the DON JONES INDEX…

 

 

 

GAINS POSTED in GREEN

LOSSES POSTED in RED

 

 

 

  12/24/22…    14,721.04 

  12/17/21…    14,718.25 

    6/27/13…    15,000.00

 

(THE DOW JONES INDEX: 12/24/21… 35,950.56; 12/17/21… 35,892.64; 6/27/13… 15,000.00)

 

 

LESSON for December 24, 2021 – “LET US PREY!”

 

“...It seems to have come down to a choice between “nothing is conscious” and “everything is conscious.” (James A. Shapiro)

 

A Pew Research research project last month polled 5,280 Americans and garnered the following conclusions drawn upon the problem: why do terrible things happen to people through no fault of their own?

35% answered:  Because life (some might say #%&$) happens…

13% answered:  God’s will enables terrible things…

  8% answered:  Sin, sinful nature, evil

  8% answered:  Free will

  7% answered:  Destiny, Fate, Karma

  6% answered:  People/systems are to blame

  4% answered:  Growth, appreciation (presumably population & pollution)

Also presumably, the other unnoted fifth fingered other sources… individuals perhaps… or gave irrational answers.  Among the rational, the press release also included a few personal revelations… among the most visibly virus related… “Sin” elicited a reponse from an evangelical that: “According to my faith, terrible happenings are a direct result from original sin, as described in the Bible. No one is exempt.”  Many, if not most, respondents cited Adam and Eve or declared that every human being was to blame – one concluded: “The world and its inhabitants are fundamentally flawed. God created a perfect universe and mankind has largely chosen to be their own god.”

“People/systems to blame” respondents of faith both left and right signaled out qualities like greed, selfishness and “downright cruelty”.  Some leftish Christians and nonaffiliated specifically noted racism, abuse and capitalism as root causes – others blamed “terrible people.”

See many, many more responses here.

In last week’s Lesson, we touched on “panpsychism”… which discipline holds organisms like the plague virus to be alive, such as the definer defines life, sentient (in respect to its ongoing adaptations and variants and its questing for food sources) and, to some extent, moral – capable of good or evil (or both)... there are even some who go further and ascribe to Big O, in particular, a Godly omniscience.

The issues of viral life, sentience and morality have been as partisanly disputed in the towers of faith and academia as are mask and vaccine mandates and budget issues in the halls of Congress.

The only element not present is the baying of a mob, slavering to storm the barricades, ooze through the bellowing congregation and force its way unto the altar like a great, white snake and snatch up philosophical or virological enemies and hang them.  But these are calmer times than a year ago, and academic journals a weaker substitute for iron bars and rubber bullets… at least for now.

So let’s approach and attack the three stages by which the plague rises from a state of non-being to that of a full anthropocentric existence and the objectives and nature (again, human or otherwise) of the combatants... life, sentience and ethos (a morality, whether one like it or not.

 

LIFE:  Isaiah 9:6 (updated by science, 2021) – “For unto us, a turkey is born…”

Partisans denying or affirming viral life… even lacking conscious life!... were lining up on the battlefield long before the onset of the plague.  A discussion at Britain’s Microbiology Society (May 10, 2016) offered Yes (David Bhella) and No (Nigel Brown) points of view on the topic back in May, 2016 – long before the present plague was even a gleam in the innards of a bat.

What does it mean to be ‘alive’?” asked the anonymous moderator/s. “At a basic level, viruses are proteins and genetic material that survive and replicate within their environment, inside another life form. In the absence of their host, viruses are unable to replicate and many are unable to survive for long in the extracellular environment – rather as humans inhabiting a host organism of at least some similar qualities (i.e. the planet) are similarly vulnerable to the “Law of Threes” (three minutes’ survival without oxygen, three days’ survival without water, three weeks without food). Therefore, if viruses cannot survive independently, deduced the Society, “can they be defined as being ‘alive’?’

NIGEL BROWN, the prosecutor in the case against viral life, argues from the human host contention that “(t)jhere can be few organisms other than humans that have caused such devastation of human, animal and plant life.”

Smallpox, polio, rinderpest and foot-and-mouth viruses are all well-known for their disastrous effect on humans and animals, Brown notes, less well known (are) the huge number of plant viruses that can cause total failure of staple crops.  Still, however, life... and the planet... abide.

Brown does admit that, over the last 15 years or so... nearer twenty, now... giant viruses found in amoebae have complicated our picture of viruses as simple non-living structures. Mimiviruses and megaviruses can contain more genes than a simple bacterium and may encode genes for information storage and processing. Genes common to the domains Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya can be found in different giant viruses, and some researchers argue on this basis that they constitute a fourth domain of life.

“However,” the prosecutor disagrees, the crucial point is that viruses “are not capable of independent replication,” as opposed to, by definition, the necessity of (some) higher forms of life up to and including humans, which require a... to be crude... sexual element in order to procreate.  (There are multicellular exceptions – creatures such as fleas, scorpions, snakes and… albeit rarely… turkeys that self-replicate via parthenogenesis, or more colloquially known as virgin birth.)  To my mind, Brown specifies, “there is a crucial difference between viruses and other obligate intracellular parasites, such as bacteria; namely, viruses have to utilise the host metabolic and replication machinery. Intracellular bacteria may merely use the host as the environment in which they can supplement their limited metabolic capacity and they usually have their own replication machinery.”

In other words, bacteria and some other microbes may be deemed “alive” (there are researchers who carry the non-life position to even further and so deny the designation to these creatures – there were, and are, of course, some humans as contend that other humans of differing aspects do not qualify for definition as “living” and the concomitant, presumed “right-to-life” protections that many assume as given.  Whether a foetus to a liberal, a racial, religious or cultural minority to a conservative or – to extend the analogy – a bank guard or liquor store clerk to a criminal, a life that does not exist merits no penalty for the taking.

But that is an argument more suited for our Lesson on ethics and morality, below.

The explicit sexism apart contained in the wording, Brown concludes, “I can do no better than to quote Dr Kenneth Smith in the Preface to his classic book Viruses (Cambridge University Press, 1962): ‘As to the question asked most frequently of all, ‘Are viruses living organisms?’, that must be left to the questioner himself to answer’. This questioner currently considers viruses to be non-living.”

DAVID BHELLA, on the other hand agrees that the question of whether viruses can be considered to be alive, hinges on one’s definition of life – drawing a line between chemistry and life that can seem a philosophical, “or even theological... most creation stories involving a deity that imbues inanimate matter with the ‘spark of life’. From a scientific perspective, attempting to find a working definition for ‘life’ seems to me to have little practical value, but it is fun to think about.”

Perhaps usurping the province of faith (and entirely skipping over the question of sentience), arguments over the life/not life status of viruses are often rooted in evolutionary biology and theories of the origins of life. All cellular organisms, Bhella contends, can claim a direct lineage to a primordial cell or cells, “a continuous chain of cell divisions along which the ‘spark’ has been passed. Are viruses able to claim a similar ancestry?”

Waxing widely on genome evolution processes including “domain duplication of the beta jelly roll motif which gives rise to the pseudo-sixfold symmetry of trimeric hexon capsomeres in adenovirus,” “cascades of gene expression” or an “endosymbiosis that led to mitochondria... thought to have given rise to eukaryotic life,” the advocate returns to Earth in his consideration of viral life is the manifestation of a coherent collection of genes that are competent to replicate within the niche in which they evolve(d). Viruses fulfil this definition.

It is estimated that there are 1031 virus particles in the oceans – they vastly outnumber all other organisms on the planet. Alive or not, viruses are doing rather well!

 

SENTIENCE:

As befits the academic trope of trial by combat, neuroscientist Giulio Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT) is currently pitted against Global Workspace Theory (GWS), which sees consciousness as functioning more like a computer’s memory bank. (In a historic contest sponsored by Templeton World Charity, it was rumoured that one side or the other would be the winner... GWS seeming to have fewer controversial implications from a physicalist perspective.)  But the honors (and 1.4M) went to chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall,

Among the other partisan considerations of viral consciousness, intelligence and… perhaps as we shall see shortly… morality noted over the past two weeks have been…

The “unintelligencism-ists” as they might resent being termed - the Science Magazine Five) versus the panpsychist contention from the Oxford English Dictionary that bacteria meet the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “cognitive”, with the appendix that: “Future debates over origins of intelligence, consciousness, etc., may mainly feature panpsychists vs. theists rather than materialists vs. theists (see below on CV Godliness).

Denyse O’Leary  (“Why Materialism Fails as a Science Based Philosophy”) and Michael Eisnor (“Are Electrons Conscious?”) reject undiluted materialism and panpsychism, although reserving some sympathy for the latter... perhaps considering “naturalism” to be a milder subset of panpsychicism (rather in the manner that Socialists are considered milder versions of Communists and Liberals milder versions of Socialists, or that the Big-O, while more communicable, may be less deadly than the ΔV).  Still, electrons (or other atomic particles to which virii like the Big O are more elevated – if elevated than, for example, a lab rat, let alone a human) were conscious, “the uncertainty principle means that they will never make up their minds.”  Moreover, he snickers, panpsychism means: You are conscious but so is your coffee mug adding that: “Materialists have a solution to the problem of consciousness, and it may startle you.”  See old attachment B2, below, from DJI 211210.

 

And further, within the panpsychical coven… squabbling fiercely with one another rather as Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema wage temporal warfar against AOC and the Bern and the Squad among Democrats or turncoats like Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney abhor the influence of Mister Trump over the party of Lincoln and T.R. and Reagan... there emerge such jousters as University of Chicago biochemist and evolutionary biologist James Shapiro (in Denyse O’Leary’s “Mindmatters” profile, Attachment Two) who has a message that those who believe that consciousness is an illusion (as, for example, philosopher Daniel Dennett claims) should heed: “If all living things are “cognitive” then, to what extent would life itself have to be an illusion? Something’s wrong there.

Against Shapiro... albeit “respectfully”... Ms. O’Leary posits Philip Goff, who sees panpsychism (consciousness pervades all nature) as “offering a simpler view of physics than dualism, with fewer gaps than materialism.” (Attachment Three A)

And against Goff, (from the other partisan pole), there is Sabine Hossenfelder (Attachment Three B) who rejects the proposal that atomic particles (and, by inference, unicellular organisms like the Big O) are conscious, in that your minimum expectation should be that the particle can change. “It’s hard to have an inner life with only one thought. But if electrons could have thoughts, we’d long have seen this in particle collisions because it would change the number of particles produced in collisions.

“In other words, electrons aren’t conscious.”

But, in other other words, the plague does change... its constant raising and leveling of variants to confound, penetrate and feed on the host cells refutes the electron model.  Doesn’t it?

Why would a neuroscientist choose panpsychism over materialism? It seems to have come down to a choice between “nothing is conscious” and “everything is conscious.” 

 

Shapiro (above) acknowledges that, according to IIT, which aims to precisely define both the quality and the quantity of any one conscious experience, “experience may not even be restricted to biological entities but might extend to non-evolved physical systems previously assumed to be mindless — a pleasing and parsimonious conclusion about the makeup of the universe...” and thus gravitate to the panpsychist party, irregardless of the fact that such “non-evolved physical systems” like the Coronavirus may want to kill us.  (See Morality, below)

IIT is reductive, Shapiro allows, but it is not attempting to reduce conscious experience to some sort of illusion. Experience is a central feature. Thus, it’s presumably accepted that mathematicians develop theorems because they like them and are good at thinking them up. “IIT would not, in that sense, posit a “true,” underlying reason that bypasses individual experience in an effort to eventually trace things back to (that) point where nothing has any experiences because everything is mindless.

“Apart from that, it is too soon to tell — except to say that a significant change seems to be afoot.”  (“Mindlessness” no longer appears to be especially inimical to human thought processes in the 21st century. – DJI)

 

Panpsychism is not theism (the universe was created by God with humankind specifically singled out as favored... or, by cynics, cursed... “dumb” animals sentient only to the extent of seeking food, seeking to avoid becoming food and primitive, unconsecrated reproduction and the “unvisibles” simply agents of Godly wrath, wielded against sinners), most “hard” scientists contend. At the same time, a significant minority allows that it is not sheer materialism, which more usually seeks to show either that consciousness does not really exist or that it is merely a state of matter. The implausibility of materialism has caused an increasing number of scientists to lean more toward panpsychism – for example, materialist philosopher Galen Strawson’s having argued his way to panpsychism  (See O’Leary in older Attachments, B1 (b).

The clash between panpsychism and materialism, interested observers suggest, “will make for an interesting watch in years ahead.”

 

The spiritualists/naturalist conflict is fleshed out in O’Leary’s Attachment Two referenced above) but, make no mistake, she tells us, panpsychism—as Goff elucidates it—is a purely naturalist view (“nothing supernatural or spiritual”). “But, unlike the village atheist, he goes on to ask, but then what IS nature? Matter is all there is? But what IS matter? It turns out, no one really knows.”

