So lets see if I can come up with a conception of God that will irritate the hell out of everyone. OK. Assuming God exists what do I think It/Him/She/They is/are? I think that God is the 99%. By that I mean the 99% of you that is actually running your body and mind right up from creating new red blood cells to most of your "higher" brain functions. Another way to think of it is whenever you refer to yourself as "I" you are referring to less than 1% of the total of what "you" actually are. The 99% is responsible for at least 99% of the stuff we human beings do. Like writing. Art. Emotions. Habits. Instinct. The memories we have even though we can't remember them. The source of that "hidden" momentum that keeps you in your habits, both good and bad, sometimes right to the point of death. (We could discuss how voluntary a habit is that someone would rather keep it up even knowing full well that it will kill them but that's for another day.) The 99% encompasses a structure so vast and complex that compared to the piddling 1% of the "I" it may as well be godly. Thou Shalt Create A Mind And Body From A Few Coils of DNA could be merely the first of the 676,000,000,000,000,000 commandments. If there's something that nags at you about this its the chilling plausibility of it. Slap a few emergent properties on the 676 quadrillion commandments one of which is the construct called "I" Our friend "I" does what he does very well, which as far as I can make out is a kind of organizer of the individual human being as a personality. This is what gives the group what it absolutely needs to survive: individual members who will react differently to the same thing. Oh, there's a lot more than that to it, I'm sure but at the moment I'm just not sure what that is. Often my personality seems an impediment to potential reactions rather than something that allows me broader access. Uh. And by personality I include stuff like the tendency to write abstruse and self absorbed stuff about neurophilosophy.
But wait it gets better. What if the effect multiplies across groups of people. It can be downright spooky when you start thinking of it. What do you imagine the effect is of billions of individual members of a group who are almost entirely unconscious of their behavior and yet who have to act in concert anyway? Anyone who watches a flock of birds flow around each other or a school of fish flitter like a single thing should be able to feel that chill down their spine. I consider it the height of arrogance to think we human beings are not moving in concert like this. Not only that but we do it like human beings so there's a lot more involved than "just" flickering through the air to catch the wind under your wings so you can remain aloft. I'm unprepared to do anything more than speculate on the scope of this and the effects on human society (how do you test something like this? At best its an intuition. More likely its a point of view I've adopted to learn something.)
The analogy can and does go deeper when you consider that individual neurons act in concerts that would make any Ninth Symphony sound like blowing your nose in comparison and that further the effects of these cells acting in concert are tangible changes in the physical world all the way from equations solved to bowels emptied.
Back to the 99% and the 1%. Another way of looking at it is our brains which house the 99% of us that is actually running the show as well as the 1% of us that we call "I" are communicating with each other both through conscious means, like speech but also through a myriad of nonverbal and/or unconscious methods. Trends. Historical periods where stuff like writing and formalized systems of ethics pop up mere centuries apart in different places in the world.
Its hard, I know, since the "I" is predicated on NOT knowing about this far more than it is on knowing about it, "I" as an individual fundamentally do not want to see it this way and for all "I" know if too many people did it might gum up the works.
So if God, Goddess, The Gods are projections both into and out of the 99% of our selves and our species that we as individual nodes of the Racial Memory, Overmind, the Collective Unconscoius the Genetic Memories or whatever we want to call it where does that leave us?
Right back where we started. The theists will insist that this thing they pray to is outside of and apart from themselves and they will be right, as far as it goes. The atheists will insist that the parts of themselves they are not conscious of aspects of their physical make up and this only and they will be right as far as it goes.
Either way there is nothing supernatural about this model. I'd be fascinated to hear from anyone who considered there to be ways to test it. Supernatural is a misnomer anyway. I consider it what people say when we encounter any perception at the edge of the design limits of our conscious minds. Contemplatives in many traditions have used prayer, diet, meditation, sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, physical trials, sacramental drugs, sex, art, and the list goes on in order to jigger with their nervous systems so they can access stuff people don't usually access. Fill me with enough dogma before hand, and I'd probably tell you it was the Great Pumpkin and Her Choirs of Squash talking to me too.
So where does that, dear reader, leave me? Not back where I started. But how exactly?
First, that the source of my adopting this perspective and the means by which it replaced my previous points of view is entirely unconscious to me. I can give you a list of books I've read but I could not tell you how my point of view changed. I consider the fact that it happened at all to be chalked up on the side of my 99% unconscious model and I'd be right as far as it goes. A more thoroughgoing rationalist than I would turn around and say that my unconscious processes (regardless of percentage points I might like to quibble over) were recalibrated by choices I made that led to new information and they'd be right as far as it goes.
Second, that the further "I" move myself away from being only able to perceive stuff from my individual and/or tribal point of view, the clearer that POV becomes regardless of (I say again regardless of) the nagging little detail that said POV still retains most of its flaws. I have noticed this all along. This matters because one of the things I'm clear on is that this model and my use of it has grown out of that impulse. Not that I'm asking anyone else to accept this, but its only fair to put all my cards on the table even when they are intuitional cards which is pretty much all I got once you press me. Its almost as if the books you read help you more in clearing stuff away than they do adding stuff. The reason I'm OK with my intuitions is that I've proven to myself by now that they work for me. I offer you mine because, well, I need something to write about and this is the stuff that occupies my thoughts and most of what I actually do, really. And the only conceivable way its going to be of any use to anyone else besides me is if I do a good job of communicating it to all of you who aren't me. So I do claim to be able to perceive a lot of my and other human behavior more clearly even if I'll spare us examples at this point.
Third I'm able to look at a whole lot of human beings, including myself, with a lot more forgiveness and tolerance and, um, love. For someone like me, who is pretty pleased with his own cleverness and does not suffer fools gladly I can see now that I might have profited somewhat from a bit more of that tolerance stuff they kept droning on and on about all those years. To follow that further, it helps me appreciate the Human Ecology all the better. To see that even if I personally fear and distrust groups and people who I actually have good reason to fear that I might be benefitting from them anyway. This is a hard hard hard pill to swallow, especially with no owner to stroke my throat and help me get it down. I offer this insight to anyone whose eyes hadn't glazed over long before now because it has been very very useful to me to be able to separate my personal and authentic dislikes, things about me that I judge and believe to be at least not mental or moral deficits, from the value that the people I fear and distrust have to the species as a whole which, of course, in the end winds up as being value to me.
Maybe we are supposed to be in opposition. Maybe that is exactly what our value to each other is, as well as the danger to each other. My question to everyone reading this and me writing it is how do we keep the good aspects of that opposition (or dare I say competition?) while taking things like warfare and mass destruction out of it? Can it even be done? At this point I'm going to answer in the affirmative. If pressed I'd have to say that I have no proof as to why other than my observations of individual human beings. We usually have to get to the point of crisis deepening to destruction before we will change, but we can and do change. So I've got faith that we can do this because I think that the 99% of us wants to live. I mean, I want to live. Confirmed in my folly as I am I do have a sense of self preservation. More about all this later.
with a wink and a wave