Defining Divinity

Discussion in 'Theology' started by Penelope, May 4, 2010.

  1. Penelope

    Penelope weak force testosterone

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    Defining Divinity

    1a. Looked at scientifically, belief (in anything) is a hypothesis.
    (God is a theory.)

    1b. But belief (in anything) never exists in a vacuum. Belief is always socially organized.
    (Even within an individual. Belief has to come from somewhere. Family, friends, community, nation. Books. Or from some subcultural group.)

    1c. Organized religion - and the key idea underlying its belief-system (Divinity) - is based upon a social contract.
    (Belief is concretely shared.)

    1d. Belief, by definition, cannot be based upon metaphor.
    (It must be concrete, definitive. It cannot be characterized by symbolic association.)
    Belief, within our modern world, is (by definition):

    1e. A reactive (negative) or a proactive (positive) fantasy.

    & & &

    2a. If God is something you can pay attention to, then God is definable. And God (scientifically) can be said to exist.

    2b. If God is indefinable, then God (by definition) is NOT something that can be paid attention to - by a human being. God (by definition) has no existence.

    2c. If God interacts with a human being in some way, God can be defined (by/within that human being) in terms of the character of that interaction. And it is that very definitiveness which gives God existence (to that human person).

    2d. It is thru definitiveness, not metaphor (not associativeness), that God can be said to be real.

    2e. It is its definitiveness which makes something (anything: a belief; a hypothesis; yes, even God) real.
    (Which allots to this 'something' its potential truth-value.)

    & & &
     
  2. Penelope

    Penelope weak force testosterone

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    {Defining Divinity (Sigmund Freud)}


    3a. The birth-trauma (in humans) awakens cognitive consciousness and affective awareness. We are conscious and aware from Day-1.
    ( ... Even though infantile sights and sounds are fuzzy and largely meaningless, at first.
    ... Even though the point of social focus is little more than tactile sensations of warmth and touch, and a - gut-level - desire for nourishment.)

    3b. Consciousness evolves intellectually and awareness evolves emotionally, from that point forward.
    (Neither consciousness nor awareness evolves out of some prior - or "lower" - state. To assume such is to invoke the Idealist Fallacy.)

    & & &

    4a. Sigmund Freud got it right. Consciousness comes first. Then a secondary, non-conscious (sub-conscious or un-conscious) realm develops (within human mental processes) as ... a reaction to primal anxiety.

    4b. What is the source of primal anxiety?
    Death.

    4c. Jerry S. Piven:
    ... All anxiety is essentially reactive fear of annihilation ... Annihilation anxiety is a fundamental psychodynamic ... The annihilation anxiety incubated and molded in infancy is an imminent threat throughout adult life, to which the psyche responds with defensive evasion, fantasy, and the construction of belief-systems which render death nonthreatening ... That which is feared is highly disguised, symbolic, complicated ... The naive concept of death will become more sophisticated with maturation, but the awareness of one's death, finiteness, and ineluctable decay begins early and is a fundamental source of anxiety throughout life, which is why human history is replete with images of afterlives and attempts to deny death.
    (Death and Delusion: A Freudian Analysis of Mortal Terror, 2000, pages 9-11.)

    4d. Repression (of this dread) whitewashes the anxiety. Gives it, instead, a pretty coat of paint. An attractive guise, a delusion.

    4e. This delusion infects all of conscious reality. Infects it with a reactive (or negative) fantasy.

    4f. Piven:
    The ability to replace a segment of reality with fantasy is a fundamental human propensity in neurotic individuals, {in} groups, and {in} societies alike. In all cases, the reality modified by the wish must be obscured from consciousness, but at the same time it cannot be extinguished forever.
    (Death and Delusion: A Freudian Analysis of Mortal Terror, 2000, pages 23-24.)

    4g. Charles Wahl:
    The fear of death, like the fear of sexuality, when deeply repressed is heavily and expensively symbolized.
    (Quoted in Death and Delusion: A Freudian Analysis of Mortal Terror, 2000, page 25.)

    4h. To Freud, every form of belief (belief in God, included) is a symbol-based system. A whitewash: a reactive (or negative) fantasy.

