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An Article too far? : Myth, its Evolution, and the Problem of Perspective

edited January 2007 in World
Below is an article, in the essay style, which I have written for my MA. If anyone has any time it read it and let me know it's good/bad/awful points, I'd be extremely grateful.

Does the essay draw you in? Is it clear from the outset what I'm trying to say? What points need clarifying more/less?

I'll be finalising it and handing it in on Tuesday. All comments welcome!


  • edited January 2007
    Myth, its Evolution, and the Problem of Perspective

    If mass consensus was all it took to make beliefs true, non-Christians would be in for a pretty lousy new year. In a recent telephone poll of 10,000 Americans carried out by Ipsos, one in four people expressed their belief that Jesus is set to return in 2007. If the Biblical account of his second coming is anything to go by, as I’m sure those same Americans would testify, the accompanying apocalypse is not likely to be pleasant. According to, a website devoted to preparing Christians for their forthcoming ascent to heaven, “neither Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, nor any other faith can redeem your eternal soul”. And as for the atheists amongst us, well, to put it mildly, we're in serious trouble. Of those left behind on Earth only 25% will survive, destined to dispose of the many billions of corpses that Jesus’ return will have created.

    Were this merely the preposterous plot for a new Hollywood blockbuster you’d be forgiven for laughing out loud at its insanity, but it isn’t. These beliefs form the bedrock of one of the world’s most socially acceptable fundamentalist religions. They are held dear by millions of Christians from a massive cross section of society, from office workers to priests, school children to pensioners. Perhaps even President Bush himself would admit to harbouring some, if not all, of these beliefs, if doing so were not akin to political suicide. How can it be acceptable to allow these kinds of myths to prosper, unquestioned by rational society? For whereas scientists and politicians alike are held accountable for the substance of their proclamations, the religious amongst us are offered respect without so much as a second thought for the kind of beliefs they entertain. In the United States alone, where polls consistently show that around 40% of Americans believe God created man in his present form , the debate as to the roles of religion and science has never been more passionate. Even in the UK, where a majority of people accept the findings of evolution , the rise of ‘Faith Schools’ and the perceived threat of young, fundamentalist suicide bombers, has drawn with greater clarity a dividing line between the religious and scientific universes. Isn’t about time we addressed this dichotomy in the name of balance over blind respect? If only it were that simple.

    The Emergence of the ‘Unseen’

    The underlying problem with types of beliefs we call ‘religious’ is that they have been part of human existence for an unfathomably long time. The human mind appears pre-programmed to veer towards a mythological structuring of reality. Anthropologist Pascal Boyer has written much on the inclinations of religious thought. In his book Religion Explained Boyer describes religion as a psychological, cultural phenomenon because, “People are naturally prepared to believe all sorts of accounts of strange or counterintuitive phenomenon. Witness their enthusiasm for UFOs as opposed to scientific cosmology, for alchemy instead of chemistry, for urban legends instead of hard news. Religious concepts are both cheap and sensational; they are easy to understand and rather exciting to entertain…” This predilection for irrational descriptions of the world can be seen in the most distantly removed of human cultures. Whether your belief system is Christian or Shamanistic, you are more likely to try and describe reality with a series of unseen agents than with a rational discourse with your environment. This 'unseen' element of reality, as in the spirits inhabiting animistic faiths or the all loving deity of monotheism, is dependant on our instinct for a causally effective universe. As Boyer points out, if your Father is killed by an angry neighbour the chain of causation can be followed back to an intended event, whereas if a huge wind comes and blows the roof off your house only unseen, misunderstood, external elements can be posited. To apply an intention to the unknown is natural, because in all other areas of human life, of logical existence, events have causes which are manifested intentionally, usually by external agents.