“Science is discovering that mystical experiences are real,” was the title of a Mindmatters podcast last week (DJI Attachment Four… to listen, go here).  Therein, neurologist Andrew Newberg contended that when people were engaged in conversational prayer, talking to God, basically, that they activated a lot of the same language areas as they did having just a normal conversation with another person… adding that “it’d be really interesting also to see, is there a difference between a Muslim, a Jew, and a Christian all praying to God.”

Or, perhaps, a heathen… a Hindu, Buddhist or a shaman of old Africa or indigenous American?

Or a creature of higher intelligence – a whale, a dolphin, a chimpanzee?

Or any animate animal as perhaps prays… or meditates or voices hope… to eat or avoid being eaten, to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  A dog, a cat, a laboratory rat…

And what of the lower forms of life… the birds and the bees and diverse social insects, the industrious ants and murder hornets?  The solitary spider or flea…

And the unvisibles… the micro-organic helpful and hurtful bacteria, amoebas…

A parasitic virus?

 

MORALITY:

                  

Why is there so much suffering and evil in the world? This question can be particularly confounding for those who believe in a good and all-powerful God, as is often described in the Abrahamic religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For centuries, philosophers and theologians have grappled with this “problem of evil.” (Pew, above)

If a plague can be sentient... whether through servitude to Almighty God or through free will, licensed by that selfsame Deity (or a subordinate, but also licensed Satan)... does it follow, then, that the Big O is merely the most recent arrow in the quiver of His “chastening and/or hastening His Will to make known”?

Arvin Gouw, PhD, writing in sinaiandsynapses.org, asks that selfsame question: “Why does God allow suffering?” and answers with a menu of six possible possibilities (more fully fleshed out here): to wit...

1.    Original sin: suffering is caused by the fall of mankind. Due to the fall, the whole cosmos is corrupted, such that all creation is groaning (Rom 8:22). Paul argues that original sin corrupted not only human nature, but all of nature. But Paul further gives us hope that all creation will be made new.

2.    Devil: blame it all on Lucifer. After all, Jesus was crucified because Satan entered Judas, according to Luke and John! (Lk 22:3Jn 13:27). A literal reading of Genesis would easily pinpoint that Adam and Eve fell into sin due to the temptation of the Serpent. Walking hand in hand with the original-sin model, Satan was behind it as well.

3.    Free will: blame suffering on the abuse of free will and the fact that suffering is an inevitable consequence of freedom (Prov 11:31).  Evangelical MAGA-noids would go King Kong over this! - DJI  The free will defense (human only, to ascribe this quality to the plague would be courting panpsychism) argues that suffering is a consequence of bad actions. Bad actions or sin will always be a potential consequence of having true freedom to choose between good and evil.

4.    Divine plan: blame suffering on our lack of understanding of God’s plan (Is 25:1). The divine-plan argument argues that suffering is part of God’s divine plan, which will all work out for the good; it is just that we cannot possibly fathom what God had in mind before the creation of the foundations of the world (Job 38).

5.    Test: blame suffering on life being a big test for us (1 Pet 4:12-13). The “test” view can be seen as a subset of the divine plan. Logically, suffering can be understood as a test from God as part of His divine plan to make us better.

6.    Moral quality: suffering is necessary to cultivate virtue and morality (Zec 13:9). The moral quality view also follows from the divine plan, because becoming a “better” or more “virtuous” person entails tribulation. In an Aristotelian sense, virtue is a habit that arises out of repeated good actions over time, including overcoming challenges. 

“Given my experience as a Sinai and Synapses (S&S) Fellow and my past training as a scientist,” Gouw reverts back to the previous trope, “I cannot help but wonder, what does science have to say with regards to these models?”  (See s&s Attachment Five)

 

Joshua Moritz, Managing Editor of Theology and Science, a professor of philosophy at the University of San Francisco and history at Westmont College, San Francisco Campus; author of Science and Religion: Beyond Warfare and Toward Understanding (Anselm Academic, 2016) and The Role of Theology in the History and Philosophy of Science (Brill Research Perspectives, 2017); and co-editor of AstrotheologyScience and Theology Meet Extraterrestrial Life (Wipf and Stock, 2018) and God's Providence and Randomness in Nature: Scientific and Theological Perspectives (Templeton Foundation Press, 2019) asked, and expanded on, the same Franciscan humanly conundrum, namely: “Are viruses part of God’s good creation or are they evil in their very essence?  (tandfonline.com – See Attachment Six)

 

Did God create polio, rabies, Ebola, human papillomavirus, HIV, smallpox, influenza, dengue, rotavirus, mumps and measles? When the redeemed of all the ages crown Jesus with many crowns on the last day, will there be coronavirus in the New Creation? Or will the virus that causes COVID-19 be cast into the lake of fire with death and the rest of God’s enemies?(In one stroke, enlifening the Grim Reaper and consigning him/her/it to the Devil’s playground, along with the living and/or the not... evil human beings and, presumably, animals – biting dogs, fire ants, dirty dolphins, concupiescent cockroaches and the lot – and maybe particles off bad atoms like U-238 and even bad robots and the other two stalwarts of the Unfantastic Four, Famine and War - DJI).  

“When looking into the evolutionary history of viruses and the nature of evil,” Moritz concludes, “one discovers many similarities between these two phenomena. Indeed, the facts regarding the nature of viruses throw light on the origin of evil, that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by some of our greatest philosophers.”

A differing perspective can be found here.

 

Jim Stump is another self-described “philosopher” who, as same, also confronted the problem of evil: specifically, “how do we reconcile the existence of evil in the world with a good and loving God?” during the first month of what has become a long, long walk with the plague (BioLogos.org., See Attachment Seven)

Stump is a materialist/theist (or at least a refusenik among the panpsychical contenders that a virus can be capable of free will) asserting: “The free will defense doesn’t work for viruses. They aren’t intentional agents that make decisions or have moral responsibility. They just do what they are programmed to do. So why in the world would God create these things and program them to devastate like this?!”

He also rejects Gouw’s first premise... Original Sin... and, in fact, expresses doubt on the entire Biblical drama of Adam and Eve, employing the scientific assertion that viruses “...are being discovered frozen in ice that goes back at least 30,000 years ago—well before the traditional setting of Adam and Eve in the Bible” and even cites an unnamed “research group” as published a paper “showing the history of one group of viruses back to around 30 million years ago, which predates any reasonable proposal for the entrance of human sin into the world.”

And, further, Stump lumps these (insentient) critters into a category including floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters which have shaped and sculpted the Earth and its inhabitants... for better or worse... and accounts viruses (and bacteria) to have and continue be creating far more good in the lives of Don Jones and his ilk than evil as, for example, those viruses which kill and eat the e-coli bacteria (without which the world would be a more deadly... and odoriferous... place).

“Just like earthquakes and tornadoes, viruses sometimes cause harm, suffering, and death. But without them, we cannot conceive of how life would be possible.”

Stump, consequently, adheres to Gouw’s fifth premise (with a smattering of the sixth)... the Big O being only the latest in a parade of trials and tribulations by which the human soul is made stronger and more Godly, even though the flesh may fail at the viral onslaught.

“Each of us as individuals has had a spiritual journey, which for most of us has included responding to adversity, needing to repeatedly place our trust in God, and learning to love our neighbors and our enemies. This is not easy. James said:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)”

 

By contrast Miriam Schilling, a British double dealer in both medicine and religion, takes a position well to the “left” of even the panphysicists in sentience for the “devil” (if not sympathy or even tolerance), and postulates: “A Virolcentric Perspective on Evil” (Zygon 16 December, 2020... see Attachment Eight A)

 

How does our perspective change when we think about viruses and other species? Viruses cause humans harm in a minority of cases. They are involved in more processes than we could have ever imagined. Viruses and virus-like elements are the most abundant biological entities on Earth, and it is estimated that the number of virus particles in many environments is exceeding the number of cells by one to two orders of magnitude (Koonin and Dolja 2013).

 

Overall, even within an anthropocentric world-view our judgment of good and evil is highly subjective and strongly depends on a situation-dependent perception of usefulness, and it might often be dictated by short-term instead of long-term thinking. Here again we must recognize the subjectivity in which we judge the natural world around us. This subjectivity in our judgment might also cause interpretative problems later, when it comes to discerning its relationship to suffering and atonement. Cell lysis through viruses increases the availability of a variety of nutrients, which can fill a major portion of the requirements of other organisms aka they KILL things, whose corpses fertilize other life - DJI. Furthermore, viruses are a key player in converting lysed cells into particulate organic carbon and dissolved organic carbon, thereby reducing the rate at which carbon sinks from the surface layer into the deep ocean, where the carbon would be trapped for millennia. Effectively, this builds up CO2 in the atmosphere in a faster rate. Findings by Emerson et al. (2018) further suggest that viral infection dynamics may differentially impact microbial responses to a changing climate and the release of methane and carbon dioxide from soil.

This might support Southgate's (2008) approach in which “an evolving creation was the only way in which God could give rise to the sort of beauty, diversity, sentience, and sophistication of creatures that the biosphere now contains” (16). The opportunity for us in our examination of viruses lies in the recognition that what we declare as natural evil is always a subjective description and is dependent on an anthropocentric world view.

 

“Overall, I argue that a deeper understanding of viruses offers us a new perspective on the complexity of good and evil. A virocentric8 perspective on good and evil allows us to see that there is a subjective nature of natural evil that we need to be more aware of when we discuss it. Our personal or human perception of natural evil strongly influences debates about suffering and the character of God, and we are responsible for leading these debates in a nuanced way, in responsibility before God, and for the sake of people around us for whom we have pastoral responsibilities. The virocentric perspective furthermore shows that we need to be more aware of our personal limitations, in terms of knowledge and judgment, and that a sense of humility is highly advisable when it comes to the big questions in life. Additionally, I want to raise the question whether this subjectivity distinguishes natural and moral evil. What if there is no objective good and evil for what we call natural evil, in contrast to moral evil? I appreciate the subjective component of defining moral evil. But what if this difficulty is only due to our human limitations but not due to a lack of objective framework? Or do we even need to sub-divide moral evil into ethical evil and spiritual evil to distinguish between behavioral aspects that only affect areas of moral decisions that are not covered by divine standards? And what do we do with evil that covers both natural and moral evil? Or both ethical and spiritual evil?

Viruses in theology, but also in the wider public, are generally perceived as malicious. This is not surprising. Nonetheless, the biology of virus has more to offer than this, and we should feel responsible to talk about viruses in a more differentiated way. This will lead to a more nuanced reflection about the world we live in, as well as a more supportive environment for people affected by infectious diseases. Hopefully, a more nuanced perspective on viruses will additionally open up constructive conversations about how viruses are to be used in a metaphorical context.”

 

So would the next step be “constructive conversations” with the plague?

 

Corresponding, once again, from the Australian ABC network, Schilling (Attachment 8B) asked humans to consider the plague as an “enemy” (regardless of intent or origin) to be combated with military dedication and focus so as to “flatten the curve” (of death and infections).  After all the diplomatic talking to and from counselors and enemy diplomats, anthropocentric soldiers have been gleefully dispatching rival anthropocenes for millennia, so why should Americans treat Covid with any less determination than prior armies dispatched the British, the Nazis and, in the Civil War, each other.  (We’ll pass over results in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan with a nod and a hurried “thank you for your service” or that, rather than facing German submarines or IEDs, today’s sunshine patriots flee from the “terror” of a shot in the arm (a small jab with a needle as opposed to an enemy bullet).

As to whether variants like Big O are alive, sentient or ordained by God, and combating them would be against the Divine Plan, Schilling, earlier in March 2020, cited Martin Luther’s letter to a fellow pastor during an outbreak in Wittenburg, 1527, stating that it was his duty... like that of the first responders, healthcare workers, even retail clerks, indeed all good Christians, in our own present day.

Some of the charges to the populace, as listed by the Original ML...

Of the civil government...

 

Paid public servants such as city physicians, city clerks and constables, or whatever their titles, should not flee unless they furnish capable substitutes who are acceptable to their employer.

 

It would be well, where there is such an efficient govern[1]ment in cities and states, to maintain municipal homes and hospitals staffed with people to take care of the sick so that patients from private homes can be sent there — as was the intent and purpose of our forefathers with so many pious be[1]quests, hospices, hospitals, and infirmaries so that it should not be necessary for every citizen to maintain a hospital in his own home. That would indeed be a fine, commendable, and Christian arrangement to which everyone should offer generous help and contributions, particularly the govern[1]ment. Where there are no such institutions — and they exist in only a few places — we must give hospital care and be nurses for one another in any extremity or risk the loss of salvation and the grace of God. Thus it is written in God’s word and command, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and in Matthew 7 [:12], “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.”

