Why you want to study the Bible
— and quit religion —
🔼First some bad news
It may come as a shock to you but the Bible is not about religion. Never been. Lots of people have turned the Bible into a religion but then, lots of people have turned their TV sets into aquariums. Aquariums and religions certainly have a purpose, but the Bible has always been about science, or what later became known as science.
And science, we must quickly add, is not a dogma but a method that allows broad populations of otherwise unrelated people to form a single mind in understanding creation (Acts 2:46, Ephesians 4:3-6, 2 Corinthians 13:11). This method is not infallible, but it's the best one we got. And despite its many faults, science has cured more blindness, lameness and leprosy, alleviated more poverty and snatched more people out from the maw of death than any other method out there (Luke 7:22).
Regardless of the enthusiasm of certain advocates, science does not tell you what to believe. Instead, science offers a way to organize your thoughts. And this not in order to find some elusive "Truth" but rather in order to be able to confer with others — not others who think the same thoughts, but rather others who think the same way.
Science is an operating system, a method of thought, whose purpose it is to let people exchange their considerations. Science, therefore, is much rather a language than anything else; its standards and procedures are in fact very much like those of any language. Without them, we produce mere growls, howls and whistles but with them we can declare what's going on in intimate detail.
Science lets you say whatever you want about anything at all, in such a way that anybody anywhere in the world is able to understand what you're on about. Science is a language. It facilitates a trade network of thought. Its currency is information but its value is confirmation. And the growing body of confirmation is certainly not a government-issued fiat or dogma, but "a thing agreed on"; not an eternally static graven image, but a living observation that's always subject to continued review, and thus always grows into unimaginable splendor (Isaiah 7:14-16, Luke 2:40, 1:52).
It's for these reasons that science is not limited to any particular topic or restricted to any particular data set but can be used to review anything at all on the proviso that anything that is asserted is falsifiable (able to be proven wrong when wrong). This in turn means that, contrary to popular belief, science is a method that always proves wrong and never right, and thus separates the world of thought into (a) thoughts that are definitely wholly false, and (b) thoughts that possibly contain truth to some greater or lesser degree.
Science is like panning for gold, and with every swirl the panner separates certified dirt from the mix of dirt-and-gold remaining in the pan. Long before politicians invented fool's gold and duped the gullible, the Bible contemplated the real stuff, how to get it and what to do with when you did (Genesis 13:2, 1 Kings 6:20-22, Isaiah 48:10, Zechariah 13:9, Malachi 3:3, Revelation 3:18). Not any modern religion but modern science is the rightful heir of the genius of the Bible (Luke 14:24).
With the principles of science, people are able to govern their thinking and purify their observations from bias, folly and preconception (Romans 12:2). To achieve this, these people need first to develop standards of communication — from onomatopoeia to speech, then writing, then a postal service, then book printing, then telephonics, then the Internet, then cryptocurrency and Artificial Intelligence; all hitching a ride on the back of international trade, of which Abraham is the celebrated patriarch — and that is why the Bible is not about religion but about information technology.
🔼Information, Theology and Psychology
The word theology is a word like psychology and both are rather unfortunate. The word psychology was coined when the psyche was considered to be a discrete element of the human whole. But after lots of searching it was concluded that whatever the psyche might be, it cannot be seen, heard, smelled, touched, tasted, weighed or in any way measured.
In other words: the existence of the psyche can neither be confirmed nor denied in any scientifically meaningful way, and thus the psyche cannot be studied. The word psychology, therefore, describes not the study of the psyche but rather the study of human behavior: those acts that surely can be measured and which may or may not arise from a psyche that may or may not exist.
God, like the psyche, cannot be measured and therefore theology is not the study of God. The word theology, therefore, describes the study of everything: those objects, phenomena and events that surely can be measured and which may or may not arise from a Creator who may or may not exist.
God, whatever He is, has qualities in common with a single human psyche, whatever that is. This is not a hip new insight; our modern world has known this for centuries. It's probably why Michelangelo depicted the Creator in the Sistine Chapel as seated within a human brain.
The familiar Greek word θεος (theos), meaning God, belongs to a family of words that also contains words like theory and theatre (and theme and thesaurus). Biblical theology has never had anything to do with religion but has always been the mother of all sciences, the umbrella under which all other scientific disciplines exist, the rainbow that gives all scientific colors their place. Biblical theology has nothing to do with religion but is the Higgs field from which all other sciences derive their mass.
Below, we will have a look at a daring bottom-line definition of God; a definition that fits on a single bumper sticker but still explains everything about everything. The core nature of God explains why He does what He does, and thus why everything that happens, happens. But first, let's look at the Word of God, which perfectly describes God, whatever God is.
🔼A mirror dimly
The Bible is a technological miracle that looks like a book the way a human looks like a great ape. At the surface, it has the appearance of just another linear text, but beneath the surface, it's a multi-dimensional fractal matrix that mimics the signature qualities of a living, pondering human mind, which can only be recognized by another living, pondering human mind. To stones, humans are stones, and to animals, humans are animals. Likewise, the Bible is a literary mirror in which most people see mumbo jumbo, but some the unimaginable.
In the recent past, several Jewish sages claimed that the Bible contains the entire universe, and back then those claims were confused with religious zealotism. Today we have the science to back them up. Today we know about fractals. And just like a modern candlestick chart depicts the collective mind of all traders out there, so the Bible depicts the collective mind of all thinkers out there. The proof is in the patterns.
When ten thousand visitors of a country fair are asked to guess the amount of beans in a glass jar, the average of all the guesses tends to be more accurate than the best single guess. This is a phenomenon called "the Wisdom of Crowds." As James Surowiecki noted in his 2004 book: "Chasing the expert is a mistake" since "we have been designed to operate in groups." Yet "the best way for a group to be smart is for each person in it to think and act as independently as possible."
Such an independent thinker is someone who doesn't take orders from an earthly superior, or accepts dogmas from a religion, but is someone who is dedicated to Truth, whatever that might turn out to be. The Bible identifies three kinds of those sovereigns: prophets, high-priests and kings, and these three sovereign offices were marked by anointing. Any sovereign thinker always fits at least one of those three categories, and in Biblical terms is always an "Anointed", regardless of whether one actually partakes in the physical ritual involving physical oil. Since the Bible very often mentions prophets, high-priests and kings, it also very often mentions the title Anointed. The Hebrew word for Anointed is משיח (mashiah), from the verb משח (mashah), to anoint. The Greek word for Anointed is χριστος (christos), from the verb χριω (chrio), to anoint. So no, the familiar words Christ and Messiah are not reserved for Jesus but describe anybody Sovereign: any prophet, high priest and king, in the past, present and future.
The Bible is often depicted as a collection of 66 autonomous books by 40+ independent authors and canonized by a conclave of corrupt bishops, but no, it isn't. The Bible is mankind's All Time Greatest Hits, a compilation of the most popular, most referenced and best-selling books on the global market. Its roots stretch to deep antiquity. It was formed over eons, sculpted from common concerns and the pains of being human, from hope that sprang from understanding and determination, violently weathered by the forces of supply and demand, by disappointment and destruction, but built back up again like an eternal city on its own ruins. The Bible grew organically like a pearl within humanity's heart of hearts. It's the unified voice of an uncountable multitude, the classical world's equivalent of a Wikipedia page on Human Reality.
The Bible is the collective product of tens of thousands of authors, editors and commentators, who met for millennia at the world's most prominent hotspots to debate literally anything, and in the process invented:
- The week — and weaned humanity off dependency on celestial cycles, which is why humanity relatively suddenly stopped investing in complexes like Stonehenge and the Giza Plateau (see our article on the Sabbath);
- The institution of marriage — and so freed human males from having to spend their entire lives competing with other males (only to see all the female end up in the harem of one bully), so that they could devote themselves to making the world a better place for everybody (see our article on γαμος, gamos, marriage);
- Technology such as metallurgy (see our article on χαλκος, chalkos, copper) and agriculture (see αγρος, agros, acre or field) — and liberated humanity from the tyranny of survival of the fittest that rules the animal wilderness (see θηριον, therion, animal).
- The alphabet (see our article on YHWH), and writing paper (see βιβλος, biblos) — and weaned humanity off dependency on perishable organic memory storage (hence Psalm 16:10);
- Social codes and legislation (νομος, nomos), and hence the modern city (πολις, polis), and ultimately governed freedom (ελευθερια, eleutheria, freedom-by-law), which the Greek philosophers identified as the democratic ideal and the apostle Paul deemed the very purpose of the gospel (Galatians 5:1);
- Mass literacy — making humanity a kingdom of priests of the deity of shared and public information, instead of the esoteric service of some celebrated hunk of stone (Exodus 19:6);
- The postal service — creating the intellectual equivalent of the hydrological cycle: the original Internet, a whole new beginning (Genesis 2:6-7; see our article on νεφελη, nephele, cloud), with the various languages as ecosystems that are populated by speakers of that language, who behave like autonomous animals, and entire national cultures like rivers (see our article on the Tigris).
🔼The Bible is a big deal
The Bible is a very big deal; a much bigger deal than the pyramids of Giza and the Space Shuttle combined. It's the ancient world's Internet compressed into a single volume (John 21:25), using a technique of data compression based on natural fractals (Psalm 78:2, Matthew 13:34-35). That means that the Bible and the universe are essentially the same thing but on different scales, and relate the way a single acorn relates to a mature oak, or even a whole forest of oaks.
An acorn has no roots, no trunk, no branches, no crown of leaves and no other acorns hanging between the leaves, yet it was never not oak (Matthew 5:48). Oakness comes in different sizes, just like infinity in mathematics and perfection in theology (Isaiah 7:15, Luke 2:40, Matthew 13:32). Nobody instructs the oak to stop growing, but the oak knows from within when it is mature and able to produce the acorns that will become a forest. So too the Bible.
The Bible has anatomy. Its members are tied together by an invisible network of associations, like thoughts in a living mind. When Jesus died on the cross, he uttered the harrowing phrase eloi, eloi, lama sabachtani. To most people, that doesn't mean anything. Others recognize this phrase as the Aramaic title of Psalm 22 — it's the old-world equivalent of a hyperlink that links the crucifixion to the whole of Psalm 22 (and vice versa), and in effect inserts the whole of Psalm 22 into the story of Jesus' death. This particular link is an obvious one, but what's less obvious is that every word, every phrase, every event and every scene of the Bible links to clusters of countless others, and turns the Bible into a raging ball of interconnected associations, without beginning or end.
To people who have no idea of this, the Bible is a linear text, that starts at a beginning, and ends at an end, and covers a long boring stretch in between. To people who know, the Bible is a raging network of thought of infinite complexity, whose pathways dance and continuously change depending on the mood of the one who looks at it, but which always add up to one never-changing singular booming data point. Like the universe, the Bible is both one and infinitely complex.
The insertion of one text into another mostly happens behind the scenes of one's conscious considerations, in the vast mechanisms of one's subconscious mind. Like music, these structures train the subconscious mind to resonate along with the nature, character and personality of the Bible, which is the nature, character and personality of those tens of thousands of authors and editors whose vast collective mind became expressed within the Bible (Matthew 5:48, Ephesians 5:1, Hebrews 1:3).
When one's subconscious mind begins to resonate with the fabric of the Bible, it begins to produce intuitions, dreams and mental reflexes that match the Bible's intelligent superstructure. Such a mind also begins to resonate with all the other living people whose subconscious minds resonate with the Bible, and therefore also with the multitudes that produced the Bible in the deep past (Ephesians 4:23). These people think thoughts and dream dreams that travel simultaneously through their many minds at once, like flocks of birds seen by many from the ground.
