Guest essay: The Missing Key

This is a guest essay from Peter Miesler, who writes the blog Citizen’s Challenge.


The Missing Key to Stephen Gould’s
“Nonoverlapping Magisteria”

“… missing was a much more fundamental division crying out for recognition. Specifically,
the magisteria of Physical Reality vs the magisteria of our Human Mindscape. …”


The increasingly shrill and disconnected from physical reality attacks on science by faith-based organizations and individuals has me thinking about an essay evolutionary biologist and historian of science Stephen J. Gould wrote some twenty years ago in an attempt to address the tension between scientific truths and religious truths.

His solution was the notion of “Non-overlapping Magisteria” which delineated two teaching “authorities” (magisterium), the “magisteria of science” and the “magisteria of religion.” It wasn’t his original idea, rather a continuation of a centuries old dialogue between scientists and the Catholic Church that I don’t have the space to get into.

In any event, Gould concluded there should be no conflict because each realm has its’ own domain of “teaching authority.” Since these “magisteria” do not overlap, they cannot contradict each other and should be able to exist in mutual respect.

When it first came out, I loved the idea because of my own struggling intellectual spiritual journey which was embedded within gathering and learning from sober scientific knowledge about this Earth, while dealing with the spiritual aspect of ‘touching Earth’ and having experienced ‘God’s breath’ against my back, so to speak.

Gould’s idea was interesting and it gained a lot of attention and lively discussion, but in the end seems to have offered little to either side. For myself, the criticisms made sense and my enthusiasm diminished. Still, the conflict kept echoing like an unresolved challenge as I increasingly engaged faith-shackled contrarians towards science.

In the years since I’ve kept learning more about Earth’s amazing evolution and geophysics and also the scientific process itself. A process that’s basically a set of rules for gathering and assessing our observations in an honest, open and disciplined manner that all who’ve learned to understand science can access and trust.

Recently it occurred to me that what Stephen Gould was missing was a much more fundamental divide that is crying out for recognition.

Specifically, the Magisteria of Physical Reality vs the Magisteria of our Human Mindscape.

In this perspective we acknowledge that Earth and her physical processes and the pageant of evolution are the fundamental timeless touchstones of reality. Part of Earth’s physical reality is that we humans were created by Earth out of her processes.

Science shows us that we belong to the mammalian branch of Earth’s animal kingdom. Yet, it’s undeniable that something quite unique happened some six million years ago when certain apes took a wild improbable evolutionary turn.

By and by besides the marvel of our two hands, we developed two feet and legs that could stand tall or run for hours and a brain that learned rapidly. During that evolutionary process something extraordinary fantastical was born, the Human Mindscape.

On the outside hominids learned to make tools, hunt, fish, and select plants, plus they mastered fire for cooking and better living.

On the inside our brains were benefiting from the new super nourishment while human curiosity and adventures started filling and stretching our mindscapes with experiences and knowledge beyond anything the “natural” physical Earth ever knew.

While the human mind and spirit are ineffable mysteries, they are also of tremendous consequence and real-world physical power. They drove our growing ability to study and manipulate our world, to communicate and record our experiences and to formulate explanations for a world full of mysteries, threats and wonders. People learned to think and gossip and paint pictures upon the canvas of cave walls, or even better, upon the canvas of each other’s imaginations. We’ve been adding to our brain’s awareness and complexity ever since.

Of course, while all this was going on the human mind was also wondering about the ‘Why’ of the world it observed and the difficult, fragile, short lives we were allotted. In seeking answers to unknowable questions it seems inevitable that Gods would inhabit our mindscape. I suspect inspired by buried memories of being coddled within mom’s protective loving bosom those first couple years of life.

No doubt these “Gods” enabled further successes, though not through super-natural interventions, but rather through their ability to form, conform, reform and transform the mindscapes of the masses of people beginning to congregate. Thus, combining pragmatic civil societal needs with universally felt, but keenly personal questions, fears, and dreams.

