, enhancing the distinctiveness of each gesture, and turning each into a word-gesture in a system of differences.  The modern linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913 AD) defines “spoken language” as two arbitrarily related systems of differences, parole (speech) and langue (mental action).  A finite system of differences (for Saussure) is a symbolic order (for Peirce).  Grammar consists of operations within a symbolic order.

In hand talk, the relation between parole and langue is motivated by the natural sign characteristics of hand-talk words.  Manual-brachial gestures are icons and indexes. Gestures image and indicate their referents.  At the same time, hand talk also routinizes gestures into words.  Words operate as symbols.  They form a symbolic order.  A symbolic order allows grammar.  Grammar makes hand talk linguistic.

0162 Our ancestors never imagine that their gesture-words are icons, indexes or symbols.

Nevertheless, they become better and better at hand talk.

0163 How do manual-brachial word gestures fit the definition of meme?

A perspective-level actuality2c may be a conviction that cannot be explicitly expressed using iconic and indexal signs.  After all, how can a hand-talk word point to or picture a species impressa2a, a species expressa2b or a species intelligibilis2c?

Nevertheless, the conviction2c is real.  Plus, if the hypothesis proposed in The Human Niche is credible, and if the scholastic interscope for how humans think describes what it claims to describe, then conviction2c is an adaptation.

So, how do our ancestors express their convictions2c?

They express their convictions through hand-talk expressions2a (SOi) in the normal context of what is happening3a and with the potential of ‘something’ happening1a (SIi).

Then, the hand-talk words2a are linguistically decoded into an icon or index (SVs).

0167 Here is a picture of hand-talk as a meme.

0168 Before general language, the practical hand-talk languages of each team activity are distinct and only occur within the normal context of each team activity.  Many of the characteristics that we associate with spoken words remind me of how hand-talk languages adapt to the crucible of team activities.  

During the team activity, conviction2c judges whether the ongoing content-level normal context of what is happening3asupports the ongoing situation-level normal context of what this means to me3b.  This conviction2c (SVi) substantiates hand-talk words (SOi) that either maintain the situation-level potential1b in the face of content-level potentials1a or not.

0169 For example, we don’t gather mushrooms at locations where lions are known to prowl.  Plus, when a lion is nearby, everyone wants to get back to the band.  There are hand-talk words that convey these tidbits of semantic information.  We expect that our words refer to things and states of things.  We expect our words to be honest.  We insist that certain words are used appropriately.  We expect words to contribute to our awareness of the ongoing situation.  We expect words to convey, sometimes with comic zeal, what is happening and what it means to me.

0170 So, is there a problem with this scenario?

Have you noticed that no one talks with their hands anymore?

According to the masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall (by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues), around 7800 years ago, the only culture on Earth practicing speech-alone talk is the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.  All other Epipaleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic cultures practice hand-speech talk.

0171 Why?

For one, speech is added to hand talk at the start of our species, before 200kyr.  Our human ancestors practice a dual mode of talking, hand-speech talk, for over 190 thousand years. Then, the first singularity occurs.  

For two, the first singularity starts with the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.  Today, all civilizations practice speech-alone talk.  In fact, every civilization throughout history practices speech-alone talk, raising the question, asking, “Did the adoption of speech-alone talk potentiate civilization?”

For three, the answer is yes.

0172 Here is a picture of speech-alone talk as a meme.

The difference between hand-talk words and speech-alone words may seem subtle.  Nevertheless, the difference is substantial.

0173 Hand-talk and hand-speech talk facilitate constrained social complexity.

Speech-alone talk potentiates unconstrained social complexity.


Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 11 of 22)

0099 Here is where I left off.

Figure 21

0100 The first singularity (A) is the focal term.

0101 Our current Lebenswelt (B) contrasts with the first singularity, because it follows the event.  Our current Lebenswelt (B) is characterized by speech-alone talk.  Speech-alone talk allows explicit abstraction, along with implicit abstraction.  Explicit abstraction involves symbolic labels (spoken words) and the mental manipulation of such labels (symbolic operations).  Implicit abstraction does not require spoken words and is very difficult to explain using spoken words.