    4i. Peter Berger called this whitewash: "the sacred canopy."

    4j. Ernest Beaker called it: the "vital lie."

    4k. For Freud: the true picture we are looking at - the definitive picture - is that of a highly sophisticated delusion.

    & & &

    5a. This goes deeper than mere psychology or culture-theory. Freud has provided a devastating critique of Idealist Philosophy (as well as of all forms of ideological idealism).
    (Freud sounded Idealism's death-knell.)

    5b. Idealism conceives 'belief' ass-backwards from how it actually operates.

    5c. Idealism describes 'belief' associatively, via metaphors.
    (Not definitively.)

    5d. Idealism describes the evolution of consciousness from dark to light. From a shadowy cave to bright daylight. From seeing "thru a glass darkly," like a child, to seeing with the clarity of a grown-up's eyes. From murky confusion to 'revelation.' From less-than-conscious to fully conscious.
    (This is the Idealist Fallacy. Truth is, consciousness comes first. And evolves. 'Belief,' to Freud, is no more than repressed content with a new coat of pastel paint upon it. Not a 'revelation,' not a new discovery. Just dread, just very old anxieties, painted over in pretty new symbols. A canvas now chock-full of metaphorical associations.)

    5e. For Freud: belief (in anything) - idealism itself - is no more than a pleasing delusion.
    (There is, at base level, only one truth. And that is death.)
     
  3. Penelope

    Penelope weak force testosterone

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    {Defining Divinity (William James)}


    6a. Old aphorism:
    There is nothing sure in life. Except death and taxes.

    6b. Painful as it is, humans have to pay for their existence. We each owe a debt. We have to pay nature for our individual life ... with our personal extinction. But we also, while alive, owe a debt to each other. Owe a debt to society.

    6c. Humans are social creatures.

    6d. One human being is not as separable from another human being, as we conventionally like to think.
    (Individualism is, at best, a questionable proposition - under cold analysis.)

    6e. Belief, if you are looking at it to reveal some form of scientific truth, is a delusion. But when you look for how it functions socially, belief (at its most productive) contains affective threads of truth linking one human being to another, cinched forward toward a common future.
    (The nature of Divinity may well be these threads of connectiveness, targeted anon.)

    6f. Belief may well be a proactive (or positive) fantasy.

    & & &

    7a. Joseph L. Blau (on William James' theory of truth):
    A true statement is one which leads me to achieve, in my future experience, the results I anticipate and thus satisfy my expectations while a false statement does not lead to the results I anticipate. In investigating the truth or falsity of a statement, the question we are asking, said James, is "what concrete difference will its being true make in anyone's actual life?" If this is what truth means, then it is clear that a statement is not to be called true at the moment when it is made; we can call it true only after its particular consequences in someone's future experience have occurred. This is what must be understood by James's insistence that "the truth of an idea is not a stagnant property inherent in it. Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events."
    (Intro to Pragmatism and Other Essays by William James, 1963, page xiii.)

    7b. A fantasy - a belief - is (definitively) true, in William James' universe, if (socially) it helps to build a new and better reality. This is a proactive (or positive) fantasy. The proof of its truth unfolds with time. And it is this 'proof' which makes it definitive.

    7c. As a fantasy, it is constitutive (not delusive). This kind of fantasy starts with a belief and builds that belief into a reality. Realizes that belief, concretely.

    7d. William James:
    There are, then, cases where a fact cannot come at all unless a preliminary faith exists in its coming ... where faith in a fact can help create the fact.
    (The Will To Believe, 1896, page 25.)

    7e. Fantasies are useless, cognitively. But they are an effective affective-tool - used by groups (large and small) - for changing their immediate reality. They are definitive. They change group-members' native, conventional awareness regarding how reality constitutes itself. It makes each group-member self-aware.

    7f. Self-aware fantasies provide purpose for group-members.
    (A 'higher' purpose.)
    It is the communicant thread which runs between group-members.

    7g. Their joint affective fantasy gives communicants the emotional courage to proceed.
    (Invests each with moral courage.)