 

Of the plague and the Devil

 

My flight alone will not succeed of itself because calamity and harm are everywhere. Moreover, the devil never sleeps. He is a mur[1]derer from the beginning [John 8:44] and tries everywhere to instigate murder and misfortune.”

When anyone is overcome by horror and repugnance in the presence of a sick person he should take courage and strength in the firm assurance that it is the devil who stirs up such abhorrence, fear, and loathing in his heart. He is such a bitter, knavish devil that he not only unceasingly tries to slay and kill, but also takes delight in making us deathly afraid, worried, and apprehensive so that we should regard dying as horrible and have no rest or peace all through our life. And so the devil would excrete us out of this life as he tries to make us despair of God, become unwilling and unpre[1]pared to die, and, under the stormy and dark sky of fear and anxiety, make us forget and lose Christ, our light and life, and desert our neighbor in his troubles.

 

On our responsibilities to one another...

 

Anyone who does not do that for his neighbor, but forsakes him and leaves him to his misfortune, becomes a murderer in the sight of God, as St. John states in his epistles, “Whoever does not love his brother is a murderer,” and again, “If anyone has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need [yet closes his heart against him], how does God’s love abide in him?”

 

A test of faith... as might well have been endorsed by former President Trump...

 

Since it is generally true of Christians that few are strong and many are weak, one simply cannot place the same burden upon everyone. A person who has a strong faith can drink poison (bleach? –  DJI) and suffer no harm, Mark 16 [:18], while one who has a weak faith would thereby drink to his death.  (But Luther did not specifically state that drinking the poison cured the strong Christian of his disease... that, as with many other outcomes... is dependent upon God – and perhaps, as well, upon the hospices, hospitals, and infirmaries which the prudent communities have established, as above.  – DJI)

 

And a charge to certain men of power and property, as might have derived from The Bern...

 

(H)ow will they fare who rob the poor of the little they have and plague them in all kinds of ways? That is what the tyrants do to the poor who accept the gospel. But let that be; they have their condemnation.

 

Religion can comfort and console the angry as well as the compassionate.  But a sometimes overlooked side-effect of the pandemic is the psychological stress, grief and trauma inflicted on those who have survived plague, the loved ones of those who have not and the fearful awaiting their turn for the death card to be dealt.

The magnitude of loss, grief and all forms of material and psychological suffering it has caused – in such a short time – is nearly impossible to comprehend, contended Nancy van den Berg-Cook in the Journal of Anal. Psychol (7/7/21 – See Attachment Nine).  “In the wellknown reaction to any major natural disaster, we are overwhelmed with shock and confusion and filled with anguished fear.

“When we speak of ‘The Virus’ or ‘The Pandemic’, or as Donald Trump called it, the ‘Invisible China Virus’ (Trump 2020), (notice the capital letters turning the phrase into a title), rather than referring to ‘a virus’ or ‘a global viral infection’, it is as if we are describing a concrete unitary entity,” the author declares, taking note – not only of Stella Immanuel’s dream demons, but of epidemiologists finding that this disease stalks us indoors’ (Tufekci 2020, in attachment) and, being capable of causing more than a respiratory illness; it launches a fullbody attack’ (Nania 2020). These statements, van den Berg-Cook concludes: “imply that the virus has malicious intention. (these italics from DJI)”

In the context of society, van den Berg-Cook then retreats slightly from the unadulterated virocentric spiderweb, “as a whole we demonize this virus (italics NvdB-C) – even when we know rationally that the coronavirus cannot have conscious intention to harm and is nothing like a stable, cohesive entity.”  In fact, at this moment, it has mutated so dramatically that every region of the world has its own genetic strain (see Mooney et al. 2020) and in the intervening half year, its mutative capacity has swelled to produce the Big O). And, using one of the best tricks for biological success available to every virus, it will continue to mutate, making it more difficult to develop an effective vaccine against it. “A virus that mutates is a natural fact,” the author concludes, “just like an Artic Tern that migrates between north and south poles every year. But when we consider its mutation properties in a mood of fear, it is as if we are talking about an intelligent being that pulls itself together and mutates itself as an act of aggression!” (Raising its sentience quota, to the life status of a bird is a potent panpsychic leap, ascribing its capacity for “aggression” is a further escalation to the life status of an ISIS-ist suicide bomber... evil, of course, and not especially rational, but demonstrating its own warped version of human intelligence constitutes full-on virocentricity.  – DJI) 

As a psychologist, van den Berg-Cook commits to helping patients “mobilize their own transcendent function for easing painful tension caused by demonizing the virus – where the conflict is an unconscious mythological war between Humans and The Evil Coronavirus?”  She postulates a “resolving symbol”, to neutralize the feeling that “we are victims of an allpowerful invading enemy?” (which symbol is an old alchemical trope... the unus mundus” (one world) in which anthropocenes and viropins are united in constitution and origin (if not intent) through the planes of life, sentience and morality. 

Some critics, however, see as little congruence in the aspects of humankind and virokind as they do among and within the anthro-tribe... divided as it is by race and history and religion, by socio-economic status, intelligence (sorry, wokesters) and religio-political partisanship.

If the plague has been a plague upon most Joneses, it’s been a boon to a handful of God’s anointed interpreters who, for a (moral or monetary) price, will proffer promises of health and deliverance... or, if said prayers fail, a convenient scapegoat.

 

FAITH (and furors)  Twelve Q-anons Quarrelling…”

 

Just within the past week, the furious re-emergence of the infectious (maybe not so fatal) Big O variant has thrown the Mean Christians for a loop as congregations desert, mask up and vaxx up (either voluntarily or under government, TSA or employer pressure or, for a fortunate few, bribery).

Tales of cruelty, terror and fraud are rife, and it seems that God has also deserted his faithful.  See ABC News (Attachment Ten) and the WashPost (Attachment Eleven) for the degenerate details.

 

More moderate evangelicals counsel more peaceful resistances.  Last Halloween, Clinton Arnold of the Talbot School of Theology dredged up a popular but, in the panic of the pandemic, overlooked fundamentalist trope: the declaration and prosecution of spiritual warfare.  (Which, in a few cases like that of Dylan Roof, escalated to physical warfare.)  Mr. Arnold is no Jew-killer… he, in fact, merely asks: “Doesn’t the Bible call Satan the destroyer—using the title Apollyon in Revelation 9? And doesn’t the evil one have the ability to carry out his destructive intent through plagues, epidemics and pandemics? He surely does. And his fingerprints can undoubtedly be found on the Coronavirus pandemic.”

But are there infernal human fingerprints on the plague, as well?  If so, “how do we engage in Spiritual Warfare against the enemy of our souls and bodies in the midst of a pandemic? Ephesians 6—the key passage on spiritual warfare—gives us perspective and guidance on this.” When it declares that, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” we may not have thought about this previously in terms of afflicting us with a global pandemic. But it is very relevant to what we are facing.

The most potent weapon in spiritual warfare, Arnold says, is prayer.  But for some who are suffering a direct and powerful spiritual attack, it may be necessary to engage in “warfare praying.” Part of our authority in Christ is the ability to utter a direct command to a spirit and order it to stop and to leave. This is not being weird. It is recognizing spiritual realities as the Bible presents it and responding appropriately. This does not need to be dramatic; it can be as simple as calmly saying, “if there is a spirit causing this, I command you in the name of the Lord Jesus to stop this and to leave.”  (Attachment Twelve)

Would that other indwelling traits and customs were so easily dispatched!

 

Tavis Bohlinger, writing in the Logos Academic Blog notes and rejects the contention that human agents like Bill Gates or, some decades back, Ronald (6) Wilson (6) Reagan (6) were or are capable of stealing the souls of the faithful, simply by inserting a microchip (or, as nanoscience progresses, a nanoparticle) within the vaccine that will… at some point to be determined later… enslave the physically saved but unfortunate victim.

Some antiquarian scholars, pondering the mystery of the Beast in what was then real time, identified Satan’s servant as the Emperor Caesar… others, jumping ahead a few more years, as Nero (when you take Nero’s name… Neron Kaisar… and transliterate it into Hebrew using the ancient numerological system of gemetraia, the result is the number of the beast: 666.)  The historians Suetonius and Pliny also single out the “beastly” Domitian as a pagan Master of Revels.  Roman Emperors were somewhat Trumpish in their vanity – Caesar’s image would be on coins along with his claim to divinity. “Quite literally,” Bohlinger notes, “the emperor’s boast that he was in some way “divine” was etched (dare I say marked?) on money, decrees, and the like. One scholar observes that, “One could do little in commerce . . . without handling such a ‘mark,’ because allusions to the emperor’s divinity appeared on many coins and even shipping bills and other documents.”

“Historical data,” Bohlinger avers, “does not permit us to think the “mark of the beast” is something you can accidentally take. It’s a mark of loyalty and worship, which requires full cognitive and heart-felt awareness of what you are doing (otherwise it’s not worship). If there is some future mark imposed on people by some nefarious person, then to take that mark, you’ll know exactly what you are doing—namely, cursing Christ and pledging devotion to his enemy. Let me be as clear as I possibly can about this: There is no biblical reason to think that accepting government-mandated social security numbers is the equivalent of taking the mark of the beast. Whatever the current issue may be (vaccines, SSN, chip implants, SIM cards, etc), we need to be careful about confusing our personal and/or political convictions with the meaning of a biblical text. Some public policy ideas are good; some are terrible. But either way, unless “They” require you to forsake your faith in Jesus as the exclusive object of your worship, They have no relation to the mark of the beast.  (See Attachment Thirteen)

Fundamentalist Christians who look at men and women of different outlooks, outcomes, politics, beliefs (and, all too often, races) and point fingers aren’t the only “ists”.  Muslims, atheists, witches, warlocks and, one presumes, Mormons have bought into the succor of an (other folks’) tribal disease; New Agers and Hindoos, too.  And the blame has even gone generational.

Is there a generation gap?

Indeed – and Indian (from India) misaetist critic Samira Sood has a few choice recommendations for you seniors cluttering up the world.

Far from being a uniform, unilateral scourge (or savior), this savant from the Indian subcontinent) credits, or debits, the Big O and its predecessor plagues with a form of social engineering... “boomer removal” as wipes away doddering, destructive old people and clears the path for a new, improved Generation Z (or O, or Omega).

Samira Sood, at the dawn of the pandemic, hailed the plague as signal that young people have had enough of the policies and politics that have got us to this point. Boomers have handed younger generations a broken economy, an ailing planet, and nuclear weapons – but won’t stop with the lectures.”  (The Print, see Attachment Fourteen)

Young people in India (and other places, too) blame the Boomers’ political choices for a lack of jobs for the current generations around the worldm, their inability to buy a house, a growing climate crisis, rising depression and anxiety, poor healthcare facilities, rampant gun violence in schools and an often ostrich-like response to coronavirus. “Many Boomer-run offices can easily allow employees to work from home in the gig economy until this pandemic is over, but they simply won’t.”

“Young people are now telling them that their time, more specifically, the time of their ideas, is over, and they should stop trying to run the world.”

If humble, compassionate humans can picture and sympathize a “virocentric” world, why can’t impatient and angry creatures... humans, koalas or the Big O... count on the plague to eradicate some individuals and, even, species with whom they disagree – to put it mildly?  (Or, even, virulently?)

Unspoken, but often implied, in the newscasts and podcasts and journals favored by “right thinking” (but, usually, left-leaning) consumers is the grimly agreeable tenet that politically right-thinking POThead refuseniks are hastening their own dimunition of power and eventual extinction by continuing to deny that vaccinations can cure, or least mitigate some of the symptoms of disease and even assert that the shots in the arm are shots across the bow fired by the sort of one world, globalist thinkers as Pope Francis upheld in Breitbart (below) only evil... more evil than can be imaginable... Bill Gates evil, Hillary evil, New World Order evil.

So - should it so surprising that a variation on the theme now wafts across the waters from India, where young people... millenials, Generation Z and infants destined to grow into categories yet to come or be named... some young people, mind you, not all (given that the doctors, researchers and Cassandras of the airwaves like Fauci and Jah) are welcoming the plague as a means of ridding the planet of creatures too powerful, too wicked and too long with us... the boomers!

What connotes passive-aggressive pique in America today... mumbled and muttere epithets: “O.K. Boomer” (or, in India, “Uncle, please sit!”

It’s no secret, Sood concludes, that COVID-19 most likely moved from bats to pangolins to humans. “And why are bats coming closer and closer to human habitation?  Because of deforestation. Something that young people around the world have rallied against, in climate strikes that Boomers dissed “as useless millennial activism.

“So, when young people call the pandemic a Boomer Remover, is it unkind? Of course. Is it on point? Yes.”

 

Pope Frank’s address to a Jesuit seminary at the height of plague last year (before the Big O pushes it to new heights) was reported fairly and sympathetically by… of all media outlets… the aggressively conservative Trump dump Breitbart.  (See Attachment Fifteen)

“Protect the world from the great evil that afflicts it,” the pontiff told students at the Jesuit-run Pio-Latino seminary in November, more than a year ago. “The pandemic has put us before the great evil that afflicts our society, laid it bare, we can really feel it.”