0102 The Lebenswelt that we evolved in (C) contradicts our current Lebenswelt (D).  The Lebenswelt that we evolved in(C) is characterized by hand-talk and hand-speech talk.  Hand talk relies on sign-processing, which is the fundament for implicit abstraction.  Implicit abstraction has nothing to do with labels and symbolic operations.  Rather, implicit abstraction engages sign-processes, starting with sensation, opening to perception and (eventually) initiating judgment.  Implicit abstraction allows us to understand actualities2 by intuitively recognizing the appropriate normal context3 and potential1.  This is what we evolved to do.

The Lebenswelt that we evolved in (C) complements the first singularity (A), in so far as scientists, in our current Lebenswelt (B), who cannot imagine the first singularity (A), also cannot imagine the ultimate human niche as the potential of triadic relations (C).

0103 Human evolution (D) contrasts with the Lebenswelt that we evolved in (C), speaks against the first singularity (A), and compliments our current Lebenswelt (B).

Human evolution (D) is a scientific construct.  The Lebenswelt that we evolved in (C) is the world of signification of our distant ancestors.  Scientists do not want the construct of human evolution (D) to have a discontinuity (A).  Why?  They rely of the principle of uniformitarianism in order to understand the prehistoric past.  If there is a twist (A) in human evolution (D), then this principle does not apply.  Scientists are thrown in the same basket as the rest of us (B), wondering whether the labels that we use to perform symbolic operations are as good as we presume they are.

0104 Of course, Loke takes us into the next Greimas square.

Figure 22

Here is where Loke’s theoretical construction begins.


Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 12 of 22)

0105 Here is the first applied Greimas square appearing in this examination of Loke’s book (point 0011).

Figure 23

0106 The title, “Image Bearer of God”, is the focal term (A).  God makes him in His image.  Male and female He creates them.  Does this sequence reflect some chauvinistic attitude of the ancient Near East?  Is this an artifact of translation?  Right after the Creation Story, God directly fashions Adam from the earth and Eve from Adam’s side.  Theologians may debate, but the debate somehow does not recognize that the Genesis Creation Story is distinct from the Primeval History.  In the creation story, the humans are images of God.  In the stories of Adam and Eve, two people are fashioned in order to hold the title, “Created in the Image of God”.

Loke cites John Stott’s 1984 book, Understanding the Bible, and proposes a way to appreciate how there is no incompatibility between evolution and the Bible.  If Adam is the first human, then he is simply the first person to be labeled, “created in the image of God”.  Stott calls Adam, Homo divinus.  I call him, “Earth man”, in acknowledgement of his humble beginnings.  Loke calls him, “Image Bearer of God”.

In the end, we are talking about a label.  This label may be placed on any individual in the Homo genus.  Plus, this label may be applied to other humans along various lines of descent, including those outside of biological generation.

0107 Other titles have been given to humans (B).  Aristotle calls us, “political animals”.  Porphyryr calls us, “rational animals”.  Saint Paul calls us, “inheritors of Adam’s sin”.  Rene Descartes calls us, “thinking things”.  Biologists name us, Homo sapiens.  John Deely calls us, “semiotic animals”.

0108 None of these appellations are as grand as the title, “Image Bearer of God” (C), awarded to Adam and Eve.  This title (C) stands against all other titles (B).

0109 Here I consider that Adam, as the first bearer of the title (C), stands in the same position as the world of original justice (formulated for Adam before the Fall, by medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas) (C) as well as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in (C), 1.8Myr to .78Myr (C) and the uplands of De Nile (C).

0110 Humans, in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, practice hand-speech talk, which embodies the semiotic qualities of hand talk.  Language evolves in the milieu of hand talk, long before our species appears.  Speech is added to hand talk at the dawn of our own species, Homo sapiens.

0111 Hand talk manifests the semiotic qualities of icons (images) and indexes (indicators).  This facilitates sign-processing because referents (which are things that can be pictured or pointed to) are natural sign-objects.  I call the cognitive processing that proceeds through sensations (content) to perceptions (situation) to judgment (perspective), “implicit abstraction”.  Today, this cognitive cascade is intuitively obvious and is difficult to put into spoken words.

0112 How does this apply to Loke’s concept that Adam is the first to receive the label, “Image Bearer of God”?

There are no gestural words in hand talk for “image” or “God”.  Certainly, there is a term for “bearing”, as in “carrying”.  But, there is no hand talk word for “bearing”, as in “holding a title”.

