Friday, July 3, 2015
The Useless Gene: The Great Revisions
Legend Fades to Myth
Did Yahweh really exist? Yeshua? Napoleon?
Everything we know about them is based on worse-than-secondary sources. We've never met Napoleon. Have we ever met someone whom we deeply and personally know and trust, who has herself or himself met Napoleon? No. What about someone whom we deeply and personally know and trust, who has met someone whom she or he deeply and personally knows and trusts, who herself or himself had met someone trustworthy who had known someone who knew Napoleon? No. We don't even have hearsay evidence of Napoleon--we only have hear-hear-hear-hear-hearsay evidence.
And it gets worse every day. Like seven degrees of Kevin Bacon, every death moves us slightly farther away from whatever "Napoleon" was supposed to be. Legend fades to myth, as they say.
Everything we know about Jesus is based on the transsecondary sources of modern historians, who choose to exalt their own work at the expense of older work. We have no idea what literacy rates were at 10 C.E., because there are no comprehensive studies. All we have is the suppositions of our own century's Wise Men.
All the "evidence" we have of Napoleon's existence has been filtered through by centuries of self-serving imperial or royalist historians in various parts of Europe, many of whom may have just passed through brutal warfare against people who may have claimed to be associated with said historical figure, and who cannot therefore be trusted, anymore than Napoleon's hypothetical friends or enemies among the French nobility and bourgeois.
The evidence we have of Jesus is nearly as unreliable, as current forms of the Torah are purportedly several thousand years old, and passed through the hands of many different movements that claimed the mantle of Judaism, including Hebrew-speaking Semitic African tribes, Caucasian Rabbinical Talmudism, Gnostics and Arians, and finally, Roman Emperors. In the process, some of our secondary sources tell us, Imperial Rome destroyed countless primary sources, and propagated its own money-making version of the Gospels, which may or may not have anything to do with someone named Yeshua who may or may not have existed.
So we should be able to completely understand anyone's hesitancy at believing the Bible. But we should also be able to completely understand anyone's hesitancy at religiously devoting oneself to an unfounded faith in the documents supposedly possessed by the self-serving nobilities of various 18th century Ottoman, Persian, and European courts. The Vatican Boy-Rape Association has made trillions of dollars off their own gospels, but so too have BNP Paribas and the Bank of England made even more money off their own gospels.
Facing Our Faith
I, too, hold this same faith that you do. I was raised under the Church of Napoleon, and even though I never went that often, and barely go now, I believe, despite legions of rational reasons not to, that someone named "Napoleon" actually existed, and that all the things I see around me now were shaped, in some way, by Napoleon's influence. After all, it's 2015 now, and Napoleon was supposedly born in 1769, which is, like, less than 300 years ago. Whereas Jesus was supposedly born 2,015 years ago, which is a lot longer, meaning you just can't trust stuff that old. And don't even get me started on Yahweh, who was supposedly born 6,000 years ago, or whatever. You simply can't trust those ignorant subhumans. At some point in time...maybe in 1789, maybe in 1861, maybe in 1965, maybe in 2008...at some point in time, things became correct and reliable. At that point, we had finally settled the question about the overarching themes of our development, and determined which things actually happened and which things did not happen.
But even though my faith is strong, sometimes, I commit thoughtcrime. I'm a little nervous to confess it, but sometimes I wonder if I might not actually be the first generation in the world to properly understand human history and my own society's place in it. For example, what if Yahweh never spoke to Moses through that burning bush? What if Jesus never turned water into wine? What if Napoleon never humbled the two lesser emperors at Austerlitz?
I confessed to one priest, and he laughed at me. He told me that the entire world had been shaped by the Emperor of France. There were countless historical artifacts, documents, and works of literature and art, all depicting Napoleon and Napoleon's feats. Wise men the world over had been discussing the meaning of Napoleon for hundreds of years, and everyone properly educated agrees that he existed. If I wanted to, the priest said, I could even go to France, and touch sacred artifacts which had been preserved from the era of the Emperor Himself. I could read firsthand accounts written by the great emperor's followers. I would destroy my career and my life if I seriously tried to question this story. I might be committed.
I confessed to another priest, and he sighed at me. He told me that the entire world had been shaped by the Son of God. There were countless historical artifacts, documents, and works of literature and art, all depicting Jesus and Jesus' feats. Wise men the world over had been discussing the meaning of Jesus for hundreds of years, and everyone properly educated agrees that Jesus existed. If I wanted to, the priest said, I could even go to the holy land, and touch sacred artifacts which had been preserved from the era of the great one Himself. I could read firsthand accounts written by the man's followers. I would destroy my career and my life if I seriously tried to question this story. I might be committed.
