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November 02, 2006


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I liked the 10 commandments. Likewise, the detailed discussion that goes with each commandment is equally important.

This is good for pointing in the right direction. Hauser seems to be addressing this in a very general way. As Chomsky himself has pointed out, the linguistic model we use still needs work. Some languages are notoriously difficult for infants and children to learn, and the model doesn't address that quirk.

The science writer Arthur Koestler, who suffered some unimaginable treatment at the hands of "natural moralists," wrote about the inefficiencies of natural selection, like koalas and pandas being confined to a single food source. Interesting for argument's sake.

Really, regardless of the source, the traditional commandments are useful for their clarity. I am trying to imagine teaching the Dawkins list to my children when they were younger. I can remember my son at two years trying to get the concept of "tit-for-tat" with his seven year old brother. That painful experience, with its "first stone thrown" feature, continues as a subtext to almost all of their interaction to this day.

"Strive to cause no harm" does not admit the classic follow up of, "but if fall short and are not caught, wrestle with owning up and causing possibly more harm." Children, like lemurs, are social and very aware of deception.

Reading the list brings tons of examples to memory.

The clarity and brevity of number 10, though, is the kicker. Children seem to question everything, (and have curiosity,) except when maturity would dictate it was necessary. "What would happen if I rode my bike off this wall?" Yeah, great. They don't really ask the questions, they just ponder them quietly, and then act precipitously.

Dawkins is way too intellectual for teaching by example, and way too complicated for pre-school.

The contents of Hauser's book is still a hypothesis, waiting to be proven. I hope that this is explored more fully, regardless of whether the end result justifies the hypothesis or not. The fear is that there might be too many impediments to this endeavor by the extreme theologists who would much rather have people "question nothing." I am not sure I believe in "question everything." I prefer to "think about most things."

This is why I love this site, Brian. I truly love hearing other people mull these intellectual and spiritual mysteries aloud.

My mind traverses the figure eight track in this way: If we are imbedded biologically with ability to behave "morally" or immorally and at best outside influences like religion, psychology and the like can only influence those base physiological responses, how should that knowledge inform the treatment of my fellow human beings?

My niece makes an astoundingly good apple pie from scratch. If my nephew is allergic to the pie, does that make him evil? Does his reaction make her pie evil? No and no.

So if the pedophile down the street talks to my son, do I hate him for being the personification of evil? Or do I now have to treat him with even greater compassion as he is "allergic" to impulse control?

Hmmm. This is why I take my religion straight up with statuary and empty ritual. This science stuff makes my head spin. And the white coats give me a migraine. :)


That's a very good list of ten... what? Can't very well call them commandments. Ten Guidelines, maybe?

I'm not sure about "always seek to be learning something new". What does that have to do with morality? It's a great idea, but...

BTW, I recently discovered your site when a friend emailed me a link re. the Jaxon-Bear scandal (hilarious!). I am living in Thailand far from intellectal debate and your blog is like food for the starving. I am from Portland so the Oregon references are also appreciated...

I read that book review of Hauser's book (online) & it reminded me of an ongoing moral argument I have with my husband, which really bothers me. I wrote about it here if you want to help! http://www.43things.com/entries/view/1270716

Where to begin?

If you are proposing a church for the churchless, then the churchless will have a church and will not be churchless anymore. In other words, you understand what you are doing here to be some sort of church, albeit a Godless church. It is, then, a church for atheists, which confirms the fact that all people are necessarily religious, and that atheism is itself a religion, albeit an ostensibly Godless religion. Interesting.

To say that "Morality comes from nature not God" does not make it so. Rather, the statement is an expression of belief, which makes it a religious statement and is consistent with the tenets of the Godless religion of atheism.

Now note that the entire argument of this post is built upon faith in evolution. Evolution is the creation story of the Godless religion of atheism, and is an expression of belief, of presuppositions. It is a theory, not a fact. Nor is it science because it is not verifiable.

If I understand what you are saying, nature through the process of evolution developed a universal sense of morality or of moral goodness among human beings. "Nature knows what it is doing," you said. The history of the word "nature," however, reveals that it is a god substitute term that was developed by early scientists to explain the universe without reference to God. Nature does for the scientist what God does for the religionist -- it regulates the universe.

But why should the universe be regulated? Why is there order rather than disorder? To posit nature is to posit order. Where did the order come from? Is nature a person? If not, how can it know anything? And if it does know something, what is the philosophical ground of its knowledge? If to know is to understand, what is it that nature stands under that provides its knowledge?

You have said that studies show "people around the world do generally agree about what is right and wrong." Really? What studies? If this is so, why do people disagree with each other so much? Why is war the common theme of all history? A better expression of the facts would note that people don't generally agree. And in particular, people generally don't agree with God, who said, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD" (Isaiah 55:8).

If you are to live by your Ten Recommendations, then you must seriously question their veracity. You must respect God's right to disagree with you and seek to learn something new from Him, and check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief like atheism or evolution if it does not conform to them.

Ahh, there's the rub! What will you consider to be a fact? What evidence will you accept to be true? And how will you know that what you think is a fact actually is? How will you know that you have not overlooked a critical piece of evidence because you willfully discounted and/or ignored it because of a faulty presupposition or belief?

Philip - I found just one foundational flaw, on the first read of your argument. Nature need not be a person for knowledge to exist. "To know" is not equivalent to "to understand."

There is a philosophical construct that posits knowledge as the container of order implicitly, and extends that extant into progressional growth. Ungrund Tychism, or groundless chance, posits that always-acting creation is the only existant, and all other percepts are derivations of the results of creation in the present.

Try it out on your favorite description of the God/Atheism duality.

Dear Mr. Ross,
Are you the Phillip Ross who has recently had published the 326 pp. book entitled _Acts of Faith_ (about the NT book of Acts)?
Robert Paul Howard

Phillip, your comment on this post was filled with so many inaccuracies and untruths it's taken me a while to find the time to respond to them. Here goes...

This isn't a "church" for atheists. It's a place where open-minded truth-seekers can congregate in cyberspace and share ideas.

You can't equate blind belief with clear-eyed searching. It's like saying that belief in unicorns and skepticism about the existence of unicorns are both equally valid (or possible) attitudes. They're not.