Without ever identifying this “great evil” by name, the pope seemed to hint that it represented “divisions and a lack of universal brotherhood.”

Francis told the seminarians that the “cure of that evil must come from below, from the hearts and souls that will one day be entrusted to you and must come with concrete proposals and open spaces, to heal this evil and give God a united people.”

“I repeat this figure, globalization yes, but not as a sphere, the sphere is uniformity,” he insisted. “Yes to globalization, but as a polyhedron, where every nation, every person retains his own particularity.”

 

No such paean to brotherhood and globalization attends the “European disease” observed by Andreas Kluth (a Bloomberg boy writing for the WashPost – Attachment Sixteen) which tracks the “plague-related genre of anti-Semitism” to… surprise… Germany.

In a somewhat self-contradictory meme, the paranoia circulates in parallel and circles back to the Dark Ages again. It says that that SARS-CoV-2 either doesn’t exist at all or exists but is harmless, and removes nobody but, instead, is instead a figment invented by Jews and rotten gentiles whom Jews have corrupted — old, but smart devils such as Bill Gates or the Clintons — in their quest to control entire populations and establish a “New World Order.”  

This so-called NWO genre of anti-Semitism also taps into an ancient narrative, one that was most notoriously exploited by the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” This entirely fictional text, produced over a century ago in Russia and translated into many languages, pretended to document how Jews were making secret plans to rule the world by manipulating the media, finance and government.  (See Attachment Fifteen)

So, should it also not come as much of a surprise that some of the most virulent viral scapegoating is taking place in the Old World, where some W.H.O. bureaucrats and German paranoids have been sifting through the various conspiracy theories clogging up the scientific sewers

 

 

Superstition/conspiracy

 

@ crazy Christian conspiracies

 

As the Daily Beast’s Will Sommer first noted, Stella Immanuel (above) has asserted that many gynecological issues are the result of having sex with witches and demons (“succubi” and “incubi”) in dreams, a myth that dates back at least to the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” a Sumerian poem written more than 4,000 years ago. She falsely claims that issues such as endometriosis, infertility, miscarriages and STIs are “evil deposits from the spirit husband.”

Spirit husband or no, Dr. Stella’s contention of dream demons is not so insanely unique as one might believe.  A well-respected dream researcher, Deirdre Barrett, has collected dreams from all over the world since the beginning of the pandemic. (van den Berg-Cook @ above.below and, in an interview with The Harvard Gazette’s C. Walsh, she “summarized major themes from the more than 9,000 dreams she has studied”, declaring:

I’m noticing big clusters of dream content. One is very literally about getting the virus – that’s been a fairly common dream… Then there are metaphors for the virus – there’s a big subcluster of bug dreams. After 9/11, I saw metaphors as well as literal dreams about those events. But I didn’t see bug dreams after 9/11. And I’ve just seen dozens and dozens and dozens of every kind of bug imaginable attacking the dreamer: There are swarms of every kind of flying insect you’ve ever heard of; there are armies of cockroaches racing at the dreamer; there are masses of wriggling worms; there were some grasshoppers with vampire fangs; there are bed bugs, stink bugs.

Bugs – demons... demons – bugs.  Plague – Illuminati?  Furthermore, Sommer reported that in “a 2015 sermon that laid out a supposed Illuminati plan hatched by ‘a witch’ to destroy the world using abortion, gay marriage, and children’s toys, among other things, Immanuel claimed that DNA from space aliens is currently being used in medicine.” She also offered prayers through her website to remove generational curses transmitted through placenta.

In a news conference Tuesday, Trump addressed the video, saying: “I think they’re very respected doctors. There was a woman who was spectacular.” He did not specify which woman. He added of hydroxychloroquine, “I happen to think it works in the early stages.”

When asked directly about Immanuel and why he might trust someone who believes that alien DNA is used in modern medicine, Trump responded: “I thought she was very impressive, in the sense that, from where she came — I don’t know what country she comes from — but she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.”

 

Q12 vampires

 

QM  Microsoft founder, charity maven and purported mastermind in the conspiracy to exploit the plague to inject the world with microchips or nanoparticles that will turn them into mindless zombies or vampire slaves bill Gates may not be a vampire or a bokor (zombiemaker) himself, but he has certainly drawn the attention of a significant slice of the Trumpian base who know... know!... that he is up to something!

 

 

Q10 Q=ANON

 

The liberal Guardian U.K. asked: “Why (do) people believe covid conspiracy theories: could folklore hold the answer?” and answered, probably so... but check out Bill Gates!  (See Attachment @@A)

 

In Modern Times...

Well...

Another WashPost feedbag alleges... with near certainty, unfortunately... that then-President Trump (July, 2020, Attachment @@C) promoted, as his Corona Czarina, one Dr. Stella Immanuel (born in Cameroon, got her medical degree in Nigeria and is now licensed in Texas) who has a history “of making particularly outlandish statements — including that the uterine disorder endometriosis is caused by sex with demons that takes place in dreams.”

Popstar and science refusenik Madonna has called Stella her “hero”.

Stella produced a video showing a group that had dubbed itself America’s Frontline Doctors (Freddy Krueger not shown), “standing on the steps of the Supreme Court and claiming that neither masks nor shutdowns are necessary to fight the pandemic, despite a plethora of expertise to the contrary.”  It was live-streamed by the conservative media outlet Breitbart and viewed more than 14 million times — fueled by a tweet by Donald Trump Jr. and multiple retweets by President Trump, which have since been deleted.

 

 

 

Q11B  Q11b 5G

 

 

 

     LEFTIST

 

QO

 

Q7

 

FROM The Atlantic  q7

Some of the Most Visible Christians in America Are Failing the Coronavirus Test

In place of love, they’re offering stark self-righteous judgment.

By Jonathan Merritt

An illustration of a church with pieces floating away

Getty / The Atlantic

APRIL 24, 2020

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About the author: Jonathan Merritt is a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He is the author of Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words are Vanishing – And How We Can Revive Them.

 

If the coronavirus is a test of our collective character, some American Christians are flat-out flunking.

Consider the popular pastor John Piper, who was asked what he would say to pastors who claim that the pandemic is God’s judgment on sinful cities and arrogant nations. “God sometimes uses disease to bring particular judgments upon those who reject him and give themselves over to sin,” Piper responded. Or perhaps look to R. R. Reno, the editor of the conservative Christian journal First Things, who argued that it’s not worth a “mass shutdown of society” just to fight the virus. “There is a demonic side to the sentimentalism of saving lives at any cost,” Reno wrote, decrying the “ill-conceived crusade against human finitude and the dolorous reality of death.”

Read: The pandemic will cleave America in two

COVID-19 has claimed nearly 50,000 lives in America thus far. Most of those casualties died alone, without so much as the dignity of a familiar face as they drifted into eternal rest. Most of those who have died are grandparents and the immunocompromised—the weakest among us. We are a grief-stricken and disillusioned people. Like many others, I’m struggling to make sense of how those who follow the teachings of Jesus, known for healing the sick, could shrug their shoulders at mass death and heap pain on the grieving.

This kind of stark self-righteous insensitivity makes nonreligious people despise Christians. I should know. I became a Christian more than 25 years ago, grew up as the son of a prominent evangelical pastor, graduated from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, and spent years as a Southern Baptist pastor in Georgia. I’ve witnessed every religious affectation imaginable, but I never thought I’d see the day when my alma mater, Liberty University, would endanger the lives of its students by partially reopening its doors in the middle of a pandemic, perhaps to make a political statement. Is this what it looks like to be “pro-life” now?

Over the years, I’ve seen wealthy megachurch pastors shaking change from cash-strapped parishioners, and I’ve beheld toothy evangelists emotionally manipulating crowds to coerce conversions. I’ve seen pious politicians cherry-pick the Holy Bible in order to snatch the moral high ground from their enemies across the aisle, and I’m no longer surprised when trolls I encounter on Twitter include a saccharine religious identifier like “Christ follower” in their profile. But I’d never predicted that I would witness prominent Christian leaders dismissing death.

A prominent church in Texas recently paid for a billboard to ask commuters: “Is the coronavirus a judgment from God?” But that’s not as bad as Ralph Drollinger, the Christian minister who leads a Bible study for members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, who answered the question in the affirmative. In a series of blog posts, he argued that the disease is “God’s consequential wrath on our nation,” warning that “whenever an individual or corporate group of individuals violate the inviolate precepts of God’s Word, he, she, they or the institution will suffer the respective consequences.” Robert Jeffress, another Christian minister close to Trump, echoed this idea by warning, “All natural disasters can ultimately be traced back to sin.” Their interpretation of recent events is not as uncommon as you might assume. One recent poll reports that some 44 percent of Americans say the pandemic is a “wake-up call” from God and “signs of coming judgment.”

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·         A black-and-white photo of the interior of an Episcopalian church. In the center of the image, a priest is backlit by sunlight coming through a stained glass window.

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Ironically, the choice to emphasize these sorts of judgmental messages, instead of stressing love and caring, is costing the religion dearly. According to LifeWay Research, 70 percent of Protestants stop attending church for at least a year from the ages of 18 to 22. Why do they leave? Twenty-six percent said it was because church members were judgmental or hypocritical, and an additional 15 percent said it was due to church members being unfriendly and unwelcoming. Christians’ bad behavior has propped open their churches’ back doors.

Peter Wehner: The deepening crisis in evangelical Christianity

Additionally, many nonbelievers are too frustrated with the way Christians behave to give their churches a try. The Barna Group, one of America’s leading polling organizations focused on religion, conducted a sweeping survey of non-Christians aged 16 to 29 in 2007. It found that a new generation had grown skeptical of and frustrated with the Christian faith because of negative personal experience with Christians whose words and actions seemingly misrepresent Christ. A shockingly high number of respondents said they perceived present-day Christianity as judgmental (87 percent), hypocritical (85 percent), and anti-homosexual (91 percent). The study concluded that a concerning number of young non-Christians believe that Christians are, well, “unchristian.”

Barna’s president, David Kinnaman, told me that his firm has continued to monitor attitudes toward Christianity in the 12 years since that landmark study, and unfortunately, not much has changed. “In our most recent research for Faith for Exiles, we found that many of the negative perceptions remain, and that those who walk away from the Church are most often struggling with the hypocrisy of other churchgoers,” Kinnaman said. He added that those who are most resilient in their faith report experiencing a religious community that is “emotionally connected to the real-world pressures facing this generation, including mental health, loneliness, anxiety, and depression.”

So Christians’ notoriously poor behavior has created a situation in which young people are saturating churches with their absence—members don’t want to stay, and nonmembers don’t want to start.

It doesn’t help that such high numbers of America’s faithful—particularly white evangelicals and conservative Catholics—continue to publicly support a president who is emblematic of the very attributes that so many loathe about believers. Though Trump touts himself as being devout and has been known to wave a Bible and even awkwardly quote from it, his behavior flies in the face of the good book’s ethical teachings. He mocks his opponents, labeling them with condescending nicknames. He cozies up to the powerful and rich, while deriding the poor and marginalized, who live in “shithole countries.” He brags about his intelligence, revels in his greed, and if his comments about John McCain are any indication, has no problem speaking ill of the dead, either. And worse, Trump’s Christian supporters revel in his vulgarity. They have transformed Christianity into “Christianity.”

Read: Our pandemic summer

As the writer Ben Howe, author of The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power Over Christian Values, observes, “The more he fights, the more they feel justified, like, He’s our hero because we needed someone to do this for us. Trump’s appeal is not judges. It’s not policies. It’s that he’s a shit-talker and a fighter and tells it like it is. That’s what they like. They love the meanest parts of him.” So much for turning the other cheek and loving your enemies.

Most Christians, of course, are trying their best to live a life consistent with the values and teachings of their faith. They run soup kitchens and homeless shelters, hand out water bottles at summer community events, and are more likely than the average American to donate to charity. But too often, their brasher brothers and sisters steal the headlines. These kind souls are responding to the pandemic with condolences, compassion, and prayer. These are real Christians, and their goodwill stands in stark contrast to the coldhearted pronouncements of some of their pastors.

My childhood Sunday-school teacher taught me a song that proclaimed, “And we pray that our unity will one day be restored, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” The song’s message derives from the words of Jesus in John 13:35: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The earmark of Christianity is kindness, compassion, and supernatural love. It’s not fighting back, attacking enemies, settling scores, or leveraging other people’s pain for your own advancement. Some of the most visible Christians in America, it seems, need to go back to Sunday school and discover the loving roots at the core of this great religion’s message.

Jonathan Merritt is a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He is the author of Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words are Vanishing – And How We Can Revive Them.

