A Glitch in the Theocratic Matrix

#1
https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2017/12/14/a-...ic-matrix/

EXCERPT: . . . Like many others, once I was done chuckling, I found myself wondering: how is it even possible to arrive at, and hold, this particular sort of bizarre false belief, about swearing-in ceremonies being necessarily tied to the Bible in a non-theocratic state? The belief is not a trivial sort of false belief. It’s what computer scientists call an abstraction leak, like the deja vu moment in The Matrix that reveals a glitch in the simulation. A low-level, seemingly minor phenomenon that is not explainable within the reality in which it is experienced.

The belief strikes a secular imagination as more than just false. It seems not even wrong. It’s an unnatural sort of false belief that doesn’t lend itself to an obvious explanation. So to understand it, we have to ask, in what sort of reality would this be a natural kind of false belief? Let’s establish just how surprising this little episode actually is, in a non-theocratic political context....

MORE: https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2017/12/14/a-...ic-matrix/
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#2
(Dec 26, 2017 07:51 PM)C C Wrote: https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2017/12/14/a-...ic-matrix/

EXCERPT: . . . Like many others, once I was done chuckling, I found myself wondering: how is it even possible to arrive at, and hold, this particular sort of bizarre false belief, about swearing-in ceremonies being necessarily tied to the Bible in a non-theocratic state? The belief is not a trivial sort of false belief. It’s what computer scientists call an abstraction leak, like the deja vu moment in The Matrix that reveals a glitch in the simulation.

A what? That sounds like pseudo-intellectual babble. (Yes, the Matrix was a good movie, but it wasn't a philosophical revelation.)

Quote:The belief strikes a secular imagination as more than just false. It seems not even wrong. It’s an unnatural sort of false belief that doesn’t lend itself to an obvious explanation.

It seems fairly obvious to me. (Just read the Declaration of Independence with its talk about people being endowed by their creator with inalienable rights...)

The underlying idea was that in traditional European nations, people only had those rights that the King allowed them to have. Liberty flowed down from the ruler in whom the nation was personified, which is why the King was referred to as "the Sovereign". The King basically served as God's viceroy on Earth in whom all rights and privileges resided. He exercised the 'divine right of kings'.

The contrasting idea in the American Revolution was that the people themselves were sovereign, in some part because they were held to have their own relationship with that divine power. The state derives whatever powers and authority it has from the consent of the people. The people derive their rights and liberties from a higher source than the King or the State, a relationship that no government on Earth can interfere with. The American vision was inspired by ancient Athenian democracy, viewed through the lens of the Protestant reformation I guess.

So... when people swear oaths, they don't swear them on the name of Barack Obama or Donald Trump.

I don't see that as a 'glitch in the matrix'. It's the expression of the fundamental idea of the United States in symbolic form that might seem a little dated to a certain kind of atheist. But it's nevertheless a good idea.

I'm an agnostic (and something of an atheist) and most emphatically not a Christian. But I don't have a problem with saying 'So help me God' when I'm sworn into jury service or whatever it is. I treat the word 'God' as merely symbolic of something higher than earthly powers and loyalties, where the more abstract and transcendent ideals of truth and justice reside.
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#3
The problem is that the guy didn't seem to know that any US official can be sworn in on other than the Bible, like the Quran, Torah, or even a text on jurisprudence or the Constitution. Seems like just an unquestioned assumption on his part. Just having it questioned on national TV is very embarrassing.
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#4
(Dec 26, 2017 10:07 PM)Yazata Wrote: It seems fairly obvious to me. (Just read the Declaration of Independence with its talk about people being endowed by their creator with inalienable rights...)


Its function was to announce independence, though, rather than literally establish governing principles. The document was ignored for circa two decades until it became expedient for campaigning political candidates to treat it as a sacred artifact. Over the decades, various population groups with grievances also kept it in the spotlight and appealed to the spirit of it, since they deemed precise assurances of rights and equality for all to be either inadequate or easily undermined in the papers which did institute law.

But Ted Crockett's (and Roy Moore's?) belief apparently doesn't even revolve around an issue of the Declaration of Independence's "spirit" and that of other historical predecessors -- and how any _X_ might alternatively be interpreted due to such background. That an elected official MUST swear on the Bible (thus barring Muslims. etc) simply isn't substantiated by actual procedure or events. As Syne noted, Crockett was embarrassed on national television. But even Rao seems to venture later that Crockett's being "stunned speechless" may have been purely surprise at being challenged rather than chagrined enlightenment or receptivity to getting a hole in his knowledge plugged.