No one has ever demonstrated that he or she has seen a real-life unicorn. Same with God. In science, as in everyday life, it is up to the believer to produce proof--not up to the unbeliever to produce proof of the non-belief.

(A cop has to show that I actually ran a red light; saying "you can't prove otherwise" isn't enough, just as an accused murderer doesn't have to prove he didn't commit the crime).

So it is utterly wrong to say that acceptance of evolution is simply a belief, just as belief in God is. Big difference between the two: there's scads of demonstrable evidence in support of evolution; there's none in support of God.

Scientists don't have "faith" in evolution. They accept it because it is the theory that best fits the facts. By and large, when scientists learn that new facts don't fit a theory, they change the theory. Religion, however, is immune to facts, because it is founded on faith.

I like reality. That's why I don't like religion.

Evolution, whether of the cosmic or earthly variety, is fully capable of explaining how order arose out of non-order. Not perfectly, perhaps, but a lot more perfectly than religion can. I've read books about evolutionary theory with an open-mind. Have you?

How do you suggest that I check out a moral code against "God's facts"? Which holy book should I consult? Bible? Dhammapada? Koran? Tao Te Ching? Upanishads? They all claim to reveal the word of God (though this may not be a personal God, as in the case of Buddhism and Taoism).

Hauser's book, and Dawkins', cite the studies that show people (whether atheist or religious) come to the same moral judgments. This strongly indicates that morality is inherent or instinctual, not learned by revelation.

How do you explain the fact that atheists and believers have the same moral outlook? Doesn't this strike at your belief that morality flows from God?

Lastly, I'm continually checking my beliefs, or non-beliefs, about God and such against the facts. Are you? What facts have you come across that would convince me that your God (which I assume is the Christian God) exists?

Show me the facts. Allow me to consider them. But please, don't waste my time with personal stories or "you've got to believe." Like I often say here, I've got no problem with someone believing whatever they want, so long as that remains a personal belief.

If having a unicorn friend makes you happy, keep on stroking the horn. Just don't expect that anyone else should share your belief, or acquiesce in making Unicornosity a pillar of social/political policy.

Edward, Please use your dictionary to define words. I am suggesting that the longest held belief in history is true. You are telling me what "groundless chance" has "posited." Without regard to Wittgenstein, your language is confusing you. Thank you for acknowledging the reality and importance of creation, which is "always-acting" and which provides the essential foundation for all predication.

Robert, Yes. Are you Swedish?

Brian, Our fist disagreement is over definitions. The definitions I use have a Christian foundation because God invented human language. You will no doubt dispute that, but your dispute will be of a different sort of argument, one which I will come to shortly.

"Church" (ekklesia) according to the Bible is not a building or a place, but a people. Sometimes they congregate together and sometimes they disburse into society at large. But whether they are congregating or disbursed, they are unified by a set of common beliefs. What you are doing on this website is not different than this, except that your congregation appears to hold different beliefs than those of the Bible.

If you will read my post again, you will see that I am in no way attempting to equate "blind belief" with "clear-eyed searching." Your equivocation of belief in God with belief in unicorns constitutes what logicians will call a "straw man" argument. You are not arguing against me, but you are arguing against your own definition/understanding of God. If I understood God to be what you understand God to be (something akin to a unicorn, something imaginary), I would also refuse to be a Christian.

I am not endeavoring to prove God's existence. There are several reasons for that, one of which is that God is not subject to science or to logic. That does not mean that God is opposed to or in contradiction to either. It just means that proper etymology and ontology are important. If you would like to argue coherently against me, the proper venue is epistemology, not science.

You said that there are "scads of demonstrable evidence in support of evolution," but "none in support of God." I could ask you, "What will you consider admissible as evidence?" But you have already answered the question -- nothing. So, you have categorically dismissed anything that might be presented as evidence prior to your perception or understanding of it. My intention in this sentence is not to pander to name calling, but to provide the dictionary definition of the word "bigot: A prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own."

And yet, you and I will not likely disagree about the evidence that gives rise to your belief in evolution, rather we will disagree over the interpretation of the evidence. For instance, consider the Grand Canyon: You might say, "Wow! Look what a little bit of water did over a very long period of time." While I would say, "Wow! Look what a great deal of water did over a very short period of time." The evidence is not the problem.

According to Webster, faith is, among other things, "something that is believed especially with strong conviction." Because at this point we are not talking about a particular faith, but faith in general, this is the operative definition. Faith in evolution is simply having a strong conviction that evolution is the theory that best fits the facts. Note that according to your own words evolution is a theory, not a fact. It is not simply that scientists change their various theories when they discover new facts, but good scientists also change their theories when they find better interpretations of the facts they already have.

I agree with you that "morality is inherent," but disagree that "people (whether atheist or religious) come to the same moral judgments. Of course, the those who agree with each other do come to the same moral judgments, but those who don't agree don't. Take homosexuality, for instance. There could hardly be a more divisive issue in the annals of human morality. The only way that you could not see the divisiveness of such a moral issue is to dismiss a priori those who disagree with you, to simpy not see them, and/or not to allow them a place at your proverbial table.

Brian, I am well-read in the literature of evolution, not as a scientist but as a philosopher. However, it is unlikely that you are as well-read in the literature of creation. If you seriously want a bibliography, just ask. But only ask if you are serious about reading the literature.

The critical issue in our discussion is not whether God exists. Before we can even discuss the existence or non-existence of God, we must first understand what it is that we claim to exist or not to exist. We must begin with a common definition. Without at doubt, the god that you understand (if I correctly deduce that you put God and unicorns in the same ontological category) does not exist. Rest assured that we (you and I) agree about this.

Now, can we talk about a different God or a different definition of God? For instance, the God of the Westminster Confession of Faith should provide an adequate foundation. This God is of a whole different order.


Phillip - Written philosophy did not stop in 1990, and the agora churns away outside of the academy. Ungrund Tychism is already a discreet construction of philosophical thought. I apologize if my translation was misleading, but you see what you believe. Suggestions aside, a "belief" does not become a "truth" regardless of the length of its teeth - I trust you've seen the Williamson?

Phillip, I enjoy your thoughtful Christian outlook. However, as you observed, our thoughts differ when it comes to faith and science.