Much later, I confessed to a different priest, and he smiled and took my hand. He told me that Napoleon was just a metaphor representing the hopes and fears of people at the time. He said that it was a wonderful story, in some parts, and a terrible story, in others. He said that there were many conflicts in old Europe at the time, and it was only natural for people to personify their understanding of these conflicts, and assign motives to the small set of actors in whom they wanted to believe. The supernatural powers Napoleon possessed, he reminded me, and his charismatic and unrealistic escapes and reconquests, were surely false, and not meant to be taken literally. If I wished to join those who actually believed a physical Napoleon existed, I was certainly welcome to during my personal time, but I should avoid mentioning it in professional circles.
The great rewrites of history have left their mark upon all of us, like forest fires tearing through the tree rings of our minds. We know something about when these deceptions were created, but we have no way of verifying what, exactly, was destroyed each time. We can guess what was destroyed, based upon the narratives that sprang out of nowhere in each case--but no matter how good our guesses, we have lost priceless tales of the past. It affects us so strongly that even to think about the historical rewrites forces us to draw upon our senses of self, the recollection of which brings into play the fabricated narratives upon which we've founded our most basic understandings of who we are and where we came from.
Warning signs of historical retconning are, prior to simple steadily-operable computer networks (like "the internet"), relatively easy to pick out. They often involve (1) discernible plagiarism, wherein the creative disaffinity of negative minds gives them difficulty in coming up with entirely new stories; (2) missing pages, wherein attempts to destroy earlier records are incomplete, due to the still-existing reliance on handheld artifacts or writings; and, (3) mass murder, in order to prevent the contemporaneous regeneration of older histories by those who still possess direct sensory records (memories) of experiencing (or hearing about from sources they considered trustworthy) the outdated past (sic!).
Transferring people's reliance from human relationships and memories, to powerful authorities, to the printed word, and on to the endlessly malleable computer network, makes many of the former processes outdated. Now, for example, history can be revised much more easily: a simple adjustment to the "data in the cloud," combined with media control over widespread information dissemination, can ensure that memories vanish in a generation or two, and that non-official data (even handwritten letters, high quality video, or stories from Grandpa) will be treated as kooky and unreliable, without the need for genocide.
Coming up with new stories is easier in the presence of primitive computer networks, too. Free ideas just "pop up" everywhere, provided by host populations of their own volition, without as much necessity for grand councils and direct interaction with potentially loose-tongued artists. And discernible plagiarism no longer then serves a problem either, as everything already is plagiarism, so it doesn't stand out as much. This is why irony dies and any originality is called a liar; alright is crowned a word, medals go to cowards, murderers are celebrated as peacemakers, and fourth trimester abortions aren't any more strange than anything else.
We are not, though, left unequipped, no matter how many data networks are adjusted. The light behind all things expresses itself in fractals that can be read from anywhere--even inside the corrupted clouds of tomorrow's slavelords. For now, consider the three warning signs of retconning, as they apply to your own faith: discernible plagiarism, missing pages, and mass murder. Mass murder is the most difficult one, because they're almost always doing it, so it is "spikes" we must look for when watching the graph.
Around the general vicinity of 1300 B.C.E., we see signs of Jenomic impact, and shortly thereafter, weird stuff begins to happen. Centuries of human stories get plagiarized and gathered together by a genocidal population of genetically-elite Chosen, who have figured out a way to make their mark on history: by making up history itself. Gilgamesh is plagiarized to Noah, Hammurabi's Code (c. 1750 B.C.E.) is plagiarized to Mosaic Law, and dozens if not hundreds of other folk tales belonging to all humanity are condensed into a self-glorifying murder manifesto that derives authority from a brutal desert god.
(For a very mild, gentle, moderately-researched take on the Torah in particular, and the elements it directly plagiarized, see James Kugel's The Bible As It Was.)
The Torah has some great things about it, though they're all stolen. It stole many old human notions--of creation, survival, good and evil, the development and complexification of life, the idea of cyclical agriculture and debt redemption, and many others--and packaged them in with baby-killing, slavery, and other Old Testament crap. Much as early twentieth century patriarchal superheroes are now suddenly early twenty-first century matriarchal superheroes who support free trade and immigration and transsexual rights, the Torah's plot elements were completely ripped off from older stuff, then cobbled together around a caste-justifying murder god. The shift in rationalization was a jarring one, leaving the Torah's tender notions of complementary sexuality and debt forgiveness seeming completely out of place next to cities filled with slaughtered children.