    & & &

    8a. Regarding that thornier, more elemental question regarding the existence of God, William James refuses to take the pure-scientist's agnostic or atheistic stand.
    (Though James, here, provides not a clue as to what his personally beliefs might actually be.)

    8b. W. K. Clifford (quoted by William James):
    It is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.
    (The Will To Believe, 1896, page 8.)

    8c. While James sees the cognitive value of skepticism, James sees also in this 'scientific' frame-of-mind a "fear of being duped." And "fear" is not a reasoned response to empirical evidence (or dearth of evidence), but constitutes what James calls a "passional" response. An affective response.

    8d. Since 'faith' and 'fear,' in truth, are both "passional," James has to wonder:
    What proof is there that dupery through hope is so much worse than dupery though fear? I, for one, can see no proof; and I simply refuse obedience to the scientist's command to imitate his kind of option, in a case where my own stake is important enough to give me the right to choose my own form of risk.
    (The Will To Believe, 1896, page 27.)

    8e. James sees the rules of skeptical science as, ultimately, self-contradictory:
    I, therefore, for one, cannot see my way to accepting the agnostic rules for truth-seeking, or willfully agree to keep my willing {i.e. 'passional'} nature out of the game. I cannot do so for this plain reason, that a rule of thinking which would absolutely prevent me from acknowledging certain kinds of truth if those kinds of truth were really there, would be an irrational rule. That for me is the long and short of the formal logic of the situation, no matter what the kinds of truth might materially be.
    (The Will To Believe, 1896, pages 28-29.)

    8f. This is no affirmative argument, ratifying God's existence. But this stands as a sobering critique of all the flimsy (so-called "scientific") arguments against God's existence.

    8g. God is possible ... and the best evidence is too personal (too emotional, too affective) to mechanically quantify or objectively test.

    & & &

    9a. Just as science (cognition, intellect, consciousness) has its skeptical rulebook, I would argue that the 'passional' side of the human equation (affect, emotion, awareness) has its rulebook, too.

    9b. A person is drawn to things they 'like.' One person has different likes and dislikes than the next person ... What makes one person's preferences superior to another? Nothing ... We each live in a consumer marketplace of desire, picking what appeals to oneself, disregarding the rest. This is personal awareness. It has no rules, except personal ones: attraction to this object or that. It is compulsion based upon 'metaphor.'
    (This is 'like' me. I 'like' this. A metaphoric matching process.)

    9c. The laws of awareness are arbitrary, willy-nilly.
    (I like this object, I dislike that one. I like this god, I dislike that one.)

    9d. These consumer choices are non-decisions. They are automatic-reflexes. There is no truth-value in any of them.
    (They follow impulse.)

    9e. Nor is there any 'freedom' or 'free-will' present here.
    (No moral consequence arises from such choices. Nothing definitive transpires.)

    9f. For a genuine decision to take place, there must be a hitch in the process. A hesitation, a gap, a tiny-little frontier opened up. (A personal proactive fantasy, materialized.) One's personal emotional landscape must be reflected back to oneself, in stark relief. Pared down, radically simplified ... One must become self-aware.
    (What is this? I've never been here before!)

    9g. Then a decision becomes starkly real (has consequence), and truth is possible (is definitive).
    (There is no roadmap. And you invent the rulebook from scratch, as you go along. But it is a heavy rulebook, from the start. Because it is a starkly intimate one.)

    9h. If Divinity exists anywhere in, each, our personal lives ... it is perhaps here - in, each, our most intimate moments.

    9i. Moments ... of affective self-awareness.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Penelope —

    Are you sure ... is that a definition that is universally accepted by all, or universally accepted by a limited number? The evidence would seem to suggest otherwise.

    And remember that even scientists find it not impossible or contradictory to believe in God.

    Anthony Flew, the most notable atheist and philosopher, arrived at the reasonable, rational and logical conclusion of the evidence, that there is a God.

    Well that depends upon your definition of 'existence' and what school of science is making that determination ... you are obliging us to accept a broad range of presumptions here.