You make my point for me when you say, "I'm not endeavoring to prove God's existence." The reason is that you can't. Nobody can. That's why you also say that our debate is in the realm of epistemology rather than science.

Fine. Now we're in the realm of unicorns, not reality. I've read a bit of Plato. Seem to recall that he and his philosophical buddies liked to sit around and debate whether an idea of a non-existent entity was real or unreal.

Well, it's real in the sense that it is an idea, like the idea of a unicorn. But doesn't religion claim more than that? Isn't God supposed to be the ultimate reality, not just the ultimate conception?

Maybe I'm wrong here. If you're simply claiming that God is a wonderful idea that gives you meaning, comfort, and joy, I don't want to challenge that claim. I have ideas that similarly support me, such as the notion that one day a convertible Mini Cooper S will appear in my driveway--for me!

I don't understand why you say that no evidence would convince me that God exists. That's wrong. I've spent most of my life looking for such evidence. Every day I meditate and usually start off by silently saying, "God, Tao, Buddha-nature, Allah, whoever might be out there, here I am. Show me."

The thing is, the Christian (as well as Jewish and Muslim) God isn't a detached observer, or a unitary advaitist godhead. God supposedly intervenes in the world, answers prayers, all that stuff.

I've read more Christian mysticism than 99% of Christians, I'll bet. Meister Eckhart, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Nicholas of Cusa, Pseudo-Dionysius, author of the Cloud of Unknowing, these guys (and gals) are close companions.

They speak of God as mystery, darkness, not-knowing, ineffability. That rings true to me, because that's my experience of God: darkness and silence (I resonate with Zen because this emptiness is viewed positively; could just be rationalization of ignorance but what the heck, I'll take it).

Most Christians, though, view God much differently. They believe they talk to God and God talks to them. They believe that God answers prayers and guides events in the world. Thus there must be some connection between God and the physical universe.

Well, where is it? Even if God can't be observed, that connection should be sensible, as should the godly effects in this world caused by it. Where's the evidence? Where's the beef?

There's no end to philosophical arguments. This is the realm of theology, which I'm not much interested in. If God isn't real, then I've got no use for her. I've got enough fantasies as it is.

You say that we shouldn't be talking about whether God exists. To my mind that is the only thing we should be talking about. Again, I respect the ideas that you have in your head. They're interesting and provocative.

So are the creations of movie directors and other artists. But I don't worship them. They're part of reality--human reality. My argument is that if "God" is merely a figment of human imagination, let's admit it. Religion then becomes an art form, which is pretty much how I view it.

You don't know that God exists. You believe this. You hope it is true. You have feelings that lead you in that direction. Great. If that gives you satisfaction, I'm happy for you.

I just ask that you allow others their own subjective feelings, their own personal beliefs, their own individual leanings. Like, homosexuals. There is much more reason to accept that homosexuality is an inherent reality of the natural world than religion is.

Courtesy of a Christian email friend, Steve, here are some thoughts about faith and science that almost exactly echo my own:

Edward, well said. Beliefs do not become truths. What makes a truth true is its conformity to reality. The purpose of biblical beliefs or faith is to conform us -- humanity -- to reality, to make our lives true, as in authentic and sustainable.

Brian, I can't even prove my own existence, and you can't prove yours either. Nor do we need to. I know for sure that I exist apart from any proof, but I don't know about you. Nor do you know about me, I might add.

Faith and science are not opposed to each other. They are different categories of experience. Faith is to science what axioms are to geometry. The whole proof of God mentality is not endemic to the Bible. The Bible offers no proof of God's existence. Rather, the effort to prove God is an exercise of Greek categories of thought trying to make sense of the biblical God. But, alas, they cannot. Paul speaks to this in Acts 17 and in First Corinthians, where he identifies Greek philosophy as foolishness, that is, lacking in discernment and good judgment.

You seem to be trying to understand what I'm talking about in Greek categories, referencing Plato, etc. And I understand the reasons for doing that. Christian theology is full of misapplied Platonism. But what I want to argue is that the perspective of the Bible and the perspective of Plato have nothing in common -- zip, nada, zilch. They are a "one eighty" to each other, like ships passing in the night.

May I suggest a book? (You will probably recommend me for the Christian Taliban list, though I'm pretty careful with my words. So, you will have trouble finding a suitable quote. But I encourage you to look anyway.) Since you are a philosopher yourself, you might want to read "The One And The Many," By R.J. Rushdoony, subtitled "Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy." It won't convert you, but you might get a better understanding of those you seem to consider to be your enemies, though we are not.

I do not claim that "God is a wonderful idea that gives (me) meaning, comfort, and joy." That is not the God of Scripture, contemporary Evangelicalism to the contrary. Don't get me wrong, God does, of course, give meaning, comfort and joy to His people, but that is not the extent or even the essence of God's purpose. As you know from the testimony of the pastor in Texas, God also sends people to hell. He 'da man, the judge. That's His job. He wrote the Book.

But that's not the whole of it, not even the main part. The main part breaks into two halves: sin and forgiveness. First, all have sinned. That's you and me and every biped. And the first evidence of sin is it's denial. Second, forgiveness comes through Christ alone. When we deny the first half, God denies the second half.

But it doesn't give me (or Him) any warm fuzzy feeling to believe that I'm going to heaven while others will go to hell - na, na, na, na, na, na. That's not it. That's not even close. God denial leads not only to hell for the faithless, but to community destruction through the loss of fidelity. Think in terms of economics. Depression and inflation effect everyone -- the faithful and the faithless. Rather than sparing His people, God makes an example of them. Think of Job and the Christian Martyrs. Much gospel fruit is produced in the crucible of suffering. Consider Paul who was beaten, stoned and shipwrecked -- and counted it all joy. If you are looking for Christianity to make wordly sense, you are barking up the wrong tree.

And about the Mini Cooper 5 -- you sound just like a crazy charismatic Christian, suffering the same delusion differently. He's claiming it in the name of Jesus, while you just have an idea about a notion. If I were a betting man, which I'm not, I'd put my money on the deluded charismatic getting his Mini Cooper before you get yours because he's more passionate about it. But the truth is that it's a deluded hope, though you were just trying to be cute.

