S. Berliner, III's Book of Third Samuel keywords = book Third Samuel manifesto politic Monist Monismus church faith belief system testament Berliner III Third Samuel theology language religion philosophy humanism existentialism uu Unitarian Muttontown Universalist Fellowship
Updated:   16 Nov 2011, 11:30  ET   [Created 13 Mar 2006; first posted 16 Nov 2011] URL:   http://monismus.com/thirdsam.html
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The Book of Third Samuel

The philosophy (theology) of Monismus,
the personal testament of
S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

[Note - this work is written in the first person singular and in a very casual form; it is a compiliation of many thoughts that have occurred to me (and grown) over a long life and which give me strength and comfort - hopefully these thoughts will offer the same to others.]
The basic layout of these Monismus pages is that this Book of Third Samuel is the philosophy (theology) of Monismus, the Index/Home page is the introduction to Monismus, the Manifesto is the nuts and bolts of the Monist system, and the Home Page of Monismus.Org is the foundation document of the Monist Church.

INDEX TO THIS PAGE:

  The Book of Third Samuel {monismus.com/thirdsam.html}
    What's in a Name?
    Infallibility
    Tolerance and Respect
    Proselytization
    Chaos
    Giving Thanks
    Ego
    Humility
    Arrogance
    Creation Spirituality
    Original Blessing
    Why?
    Atheism vs. Agnosticism


This is a book of belief in the ("Newton's") First Law of Thermodynamics, re the conservation of energy, possibly the most important, and certainly the most practically useful of several conservation laws in physics, which states that the total inflow of energy into a system must equal the total outflow of energy from the system, plus the change in the energy contained within the system.  In other words, energy can be converted from one form to another, but it can neither be created nor destroyed!

Although I have long believed that there was no beginning and will be no end to existence, the First Law confirms that for me.  Our way of life, our society as we know it, will almost-certainly end, and our species and even life itself may well end, but existence will not, indeed CAN not.

This premise flies in the face of almost every religion ever formulated.  Mankind has a basic and overweening egotism that I find quite unacceptable and unjustified.  We are insignificant motes on the face of the Earth, although we certainly have the power to disfigure our home and insist on doing so.  The Earth, in turn, is a relativly insignificant part of the Solar System, which is an insignificant galaxy in our universe.  Expanding our frame of reference, our universe is an insignificant part of the cosmos, of all existence.  So much for our overweening ego.

Now, if there was no beginning, and can be no ending (to existence), there can have been no creation and thus [horrors!] no creator.  In the dawn of human life, when we first developed the ability to question, we had very good reason to need a god; thunder and lightning alone justified a need for a benevolent and protective deity, and eclipses, winter, violent death, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, eruptions, and like disasters (or perceived disasters) simply cemented that need.  When you found a warm cave in which to huddle and the sabre-toothed cat wanted it back, you had a very immediate and real need for a god.  But, as we evolved (yes - I do believe we evolved rather than springing forth fully developed), we were able to afford the luxury of intellectual inquiry and examination and we found explanations for most things and concepts.  This burgeoning fund of scientific and technical knowledge freed us (or, at least, some of us) from the superstition and idolatry that enslaved our minds.  You need not fear that which you understand.

However, I postulate that you need not fear that which you do not understand, either.  As Franklin Delano Roosevelt put it so eloquently in the fifth sentence of his first inaugural address of 1933:

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the
only thing we have to fear is fear itself --
nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes
needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Of course, FDR was speaking to the Great Depression, but his words ring just as true today.

Former minister of the (then) North Shore Unitarian Church of Plandome, Long Island, New York, the late Rev. J. Harold Hadley, introduced me to the "TREMENDUM" (from which I derived "Tremenduum"), that great unknown out there, a take-off from the classical "Mysterium Tremendum"or the numinous (absolute unapproachability, total power, and immediacy), which, to me, gets into nonsense or clap-trap, as in contemplating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  The tremenduum represents the "great unknown", the "blackness beyond", awesome, fearsome, and unavoidable.  Yet why fear it, why try to avoid it?  Rather, say I, enjoy the mystery and revel in the awesomeness; you have nowhere to go but forward.  One of the beauties of climbing a mountain (or even surmounting a hill) is the new vista revealed beyond.  This is equally true of knowledge; the more you know, the more you know you don't know.  To me, that is just wonderful (in both senses of the word).  As long as I am alive, I hope to keep learning; there does not seem to be any limit to the need to know (or to the ability of a healthy mind to absorb).