After the middle ages tribal stories, accepted ancient doctrines and religious “truths” were no longer enough to satisfy our mindscape’s growing desire for ever more understanding and power over the Earth. The human brain took another tremendous leap forward in awareness with the Intellectual Enlightenment and the birth of serious disciplined scientific study.

Science’s success was dazzling in its ability to learn about, control and manipulate Earth’s physical resources and to transform entire environments. Science was so successful that today most people believe we are the masters of our world and most have fallen into the hubristic trap of believing our ever fertile mindscape is reality. Which brings me back to Gould’s magisterium and his missing key.

The missing key is appreciating the fundamental “Magisteria of Physical Reality,” and recognizing both science and religion are products of the “Magisteria of Our Mindscape.”

Science seeks to objectively learn about our physical world, but we should still recognize all our understanding is embedded within and constrained by our mindscape.

Religion is all about the human mindscape itself, with its wonderful struggles, fears, spiritual undercurrents, needs and stories we create to give our live’s meaning and make it worth living, or at least bearable.

What’s the point?

Religions, God, heaven, hell, political beliefs, even science, they are all products of the human mindscape, generations of imaginings built upon previous generations of imaginings, all the way down.

Here we are, 2018, sober assessment of physical facts is out of fashion and fantasy thinking in the service of ruthless avarice is in.

Now it literally threatening to topple USA’s government Of The People, By The People, and For The People, in favor of a Me First, profits are more important than people, oligarch run machine.

Well, unless an awful lot of sideliners start getting engaged in our democratic process.

All the while the actual physical creation outside of our conceited little minds keeps on unfolding, following well understood geophysical rules regardless.

Ignore at our own peril.

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32 Responses to Guest essay: The Missing Key

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Even those geophysical rules which are *not* well understood…

  2. Dave_Geologist says:

    Don’t be coy David, tell us what rules you’re referring to. And remember to distinguish between (a) rules you don’t understand (or perhaps reject because you find them inconvenient); (b) rules that other people on the site do understand but you don’t; and (c) rules that actual professional geophysicists do understand, but that some people on the site, perhaps all the non-professionals, don’t understand.

  3. izen says:

    There are other dangers in embracing the religious Magisteria that can be worse than making errors about the version of the physical Magisteria we adopt.
    The UN has recently added anti-vax to its list of risks.

  4. The essay isn’t about embracing anything, it’s about recognizing our Frames Of Reference.
    It’s about recognizing physical reality as something distinct from all that goes on in our heads. It’s also about better recognizing the difference between religious thought and scientific thought.

    Perhaps it’s also about inviting a little humility into our general self-centered attitude towards Earth and all we think we know. Not that we don’t know an awful lot, just that we tend to only see it from one perspective.

    David, yes, even those that are not well understood.
    Even rules that haven’t earned statistically certainty yet. ;- )

  5. David B. Benson says:

    Dave the Geologist, as you *should* know, clouds and other aerosols.

  6. Dave_Geologist says:

    Ah, I see. Rules that are adequately understood for purposes such as determining that the Earth is warming and CO2 is the main control knob, with clouds and aerosols a modifying factor which overall are probably a bit positive, but may just be a littler bit negative. But don’t come remotely close to being negative enough to provide succour through Lindzen’s Iris Effect. We don’t need rules for that last part. It was settled by observations more than a decade ago.

    George Box’s adage applies.

  7. Dave_Geologist says:

    BTW David you forgot to categorise the rule so I’ll do it for you. Option 2. You think it’s a gotcha because you don’t understand it. Others on the site, like me, know it’s an interesting and not unimportant detail which is subject to ongoing refinement. Rather interestingly, as mentioned in the preceding thread, in ways that suggest we’ve been underestimating ECS in recent studies. Which is in line with progress on other, non-EBM fronts. But that in the big picture, it falls in to the “meh” category.

  8. David B. Benson says:

    Dave the Geologist — Stop it.