The problem with your search for evidence for the existence of God is many-fold. First, the manner in which you are looking for such evidence suggests that you doubt it to begin with. You are presupposing that God doesn't exist, and then "looking" for evidence. As Edward said (above), "you see what you believe." The geometric proof sets out to prove the axiom it has presupposed to be true.

Second, God is a person, not an idea. You pray, "whoever might be out there, here I am. Show me." But your prayer is an absolute affront to God. You call Him by many false names. It's like you want to talk to me, but you can't remember my name. So, you call out, "George, Pete, Sam, whoever you are." And I don't answer. Are you surprised that I don't answer? You shouldn't be. Generally speaking, when you don't call people by name, they neither listen nor respond.

But it's more than simply getting God's name wrong (note that in the list of names that you provided in your previous post, you ommitted "Jesus," which is God's preferred name at this point in history). God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). Your prayer constitutes a violation of the First Commandment, forbidding appeal to other gods. Your attempt to put God in a pantheon -- "God, Tao, Buddha-nature, Allah" -- evidences a profound misunderstanding, and constitutes a virulent offense to God. And you are surprised when God ignores you!

God does not answer all prayer. "Then they will cry to the LORD, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have made their deeds evil" (Micah 3:4). But He does answer faithful prayer (Matthew 6:6-13).

We have a thorough reading of Christian mysticism in common. I, too, spent many years looking there. But God is not there. The God of the Christian mystics is "mystery, darkness, not-knowing, ineffability." You're right about that. But that is not the God of the Bible. That is the false God of Gnosticism.

According to the Westminster Confession, "I. There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory, most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal most just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin; and who will by no means clear the guilty."

Finally, and most importantly, the only incontrovertible proof for the existence of God for me is me -- my own life, just as the only undeniable proof for the existence of God for you can only be you -- your life, etc. I'm not setting myself up as an example to you or anyone else, God forbid! Rather, I am just saying that the need for proof regarding God is resolved by meeting Him. God has invaded human history, invaded the minds and hearts of His people through regeneration. Nicodemus questioned Jesus about this teaching. Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). This is not a cop out, solipsistic argument meant to brush off rational inquiries. It is simply the foundational element of Christianity, and if you don't have it, you can't see it. It doesn't even show up on your radar. You are blind to its reality. Does this sound true? It looks to be true from here.

However, those who are truly lost don't care. They don't think about it or wonder about it. And in their lack of wonder and consideration, they are hopeless. Those who genuinely wonder, however, who seriously seek for real answers to real problems (not philosophical crap!) might find those answers by asking the right Person. I don't know. Take it up with Him.


Thanks for your discussions. May I ask, "Are you familiar with the terms, Divine Awareness or Divine Enlightenment?" If so, "What is your understanding as to their exact meaning?"
I am not sitting in judgement of you, I just desire to know more. Thanks for your reply, Roger

Phillip - I discern three proofs: 1)the allocation of sin and forgiveness; 2) intrinsic personhood; 3)the objective case of "I".

1) The representation of duality is made personal through sin, which can only be defined in reference to an organized religion. I suppose I could sin against the Church of the Churchless, and be subsequently forgiven, but the sin would have to correspond to the agreed upon "good" of the Church per se. I think it is intellection, our apprehending approach to God, that dictates the terms of all dual states: sin/grace is one among them. Intellection, and the organization of categories, does not require a personal God.

2) Eckhart's construct is that God is beyond the characteristics of finite conception. God as a person is an unreasonable concept. I think this way: the omnipotent, omniscient author of all assumes the Anima Mundi, and probably won't misunderstand any of my jumbled prayers, since they are not, eternally, "my" prayers at all.

3) That I conceive of the ego as an object at all: that is the gesture of an immediate God, through and through.

Roger, Do you mean this:

Divine Awareness - the wisdom of All That Is and ever shall be. This Consciousness is all encompassing. It holds within itself all form and formlessness, all polarities, time and space, illusion and reality, life and death, nothing and everything. It has no beginning and no ending. To be in human form and experience Divine Awareness is to transcend limitations of all kinds. One experiences limitlessness.

What has this got to do with sitting or not sitting in judgment?

Edward, Three proofs of what?

Sin is not defined by organized religion (as opposed to unorganized religion or organized unreligion?), but is defined by God in the Bible, i.e., Ten Commandments. The "agreed upon" aspect of sin (violation of the covenant) is covered by God's covenant with humanity through Adam, then a series of covenantal clarifications through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, etc., culminating in the New Covenant through Jesus Christ. It's a long story. But, yes, we have all already agreed upon the terms of the covenant through our historical covenantal leaders. Think of it like the President who makes various alliances and deals with other nations on behalf of the American people. Even though I don't personally make, approve or acknowledge any such agreements, I am obligated by them because of my citizenship. Adam, President of Earth at the time, declared war against God. Jesus, elected by God to represent us, sued for peace and won, but there are terms to the peace settlement.

It is immaterial whether you (or whoever) think that God as a person is an "unreasonable concept" because 1) you are (humanity is) not the arbitrator of reason, and 2) God is not a concept any more than you are a concept.

You mentioned "a personal god." Is that related to my comments about God as a Person? If not, what is a personal god?

Eckhart is a doozie. While it is true that we cannot know God completely because God is infinite and we are not, that does not mean that we cannot have correct but limited yet true knowledge of Him. However, that knowledge cannot be attained by intellection, seeking, realization, meditation, tantra or any other efforts on our part. Rather, any and all knowledge of the only God who actually is God is revealed by God in the Bible. So, if you want to know about God, read the Bible. But understand that knowing about God and being a sheep of His flock are not the same things. Satan knows more about God than we do -- and his knowledge about God is true. Yet, Satan opposes God.

The reason that God can't hear your prayers is that you apparently don't have any. But if you did, God would not misunderstand them, though He may choose not to answer them. I don't know. Again, I'm labor not management. Take it up with the Boss.

I've been chewing on your number 3. It has the characteristics of English and the necessary elements of sentence structure. What is fuzzy is meaning. My best interpretation is something like: The realization of the objectivity of ego is equivalent to God predication. Or, try this: Only God can consider ego objectively, throughout the entire extent. Am I close? And if I am, what do I mean?