    From an evolutionary point of view it makes perfect sense to always ascribe external, malign forces to the intention of agents. Imagine, if you will, a scenario from our distant, evolutionary past. Bob and Frank notice the movement of a nearby bush on their travels through the forest. Bob, being of a superstitious nature, attributes the movement to the cat spirit of the undergrowth and flees screaming in the opposite direction. Frank, on the other hand, has a more inquisitive, rational tendency, and demands proof of such a spirit before he reacts. In the very best of circumstances, both Bob and Frank survive the event unharmed – perhaps Bob was wrong and it was merely the wind rustling in the grass which caught his attention – but what if the very worst had occurred? Would it not be Bob who escaped unharmed and Frank who was now being torn limb from limb by a jaguar? Quick acting, superstitious people such as Bob were the ones more likely to survive, and in turn raise children with the same predilections as their parents. In the chain of human evolution, selective pressure for superstitious attributes guaranteed the emergence of cultures attuned to the ‘counterintuitive phenomenon’ which Pascal Boyer outlines so succinctly. The same kind of mind accustomed to the spirit of the forest is also the kind of mind willing to sacrifice babies to the Gods of harvest, to believe a curse has been placed on their family by a witch or to attribute good fortune to a fluffy-bearded saviour sitting on a throne surrounded by clouds. Superstition, religious belief and cultural mythologies are all results of the one thing about ourselves which we have the least control: our very human nature itself.

    The Rational Imperative

    Since the 17th and 18th centuries, enlightenment thinkers have advocated the pursuit of reason alone in shaping the edifice of human affairs. According to Sigmund Freud, this rational secularism has been responsible for three of the most mind altering discoveries of human history. Firstly, the Copernican revolution, in which our Earth-centric picture of the universe was shattered. Secondly, the theorising of Evolution by Charles Darwin, where upon our view of ourselves as the blessed fruit of a tree of life, God given or otherwise, was torn from its roots. And thirdly - in Freud’s most infamous instance of personal praise - where the self which governs all action within our minds was displaced by the notion of the unconscious. Each of these revolutions was to displace mankind as centre of our world and thus humiliate our egocentric position. Paradoxical as it may seem, these upheavals have increased our intimacy with reality, adding meaning to our existence without invoking religious intentions. Yet at the beginning of the 21st century, not all of these rational analyses have received the respect and acceptance they duly deserve. The unseen agent, being conspicuously absent from these perspectives, still finds an important place in the minds of the faithful. In the United States, where since the drafting of the constitution, religion has been symbolically separated from the state, many Christians still find one of these theories particularly abhorrent. Of the 50% or so of Americans who disagree with the theory of evolution, not all harbour a fundamentalist conception of their faith. In the matter of state education, recent media frenzies have uncovered a systematic desire to quietly dismiss the theory of evolution from classrooms and science textbooks alike. At the forefront of this modern crusade are a series of practitioners working in the name of science on the most unscientific of ideals. Proponents of Intelligent Design theory (ID) argue that evolution alone is not powerful enough to explain the emergence of the complex patterns observed in living entities. Otherwise known as Irreducible Complexity, the theory attempts to show how the components which make up life can not have emerged by the usual patterns which evolution cites. Their conclusion goes further, suggesting that an unseen agent, whether the Christian God or otherwise, has been guiding at least some of these processes since life emerged on Earth some 3 billion years hence. It all sounds very rational, scientific even, and so it is meant to. ID advocates have the financial backing to promote their ideas to a willing public, especially in America. George Bush himself was quoted as stating that he believed ID has as much right to be taught in the science classrooms as evolution. In some respects at least it seems the unseen agents of superstition and religion still evoke a sensitive response. But most scientists believe ID is nothing more than a Trojan Horse, designed to bring religious teaching through the backdoor of the American science classroom

