I have been driven mad by Christmas this and Christmas that. Even NPR is a steady drone of that ugly music over and and over and over and over and over ...(repeat about a million more times)! Now they add this ridiculous chant about there being a "War On Christmas". Hey maybe folks like me just have had too much crammed down our throats? There is noplace you can go to escape it. It is everywhere. The need to inflict one's superstitions on others is not healthy behavior. Possibly the largest mental health problem in our our country is this superstitious neurotic behavior and the evangelism that accompanies it. having been Roman Catholic until age 21 and then a "Born again" type for almost a decade after that it is not as if I have not tasted the drug. The idea that we spend useful time and discuss this matter is a sign of something deeply wrong in itself. I am in the process of writing a book to put together the ideas I have evolved to hold in my almost 76 years the last 50 or so spent as a "scientist". Read on below and I'll share a few with you.
We live by our myths. We do this because we have no other choice. The world has always confronted our species with tough problems and we are not all that well equipped with cognitive tools to deal with it. We have created some real potent belief structures to draw upon, science and religion being the pair that seem to satisfy most folk. I mention them together because I have come to believe that they are complimentary. Even the most heated disputes between people who claim to be on one side or the other are basically mutually strengthening rather than any progress toward resolving differences. The fact that they go on and on and get no closer to resolution should be a clue.
And why not? We human creatures are very much into "knowing". Neither science nor religion have been all that helpful in my humble opinion. My concept of "knowing " starts with being aware that we only have very crude models of reality to go on. Some models we get from science some from religion because they have been happy to share the collective ignorance about our real world. None of the models we are saddled with are baggage free no matter how hard we try to believe otherwise.
The core problem for us in Western Civilization is the way our models from science evolved. We were led astray early on by the likes of Descartes, Newton, Bacon, and many others. We have been given a wold view based on Cartesian dualism, the machine metaphor, and total misunderstanding of how we need to deal with causal relationships in our picture of how things happen.
A group of us have been developing this thesis for a long time and have been successfully isolated from influencing either the scientific or the religious communities. We sent out a skeleton of our book and were clued in on a book that just came outIncomplete Nature HOW MIND EMERGED FROM MATTER by Terrence W. Deacon Here is another neuroscientist who has come to so many of the same conclusions we have without really knowing about us! That is very encouraging. I'll have lot's more to say about this in future diaries, but I want to get back to this war on Christmas illusion and what it really means to me.
The science/religion collusion has evolved because people need a model of the complex world they live in. People also have a particular problem in that they don't like to believe that when they die they cease to exist. That, in fact is what I believe. The apparent conflict between science and religion arises because of the incompleteness of each of them. Science fails to deal with the mortality issue and religion is not all that good with providing ways of putting off death.
So our culture in particular needs this constant mutual reassurance that we really don't just stop existing at death. The package the religions sell keeps that thought in its place. If there is a overdose reaction to Christmas hype could it be because by drumming and drumming this theme the confidence that these myths have any basis is weakened rather than strengthened? Oh my! It is so well know that the birthday of Jesus was not this season at all but that the Roman Church moved it to capitalize on the popularity of the Solstice reveling. Once you are had in that way is it possible that you have been had in others?
Now let's get to a real problem about all this. The Christmas season is, in fact, the biggest materialistic orgy I am aware of. It is not trivial! it is hard to estimate how Much our economy needs this and is actually based on this. Is it a coincidence that Faux News is behind much of the hype? Is it possible that the 1% see other threats to their hold on us but losing this one could be big!
Lots to think about and as I wrote this the crap on NPR was less conscious to me. We keep NPR on 24/7 as a sensory stimulus. Part of my way of keeping my brain as active as possible before it finally quits forever.