Dear Mr. Ross,
I am not Swedish, nor of Swedish ancestry (so far as I can trace). I hope your query actually was about my ancestry, rather than being a gratuitous insult (as like from godhatesfags.com).
Robert Paul Howard


Thanks for your reply. I have no decided meaning to what Divine Awareness is. I ask the question to learn what others are thinking. My statement, "I'm not sitting in judgement of you," is to hopfully ensure you and others that I am not going to attack you or your answer.

If you have further details of what Divine Awareness or Divine Enlightenment is/are, feel free to write an additioanl comment.
Best wishes...Roger

Phil - too many words. You know what my meaning is through convention, as surely as you know about my prayers. Thithering in and out of epistemology is unseemly. You are dismissed.


It was not intended to be any sort of insult. I just thought that this might be you:


What is meant here by the "longest held belief in history?"

Dear Mr. Ross,
That is/was me (although I don't believe I attended the "meeting" referred to). I also fail to see any suggestion therein that implied that I might be Swedish.
Robert Paul Howard

Todd, biblical religion predates the Flood.

Robert, the main page of the site is in Sweedish.



The Vedas, Upanishads, Buddhist scriptures, and Tao-teh-Ching are all older than Christianity.


Dear Mr. Ross,
Thank you for explaining why you wondered if I were "Sweedish." When trying to get on to your www.pilgrim-platform.org/ site, the system here at the Library prevents me, stating that it "is blocked under the following categories: Pornography." Would you know why this is so?
Robert Paul Howard

Todd, Christianity understands that there is only one God, and that God exists in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), distinct but not different. As such the God of the Old Testament is not a different God than the God of the New Testament. Jesus' teachings do not contradict those of the Old, but rather fulfill them. They are an kind of extension of them. Thus, the God and the teachings of Christianity reach back to Genesis 1. Other religions have come about as a consequence of the Tower of Babel and the Flood.

Robert, (Sorry about the misspelling. I saw it just as I hit post.)

I've never heard that the site has been banned before. I'll look into it.

But even if it were true, I thought that libraries defended pornography as an expression of so-called free speech. So, that is quite curious. But if it were blocked because of pornography it would probably be because in one of the articles I refer to homosexuality by its biblical name -- sodomy. Pretty racy, huh! Do you want me to email you some articles? It's a large site, maybe 3-400 pages if it were in book form.

It could be that there are certain people who don't want others to hear what I have to say. It could be a form of censorship. Maybe I could get the ACLU to help me.

I'm remembering a great quote. Don't know who it's from, and will make a mess of it. But it goes something like, “Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't out to get you.”

What do you think? It is an honest error by the pornography police? (Although you'd think I'd be on their side! Maybe I've been collaterally damaged.) Is it a spam scam setup by hackers because they don't like what I say? Or maybe it's a government conspiracy –- I'm pretty hard on them, too. In any case, it seems to me that the ACLU ought to come to my rescue on account of free speech. (I've been trying to package and sell it, much like the unPastor has done with his unBook. But alas, it remains mostly free. Grin.)

(Would an unChurch be a church that is sponsored by the United Nations? Or would it worship the United Nations? Double grin, off topic. Sorry.)


To Phillip Ross:

"God exists in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), distinct but not different."

This reeks of dualistic authoritarian religious dogma.

"As such the God of the Old Testament is not a different God than the God of the New Testament."

What God? Where is this so-called "God" that you speak of? The only so-called "God" you are indicating is just a mere idea which is contained in two sections of a book, which is nothing but a loose collection of stories.

"Other religions have come about as a consequence of the Tower of Babel and the Flood."

What utterly ignorant rubbish. You are obviously not an educated religious scholar, but rahter merely an ignorant believer in fundamentaist judeo-christian doctrine. For you information, there are other ancient religions such as the Vedic religion which has existed from time immemorial (that is, more than tens and even hundreds of thousands of years into antiquity.) You are clearly do not know what you are talking about.

* * *

And then regarding your comments/reactions to blocking of porn by a library computer system:

"It could be that there are certain people who don't want others to hear what I have to say."

And I guess you think they are lurking in a public library computer system? Man, are you wacko.

"...by the pornography police?"


"...a spam scam setup by hackers because they don't like what I say?"

That would not affect a public library computer system. You are just babbling more paranoid wacko nonsense.

"Or maybe it's a government conspiracy."

Oh yeah sure... just more paranoid wacko nonsense.

"...it seems to me that the ACLU ought to come to my rescue on account of free speech."

The socialist ACLU would have nothing to do with the use of porn filters in a public library computer system. If the lbrary wants to restrict viewing of porn on their computers, they have a lawful right to. Public computers are for puplic use, they are not private computers. You obviously have your head up in the wtong place.

Phil, Genesis 1 also says that God created the Earth before creating the stars, moons, etc. How can we trust anything it says after page 1??

tao, I said "three persons" you said "dualistic." Three is not two.

Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). You said, "What God?"

You said, "the Vedic religion which has existed from time immemorial (that is, more than tens and even hundreds of thousands of years into antiquity.)" But:

"Exclusive by BBC News Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse

The first known examples of writing may have been unearthed at an archaeological dig in Pakistan.

So-called 'plant-like' and 'trident-shaped' markings have been found on fragments of pottery dating back 5500 years." Not 10,000 or 100,000.

Apparently you didn't appreciate my sense of humor. Admittedly, I'm not very good at it, but occasionally I try.

On paranoia, try this:

"Same-sex marriage is not the only goal of the gay rights movement. It's becoming clear that another goal is the suppression of Americans' First Amendment right to criticize the gay agenda.

The gay lobby tried a broadside attempt to censor criticism by passing a national "hate crimes" law. Fortunately, Congress didn't pass that law, but gay activists are obviously trying to achieve much the same effect through political pressure and intimidation.

Scott Bloch, the head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) in the Bush Administration, has been targeted for termination because he removed "sexual orientation" from the list of anti-discrimination laws protecting employment at federal agencies. Bloch discovered that his Clinton-appointed predecessor, Elaine Kaplan, had unilaterally inserted "sexual orientation" in the list without any statutory authorization, so he removed it.