    Rather than ECS, look to the mid-Pliocene with a sea stand 25 meters higher than now. Conditions are sufficiently similar that at equilibrium Emmy Noether’s theorems apply. That is, the same state will be repeated.

  9. Dave_Geologist says:

    Stop what David? I don’t like ECS, because it’s a misnomer. It was defined for climate models which only reach equilibrium because they omit medium-to-long-term feedbacks which we know are real. And I’ve never really got how you can derive it from short-term (e,g, inter-annual) variability because some of the feedbacks which are included in the models are decadal. I would prefer only to use TCS and ESS. But we seem to be stuck with ECS. I presume the TCS impact of negative ocean-cloud feedback during La Ninas would be the same as with ECS. The additional clouds are not in the current albedo models, so forcing will be overestimated and hence TCS underestimated in those PDO states.

    Volcanic aerosols obey rules pretty well. IIRC climate models gave good predictions of the Pinatubo impact, and of course modern ones have benefited from subsequent calibration. Man-made aerosols suffer from lack of measurement and probably, in many countries, under-reporting. And we may be missing something in ocean DMS. But if we were getting something seriously wrong with clouds or aerosols, in a systematic (biased) way, GCM ensembles driven with actual CO2 etc. forcings would have deviated from observations. They haven’t. There is no there, there. The cloud discussions on the previous thread were not about an adjustment to make models which don’t fit the data, fit the data. The “pause” was always within the known range of natural variability. They were about understanding that natural variability. In the case of Yin & Porporato (still only a preprint AFAICS), there may genuinely have been a small (statistically undetectable) deficit in heating during the “pause”. But as per the previous thread, ocean heat content still increased so air temperatures were mostly down to heat redistribution rather than less heating. To suggest that rules are not well understood on that basis is like suggesting that Newtonian mechanics are not well understood because we have to adjust GPS satellites for relativity. George Box again.

    Of course I expect us to get back to Pliocene temperatures and Pliocene SLR. At least. It depends how much CO2 we emit. And perhaps a permanent El Nino too. Although I’m not sure Noether’s theorem applies. There may be a bifurcation between permanent and non-permanent Arctic ice.

  10. Hmmm, case in point.

    ECS is a human construct to help visualize and define changes to Earth’s temperature equilibrium. We don’t understand it exactly and everyone defines it slanted by their own perspective. Thus it’s an excellent example of our Mindscapes in action, now the down to Earth ‘What’ that ECS is valiantly trying to define is independent of our personal preferences when arguing over it.

    What I find ironic is that an exact ECS number is treated as such a Holy Grail. When we only have a rough understanding of specifically how rate of warming 2°, or 2.5°, or 5° degrees warming (over decades, a century, a millennium?) will impact our climate engine, and even less understanding of the cascading consequences it triggers in our biosphere with her myriad of interactions and connections.

    Though we do know enough, to be sure that it’s going to be a total upheaval of the biosphere that Earth’s been evolving since the [K/T Boundary and incidentally all that we depend on for everything]. On and indecently all that we depend on for everything.

    “…there may genuinely have been a small (statistically undetectable) deficit in heating during the “pause”” >>> In heating what ?

    Another interesting thing I observe is how often terms are used without being defined – so everyone’s mindscape is free to form their own conclusions and how often that leads to folks simply talking past each other.

  11. David B. Benson says:

    Dave the Geologist — Emmy Noether’s theorems apply provided carbon dioxide concentration remains high. For the positions of the continents have no changed enough to matter. All else just depends upon keeping up the carbon dioxide concentration to equilibrium.

    As for a supposed bifurcation there would have to be hysteresis, a so far unobserved geophysical rule. You earlier implied that there aren’t any.

  12. Dave_Geologist says:

    David, I didn’t imply that there are no unobserved geophysical rules. Don’t move the goalposts. I challenged you to name a geophysical rule (relevant was implied) that is “*not* well understood…” (your words, not mine). The George Box references implied that it doesn’t just have to be relevant, but big enough to matter. You proposed clouds and aerosols, which fail the second test. Please don’t come back with unicorns or sky-dragons. Known physics explains climate change to within observational uncertainty, allowing for natural variation. It’s incumbent on unicorn-farmers not only to pony up their unicorns, but to explain why unicorns provide a better explanation than known science.

