Orderly equations, messy equations
Posted: 11 November 2007 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Is mathematics orderly and perfect?  The radius of a circle or sphere goes around the circumference exactly six times - not the distance that an ant would travel by walking around the circumference, but by a series of straight lines marked off by the radius (the compass)to form a perfect hexagon within the circle.  Why is this so?  Why not 5.999 times, or 6.01 times?  Is this example of ‘order and perfection’ an exceptional event in mathematics? 

Is there a kind of order and ‘perfection’ in the entire field of mathematics, or are there irregularities, inconsistencies, messy outcomes, chaotic solutions?  Can theories be tested by asking, “Is this result orderly and elegant?”  Was it Fred Hoyle who tested theories by asking this question? 

Although the words don’t really fit the subject, I find that when I read certain literature I get a sense of order, humor, happiness, elegance.  When I read the Bible, I get a sense of fable,  bigotry, hallucination, manipulation, superstition, and a peculiar lack of joie de vivre.  Though the words aren’t quite right, the Bible (Koran, etc.) seems like a circle in which the radius goes around 5.997 times.  Something weird and unnatural about it.  Every ‘snowflake’ based on this is going to be weird - nature with foundations in sand; an edifice that needs constant propping up with explanations and exhortations (preaching), not something that speaks for itself, like a circle, or a flower.

[ Edited: 11 November 2007 08:16 PM by unsmoked]
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Posted: 11 November 2007 09:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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“When I read the Bible, I get a sense of fable, bigotry, hallucination, manipulation, superstition, and a peculiar lack of joie de vivre.”

Your appraisal of The Bible is a sort of Fourier analysis. In fact, it’s the Fourier analysis that most people are referring to when they speak of reading the Bible. When you read it in the time domain, so to speak, these elements interact in a complex manner, full of overtones and rich harmonics.

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Posted: 12 November 2007 06:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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mcalpine - 12 November 2007 02:26 AM

“When I read the Bible, I get a sense of fable, bigotry, hallucination, manipulation, superstition, and a peculiar lack of joie de vivre.”

Your appraisal of The Bible is a sort of Fourier analysis. In fact, it’s the Fourier analysis that most people are referring to when they speak of reading the Bible. When you read it in the time domain, so to speak, these elements interact in a complex manner, full of overtones and rich harmonics.

When I read it, I get a sense of order out of chaos, meaning out of tragedy, life from death, and hope from despair. In spite of all the stuff that is strange to our modern sensibilities, there is a “voice within the voice” revealing God. A lot of it depends on what you are looking for when you read it.  If you want to find reasons to reject it, they are there.  If you want to find reasons to accept it, voila!

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Posted: 12 November 2007 07:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 12 November 2007 11:13 PM
mcalpine - 12 November 2007 02:26 AM

“When I read the Bible, I get a sense of fable, bigotry, hallucination, manipulation, superstition, and a peculiar lack of joie de vivre.”

Your appraisal of The Bible is a sort of Fourier analysis. In fact, it’s the Fourier analysis that most people are referring to when they speak of reading the Bible. When you read it in the time domain, so to speak, these elements interact in a complex manner, full of overtones and rich harmonics.

When I read it, I get a sense of order out of chaos, meaning out of tragedy, life from death, and hope from despair. In spite of all the stuff that is strange to our modern sensibilities, there is a “voice within the voice” revealing God. A lot of it depends on what you are looking for when you read it.  If you want to find reasons to reject it, they are there.  If you want to find reasons to accept it, voila!

Bruce, I don’t WANT to find reason to reject it.  I’d like it to be beautiful, liberating, and illuminating.  I’d like it to put us in touch with our natural-born (God-given, if you like) potential, especially knowing that so many, like yourself, turn to it for solace and inspiration.  It would be wonderful if it helped people unburden themselves, instead of loading them up with all kinds of notions, expectations, authority figures, superstitions, fables, and a stultifying sense of ‘knowing’ and being special and favored.  (Daddy likes me better than he likes you.  Santa is going to bring me what I asked for because I’ve been good.  Daddy’s going to spank you!).

In contrast, a Zen Buddhist teacher advises, “It would be best if you managed to cast off everything and be empty and ordinary.  Thoroughly experience the absence of conditioned mind, and observe that all phenomena are like dreams and magical illusions.  Be empty all the way through, and continue on clearing out your mind according to the time and the situation.  Then you will have the same correct foundation as all the great enlightened laymen of all times.”  (‘Zen Letters - Teachings of Yuanwu’ translated by J.C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary).

Master Tetsugan was walking along the shore of Lake Biwa with his students when he saw a man with twinkling eyes walking on the water.  Later he saw the fellow on the shore talking to a crowd and dividing up a single baked sweet potato, miraculously feeding everyone.  Seeing the look of fascination on the faces of his students, Tetsugan stuck out his tongue and made a raspberry.  “That man should be ashamed of himself!”

In another case, a Zen Master was shown a copy of the Sermon on the Mount and asked his opinion.  He read it carefully, nodding, and commented, “Whoever said this was almost enlightened.”

Unlike Christians, with their reverence for the Bible, many classic Zen masters have commented that Buddhist texts make good toilet paper.  (It would be best if you managed to cast off everything, and be empty and ordinary).

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“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 13 November 2007 01:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 12 November 2007 11:13 PM

When I read it, I get a sense of order out of chaos, meaning out of tragedy, life from death, and hope from despair. In spite of all the stuff that is strange to our modern sensibilities, there is a “voice within the voice” revealing God. A lot of it depends on what you are looking for when you read it.  If you want to find reasons to reject it, they are there.  If you want to find reasons to accept it, voila!

