by: Gina Cerminara, read in 2011
52 "There is another possible alternative. It lies in educating all people in the principles of scientific thinking and semantic evaluation, so that they may not be so easily self-deceived or so easily duped and deceived by others. It lies in using the scientific approach to all religious questions..." All people? All religious questions? She seems to violate her own non-allness principle.
67 Abhorrent sexual references in the Bible.
140 "Jainism holds that all knowledge is only probable or partial, that reality has many aspects, that nature is a dynamic process, that language has serious limitations for the describing of reality." I agree with the Jains.
143 "Man's achievements rest upon the use of symbols. For this reason, we must consider ourselves as a symbolic, semantic class of life, and those who rule the symbols rule us. – Alfred Korzybski"
150 "...though many other animals are mentioned in the Bible, the cat is not."
154 I think the eco-concern is a little melodramatic and overdrawn.
182 "To assume...that God is directly above ourselves, with no intermediate intelligences in between, is a very large assumption. And to assume that any seemingly strange or supernatural phenomenon must necessarily have been produced by the Supreme Godhead of all the Universe is an equally large assumption."
184 Alfred Russell Wallace: "If, as I contend...we are forced to the assumption of an infinite God. . .it seems only logical to assume that the vast, the infinite chasm between ourselves and the Deity is to some extent occupied by an almost infinite series of grades of beings, each successive grade having higher and higher powers in regard to the origination, the development, and the control of the universe." I didn't know Wallace held those ideas.
185 "If we accept the idea of a hierarchy in the universe, there are two major possibilities. One is that God created the hierarchy of beings all at the same time. The other is that those who are now in the higher echelons advanced upwards from the ranks. Or perhaps both these possibilities are true." There is another possibility: The hierarchy may have developed in multiple dimensions of time.
187-189 The whole discussion of angelic hierarchy is heavy on speculation and light on logic.
189 "...if we think in terms of degrees, and keep reminding ourselves that it is logically plausible for beings higher than ourselves to exist, then we can begin to discriminate between fact and fancy in the persistent reports about angels." Yes. But the principle of degrees is inadequate and limiting.
190 "34. Because of the degree nature of the universe, I recognize that there is nothing really implausible in the idea of "angels," who may be invisible to man because they are functioning in higher frequency bands." The 'degree nature' is inadequate, and the 'higher frequency bands' is too limiting. How about higher spatio-temporal dimensions?
220 Twisting scripture to support New Age thinking.
298 "If these conjectures are correct, and if this planet is visited again in fifty years or so by our curious observer from outer space, he will see a far different picture than what he saw before. What was once a dark planet filled with quarrelsome, ignorant, superstitious, and brutish people, will have become a place of co-operation and international peace..." Well, it's been nearly forty years now and since 9/11/01 the world seems to be no closer to international peace. It could be that these conjectures are incorrect after all.
My summary: I found no insight in this book that hadn't already occurred to me, or wasn't already considered by me throughout my lifetime, some of them going back to childhood.
I think she missed several important insights:
1. Planning is valuable; plans are dangerous. Many generals have made this observation about battle plans. My experience is the same in a business environment. The Soviet experience is a great example of this insight.
2. Change is unpredicted and probably unpredictable. One only needs to dig out writings of prognosticators like Malthus, Ehrlich, et. al., in order to amuse oneself at the folly of predicting change.
3. Change has worked for the good in the long run. In spite of the despair over the current state of humankind, the fact is that the human condition has fairly steadily improved since paleolithic times. There never were any good old days; things have never been better than they are now, and they are likely to improve in the future.
4. Human communication technology has been the major driver of human progress. The use of speech and language is no doubt a major factor in the success of humans compared with other animals. The positive effects of writing are clearly evident in history. Gutenberg's printing press was coincident with the sharp up-tick in the progress of philosophy, science, technology, and exploration. In succession, the telegraph, transatlantic cable, telephone, radio, and television, each brought on significant improvement in the solutions to human problems. And now cell-phones and the Internet are availing virtually every individual on the planet the opportunity to see through dictators, to find and exploit their individual potential, and to learn how to contribute to the betterment of the world. The resulting up-tick should exceed any prior innovation. The future is very bright.
5. Human science and technology is prepared to avert the only really serious threat to life on earth: asteroid collision. There is a long history of such events severely resetting, and nearly obliterating, life on earth. It is only a matter of time until another large body heads for earth. No other species, except for maybe deep ocean dwellers, or microbes living deep in earth's crust, has ever had a defense against asteroid impact. Now, for the first time in earth's history, one species is in a position to prevent such a disaster. In my opinion, this alone should justify the negative, unintended consequences of science and technology as it stumbled its way to being sophisticated enough to mount an effective defense against asteroids. We aren't quite there yet, but we will be by the time the next asteroid lines up for a strike. Humans are OK after all. The rest of the species should thank us.
For all the talk of General Semantics, she never gave me a clue how to apply it except for the principle of non-allness. If it is that powerful, I would like to know how it works.
©2011 Paul R. Martin, All rights reserved.