    Debates as to the validity of arguments such as Intelligent Design are set to continue, warranting a stronger resolve from the scientific community in order to keep their point of view in the public eye. Evolution essentially fails to provide some followers of faith with a sufficient explanation for human existence. The power which myth still has over our acuity cannot be denied. Overturned beliefs, held common for many hundreds, if not thousands of years, have come to represent the progressive nature of the modern state. Women are equal to men; homosexuality is not immoral and all those whose beliefs contrast with these modern tenets are made to justify their positions, usually in the name of free speech and rational discourse. Yet despite all attempts at silencing the voices of the ancients, myth still plays an enormous part in the construction of our reality. It is as integral to our sense of humanity as family, language or the opposable thumb, and in some spheres of modern society its elemental influence defies our greatest attempts at dismissal. Praise then should perhaps be issued upon a new breed of secular thinkers, for whom the human tendency for superstition is their greatest aversion. Religion, faith and sheer irrational thinking have been designated as their enemy in a battle of wills which, they would suggest, should have taken place many centuries ago.
  • Secularism at the Battle Front

    Secular thinkers such as Daniel Dennet, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have, in recent public dialogue, attempted to address the problems born of religious belief. Their position has been labelled as extremist in its own right, speaking out, as it does, against religious dogma of any kind. To them, science and religion are absolute in their distinction, leading to the qualification that there are no such things as beliefs we should not be allowed to question. The taboos tangled up with the dissecting of faith, they argue, need to be overturned in order to expose the soft underbelly of religious extremism. Sam Harris, author of multiple books on the subject, including 2005’s The End of Faith, has observed that there are rules which we naturally apply to every field of knowledge except the religious. Rarely do we allow and/or respect views on, for instance, history or biology, without first demanding reasons and evidence which back up people’s beliefs. The most striking example of this kind of incongruity can be witnessed on an almost daily basis as part of political discourse.

    In October of 2005, broadcast as part of a BBC interview, former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath claimed that "President Bush said to [a Palestinian delegation]: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did." Bush’s blatant regard for the authority of his faith is a prime example of our tolerance for religious ideology. Were Bush to have stated, in a similar fashion, that the Greek God Zeus, or even Santa Claus were the source of his inner machinations, no-one would have any doubt that the President of the most powerful country in the world was bat-shit insane. To cite the authority of his decision making process on an unseen agent, for whom there is absolutely no objectifiable evidence, is tantamount to admitting his mental imbalance, yet the President garners nothing but deference for the admission of his faith. What’s more, in a country as devout as the USA, where a member of Congress admitting their atheism is nigh on impossible to imagine, Bush’s declaration of his piety very likely reinforced his chances at a second term in office, rather than damaging them.

    Creationist Politics

    In a recent poll conducted by the University of Minnesota, atheists were found to rank lower than "Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in 'sharing [the] vision of American society.'” This result outlines the primary reason for the Christian dismissal of atheism as a valid way of life. To many of the faithful, scientific explanations for the emergence of life naturally erode the tenets of morality which religion has instilled in the masses. Moderate Christians find no problem in teaching their children that religious belief is the only true justification of morality ‘in the eyes of God’. Richard Dawkins, holder of the chair in the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University and author of recent bestseller The God Delusion, argues that this moderate, compliant brand of faith allows other, more extreme, versions of religion to prosper. Once again, it is the respect which we deem applicable to religious, above all other kinds of belief, which Dawkins argues is most dangerous and in need of erosion.

    At the heart of Creationism, a particularly dogmatic branch of Christianity, is the idea that the Earth, and all life, was created by God in a literal seven days. To understand how this reading of Genesis can be responsible for a moral, Christian framework, one needs to place it in the context of other Biblical prophecies. Once again the apocalypse, as told in The Book of Revelations, gives us a striking answer. Ronald Numbers, a former Seventh-day Adventist, has argued that educated Creationists address their position with a particular aptitude. His book The Creationists earned praise from both religious and secular camps and is widely regarded as the definitive history of the anti-evolutionary movement. In an interview with political news based , Numbers brings to light the broad spectrum of ideologies which arise from a literal reading of the scriptures. For some members of the political right, fundamentalist Christianity has become a moral soap box from which to preach their vision of a progressive America. The myths tied up with the predictions of Revelations – as outlined by our friends at – form a ready made prophecy of the results of moral degradation. The evidence available from science to prove the true age of the planet Earth is astounding. From a geographic perspective alone, science has moved the age of the Earth well beyond the 10,000 years outlined in Genesis. For intelligent, well educated members of Congress to truly believe that the Earth is so young, they would have to try significantly hard to ignore both the geographic and fossil evidence – both of which push back the Earth’s age some four billion years. Ronald Numbers suggests that “if you want people to take Revelation seriously, you have to get them to take Genesis really seriously,” and in doing so, construct a perfect prophetic mythology for political declarations to hide behind. This conscious allegiance to a poorly argued mythology, gives the political right a convenient ethos which scientific secularism is bound to be in opposition to. In arguing for a rational disconnection between belief and respect, secular practitioners are allying themselves against a large proportion of religious society for whom the Bible represents their moral imperatives. Although it appears infinitely more sustainable to argue in the favour of a rational moral code, Ronald Numbers and other middle ground thinkers believe that Dawkins, Harris and thinkers like them are doing more harm than good in the name of scientific obligation.