Twitter

 

 

   RIGHT FUNDI

Q3

 

Q8

Q9

 

 

Consolation, resignation

 

SOLUTIONS

QP

QQ

Q5

Q6 CONTINUE FROM BRIDGE ABOVE

 

Xmas 2021 (get comments from celebrities and greetings)

 

 

         

experts recommended that it would be safer for him to live in a quieter environment with family friends.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 

@ insert where appropriate

 

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER 17 – DECEMBER 23

 

 

Friday, December 17, 2021

 

Infected: 50,706,733

Dead:  805,823

Dow:  35,365.44

 

 

It’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.  But, also, National Maple Syrup Day.  (Which stuff is hard to find… global warming pushing the Maple Zone north… and expensive.)

   Big O now in 38 states as, combined with holiday travel, it makes for a “perfect storm” or “a viral blizzard.”  Hollywood fears it will menace the winter blockbusters like “Spiderman.”  President Joe scolds refusniks that they face “a winter of severe illness and death”, then goes down to the basement to mourn the Joe Manchin-killed Build Back Better.

   Three Wicked Sisters’ trials (crybaby killer cop Kim Potter, Epstein procuress Ghislaine Maxwell and fraudy fraudstress Elizabeth Holmes) grind on while their Three Silly Stooges (Steve Bannon, Penguin Rober Stone and Alex Jones) await DOJ decision on trials.

   School shooting wannabees flood Facebook, TikTok and other social media with vegue, viral (and violent) fake school assault threats, causing closures and police deployments.

 

 

 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

 

Infected:  50,773,620

Dead:  806,273

 

 

           

 

Covid’s cancel culture nabs restaurants, the Rockettes, NFL and NHL sports and Harvard but, despite steep Big O rise, TV Doctors say we are still “bathed in Delta,” other doctors warn: “hang your stockings with care”, and Jeff Zientz, White House Corona czar, threatens “a winter of disease” for the refuseniks. 

   A cold, rainy, dangerous night greets three refusenik women in the middle of a busy freeway when their Uber driver kicks them out into a 3AM doom and gloom.  Nurse Linda Prickett (!) contends the plague is burning out healthcare workers while, overseas, the Netherlands locks down until Jan. 14 and just about everybody refuses entry to Englishmen.

  New storms drench old tornado ruination but Gov. Beshear (D-Ky) thunders: “Dig out, clean up, take all that destruction, put it in the back of a dump truck and haul it away.”

 

 

 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

 

Infected:  50,846,828

Dead:  806,439

                

 

 

46 states now have Big O infections, only Montana, Oklahoma and the Dakotas are virgin territory.  The new variant is now in 88 countries, and the CDC predicts one million new cases by Christmas. “It’s shaping up to be a hard winter,” predicts former head Dr. Tom Frieden.

   More vaxxing mandates result in long lines for testing and empty shelves for the home variety… Dr. Fauci calls its efficacy “spotty” and airports become nightmare alleys; another violent passenger kicked off his plane for wearing women’s underwear for a mask.  Liberal Sen. Warren (D-Ma) gets it as do the entire white cast of Saturday Night Live and, at the intersection of plague and politics, “Hamilton” closes.

   House probers not closing… a mobster gets longest 5 year sentence for bashing a policeman with a fire extinguisher, RINO panelists Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger go on record as favoring Trump indictment despite certainty of a “circus” while House Minority Leader McCarthy (con) and Senate Minority Leader Mitchy (pro – but in secret and as a way of averting a disastrous 2024 nomination) rasslin’ over locking up God’s President.

 

 

 

Monday, December 20, 2021

 

Infected:  50,706,733

Dead:  807,952

Dow:  34,932.16

 

               

 

Trials of the Three Witches beginning to wrap… Minnesota cop Kim Potter takes the stand and cries, cries, cries, Theranoid Liz Holmes take the stand and denies, denies, denies and Jeffy Girl Ghislaine Maxwell closes without testifying (because she’s so guilty, guilty, guilty).

   Big O breakthrough infections surge… Dr. Jha gives up, says the goal should not be to prevent disease, but to “manage” hospitalizations and deaths.  (He advocates scarce N-95 masks and hopes we’ll be “in better shape” for Christmas 2023.  Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Jason Crow (D-Co get it as do numerous athletes, actors and ordinary Joneses… another Royal Caribbean plague ship docks in Miami with 48 new infectees while “freedom” riots spread across EU, Israel bans Americans and Ireland closes the pubs at 8 PM!

   Sen. Manchin (D-WV) insists he’ll never support Biden’s budget and voting rights deals, charges that child tax credits will just be seized by the parents and used to be (non-plague) drugs and threatens to switch parties, paving the way for Leader Mitchy, rollback of Trump rollback rollbacks on issues like EPA standards and a potential impeachment and Trump return in ’23 (he’d be eligible for re-election and a near-ten year administration, second only to the vile FDR). 

   But there is some good news – Haitian hostages were not ransomed, they escaped, as did little girls in Texas and Utah from their rape/torture kidnappers and Tiger Woods and prodigal son Charlie finish second in his first golf game since near-death crash.

 

 

 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

 

Infected: 51,272,854                       Dead:  810,045

Dow:  35,472.70

 

It’s the first day of winter.

   Dr. Fauci predicts a long, cold haul, calling Big O’s spread… reducing doubling time from three days to two… saying we need to “flood the system with testing,” and predicting a peak by mid-January but, fortunately, a “fizzle” by spring.  Winter President Joe promises a Winter Plan to deploy the military to aid healthcare workers and speed up testing kit production as North Dakota and Montana get it, leaving only South Dakota and Oklahoma safe.  First Omicron death in Texas doesn’t change the suspicion that its commingling with common cold (above) has weakened it.

   Sen. Manchin says he pivoted on BBB because certain “White House staffers” hurt his feelings.  SecPress Jen Psaki (hint! hint!) retaliates that he’s a native American giver, at least one more staffer gets it and McConnell starts pondering new Majority Leader office furniture if the Manch turns red before November.

   Trump goes on Bill O’Reilly’s talkshow and admits he got the booster.  The crowd boos him loudly.  O’Reilly says he got one too and the abuse escalates, but no violence ensues.

   Mobile phone providers now conspiring to shut down old 3G networks, abandoning old and poor people with old phones (some of which they’re still paying installments on) to tin cans and smoke signals.

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

 

Infected: 51,545,881

Dead:  812,069

Dow:  35,927.43

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montana falls to the Big O… leaving South Dakota to stand alone against the viral onslaught,

   President Joe goes on television (which the networks don’t carry) – scolds refuseniks (again), says “it’s not 2020”, promises free DoorDash-ish test kit deliveries… “soon”.  He also gets a new dog, Commander, and nobody will say what happened to his bite-the-mailman-and-the-Indonesian-Ambassador-prone predecessor – was his fate like that of Pigasus, the failed 1968 Presidential candidate?  (The official statement was that “experts recommended that it would be safer for him to live in a quieter environment with family friends.”

   Around the nation: Dr. Walensky echoes Joe on testing site and supply increase and blaming refuseniks for delays, new TV Dr. McCoy advocates no more than six holiday guests, leaving windows open and says “’tis the season for empathetic conversations and being blunt”, California mandates booster shots for healthcare workers, Merck and Pfizer promise plague pills “soon” once the FDA puts down its fiddle, TSAgents greenlighted to draw guns after 5,664 “unruly passenger” incidents.   (Don’t they know bullets penetrate pressurized cabins?)

   Around the globe: Israel promoting Fourth Vaxx for over-60’s, Harvard researchers say steak and tequila better than processed meats, chips and whiskey while a Harvard Professor guilty of spying for the Chinese.  Vladimir Putin threatens nuclear war.  Again.  Ho Ho Ho Humbug!

 

 

 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

 

Infected:  51,814,812

Dead:  815,423

Dow:  35,807.64

  

 

 

South Dakota falls.  No one safe.  All is night.

   Dr. F. advices families to kick refuseniks out of their gatherings.  Dr, Jha says that Pfizer pills are more effective than Merck’s.  Dr. La Pook says the virus will be less viral for boostershooters and the Big O is actually a good thing because surviving infectees will develop herd immunity.  (Unsurviving ones won’t.)  Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) gets it.  Rep. Mary Gates (D-Pa) carjacked in Philly.

   Minnesota killer cop Kim Potter guilty, faces 15 years.  The mob outside celebrates.  As she’s trundled off to spend Christmas in jail, L.A. cops gun down a teenaged girl “of color” (brown).

   Christmas covid miracles multiply like loaves and fishes, but travel remains demonic with flights cancelled and traffic jams endemic. 

 

 

 

 

Ambivalence shoved its way to the head of the Christmas groaning board and Don Jones was too tired, full, sort-of grateful (unless stuck at an airport or in traffic) as a brief interregnum happy-ed the holiday between the declining (but still lethal) Delta and the Big O. 

2021 closed as most years do, recapitulations, remembrances, tolling off those who died (of any cause) during the year and canned welcome-to-2022 homilies.  A passing to note as we were compiling this list... RIP to Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa who, with Nelson Mandela, achieved the last (largely) nonviolent overturning of a cruel dictatorship and replaced it with an American style follow-the-money “democracy”.  South Africa, first to introduce us to the hyper-infectious Omicron Variant, seems poised to be first to give Omicron the boot, paving the way for the next iteration of the plague.  2022 may be deliverance, may be hell, but 2021 is going out in a flurry of the usual suspects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE DON JONES INDEX

 

CHART of CATEGORIES w/VALUE ADDED to EQUAL BASELINE of 15,000

(REFLECTING… approximately… DOW JONES INDEX of June 27, 2013)

 

See a further explanation of categories here

 

ECONOMIC INDICES (60%)

DON JONES’ PERSONAL ECONOMIC INDEX

(45% of TOTAL INDEX POINTS)

 

 

 

CATEGORY

VALUE

BASE

RESULTS

SCORE

SCORE

OUR SOURCES and COMENTS

INCOME

24%

6/17/13

LAST

CHANGE

NEXT

12/17/21

12/17/21

SOURCE 

Wages (hourly, per capita)

9%

1350 points

 12/10/21

   +0.53%

 1/2/22

1,503.28

1,503.28

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/wages  26.26 6.40

Median Income (yearly)

4%

600

 12/17/21

  +0.025%

 1/2/22

676.56

676.73

http://www.usdebtclock.org/   35,778

*Unempl. (BLS – in millions

4%

600

 12/17/21

   -9.52%

 1/2/22

477.95

477.95

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS140000004.2%

*Official (DC – in millions)

2%

300

 12/17/21

  +0.18%

 1/2/22

575.81

576.83

http://www.usdebtclock.org/      6,770

*Unofficl. (DC – in millions)

2%

300

 12/17/21

   -0.26%

 1/2/22

493.19

494.49

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    11,720

Workforce Participtn.

     Number  

     Percent

2%

300

12/17/21

 

   +0.018%

   +0.016%

 1/2/22

 

 

324.222

 

 

324.28

In 154,280 out  99,963 Total: 254,243

 

http://www.usdebtclock.org/ 60.68

WP %  (ycharts)*

1%

150

 10/8/21

  +0.32%

 1/2/22

152.72

152.72

https://ycharts.com/indicators/labor_force_participation_rate    

61.80

OUTGO

(15%)

Total Inflation

7%

1050

 11/12/21

+0.8%

 1/2/22

956.88

956.88

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.8

Food

2%

300

 11/12/21

+0.7%

 1/2/22

268.22

268.22

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.7

Gasoline

2%

300

 11/12/21

+6.1%

 1/2/22

224.50

224.50

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +6.1 nc

Medical Costs

2%

300

 11/12/21

+0.3%

 1/2/22

282.77

282.77

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.3

Shelter

2%

300

 11/12/21

+0.5%

 1/2/22

284.46

284.46

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.5 nc

WEALTH

(6%)

 

Dow Jones Index

2%

300

 12/17/21

    +0.15%

 1/2/22

381.89

382.45

https://www.wsj.com/market-data/quotes/index/DJIA  35,850.56

Home (Sales) 

   (Valuation)

1%

1%

150

150

 12/17/21

   +1.89%

   +0.31%

 1/2/22

205.17

178.11

205.17

178.11

https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics

     Sales (M):  6.46 Valuations (K):  353.9

Debt (Personal)

2%

300

 12/17/21

   +0.09%

 1/2/22

264.23

264.06

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    66,806

 

 

 

AMERICAN ECONOMIC INDEX (15% of TOTAL INDEX POINTS)

NATIONAL

(10%)

 

Revenue (trilns.)

2%

300

 12/17/21

 +0.025%

 1/2/22

346.57

346.66

debtclock.org/       4,054

Expenditures (tr.)

2%

300

 12/17/21

  -0.06%

 1/2/22

218.22

218.09

debtclock.org/       6,871

National Debt tr.)