When we've known a friend for decades, we have a shared library of memories that serves as so called proof-of-time, that is proof that the relationship is based on a mutual investment of our precious time. When we meet a random stranger in a country far away we should expect very little proof-of-time. But when this stranger suddenly addresses us in our own native language, and even tells us that she grew up in our own home town, and went to the same school, we immediately have a deep connection with this person. Even though we never met, both our minds stand on a huge library of very similar memories. Even though we never met, we are nevertheless joined by a colossal proof-of-time. When someone who has the Bible at the core of her mind meets a random stranger who also has the Bible at the core of her mind, the two immediately experience a kinship based on a proof-of-time that goes back millennia. Nobody's single lifetime can generate a proof-of-time like that.
Only a relative few of us are tied into this marvelous collective mind, but many more know about it and have always accepted its presence in the world. Some call it the Akashic Records, the Field, the Force, Paradise, or Unimatrix Zero; others call it the Holy Spirit or the Body of Christ (as discussed above, the title Christ means Anointed and applies to everybody who is sovereign in thought; see 1 John 2:20). But these are all mere different names for the same, sweet-smelling rose.
Many have sought to force their entry into this wondrous collective mind by gleaning the Bible for rules to live by, by pouring over theological masterworks by long dead theologians, or by absorbing vast studies on words in languages they don't master (and have no thoughts in, which is the key). But a fractal can't be understood by obsessing over its details, and only by observing the whole of it and by recognizing the miracle of the whole consisting of parts that are one with the whole and are the whole.
Or in the words of Jesus: "...that they may all be One; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us" (John 17:21-26). With this, Jesus describes a fractal, and specifically the multi-dimensional fractal matrix of a living, conscious mind.
Everybody who has ever entered this miraculous collective mind has done so at the child's level: at such a simplified level that one can still see the whole. Not everybody has entered the collective mind via the Bible (also since the Bible began to be produced by people who had no Bible), but everybody who has, invariably started their journey with a children's Bible, or a parent telling them simplified versions of the stories. The journey starts only when you see the One. Only from the One come the Many that are One (John 1:1-3, Matthew 6:33).
For a more detailed introduction to Biblical fractals, see our article on the noun αστηρ (aster), meaning star.
🔼If you can read this, you are three
Existence is a puzzling affair and its contemplation a dazzling proposition. But since all detail is defined by its context, any useful insight begins with understanding the bigger picture. And that can't be achieved without a proper definition of terms. Right now, we know about as much about the mechanisms of the mind as we did of the body just prior to Leonardo da Vinci. But ignorance is not our birthright, so let's get to carving:
Existence happens across three great realms. These realms are self-similar, which means that their evolution(s) are governed by the same natural laws, and that one single story covers the history and evolution of all three. That simplifies things considerably. We humans are autonomous beings in all three realms, so in a simplified way, we are three beings in three separate worlds, that are really one being in one world to folks who know how the whole thing lines up.
The three self-similar realms are (a) matter, (b) life, and (c) mind — the Bible, somewhat archaically, calls them: water, blood and spirit: "For there are three that testify: the spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement" (1 John 5:7).
We humans are: (a) a massive object of about 50 to 100 kilo, (b) a great ape, and (c) a node in a world of mere words. The universe distinguishes massive objects solely by their mass and their relativity to other objects. That means that, to the material universe, we humans are in no way different from any other 75 kg boulder. The biosphere distinguishes living things solely by what they eat and secrete, and how they relate to, and compete with, other living beings. To the biosphere, we humans are great apes, and that's that.
But then there is a "mental sphere" and that's the reality whose fabric is words. This realm is neither spatial nor temporal, and exists only as a continuum that is formed from all separate consciousnesses combined, like countless soap bubbles that converge and merge and form one big one. This realm's atoms are words, and words are things that can only exist in two or more confirming minds. Words are never private; they are always communal (Acts 2:44).
It takes some getting used to but even though the realm of words exists within heads that are obviously separated in space, the words themselves exist simultaneously within many heads at once, and are therefore in no way separated but a continuum. In fact, people think of things because of the words in their head. And since these same words exist simultaneously in other people's heads, it's very difficult to think of wholly new and unique things, and most new and surprising ideas always exist in some form or other in many heads at once. That's actually rather beneficial because an idea that is so novel that it exists only on one person's mind (say, an iPhone that someone in the 16th century conceives of), cannot possibly be recognized as valuable by others and will certainly be ignored. Even Jesus could only be born in a world that was ready to receive him (Galatians 4:4).
Just like we can demonstrate the continuum of a pond's water by dropping a stone in it and observing the waves, so we can demonstrate the continuum of the mental sphere by tracing the evolution of language, radially from a point of innovation outward to the rest of the language basin. And just like a pond's water is continuously mixed by invisible currents under the surface, even by fish, frogs and bugs, so the mental sphere is continuously stirred by energies that were once rumors carried by words at the surface but are now memories that slowly whirl the deep and fade as they slowly lose their momentum. Still, some of mankind's collective memories are tens of thousands of years old, and still help shape the goings on at the surface.
The mental sphere is not the only one outside spacetime. Life too is outside spacetime. Only matter is part of spacetime. Life is not a substance but a condition of which light (more correctly: virtual photons) is the substance. Life is not a thing, but a certain level of complexity; a complexity so complex that matter cannot recognize it, and life begins as a whole new Big Bang, producing a whole other continuum. Life is what happens when the material universe gets "born again" or rather "born from the top" (John 3:3 uses the adverb ανωθεν, anothen, which literally means "from the top"). Mind, likewise, happens at a level of biological complexity so complex that it too sets off a whole new Beginning.
Life is what happens when molecules begin to cluster around and resonate with the data stored in DNA, and these freely dancing molecules coagulate into molecular choirs and social structures that to the universe seems like mumbo jumbo. Life is based on data, and so, obviously, is mind. That suggests that the purple thread that ties the three realms together is data. That means that the material universe, too, must primarily be a matter of information rather than energy. And that suggests that the universe didn't really begin as an energetic singularity from nowhere, but rather as singularity of information that the energetic singularity is the effect of, that expanded along with the universe (or rather: whose expansion had the effect of the expanding universe), that still keeps the whole shebang together — in the guise of natural law, which is statistical likelihood rather than decree; an emergent property of freely interacting particles, like language — and even provides the universe with a so-called Strange Attractor to evolve toward.
The Bible calls this kernel of über-information the Logos: that which came before all things, that still holds all things together, and which draws all things toward it (John 1:1-4, John 12:32, Colossians 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:3).
And since "it" is as intimately involved with things as with living beings and mental beings, "it" too is living and thinking. That is why Bible students speak not of an "it" but of a living He (Deuteronomy 5:26, Matthew 22:32), a compassionate He (Psalm 116:5, John 3:16) and an attractive He (Psalm 27:4, Isaiah 33:17).
🔼To be is to agree
The keyword is resonance. Like two mirrors facing (Psalm 42:7, 1 Corinthians 13:12), God created man is His image, and desired him to imitate Him (Matthew 5:48, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1), so that He, again, could imitate them, when the Word of God assumed man's bodily form (John 1:14). Moses built the tabernacle on earth from heavenly patterns (Exodus 26:30, Hebrews 8:5), so as to do God's will on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). Likewise, Jesus said that the whole Law and prophets is summed up by: "Treat others the way you want to be treated" (Matthew 7:12).
To some, this Golden Rule is a mere snazzy bumper sticker full of humanistic feelings. To others, however, it declares intent and legality, supply and demand, awareness of Self and awareness of Others, plus the blue flame of an existential arch between that which one is and that which one is not. This seemingly simple rule sums up the entire Word and indeed the entire complex universe, even whatever it was that existed before the universe did, and what prompted the universe to be created. When there are no others, the command to "treat others" equals the command to "let there be others", so as to treat them and be treated by them (John 1:1-3). The Logos impels. It's the core quality of Oneness, and thus completion and thus freedom. It's why all seeds sprout.
God, being One, treats before there is anything to treat, because he knows relationship before there are relations, which is also why there is quantum self-interference. Said differently: quantum uncertainty does not describe the reality of the extremely small, it describes the reality of the wholly complete. All things that are One are defined by quantum uncertainty (i.e. speed and location cannot both be known, by anything, not even by an omniscient being, because simultaneous knowledge of speed and location is like dry water, or a square circle: it does not exist; it is not real). This is where the autonomy and unpredictability of single-cellular creatures comes from. And it's where the free will of mental beings comes from. It's the core nature of One. And it's the reason why all traditional systems of philosophy invariably hit an asymptotic ceiling, or disintegrate into madness — we've known this since the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 8:9) but since Kurt Gödel we've had the math to back it up.
The nature of God cannot be altered, but the effects of the nature of God are endless (Lamentations 3:22-23). God does not change (Malachi 3:6), and can certainly not become two (another can of worms), and therefore can not have a Son in the Greek patriarchal sense, the way Zeus is an autonomous successor of Kronos and could rebel against his father and even depose and imprison him in Tartarus (Islam certainly has that right). But in Hebrew symbolic jargon, a son does the will of the father, and sons do the will of the father, and as long as the sons collectively do the will of their father, the father is not dead (Matthew 22:32). That means that God must have a Son in the Hebrew patriarchal sense, namely whatever executes the entire eternal will of God within creation, and is wholly defined by doing so (Psalm 2:12, Isaiah 1:2, Luke 3:37, John 1:12). That means that, in some form or other, the Son of God has always been present in creation, and is simultaneously defined by the unchanging will of God and his own ever evolving body.
Jesus' physical body was certainly created, but his entire mental nature was equal to the will of God (Philippians 2:6). He was the "firstborn" of an enormous tribe, the zygote of a much greater being (Colossians 1:15-18, Hebrews 12:23, Revelation 1:5). Presently, Jesus is incarnate in his people (like the soul of a multicellular organism), and his Body consists of many bodies (like cells all based on a shared genetic code), which are all created, and which all together perform the singular and eternal will of the Father (compare Genesis 4:20-21 with Exodus 27:21 and 1 Samuel 16:18; also see Jeremiah 35:6, Matthew 5:48, 7:21, and John 5:19).
In Matthew 5:9, Jesus says: "Blessed are the peacemakers because they will be called Sons of God." The Hebrew word for peace is the familiar שלום (shalom), and that word sums up the nature of God: completeness, oneness and equilibrium (Isaiah 54:10, John 14:27). God is never not complete, never not one, and never not free. This means both that God has no elements and that nothing makes God complete. But it also means that the comprehension of otherness is a native attribute of oneness.
🔼Everything changes, except that
God does not change, but His Word, who began to do God's will from before the beginning, who entered creation at the beginning and who has since the beginning always perfectly represented God's nature (Hebrews 1:3), and whom himself never changes (Hebrews 13:8), became His Son (Psalm 2:7) when he assumed human form, first as the most intimate hope of human prophets, then as a physical zygote, then as a fetus, then a baby, then a man and then a people (Luke 2:40). But he was never not God.
God does not change but creation does. That means that the presence of God within creation changes along with creation's perception of God:
- The material earth — its trajectory through space, its rotation around its axis and the shifting of its tectonic plates — is wholly centered upon the shared point of gravity of the sun, moon and planets. The position of this common gravitational center relative to earth is volatile and chaotic.
- The hydrological cycle and life, however, are based on the light from the sun only, and life experiences the mere dualism of light and dark, day and night, and summer and winter. These cycles are much more regular and predictable than the chaos experienced by the material earth.
- Finally, mind is based on monotheism, which is perfectly stable and always centered upon an unchangeable Oneness. We'll get into the details of monotheism further below.
Language arises when interacting people imitate each other, and so gravitate toward common ground. Genesis 1:9 reads: "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into oneness, and let the dry land appear," which does not speak of the waters retreating so as to expose the already existing bedrock, but rather of warm liquids changing phase and becoming a cool solid.