The gay lobby retaliated, instigating five investigations against Bloch. After all five cleared him of any wrongdoing, the response by the gay lobby was to initiate a sixth investigation.

Reportedly, Bloch has privately been told to resign, twice suggesting that he might be fired if he doesn't. Letters from supporters caused the White House to back off before the election, but it is apparent that the Bush Administration has no stomach for this fight and hopes Bloch will go quietly.

There have actually been very few complaints against the Bush Administration about job discrimination against homosexuals. Bush just appointed open homosexual Mark Dybul as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, and when he was sworn in with the rank of ambassador, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised his "wonderful family" and referred to his partner's mother as Dybul's "mother-in-law."

Luis Padilla, an employee of a large corporation in Virginia, put this message on the rear window of his pickup truck: "Please, vote for marriage on Nov. 7." His bosses ordered him to remove it because some people said it offended them.

Padilla then parked his truck on what he thought (apparently incorrectly) was outside of company property, but he was fired anyway. After a couple of state legislators took up his cause, the company reinstated him.

Robert J. Smith, who served (at a small salary) as Maryland's representative on the Washington Metro transit board, mentioned his religious views against homosexual conduct during an appearance on a cable television program. Although probably few saw the show, gay activists demanded that he be fired, and Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich complied.

Michael Campion, a psychologist with the Minneapolis Police Department, was suspended because of his past affiliation with a group critical of the gay lifestyle, despite reports of a good job performance. The city of Springfield, Illinois, had previously terminated his services for the same reason.

If Americans don't resist such assaults on free speech, we may be headed down the Canadian road. Dozens of Vancouver postal workers just refused to deliver mail they called "homophobic."

In Yale University's student newspaper, a columnist recently described that institution as "really, really gay. Like, totally gay." Yet, when one email expressed a dissenting view on Yale's gay pride day, gay activists demanded reprisals against the dissenter.

Middlebury College now invites applicants to indicate if they are gay. The assistant director of admissions explained that gay students bring "a unique quality" to the college, which he said tries hard not "to be too homogeneous."

The public schools are a major battleground in the gays' efforts to censor any criticism of their goals or lifestyle. Every year, the National Education Association (NEA) passes resolutions not only demanding that schools not discriminate against sexual orientation, but also insisting that classroom language be monitored to punish "homophobia" and to "promote 'acceptance' and/or 'respect' instead of 'tolerance'" of the gay lifestyle.

Taking their demands for censorship into the courts, the gays have been winning. After the Poway High School near San Diego endorsed the gay project called "Day of Silence," the Ninth Circuit upheld the school in forbidding student Tyler Harper to wear a T-shirt with the words "homosexuality is shameful, Romans 1:27."

The dissenting judge pointed out the intolerance of those who claim they want tolerance for minority views. But Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who sided with the school, wrote that Tyler's defenders "still don't get the message."

I am getting the message: for Judge Reinhardt, gay rights means intolerance for free speech.

Clinton apologists once defended his scandalous conduct by saying it was "only about sex." It's increasingly clear that the gay ideology is about far more than sex; it assaults our fundamental right to free speech."

Source: http://www.eagleforum.org/column/2006/nov06/06-11-08.html

Todd: Evolution theory purports that nothing exploded and it produced order. Have you ever seen nothing explode? Or order produced by an explosion?

But at least you have it right that if a person doesn't believe Genesis 1:1, it casts doubt on everything that follows. Your problem is that you begin with the presupposition that you (or humanity) know better than God, which would imply that you believe that you are greater than God. There is excellent scientific literature available on the subject if you are really interested (www.icr.org).


The premise of this site (for those who are too self important to read the "ABOUT THIS SITE" hyperlink that appears when you load it!) is, as I understand it, to facilitate open discussion about God and spirituality.

I have never heard Brian say "there is no God" -he often says there's no argument for it or no proof of it- but Brian and most of the folks here choose to remain open minded on the topic.

I would like to thank you personally, Mr. Ross, for providing a synchronous counterpoint to an internal argument I have been having with myself regarding the use of organized religion in my home.

In essence, I was worried that our personal habits and instruction regarding meditation, imagery, prayer, self-awareness and personal inventory as well as the belief on a personal God and instilling religious tolerance were not really enough. WOW does God answer prayers; I prefer peace and tolerance to zealotry and arrogance any day.

This site encourages thought, discussion and practice regarding God in His infinite forms. Even the agnostic and or scientific minded here do allow for other ideas and beliefs. That the only real voice of intolerance should come from those who call themselves Christlike (as in CHRISTian) is ironic. Christ encouraged thinking, NOT blind adherence to ritual, Christ spoke of intimacy with God and NOT mediated religious experience, in fact Christ was crucified by a mob of religious intolerants who objected to the PARSING OF HIS WORDS!! You actually typify the very sort of thinking that Christ attempted to correct.

What is wonderful about this churchless congregation is that most of us will most certainly be praying for you.


It's Saturday morning, I'm at the Arlington Public Library. I have logged onto the Pilgrim Platform website. I have found NO pornography blockers. It's there for anyone to study, again, there is NO pornography blocker gremlins stopping me.

"The Rig-Veda
The Rig-Veda ("Veda of verses"; from ric, or before sonants rig, "laudatory stanza") is the oldest and most important of these collections. In its present form it contains 1028 hymns (including eleven supplementary ones in the eighth book), arranged in ten mandalas (cycles), or books, which vary in extent, only the first and tenth being approximately equal. The poems themselves are of different authorship and date from widely different periods. The actual date of these ancient scriptures is a nebulous topic. Yet, the description of an extremely cold climate leads some to believe that the Vedas are close to 20,000 years old, but there are some modern scholars who think that the number is exaggerated and should be about 5000. No matter what the age, it is the belief by many these texts were and are the oldest in the world."

Seems the Rg Veda is older than the Old Testament


I did not say anything about evolutionary theory, as such, but it is an astrophysical fact that the stars (including our sun) are vastly older than what Genesis calls earth, or dry land. So, if the Bible makes such mistakes from page one, how can you claim that it is certainly the infallible word of God?