    Hysteresis (and bifurcations, which are more than just hysteresis and make the function not-continuously-differentiable) is not an unknown geophysical rule. It’s a known geophysical rule. There is some uncertainty about whether the specific conditions in the modern Earth give rise to a bifurcation between an ice-free and a frozen Arctic. I think there are strong indications that they do, in that we had to go well below pre-Industrial CO2 to initiate Northern Hemisphere glaciation, but Arctic ice remained stable at pre-industrial levels. But that may be explainable by Milankovitch specifics. That’s a gap in the observational data required to apply the rule with sufficient precision to decide between two hypotheses, rather than absence of or lack of knowledge of the rule. There is a consensus that there was a bifurcation into Snowball Earth, between ice-free and frozen Tropics. The geological record of the Neoproterozoic is an observation of that rule in action. This paper by the grand-daddy of the subject is a bit old, but it’s open-access and a good introduction: The snowball Earth hypothesis: testing the limits of global change. If there’s a modern bifurcation, it will be between (6) and (7) in the figure below. You can have two (sometimes three) ice extents and global temperatures (because albedo) for a given CO2 and solar forcing.

    I strongly recommend that you watch his Fermor lecture: Fermor 2012: The Neoproterozoic era; evolution, glaciation and oxygenation. It starts with an excellent historical review of climate science since the 19th Century. Required viewing for anyone who thinks it was invented in the 1980s by dastardly scientists in collaboration with the Chinese, and well worth a watch for anyone else who hasn’t seen it.

    This one is also well worth a watch: Dr. Paul Hoffman – Snowball Earth: Did global glaciation change the course of biological evolution? It gives an insight into how geologists can infer past climatic and biological conditions.

  13. Dave_Geologist says:

    Oops, copied the same link twice. this is the first one:

  14. David B. Benson says:

    Hand waving about Snowball Earth in terms of a supposed bifurcation is certainly a fine example of geophysical rules which are *not* understood, my original point which you disputed.

    Regarding a replay of the mid-Pliocene you provide but smokescreen and emerald green glasses regarding a return to those conditions. Arctic sea ice isn’t going to stop it now is it?

  15. David B. Benson says:

    Dave the Geologist, those two videos were worth the time, especially the more recent one. Thank you.

    I point out that he uses bifurcation in what I consider to be an odd way, but the points were not obscured.

  16. Dave_Geologist says:

    Glad you enjoyed the videos David. He’s a good communicator, and the GSL one IIRC was pre or post the formal conference dinner, so pitched at a level for an audience who’d already had a long day and a few drinks. Which makes it well suited to a lay audience.

    Snowball Earth is not handwaving. It’s observed in the geological record, and can be replicated by climate models populated with real-world properties, and run according to the known rules of physics.

    I don’t know where you got the idea that I have emerald green glasses regarding a return to mid-Pliocene conditions. My point was that if there is a hysteresis loop, we’ll deglaciate along a different path than we glaciated. I think there is a bifurcation, and we’ve already passed to the right of (1), or are committed to passing it, and will inevitably jump up to the line between (5) and (6). It won’t happen instantaneously, because it takes time to melt all that ice and change the albedo. Arctic sea-ice won’t come back until we get down to the left of (6), i.e. below pre-industrial CO2 levels. Which will require heroic geoengineering, or tens to hundreds of thousands of years of zero emissions and geological weathering.

  17. David B. Benson says:

    My introduction to geology was a quarter course conducted by Robert P. Sharp. I have kept up my amateur interest in geomorphology.

    The cute graphic with the numbers is misleading as the course evolution follows depends upon the position of the continents. Just now Antarctica is ideally positioned and has been for over 3.25 million years. It is Antarctic land and sea ice that matter, not so much around the north pole.