0113 The task is easy for speech-alone talk, since speech-alone talk is purely symbolic.  One can attach a label to anything.

Similar labels apply to humans in our current Lebenswelt, as evidenced by the philosophical debates on how to describe humans (B).

0114 What does this imply?

The endowment of the appellation onto Adam (C) occurs in a world that practices speech-alone talk (hence, the explicit abstractions can be uttered).  However, this world is not aware that speech-alone talk is any different than hand-speech talk (C).  Why?  No civilized person practices hand-speech talk.  So, how would anyone know?

It is as if Adam stands at the bottom of the falls, looking up, and not realizing that he has tumbled from a world that no longer exists.  Or, it is like Adam, standing at the top of the falls, does not recognize that one more step…

0115 God warns Adam.  Do not eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

0116 The divine comedy is brought to pure what-if-ness when theologians, after the revelation of Christ, try to come to terms with how God labels Adam and Eve.  They do so by committing the error embodied in the spoken words.  They think that there must be truth in labeling.  They attempt to figure out the meaning, presence and message behind the term, “image of God”, as it applies to Adam and Eve… um… before the tumble over the watery edge.

Early theologians characterize the Biblical “image of God” as one who exercises rational powers, moral sensitivity, fellowship with God, a sense of beauty and, of course, language… that is… speech-alone talk, which characterizes our current Lebenswelt.

0117 Adam names the animals.  Surely, that seems like the way that hand-speech talk works.  The gesture-word images or indicates its referent.

Note that Adam does not name that tree in the middle of the Garden.  The name of that tree is full of explicit abstractions,such as “knowledge”, “good” and “evil”.  These terms cannot be conveyed using manual-brachial gestures.  But, they can be uttered by a talking snake.

0118 Thus, the hypothesis of the first singularity assists me in showing that adam as humanity (D), contrasts with Adam, the one who is created to fit the title (C), contradicts the title of “the Image Bearer of God” (A) because Adam (and really, most humanity, even today) innately thinks in terms of implicit abstractions rather than labels, and complements “human” as defined by philosophers in our current Lebenswelt (B), because speech-alone talk allows reflection and analysis not available to hand-speech talk.


Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 13 of 22)

0119 The stories of Adam and Eve, plus the naming of Adam as “an Image Bearer of God”, are tightly knotted word-games.

0020 Adam and Eve are commanded to obey only one rule.  Do not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  What can we say about the name of the fruit, rather than the name of the tree.  Can the fruit be called either “intelligent” or “stupid”? 

Surely, Adam and Eve would not eat a fruit called “stupidity incarnate”, because they are intelligent.

But, what about a fruit called, “intelligence incarnate”?

Surely, they would eat such an admirable morsel, if only to discover their stupidity.

0121 Once in prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945 AD) discovers a label for all the incredibly well-educated and academically certified people who bought into the charisma of the National Socialists of Germany.  He calls them, “Dummheit”, too stupid for words.

The so-called “Fuhrer” has a way with words.  So do his propaganda-saturated followers, with advanced degrees in symbolic enumerations, deification studies and medical codification.  They are sophisticated and up to date.  They know how to label people, not as image-bearers of God, but more like… bodies with tattoos.  Everyone can recognize the explicit abstraction.  Here are the tattoo-bearers of a God that does not recognize the Fuhrer’s authority.

0122 That is the crux.  It is all about spoken words. Speech-alone words do not picture or point to their referents, like the gesture-words of hand-talk and hand-speech talk.  Speech-alone talk attaches labels to all sorts of parts and wholes.  These labels promote explicit abstractions, which may seem logical, yet be totally in error.  Yes, spoken labels can create cognitive structures that are completely internally consistent, hence logical, hence intelligent, yet unfathomably stupid.  Thus, explicit abstraction (B), the stuff of intelligence and stupidity, stands in contrast to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (A).

0123 Here is a picture of the next Greimas square.  

Figure 24

0124 God labels the tree of knowledge of good and evil using speech-alone talk (A).

In contrast, speech-alone talk allows explicit abstractions (B), yielding either stupidity or intelligence.

Next, the implicit abstractions characteristic of hand-speech talk (C) contradicts the explicit abstractions potentiated by purely symbolic terms (B) and complements the idea that an adequate name for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is “intelligence” and “stupidity”.