We don't quite know why or how the universe produced DNA, but (judging from these patterns), the chances are excellent that it happened when clouds of atoms began to resonate with Chladni patterns of standing gravity waves, due to rotating black holes. That would mean that the original ancestral DNA was the universe whittled down to its constituting code, its Word, if you will. Cells formed when scores of less complex molecules congregated around DNA — which probably sailed down to earth from space: the panspermia hypothesis as hinted at in Exodus 32:15. The Law on the two tablets, in the Ark, in the tabernacle, at the heart of subsequently self-organizing Israel, is rather obviously self-similar to DNA in a nucleus in a thus governed cell. This also solves the problem of the "missing" Ark, which never actually went missing (the Ethiopian Tabot tradition has that right).
Consciousness is all about the ability to link an externally observed phenomenon with an internally stored bit of code. If the brain does not contain that code, it literally does not see the phenomenon. We humans excel among the animals by our ability to imitate each other. But that's really our brain using uploaded data to refine stored data, so that with every iteration, the stored data increasingly resembles the observed data. When the observed data matches retrieved data, we know the phenomenon, and we can distinguish it from its environment. If not, we can't.
Since Claude Shannon (late 1940s) we know that every string of, say, 54 letters (like: "Wfj jdusiow GHyywhJ paloweuj kahwygn jajajng wyquipals") always conveys precisely the same amount of data. But some strings of 54 letters also convey information (like "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"). To the universe these two strings are identical, but to someone who reads English, the second string contains information. To someone who knows the Bible, this string also refers to the implied whole creation event (and thus contains much more information), and to someone who understands the word "God," this statement sums up the nature of all information combined.
Data is a mere number, like volume; it says something about a string's capacity but not its meaning. Information on the other hand, is meaning, and like beauty, lies wholly in the eye of the beholder — or rather her covenantal complexity. The more relevant agreement (covenantal complexity) the beholder is part of, the more information the string contains. That means that we humans can know the universe when we agree on it, and for this we must continue to imitate each other, to find that common ground that is holy (Exodus 3:5).
Said otherwise: "Truth" is that which all humans will eventually, freely and whole-heartedly agree on (Isaiah 40:5, Romans 14:11, Zechariah 8:23). And when we humans agree, we will know the universe, and by knowing the universe, we will know its Creator (Matthew 5:8, Romans 1:20, 1 Peter 2:1-5). That's why the Son of God is called Logos (Word) and all writing is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16, John 20:22, Genesis 2:7).
🔼To be is to evolve
The story of the creation week is not about the first 144 hours of existence, but rather the basic pattern in which everything that evolves must evolve; a pattern that shows up in countless guises in countless complex systems, as the basest building block of all complexity, the truest atom of dynamic reality.
Matter starts as photonic energy (day 1), goes through a matter-antimatter breach (day 2), after which antimatter is heard from no more and regular matter forms atoms (day 3), and then stars (day 4), and the various formative signals that come from stars (day 5) and finally DNA (at the close of day 6).
Mind, likewise, starts with general consciousness (day 1), a breach between self-awareness and so-called Theory of Mind (day 2), the rejection of self-centeredness in favor of the formation of social molecules (day 3; see Luke 23:43), the formation of social stratification and leadership (day 4), a common culture (day 5), and finally a shared language and collective wisdom (late, day 6).
This pattern is the basic shape of a giant fractal, and each stage (matter, life, mind, global society, and so on) in turn corresponds to a day of the week: matter with day 1, life with day 2, society with day 3, and so on. That means that, just like in any fractal, there never is a paint-by-number correlation between the elements or even the stages. But this fractal never fails to make sense of an otherwise chaotic world. Here are the six stages of fear, for instance:
|No fear ↑||Real (speech-based) ↓|
|(1) Monotheism: all works together||(4) Fear of off-world but of-world global entities: governments, stars, natural forces|
|(2) Dualism: all is good versus evil||(5) Fear of speculated danger: a lion around the corner, a bear in the darkness|
|(3) Polytheism: all is a pantheon of anthropomorphized abstractions||(6) Fear of observable dominance: bigger, stronger animals|
|Abstract (script-based) ↑||No fear ↓|
- (6) Creatures like atoms, molecules, paramecia and ants are not complex enough to compare themselves to others, and subsequently have no fear. Upward from there, creatures commonly know how they relate to their environment, and will fear anything bigger and stronger than themselves.
- (5) Slightly more complex creatures are also able to extrapolate into an invisible but very real reality, and additionally fear the possibility of a greater and stronger animal that's not on their plain of observation; hidden from their immediate detection but still very much there and ready to pounce. This is pretty much where the reach of the animal mind stops (as far as we can tell), and in humans, this level of complexity often translates into a fear of demons and conspiring billionaires and alien motherships and such. This level is also the level at which the most primitive belief systems develop.
- (4) The next step up in complexity comes with the understanding that the whole world is governed by the "powers that be" in whatever form. These are real and not abstract forces: kings and their armies, wind and thunder, the stars overhead. These physical but off-world (i.e. not in one's immediate environment) entities typically battle each other for supremacy, and the apex of this level is world domination. At this level people believe in animism, while others believe that things happen because governments and powerful men willfully make them happen, which is really the same thing.
- (3) There's nothing beyond world-domination by a physical entity, apart of course from a pantheon of abstractions and ideals. But the kicker here is that abstract thought does not exist in a world without script, quite in the same way that conscious thought does not exist in a world without speech. When a functioning script allows a penetration into the miraculous world of abstractions, unusually skilled thinkers will realize that war is stronger than any warrior and love is stronger than any lover, which in turn leads to the belief that the physical human world is governed by a pantheon of abstractions — very real entities, but not physical; very real spiritual entities. As anyone can observe, these abstractions, these very real but spiritual entities, are continuously at odds with each other, and humans with any sense would offer to and feed the abstractions they favor most. All this explains much of the familiar Greek and Roman pantheons, and their immediate derivatives (in which demigods are called "saints" but effectively people a pagan pantheon).
- (2) The next step up comes with the realization that the entire living world is polarized upon the mere two poles of good and evil, and that all abstractions are either centered on the evil pole or on the good pole, and continue to battle each other for all cosmic eternity. Greek philosophers who sought to escape the inconsistencies of the classical pantheon ended up debating virtue versus vice but famously got bogged down in endless rhetoric (or got executed for their trouble, as was the case with Socrates). More successful were the efforts of Zarathustra (or Zoroaster), who created the formidable bipolar model known as Zoroastrianism. It's not clear when Zarathustra lived, but the Bible implies a contemporariness between him and his countryman Abraham — and to clarify: the literary character of Abraham, whether based on a historical character or not, serves to embody a broad cultural response to Zoroastrianism; something that once started but has obviously never died (Matthew 22:32).
- (1) Contrary to Zarathustra, Abraham (then still Abram) realized that God is One, which implies that creation is One as well: not in the sense that God equals the whole of creation (that's pantheism), nor in the sense that everything is One and distinctions are illusory (that would be monism), but rather in the sense that the universe is a closed system whose elements are wholly connected in a dynamic network that defines the elements, so that the whole always works as One, and is One.
Abraham is proverbially remembered as having understood that the universe is one — the text, in its signature flowery way, tells that Abram was "met" by the King of Peace (Genesis 14:18) — because its discrete elements are wholly sovereign, autonomous and free, which means that quanta are Ones because their Creator is One (Genesis 15:6, Galatians 3:7). Because the universe is a closed system, its elements can only be rearranged but not taken from or added to (Deuteronomy 4:2, Psalm 119:160, Proverbs 30:5-6, Revelation 22:18-19).
This also means that the emergence of the universe was due to Oneness, and that its present workings derive wholly from that same Oneness — hence the many preservation laws: of energy, momentum, baryon number, and so on, but also the primary principle of electricity and gravity that seeks equilibrium and dictates that whatever goes up must come down.
Oneness causes entropy to always increase, and so levels mountains and raises valleys (Isaiah 40:4). Oneness causes the extinction of evolutionary misfits (mostly tyrannical specialists), declares niches in ecosystems, which life fills like water, hence creating creatures both after their own kind and after their relativity to the whole. Likewise, Oneness forges language and thus law, cities and society. Universal Oneness even implies that, since the ultimate nature of the universe is Oneness, its destiny is Oneness as well, both internally at its every level of complexity, and ultimately even externally, in a "marriage" between Creator and creation.
🔼The original and final sin
Humanity's ever waxing wisdom tradition is today not very self-aware, but nevertheless intuitively tries to find its way back to Paradise, which is why the climb is opposite the fall (hence the word "conversion", which means "a turning back"; Isaiah 21:12, Genesis 3:19). It also means that the original sin, which was the first one on the way down, will ultimately be the last one on the way back up.
In art, Eve is commonly depicted as a naked lady, but in the text she is called the "mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20), which is what we moderns call the biosphere. That means that Adam is the most general definition of a living being: whatever goes for Adam goes for all living things (hence Romans 8:22 and Colossians 1:23). The fall famously happened when "life" ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and this was not a "knowledge" tree but an "ethics" tree — not a subtle difference.
Contrary to common perception, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was as good and perfect as the rest of Paradise, even "good for food, a delight to the eyes, and desirous to make wise" (Genesis 3:6, also see Isaiah 7:15). But since the effect of perfection is freedom, the beginning of perfection is foolishness, as much as time began in formlessness. Like the end of time (which is the beginning of life), the fullness of perfection is wisdom.
That suggests that all animals up to great apes intuitively (i.e. imperfectly) know God, and that the celebrated great intellectual "awakening" that defines us humans began with an initiating slump into a natural form of Zoroastrianism, when man began to plot his course through life rejecting and accepting, not according to his own local appetites but thinking in global terms of good and evil: "Whatever I personally don't like, or even recognize, is therefore evil and should be destroyed. And whatever I personally recognize and like is therefore good and should be preserved. This is because I am god, and equal to God, and everything should either be like me or else not be at all". This idiotic position explains much of human history (hence Matthew 7:1 and Romans 2:1; compare Genesis 2:17 to Ephesians 2:1).
People had begun to call upon the name of YHWH as early as the days of Enosh (Genesis 4:26), but Abraham was the first real monotheist, the first to whom the Logos came and who was verbally addressed by the Logos. Genesis 15:1 does not say: "and the Lord said to Abram: 'Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you'", as some modern translations strangely suggest, but rather says: "and the Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision — במחזה (be'mahazeh), in a vision, from חזה (haza), to see — saying: 'Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you'".
In modern terms, Abraham was the first who consciously realized that:
- The most fundamental characteristic of reality is Oneness (Deuteronomy 6:4);
- This invisible Oneness can be consciously and intellectually known by man by studying observable creation (Genesis 15:6, Deuteronomy 4:35, 1 Samuel 2:1-3, Romans 1:20);
- And man can build his human world upon his knowledge of Oneness (Genesis 12:3, Psalm 1:1-3, 127:1);
- Everything that happens, happens because of Oneness (Romans 8:28);
- All reality is a web of causality that exists in a continuum that is governed by a perfectly just and immutable law (Luke 16:17);
- A divine being of extraordinary beauty and harmony (Psalm 119:97);
- Which in turn is One (Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 19:7, 18:30);
- And which perpetually upholds Oneness with omnipotent resolve (Psalm 2:9, Revelation 19:15, Isaiah 2:4, Joel 3:12).