    Emmy Noether’s theorems apply in equilibrium conditions, thus the insistence upon the equilibrium state to repeat the mid-Pliocene. As for the path, yes, it cannot precisely reverse the glaciation of the Pleistocene with all the glacial cycling. Rather just melting and melting. The parts which melt at various times will be different than the parts which last glaciation due to isostatic adjustment, if nothing else.

    David Archer’s “The Long Thaw” presents a possible future of about 100,000 years to recover from this carbon dioxide pulse, assuming that we stop adding more relatively soon.

  18. Dave_Geologist says:

    It looks like we’ve converged on agreement David. Pleasantly unusual on the Web. Sorry if I came across a bit sarky at the start.

    The Hoffman figure I linked to is from a generic, “toy” model. There are of course more specific models run with the continental configurations at the time, and with ocean currents modelled too. Antarctica has been at the South Pole for a lot longer then 3 My, but there is still debate about exactly what sequence of events triggered the Pleistocene glaciation. Colin Summerhayes’ excellent but expensive book Earth’s Climate Evolution gives a summary of the outstanding issues. There’s probably a recent review paper available on Google Scholar, which I’ll look for in his references if I have time. If there is a bifurcation, I’d expect the Arctic to be key because most of Antarctica is mountainous so will ice up progressively, and once it’s all snow and ice the albedo won’t change much because it’s much harder to make year-round sea ice. Whereas the Arctic is mostly ocean and enclosed, so can flip from one state to another for a small global temperature change.

    One reason I favour a bifurcation is that we’ve had conditions suitable for a modern-style polar glaciation since the Ordovician, almost half a billion years ago. We’ve only had a few, erratically spaced, but they’re all been “proper” glaciations. If there was a smooth, continuous path in or out, I’d have expected a lot of “baby” glaciations as well. Which is suggestive, but does not prove, that there’s a “switch” to be flipped.

    By coincidence, the BBC has just put up a podcast on https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00025bw (may not be available in all regions)..

  19. Dave_Geologist says:

    A podcast on Emmy Noether.

  20. David B. Benson says:

    Unable to play the Emmy Noether discussion. But I have read at least one of the biographies about her; I believe that there are 3. I’ve even read the theorems and the proofs which would require further study.

  21. BBD says:

    Dave G

    David Archer’s “The Long Thaw” presents a possible future of about 100,000 years to recover from this carbon dioxide pulse, assuming that we stop adding more relatively soon.

    Somewhat tangential to the interesting discussion about bifurcation, but since you mention Archer and ~100ka recovery from modern warming, this may be of interest regarding a potential feedback-driven prolongation of the PETM hyperthermal:

    Shelby L. Lyons et al. Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum prolonged by fossil carbon oxidation, Nature Geoscience (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41561-018-0277-3

    The study proposes that warm, wet conditions during the hyperthermal increased erosion and caused an ongoing release of CO2 which kept the ball rolling and rolling.

  22. Dave_Geologist says:

    It’s annoying that the BBC won’t allow that podcast David. You can see why they block iPlayer stuff they sell through BBC Worldwide, and externally produced stuff that has regional licensing conditions. But the resale value of a 45 minute podcast about a mathematician must be vanishingly close to zero.

  23. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks BBD, interesting study. I see Zachos is in there who’s one of the fathers of the field. We know there was a huge intensification of the hydrological cycle both from land exposures and from a change in the amount and type of clay washed into the deep oceans. Normally that would draw down CO2, but they argue for erosion of fossil carbon. In that it’s like the studies linking it to maturation of North Atlantic oil source rocks by subvolcanic intrusions. There is data which seems to show ocean acidification spread from the North Atlantic. There’s also a recent paper referenced here: Skye volcanic eruption ‘changed climate’. The article is overstated. It was a Pinatubo-scale eruption, so not nearly enough to cause the PETM. I think the significance is that is shows evidence for explosive eruptions, in a Large Igneous Province context where you’d expect effusive, Hawaiian style eruptions. A large explosive silicic eruption in the British Palaeogene Igneous Province. Although the Skye province has been known for decades to have a lot of assimilated continental crust, and the Red Hills and Arran granites are, well, granite… As is the Beinn an Dubhaich, which has a bit of an odd composition IIRC. And is a place where I came very close to having a nasty accident a decade or four ago.