Um… how come there are two names attached to the same fruit?

0125 Consider Adam’s implicit abstraction in the Genesis story.  He implicitly abstracts a message.  When put into spoken words, this message does not sound precisely intelligent.  Adam says (more or less) “The woman that you made for me, she gave me the fruit and I ate.”

If I were God, I would have replied, “I gave you the title of Image Bearer of God, and you behave this stupidly?”

0126 The set-up for the drama of the Fall (D) lies in the fruit.  The explicit idea that Adam and Eve will die when they eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (B) supports the implicit abstraction that the fruit is poisonous (C).  The fruit (D) sets Adam and Eve up for the drama of the Fall, because it is not poisonous.  Rather, the fruit (D) speaks against the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (A) in the same way that a fruit (D) causes one to ignore the tree(A), along with that ridiculous commandment.

In short, the fruit (D) is not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (A).

Rather, the fruit (D) is “intelligence incarnate”.


Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 20 of 22)

0169 Even though the theological implications of the coincidence between the stories of Adam and Eve and the Ubaid archaeological period of southern Mesopotamia may seem far removed from Loke’s proposal that Adam and Eve are the first ancestors to receive the label, “image of God”, the distance is not so great.

0170 First, the Lebenswelt that we evolved in associates to the creation of humans in the image of God (in the first chapter of Genesis).

Second, our current Lebenswelt associates with Adam and Eve receiving the spoken honorific, “Image Bearers of God”, and then promptly disobeying the only commandment that God gives them.

0171 Section 5.8.2 discusses an awkward difficulty that arises with Adam getting awarded the appellation, “Image Bearer of God”, that presumably passes to his sons, Cain and Abel.  Okay… let me correct that… to their (at the time) only remaining son, Cain.

Cain runs away, finds a wife, then moves off to start a city.  Loke wonders whether Cain’s wife is merely an animal that happens to be an anatomically modern human.  Or, is she created as an image of God, yet is not aware that God could give someone the spoken honorific, “Image Bearer of God”?

0172 Razie Mah’s masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall (available at smashwords and other e-book venues), treats the awkward issue as follows.

After Cain murders Abel, he complains to God that others (the ones without the rapidly devaluing honorific, “Image Bearer of God”) will kill him.  So, God puts a mark on Cain.  That mark happens to be the body paint of high-ranking warrior in the village harboring Cain’s wife-to-be.

Of course, when Cain walks into the village wearing such marks, everyone freaks out.  The shaman tries to put an end to Cain, but ends up accidently killing the number one warrior in the village.  Then, the shaman falls face down before Cain and Cain impetuously kills him.

In order to celebrate, Cain’s future bride (along with her team mates) take the body of the dead warrior and cook up a batch of delicious porridge.  She is proud of herself and is disappointed when Cain (after realizing that the meat in the porridge comes from the dead warrior) decides to not finish off his bowl.

0173 Yes, communication in speech-alone talk can be treacherous.

Tell someone, “Get that body out of here and bring me something to eat.”, and see what gets served.


Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 21 of 22)

0174 In chapter six, Loke considers Noah.  Noah receives the tarnished title, “Image Bearer of God”, through descent from Adam.  The title passes through the doctrine of Traducianism, so the lineage must be genetic.  However, the tarnished title also seems to pass beyond Seth’s family line, so to speak, into those animals who are anatomically humans, who laugh at and ridicule Noah for imagining that God would or could punish them.  Here, the passage must not be genetic.  Maybe it is genealogical.  Maybe it is the acquisition of speech-alone talk instead of hand-speech talk.

0175 Does Noah’s flood cover the whole earth?

It depends on how you define the word, “earth”.

0176 Here is a Greimas square that seems appropriate.

Figure 37

0177 The “earth” is the focal word (A).  It is what is covered by Noah’s flood.

In contrast to the Genesis use of the word, “earth” (A), is the world of southern Mesopotamia (B).  To everyone ridiculing Noah, the world of southern Mesopotamia is all there is.  It is their “earth”.  So, Noah’s flood destroys this “earth”.

The genealogies (of sorts) immediately following the flood (C) speak against the idea that southern Mesopotamia is the entire earth.  The table of nations makes sense when Noah’s children are accepted into the royalty of other peoples based on the celebrity of Noah’s achievement.  As far as Genesis is concerned, nations are founded because they receive direct descendants within the Image Bearer of God lineage.  It is as if these jurisdictions are not relevant until then.

