Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Science and the Knowledge of Good and Evil

One of the heresies (at least related to, if not the same as, a Gnostic one, in which the ‘God’ of the Old Testament was not the true God, and one must ‘escape’ the material world in order to achieve salvation), or teachings, which the Catholic Church tried to eradicate, purported that we’d been deceived into getting things backward or upside-down. Jehova kept us blind; the snake/devil/seducer who suggested Eve eat the apple of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was freeing us. Supportive of this, in the King James Bible, is Genesis 2.16-17: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” But, as the story continues, we find that Adam did not die when he ate thereof, as he surely might have, had he eaten of some other trees – leaping easily to mind are hemlock (Conium maculatum, the poison of which is concentrated in its seeds) and deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna, with cherry-sized, highly poisonous black berries). Maybe these trees existed only outside the Garden of Eden, but still…
And, do we really know ought of good and evil? We experience, sense, them – but the variety of opinions and responses varies so greatly, one must really wonder. To “eradicate” a heresy – was that good or evil?
And science – has it made us more “pure of heart”?
Where now the carrier pigeon and ivory-billed woodpecker, and what’s happening to the frog, salamander, bee, lightening bug and lady bug? Most certainly, we are not as healthy, any of us, anywhere, as the American ‘Indian’ was purported to be, upon ‘discovery’!
Socrates is said to have taught, “Know thyself” – but this is hardly taken in the Biblical sense (Fuck thyself), but to suggest instead a parallel: to understand activity beyond the self and its body, one must first look inside to find… what? Conflicting impulses, perhaps? Endurance within change? The original Tao?
In Buddhism, it is but suffering is bad, and to be escaped. But what about evil intent? Arrogance? Stupidity?
What are we to make of the Swiss effort to ‘re-create’ a ‘big-bang’ ‘singularity’ for $8 billion, ‘science’ at work for what, while more and more corn goes to make ethanol and for half the human population, at least, life remains as Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan: with “continual fear, and danger of violent death”, “poor, nasty, brutish, and short”?
And, especially, what are we to make of the USA, the whining of pampered fools who can’t take criticism and “success” rapidly ruining everything for everyone? Knowledge must be seen as good, or we risk eating poisons. But has technology made us better as people? I must greatly doubt it.
Seems to me that science, like religion, has mostly been useful, and used, to maintain, or perhaps re-establish, pecking orders, for keeping people “in their place” and useful to their privileged “betters” – perhaps the most evil of us all. Or at least with hearts as black as the belladonna cherry! Surely teaching can have been, or become, used to produce better results than I so far have been able to discern.


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