Just when I think you’ve come to the [correct] conclusion that it’s pompous in the extreme to make sweeping generalizations about how people will interpret your favorite book, you go off and say something like, “A lot of it depends on what you are looking for when you read it.” 

How would you know what it depends on? Isn’t God supposedly guiding that process, as much or more than the neophyte reader is?

Face this, Bruce, not everyone who breaks open the Bible in earnest will become smitten with your master. You also seem to be suggesting that one MUST approach it in a credulous manner in order to “do it right”.  What about those who have read it with a chip on their shoulder, only to come away having fallen madly in love with Jesus? What about those who open it with dewy-eyed anticipation, only to become sickened by what they learn? Surely you also know that a vast number skim through it without ever bothering to think about what they’re reading. They swallow it whole, never questioning. . . and those sorts might as well be reading the Weekly World News.


In my case, I approached it with a sincere, mostly naive desire to be seduced, but came across too many things that horrified me. . . the point being that the “reasons to reject it” practically slapped me in the face;  I did not have to tease them out of the text—far from it.

Having said that, it’s one thing when someone like you gets sucked into the tale of a tyrant parent who doles out love and torture in unpredictable measure—lots of people seem to have a need for that sort of volatile authority lording over them— but it is a sick thing to try and infect another person with the same dependency. I’m very glad I never took it that far, never proselytized, or I would be dealing with crushing guilt today.

[ Edited: 13 November 2007 01:16 AM by Mia]
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Posted: 13 November 2007 02:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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unsmoked - 12 November 2007 12:48 AM

Is mathematics orderly and perfect?  The radius of a circle or sphere goes around the circumference exactly six times - not the distance that an ant would travel by walking around the circumference, but by a series of straight lines marked off by the radius (the compass)to form a perfect hexagon within the circle.  Why is this so?  Why not 5.999 times, or 6.01 times?  Is this example of ‘order and perfection’ an exceptional event in mathematics? 

Is there a kind of order and ‘perfection’ in the entire field of mathematics, or are there irregularities, inconsistencies, messy outcomes, chaotic solutions?  Can theories be tested by asking, “Is this result orderly and elegant?”  Was it Fred Hoyle who tested theories by asking this question? 

Although the words don’t really fit the subject, I find that when I read certain literature I get a sense of order, humor, happiness, elegance.  When I read the Bible, I get a sense of fable,  bigotry, hallucination, manipulation, superstition, and a peculiar lack of joie de vivre.  Though the words aren’t quite right, the Bible (Koran, etc.) seems like a circle in which the radius goes around 5.997 times.  Something weird and unnatural about it.  Every ‘snowflake’ based on this is going to be weird - nature with foundations in sand; an edifice that needs constant propping up with explanations and exhortations (preaching), not something that speaks for itself, like a circle, or a flower.

The angle associated with an equilateral triangle is 60 degrees.
Since 6*60=360, you get exactly 6 such triangles inscribed in the circle.

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Posted: 13 November 2007 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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unsmoked - 13 November 2007 12:26 AM

Unlike Christians, with their reverence for the Bible, many classic Zen masters have commented that Buddhist texts make good toilet paper.  (It would be best if you managed to cast off everything, and be empty and ordinary).

I also note that Buddhist texts generally consist of compilations of what the Buddha said, in the form of Sutras.  And as unsmoked says, they are not to be worshipped, like a Koran, or considered sacred, like a Bible.  They merely point the follower in a certain driection so that the follower can get beyond the words to the experience, personally.

The Bible seems more concerned about what a bunch of people did.  BFD. The New Testament has many nice sayings of Jesus, but the gospels, like the old Testament, in general seem more hung up on the story than the message.

Buddhism is about the message:  4 Noble Truths; 8 Fold Path to get there (elegant).  But don’t get hung up on the form of the message.

Christianity is about the myths and stories, not about the message.  When was the last time you heard a Christian say:  “Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within you, to follow the golden rule, that by my deeds I shall be known.  So, if I follow the golden rule and do good deeds, I will find the Kingdom of God within.”?

Yeah right.  Christians don’t follow the example of their teacher to reach the place of which he spoke.  They equate belief with knowledge and are totally hung up on the appearences, not the message.

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Posted: 13 November 2007 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Which Jungian archtype does the Bible fall under, I wonder? It reminds me of that experiment where they put a stuffed leopard in the jungle near some chimps, and they beat it to shreds with sticks.

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Posted: 13 November 2007 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Of Mice and Miracles

At any rate, when Jesus returns he will be instantly rich.  Randi will have to pay him that promised million dollars for the first incontrovertible miracle.  Bruce probably forgets that the first scribes and disciples who sat down to write the Gospels found themselves competing with pagan gods, wizards, witches and witch doctors, who (the average person believed) could raise the dead, heal the sick, walk on water, cast out demons, feed multitudes from a single morsel, AND, voila!, be born from a virgin.

Perhaps if Bruce visited a modern refugee camp, where thousands of starving mothers clutch skeletal infants to their empty breasts, he would understand why the Zen master stuck out his tongue and exclaimed, “That man should be ashamed of himself!”  (the wizard, mentioned yesterday, who was feeding the crowd by dividing up a single sweet potato).

I wonder how many Christians realize that they worship a God who proves His existence to them by violating His own laws?
(“Oh,” Jehovah says, “you don’t think my natural creation is wonderful and miraculous?  Look then!  I can turn water into wine!  I can feed the multitude from a few loaves and fishes.”).

“What can be done at any moment is the true self.”  (What can be done at any moment is the true original being).  (True Original Being = Mother Nature, Buddha, God etc.)

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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