And yet, like people lining up for movie sequels with the same "characters" revamped into a new century's cultural mores, there's just something so powerful about that original story that they're clinging to, that they can't stop themselves from believing it all makes sense; that it all has an explicable continuity.
The genuine, good-hearted rationalizations that some practicing Jews and many Christians now attempt are a result of their deep connection to real human history conflicting with the need to advocate for the horribly mangled text they're left holding in the 21st century. The vile cleverness of plagiarizing old history when making up new history is that people, wanting their real history, find themselves defending the revised history because it contains the only traces of the past they have left. It's sad, and tragic, to see that happening. Sure, it's embarrassing, but it's also actually sad. Trying to explain to them that they can tell the Torah is perverted due to the direct ripoff of Gilgamesh and ad-hoc Yahweh rationalization is difficult, but it's no more difficult than it is trying to explain to members of other religions that Napoleon is equally suspect.
So I had an argument with someone who claims to be an atheist, and it ended up with me mentioning the Council of Nicaea, and the ways that older human records--whether "historical" or "religious"--were destroyed and revised, such that the thing that is now called the Bible is essentially what some fourth century imperial Romans permitted to survive a sectarian purge. And yeah, we know that the Arians and Gnostics etc. were killed, and sacred writings and statues cleansed/destroyed, and older texts "translated" and "preserved" by a cabal of greedy weirdos who had no qualms about executing God only knows how many people.
Less than 2K years after the murderous racist "Chosen ones" stole all the human stories about the creation and growth of Terra that they could get their grubby paws on, and edited them into the Torah, a different sect of murderous racist Chosen ones--who may or may not have been intimately genetically related to the producers of the 1300 B.C.E. summer blockbuster Torah--decided that, to ensure the accurate retelling of history, it was time to destroy and edit and rewrite as much of the Gospels as they could get their hands on. And this affected what had come to be called the Torah, too. Books were removed and destroyed and altered, books were written, statues were destroyed, statues were sculpted, millions were killed (not all at once, and not all ascribed to religious revisionism by the killers), "translations" were updated, and wise and powerful moneychangers proclaimed that we now had our story straight.
After having a glance at L. Ron Hubbard and Joseph Smith--and their multi-billion-dollar industries, and millions of earnest worldwide believers--it should be no mystery, to the world's non-Christians and non-Islamists, just what Constantine and his imperial thugs were doing. They were making up a brand new religion for cash and power, solidifying doctrine only loosely based upon some of the interpretations they selectively borrowed from earlier stories that they discovered but didn't really believe in.
If you are Christian, that's a difficult thing to contemplate. You have to believe that God protected the proper books of the Gospel/Torah, because that was important, and yet simultaneously believe that He permitted Joseph Smith to come up with the Book of Mormon. That leaves you selectively interpreting when God will and won't intervene to prevent the corruption of His text...and considering how many millions of LDS there are out there calling themselves "Christian," and how Constantine murdered his own child, there's no way to reconcile that. It's time to reconsider why you should believe one set of terrible liars--Constantine and his thugs--and not another--Smith and Young. And of course, if God safeguarded the Bible from interference, there's no way to explain Muhammad. Christians need to learn to see Constantine as a predecessor to Muhammad and Smith, for Muhammad rewrote God for the North African market, just as Constantine rewrote God for the European market, and Smith for the American.
If you're not Christian, that's probably really easy to take. But where it will get difficult for you--perhaps more difficult, even, than for the Christian who has to contemplate finding the Jesus that Constantine didn't want her to know--is when you are asked to take the step of questioning your faith in Charlemagne.
In the general vicinity of 900~1000 A.D., we see another of the great adjustments of the proper, realistic, scientific, holy thing that people are supposed to believe. The Jenomic Chosen who operated in the Middle East and Greece had always written secular histories as well as religious, and when Constantine built the Basilica over Saint Peter's tomb (c. 326 C.E.), he was building a physical representation of the new mutant historiography that he'd created. The landlocked, private financial island that became "the Vatican"--the central base of European moneychanging and warmaking--was symbolic of both secular and religious history, combined into one. That wasn't unusual at the time, but for some 2015 Terrans, it can seem strange to have "both" religious and secular history considered to be roughly the same thing.
The Bible that Constantine manufactured, though, was not created "just" to be a spiritual text. It was the definitive history of the world and its people. It was the curriculum guide for all nations and all pupils. It chose rulers, held wars, and perhaps most importantly, served as the linchpin of the narrative that would justify the private financial island of the Vatican for the next several thousand years. That swollen, pestilent stronghold of the pharisees, filled with mountains of gold, icky forms of child sacrifice that don't always result in death, and worldwide media ties, would serve as the model for the next two big tumors to befoul the face of the Earth: the City of London and the District of Columbia, both sacred financial zones nestled inside imperial bastions, fostering the perpetuation of Chosen bloodlines, mountains of gold, and icky forms of child sacrifice that don't always result in death.