3%

450

 12/17/21

 +0.67%

 1/2/22

316.43

314.65

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    29,225

Aggregate Debt (tr.)

3%

450

 12/17/21

 +0.035%

 1/2/22

371.18

371.03

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    85,211

GLOBAL

(5%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign Debt (tr.)

2%

300

 12/17/21

  +0.1%

 1/2/22

274.41

274.12

http://www.usdebtclock.org/   7,659

Exports (in billions)

1%

150

 12/3/21

  +7.55%

 1/2/22

198.47

198.47

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html  223.6

Imports (bl.)

1%

150

 12/3/21

  +0.76%

 1/2/22

114.06

114.06

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html  290.7

Trade Deficit (bl.)

1%

150

 12/3/21

+17.06%

 1/2/22

100.04

100.04

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/index.html    67.1

 

SOCIAL INDICES (40%)  -0.32

ACTS of MAN

(12%)

World Affairs

3%

450

12/17/21

      +0.1%

 1/2/22

376.42

376.80

Israel rolling out 4th shot for seniors and those with compromised immunity.   Netherlands imposes full lockdown, partial in rest of EU and nobody wants the British.  Peng Shuai in staged interview denies ever having been raped by ChiCom officials.

Terrorism

2%

300

12/17/21

     +0.3%

 1/2/22

217.71

218.36

Haitian hostages weren’t ransomed – they made a daring escape.  TV and movie producers swarming.  Israeli police beat up nosy AP photographer.  Russia inches closer to Ukraine, sends nukes and planes to Belarus. Polish invasion?

Politics

3%

450

12/17/21

      -0.2%

 1/2/22

444.32      

443.43      

President Joe’s Infra and BBB dead for 2021.  Manchin gloats – hints at switching parties.  RINO probers Liz n’ Adam call for prosecution and jail time for Djonald Unindicted.  RIP former Senator Johnny Isaakson (R-Ga).

Economics

3%

450

12/17/21

      -0.1%

 1/2/22

405.81

405.40

Wal-Mart and others rationing at-home testing kits.  K-Mart closes last store in California.

Crime

1%

150

12/17/21

      +0.2%

 1/2/22

237.06

237.53

Girls get lucky – juveniles in Texas and Utah rescued from psycho rape-killers.  LAPD shuts down murderous (bullets, not plague) hip hop festival.  Virginia “shopping cart killer” snuffs women and hauls their corpses away in… like it says. 

 

ACTS of GOD

 

(6%)

 

Environment/Weather

3%

450

 12/17/21

       +0.2%

 1/2/22

378.71

379.47

Miserable cold rains drench tornado alley ruins, hinder recovery.  But a warmup expected – only far northern plains and Northeast will see a White Christmas.

Natural/Unnatural Disaster

3%

450

 12/17/21

        -0.3%

 1/2/22

218.84

218.18

Airport testing delays up to four hours – missed flights and cancellations endemic, bag bandits snatch up woman’s suitcase holding her mother’s ashes.  Midwest Tornado 2 death toll now 5, still far less than Ky (77 and one missing).  27 killed in Japanese building fire, 31 in Phillippines typhoon.  CO2 leak kills family in Minnesota 6.2 EQ off Northern Calif. merely annoying.

 

LIFESTYLE/JUSTICE INDEX   (15%)

 

Science, Tech, Education

4%

600

 12/17/21

     +0.2%

 1/2/22

406.89

407.70

Copycat social media wannabees spam shooting threats, cause school shutdowns & useless searches.  Clever inventor develops seaweed feed to lessen methane from cow burps and farts.

Equality (econ/social)

4%

600

 12/17/21

     +0.1%

 1/2/22

410.06

410.47

Black female NYPD chief says she can do the job.  “Sex and the City” ladies pile on killed-off Mr. Big, Chris Noth, also fired from The Equalizer.

Health

     

          

            Plague

4%

600

 12/17/21

     +0.1%

 

  

     +0.2%

 1/2/22

396.86

 

 

- 103.34

397.26

 

 

- 103.13

FDA greenlights over-the-counter birth control pill.  Anti-abortion mobs gnash their teeth and call government to smite sinners. 39K strangulatory bunk beds recalled.

 

Big O now in 88 countries, all 50 states.  CDC predicts a million new infections over Christmas holidays.  Clinical trials for under-5 vaxxes deemed failures but Pfizer pill for them as get it called 90% effective in preventing death.  Optimistic researchers say Big O infection confers “super immunity” (until the next Greek letter comes along).  Dr. Fauci, predicting a long and diseased winter says: “we need to flood the system with testing.“  Dr. Jha throws in the towel: says goal should be to mitigate ICU-izations and deaths, hopes for a better 2022-3 winter.  President Joe and Dr. Walensky concur: refuseniks, take your shots... or else...

Freedom and Justice

3%

450

 12/17/21

     +0.1%

 1/2/22

463.19

463.65

Three Weird Sisters (Potter, Holmes, Maxwell) on trial.  Three Stooges (Bannon, Stone, Jones) await DOJ hammer.  Three million petitioners protest homicidal truck driver’s 110 year sentence, one million demand release of domestic violence survivor-killer given 19.  Capital protester gets record five years for hitting cop with fire extinguisher.  Judge rejects Purdue Pharma’s lenient opioid settlement.  SCOTUS set to start ruling on vaxx/mask mandates.

 

MISCELLANEOUS and TRANSIENT INDEX           (7%) 

 

Cultural incidents

3%

450

 12/17/21

    +0.2%

 1/2/22

 537.91

 538.99

Hollywood rushes out blockbusters (“Spiderman”, “Matrix”, more) to beat the Big O lockdown.  Kennedy Center honoree Lorne Michels says he won’t retire until 50th season (2024-5).  Other winners are singers Joni Mitchell (folk), Bette Midler (pop), Justino Diaz (opera), Motown boss Berry Gordy.  Tiger Woods plays first golf tourney, outshown by son Charlie.  Covid cancellations – NHL season, some NFL games, more Broadway shows, all the white people on SNL, the Critics choice awards and the Rockettes.  Z. Z. Top sells its catalog for 50M (only 10% of Bruce’s, but not bad). RIP Drake-O the Rapper (not Drake, the singer), author Joan Didion. 

Miscellaneous incidents

4%

450

 12/17/21

    nc

 1/2/22

 489.39

 489.39

“Red Suit Santa” poll finds 18% of the fat guys missing in action this year… Big O and nasty, snotty kids blamed.  Miss Alaska wins Miss America.  Some guy wins Bachelorette’s rose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Don Jones Index for the week of December 10th through December 16th, 2021 was UP 2.79 points.

 

The Don Jones Index is sponsored by the Coalition for a New Consensus: retired Congressman and Independent Presidential candidate Jack “Catfish” Parnell, Chairman; Brian Doohan, Administrator.  The CNC denies, emphatically, allegations that the organization, as well as any of its officers (including former Congressman Parnell, environmentalist/America-Firster Austin Tillerman and cosmetics CEO Rayna Finch) and references to Parnell’s works, “Entropy and Renaissance” and “The Coming Kill-Off” are fictitious or, at best, mere pawns in the web-serial “Black Helicopters” – and promise swift, effective legal action against parties promulgating this and/or other such slanders.

Comments, complaints, donations (especially SUPERPAC donations) always welcome at feedme@generisis.com or: speak@donjonesindex.com.

 

ATTACHMENT ONE – From Thucydides via World History Org.

THE PLAGUE AT ATHENS, 430-427 BCE

by John Horgan published on 24 August 2016

 

In the second year of the Peloponnesian War, 430 BCE, an outbreak of plague erupted in Athens. The illness would persist throughout scattered parts of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean until finally dying out in 426 BCE. The origin of the epidemic occurred in sub-Saharan Africa just south of Ethiopia. The disease swept north and west through Egypt and Libya across the Mediterranean Sea into Persia and Greece.

The plague entered Athens through the city's port of Piraeus. The Greek historian Thucydides recorded the outbreak in his monumental work on the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE) between Athens and Sparta. According to various scholars, by its end, the epidemic killed upwards of one-third of the population; a population which numbered 250,000-300,000 in the 5th century BCE. By most accounts, the plague which struck Athens was the most lethal episode of illness in the history of Classical Greece.

Thucydides' Description of the Plague

Thucydides, in the History of the Peloponnesian War, paused in his narrative of the war to provide an extremely detailed description of the symptoms of those he observed to be afflicted; symptoms he shared as he, too, was struck by the illness. Despite his lack of medical training, Thucydides provided a vivid account of a variety of ailments that afflicted the diseases:

Violent heats in the head; redness and inflammation of the eyes; throat and tongue quickly suffused with blood; breath became unnatural and fetid; sneezing and hoarseness; violent cough' vomiting; retching; violent convulsions; the body externally not so hot to the touch, nor yet pale; a livid color inkling to red; breaking out in pustules and ulcers. (2.49-2.50)

Thucydides further described patients whose fever was so intense that they preferred to be naked than wearing any clothing that touched their skin; some even preferred to be submerged in cold water. Thucydides observed that the ill were "tormented by an unceasing thirst" which was not satiated regardless of the amount of liquids consumed. Many of the sick found it difficult to sleep, instead, displaying a constant restlessness. Many of the sufferers died within 7-9 days from the onset of symptoms.

If the ill were fortunate enough to live beyond the initial period of the infection, Thucydides observed that the patient suffered from "violent ulceration" and severe diarrhea usually resulting in their death. Those who survived the full run of the illness often suffered from disfigurement of their genitals, fingers, and toes (which were sometimes lost), blindness, and memory loss (of others as well as themselves). Thucydides noticed that in some instances birds and other animals which usually fed on human flesh were repulsed by the diseased bodies or died themselves from consuming the diseased and rotting flesh.

Which Disease?

For nearly 2500 years, historians and scholars have attempted to identify exactly what disease swept Athens resulting in so many deaths. Thucydides, not trained in medicine, did not specify an exact illness only a description of the various symptoms, people's reactions to being sick, and outcomes of the course of the disease. He did note that physicians attempted numerous cures and remedies which failed. The doctors were also some of the earliest casualties due to their repeated contact with those who had fallen ill from the disease, thus suggesting that whatever the disease, it was contagious. In the heat of war, it was suggested that the water drawn from local wells had been poisoned causing even men in the prime of health to become suddenly afflicted.

J. F. D. Shrewsbury - Measles

In just the last 60 years, the plague which struck Athens has been identified as one of a dozen infectious diseases. J. F. D. Shrewsbury, in The Plague of Athens, identified the disease as being "new" to Athens. Thucydides suggested that Greek physicians did not recognize the illness which struck the population. Thucydides' reason for describing the symptoms was to allow future people to recognize the illness, should it ever strike again. Shrewsbury provides a list of opinions from the 1940s attempting to identify the disease. Typhus, typhoid, smallpox, bubonic plague, and a combination of the aforementioned were all offered as the culprit.

 

FOR NEARLY 2500 YEARS, HISTORIANS & SCHOLARS HAVE ATTEMPTED TO IDENTIFY EXACTLY WHAT DISEASE SWEPT ATHENS RESULTING IN SO MANY DEATHS.

 

Smallpox emerged as the most likely culprit, followed by typhus and bubonic plague. Shrewsbury eliminated smallpox as people stricken with that illness would not be capable of physically moving from their beds much less throw themselves into cold water as Thucydides remarked some did. Nor does Thucydides describe any backaches, a symptom specific to the early onset of smallpox.

Typhus was eliminated as there appeared to be no critical amount of black rats carrying the lice nor was any evidence offered that Athens or its citizens lived in dirt and squalor, lacked basic personal hygiene (bathing or clean clothes) to support lice. Deafness, rather than blindness, which afflicted the sufferers of Athens, is another tell-tale symptom of typhus.

Bubonic plague was dismissed just as easily due to a lack of evidence showing the presence of black rats which carried the fleas containing the Yersinia pestis microbe. Pneumonic plague was likewise discarded as the source of the illness as Thucydides failed to mention coughing or spitting of blood, symptoms commonly associated with that deadly infection. Typhoid fever, a waterborne illness, was also eliminated due to Thucydides' failure to describe polluted waterways or any patients suffering from rectal bleeding. Finally, Shrewsbury settled upon measles as the primary disease. The virulence of the disease suggested its "newness" to Athens along with Thucydides' description of common measles symptoms such as blindness, diarrhea, gangrene, sneezing, fever, and thirst.