The Bible is based on the so-called Pattern of Salvation, which is the pattern that tells how to get from Adam to Christ by making choices about the course of one's own life (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). This Pattern is characterized by stations in which some homogenous state (first day) breaches into two competing ways (second day): one very broad and dominating way (the line of Cain, the tower of Babel, the Pharaoh of Egypt, Goliath of Gath, the Roman Empire, one's "own understanding", one's own physical size, or wealth, or clout, one's own tribe, one's own team), and one narrow and often ridiculed way (the line of Seth, Abraham, the Law of Moses, David of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ, one's "trust in YHWH": compare Genesis 4:26 to Proverbs 3:5-6, Theory of Mind: language, polite society and the systematic pooling of resources).
The broad road consistently seems the better bet, but the narrow way consistently wins (Proverbs 14:12, Zechariah 4:6, Matthew 7:13, 1 Samuel 17:45). The broad road inevitably runs into some asymptotic ceiling (or flood or collapse), while the narrow way continues to develop into a global dry land (third day). Whatever remnant of the broad way remains, will serve whatever world the narrow way grows into (compare Genesis 4:20-22 to Exodus 27:21, 31:4 and Numbers 10:2).
Monotheism is not about religiously "believing" in some distant deity, some Prime Mover or some Puppet Master, but about understanding the Oneness of All Things. It's about the stubborn refusal to reject anything (that God found necessary to create). It's about the subsequent zeal to accept everything (that God found necessary to create), and repair where necessary (Isaiah 62:10, 2 Kings 22:5, Nehemiah 4:21), and sort things, and combine things that go together and keep things apart that don't (Matthew 8:20).
Nobody can live without stomach acid, but stomach acid will dissolve anything it comes in contact with and must therefore be kept in a specially designed acid-proof stomach. Likewise, the universe did not begin at a point in time, but time started at a point in the universe. Time seems so omnipotent but there are greater axes of progression, and time is a mere creature, a servant of much greater things, kept safely under a time-proof dome. To a three-dimensional being, the universe is an entirely different place than to a four-dimensional being. But the universe is never paranormal or supernatural. Earthlings wonder about extra-terrestrials as much as mortals wonder about extra-temporals. People who don't understand these things look for the beginning in the past, and will never find it. Monotheism is about knowing the order of things and how all things fit together (Isaiah 28:10, Ecclesiastes 3:1, Matthew 22:21). Monotheism is the understanding of sovereignty (Psalm 24:1-10). Monotheism is knowing freedom (John 8:32, 2 Corinthians 3:17).
Belief in the Logos does not regard the Logos as the object of this belief, but rather the environment in which the believing is done. The Logos is not the god on the pedestal in the inner sanctum of the temple, but the Logos is the temple (and see Matthew 23:16-17, Isaiah 2:2, Revelation 21:22). What then is on the pedestal in the inner sanctum of the temple of the Logos? The object of belief in the Logos is everything; all of it, the whole of created reality plus its Creator (Ephesians 1:10, Colossians 2:3, 1 Corinthians 13:7, 2 Timothy 2:7 — also compare Exodus 29:43-46 with Ezekiel 43:7, Zechariah 2:10, Matthew 1:23 and John 2:19-22, and with Ephesians 2:18-22 and 1 Peter 2:5).
Both the Logos and the unified whole of creation are defined by completeness (or perfection, if you will, and thus freedom), and completeness never comprises greater and lesser parts but always mutual support and mutual confirmation of all constituting elements (John 13:34, 1 John 4:8, Romans 13:8). It's like a complicated machine: its most important element is its completeness. When it's not complete, its most important part is the one that is missing (Matthew 18:12, Luke 15:32).
Everybody starts their life "in Adam" and nobody gets to be "in Christ" through a magic spell, a ritual or a wonder pill. There simply is no trick, no shortcut, because mastery comes from growth, not from a snap of the fingers. You simply cannot fake proof-of-time. The Temple that is the Body of Christ is like a mind that runs on the slowly refined software of language (Psalm 12:6). Everybody can learn that language, like any child, by simply imitating those who are fluent in it. Everybody can get to the Temple, but nobody can get to the Temple without walking the long road toward it.
The road onto Christ is long and arduous, but it's real and not supernatural and many have completed it and know the way and continuously tell the world about it, in conversation, in art, books, movies, music; in any which way that works. But the unimaginable is hard to convey to folks who can't imagine it, and any shiny trinket lures the gullible and lazy away from it. Many who themselves have failed to reach Christ lie in wait along the route with champagne and bouquets and songs of victory, to congratulate any fool who accepts that they are "in Christ" by merit of someone else's breathless declarations. Droves draw to promises of tricks and short-cuts, like fish toward a night-fisher's lamp (see σκανδαλιζω, skandalizo, to night-fish). Many who profess to be "in Christ" never even left Ur — and to tell the difference between people who actually are "in Christ" and people who merely say so, see Matthew 7:21-23 and 11:2-6, and John 14:12-21.
Modern religions are often obsessed with their favorite Bible texts or Biblical character, while largely ignoring the rest, and with their fellow believers, while opposing any others. And all of them seek to summarize and paraphrase the Bible into their own dogmas, creeds, one-liners and nursery rhymes (statements so brilliant that not even the Holy Spirit thought to put them into writing). These religions inadvertently promote the idea that a living person can be summarized and summed up by her most exiting parts, while the rest of her is ignored or refused. It comes from precisely the same instinct that compels people to confuse their own preference with what's good for everybody, and what in extreme cases compels tyrants to kill the weaklings within their striking range. Porn, fascism and religious exclusivity are mere variations on a single theme, and are defined by an identical modus operandi that seeps like a poisonous ooze through society and inflames everything.
That's not to say that the Bible can't be compressed, because it obviously can: the entire imaginative cosmos of mankind is summarized by the Bible (John 21:25), the Bible by the Torah (1 Corinthians 10:2), the Torah by the Ten Commandments, the Ten by the Two (Matthew 22:36-40), and the Two by the One (Matthew 7:12). But the dogmas of religions do violence to the living complexity of Bible, and turn it into something it is not.
Everybody knows we need vitamin C. But building temples to vitamin C, singing songs to vitamin C, and replacing vitamin C by something "even better than" vitamin C (namely sugar candy in the shape of lemon wedges), will not do the trick. In fact, no trick will do. And mere devotion isn't good enough either (1 Kings 18:26). We can easily tell that folks have a vitamin C deficiency when they are falling apart from scurvy, while confusing the elation of a sugar rush with the healthy sensation of joy, which in turn comes from real security and not the mere suggestion of it. And the peddlers of sugar candy can be easily recognized, because those are the ones who get angry when we try to bring fresh citrus fruits to the market (Acts 19:28).
Belief in the Logos is belief in the Oneness of all things, and this belief yields understanding in the relativity of all things and thus the definition of all things. That's where understanding of natural law comes from, as well as mastery over plagues and the power to cast out δαιμονια (daimonia).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ confirms that all is One, and explains that One is known, and that this knowledge can be used to build worlds that will never fall apart (Matthew 6:33). If the Jewish wisdom tradition is an olive tree, then the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that same olive tree blooming. But in whatever stage of the agricultural cycle we regard the olive tree, the olive tree is never based on the emotional devotion to some distant object, and certainly not about joining the winning team, but rather the calm, composed and systematic study of both the whole of creation and the Word (1 Kings 4:33, Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
As we saw above, both the Word and the whole of creation can be reduced to a single seminal statement, which in turn can be known by all people, irrespective of their intellectual capacities. Whether one knows only the seed or some entire forest that sprang from the seed, one always knows the whole. And the purpose of knowing the whole is always to care for the weak, the incomplete and less endowed (Proverbs 12:10, Exodus 22:22), never to run ahead into one's private salvation while the botched and bungled are left behind to burn (Hosea 6:6).
Damnation may be a personal thing but salvation is always a communal thing. That is why the Gospel of Jesus Christ speaks of a Body of Christ and a community of saints. And it's also why the New Jerusalem is a city, which is a single entity formed from the original contributions of many free citizens. Its purpose is to govern and uphold the wider world (compare Revelation 21:24-26 to 1 Kings 10:24-25), which means that the salvation of any of us is not for our own pleasure but so that we can give our lives to those who are still in the dark. Just like Jesus did.
Contrary to common perception, one cannot simply decide to "believe" in monotheism. Someone who tries to enter without being truly ready inevitably tumbles back onto dualism, and if the momentum isn't immediately checked and reversed (and that rarely happens), that person will fall all the way down to the righthand side of the table, where all existence is servitude and fear-driven slavery.
Darkness is not the opposite of light but the absence of it (and certainly not the presence of something else). Light is substantial, comes in colors, carries information, propels into action and gives warmth, life, reason and love. Darkness has none of those qualities. Light forms chemical bonds and light breaks chemical bonds; darkness does neither. Light forms conclusions and breaks conclusions; darkness does neither. Human reality is monopolar, centered on a source of light and radiating out into a darkness where things only happen because of light and never because of darkness.
As Hannah said: "YHWH kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. YHWH makes poor and rich; He brings low, and He exalts. He raises the poor from the dust. He lifts the needy from the ash heap, and makes them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor." (1 Samuel 2:6-8).
In the words of Isaiah: "Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other" (Isaiah 46:9). "Thus says YHWH: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me" (Isaiah 44:6). "There is no one besides Me. I AM YHWH, and there is no other; the One forming אור ('or), light, and creating חשך (hoshek), darkness, causing שלום (shalom), wholeness or "peace", and creating רעה (ra'a), brokenness or "evil"; I am YHWH who does all these" (Isaiah 45:6-7).
From that level onward, there is no fear (1 John 4:18).
🔼To weave, to join, to be
We humans are born deal-makers. We love to agree which each other on how to call things, how to behave and how things ought to be. This is why we managed to create a thought-based universe, a continuum with a causality-based reality, that no animal has access to — although, conceivably, animals whose experiences are forced to align may actually form one too. Who knows, perhaps Alien Abduction Syndrome is all about certain sensitive humans picking up the collective mind of caged pigs (which would match the findings of the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton University).
The first word of the Bible, namely בראשית (bresheet), "in the beginning", comes from an unusual feminine plural of the masculine word meaning head (namely ראש, rosh), and thus rather means "in the continuum of heads". Earlier we met the adverb ανωθεν (anothen), from the top, or from the head, which expresses the same idea.
This curious plural of diverse masculinity that adds up to a feminine whole ties into an essential quality of the Hebrew language, namely the rule that defines masculinity as the tendency to be one, and femineity as the tendency to be many. This is why God is a He, and creation a She, and why any nation is a "mother" who comprises her many "sons." This same principle allowed the masculine Jacob to become the feminine Israel — Genesis 32:25 hinges upon the word ירך (yarek), genitalia — and the same thing happened when the masculine Jesus Christ became the feminine and bridal Body of Christ.
The single most dominant theme of the Bible is the marital union of the Creator (the Husband) and the created (the Bride). Said curtly: the Bible is predominantly about sex — how to, how not to, what happens when you don't when you should, and what when you do when you shouldn't. The Bible describes the coital act in some way or form on nearly every page, and to give a hint: the famous assertion of Joel 2:28, that God will pour out his Spirit on mankind, makes use of the verb שפך (shapak), which means to pour out or ejaculate. The closely related noun שפכה (shopka) means penis.
The disciple Nicodemus brought a wildly extravagant 100 litres of myrrh oil to the tomb of Christ, according to the burial custom of the Jews (John 19:39-40). That custom had nothing to do with embalming, as some commentators appear to suggest (Jews didn't embalm their dead), but with the resurrection; the miracle of life that was in some form manifested with every pregnancy (1 Corinthians 15:44). The original custom that involved myrrh oil was the custom of sprinkling the marriage bed of newlyweds with a celebratory dab of myrrh. In Judea, when folks smelled myrrh they knew that nearby a young couple was consuming their marriage (hence Mark 14:3-9). That means that Nicodemus' 100 litres set the entire region ablaze with the smell of copulation (see our article on מור, mor, myrrh).