Dear Roger,
FYI, just in passing, you (and/or others) might wish to go to www.cincinnatilibrary.org and try to access www.pilgrim-platform.org/. I tried again just a few minutes ago and still was blocked for the reason of "Pornography." Perhaps my local region considers Calvinistic predestinarianism to be spiritual pornography.
Robert Paul Howard

To Phillip Ross:

You wrote:
"I said "three persons" you said "dualistic." Three is not two."

Your response does not fly. "dualistic" refers to multiple, to anything beyond two. that includes three or more. you are apparently not very familiar at all with the primary aspects and issues within spiritual philosophy in general.

I said, "What God?". You responded with: "Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3)."

Your Jesus quote does not answer the question at all.

You also wrote:
"The first known examples of writing may have been unearthed at an archaeological dig in Pakistan. So-called 'plant-like' and 'trident-shaped' markings have been found on fragments of pottery dating back 5500 years. Not 10,000 or 100,000."

That is simply insignificant and irrelevant. The fact is that Vedic civilization is already known to have existed in Mohan Daro (10,000 years BC) and in Dwaraka (50,00 years)

Evidently, you just do not know what you are talking about. So for your information:

Civilization in India Timeline (partial):

-2 M (million years) Stone artifacts are made and used by hominids in North India, an area rich in animal species, including the elephant.

-500,000 years Stone hand axes and other tools are used in North India.

-470,000 India's hominids are active in Tamil Nadu and Punjab.

-400,000 Soan culture in India is using primitive chopping tools.

-360,000 Fire is first controlled by homo erectus in China.

-300,000 Homo sapiens roams the Earth, from Africa to Asia.

-100,000 Homo sapiens sapiens with 20th-century man's brain size (1,450 cc) are in East Africa. Populations separate.

-75,000 Last Ice Age begins. Human population estimated at 1.7 million.

-60,000 According to genetic scientist Spencer Wells' research, televised by National Geographic, early man's first wave of migration from Africa occurred at this time to India, evidenced by the genetic makeup of Tamil Nadu's modern-day Kallar community, who are related to the Australian aborigines.

-50,000 Genetic research by Richard Villems of the Estonian Biocentre concludes that the maternal lineages of modern-day India's populations are largely unique to India, and on the order of 50,000 years old. As a result, Villems said, "I think that the Aryan Invasion theory in its classic form is dead."

-45,000 Seafaring migrations from S.E. Asia settle Indonesian Islands and Australia.

-40,000 Hunter-gatherers in Central India are living in painted rock shelters. Similar groups in Punjab camp at sites protected by windbreaks. Cave paintings found in 2002 in Banda depict a hunter riding a horse in a group hunting scene.

-30,000 American Indians spread throughout the Americas.

-10,000 Last Ice Age ends after 65,000 years; earliest signs of agriculture. World population is 4 million; India, 100,000.

-10,000 Taittiriya Brahmana 3.1.2 refers to Purvabhadrapada nakshatra's rising due east, a phenomenon occurring at this date (Dr. B.G. Siddharth of the Birla Science Institute), indicating earliest known dating of the sacred Veda.

-10,000 Vedic culture, the essence of humanity's eternal wisdom, Sanatana Dharma, lives in Himalayas at end of Ice Age.

-9000 Old Europe, Anatolia and Minoan Crete display a Goddess-centered culture reflecting a matriarchial order.

-8500 Taittiriya Samhita 6.5.3 places Pleiades asterism at winter solstice, suggesting the antiquity of this Veda.

-7500 Excavations at Neveli Cori in Turkey reveal advanced civilization with developed architecture. B.G. Siddharth believes this was a Vedic culture.

-7200 War of the Ten Kings is fought (dating by S.D. Kulkarni).

-7000 Proto-Vedic period ends. Early Vedic period begins.

-7000 Time of Manu Vaivasvata, "Father of Mankind," of Sarasvati-Drishadvati area (also said to be a South Indian monarch who sailed to the Himalayas during a great flood).

-7000 Early evidence of modern horses in the Ganga basin (Frawley).

-7000 Indus-Sarasvati area residents of Mehergarh grow barley, raise sheep and goats, store grain, entomb their dead and construct buildings of sun-baked mud bricks. (S.D. Kulkarni asserts such refinements had existed for ages, though archeology reaches only to this period.)

-6776 Start of Hindu king's lists according to Greek references that give Hindus 150 kings and a history of 6,400 years before 300 BCE; agrees with next entry.

-6500 Rig Veda verses (e.g., 1.117.22, 1.116.12, say winter solstice begins in Aries (according to D. Frawley), giving antiquity of this section of the Vedas.

-6000 Early sites on the Sarasvati River, then India's largest, flowing west of Delhi into the Rann of Kutch; Rajasthan is a fertile region with much grassland, as described in the Rig Veda. The culture, based upon barley (yava), copper (ayas) and cattle, also reflects that of the Rig Veda.

-5500 Date of astrological observations associated with ancient events later mentioned in the Puranas (Alain Danielou).

-5500 Mehergarh villagers make baked pottery and thousands of small, clay of female figurines (interpreted to be earliest signs of Shakti worship), and are involved in long-distance trade in precious stones and sea shells.

-5000 World population, 5 million; doubles every 1,000 years.

-5000 Beginnings of Indus-Sarasvati civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Date derived by considering excavated archeological sites 45 feet deep. Brick fire altars exist in many houses, suggesting Vedic fire rites. Earliest signs of Siva. This mature culture lasts 3,000 years, ending around -1700.

-5000 Rice is harvested in China, with grains found in baked bricks. But its cultivation originated in Eastern India.

-4300 Traditional date for Lord Rama's time (Kulkarni's date is -5500; see also-2040, and latest dating at -500).

[For the entire timeline and more info, go to]:

Todd, Notice that you assume the validity of the "astrological facts" that you reference. If that assumption turns out to be true, then the conclusion you posit will also be true. But it is that assumption that is in question according to the biblical data. They are not "facts" at all, merely speculations based on a set of assumptions. It is obvious that you don't question their validity, but that does not mean that their validity is unquestionable. Science has a long tradition of revision in the light of greater truth. I expect that tradition will continue.