    But saying 'God is indefinable' is a positive statement, so the result of an intellectual process ... so it is something that can be paid attention to, so your argument is flawed.

    Furthermore I can direct you to philosophical sources that treat of the indefinable in great depth and detail.

    Many philosophies say that God, by definition, has no 'existence' because God, by definition, transcends that which we define as 'existence' ... but that does not mean we cannot pay attention to God, nor that we cannot engage with God.

    It presupposes a certain limited and empirical notion of 'existence'.

    Thomas
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Steady — Jung was horrified by Freud's limited knowledge and restricted perspective on things.

    Really? I suggest that says more about the taboos of contemporary culture than an anthropological actuality.

    Surely, logically, the truth that precedes death is ... life ... ?

    Thomas
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I disagree. Most scientific truths are born of belief ... a hypothesis is a belief, before it is a proof.

    Without faith, there would be no science. Without faith, no progress.

    Or it may be a logical, rational, reasonable and reasoned response to given data in the face of the evidence.

    But they aren't. They can be intellectual.

    Exactly

    Not so, I would argue. You're ignoring the intellect altogether ... it's a very subtle secular manner in which 'faith' is reduced to ignorance or superstition ... and the assumption that everything we believe is 'true' can be subject to empirical measure ... both are presupposed but flawed arguments.

    Philosophy argues for the existence of God, and that is neither personalist, emotive or affective ... I would suggest it's just those faculties active in the secularist that makes him cry there cannot be a God ... Richard Dawkins for one has demonstrated an affective determination to ridicule 'belief' based on no sound scientific reason whatsoever.

    Again ... the presupposition that 'faith' cannot be 'scientific' and therefore not cognitional, intellectual etc.

    Your point is not proven. You're imputing something by association.

    Anthony Flew said he went where the evidence led him, even though it required him to re-assess a lifetime's work.

    You have 'proved' that man can be subject to delusion. You have not proved that the idea of divinity is delusional.

    Thomas
     
  7. Penelope

    Penelope weak force testosterone

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    Hi Thomas.
    Thanks for responding.

    Attempting to approach existence (and the meaning behind existence) in a manner that is systematic (that is rigorous without being rigid) is difficult for me.

    A big living puzzle with many interacting pieces.
    Not ... this is "always true" and that is "always false." (Associative logic.)
    But, rather, this is false "when approached by Means-A" but this same concept is true "when approached by Means-B." (Definitive logic.)

    Reality is complex. But it is complex in this way, in a systematic way. It is not incomprehensible.

    & & &

    So anything I say, here (above) - any concept - may prove true when you look at it thru the eye-glasses of Means-X, but will be false when you look at it thru the eye-glasses of Means-Y.

    So you can see how your Means-Y counter-arguments are not all that useful to me (not that definitive). All you are telling me is that you come from a different starting point with a different vector to it. And, as such, you will inevitably come to different conclusions. Which is NOT a lot better (though I respect it more) than if you were merely to state your opinions on the matter, i.e. assert conventional soft-concepts not backed up by grounded arguments.

    That is ...
    I wish you had instead ... addressed the "systematic" character of my arguments:
    How my concepts fit together.
    And addressed your take on the operant-mechanisms which make the concepts fit together in this way.

    A pattern-and-device critique would be far more useful to me.

    & & &

    Thomas,
    Seems you have fallen-in-love with Intellect. Smitten, actually.
    (I was, too. Once upon a time, long ago.)

    You have to be careful with Intellect.
    It is so good at doing one thing (Operation-C), that it is easy to trust it to do some other thing (Operation-J or Operation-Q or Operation-V) which Intellect should (stridently) not be encouraged to be involved with.
    (This is why your neurophysiology is endowed with a number of powerful operant-mechanisms. Not one mechanism should try to do everything. To believe one operant-mechanism to be the be-all-and-end-all of existence is a kind of Idealist Hubris. Self-deceit.)

    & & &

    When your organism engages with the world - as a one-day-old baby or as a grown adult - your operant-mechanisms are either on AUTO-PILOT (Automatic-Response) or you are PAYING-ATTENTION.

