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May 22, 2015


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Dear Brian:

Some good points especially about Socrates, but Strain veers astray when he writes:

"Gnosticism is the claim that knowledge can be inherent or come to us through means other than experience and evidence. "

Not at all.

Gnosticism is all about getting in touch with every subtle shred of your own experience, internal and external, and testing and gaining evidence of oneself. It is all about being honest with oneself, and being confronted by experience with one's own limited and false thinking which does not bear out against experience.

The idea that Gnosticism is just subjective with no actual link to experience is not the framework of the Gnostics at all, but the projections of others upon them.

Gnosticism and Stoicism are deeply connected. We do not go beyond our experience, but through control of the senses expand that testable, reliable experience.

Generally, the first lessons are those Socrates taught: that the senses are incredibly flawed instruments. And then, that even our thinking is remarkably flawed, even when evidence is reliable. We just ignore it! But it is one thing to see it in others. When you see it in yourself, the clean up job is a lifetime job.

You can only learn that by having a more reliable measure to compare against. That keeps you focused internally. There's no end to the justifications of one's own mind, and that capacity of mind to forget experience, evidence, and facts conveniently.

This is what Gnosticism is about. Not forgetting facts, but remembering, and refining experience so that it isn't episodic, but a continuous flow, so that you have something you can test as often as necessary. It's a full time job.

The brain itself is hardwired to ignore and paste over data it can't handle. It just doesn't see it. It filters it out "for you"..How nice!

You do know, Brian, that the brain takes several dozen snapshots a second and pieces these together? Like an old movie film? Why don't we see the black screen between those pictures? The mind blacks out, all the time, as frequently as we are conscious, we are unconscious. That's not belief, Brian. That's Physiological Psychology. It's science. It's how the brain works. Why ignore it to raise intellectualism, and rational thought...quaint but outdated 18th century notions, to some new religion? Science has already disproven the supremacy of that. People just use intellect as a club. If I can disprove your idea, mine stands supreme. But if you ignore the evidence against your idea, that's rhetoric, not rational thinking.

If you aren't working at cleaning up that variable and limited experience and the gooey rubber band of thinking, then how can intellect hope to carry the weight of understanding alone, based on nothing more than published data? There lay the fantasy of intellectualism. It is a denial of the physical limitations of the human brain..an attempt to limit those limitations to religious beliefs. That's a pipe dream.

Just look at how popularity and fad drives the scientific community. It's very much a human endeavor.

It's not just the X files, Brian. The conspiracy isn't in some nice separate location outside of science or rational thought. The boogey man isn't just religion.

It's all the files, A to Z.

We can tinker with definitions, but I don't believe that anyone that visits this website or contributes to it is a true atheist.

At the very most, they can probably claim to be agnostic.

As soon as you say things like "I'm spiritual, not religious" or "church of the churchless", you are not an atheist.

Atheism is the absence of belief. Nothing, no god, no spirit, no Budhism, Taoism or any ism. No belief. Nada.

And actually I'd go further to say that anyone who contributes to this website is not only not a true atheist, but also is an agnostic who is more open-minded to the possibility of spiritual or supernatural experiences occurring, then most agnostics may be.

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