The same thing is true about tao's regurgitation of the evolutionary time line. I'm quite familiar with the proposed evolutionary time line. Again, the issue is that the evolutionary time line is itself in question according to the biblical data. Assuming evolution to be true does not make it so, regardless of the so-called science involved. Science cannot tell us about the past. The past is not open to the scientific method. Experiments on the past cannot be made. And it is no more plausible to say that all of the matter of the universe folded in on itself a very long time ago and then exploded to create the present universe, than it is to say that God spoke the universe into being. Both are speculative from the standpoint of human understanding. So, we must examine the sources of the different speculations, which is to say that the study of origins is always necessarily religious, and religion is necessarily epistemological.

Banging harder on the conclusions based upon evolutionary theory has no effect upon its foundational presuppositions. It cannot make them more (or less) true. It is about as effective as spitting in the wind. The concerns I raise must be addressed at the epistemological level. And I understand your unwillingness to do so because it threatens the entire evolutionary scheme. As an aside, Christians have always had to jettison many of the things that they thought they knew to be true through the process of conversion. It is often a long, arduous process.

tao, the problem is not that I am not familiar with dualism. I agree that dualism is a faulty position. Dualism sets up an unbridgeable gap (an artificial philosophical -- logical -- divide or contradiction) between unity and particularity. Universalism cannot account for the reality of particularity -- so it denies it and posits that only that which is universal is actually real. All else are but passing shadows. Hinduism and most Eastern religions share this philosophical position with Platonism. And that is why the Modern world has found the Eastern religions so tempting. The Modern (and Postmodern) west is essentially straddled on the horns of the dilemma between Plato and Aristotle in its philosophy. It attempts to hold to the ultimacy of both universals and particulars, but cannot account for the divide, and ends up being philosophically schizophrenic. And, unfortunately, Early Christianity wove Platonism and/or Aristotleianism into many of the doctrines of the Early Church. Roman Catholicism is still essentially Greek rather than Hebrew because of the influence of Thomism.

As I have suggested above the philosophy of particularity -- Aristotle's school -- cannot account for the reality or ultimacy of the universal. So, it essentially disregards it and focuses on the manipulation of the particulars. Thus, Aristotleianism provided the philosophical foundation for what would become known as science. But Aristotleianism is essentially a reflection of or reaction to Platonism. They both make the same error, but they make it differently. Each has only half of reality, either emphasizing the ultimacy of universality or of particularity. Platonism denies the reality and/or ultimacy of particularity (what we usually call the material of the universe, its physicality). And Aristotleianism denies the reality and/or ultimacy of universality (what we usually call the spiritual or ideational realm). But human experience screams that both are real!

Only Christianity has posited a viable resolution to the philosophical conundrum posited by Plato and reiterated by Aristotle regarding the one and the many. Again, Rushdoony's book will supply the details. But suffice it to say that Christianity has only recently discovered the real meaning and begun to work out the implications of the Trinity with regard to the reality of the world in which we live. We do not live in a universe, but a triniverse, if I may propose a term. (The word "universe," by the way, provides entomological justification for the reality of biblical creation in that it means "one verse," suggesting the reality of God's creative method.)(Sorry for my convoluted sentences. I hope they will be decipherable. It is difficult to speak of such grand concerns in such little space.)

The reality of the universe is not its unity (Plato, Hinduism, Eastern religions) or its particularity (Aristotle, science, etc.), but its Trinitarianism (Bible, Jesus, Paul, etc). If you want to be on the cutting edge of Postmodernism, this really is the place to be.

Robert, Calvinism cannot be spiritual pornography inasmuch as it absolutely denies the promiscuous application of salvation and posits that all salvation is particular salvation, and always in covenant with God. God only saves particular people. The real spiritual pornography can be found in Arminianism, which does posit the promiscuous application of salvation as a possibility for all people and denies covenantal theology. But this is beyond the scope of this conversation.


Phillip, my man, consider this advice from a fellow pastor. Well, let's make that a fellow unpastor, of an unchurch.

People who congregate here are attracted to spiritual independence. You're trying to peddle your Christian wares to some exceedingly unlikely customers.

I'm one of them. The more I read your comments, the more convinced I am that Christianity--like other religions--is a wasteland. Lots of words, no meaningful truth.

When a Christian says to me, "brother, go in love," that's the closest I come to feeling warm and fuzzy toward Christianity. But when theologians, like you, drag out tired arguments for why I should believe--"Because the Bible tells us so"--that turns me off.

Phillip, Muslims believe in the Koran. Hindus believe in the Vedas and Upanishads. Jews believe in the Talmud. Every true believer says that their holy book contains true beliefs, and that the other holy books are bullshit.

It's well established that the Bible has been edited, censored, and changed countless times. It's a fact: this isn't the pristine word of God; it's an all-too-human document.

So you need to come up with some better arguments than "The Bible says so." You're an intelligent guy, obviously. Give us some better stuff. You're getting killed with those softballs you're pitching over the middle of the plate.

To Brian (and Phillip Ross) regarding Ross's recent comment:

I was going to respond to Ross's convoluted meandering of western philosphical babble, which was in fact completely unrelated and irrelevant to the question about duality and non-duality, but then I read your succinct reply and knew that you had already said everything that needed to be said.

Ross injected Universalism into it as well, which was also irrelevant and a distraction and digression from the core issue. I still don't think that Mr Ross has much comprehension of eastern philosophy as evidenced by his odd digression into western philosophy as a defense for Christian doctrine.

I also find that "because the Bible tells us so", to be an extermely lame and unintelligent response to spiritual discussion and debate.

So I would echo your admonition to Mr Ross to come up with something better than the same old same old.

"You don't know that God exists. You believe this. You hope it is true. You have feelings that lead you in that direction. Great. If that gives you satisfaction, I'm happy for you."

Rather than worry about whether "God" is real, let's find out if "Brian" is real. . . Finding that out will clear up the whole "God" business nicely. . .

There is no question about Brian's reality.

In this case, Brian is merely a figment of the imagination of another imaginary character named "Matthew".

This "Matthew" character is the one who has appeared to comment, and yet has no reality either, other than some words written in the weblog of an imaginary author named Brian.

Therefore, this Matthew character is merely a fiction as well, and whatwever comments this character appears to make, as well as the words that are explaining all this, are merely the imagination of the one who now reading them, but who also is not real, but only thinks that they are someone.

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