The Carolingian cartel made this expansion possible. This dynasty began the process of secularizing Europe, creating more determined parallel histories meant to operate alongside the religious one. Peoples were exterminated, documents destroyed or "translated," grand new court historians anointed, and the entire story of Europe's history--Greece, Rome, barbarians, etc.--was set down in stone so as to guide future people in better obedience. The ritual of the Pope crowning Charlemagne symbolized the partnership between private financial/war/rape zone and public nation, and over that time period, Carolingian lackeys busied themselves re-Constantizing Europe. Suddenly, Europe began to have greatly increased interest in "secular" histories, such as movements of identifiable ethnic groups, delineation of royal lines, an imaginary separation between Vatican moneychangers and the phonily-antagonistic houses that pretended to fight over control of Europe and the Middle East.
The Bible was still there, but the day-by-day minutiae of serfs, freeholders, nobles, and kings, was now properly feudalized. An illusive hierarchy had been imposed, wherein complex systems of obligation and duty, and an erratic chain of command, kept transaction costs high and people too confused to know whom to blame.
(The then-equivalent of rioters, as a result, got nowhere near real elites, and spent their time killing one another over social slights or intra-system competition. Just in case that sounds familiar to anyone.)
Fights over Europe weren't necessarily "pretend," of course, anymore than the fights they hold now. But have you ever noticed how very safe Switzerland, Vatican, and Columbia have been kept, throughout all the nonsense of those ages? And the one nation that tried to blitz the City of London--not to be confused with London; in the event you don't already know, the City of London is, like Columbia and Vatican and Switzerland, a private banking fiefdom sheltered within an imperial bastion, devoid of outsider rule--was punished by being handed over to Stalin and NATO, respectively.
What is there left to believe in? Do you know someone who fought in World War II? Have you viewed one of those propaganda cartoons FDR put out to rile people up against the filthy Japs and Krauts? Maybe so. That must mean World War II happened, right? But then, have you met anyone who met Napoleon? Okay, okay, I'm too faithful to deny Napoleon. But what about Charlemagne? Born over a thousand years before Napoleon, a frickin' millennium...is it acceptable, yet, to ask how much we trust the later Carolingian spawn, squabbling over the spoils, to have accurately represented exactly where this guy came from, how and where he had his children, and what he did? Can anyone who has interacted with actual humans in a tense power struggle look themselves in the mirror and say, "I'm sure Charlemagne was reported to me pretty accurately"?
The crux of this issue--this impossible quest that can only rationally end in uncertainty--is that, no matter which pieces of sixth-hand evidence are false and which true, it doesn't matter. Adonai may have been a beautiful god(s), but Yahweh was certainly a terrible and evil one. Jesus may have been a god incarnate, or just a really nice guy who had a vivid dream about Adonai, but Constantine was certainly a terrible and evil man. As described. The moral judgment, the lesson, the opportunity for self-development and better service: all of this can be effected irrespective of the truth of the story. We grow more by reacting to people who physically threaten us, than by reacting to descriptions of the Napoleonic Wars; we build our characters about the same when we consider "the Napoleon who appears in my history book" and "the way the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles handled that one fight."
Whenever I go somewhere, I learn a little about the Napoleons, or the Moseses, or the whoevers, and the important things aren't in the details of how the name was spelled or what time, exactly, the person was supposed to have done the wondrous and/or horrid act. The important things lie in the ability to face each new situation, and to develop that analytical ability. To "sight read," as it were--to more dynamically respond to newer or more complex realities. Becoming convinced that any given epoch's story might be false--admitting to yourself that it's quite plausible some people could've come up with a useful narrative, and that you're not omniscient, so such a narrative could've actually fooled you (of all people!)--prepares one for dealing with situations where one's own memories and sense of self seem false.
Which they do. Memories observed in larger chunks (rather than linearly through time), even your "own," are way beyond "dissociative" until you've become able to experience them in an open/archival way, rather than an inert/trusting way (not to demean "trusting;" that's a cheap translation). But we'll stop with the scifi crap there. We'll continue this later when we discuss the mechanistic nature of free will, the genetic mapping of human history, and how attempts to "prove" history by genetic anthropologists will make people even more certain about things they'll be getting even more wrong--e.g., the uselessness of gene-tracking in understanding human movements and historical developments.