0178 What does this imply?

Southern Mesopotamia is the center of the world, if not the entire “earth”, until that catastrophic flood, which is noted as a break in the Sumerian king list (D).

This list (D) contrasts with the Genesis table of nations (C) because it represents the records of a public institution.  It is entirely possible that the family of Seth lives entirely within public institutions in the Ubaid and Uruk (and later, Sumerian) traditions.   So, the Genesis story of Noah’s flood is an insider’s view of a very public shaking of the Uruk political order.

The Sumerian king list (D) suggests that Noah’s flood (A) is indeed, not planetary, since the kingship descends (from heaven) soon afterwards.  In this, the list (D) speaks against a literal reading of the Genesis story (A).  Also, the list (D) supports the notion (what Loke calls Type C concordism) that Genesis belongs to the literature of the ancient Near East.

This list (D) complements the world of southern Mesopotamia (B), because the king list represents the establishment of order within the Sumerian world.  The Sumerian king list is written centuries after the flood.  The flood marks a break.  The flood denotes the end of a Plutonic year, so to speak.

0179 What else does this imply?

Consider the following Greimas square.

Figure 38

0180 Speech-alone talk and Adam’s lineage starts in the Ubaid (A). Speech-alone talk spreads out from southern Mesopotamia to nearby hand-speech talking cultures.

The subsequent Uruk period (B) contrasts with this beginning.  Uruk clearly differentiates from surrounding Neolithic cultures, who now practice speech-alone talk, but are far behind in terms of realizing the creative potential of this new tool of the intellect.

0181 Noah’s flood marks an ecological catastrophe, partially brought about by deforestation in northern Mesopotamia and partially brought about by (what modern insurance policy makers call) divine intervention.  During the Uruk archaeological period, speech-alone talk floods into other lands.  Egypt, Iran, the Indian subcontinent, China, the Mediterranean, eastern Europe and the lands north of the Caspian Sea, manifest social changes due to exposure to speech-alone talk.

Noah’s flood covers the “earth” of southern Mesopotamia.

The speech-alone talk flood covers the entire Earth.

This “flood” of speech-alone talk (C) speaks against Uruk as composing the entire earth (B) and complements the origination of speech-alone talk with the Ubaid (A).

0182 Consequently, the conditions for the table of nations, following Noah’s flood, are set (D) as the lands surrounding the Uruk, each in its own way, start to undergo trends towards unconstrained social complexity.  These trends (D) contradict the exclusive claim of Sumeria as the only place where labor and social specialization increase wealth and power (A).  At the same time, these trends (D) complement the achievements that already have occurred in southern Mesopotamia (B).

By the time that the Sumerian Dynastic coalesces, at 2800 U0′, dynastic civilization begins in Egypt and unconstrained social complexity is seeded along the Indus River Valley and the great rivers of China.  On the Russian steppes, the proto-Indo-European cultures are already undergoing a transformation into formidable migratory chiefdoms.  The Bronze Age is apparent in the Aegean.  Even in the Americas, there are indications that speech-alone talk has arrived, on the western coast of what is now Ecuador.

0183 The entire Genesis sequence of stories and genealogies, stretching from Adam to Terah, coincides with the period from the start of the Ubaid (0 U0′) to the end of Ur III (3700 U0′).

If that is the case, then why isn’t the text longer and more elaborate?  Why don’t the first eleven chapters of Genesis clearly blend in with the written historical material of the ancient Near East?

One suggestion is found in chapter 13C of An Archaeology of the Fall.

On one hand, when Abram starts his journey, he leaves Sumerian civilization behind.  Not all of it, but nearly all of it.  The story of the Tower of Babel is no accident.  After Ur III, Sumerian is a dead language, known only in writing.

On the other hand, Sarai, remembers the fairy tales that her mother taught her.


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

0184 In chapter seven, Loke concludes.

The concept of Adam and Eve as the “Image Bearers of God” stands at the core of this book.

Figure 39

0185 As much as the author tries to capitalize on the idea that Adam and Eve receive a title, and that this title passes to all humanity through a genetic… oh, a not genetic mechanism, Loke does not arrive at his destination, the answer to the question of the Fall.

How is Original Sin passed from Adam to us?