    The sweet, addictive lure of myth is far from being merely a trait of Christianity. The authoritative power issued by cultural and religious parables has been abused by countless regimes throughout history. If a policy defies human reason, what better way to justify it than by relying on the authority of an untouchable religious doctrine? One contention often drawn in opposition to secularism is the appalling atrocities committed in the name of the material regimes of Stalin and Hitler, or dictator Pol Pot’s ruthless Khmer Rouge. But what this argument fails to recognise, was that in the substance of these regimes there existed a zeal for cultural narration which bordered on the religious. Both Stalin and Pol Pot sought, in their complete reformation of society, to wipe the slate of history clean, drawing in its place a specific brand of utopian secularism ruled by a Godlike communist ideologue. In similar kind, the Nazi’s obsession with an Aryan grand narrative was responsible from some of Hitler’s most contemptible political decisions. Myth then, rather than religion, could be held accountable for the mistakes which Dawkins, Harris and Dennet fight in opposition against. Is it possible for secular society to draw equally powerful myths in the credit of rationalism and moral progress? Is myth actually incompatible with the empirical and theoretical sciences?
  • The Dogma of Science

    The rhetoric of ‘Climate Change’ and ‘Global Warming’ is a case in point. During the past few decades as evidence has mounted in support of the link between human activity and an increase in global temperatures, the language used to discuss the issues of climate change has taken on a fervent, almost religious, zeal. Labels such as ‘catastrophic’, ‘irreversible’ and ‘chaotic’ have quenched the thirst of environmental campaigners in search of an all encompassing, apocalyptic narrative. Yet most of this enthusiasm finds little basis in empirical, scientific evidence. In a speech to the National Press Club in Washington in November of 2004, Richard Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, dismissed the fears surrounding global warming as little more than ‘religious beliefs’. "Essentially if whatever you are told is alleged to be supported by 'all scientists,' you don't have to understand [the issue] anymore. You simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief," Lindzen’s went on to state that, "With respect to science, the assumption behind the [exaggerated] consensus is science is the source of authority, and that authority increases with the number of scientists [who agree.] But science is not primarily a source of authority. It is a particularly effective approach of inquiry and analysis. Skepticism is essential to science - consensus is foreign,"

    Lindzen’s stark reminder of the underlying tenets of science broadens the range in which mythologies can affect public perception. The moral crusade built into the vernacular of climate change (i.e. that of ‘saving the planet Earth’), is difficult to criticise. Educating a continually developing world as to the dangers of prosperity itself, is no simple task. What Lindzen insists though, is that this kind of appeal to mass consensus should not, and is not, part of the principles of science. Here we also find a coarse definition of the degrees to which the public misunderstand the scientific imperative. Just as with unseen agents, the grand narrative, which can be so divisive in the procreation of certain ideologies, is easy for the human mind to grasp onto. If the scientific establishment were to consciously manifest its own narrative, in pursuit perhaps of a less dogmatic social order, it would be committing the very same mistakes extolled in the name of Creationism or by the dictatorship of Stalin. This then leaves only one route open down which secular rationalism can overtake religious dogma. If science cannot use the tools of mythology to educate against irrational thought, perhaps it needs to set about blunting the blades of those very same tools in a well mannered response. At base, the problems which arise from the grand acceptance of religious and dogmatic belief, is one of perspective. Why does the grand narrative of religion, or the instilled passion of fanaticism, give more meaning to life than the beautiful complexity of scientific fact? Once again it appears that our evolutionary inheritance may provide us with an answer.