The noun εριον (erion) describes wool thread: carefully manufactured, washed, spun and dyed wool thread, from which people made clothes and tents with designs that expressed their artistic natures and tribal allegiances. Wool was the first real artificial product. It had triggered the need for complex machinery, and so set mankind upon the road to technology and modernity. Our noun εριον (erion), wool thread, comes from the noun ερος (eros), unprocessed and unrefined fluffs of wool. The latter is identical to the familiar noun ερος (eros), which describes the raw sexual desire we humans share with animals, and whose cultured refinement signifies much of polite society. That's not a coincidence. See our article on the verb περιτεμνω (peritemno), to circumcise, for a survey on how circumcision created the modern world (and how Schrödinger's cat helped).
The Bible is all about the preservation of life, hence the laden term "salvation". This is why the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is very obviously self-similar to the ovulation and conception of the mammalian reproductive cycle (see our article on Stephen for the details). Modern Bible translators have opted to euphemize most sexual references out of the Bible, which is not only a heartbreaking crime, it also quenches the Bible's subliminal sexual thrust, which is probably why so many people with a perfectly healthy sexuality nevertheless develop a porn addiction. The scourge of our times, porn addiction is scurvy of the mind.
A people is feminine (אמה, 'amma, mother or people; בן, ben, son or building block) and a government is masculine (אב, 'ab, father), and the combination of the two explains both modern nations and commercial companies. A perfect republic, however, is a republic of Anointed Ones: free and sovereign individuals with no central government — a Virgin without a husband, so to speak. In the universe, entropy must always increase (Isaiah 40:4), which is how the universe is rigged to strengthen the Virgin to the point where she produces a government wholly from her own within, a self-government that is an emergent property of her own dynamic identity, that comes about naturally and spontaneously without the help of any concentration of energy (John 1:13). This explains the Bible's theme of the Virgin Birth (see our article on παρθενος, parthenos, virgin).
Joseph was Jesus' Jewish father-by-law (in Luke 2:23, Luke uses the verb νομιζω, nomizo, to legalize, from the aforementioned noun νομος, nomos, law), but Jesus received his earthy genes solely from Mary, who was a συγγενης (suggenes), kins-woman, of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, who, like Moses and Aaron, was a Levite (Luke 1:36). The name Levi means Joiner.
The earthly profession of both Joseph and Jesus was that of τεκτων (tekton), meaning joiner or assembler. This word comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root "teks-", to weave, that gave the English language the words technology, textile and text. The Psalmist spoke of a fetus in the womb as being "woven" together: Psalm 139:13 uses the verb סכך (sakak), hence the name Succoth.
🔼When symmetries breach
At the cellular level, objects and living things differ thermodynamically. When an object absorbs light, its molecules will use this energy to fuel their independent jostling and jolting. But when a living cell absorbs light, its molecules will work together to convert the energy into a chemical compound (like honey) that safely stores the energy for later use. Objects get hot and can't help radiating their captured heat, whereas living things don't get hot but store their captured energy. You might say that a living thing is a transfinitively black object, or a bush that has found a way to contain fire without getting consumed (Exodus 3:2).
A living cell is never not an object (the material universe can't even tell the difference), but you might say that a living cell is a thing with a little un-thing governing it and holding it together in every mechanical sense of the word. That un-thing is what the ancients called a soul: a soul is not a thing but rather the condition of being alive. This non-substantial "soul" is an inherent quality of matter that is contained in the fabric of every atom, and emanates as an emergent property when matter is arranged in a very specific hyper-complex way (Matthew 12:40). A planet's gravitational field arises from all the combined little gravities of all separate atoms, and soul is similar to that, except that a joined gravitational field requires no complexity and soul does. Soul happens when atoms interlock harmonically, like singers in a choir, whose rhythms bind stronger than their arms ever would.
All animals have, or are, souls (the Hebrew word for soul is mentioned in Genesis 1:20, 1:21, 1:24, 1:30), and one's soul sums up all one's private qualities: one's living body, one's blood, one's emotions, appetites, feelings, observations, sex drive, food intake, even one's breathing are all private things, and thus part of one's soul. All these things we humans have in common with animals, and the biosphere has no way to tell the difference between our celebrated human feelings and those of a pig or a giraffe. They're the same (Psalm 73:22, Ecclesiastes 3:18, 2 Peter 2:12, Jude 1:10).
The difference between rocks (objects) and animals (souls) is identical to the difference between animals (souls) and mental beings (spirits). One's soul sums up one's private qualities and one's spirit sums up one's communal qualities. A mental being, a mind, is able to work together with other minds to store light (observations, considerations) without getting extremely excited and ultimately burned (causing the forced disintegration of social bonds). And just like a soul is an emergent property of molecules working together, so a spirit is an emergent property of souls working together.
What photosynthesis and glucose is to the biosphere, language is to the mental sphere. All animals depend on plants — the flesh of all animals comes from energy stored in plants, which in turn is converted sunlight — which means that the whole of life is like a single tree: the Tree of Life (Genesis 2:9, 3:22-24, Proverbs 3:18, 11:30, 13:12, 15:4, Revelation 2:7, 22:2-19), and all animals and birds dart about its branches and eat its leaves and fruits.
Like God and love, the word spirit is sorely over-abused in our world, so let's boil it down to its dry skeletal essence: spiritual things are things that only exist in two or more minds (Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:20). Something that exists only in our own mind is not spiritual but physical (see Galatians 5:16-26).
Things like language, love, art, fashion, law, manners, cities (the social aspect, not the cement), social networks and even money are spiritual things. Feelings of ecstasy, channeling crystal energies and seeing dynamic patterns after eating a shroom are not spiritual, but physical. Experiences like those are utterly private, and feigning significance they lull lonely souls into an even deeper isolation until their ability to connect to others has been entirely spent and their spirits have utterly died, and they have become nothing but apes again. Cosmologists call this a heat death (Matthew 24:12).
For more on the relative qualities of matter, soul and spirit, see our article on the noun πνευμα (pneuma).
🔼The agricultural revolution
The collective human mind is self-similar to the biosphere. It's made of words that evolve like living things into deltas of branching family trees, and relate and interact like evolutionary related animals in shared ecosystems, in turn formed from the united minds of people, whose minds form little camps of consciousness within vast wildernesses of subconsciousness. There was no spacetime until the nucleosynthesis and matter-radiation decoupling. There was no data retention until discrete particles upheld their continuum. Likewise the collective mind of man. Animals live wholly in the present and have no sense of past and future, because these are abstract idea that only exist in the mind of man. Past and future tenses only exist in language.
The mental sphere is a spiritual realm in which all elements are connected to clusters of countless others, a phenomenon that turns it into a raging ball of interconnected associations, without beginning or end but always forming and driven by global forces onto some kind of Divine Bride; a perfectly decentralized republic that bears her own government from within her (Luke 17:21, John 7:38). Like the biosphere, the collective human mind comprises dry land, water and an airy atmosphere, mycelium and trees, bugs and bacteria, animals and birds, and they all exists as context-specific nodes of a unified network.
The mental sphere is ultimately an emergent property of the biosphere, in the same way that the biosphere is an emergent property of the material realm. Before there were words, nobody had any lofty thoughts — "conscious thought" is literally "thought in words" — and all mammals were on an even par which each other. There was no way to tell which were the smart ones, and the world was a Tolkienesque stage in which closely kindred beings of vastly different sizes competed, interacted and got along. The first converging verbal expressions of our remote ancestors were self-similar to the first emerging living cells on our planet. There was no conscious thought, just boiling vents in the darkest depths (Genesis 1:2). Spiritual life somehow clambered onto dry land (Genesis 8:13) and went through a Cambrian explosion (Genesis 11:9) and created a vastly complex, fast evolving but always unified global economy (Genesis 12:3).
There were spiritual birds and spiritual fish. There were spiritual herds and spiritual predators. And there were spiritual great apes — all in their own environment, all merely mindful of their own natures, tribes and scopes. But a miracle began to happen when a frail and failing runt of the great ape family mastered fire (πυρ, pur), and organized her tribe around the fire, and out from the broad plains came a frail runt of the wolf family and joined the naked apes around their fires. The mental equivalent of endosymbiotic eukaryosynthesis was underway.
As stated above, all humans are three beings within three realms. All of us are big boulders in the material universe and great apes in the biosphere. But in the mental sphere, we humans are as diverse as the biosphere, and our minds can be anything from ants to badgers to elephants — not in the way they look (or seem to an immature observer) but rather in how the individual relates to the world at large. One's mind is an elephant if one's mind relates to the mental sphere the way an elephant relates to the biosphere.
Today, our spiritual world is organized like an archipelago of farms that sit within a larger spiritual wilderness. But crucially to our story, neither the biological agricultural revolution (the one in which physical apes and physical dogs domesticated physical herds), nor the spiritual agricultural revolution (the one in which mental apes and mental dogs domesticated mental herds), came about from anybody's willful tyranny. Contrary to common perception, no species was ever forcibly domesticated, but all that eventually were, initially volunteered.
🔼Man's best friend
While they were still living apart, man and dog began to slowly domesticate each other, and work together for their mutual benefit. For the longest time it was unclear who would be the dominant one. Both lived in tribal communities that were centered on parental leaders. Both sported complex vocal patterns and hunted in packs, with intelligence as their main weapon. Humans were able to leverage their natural abilities by means of tools, but dogs had stronger bites, were much faster and were far less vulnerable to the elements.
When predators like lions circle the herd, they drive it together into a compact mass. Since victims fall at the periphery of the herd, the safest place is at the heart of it, provided the herd is controlled and kept calm so that it won't stampede. This motivated man to use herds as living shields for their women and children, which in turn prompted him to protect and pacify the herds, which was beneficial to the herd, as the herds at some point appear to have understood.
The Hebrew noun צאן (so'n) means flock, and relates to the noun צנה (sinna), which denotes a large man-sized shield. The Hebrew word for heart is לב (leb). A word for lion is לבי (lebi), which literally means heartily, "my heart" or "of the heart". The word for dog is כלב (kaleb), which literally means "like a heart" or even "like a lion." To us moderns, there is a huge difference between dogs and lions, but to very early man, dogs and lions were the same beast: the heart-maker.
A more common word for lion is the masculine noun ארי (ari), from the verb ארה (arah), to gather. Its feminine equivalent is אריה ('urya), which describes the trough around which farm animals gather to feed. This helps to explain Jesus' proverbial crib (Luke 2:7). The Greek word for dog is κυων (kuon), whereas the verb κυω (kuo) means to conceive or be pregnant. The word for female pig, δελφαξ (delphax), likewise relates to the word δελφυς (delphus), meaning womb (and to our English word "dolphin"). A male pig was known as χοιρος (choiros), after an ancient root that means to be bristly (having short bits of hair). The etymologically unrelated but pleasingly similar noun χορος (choros) means choir, and the verb χαιρω (chairo), means to be socially joyful (hence words like charisma and charity).
Dogs learned to manage the herds but never quite understood what they were doing, or why. The shepherds, on the other hand, began to invest in a global economy that greatly transcended the individual farms. To dogs, their own herd was all there was. To shepherds, the world comprised many herds and many houses (John 14:2) and one great economy that existed like a perfect republic of shepherds. And there was another difference between shepherds and dogs: the shepherds began to heed the birds.
Birds were not part of the early domesticated world, but early shepherds understood that birds have an unusually broad scope, and act in flight according to the information they read from the ground. Birds know where the herds are, where the predators are, where the water is and where the bodies lie. Birds see everything, including tomorrow's weather, and although they have no reason to join the farm, they supply the shepherd with information that his own senses could never pick up. Birds are like dancers who perform in the sky a fictionalized version of reality on earth, like the words of a living book.
