Theological Syncretism of the Near Future

So children, after he destroyed almost all of humanity with a giant flood, God gave us the rainbow as a symbol that he would never destroy humanity again and that instead things were going to be ‘FAAABUUULOUUUUSS!!!’

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Tony Sidaway

    Might be sooner than you think. But those token gay dinosaurs on the Ark were probably a mistake, in retrospect.

  • unbound

    Yeah, I remember being told that tale as a kid in CCD (except for the fabulous part of course). I also remember thinking at the time that UFOs, bigfoot, and Noah’s Ark were real (probably from watching “In Search Of…” too much).

    Too bad I had to grow up. Life has become much less mysterious now.

    • Robert B.

      If life becomes less mysterious when you grow up, you aren’t reading the right books. Check out dark matter. Or the Bell experiments. Or AI. Or how language works. Or Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem. Or a bazillion other things, probably, that I don’t know about. (Like, I wonder why flowers are pretty. Is that a mystery to biologists? Is there an evolutionary advantage to it, can bees tell how pretty something is?)

      Nature is smarter than us. Real mysteries will always be bigger and tougher and weirder than the ones people make up.

  • Tony

    There was a rainbow? Really? I’m only up to the ‘how to keep an idiot busy’ portion of the bible called Exodus, but Genesis is still fairly fresh and I don’t recall any rainbows though . I invoke No True Bible! Either that, or Mad Libs for the Bible. Theists reinvent/reinterpret the bible all the freakin’ time!

  • TheVirginian

    As an FYI, the Noah myth is obviously derived from the much-older Mesopotamian myth of Gilgamesh, which includes a story about how he meets the only two people who survived a world-destroying flood by building a ship at the order of the gods of Mesopotamia. The gods are so horrified at what they did that they promise not to do it again and, as proof, create a fly with rainbow-colored wings. A footnote in one translation says this likely refers to a species of fly in that region that is associated with drowning victims (flies lay eggs in the bodies, which create new swarms after a flood, so people associated the fly and its “rainbow” wings with floods).
    BTW, some scholars suggest that the name Noah is a diminutive version of the name “Utnapishtim,” the man in the Mesopotamian flood story. Sort of like Sam is shortened from Samuel.

  • Francisco Bacopa

    Rainbows are my favorite natural phenomenon. There is so much to be learned from the rainbow. The soul is like a rainbow.

    The most important thing to know about rainbows is that they are not out there. Each rainbow is a unique relationship between a light source, water droplets, and an observer.

    There is no such thing as a rainbow that is out there. If you and I are standing a few feet apart and are looking at a distant hovering helicopter, our lines of sight will converge. If we are looking at a rainbow and have surveying equipment to plot our lines of sight to the peak of the red band of the rainbow, our lines of sight will be parallel. We are each looking at our own personal rainbow.

    It follows that there is no such place as over the rainbow. The writer of that song understood this. If you were in a symmetrically opposite position to where you were observing the rainbow, there would be no rainbow. There’s no end of the rainbow either, you move toward it and it recedes until rainbow observing conditions are gone.

    The soul is a rainbow, a relationship between many material events. Many of these events are within our brain and body, but many others are outside of us. I am a supporter of broad content and wide supervenience.

    Please note none of this is wooish. As the rainbow is transient, so is the soul mortal. As Nietzsche said “Your soul will be dead even before your body”.

    Some of you might not really get that rainbows are “out there”. There are no real glowing distinct “rainbow places”, but rainbows are real physical relationships people can enter into. Likewise, souls are not distinct substances, but a relationship between a complex physical animal and the world it experiences. Mess up that relationship enough and the soul is dying before the body. Did you ever know anyone with Alzheimer’s? The rainbow soul is fading.

    And yes, I think we atheists need to reclaim the term “soul”. The soul is no more woo than the rainbow.

    • John Morales

      There is no such thing as a rainbow that is out there.

      Yeah, there is; it’s an epiphenomenon, and perceptions are real too.

    • mikelaing

      I can take a picture of a rainbow, and I know it’s produced where the sun hits falling rain. It is ‘over there’, and anyone can point to it and others will be able to look at it, too.

      What’s this about atheism reclaiming the term soul?

      I don’t think so, maaaaan. New ageism isn’t atheism, AFAIK. Yuck

    • Francisco Bacopa

      No, didn’t you read what I write. We simply can’t point to the same rainbow the same way we point to the same helicopter. And there is such a place as “over the helicopter”.

      The most two people can experience is a similar set of rainbow observing conditions, but each person will be seeing a different rainbow. This is not some woo about “subjectivity”, this is a simple consequence of the physics of rainbows and is evidenced by the fact that there isn’t an “over the rainbow” or an end of the rainbow. The rainbow is not a glowing physical region out there. It is a set of physical conditions that observers can enter into a relationship with. Also, the fact that instruments like cameras or spectrometers can enter into the relationship doesn’t really make a difference. They are seeing their own unique rainbow too.

      I happen to he a fan of reclaiming the word “soul”. I have given here a rough materialist account of what a soul might be like. It is a relationship between the brain and body states of an animal of sufficient complexity and all physical states of affairs in the world it might interact with.

      Please note that this makes souls mortal, they can die before our bodies, and sadly, sometimes do.

  • laurentweppe

    God gave us the rainbow as a symbol that he would never destroy humanity again

    But God never said He could not be Creative, for he Punished the 21th century Sinners by sending them Justin Bieber and Jessica Black