"To an irreligious mind like mine, or even a socially religious mind, this sounds completely insane. How do you even get to that kind of argument? And it’s not a joke. It’s not a troll. He’s not hoping to bluff his way through with a belief he does not actually hold. It’s not a belief about an abstract ideological position. He appears to actually believe it. It does not occur to him that a hostile television journalist with an opposed ideological bias might challenge him on that particular point (or he’d have been more prepared to counter it). Because he is simply not even aware that it’s a weak belief, open to attack, let alone a demonstrably false one."

Quote:A what? That sounds like pseudo-intellectual babble. (Yes, the Matrix was a good movie, but it wasn't a philosophical revelation.) [...] The American vision was inspired by ancient Athenian democracy, viewed through the lens of the Protestant reformation I guess. So... when people swear oaths, they don't swear them on the name of Barack Obama or Donald Trump. I don't see that as a 'glitch in the matrix'. [...] I'm an agnostic (and something of an atheist) and most emphatically not a Christian. But I don't have a problem with saying 'So help me God' when I'm sworn into jury service or whatever it is. I treat the word 'God' as merely symbolic of something higher than earthly powers and loyalties, where the more abstract and transcendent ideals of truth and justice reside.

Like countless other traditional and pop-culture expressions sporadically introduced into discourse, "glitch in the matrix" is just Rao's choice of a newer metaphor referring to part of a worldview being jarred or a personal simulation about something being punctured. However, again -- it's debatable whether Crockett's conception of the matter really was rattled and exposed as an illusion (from his perspective).

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#5
There's no book or text written by anyone that I am ever going to swear by. They can jail me for that. But that's the kind of symbolic stand I take.
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#6
Many courts don't use any book to swear witnesses in. But we were talking about swearing into public office.
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#7
(Dec 26, 2017 10:07 PM)Yazata Wrote: It seems fairly obvious to me. (Just read the Declaration of Independence with its talk about people being endowed by their creator with inalienable rights...)

The underlying idea was that in traditional European nations, people only had those rights that the King allowed them to have. Liberty flowed down from the ruler in whom the nation was personified, which is why the King was referred to as "the Sovereign". The King basically served as God's viceroy on Earth in whom all rights and privileges resided. He exercised the 'divine right of kings'.

The contrasting idea in the American Revolution was that the people themselves were sovereign, in some part because they were held to have their own relationship with that divine power. The state derives whatever powers and authority it has from the consent of the people. The people derive their rights and liberties from a higher source than the King or the State, a relationship that no government on Earth can interfere with. The American vision was inspired by ancient Athenian democracy, viewed through the lens of the Protestant reformation I guess.

So... when people swear oaths, they don't swear them on the name of Barack Obama or Donald Trump.

I don't see that as a 'glitch in the matrix'. It's the expression of the fundamental idea of the United States in symbolic form that might seem a little dated to a certain kind of atheist. But it's nevertheless a good idea.

I'm an agnostic (and something of an atheist) and most emphatically not a Christian. But I don't have a problem with saying 'So help me God' when I'm sworn into jury service or whatever it is. I treat the word 'God' as merely symbolic of something higher than earthly powers and loyalties, where the more abstract and transcendent ideals of truth and justice reside.

I understand what you're saying but...

"Most scholars today believe that Jefferson derived the most famous ideas in the Declaration of Independence from the writings of English philosopher John Locke. Among these fundamental natural rights, Locke said, are "life, liberty, and property."[source]

It may not seem completely insane but it does seem completely ironic.

An oath as a statement of a fact or a promise.

A man of his word…

Lastly, those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of God.  Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, ca have no hold upon or sanctity for an atheist.  The taking away of God, even if only in though, dissolves all.  Additionally, anyone whose atheism undermines and destroys all religion can’t in the name of religion claim the privilege of toleration.  As for other practical opinions, though not absolutely free from error, if churches do not try to dominate others or strive for civil impunity, there can be no reason why they should not be tolerated.—John Locke

The irony?  Swearing to a myth. 


And yes, I do think that Locke was only building a Castle in the Air…

"Thus, from the consideration of ourselves, and what we infallibly find in our own constitutions, our reason leads us to the knowledge of this certain and evident truth, that there is an eternal, most powerful, and most knowing being; which whether any one will please to call God, it matters not!"

"I doubt not my Reader by this Time may be apt to think that I have been all this while only building a Castle in the Air; and be ready to say to me, To what purpose all of this stir? Knowledge, say you, is only the Perception of the Agreement or Disagreement of our own Ideas: but who knows what those Ideas may be? ... But of what use is all this fine Knowledge of Man's own Imaginations, to a Man that enquires after the reality of things? It matters now that Mens Fancies are, 'tis the Knowledge of Things that is only to be priz'd; 'tis this alone gives a Value to our Reasonings, and Preference to one Man's Knowledge over another's, that is of Things as they really are, and of Dreams and Fancies."

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
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