And these are the four great players in the miracle of domestication, like four living beings that each represents an essential element of the whole process (Revelation 4:7):
- one like a man to represent the shepherds who govern the whole world from the many hearts of the agricultural republic;
- one like a calf to represent the herds that protect the shepherds' families;
- one like an eagle to represent the birds that inform the shepherds;
- and one like a lion to represent the cooperative canine government on the periphery of their assigned herds.
Most modern humans have minds that relate to the larger mental world the way herd animals relate to the biosphere. Most of us have no real clue about the larger world: we rarely wonder why there's water coming out of the tap, or who might be putting it in on the other end, or why there is electrical power in our sockets, food in our stores and safety in our streets. We make use of smart phones, trains, cars and airplanes, computers, household appliances, but we have no real idea what it takes to invent such things, or why it all works together so well. We are mostly blissfully ignorant, even of our own ignorance (which is why we have so many opinions), and lumber along the plains in the existential embrace of the Dunning-Kruger effect, grazing as we go without really knowing where we're going. There's no shame to it. In the world at large, that's our job.
The Hebrew word for pasture is דבר (dober). It stems from the verb דבר (dabar), to formalize (to put into words). The familiar term Word of the Lord comes from the Hebrew term דבר יהוה (dabar YHWH), what the Greeks called Logos. The term Dabar YHWH, or "Word of the Lord" also means "Pasture of the Alphabet".
The mental equivalent of herd animals are the vast myriads of folks who use their words to babble and gossip and regurgitate the same old hash that everybody else is saying. They pick up and pass on what's been said, and read their newspapers and websites that repeat the same old pieces in slight variations. They don't know any better and are happy that way, and obviously very useful to the larger world.
Probably the two most signature attributes of herd animals are the κερασ (keras), or horn, the proverbial symbol of interlocking wills of competing contesters, and γαλα (gala), meaning milk, the symbol of rudimentary instructions that feed very young children.
The Greek word for smaller herd animals like goats and sheep is προβατον (probaton), which literally means advancer or forward stepper. It stems from the verb βαινω (baino), to stand or to step (hence our word basis). Sheep are not equipped to see the farm world's bigger picture, but they do know their shepherd and follow him willingly to grassy pastures.
Unlike sheep, pigs don't follow a herder and have to be driven violently from behind. That takes a lot of manpower, because when pigs have to do something they themselves hadn't thought of, they rise screaming in opposition and not rarely stampede off into the wilderness, where hungry wildlings await their bouncy chops. To pigs, personal gratification sums up the purpose of life. Antiquity knew them as the Choir Boys or the Partiers, and the Greeks and Romans bred them specifically as offerings to their gods.
Without any of them willfully wanting so, sheep grow a thick woolen coat. The sheep don't know why this happens, and only that, on occasion, the shepherd relieves them from their wool. They don't know why and can't imagine what he does with it (doing things with things is not in a sheep's capacity to consider). As we note in our article on the verb αρνεομαι (arneomai), meaning to artificially select or to breed a domestic race (noun αρην, aren means lamb or kid): "Before there was metal, manufactured thread literally provided the strings that bound the ancient world together." Wool thread was the first truly artificial commodity, which drove the development of all kinds of technology, fueled an artistic and commercial interest in the productive natural world, and allowed people to express themselves artistically and collectively. Long before there were governments, styles made cultures and cultures made nations. Wool indeed made the modern world.
The Hebrew noun שה (seh) or שי (shay), meaning sheep or goat, is spelled identical to the noun שי (shay), which denotes a devotional offering made to the Temple by neighboring nations and their kings. It's a rare word that only occurs in Psalm 68:29, 76:11 and Isaiah 18:7, but see 1 Kings 10:23-25 and Revelation 21:24-26. It stems from the verb שית (shyt), to give, set or place firm, from which also comes the name Seth (which thus means Basis). The noun רחל (rahel) means ewe, hence the name Rachel. The word for ram, איל ('ayil), literally means protruder and is not unlike προβατον (probaton). It comes from the verb אלל ('alal), to stick out or lead. Noun אלה ('elah) means oak. Noun אלה ('eloah) means God.
Bovines differ from sheep in that they don't produce wool but can be trained to carry a yoke and to draw a plough, which allowed agriculture (a popular literary tradition) in addition to husbandry (oral folklore). The word for yoke is ζυγος (zugos), yoke, a device that results in social synchronicity, which is the beginning of all language and thus law and thus civilization. What domesticated dogs were for husbandry, domesticated cats would be for agriculture (hence also the familiar figure of Abu Hurairah).
In Matthew 11:29, Jesus famously equates taking up a yoke with learning — the verb is μανθανω (manthano), to learn, from which English gets words like mentor, mind, meditate and medicine. The word for disciple (such as Jesus' proverbial twelve) also derives from this verb: μαθητης (mathetes), literally a learner, and hence our word mathematics.
Words are verbal expressions that people have come to agree on. Before words are words, people raise their voices in unison and roar, seeking the synchronicity that would yield words like gold from a kiln. The word for that is βοη (boe), a loud collective roar or cry. The Greek word for ox is βους (bous).
The Hebrew word for ox is אלף ('alep), which comes from the verb אלף ('alep), to learn, or rather to socially synchronize, and hence to produce thousands (of kids and calves in flocks and herds). From this word comes the name of the first letter: א ('alep) in Hebrew and α (alpha) in Greek, and thus the first part of the word alphabet. The word alphabet is alpha-beta, or rather aleph-bet, after the letters א ('aleph) and בית (beth/bayit), meaning house. The word alphabet literally means Stable Of Oxen, House Of Thousands, or Temple Of Learning.
Another couple of Hebrew cow-words are the masculine פר (par) and the feminine פרה (para), from the verb פרר (parar), to split, divide and make more. Our English word "science" relates to the Greek verb σξιζω (schizo), which likewise means to split, divide and make more.
Herds of cattle naturally produce lead steer. The Greek word for steer or bull, namely ταυρος (tauros), probably derives from the Hebrew one, namely שור (shor), which in turn comes from the verb שור (shur), to excite or be raised. The term שרי אלפים (saray 'alepim), meaning leader of thousands (Exodus 18:21) is obviously a play on the words meaning lead steer of the oxen. Most humans are cattle and most of us are intimately comfortable with following our lead steers: managers, presidents, rock stars, without realizing that, in our modern world, these naturally produced leaders are in fact themselves governed by canines and shepherds.
Goats also differ from sheep, mostly because they produce very little wool. The Greek word for goat is τραγος (tragos). The word for song is ωδη (ode). Together they form the word τραγωδια (tragodia), meaning tragedy, or literally: Ode To Goat.
The Rabbi Sacks once famously observed that "Judaism is the principled rejection of tragedy," which implies that Jews reject the Ode To Goat. The Hebrew word for goat is שעיר (sa'ir), from the verb שער (sa'ar), which means both to be bristly (having short bits of hair; comparable to the Greek pig) and to be very afraid or horrified. Noun שער (sa'r), means horror. From this same root also comes the name Seir, which belonged to the mountain of Esau, the brother of Jacob.
Through Malachi, YHWH stated "Jacob I loved but Esau I hated" (Malachi 1:2-3). Apparently, even the Creator rejects the misery business: people who whine and complain and thrive on misery and produce very little else.
Camels, donkeys, horses
To the ancients, a camel was primarily a proverbial unit of international trade, comparable to our modern barrel of oil. Our English word camel comes from the Hebrew noun גמל (gamal), meaning camel, which in turn stems from the verb גמל (gamal), to invest. Nouns גמול (gemul), גמולה (gemula) and תגמול (tagmul) describe different types of investment. In Jeremiah 51:56 occurs the title El-gemulot, which literally means God Of Investments.
Horses entered the farm relatively late because oxen and camels were better than horses at the farming tasks at hand. Horses became only interesting as military vehicles. The familiar Greek word for horse, namely ιππος (hippos) stems from the Proto-Indo-European root "hekus-", meaning quick or swift. Similarly, the Hebrew word for horse is identical to the word for swallow (the bird), namely סוס (sus). That suggests that to the Hebrews, a horse was rather more alike a bird than, say, a cow — contrary to us moderns: the Hebrews called things after their essential behavior rather than their outer appearance. This may also help explain the mythical winged horse Pegasus. His name comes from the noun πηγη (pege), meaning living water, fountain or well.
If camels and oxen were the old world's trucks and tractors, donkeys were pickups and sedans. Donkeys were used for the local transport of goods and people, in or near centers of commerce. The Greek word for donkey, namely ονος (onos), looks pleasingly similar to the noun οναρ (onar), dream. Hebrew had quite a few words for donkey. Noun ערוד ('arod), wild ass, comes from the verb ערד ('arad), to be free or untamed (hence, possibly, the name Herod; the Herodians were Edomites, descending from Esau on Mount Seir). Noun פרא (para'), donkey, comes from the same verb פרר (parar), to split, we mention above. Noun חמור (hamor), donkey, comes from the verb חמר (hamar), to begin to slowly flow. Likewise, a female donkey was called אתון ('aton), which seems to relate to the adjective איתן ('etan) meaning ever-flowing.
The Hebrews had a good bead on the concept of commercial liquidity, and also dubbed agricultural produce after the verb יבל (yabal), to flow (hence the names of the final generation of the line of Cain: Jabal, Jubal and Tubal Cain).
Modern myth dictates that evolution is mainly driven by competition and survival of the fittest. But no, the principle of survival of the fittest leads to hyper-polarization, which is ultimately as unsustainable as a forest of ivory towers. The real engine of evolution is the principle of survival of the weakest. That goes like this:
Great apes live in tribes that are captained by alphas. These alphas surround themselves with a support chorus of strong betas, and they with supporting gammas, and so on all the way down to the bottom of the pyramid, where the periphery of the tribe is peopled by the tribe's weakest and most useless runts. Cowering in remote trees and spread dangerously thin, the weaklings rely much more on vocal articulation than their screaming alphas, and they are also much more likely to encounter their weakling counterparts from neighboring tribes. Cross-tribal communications ensue, trade commences and soon the weaklings form a kind of circulatory system that flows like dynamic blood past the various stationary cellular tribes and their unwitting alphas. The weaklings begin to interbreed and create a so-called "third" tribe (proverbially on the intersection of two competing centralized tribes; the reverse of the second creation day). Having the obvious advantage of a much greater diversity, the third tribe soon competes the original conventional tribes out of dominance (Isaiah 2:12).
The story of Tarzan is nonsense. Early humans were disgraced ape runts, who were tormented and abused by their superior ape overlords until they managed to escape into the lawless wilderness (Exodus 5:1). The agricultural revolution, likewise, began when ape rejects and wolf rejects found each other and began to form a third tribe from runaways (Exodus 12:38), and their great feast of Pesah (Passover) would forever commemorate how strength comes from a mix of evolutionary blind and evolutionary cripples — the name פסח (pesah) means to pass over, which relates to the adjective פסח (piseah), meaning lame or cripple.
The "shepherd people" of our modern world are folks whose minds relate to the rest of the mental sphere the way very early farmers related to the biosphere. None of the animals that comprised the early farm understood what was going on, and what was forming, why and to what end. All anyone knew was that the strange mixed multitude on the strain on the drain of competitive animal kind, was ultimately the safest place to be. The Greek word for shepherd is ποιμην (poimen), which conveniently resembles the verb ποιεω (poieo), to make, and its derived noun ποιημα (poiema), which denotes a thing made, a production. As we note in our article on the noun ποιμην (poimen), shepherd:
"A shepherd is not so much someone who exerts his will onto a subdued society of animals but rather someone who understands which parts the elements of a herd play in the greater herd-dynamics. A shepherd is someone who is able to create order out of chaos, by aligning the natural inclinations of individuals within a synthetic whole — a symbiotic whole that none of the individuals would have been able to bring about but which is so attractive that the individuals willingly participate once it has been established."