    Another factor might be that, IIRC, aerosols need to be injected in the tropics to spread over the globe, otherwise they’re restricted to one hemisphere. So there’d be less initial cooling than with the CAMP province, for example. Which brings me to the one I favour because it doesn’t need a deus ex machina. Antarctic permafrost which reached a tipping-point when the thaw got out of the valleys and onto the plateau. And was much bigger than the subsequent ETMs because the first one oxidised tens of millions of years’ stockpile, the others only millions. IIRC those models explain the earlier North Atlantic acidification by contrasting deep-water circulation patterns in the confined Atlantic vs. the open Pacific. Volcanoes which cooled the northern hemisphere only through aerosols, but warmed the south through well-mixed CO2, would be a nice twist.

  24. BBD says:

    Which brings me to the one I favour because it doesn’t need a deus ex machina. Antarctic permafrost which reached a tipping-point when the thaw got out of the valleys and onto the plateau.

    Deconto (2012) I think? There’s another interesting study about the timing of the carbon pulses, and the suggestion that there were two of them, each <2kyr in duration, early in the PETM. The authors favoured a one-two combination of volcanism followed by a clathrate burp. IIRC, they didn't like the Deconto Antarctic permafrost hypothesis, but I also wonder if their interpretation of two spikes with a fall of CO2 to background values conflicts with Lyons19. The PETM still has a lot of research mileage in it yet, I think 🙂

  25. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks again BBD. I have Bowen et al. Yes, probably Deconto. I think the ETMs also bear more looking at. I’ve suggested previously that we know c. 4C is bad, but 8C is catastrophic. The ETMs would inform on 5C, 6C and 7C, and perhaps tie down the “catastrophic” threshold.

  26. Does anyone seriously believe that + 4C is something that will support humanity, or the ecosphere that has evolved over the past ten thousands years, the one that made our complex society possible?

    And what does any of this nitpicking have to do with the substance of that essay at the top?

    Excuse the snark, but every time I go back to this comment thread it bursts into my mind, “buy ’em books and buy ’em books and all they do is eat the covers.” The essay I dare say is philosophical and about our hubris and inability to separate our egos from understanding what’s unfolding upon this physical planet that created us. It’s also a feeble attempt to voice the wonder of it all.

    Excuse my impertinents.

  27. BBD says:

    Well, the thread bears witness to the ability of science, or at least scientific modes of thinking, to reconcile different positions. Something religious modes of thought have not always been successful at.

    Religion is all about the human mindscape itself, with its wonderful struggles, fears, spiritual undercurrents, needs and stories we create to give our live’s meaning and make it worth living, or at least bearable.

    A religious mindscape isn’t necessary to imbue a life with a sense of meaning and make it tolerable in the face of an impersonal universe. Oddly, science can do that, insofar as it allows individuals to define themselves by the measure of their understanding of the universe.

  28. Dave_Geologist says:

    citizenschallenge, if I appeared to be diminishing 4C, I wasn’t. I’d expect parts of the Tropics to become unfarmable and uninhabitable in practice for parts of the year, and widespread crop failure across the globe, in addition to more severe fires, floods and storms. Absent WWIII, something like modern civilisation should survive, albeit much diminished, poorer, and with a lot of dead bodies along the way.