Why is Jesus the New Adam?

0186 Before Traducianism is challenged by the science of genetics, these questions are easy to answer.

Afterwards, Traducianism itself becomes an example of langue, the mental processing that is arbitrarily related to parole, that is, speech-alone talk

0187 Yet, there is hope.  The first singularity coincides with the fall of Adam and Eve.  What is old is made new again.

Figure 40

0188 Future inquiry will extend beyond the book-ends of total depravity and the loss of original justice, into the natures of true versus false and honest versus deceptive.

0189 Who are we?

The behavior of humans in our current Lebenswelt is so different from the behavior of humans in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, that we might as well label ourselves a different species.

0190 Here is my suggestion.

We should call all humans living in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, Homo sapiens.

We should call all humans living in our current Lebenswelt, Homo boobiens.

0191 Only Homo boobiens can acquire specialized knowledge so exclusive that it makes them unbelievably stupid.  In our world of unconstrained complexity, high intelligence empowers profound Dummheit.  Just ask the experts.  They will tell you that their recipes for disaster are utterly sensible and moral.

0192 Perhaps, in future academic controversies, the coincidence of the fall of Adam and Eve and the hypothesis of the first singularity will inspire evolutionary scientists to compete with Christian theologians in accounting for the Pascal sacrifice.

The Christian theologian says, “Christ dies for our sins.”

The scientist replies, “No, Christ dies for our stupidity.”

Sin results in death.  So does stupidity.

Plus, we are never so stupid as when we play word games in order to lie to ourselves.

0193 The attraction of Loke’s theoretical framework, that Adam and Eve are the first to receive the God-given honorific, “Image Bearer of God”, is that the title is immediately spoiled in the Genesis 2.4-4 narrative, where Adam and Eve demonstrate that, while they are certainly created in the image of God, they cannot live up to the title.  None of us can.

0194 There is good reason.  Our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  So, we cannot even live up to who we evolved to be.  We are tempted to believe that our own spoken words picture or point to their referents, when they are really placeholders in systems of differences (at least, according to Ferdinand de Saussure, the founder of modern language studies).  We can place a label on anything, then use those labels to manufacture a coherent network of relational elements that seems totally convincing, because every element of the relational structure is occupied by a label.

0195 Inadvertently, the author reveals this in his defense of Traducianism.

In his innocence and earnestness, Loke demonstrates how we may use spoken words to confuse ourselves.  Can we label the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “intelligence” and “stupidity”?  The moment that we do, some customers will demand the “intelligent” fruits and leave the “stupid” fruits for the less choosy.

Are the picky customers ahead of the game?  

Or, are the less choosy correct in concluding that the fruits are all the same?

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

0196 With that said, I conclude my examination of this work, full of intelligence and stupidity, just as one expects from a descendant of Adam and Eve.  My thanks go to the author.  The arguments offered in this book tell me that we stand on the verge of a new age of understanding, where everything old is made new again.


Looking at John Deely’s Book (2010) “Semiotic Animal”  (Part 22 of 22)

0172 Deely concludes with a sequel concerning the need to develop a semioethics.

The meeting of the two semiotic animals in the previous blog is a case study.

Surely, that brief clash of objective worlds entails ethics, however one defines the word, “ethics”.

Perhaps, the old word for “ethics” is “morality”.

0173 Deely publishes in 2010.

Thirteen years later, his postmodern definition of the human takes on new life.  This examination shows how far semiotics has traveled, swirling around the stasis of a Plutonic publishing world where Cerebus guards the gates.  Please throw a sop to the editors in order to publish, rather than perish.  While academics guard the way to the underworld of professional success, Deely looks down from the heavens above.

And what does he say?

Humans are semiotic animals.

0174 Okay, I have to correct myself.

I don’t know whether Deely is looking down from a heavenly perch.

Surely, many will sheepishly testify to his devilish, as well as his angelic, qualities.

As a shepherd, he is always trying to lead his rag-tag flock of semioticians, explorers and Thomists.  He gets so far as to impress upon every one in his flock the validity of his claim that humans are semiotic animals.

0175 Razie Mah takes that lesson to heart and asks, “If humans are semiotic animals, then how did they evolve?”

The resulting three masterworks are available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

An Archaeology of the Fall appears in 2012, followed by an instructor’s guide.