Early shepherds were mammals, just like the animals they would help self-organize. But the crucial difference between a shepherd and a non-shepherd was that non-shepherds seek to fulfill their own desires, whereas shepherds seek to fulfill the desires of others. Modern day shepherds-of-men are mostly capitalists and entrepreneurs: those folks who create the companies where the herd-people come to work, to produce the toys that the herd-people like to play with. The key here is that shepherds-of-men don't simply use force to create the world into their own image. No human has that kind of power, and anyone who attempts a thing like that will quickly be dethroned and relieved of their money. Said otherwise: a rich person who ignores what people ask for and gives them what he feels they should have, will quickly go broke. Rich people become rich and stay rich because they give the people what the people line up to pay for. Shepherds have their finger on the pulse of mankind at large; they know what people want long before the people know it themselves. They know which path the people will choose long before the people realize that there will be a fork in the road. They know what spooks them, and what pleases them. They know what they yearn for, what makes them to happily grow their wooly coats and what entices them to gladly carry the yoke.
Shepherds literally create the superstructure of our modern world, but the level at which they operate is utterly alien to most of the rest of us. Shepherds are part of their own shepherd world. They have homes where they sit at fire places, where they make music and merriment. They meet with their neighbors at central market places where they exchange goods, where they discuss the goings on in the greater regions, where they pool resources and build shared infrastructures and defenses. Shepherds have a thing called money, and the animals cannot begin to imagine what that might be about.
Non-shepherd commentators might balk about the Davos Agenda and the Bilderberg Group, but these commentators have no idea what's going on. Most humans are used to dealing with their own herds' lead bulls and lead rams, and the occasional encounter with the shepherds' dogs, but none of them has any idea about the deeply spiritual world of the shepherds, the networks they maintain, the information they exchange, or even how the shepherds see and relate to the herds.
This also means that most of us have no idea that we're on a farm, and that our world with its many conveniences is utterly synthetic, made and maintained by beings that look precisely like us animals, but whose differences utterly escape us. Long before the shepherds knew how to build their own cities, many a primitive shepherd was torn to pieces by wild beasts, and in the early days of husbandry, many a herd turned on their shepherds and trampled them. Even in our modern world, most of us have no idea what shepherds do all day and what they mean to our world. Many of us don't even know by what attributes they can be recognized.
All mammalian carnivores are either caniform (wolves, dogs, foxes, bears) or feliform (lions, tigers, hyenas), and although this constitutes a major difference to us moderns, to the ancients the two groups were pretty much the same. A carnivore eats flesh and, compared to the long and complex digestive tracks of its prey, has a very short and simple digestive tract. Carnivores are either solitary or hunt in packs that are relatively small compared to the herds. In the very early farm world, wild carnivores drove the herds together and forced them to self-organize: weak ones moved to the heart, and the strong ones faced out. Intuitively, both the hunters and the herds recognized the families of the shepherds at the heart of the herds as young and weak: the babes of the biosphere. Likewise, the shepherds are the babes of the mental sphere: the son of man, if you will (Psalm 2:12, Matthew 8:20).
Modern storytellers like to imagine that early humans captivated and domesticated wild dogs by luring them into their superior camps with offered food, aiming to put them to work someday. Older traditions, such as the one maintained by the Romans, understood that early humans were helpless babes who were rescued and nourished by wolves (hence the Capitoline Wolf). In much the same way, the Jews saw themselves as descending from Judah, whose own father deemed him a גור אריה (gur 'aryeh), or one who sojourns with lions (Genesis 49:9, Revelation 5:5). That means that both the Romans and the Jews saw themselves as descendants from ancestors who hunted with lions and wolves — obviously not immediately in their packs but in their category, being like them, perhaps even deliberately imitating them and learning from them, and certainly having a similar compacting effect on the herds.
Dogs are the watchkeepers of the herds of man. Their job is to keep the herds compact, prevent them from stampeding, and fend off wild predators. They do it out of love for the shepherds, but they thrive on reward and the promise of reward. Even though they are commonly posted on the periphery of the herd, they feel one with its heart. Said otherwise: to the shepherds, dogs are very obviously a wholly different kind of beast. To the dogs however, they and the shepherds are the same, and form one canine or lionesque tribe of masters of the herd.
In the Bible, the duo shepherd and dog is most obviously portrayed by the duo Joshua and Caleb. The Hebrew name Joshua became the Greek name Jesus, and the name Caleb means dog. In the New Testament, the shepherd is obviously Jesus (John 10:11, but see 1 Peter 5:2) and the dog is the proverbial Samaritan (means Watchkeeper), or the slightly less proverbial Greek (see Mark 7:26-28). For a much more detailed look at the canine character of the classical Greek mind, see our article on the name Hellas.
The Greek "New" Testament is a perfect continuation of the genius of the Hebrew "Old" Testament, but religious Christianity is in fact a domesticated version of Greek polytheism and dualistic philosophy. Christianity is canine, which is why it thrives on debate and the assertion of dominance (whether playful or serious), and by sheer reflex can't resist to follow the weakest scents onto any kind of prey (whether real or imagined). It's why Christianity concentrates mostly on the promise of reward and obedience to an invisible but all-seeing master. It's also why it comprises such a vast delta of denominations (the mental equivalent of dog breeds), and has reduced the bottomless wealth of the Bible to a few dozen one-liners; the intellectual equivalent of sit! fetch! roll-over!.
The vast majority of folks today who identify as Christian are in fact herd animals, who are governed by canines. The actual canines of our world are our national governments (including police, army, legislative and clerical complexes) — that is to say: those national governments whose primary objective is the service to their shepherds. Some governments still exist of wild predators, but these will eventually be replaced by canines first and machines later. Unfortunately, rabies is rampant among governments, and although the shepherds do whatever it takes to keep their dogs happy and healthy, any dog that bites or threatens its master will eventually be put down.
Still, in general, dog is man's best friend, and man should always remember that without dog, man would never have been able to tame the herds and build this wonderful world of ours. Today, dogs live in our houses and enjoy the same freedoms, safety and abundance of food and medical care as we humans do. But the spiritual complexities and working principles of our cities (that is: polite society, not the brick-and-mortar buildings) are far beyond the comprehensive capacities of our canine friends. That means that even though our canine friends live in our houses, they are not part of our cities (Exodus 11:7, Revelation 22:15).
Apes, herd animals, and predators like wolves and lions are all mammals (from the Latin word mammalis, meaning "of the breast", from mamma, breast or bosom), and some commentators have taken to lovingly refer to mammaldom as Boob World. Others speak of the Galaxy, or the Milky Way, and a subsequent Star Trek. It's all the same thing.
Birds start their existence wholly severed from the living world, utterly alone in a little concrete cell. Mammals, on the other hand, virtually all start their existence gestating in a flexible and comfortable womb that is part of the mother's body. There they continuously exist inundated in the sounds of their mother's beating heart, bubbling bowls and muffled voice. Baby birds have to wrestle themselves out of their existential primordial prison but baby mammals contribute very little to their own births. Birds not rarely get born while the parents aren't even home. Mammals get born while their mother is going through an experience of comparable gravity.
Upon physical parturition, mammals are received in a world that expects them and loves them and understands them. Mammals get born into a world that they were always familiar with, and which only gets a bit more intense. Birds emerge by stubborn force into an utterly alien environment that makes not a lick of sense from the get go. Mammals get born into a world that merely takes some getting used to. Birds get born into a psychosis that never truly abates.
Birds have to fight to be born, and they never forget that. From their birth onward, the world forces them to adapt, and even when they learn to live in the world at large, they will never forget their struggle. Neither will they ever forget the wonderment of their first flight. How the forceful world disappeared beneath them, and the skies opened up in embrace. When birds come down to earth, they stand on different feet, and to mammals and their clumpy hoofs, the feet of birds are things of ethereal beauty (Isaiah 52:7, Romans 10:15; see רגל regel, foot).
All mammals spend their early childhood drinking milk, which is, rather like themselves, produced by the body of their mother. In fact, mammals don't actually separate from their mothers and become their own thing until well into their adolescence. All mammals have this exact same existential normalcy at the core of their minds, and are not equipped to begin to imagine that for birds, reality is an utterly different affair and has an utterly other normalcy at its very core.
All mammals have bodies that are very much the same and do the same things. That means that all mammals understand each other's basic grunts and barks, smells and postures. All mammals recognize each other's itch behind each other's scratch, and that's why apes, oxen and canines are able to recognize intimate kinship in the other, and thus recognize the others, albeit as a lesser and perhaps less complete version of themselves.
Since animals cannot discern what they don't intimately know, the differences between the animals causes a kind of blank space or a quantum fuzziness in the eyes of the beholders. The more alike an observer is to the animal it observes, the more of the observed the observer sees. The less alike they are, the less the observer sees. We humans see birds and jellyfish only because we have names for them. Without our names for them, we would not notice them, and we certainly would not recognize their patterns of willful behavior in the perceived randomness of their movements. To animals that have no words to name things that aren't automatically familiar, potential mates light up like lights in a Christmas tree, but unrelated neighbors are grey smudges against a colorless backdrop.
Likewise mental mammals.
The vast majority of people are mentally self-similar to herd animals. That means that the minds of most people work in pretty much the same basic ways: same kind of logic, same kind of data processing, same kind of protective mechanisms and same kind of awareness: namely rather local, quite short sighted and never very far removed from the steamy bulks of close relatives. Mammals surround themselves mostly with equals, and since they rarely look up, they rarely see anything other than their familiar brethren and mammalian cousins.
That means that birds are mostly fuzzy to mammals. They're mostly invisible, and only appear when they alight in the mammals' direct line of sight — that is to say, when they "do" something that the mammals recognizes as a thing to do. That in turn means that most mammals have never actually "seen" a bird, and if they consider them at all, they would consider them to be vague mythological beings of unclear form and dubious intent; creatures that show up out of nowhere, make weird noises and dart about in unnatural and incomprehensible ways, and then zip off back into nowhere, even straight into the heavens or into the sun (Judges 13:20).
What mammals don't immediately realize is that birds are animals, just like they are (Revelation 19:10, 22:9; Deuteronomy 4:19, Colossians 2:18). What's even more disappointing is that birds are technically reptiles, and much more intimately related to crocodiles and snakes (see δρακων, drakon, serpent) than to mammals. It also means that in the natural eyes of birds, all apes, dogs and cows appear pretty much the same: like mere mild variations on a single very fuzzy theme. To birds, mammals are utterly absurd weirdos: Flatlanders, who get into all kinds of captivities while a simple jump into another dimension would set them free.
Birds are a colorful bunch. Some are shockingly bright, and some are proverbially daft. Although some spend their lives at sea and some don't land for years on end, all of them are land animals, like most mammals. Some can't fly and others can barely walk. Some stay on the same small patch, while others traverse the entire globe. Some are carnivorous, some eat seeds or honey, but most are highly specialized and wouldn't consider switching or expanding their diet. Anything spooks them and they withdraw at the slightest provocation. Most of them have no idea what other animals (including the shepherds) might want from them, but they soar and dance and sing their little hearts out, simply because that's their merry nature.
On average, birds are characterized by flight, which not only gives them a casual overview of vast swathes of territory, it also gives them a three dimensional realm of existence, of which the earth's two dimensional surface is a mere limit. Since Einstein we know that spacetime is all about dimensions, and having an extra one to romp around in truly changes one's entire reality. The Pinnipeds (seals, walruses), who are related to bears and are thus dog-like, and the Cetacea (whales, dolphins), who are related to the hippopotamus, also live in a 3D world. But these creatures are mammals, quite alike the shepherd and the farm animals, and so these aquatic beasts are much more recognizable to predators and farm animals. Birds not so much.