    The Importance of Narrative

    In piecing together the processes behind our evolution, scientists studying human history have had to rely on a scattered jigsaw puzzle of fossil evidence. It is now widely regarded that around 150,000 years after our species first arose, signs of something we would label ‘culture’ began to emerge in the fossil record . Symbolic expression can be seen in the artefacts discovered in and around these ancient human habitats, including jewellery, musical instruments and burial decorations. This explosion of technological sophistication clearly signifies a crucial era in our mental development, for it is perhaps around this time that human beings became capable of instilling symbolic and spiritual meaning into their world view. As the bonds between our social groups became ever more crucial in our survival, and the tasks we carried out in these groups increased in their sophistication (such as tracking, hunting, tribalism and making best use of the great African savanna), so our brains evolved access to deeper levels of abstract thought. It may appear difficult for any modern mind to make the leap from skinning antelope to plotting the designs for a nuclear reactor, yet our biological capacities appear to have changed very little, if at all, in the time between these two cultural events. Put more simply, it is quite astounding to think that if a stone-age baby were thawed out from some arctic glacier tomorrow and brought up in modern society, they would have an equal chance of building a life for themselves as the rest of us. It appears then that the kinds of thought which posit religious and superstitious intentions in the world must have arisen around this time, perhaps even aiding in the very evolution of the brains which were to harbour such thoughts.
    The simplest explanation for our ability of abstract thought must come from the primitive hominid's intimacy with its environment. Tracking prey over perhaps tens, hundreds, of square kilometres of the African savanna; living in large, utterly self dependable social communities, replete as they are with the gossip, cooperation, back stabbing, love and camaraderie we all take for granted in modern contexts. But the ability which best fits our most abstract comprehension is that of the grand narrative. Whether it was talk of the days hunt, formed into a gripping tale of conflict, or an attempt by the alpha male to explain to his family why the rains came with such regularity, here is mankind's clearest cultural distinction from the great apes - bound up with, as if indistinguishable from, our species' capacity for language. And here is where mythology arose; here is where religion was born. Around those (clichéd) camp fires the very fabric of legend was woven by primitive intelligence into archetypal narratives which have stayed with us, in one form or another, right up until the present day. Surely here evolution played the greatest tricks with our minds, constructing layers of neural matter within which language could lay down its narrative abstractions.

    In religious mythology can still be found some of the most enduring narratives our species has woven from that metaphorical fabric - so important to our perception as a people that they still persist with us to this day. Those eternal hunters of the African savanna, composing their tales of heroism, so the children of their tribe could gasp in awe at the struggle with nature which surrounded them, were not merely casting light on the bounty of a hunt well executed. In their words, in their abstractions, in the awe of their children, the entire future of our species was being given its foundations. The greatest capacity of the conceptual human mind, one can conclude, is in its ability to merge in symbiosis with its biological capacities and, in the process of doing so, actually take part in its own evolution.

    On the Problem of Perspective

    This capacity for change may offer hope for the development of a more rationalised social conscience. The problem though, is so deeply dissolved into our hominid brains, that evaporating it would be akin to turning mankind into an entirely different species. What the grand narrative ingrained in us, was a desire to seek out purpose and structure in the world. Along with this, our innate exchanges with a hidden layer of unseen agents, has programmed our brains with the suggestion that every action has an intended cause. These perceived aspects of reality can be concentrated into two main tenets:

    1. That things have beginnings and endings
    2. That the universe, like us, somehow chooses when and how to begin and end things