D. L. Page - Measles

D. L. Page's article, "Thucydides' Description of the Great Plague at Athens," reached the conclusion that a virulent form of measles swept through Athens. The diagnosis of measles was based upon two sets of descriptions from Thucydides' account. The first set of descriptors included patients who remained mobile in the early onset of the illness; there was no mention of dysentery or mental incapacities such as delirium or coma although some patients appeared depressed. Based upon the translation of Greek terms and vocabulary used by Thucydides, the second set of descriptors indicated no period of incubation with the illness striking immediately and peaking within 7-9 days. In the event the patient survived, lesions appeared on the intestines accompanied by weakness and diarrhea. Memory loss, blindness, and gangrene soon followed. Thucydides noted that the illness appeared to be new to Athens. If so, then measles seemed the likely culprit based upon a side-by-side comparison between modern descriptions of a measles outbreak and Thucydides' record. Smallpox, typhus, bubonic plague, and typhoid were eliminated from consideration due largely to inconsistent symptomology and the rapid onset of Athens' plague.

W. P. McArthur - Typhus

W.P. McArthur disagreed. In "The Athenian Plague: A Medical Note", he identified typhus as the possible illness. Earlier scholars argued that before a diagnosis of typhus could be reached, Athenians needed to be in regular contact with black rats. McArthur replied that typhus was not spread by rats but by lice. Additional symptoms, as described by Thucydides, which suggested typhus as the culprit included some degree of mental impairment, incredible thirst, delirium, increased levels of strength and endurance, hallucinations, bleeding, bluish tone to the skin, convulsions, diarrhea, blindness, and the loss of fingers & toes.

P. Salway & W. Dell - Ergot Toxin

Due to the lack of consensus and contradictory conclusions of various scholars, P. Salway and W. Dell's "Plague at Athens" continued the discussion as to the nature of the illness which struck Athens. Recognizing Thucydides as the sole source of information describing the epidemic in Athens, the authors drew readers to the specific symptoms offered by Thucydides. The multiplicity of symptoms made it difficult to draw any firm conclusion. The fevers, mental disturbances, intestinal bleeding, and gangrene suggested many possibilities for the source of the condition. Of particular interest was that birds and animals were harmed by contact with the dead, diseased corpses. All infectious diseases were ruled out as the symptoms fit no known diseases.

Salway and Dell turned their attention to food and water as the possible sources for the illness. Water was eliminated as soldiers fighting the war, who were away from Athens, were affected by the epidemic. This left polluted grain as the likely culprit. Specifically, the toxin ergot, taken in small or large doses, could affect many people simultaneously. Early symptoms of ergot poisoning included depression, sweating, and abdominal pain with cramping along with a pale skin hue, cold extremities, and neck pains. As the illness progressed, insomnia, internal burning sensations, and leg cramps afflict the sufferer. At its most severe point, ergot produced delirium, spasms and convulsions, gangrene, severe diarrhea, blisters on hands and feet accompanied by large, purple discolorations. Earlier scholars suggested ergot, but their diagnoses were relegated to footnotes. The disruption and destruction of harvests and fields suggested that the affected grain and flour may have come from Thrace or Attica.

C. H. Eby & H. D. Evjen - Glanders

In "The Plague at Athens: A New Oar in Muddied Waters," Clifford H. Eby and Harold D. Evjen conceded that Thucydides' description of the outbreak's symptoms, resembling a number of known infectious diseases, would allow the reader to draw their own conclusion as to the precise disease affecting Athens in 430 BCE. The changing nature of the disease (both the particular disease and its symptoms can change over time) and the lack of knowledge about Greek medicine would make an exact diagnosis problematic. Eby & Evjen engaged in a novel approach to solving the mystery: they looked for a disease that was no longer present in European or American populations but whose symptoms matched those identified by Thucydides.

The authors focused particularly on Thucydides' claim about the absence of birds and animals which would normally prey on the corpses of humans. The one exception absent from Thucydides' account was the dog. In consultation with veterinarians, glanders was suggested to be the probable cause of the epidemic as it was common to both humans and canines. Glanders produced symptoms of rash, fever, lesions, coughing, nasal & eye discharges leading to septicemia followed shortly by death. According to Aristotle, the disease existed in the 4th century BCE but was eradicated from Europe and North America by the early 20th century CE.

Glanders occurs primarily in horses and mules but can be transmitted to humans via contact with the animal's infected nasal discharge or if humans share a contaminated water supply. Once one human contracts the disease, it can be rapidly spread to other people when the affected person sneezes or coughs. As the epidemic erupted in the midst of war, there were undoubtedly horses and mules stationed in and around Athens supporting the armies. Only a few infected animals, in close contact with humans and/or the water supply, could have caused the epidemic episode. Glanders is not always fatal; Thucydides reported some individuals who recovered from the illness, which conferred a degree of immunity on the survivors in the event of another outbreak.

R. J. Littman & M.L.Littman - Smallpox

Robert J. Littman and M. L. Littman's study, "The Athenian Plague: Smallpox," returned to a discussion of language and translation as precision in language and meaning affects any diagnosis. Furthermore, the authors argued that Thucydides identified symptoms, such as rash, that was incomplete and likely unimportant as well as thirstiness which is common to many infectious diseases. The Littmans eliminated any disease which was not contagious and produced immunity as described by Thucydides. Additionally, symptoms, especially minor ones, change from one outbreak to the next, nor does every person exhibit every symptom. Secondary infections, such as pneumonia, might confuse the layperson, someone like Thucydides, with primary symptoms.

In their attempt to re-evaluate Thucydides' description of the outbreak, both symptoms and course, these authors concluded that smallpox was the likely culprit. The various forms of plague (bubonic and pneumonic), typhoid, and ergotism were eliminated as suspects as ergotism is not infectious and Thucydides makes no mention of bubonic plague's tell-tale symptom of buboes in the armpits or groin. Typhus and measles were eliminated from consideration as the rash associated with both did not match Thucydides' description of the eruptions as blisters and sores. Also, smallpox pustules strike the extremities which neither typhus nor measles do. Thucydides described blindness as a consequence of the Athens' disease which is common to smallpox but not typhus or measles. Thucydides' description of memory loss complicates the diagnosis but encephalitis does result from smallpox and can produce memory loss. The loss of the use of fingers and toes, identified by Thucydides, was likely caused by gangrene which is a complication of a smallpox outbreak. The absence of any description by Thucydides of scars, most often associated as a lasting consequence of smallpox, resulted from Thucydides following the Hippocratic School of disease theory which emphasized prognosis, not diagnosis.

A. J. Holladay & J. C. F. Poole - Multiple Diseases

In "Thucydides and the Plague of Athens" A. J. Holladay and J. C. F. Poole argued that Thucydides' description of the outbreak in Athens simply did not match any modern diseases. All of the symptoms offered by Thucydides could fit nearly any disease provided a researcher was willing to ignore some of the symptoms. Moreover, both parasites and hosts evolve over time due to repeated exposure with both adapting in order to survive.

The authors discussed the various diagnoses and issues that arise with each. Smallpox was the most often suggested source of the epidemic. Smallpox is contagious and is accompanied by fever and rash resulting in a high mortality rate, however, survivors do acquire a degree of immunity from exposure. Thucydides' failure to mention pockmarks is problematic but does not necessarily rule out smallpox. His description of gangrene of the extremities is extremely rare in smallpox outbreaks. The only known host for smallpox is humans, yet Thucydides describes birds and animals, especially dogs, as succumbing to the disease in Athens. It is the low mortality rate that all but rules out smallpox as Thucydides suggests a rate of 25% among the soldiers but fails to mention the rate amongst children, especially those under 5, who are most likely to die.

In the case of bubonic plague, it remains a good candidate as it affects both humans and animals. The lack of any description by Thucydides of buboes and the need for fleas to transmit the disease rather than a human-to-human transfer diminishes the odds that the Athenian plague was the plague. Scarlet fever was ruled out as a source as it only affects humans, not animals as mentioned by Thucydides, and generally has a very low mortality rate (at least by the 20th century CE, although it could have been higher in earlier times). Measles was eliminated for the very same reasons, and, additionally, it usually only strikes in cities with very dense populations above 300,000 few of which existed in the ancient world. Typhus, both varieties, was ruled out because Thucydides described the rash of victims as small blisters and sores whereas typhus displays red spots but not blisters, and he indicated no mental symptoms frequently exhibited by sufferers of typhus. Athens was not on a central source but multiple wells so an outbreak of typhoid fever was rejected as a cause of the epidemic. Ergotism was ruled out as it is not contagious, does not cause immunity in survivors, and is not caused by the spread of microbes.

The possibility that the Athenian plague was a combination of diseases was a promising diagnosis especially if all of the other diseases, on their own, were ruled out as potential sources for the epidemic. Multiple diseases can and do exist simultaneously in any society, and surviving one disease does not guarantee that a person will survive other diseases present. The combination theory is questionable, however, due to Thucydides' suggestion that survivors gained immunity from the illness. Modern scholars, wrongly, assumed that the plague that afflicted Athens must also be a modern known disease. There is the likely possibility that the disease which scourged Athens is either extinct or, after 24 centuries, the microbe responsible has changed sufficiently, along with various symptoms, that it is simply not recognizable today. The question of what swept Athens in 430 BCE may be unanswerable if researchers are trying to match the ancient disease to versions of a modern illness.

J. Longrigg - Multiple Diseases

Responding to the various studies which identified the plague of Athens as possibly being one of at least a dozen known diseases, James Longrigg noted, in "The Great Plague of Athens," that in the early stages of many diseases, exact diagnoses are difficult to identify as the early symptoms are often common to many different infections. A diagnosis is made more complicated when the source of information is a second-hand literary account and when the author of said account, in this case Thucydides, was himself a victim of the disease.

Diseases which strike a virgin-soil population (a group of people not previously exposed to a particular disease) are often more virulent, which suggests that Thucydides may have been describing a new disease. The majority of terms used by Thucydides in his account were customary and usual medical terms used in the 4th and 5th centuries BCE. Thucydides' description does not suggest one specific disease but could apply to numerous diseases. Furthermore, since one disease can make any given population susceptible to other diseases, Longrigg concluded that it was foolish for modern medicine to try and pinpoint one exact disease as the cause of the Athenian epidemic.

J. A. H. Wylie & H. W. Stubbs - Bacterial (or viral – see below) Infection

In "The Plague of Athens: 430-428 B.C. Epidemic and Epizoötic," J. A. H. Wylie and H. W. Stubbs re-opened the possibility that the Athenian plague derived its origins from animals (epizoötic). They point to dogs and birds avoiding the human dead and becoming sick after contact with the dead. The cattle existing and remaining in the city seemed to both lengthen the time of the disease and its potency. The authors suggest that leptospirosis, a bacterial infection spread by dogs and cattle, exists in conditions prevalent in ancient Athens: high concentration of population, poor living conditions, and poor food supply.

Tularemia, another bacterial disease shared by animals and humans, could be easily spread by rodents and infect humans through a flea or tick bite, contact with infected animals, or contaminated water supplies. Most of Thucydides' description of symptoms could apply to these epizoötic diseases, discounting for those symptoms which are often common to a multitude of infections. While these diseases are far less severe today, largely due to the use of antibiotics, the conditions in ancient Athens in 430 BCE would have given rise to a more severe outbreak. Ultimately the passage of time causing the mutation of the bacteria or virus which struck Athens complicates a modern diagnosis.

D. M. Morens & R. J. Littman - A Respiratory Disease

Employing an epidemiologic approach and mathematical models to compare the plague of Athens with other previously described ancient epidemics, David M. Morens and Robert J. Littman's research in "Epidemiology of the Plague of Athens" limited the possible means of transmission, thus ruling out certain causes and diagnoses. According to the authors, there are three types of transmission: common source (originating in the food or water supply), person-to-person, and reservoir (epidemic spring from an animal, insect, or the environment). In order for the disease to spread as fast and wide while causing such widespread destruction of human life, the epidemic was most likely respiratory in nature, thus making an animal or insect reservoir the likely source. In this case, the epidemic in Athens was most likely an incident of typhus or smallpox both of which fit the description recorded by Thucydides.

J. M. H. Hopper - Lassa Fever

From its point of origin in Ethiopia, traveling along the Nile, J. M. H. Hopper's "An arenavirus and the plague of Athens" ruled out an insect carrier. Since the epidemic remained largely confined to Athens, not spreading throughout the rest of Greece, Hopper examined rats, mice, fleas, lice, and cockroaches as potential carriers. A small house rat, which contaminated food and dust with its urine, thus helping to create the conditions for person-to-person spread of the disease, was the most likely suspect for transmitting Lassa fever. First recognized in Nigeria in 1969 CE, Lassa fever displays most of the symptoms matching Thucydides' description: fever, chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting, raised bumps on the skin, oral ulcerations, rashes, and dizziness. Left untreated, Lassa fever can kill the sufferer within 7-26 days.

J. Bellemore, I. M. Plant & M. Cunnigham - Alimentary Toxic Aleukia

In "Plague of Athens—Fungal Poison?", Jane Bellemore, Ian M. Plant, and Lynne M. Cunningham returned to the possibility that the epidemic in Athens resulted from some type of fungal poisoning. An earlier suggestion of ergot poisoning was ruled out as that particular fungus occurs mainly on rye, which the majority of Athenians did not consume. Instead, Alimentary Toxic Aleukia (ATA) was offered as an alternative fungal poisoning as it resulted from contaminated wheat. The authors based their conclusion of the nature of the epidemic on a comparison of mortality rates of ATA which occurred in Russia in the 1930s and 1940s CE. Nearly 60% of the people who contracted the illness died from consuming the overwintered wheat.