How to Define the Word “Religion” appears in 2015, followed by ten primers.

The Human Niche appears in 2018, along with four commentaries.

As it turns out, no contemporary scientist takes Deely’s claim seriously. Yet, the implications are enormous.  If humans are semiotic animals, then triadic relations must be key to understanding human evolution.

0176 This examination of Deely’s book takes that lesson one step further.

The specifying and exemplar signs step out from Comments on John Deely’s Book (1994) New Beginnings as expressions of premodern scholastic insight.

The interventional sign steps out from Comments on Sasha Newell’s Article (2018) “The Affectiveness of Symbols” and establishes a postmodern life of its own.

0177 Humans are semiotic animals and how we got here shines like a revelation.


Looking at Glenn Diesen’s Book (2019) “The Decay … And Resurgence…”  (Part 1 of 21)

0001 The book before me is Dr. Glenn Diesen’s contribution to Routledge’s Series, Rethinking Asia and International Relations.  The text carries the full title of The Decay of Western Civilization and the Resurgence of Russia: Between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft.  The series editor is Emilian Kavalski, the Li Dak Sum Chair in China-Eurasia Relations and International Studies at the University of Nottingham in Ningho, China.  At the time of publication, Dr. Diesen is a Visiting Scholar at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and Adjunct Research Fellow at Western Sydney University.  Diesen’s research interests are in international relations, political science, international political economy and Russian studies.  Say nothing of history.

0002 So… um… how does this book overlap with my interests?

I am interested in civilization.  The persistent question that arises in Razie Mah’s masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall,is, “What potentiates civilisation?”

0003 Consider the hypothesis of the first singularity.

The evolution of talk is not the same as the evolution of language.  Our capacities for language evolve in the milieu of hand talk.  The ancestor to our own species practices fully linguistic hand talk.  Very successfully, I might add.  The voice is recruited to assist in synchronizing large groups (plus, a little sexual selection gets thrown in).  Once the vocal tract is under voluntary neural control, speech is added to hand talk at the start of our own species, Homo sapiens.

Homo sapiens practices a dual-mode of talking, hand-speech talk, for over 200,000 years before the first singularity.  The first singularity starts with the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.

As the ocean levels rise at the start of our current interglacial, two hand-speech talking cultures in the then dry Persian Gulf are forced into the same territory.  One is a Mesolithic fishing culture occupying the river ravines and coast.  The other is a Developed Neolithic culture (agriculture mixed in with stockbreeding).  These two cultures meld, forming a pidgin then a creole language.  That creole language turns out to be the first instance of speech-alone talk.

0004 The semiotic qualities of speech-alone talk are significantly different than hand-speech talk (and hand-talk).  I won’t get into the details, but the consequences are enormous.

Hand-speech talk facilitates constrained social complexity (which, to me, calls to mind Diesen’s term, “gemeinschaft”, literally translated into the “rod of generality”, coinciding with tradition, intuition and, what modern scientists deride as “irrational thought”).

Speech-alone talk permits unconstrained social complexity.  Spoken words can be used to label things that cannot be pictured at pointed to, such as the term, “gesellschaft” (another one of Diesen’s key terms, literally translated into the “rod of the journeyman”, coinciding with specialization, analysis and, what scientists misleadingly call “rational thought”).

0005 The Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia starts, say, 7800 years ago, which I label 0 Ubaid Zero Prime (0 U0′ or “zero uh-oh prime”, with “uh-oh” expressed as if reacting to an accident or a mishap).

At 0 U0′, the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia is the only culture in the world practicing speech-alone talk.  All the other Neolithic, Epipaleolithic and Mesolithic cultures of the time practice hand-speech talk.

Today, all civilizations practice speech-alone talk.  The only (now dying) cultures that remember their hand-speech traditions are the Australian Aborigines and the North American Plains Indians.  Both are losing the hand-component of their hand-speech talk, due to exposure to speech-alone talking cultures and civilizations.  The receding of original justice, when all social circles work in harmony towards human flourishing in a world of signification, is nearly complete.

0006 Weirdly, that recession lies beneath the surface of recently examined books in anthropology.

Consider the following reviews, appearing in the Razie Mah blog.

Looking at Ian Hodder’s Book (2018) “Where Are We Heading?” (June 2023)Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origins” (March 2023)