How can you fear that which you do not know?  I fear uncontrolled mobs; I have experienced them.  I would have feared the Inquisition, just as I feared Joseph McCarthy and his (so-called) Un-American Activities Committee and feared the immediate-past (2008) U.S. administration's equivalents.  In Nov 2011, I should add that I greatly fear the incredible ignorance of the far right.


What's in a Name?

The Judaeo-Christian Bible has two Books of Samuel, First and Second Samuel.  With my first name, which means "asked of God", having been named after my father and grandfather (and his great-uncle before him), it seemed only natural to call my treatise on existence the Book of Third Samuel.  Purists might consider forgiving me this conceit.


Infallibility.

This, as already noted, is my personal testament; I do not claim infallibility, unlike others telling you how the world turns (or should turn).  I do, however, truly believe in my take on existence; if you don't like it, don't complain, just ignore me (and do NOT read on).


Tolerance and Respect

I HATE the word "TOLERANCE"!  I don't want to tolerate anyone or anyone's ideas, not do I wish to be tolerated.  That's wishy-washy!  Either like or dislike people and ideas; don't merely tolerate them.  Fish or cut bait.  I actively dislike, even disdain, most people's religions; I don't even respect them.  On the other hand, I deeply respect the right of their practioners to practice their religions, as long as they don't harm anyone and they STAY OUT OF MY FACE!


Proselytization

Proselytization is a two-edged sword; if you think you have "the way", it is only natural to want to share it (as I am doing here).  On the other hand, one has no right whatsoever to try to interfere with another's practice of their religion*.  'Tis a puzzlement.  Basically, I guess, all one can do is to put forth one's "word" and let the chips fall where they may - here is the help I offer; take it or no, as you wish.

[* - I suppose I should note here that we DO interfere when a child's welfare is at stake or other such considerations (such as ritual sacrifice or polygamy) obtrude.]


CHAOS

James Gleick notwithstanding, I posit that there is no such thing as "chaos"!  To me, the cosmos is fully ordered and chaos is merely a convenient measure to indicate just how little we know of that order.

The fact (if it is indeed that) that the cosmos is fully ordered in no way demands, nor even necessarily implies, that that order was (or is) imposed by any divinity or supreme or sentient being.  Far from that, matter, as part of the wonderful interdependent web of all existence, orders itself according to gravitational attractions and such; no divine hand is required.


Giving Thanks

Giving thanks for deliverance really bugs me!  Everyone (or almost everyone) is very quick to thank God for being spared by a hurricane or flood or a gunman or an accident, but where are they when it comes to blaming that same god for the bad or evil happenstance from which they were delivered?  To a non-believer, this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  What kind of a loving, caring god would plague you with disasters so that he/she/it could be praisèd for extricating you?  There are endless theological explanations for this but none hold any water (holy or otherwise).

On the other hand, I believe with all my heart that we should always be grateful for all the good things that come our way; in sermons I have given, I almost always state that, "EVERY DAY SHOULD BE THANKSGIVING.

I firmly believe in maintaining an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE.  More than that, the attitude must be put into practice.


EGO

The need for a God, a Supreme Being, a divinity, especially for one that knows we exist, let alone even caring a whit about us or choosing some of us above others, is a product of the dim minds of the earliest sentient humans, who had to explain thunder and lightning and flood and famine, the seasons and night and day, and, later, when they became cave dwellers, why the saber-toothed cat wanted its cave back, as noted above.  As many have put it, there is absolutely no hard evidence that God or a god (or gods) exist; there is also no evidence that no god exists but one can never prove a negative.  There is more than ample argument on both sides of the issue, dating back to the beginnings of the written word, but there can never be a conclusive answer because the fanatics on both sides will disagree.  Yet, the poor human ego demands that we have more significance in the universe than other motes and mites, even more than other humans.  Not just that but we will kill to get our way, as if the universe, let alone the cosmos, even knows or cares.  If so much harm, so much evil, weren't the result, it would be pathetically laughable - "My God can beat your God", indeed!  The Sun "comes up" each day (so far) and shines on saint and sinner alike; not only that, but it shines equally on saints of opposing faith traditions (and on sinners of such differences).  Ah, ego!  Of course, I am as guilty as anyone of "knowing" that I am right.