ATA is not visible to the naked eye and can remain active in stored grain for up to seven years. The symptoms of ATA appear in about 2-3 weeks with death occurring within 6-8 weeks. The symptoms of ATA poisoning strongly match those described by Thucydides: burning sensation, swollen tongue, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, headache, dizziness, fatigue, excess saliva, pains in the back and joints, hemorrhages on the skin, pustules, skin eruptions, bleeding from nose, mouth, and in the lungs, delirium, convulsions, depression, and disorientation. A complete recovery is possible from ATA poisoning provided the patient is not re-exposed to the toxic grain.

According to Diodorus Siculus, nearly 10,000 of the 420,000 folks camped inside the walls perished in the general population; a mortality rate of 2-5%. Of those in the wealthy class, 25-30% died. The lower death rate in the general population can be correlated to the fact that the lower classes ate mainly barley grain while the wealthy and the better-paid cavalry & hoplites could afford more expensive grains such as wheat. The time lag between the consumption of the poisoned grain and the onset of illness was not recognized by Thucydides and hence a fungal poisoning was not considered (fungal poisoning was not medically recognized until the 16th/17th centuries CE). Although poison had been considered previously as a possible cause of the epidemic in Athens, earlier scholars examined the water of Athens, not its food stores.

M. J. Papagrigorakis et al. - Typhoid

Recent research by Manolis J. Papagrigorakis et al., in "DNA examination of ancient dental pulp incriminates typhoid fever as a probable cause of the Plague of Athens," into the cause of the epidemic in Athens has been aided by the use of DNA analysis. Nearly 150 bodies were recovered from an ancient cemetery named Kerameikos in Athens in 1995 CE. The site has been linked to the Athenian plague during the Peloponnesian War. The mass burial contained enough bones and teeth to allow for DNA extraction, especially dental pulp, allowing for a more precise biomedical analysis of what happened in 430 BCE. The various stages of testing revealed that bubonic plague, typhus, anthrax, tuberculosis, cowpox, and cat-scratch disease were not the cause of the mass illness. A seventh test did reveal traces of typhoid fever in the three victims' teeth. Many of the symptoms described by Thucydides such as fever, rash, and diarrhea match present symptoms of typhoid although other characteristics described by Thucydides do not. That can be easily explained by the possible evolution of the disease over time.

Conclusion

The outbreak in Athens in 430 BCE remains a mystery. Among the many suggestions as the diagnosis has been ebola, typhoid, smallpox, measles, bubonic plague, cholera, influenza, ergot poisoning, and a host of animal diseases. The scientific and scholarly community has accepted none as the fatal disease. In addition, the description offered by Thucydides has come under question as to what some of the characteristics of the disease actually mean in translation. Furthermore, Thucydides has been under investigation both for his motive of including the disease episode in his book but also the fact that he was not a medical person of any sort and so his reliability in diagnosing the symptoms is questionable.

The recent uncovering of the mass graves dating from the ancient period offered new hope that a definitive diagnosis was at hand as the modern techniques of DNA analysis would finally lay to rest the nearly 2,000-year controversy. The DNA sample extracted from teeth suggested typhoid fever as the primary culprit, but soon after the results were announced, this diagnosis was called into question by other scientists who argued that the methodology used was flawed. DNA sampling is limited especially in the detection of viruses, which require an RNA test, but the viruses degrade quickly over time making the probability of ever discovering what happened in Athens extremely unlikely.

 

ATTACHMENT TWO – From Sciencedirect.com

 

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO BIOCHEMIST: ALL LIVING CELLS ARE COGNITIVE

James Shapiro’s recent paper points out, with examples, that bacteria meet the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “cognitive”

By DENYSE O'LEARY, NOVEMBER 2, 2021

 

JAMES A. SHAPIRO, ALL LIVING CELLS ARE COGNITIVE, BIOCHEMICAL AND BIOPHYSICAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS, VOLUME 564, 2021, PAGES 134-149, ISSN 0006-291X, HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1016/J.BBRC.2020.08.120.

 

University of Chicago biochemist and evolutionary biologist James Shapiro has a message that those who believe that consciousness is an illusion (as, for example, philosopher Daniel Dennett claims) should heed: If all living things are “cognitive” then, to what extent would life itself have to be an illusion? Something’s wrong there.

Let’s follow the thread of what Shapiro is saying. He takes a simple approach: If bacteria and archaea, thought to be the oldest, simplest life forms from at least 2 billion years ago, can be shown to have cognitive processes, then it stands to reason that most (if not all) of the more complex life forms have them too:

All living cells sense and respond to changes in external or internal conditions. Without that cognitive capacity, they could not obtain nutrition essential for growth, survive inevitable ecological changes, or correct accidents in the complex processes of reproduction. Wherever examined, even the smallest living cells (prokaryotes) display sophisticated regulatory networks establishing appropriate adaptations to stress conditions that maximize the probability of survival. Supposedly “simple” prokaryotic organisms also display remarkable capabilities for intercellular signalling and multicellular coordination. These observations indicate that all living cells are cognitive.

He shows that these simple cells show many types of behavior that the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “cognition.” One of the most interesting examples he gives is quorum sensing among bacteria (how they decide to do things):

The best-known form of interbacterial communication has come to be labelled “quorum sensing” (QS) because it serves to inform a population if it has achieved a critical density for making a regulatory decision (i.e., a quorum). Quorum sensing occurs when the bacteria secrete a chemical “quorum signal” in an autoinduced positive feedback loop but only produce a coordinated multicellular response output when the signal’s concentration exceeds a critical threshold. Quorum sensing is similar to autocrine signalling in complex eukaryotes, and it activates many different processes. The quorum signals come in many chemical forms, and have potential for great specificity, but some signals are also common to multiple types of bacteria, allowing interspecific communication as well.

 

At one time, researchers had no idea bacteria were talking to each other. True, it’s only about the narrow range of topics that interest bacteria — but they are talking to each other nonetheless.

It’s awe-inspiring to realize that there is a complex intelligence in every living cell. Two questions arise: Is it the intelligence of the cell? That seems inconsistent with how we usually use the word “intelligence.” If we see that a one-celled life form functions with lot of intelligence, perhaps it is more like a book that contains great ideas. Paper doesn’t create ideas; neither, by itself, does protoplasm. Something else is at work.

If the cell itself does not create the intelligence it embodies, what does? Panpsychists argue that all of nature participates in some way in consciousness and humans are the most highly developed example. Theists argue that only a mind outside the universe could create something like human consciousness.

As we learn more and more about the intricate complexities of nature, perhaps debates over the origin of life, intelligence, consciousness, and similar topics will increasingly be between panpsychists and theists rather than materialists and theists. A whole new environment.

Shapiro is also the author of Evolution: A View from the 21st Century (2013).

See also: Why do many scientists see cells as intelligent? Bacteria appear to show intelligent behavior. But what about individual cells in our bodies?

 

You may also wish to read more on the growth of panpsychism as a movement in science:

 

a) Scientific American explores panpsychism… respectfully. (Attachment Three, below)  This is a major change. At one time, a science mag would merely ridicule the idea of a conscious universe. Make no mistake, panpsychism—as Goff elucidates it—is a purely naturalist view (“nothing supernatural or spiritual”). But, unlike the village atheist, he goes on to ask, but then what IS nature? Matter is all there is? But what IS matter? It turns out, no one really knows.

Why would a neuroscientist choose panpsychism over materialism? It seems to have come down to a choice between “nothing is conscious” and “everything is conscious.”

b) How a materialist philosopher argued his way to panpsychism. Galen Strawson starts with the one fact of which we are most certain — our own consciousness. To Strawson, it makes more sense to say that consciousness is physical — and that electrons are conscious — than that consciousness is an illusion.

c) Theoretical physicist slams panpsychism  Electrons cannot be conscious (is) Sabine Hossenfelder’s view because they cannot change their behavior. Hossenfelder’s impatience is understandable but she underestimates the seriousness of the problem serious thinkers about consciousness confront. There is a reason that some scientists believe that the universe is conscious: It would be more logically coherent to say that you think the universe is conscious than to say that your own consciousness is an illusion. With the first idea, you may be wrong. With the second idea, you are not anything.

 

Denyse O'Leary Philosopher: Panpsychism is not in conflict with physics at all. Responding to criticism from physicists Sabine Hossenfelder (below, and Attachment Three B) and Sean Carroll, Philip Goff points out that panpsychism is not a dualist perspective. Goff sees panpsychism (consciousness pervades all nature) as offering a simpler view of physics than dualism, with fewer gaps than materialism.

Why is science growing comfortable with panpsychism (“everything is conscious”)? At one time, the idea that “everything is conscious” was the stuff of jokes. Not any more, it seems. A recent article at New Scientist treats panpsychism as a serious idea in science. That’s thanks to the growing popularity of neuroscientist Giulio Tonioni’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which offers the opportunity for mathematical modeling, along with the implication that inanimate matter and/or the universe may be conscious. If IIT continues to gain a sympathetic hearing, panpsychism could become, over time, a part of normal science.

 

DENYSE O'LEARY

Denyse O'Leary is a freelance journalist based in Victoria, Canada. Specializing in faith and science issues, she has published two books on the topic: Faith@Science and By Design or by Chance? She has written for publications such as The Toronto StarThe Globe & Mail, and Canadian Living. She is co-author, with neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist'€™s Case for the Existence of the Soul. She received her degree in honors English language and literature.

 

ATTACHMENT THREE A – From Scientific American

 

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN EXPLORES PANPSYCHISM… RESPECTFULLY

This is a major change. At one time, a science mag would merely ridicule the idea of a conscious universe

JANUARY 15, 2020

 

Panpsychist philosopher Philip Goff, author of Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, explained panpsychism at Scientific American earlier this week in a surprisingly respectful interview:

 

Human beings have a very rich and complex experience; horses less so; mice less so again. As we move to simpler and simpler forms of life, we find simpler and simpler forms of experience. Perhaps, at some point, the light switches off, and consciousness disappears. But it’s at least coherent to suppose that this continuum of consciousness fading while never quite turning off carries on into inorganic matter, with fundamental particles having almost unimaginably simple forms of experience to reflect their incredibly simple nature. That’s what panpsychists believe.

Essentially, panpsychists solve the conundrum of consciousness by ascribing consciousness to everything. Yes, consciousness remains a mystery but it is now subsumed into the mystery of “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Examining questions like that from a science perspective takes us away from practical research programs and into the dark interior of theoretical physics. As Goff (right) puts it,

Despite great progress in our scientific understanding of the brain, we still don’t have even the beginnings of an explanation of how complex electrochemical signaling is somehow able to give rise to the inner subjective world of colors, sounds, smells and tastes that each of us knows in our own case. There is a deep mystery in understanding how what we know about ourselves from the inside fits together with what science tells us about matter from the outside.

He’s right about that. We have no idea what consciousness even is. Views on the subject range from “consciousness is an illusion” through “consciousness is a material thing,” never mind claims that everything is conscious. Consciousness studies has been described in Chronicle of Higher Education as “bizarre.” And, in the midst of it all, prominent consciousness researcher Christof Koch boldly asserts “There is little doubt that our intelligence and our experiences are ineluctable consequences of the natural causal powers of our brain, rather than any supernatural ones.” Given how little we know, that is a statement of sheer, reckless faith, not a finding of science. Goff tells Scientific American:

Yes, physical science has been incredibly successful. But it’s been successful precisely because it was designed to exclude consciousness. If Galileo were to time travel to the present day and hear about this problem of explaining consciousness in the terms of physical science, he’d say, “Of course, you can’t do that. I designed physical science to deal with quantities, not qualities.”

If he is right, questions like “Can machines be given consciousness?” or “Should robots have rights?” are mere distractions. We know neither what consciousness is nor whether machines could achieve it. Our educated guesses are useful but they aren’t science.

Make no mistake, panpsychism—as Goff elucidates it—is a purely naturalist view (“nothing supernatural or spiritual”). But, unlike the village atheist, he goes on to ask, but then what is nature? Matter is all there is? But what is matter? It turns out, no one really knows:

There is a profound difficulty at the heart of the science of consciousness: consciousness is unobservable. You can’t look inside an electron to see whether or not it is conscious. But nor can you look inside someone’s head and see their feelings and experiences. We know that consciousness exists not from observation and experiment but by being conscious.

All that said, it’s not clear how panpsychism would help much with the conundrums of consciousness. If fundamental particles have “almost unimaginably simple forms of experience,” they shed no real light on human experience, which is o