    If we get into PETM or Carnian Pluvial Event territory, my reading of the geology tells me that the enhanced hydrological cycle will be the kicker, not just temperature. Some places stayed similar to before – the southern Appalachians became like Costa Rica but remained forested. The Sinai greened, but it will take hundreds or thousands of years to turn wet rock and sand to topsoil. Spain went from something like today, to 30-year droughts interrupted by super-storms that rolled car-sized boulders hundreds of miles. It’s hard to see agriculture surviving that, let alone cities and transport infrastructure. I’d expect many other Mediterranean climates to go the same way. The logic of Clausius-Clapeyron is inescapable. The Taiga will expand northwards, but it will take at least a thousand years to establish climax forest. The distinction I was making is between a bad version of today’s world, and a Mad Max world.

  29. Thank you BBD, at least you are on topic.
    BBD writes: “A religious mindscape isn’t necessary to imbue a life with a sense of meaning and make it tolerable in the face of an impersonal universe. Oddly, science can do that, insofar as it allows individuals to define themselves by the measure of their understanding of the universe.”

    In this essay I wrote:
    “Science seeks to objectively learn about our physical world, but we should still recognize all our understanding is embedded within and constrained by our mindscape.
    Religion is all about the human mindscape itself, with its wonderful struggles, fears, spiritual undercurrents, needs and stories we create to give our live’s meaning and make it worth living, or at least bearable.”
    ________________________________________-

    In other places I’ve written about the knowledge of Earth evolution (which science has discovered to be an intimate dance between geology and biology) has filled me with a spiritual foundation, security and belonging, in the face of death that no ancient holy texts can come close to touching.

    So we have no disagreement.

  30. I’ve been invited to give a talk built around this essay to a local Skeptics group. The essay read ~10 minutes, the talk needs to be 20ish. But that’s okay because it also needs a more personal touch, so an giving some background to where this perspective is coming from. Then the challenging conclusion. This is why I write, it’s amazing the connections that happen and the learning I do while wrestling with these words.

    I want to share it here because I have the feeling many can’t figure out what the point of the above essay was. I couldn’t quite explain it before, but now I think I can:
    __________________________________________________________________

    “You know, I was asked what good is this essay?
    What can people do with it?
    Why should they care?

    Well, I think about our country and how over the past few decades a third of our country has been brainwashed in believing they know God’s Will, which seems focused on envying, fearing and hating the other 2/3s of their fellow countrymen and the way we want to live. They are blindly self-certain of their God and there is only one way. Their way.

    It’s hideous. Now I’m no atheist. I’m good with God, but She’s a whisper, an unknowable something beyond our comprehension.

    Hell, in the book of Job it even tells believers as much, God is beyond human understanding, period. But to they listen?

    Religions help us bring communities together and feel the spirit in our individual hearts. But what they offer is shadow plays and ritual. Nothing wrong with that! We need it. But, for God Sake don’t mistake that for down to Earth Reality. God is in our hearts and souls, why isn’t that enough?

    How did it get this bad? I think it’s because no one called them on their hubris! We’ve been giving them a free pass since all this started with Reagan’s political strategists and some power hungry greedy ruthless evangelicals, who learned how to pimp God for cash.

    Now more than ever we need to stop talking past that third of our nation. We need to start confronting them. Not with anger, but with intellectual spiritual challenges of a more constructive way to look at religious certainties. Why not make them question themselves?

    But, that message has got to come from the heart. I believe an Earth Centrist appreciation for Evolution and our place on this Earth offers opportunities for us individually to better develop our own intellectual/spiritual awareness and grounding. That in turn, will help us develop constructive, yet challenging, messaging towards the faith-shackled crowd.

    Why not challenge them to question their self-certainty? Least we can do is demand that geophysical reality start being respected. “

  31. If anyone should be curious about some of the things that have lead me to the perspective I keep trying to enunciated with increasing clarity, here’s the script to that talk I mentioned above.

    April 6, 2019
    Citizenschallenge, why are you an Earth Centrist?
    http://whatsupwiththatwatts.blogspot.com/2019/04/petermiesler-why-earth-centristism.html

    The brass tacks short version:

    GOP Religion vs. Rational Politics. My point is . . .
    https://confrontingsciencecontrarians.blogspot.com/2019/04/gop-religion-v-rational-politics.html

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