    Even scientific theorising manages to make these same mistakes. Take for instance the often misunderstood example of ‘Big Bang Theory’. The question is often asked, by non-theists and theists alike, ‘Well if the Big Bang was the start of everything, then what came before it?’ So too this kind of distraction is thrown at evolutionary biology, ‘Well, if cockroaches aren’t conscious, but we are, does that make the nonhuman mammals half-conscious? Did free-will suddenly begin when the first mammal stepped off the production line?’ Suddenly we find ourselves faced with age old problems for which religion has so often been posited to answer. The way to solve these questions, without getting into all the highly complicated nitty-gritty of metaphysics, neuroscience or quantum theory, is to head the questions off at the pass, so to speak. The questions themselves should never have been asked. Our uniquely evolved perspective is at odds with how reality really functions.

    There is an ancient Buddhist dictum which casually solves these kinds of problems. Ironically religion, all be it a Godless philosophical variety, steps in to aid the scientific secular cause. If we educated society on the Japanese, Zen concept of ‘Mu’, perhaps many of the problems raised in this article would never have arisen. Mu (written as 無 or む), roughly translates as ‘none’ or ‘without’, but in Zen practice is used to indicate the response to questions for which the general assumptions are wrong. For instance, if you are asked ‘How old is your Father?’ several years after he has passed away, answering the question directly is impossible. The only answer available to you is Mu. Assuming that things have intended causes, or that there are beginnings and ends to processes will always result in the asking of incorrect questions. The assumptions you had to begin with were wholly erroneous.

    Religious belief, and the myths which accompany it, might be integral to the human conception of reality, but if we taught liberally against the ideas of intention in the world, of beginnings and ends, then dogmas would have a much harder time taking hold. The tools of philosophical rhetoric are much more powerful than those of science, and much more self evident, once grasped, than the enigmatic teachings of religious mythology. So next time a Christian attempts to instil you with their love of an unseen Messiah; next time a non-scientific thinker questions your knowledge on the physical qualities which existed before the Big Bang, merely raise your eyebrows, in self contented mirth, and let the figure of ç„¡ fall from your lips. The only barrier between our brains and the reality we inhabit is a mis-evolution of perspective, inherent now for many hundreds of thousands of years. Yet, in the intricate patterns of firing neurons, and the multifaceted contours of the human brain, can be seen the outline of the most supple learning device in the known universe.


    What do you think?
  • edited January 2007
    Par2, line5...'akin to'.. is it political suicide or not? Could be pol. self immolation I guess.
    'The underlying problem with types of beliefs we call ‘religious’ is that they have been part of human existence for an unfathomably long time.'
    'Unfathomably'? I hope not! Be aware you are assuming these beliefs are a problem.

    'The human mind appears pre-programmed'...or just programmed? the 'pre' gotta be redundant. Why not make the sentence a question? ie. Does the human mind...?

    Overall I love it, as I must, because you agree with me...but I love nitpicking so I'll go at it in the spirit of Orwell, the faintest and most humble shadow though I be. god Knows, the task might keep me from mischief.

    Oh and don't forget the quotes around the book title in Par3 Line4
  • Nitpicking is exactly what I want. Thanks muchly! I do have a tendancy to throw words around when they don't need to be. Weed out the crap!

    Cheers again mr. what?
  • edited January 2007
    I agree with What? about the political suicide part. By saying "akin to" it's almost as if you are using more words than you really need to in an unnecessarily verbose manner.

    However, the 'nits' he's picking look like chimps along side the ones I can get with my stocking-stuffed magnifying tweezers.

    Para 2 Line 12, "the findings of evolution"? Or just "evolution", or "...of evolutionary theorists". Did evolution find stuff or did we find it? Also, in that sentence and the previous one, there are commas with spaces on both sides.

    para 2 Line 14, "isn't IT about time..." - you missed the "it"

    And to stress something What? seemed to be getting at, you are aware that you're coming from a very controversial perspective, aren't you? By launching straight into the essay with "masses of Americans are fundamentalists", given the present connotations of fundamentalism, and by speculating that Bush is probably one of the whackos, you are doing fine at preaching to the converted. What? is loving it. But you're not going to convince anyone who isn't firmly on your side to begin with. Even someone who basically agrees with you might be put off by the unashamed and immediate critical stance you take towards American people and their beliefs.