    If on Auto-Pilot, you are either engaging with your world SPONTANEOUSLY (responding to your inner impulsiveness) or you are engaging with your world HABITUALLY (thru an established routine you follow).
    (In Classic Philosophical thinking, you might utilize, instead, the concepts WILL and DUTY. That is dangerous, because these are 'soft-concepts' with prejudices - assumptions - built into them. I prefer Spontaneity and Habit because they are largely descriptive concepts with less of a pre-existing worldview tied to them.)
    Being on Auto-Pilot helps you function day-to-day in the world. But it leaves you unchanged as an individual (and leaves the world largely - but not completely - undamaged by your behavior in the world.)

    Paying-Attention, by contrast, is how you grow and develop as a person. (And also how you - MEANINGFULLY - change the world.)

    & & &

    Developmental psychologists name twin-channels of personal development (which arises from Paying-Attention):
    COGNITIVE and AFFECTIVE development.

    (Again, you could utilizes the Classical Philosophical soft-concepts - REASON and PASSION - which are chock-full of prejudices. Or, a bit better, you could replace them with the concepts LOGIC and BELIEF.)

    & & &

    There are two principal arenas for Paying-Attention Cognitively: CONSCIOUSNESS and the SUBCONSCIOUS.

    There are two principal arenas for Paying-Attention Affectively: AWARENESS and SELF-AWARENESS.

    & & &

    And there are two operant-mechanisms by which you are able to Pay-Attention, Cognitively. One is RATIONALITY. The other is INTELLECT.

    Likewise, there are two operant-mechanism by which you are able to Pay-Attention, Affectively. One is EMOTION. The other is INTIMACY.

    & & &

    Rationality (at best) GROUNDS Consciousness in a thorough-going manner.
    Intellect (at best) CRITIQUES the Subconscious as thoroughly as it can.

    Emotion (optimally) 'rages against the insensitive shallowness' (do you have a good word for this, here, which I can use?), regarding your Awareness.
    Intimacy (optimally) 'hones-down the complicated-reality of a situation to its essentials so that a clear-eyed decision can be made' (suggest a word for me, Thomas), regarding SELF-AWARENESS.

    Rationality, Intellect, Emotion, Intimacy ... are the key operant-mechanisms thru which you grow as a person (and by which, profitably for others, you change the world).

    & & &

     
  8. Penelope

    Penelope weak force testosterone

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    Rationality, Intellect, Emotion, Intimacy ... are the key mechanisms thru which you grow as a person (and by which, profitably for others, you change the world).

    & & &

    Lest I give either of us too big of headache, I will only address INTELLECT at this time.

    The SUBCONSCIOUS is an arena of repressed psychological contents, contents which re-emerge into the Conscious arena ... suddenly polite and groomed and wearing a pretty new dress.

    The Intellect is a bit of a pervert, preferring to see profane reality just as it is. No gloss. So Intellect endeavors to look beneath the proprieties, to scrub away the makeup, to strip the fancy clothes away. Prefers to see reality in its 'birthday suit.'

    Intellectuals have always done a pretty fair job, when it comes to deconstructing the 'status quo' away from its wholesome pretentions and toward the naked truth about what is really going-on ... going-on inside people, and going-on within the society which people create.

    Intellect is at its best at pulling the mask off of outmoded assumptions about reality, ferreting out delusions.
    Intellect is superlative as a social feedback-mechanism, as a reality-check.

    & & &

    Intellect goes wrong when it tries to design brave new realities.
    (Likewise, any attempt by you to build a new reality stemming from EMOTION ... is a dangerous prospect. This is the job of RATIONALITY and INTIMACY.)

    The hubris of Intellect is in believing (smart as it is at seeing what how flawed the existing reality is) ... that Intellect can also design a better reality, from the ground up ... build a UTOPIA.

    This is the deep flaw of Intellect ... believing that it can erect a systematically 'good' reality, whether sacred or profane. One based upon 'pure' principles rather than delusive ones.

    & & &

    Intellectuals have been erecting pie-in-the-sky schemes for as long as there have been intellectuals. And not a single one of these schemes has ever worked.
    (Not in heaven, not on earth.)
    Natural ecology and human nature always get in the way.