HUMILITY
(see also Atheism vs. Agnosticism, below)

As a religious fanatic, I should be happy to have the truth and to be able to spread the word, but, no, that's too dogmatic.  Even I, in my surety, have just enough humility to acknowledge that I "might" be wrong.  "Might", mind you.  I am more than the proverbial 99 and 44/100th percent certain of my ground but one can err.  The only problem with that is that if Jahweh or Allah or whoever or whatever shows up and tells me in awesome, thundering tones that "You're all wet, buddy boy!", I am more likely to think I've lost it than to take it as a divine rebuke.  Typical of all religious arguements, this is a "no win" situation.

[As an aside, I like to joke that, especially with a Hungarian mother, humility runs in our family - long and hard!]


Arrogance

Arrogance, the opposite side of humility, is an unfortunate natural result of being (or at least feeling that you are) on top of a situation.  There is probably little ill in so feeling; the damage comes when you let it show.


Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox, exponent for "Creation Spirituality,", was expelled from the Dominican order by no less than then-Cardinal Ratzinger for teaching that we are born in "original blessing"*, not in original sin.  He founded the University of Creation Spirituality, now Wisdom University and, as a prolific author and (now) an Episcopalian priest, propounds an astounding number of theses, many of which are far too creator-oriented for me.  Nevertheless, Fox believes that life is good, that the cosmos is good, and he denies the concept that we have to live in fear of an all-male, angry, malevolent, vengeful God.  While I can not subscribe to Fox's full system, those who are borderline Christian or theist should make a specific point of reading up on Fox's books; any intelligent person with an interest in life should, as well.


* - Original Blessing - Matthew Fox's concept of Original Blessing can be summed up rather neatly by reading (in the King James text) Genesis 1:27 and 28 (in the beginning - the sixth day):  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  And God blessed them - - - .  The text then goes on through Verses 29 through 31 of Chapter 1 and thence on to Chapter 2, Verses 1 through 7, before God even created the garden of Eden and thence on to Chapter 3, Verse 7 before the Fall!  Thus, even those who believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of the Judaeo-Christian God or Allah are faced with the dilemma that God created humans and blessed them BEFORE there was an Eden and BEFORE there was sin!


WHY?

Rudyard Kipling postulated that there are SIX big questions in his famous poem, "I Keep Six Honest Serving Men ...":

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small--
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes--
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

from The Elephant's Child, first published in the Ladies’ Home Journal, April 1900; collected in Just So Stories (1902).

To my mind, "Why?" is the eternal, and ultimate, question.  To be human is always to ask, "Why?", knowing full well that it can not be answered; in fact, it SHOULD not be answered.  The answer to "why?" is tantamount to death, since there would be nothing left for which to search.  Science can answer all the other questions - how, where, when, what, who - but not why.  Religions have always presumed to answer why but their answers are not much more sophisticated than "Because" - "Because I (Mama or Papa) say so!"  Not much for a rational being to hang a hat on.

However, again to my mind, there should be EIGHT serving men or big questions!  To Kipling's six, I would add Whence? and Whither?.  For me, these two are almost as significant as Why?  As sentient beings, we must always wonder "Whence?", from where did we come? and "Whither?", where are we headed?  Scientists, especially anthropologists and paleontologists, are busily expanding our knowledge of our origins and EVERY discipline of science and philosophy and theology tries to answer "Whither?".  At the very least, we do have some modicum of control over whither; how we exercise that control will determine if we wither (deliberate pun - no apology) or prosper as a species.   added (07 Nov 2011)


ATHEISM vs. AGNOSTICISM
(see also Humility, above)

Atheism is, as are all fanatical beliefs, an absolute system; an Atheist believes/knows there is no God!  An Agnostic acknowledges that one can't know anything absolutely.

Thus atheism takes quite a bit of gall; I, on the other hand, in spite of having quite a well-developed ego, can not possibly summon up that much certainty.  I have just enough humility to know that I might be wrong; I don't think I'm wrong, but I do think I'm probably right.  That makes me an Agnostic.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (writing as Mark Twain) said, "I am an atheist and I thank God for that!" (or words to that effect); no doubt that offended endless scores of people, but I love it.

[This saying has also been attributed to George Bernard Shaw.]



This is a work in progress - it may never even be finished (nor, probably, should it ever be).

xyz


Contributions - as noted on the home page, I do incur expenses in this venture and any contributions to further the work of this effort would be greatly appreciated.

LEGACY

  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.



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