    I haven't actually read any further yet, but if your aim is to establish that religion is stupid or dangerous or something then you're starting where you want to finish up. If that's not your aim, then why are you being so aggressive about it to begin with? "Tone it down" is a terrible piece of advice, so ignore me, but these are the thoughts that go through my head reading the first two paragraphs.

    I'll add more comments when I read further. (Lucky you!)

    I just read one more sentence and you should definitely leave it as "pre-programmed". "Programmed" could include brainwashing by cults. You want to say that the religious tendancy is innate here, don't you? "Pre-programmed" suggests thats how we are to begin with, before any societal tamperings. I'm with What? on "unfathomably", though.

    P.S. I'll try to post again soon. Sorry.
  • par4 iine2...'Imagine, if you will,'...cliche?, 'picture' or something would be cleaner
    p5 l2.........'the edifice'..could go
    p5l5..........'where upon' isn't it 'whereupon', one word?
    p5l8..........'humiliate our egocentric position.' can a position be humiliated? maybe 'humiliate us' or such?
    p5l24........'3 billion years hence.' maybe ago? is 'hence' pointing toward the future?

    Gotta go, games must be played....And I did misbehave, which is why I've been so tardy...
  • edited January 2007
    wow, you guys rule!

    my own editing team. i wish more people were as nickpicky as you...

    i have one more day to edit the crap out of this essay and then its gone.

  • p5l22...'cites.' a subtle metaphorical usage which I like but other mightn't.
    p5l27...'ID has as much right' concepts don't have rights, only people, or cute animals, have rights...and then, of course, only rich, well connected people.
    p5l30...'through the backdoor' The Trojan horse came in the front door...a cliche?
    p6l5...'common' I'd leave it out
    p6l12...'thinkers' it's singular, 'thinker'

    ''I am driven with a mission from God'.
    'Let's put the band back together'
    p8l9...'tantamount to' euee, I'd lose it.
    p9l10...'deem applicable' just 'apply'?
    more fun soon
  • edited January 2007
    p10l13...'geographic' or geological?
    p11l12...'fight in opposition against' or just oppose?
    p11l13...'in the credit' to support?
    p12l1....'case in point' or example? don't want to sound like a pompous cleric!
    p13l8....'onto' cutcutcut
    p14l2....'regarded' understood?
    p14l6....'perhaps' I use these devices all the time in extemporaneous utterance, gives me time to pause and prepare, but I'd avoid them in formal work.
    p14l15...'an equal ' or the same? equal chance to me or the same chance we all have
    p15l3....'dependable' dependent? and 'as they are' I'd cut
    p15l9....'(clichéd)' not at all, great sentence, familiar, but it works! except for the 'very' and the 'in one form or another,'. and the next 'Surely ' , don't appear to look down on the reader.
    p16l7...', one can conclude, is' try 'lies' less cumbersome.
    p17l1...'rationalised' or rational?
    p17l2...'though,' need it? flow better without it?
    Aye, I ken 'akin' agin!
    Suddenly we find ourselves faced with age old problems for which religion has so often been posited to answer. ? bit hard to follow...I'd try '...the same old problems that religion was invented to solve' but please, not 'posited to answer'!
    p18l9...'so to speak.' chopchop
    nd the multifaceted contours of the human brain, can be seen the outline of the most supple learning device in the known universe.
    I'd put a 'there' between 'brain' and 'can'...just a hint of theater
  • i am speechless for all the right reasons. thanks a lot!

    i'm about to switch a couple of things around and finish this thing off. i managed to pick myself an insanely difficult subject to write an article about. next time i'm going to do a piece on the price of oil or something as banal.

    all hail mr what?
  • edited January 2007
    UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who read and responded to my essay. Here's the final draft, a few changes made here or there. I've issued it as a Word Document under a creative commons licence, and hope to do the same with some more of my work soon. Enjoy!
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