    Most of these utopian ventures have been heart-warming. But impractical, at best. At worst, laughable. Social-communes which failed after a few winters.

    But some social experiments, designed by intellectuals - just when they start to fail by natural forces - are given a boost, a second life. Fanatical zealots take over. They regard the concepts laid down by the founding intellectuals as gospel truth. And these zealots take it upon themselves to enforce this truth by any means.
    ANY MEANS.
    (Usually brutal.)

    Over the last hundred years we have seen this with the Cheka in Lenin's USSR, Gestapo in Hitler's Germany, the Red Guards in Mao's China, the Revolutionary Guard in today's Iran.

    Their job ... to GUARD the sacred truths, given to them by intellectuals. And to bring these truths into existence, at whatever the social cost.

    & & &

    Playing the role of critic and social-reformer is what Intellect is cut out for, in a person who wants to 'change the world for-the-good.'
    CRITIQUE is a good enough purpose.

    But Intellect should leave the 'writing laws in stone' business to other operant-mechanisms. Ones better cut-out for the task.
    (Ones better grounded. And ones better directed - ones heading in a more profitable direction, pragmatically.)

    & & &

    Thomas,
    I'm not saying you should stop listening to your Intellect.

    I just saying, you should listen to other things going-on inside you, too.
    Better answers come from different places.

    & & &

    And that has to be true of God ... as it is of you.

    Defining Divinity is, by no means, an impossibility.
    ... If you are self-honest enough and rigorous enough, in the task.
    (Here self-deceit and rigidity are the only sins.)

    & & &

    Once you step beyond soft-concepts.

    (If the Divine has only one commandment for you to live by, it would be something like) ...

    & & &

    Definitiveness.
     
  9. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    POW!!! Very well said Pen. This is so hard to come to terms with. It means you can't build the One Beautiful Model That Explains Everything. In my case it meant dumping everything I worked for twenty five or so years to build up. Man that hurt!

    Chris
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2010
  10. shawn

    shawn New Member

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    1) Yes

    2) This is dependent on who or what "god" really is. Which God are we talking about? The posers who have given us the scriptures (according to one theory) or some ultimate source from which everything originates?
    If the former, they don't seem inclined to have a relationship and if the latter, then we are inadequate for the task, not having the sensory capabilities, or the higher faculties necessary to meaningfully interact with such a being (according to another theory).

    3) yes, and we are not really certain what a baby is aware of.
    As a new arrival with an old soul (according to one theory) the old soul could be aware of a great many things, but the new suit is not capable of expressing much more than the basics.

    4) what about the fear of pain/suffering? That causes much anxiety as well.
    5) Another theory states that we are a life force (for lack of a better term) which lives in a physical/animal life form and we are taught from young on to forget our spiritual aspect and just concentrate on out physical side.
    This has in turn caused many aberrations regarding ideas about ourselves and has allowed many crazy and destructive and unhelpful philosophies to come to life which in turn control our daily lives in fundamental ways.

    6) All life is interdependent on the life around it in some fashion.
    But the social theories which shape our society/civilization have always failed to create really beneficial modes of symbiotic and harmonious interaction.
    This is due to a parasitic nature which has infected humanity, some worse than others.

    7)imaginary ideas can be used very constructively to enable positive ends.
    Problems develop when people fail to distinguish the fantasy from the reality or they cling to in spite of its unreality as they prefer it even though that is irrational.
    An example is when a person is doing a boring or unpleasant job which must be done so they create an imaginary scenario so as to make a game of some kind out of it, or to create a sense of urgency which then motivates them. The problems begin when people fail to distinguish these devices as devices.
     
  11. NiceCupOfTea

    NiceCupOfTea Pathetic earthlings

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    why do you need to define divinity anyway ?

    imo an experience is much better, God is beyond definition IMO.
     
  12. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    I wonder whether/how Divinities go about defining us ...
     
  13. shawn

    shawn New Member

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    Hmmmm.......slave. worker.
    They are not as divine as they are alleged to be.
     

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