On average, mammals cannot begin to imagine the realities of birds, but they derive solace from naming things, and so the mammal-people have endowed the more obvious avian-people with the epithet "autistic". The word "bird" itself is of unclear origin, but probably literally means "young creature" (of any kind). Since cultures and languages have deep memories, most of us probably, deep in our hearts, think of birds as eternally young ones (the Hobbits of the natural world, if you will). Seeking further solace, the mammal-people listed autism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a dysfunction (since mammals are normal). This resulted in a hearty chuckle among birds, or at least the minority that gives a hoot about what mammals think, since that's like saying that a seagull is a dysfunctional poodle.
The part of any human being that we can see with our physical eyes is the physical part, and all humans are physical apes. This means that one's physical parents have nothing to do with one's mental genesis (hence texts like John 3:3 and 1 Timothy 1:2). When one physical ape observes another physical ape sitting motionless on a rock, with eyes closed or otherwise switched off and clearly not responsive to external stimuli, the observing ape may be forgiven to think that the mind of the observed ape must likewise be switched off. What the observing ape may not immediately understand is that the mind of an autist in thought is self-similar to a bird in flight. And although many birds never land in the sight of mammals, they all eventually land somewhere.
🔼Birds and Shepherds
The word wizard means wise-ard; it's a mammalian word for a shepherd-of-men (hence Tolkien's Gandalf, and his enigmatic exclamation "Fly, you fools!"). In centuries hence, the herd-people of western culture commonly depicted their wizards in a signature pointy hat (called pileus cornutus), with a staff or wand (see ραβδος, rabdos) in their hand, and a bird on their shoulder (or a Hobbit in tow). Birds deliver messages from the world to the wizard but never the other way around. Birds serve the wizard, but not as servants, not like the dogs. Instead, birds are as free as the wizard himself.
It's long been a mystery how birds managed to evolve wings to fly with, since they had to give up their front limbs for that, and couldn't fly with them until they were done forming. With one's hand — χειρ (cheir) — one holds things in one's power (the verb to manipulate is Latin for to fill one's hand with), and dominion is not a thing that natural hand-havers would eagerly dispense with. The obvious solution to this conundrum is that birds didn't grow wings because they wanted to fly — and the wording here is correct: a species' collective will is carried by the individual females' selective preferences — but rather because they wanted to protect their weak and young (Psalm 91:4, Matthew 23:37). That means that birds grew wings for the very same reason why very early farmers began to form farms: to gather and protect the weak.
Both the flight of modern birds and the wisdom of modern humanity are side effects of our ancestors' desire to protect. That means that birds and shepherds may not have a shared origin but do have a shared intent. This means that instinctively, shepherds and birds understand each other very well. This in turn means that they see each other not fuzzy but clearly, and intuitively seek each other's company, their two kinds nearing like mates courting (Genesis 32:1-2, Matthew 16:27, 2 Thessalonians 1:7).
Shepherds and birds naturally converge because they recognize each other. This in turn suggests that the rest of the mammals see humans and birds as rather similar, albeit mostly fuzzy. When shepherds and birds do appear in the mammal's line of sight, the mammal would notice that both walk on two instead of four legs, with leg-like appendages hanging lamely by their sides, but with no imaginable purpose.
The Greek word for wing, namely πτερυξ (pterux), shares its root with the word ποταμος (potamos), meaning river. The Hebrew verb נהר (nahar) means both to flow (what a river does) and to shine (what a star does). The Hebrew word for feather, namely אבר (abir), also means to be strong — hence also the theonym Abir, meaning Strong One or Feathered One, which is an epithet of YHWH (hence Psalm 91:4). The verb עוף ('up) means both to fly and to cover or shield. The noun כנף (kanap) describes either a wing or a winged creature, which is a creature that proverbially shields rather than one that proverbially flies.
The core desire of a winged creature is to shield and protect (Genesis 15:1). The function of winged creatures relative to the biosphere is the same as that of stars, namely to be signs (Genesis 1:14), and neither has to go out of their natural way to perform their essential duty. All they have to do is be themselves, wanting to shield, and it's up to the receiver to learn the language of the messenger. The Greek word for messenger — i.e. anything or anyone that carries a message, whether human or stellar, lunar or visionary; anything that can be understood by learning its language — is αγγελος (aggelos), angel (hence references like Matthew 18:10 and Acts 12:15). Their blubbery counterparts, the aquatics whom the other mammals so eagerly love to hunt and devour, are known as προφητης (prophetes).
Birds lead the way to those who follow (Exodus 23:20), and herald the latter's imminent arrival to those already there (Luke 9:52). They carry the signals of similar desires that exist always all around us, but which only become evident when their language is learned. That takes some getting to, but once we know where to look, we can never look away (2 Kings 6:17). The Hebrew word for messenger is מלאך (mal'ak), which is strikingly similar to the noun מלך (melek), meaning king. The former noun derives from the verb לאך (la'ak), meaning to transpose one's will, purpose or intent via an agent (and the common prefix מ, mem, expresses agency). This means that between creation and Creator there exists a mutual attraction; carried by angelic beings from the perspective of creation, and a soothing aroma from the perspective of God (2 Corinthians 2:14-15, Ephesians 5:2, see Song of Solomon 4:16).
In Genesis 8:6-11 we read that the first thing Noah did when the Ark had hit dry land was send out two birds: a raven (ערב, 'oreb, hence the name Arabia, where both Moses and Paul fled to, where Mount Sinai was located and where the Law was received), and a dove (יונה, yona, hence the names Javan, or Greece, and Jonah, who famously emerged from an aquatic).
God's covenant with Abraham was signified with the bodies of several animals; the mammals were cut in two but the birds were left intact, and Abraham protected all the carcasses from descending raptors (Genesis 15:9-12). Jacob, uniquely, saw messengers travel up and down a ladder between heaven and earth (Genesis 28:12).
Solomon advised: "In your bedchamber do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known" (Ecclesiastes 10:20). Similarly, Paul wrote: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained messengers without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2).
The prophet Elijah proclaimed a three year draught and settled at the miraculously persisting brook Cherith, where ravens brought him meat and bread (1 Kings 17:6). The realm of the aquatics and the birds merged once again when John baptized Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of the περιστερα (peristera), meaning dove.
When God created Adam, he gathered the already existing dust-of-the-earth into a vital composition, released into it the breath of life and Adam became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). Later, God told Abraham that his seed would be like the dust-of-the-earth (Genesis 13:16). Since creation is a fractal and nothing is ever new (Ecclesiastes 1:9), God took that Abrahamic dust-of-the-earth (Galatians 3:7), gathered it into a vital composition (Acts 1:14), and released into it the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17), and Ecclesia became a living Spirit, as different from other human collectives as kernels of sand are from living cells.
The reptilian ancestors of birds aimed to gather and protect, and in the process learned how to fly. Our human ancestors aimed to gather and protect, and in the process learned how to imagine. From the verb δοκεω (dokeo), to imagine, comes the noun δοξα (doxa), which the Latins translated with gloria, and which in the Septuagint translated the Hebrew noun כבוד (kabud), which described that attribute of the Lord that filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34).
Contrary to common perception, the primary effect of texts is not to convey information but to create a bird's eye view upon a thing that is not in the direct line of sight of the observer, but whose word is. And when we walk through our world, we walk as if through a text, with our subconscious mind silently feeding us the words of the things we see (Genesis 2:19-20), so that while our ape-selves walk, our spirit-selves review a world that is vastly greater and much more detailed than the world our ape-selves (and any animal without words) directly observes.
And only words have this magic power. As we noted above, words are not simply orphan symbols that relate to real word objects one-to-one, but are the trunks of trees whose invisible roots reach a kind of spiritual mycelium that relates to our minds like a forest floor. The words may be obvious but the invisible relationships between the words convey much more information than the words themselves. Every book is a gate to a garden, and the greater the book, the greater the garden. No garden is locked, but entry is granted only to those who willingly and eagerly submit themselves to the rules that govern the garden's language.
When two minds walk into the yellow woods, the one which contains the names of the hundreds of trees and shrubs will enjoy an afternoon of thrilling diversity that opens like a rose, but the one which doesn't will see an impenetrable yellow wall. The words make all the difference.
Language is an emergent property of a contracting and cooling society. It's what Adam is to God: an image-in-code but autonomous, with inherent consistency and native intelligence. Our language is literally self-similar to a shared genetic code. It evolves like the biosphere, and its words, expressions, literary archetypes and ultimately entire human consciousnesses are autonomous creatures within that biosphere. Language is like salt that remains after water evaporates; the whole mental reality of a very large group of people with its liquidity removed. Language is what happens when two or more minds unite as they agree on a word. The formation of the imaginary mind is a stellar event, and humanity's collective mind is about to go Super Nova.
Modern thinkers like Ray Kurzweil predict the technological singularity — in which machines have learned to make machines and humans have been looped out of the process — but this is like Pharaoh predicting ever greater pyramids, a few years before the Exodus. In more accurate fact, humanity's imaginary faculties have been waning since religious figures began to convert the living complexity of the Bible into convenient emojis and icons (Exodus 20:4-5).
Probably largely thanks to Jewish pioneers, motion pictures have managed to capture some of the vast complexities of human language. But icons and emojis cannot do what words do, because those symbols don't have the verbal mycelium that words have. Presently, the imaginative mind of man is running out of momentum and, for a few centuries now, has been swelling into a cool red giant.
The Bible has two effects. First, it connects the conscious mind of modern man to the self-contained memory of its own origin. And second, it weaves human individuals together into humanity's collective mind. Whether critics like it or not, the Bible sums up all our mental archetypes, and all (western) writing traces back to the Bible. Whether we personally read the Bible or not, it's the cultural DNA that keeps our collective mind together. Whether we personally read the Bible or not, it sits at the heart of every individual mental identity, like DNA in one's every cell (Jeremiah 31:33, Romans 2:15). Its complexity is what breathes life into our minds. Without it, we die.
Despite a growing secular trend that emphasizes the Oneness of our world, modern humanity is forgetting how to read. We congratulate ourselves with our technological progress, but fail to see that with our emojis and icons we are essentially accommodating a regression from the alphabet back to hieroglyphs, and our graphic games and virtual realities are corralling human players onto a sterile and lifeless soil, to go numb in concrete boxes and be fattened on synthetic fodder.
Without mastery of the written word, we lose our ability to think in abstract terms, which ultimately means the end of all imagination (1 Samuel 4:22). Man's collective mind is rapidly losing its consistency, which indicates that humanity is in the early stages of a cultural Super Nova event. Folks without firm knowledge of the Bible (or in some other way, of the singular collective mind of man) will ultimately be unable to relate to, and thus recognize, their fellow humans and waft out into space to either die off or form new post-human species that have lost their speech and thus their imagination and thus their spirit. This is the second death (Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 20:14, 21:8).
But — as an old school prophet might put it — a remnant will survive! Despite peer pressure and the lures of "something better than the alphabet", an iron core will diligently preserve their imagination by refusing to spend their days blinking at images, and scrolling down perpetual avalanches of detailed nothingness. The remnant will remain devoted to the reading and production of meaningful texts, to verbal prayer, to contemplative thought, and to the biodiversity and holy Oneness of the written word.
The remnant will preserve their intellectual Theory of Mind and thus their ability to see others, even to see them as kin, even when those others are indeed utterly other. The remnant will preserve the living community of imaginative equals, and ultimately form a singularity whose environment is eternity. The world at large will collapse, but the People of the Word will survive and continue to thrive.