Born to do Math 163 - Philosophers Who Philosophize About the Divine
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
April 1, 2020
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: People who think with either the formal arguments of religion or by revelation, or by personal experience, or by arguing by some kind of moral source, or making formal arguments, whatever it might be.
Rick Rosner: Basically, you're talking about philosophers who philosophies about the divine.
Jacobsen: And those people are formally called theologians. So, those people, they are automatically superphysicians or metaphysicians, whatever you call them. They are thinking about things extramaterially. They are a whole other class of people. They are usually arguing from religious texts or around them to justify them. So, all the cruelty and evil in the world. Why is there this? That becomes the Problem of Evil. There's a lot of arguments. I won't go into them. If you look at the trajectory since the Enlightenment, since the humanist revolution, since the empirical revolution and more the information-tech revolutions, we have seen a growth in the number of religious people sheerly by the fact that people who are more religious tend to have larger families and 2/3rds of those people stay in them. That's one thing going on there. Another thing is a decline in the number of people who study the theological world in academia and the theological world outside of it; we've seen a decline in religion's formal thinking.
Rosner: Because science won.
Jacobsen: Science won, by and large. So, when you look at people who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or spiritual in some vague sense with arguments tacked on, they are in a corner. They are in philosophy schools and theological seminaries. Theological seminaries, they have been around forever; that's where they're going to be now. The Jesuits are struggling for numbers, for one. For two, if you're stuck in the philosophy schools, that means most of the other schools of thought, where a very large number of people are attracted to intellectual activity, very smart people; that tend not to have ticks or bugs mentally because there is a formal channelling of them, and filtration processes. What am I saying? I would make an argument or an assertion based on observation over time, recent history, that theology is, basically, going to head into something like anthropology or archaeology as something that primitive human beings once did and then slowly declined over time as we sort of got a handle on more of how the real world works. Is that fair?
Rosner: Okay, well, thinking about stuff, we've talked about how science has discovered out more stuff. The less room there is for forms of mysticism and God. If we figure out how consciousness works in a material way, there is no more room for consciousness as this extramaterial fluid. That's pretty much already gone. Most people don't believe in or don't - in your terms - think in terms of extramaterial fluid that influence consciousness.
Jacobsen: I would add a point there. People who have an empirical background, a scientific or naturalistic background in education, formally or informally. They will go with the preponderance of evidence pointing to the fact that organized matter functioning in a particular way that we call a living organism produces thought. It's not some other stuff. There is no magic. It is unknown, but it is not magic.
Rosner: So, there will be fewer people doing good theological work. There is a lot of yahoo theology, like in America in particular. People do all sorts off thinking to justify religion. But when religion gets hokey, then the thinking to justify it is kind of garbage. There have been, during the Middle Ages, the best thinkers were thinking about religion because it was a legitimate form or the highest or the most well-developed form of belief.
Jacobsen: Aristotle gets full credit for that right into the neo-Scholastics, but those took a pounding over the last centuries.
Rosner: Someone trying to justify developing arguments as to why God doesn't tolerate same-sex relationships. Those arguments are going to be crap. A related thing, the Republican Party in the U.S. has been cheapened brutally over the past 30 years. Social media, the whole internet era has, maybe, fucked up thought in general. It is not that people would sit around in the 1970s and think deeply, but, certainly, people, now, are super distracted. I don't know if easy access to any information that you want has led to, at least, some people thinking more powerfully. I would assume that - or, I would even assume, I know - people are thinking more powerfully. But in terms of the level of thinking, I don't know. I've talked myself into a rut.
Jacobsen: [Laughing] Then I'll take the bat. I would have more to say than most other days. Religion still has a utility for ordinary believers. It still has an apparent utility to some theologians, but the second category is a diminishing number. So, it becomes a more rarefied field. Of people who I trust in those areas, there is, apparently, a development of liberal theology of very abstract arguments for God. But those are so far removed from anything remotely close to what people are thinking for centuries and centuries when they interpret their holy texts and their culture around them, in terms of what their ultimate destiny is going to be in the end. In that context, the making of an argument for God is the universe or God created the universe or is some thing & he doesn't write books. It is to basically say that if still believing in an afterlife of a heaven and hell, etc.; all of those previous generations, billions and billions of people, are going to burn in hell because of having the wrong beliefs. To take one example, that's in Western religious examples. You don't find that in Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. They appear to produce more peaceful societies. The reforms we see as in your own tradition with Israel Jacobson in 1810 in Germany. That's a period of change for equality for boys and girls, for single mothers, for women, in a tradition that didn't particularly like having equality for them. I think that is a healthy change.
Rosner: So, you can still have decent, legitimate thought among religious people. People can still think about ethics in both religious and non-religious contexts. But in thinking about religion itself, that's just taken a bunch of hits.
Jacobsen: In and of itself, yes, it has maintained itself through a couple of things. The most religious countries tend to be poor. The most religious who are the least educated and the poorest tend to have more kids and the kids tend not to leave. It is hard to leave it later. I think Hypatia was right. It was very difficult to get out, dig yourself out of the hole if the child is taught that at a very young age. Now, they're an adult. To question things, they have so many associations - mom and dad, culture, their sense of identity. It is part of their culture. That's much harder than changing a premise on a formal argument and then changing your mind on that. It's like Galileo and the hierarchs of the Catholic Church who didn't want to look through the telescope. My own opinion, as a subjective assessment, is the changes to the liberal theology, if we are to have theology, are positive. However, the alternatives we see in ethical societies, Unitarian Universalists, Reform Judaism, Humanism. These are strongly positive, in my opinion, compared to a lot of others because they appear to provide more wellbeing and longevity, and intellectual richness, to more categories of people. Although, they are newer and haven't had the time to proliferate as much. Some of the good core values are the ones that you find in religious traditions as well.
American Television Writer
(Updated July 25, 2019)
*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.*
According to some semi-reputable sources gathered in a listing here, Rick G. Rosner may have among America's, North America's, and the world’s highest measured IQs at or above 190 (S.D. 15)/196 (S.D. 16) based on several high range test performances created by Christopher Harding, Jason Betts, Paul Cooijmans, and Ronald Hoeflin. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writers Guild Awards and Emmy nominations, and was titled 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Directory with the main "Genius" listing here.
He has written for Remote Control, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, The Emmys, The Grammys, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He worked as a bouncer, a nude art model, a roller-skating waiter, and a stripper. In a television commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the "World’s Smartest Man." The commercial was taken off the air after Subway sandwiches issued a cease-and-desist. He was named "Best Bouncer" in the Denver Area, Colorado, by Westwood Magazine.
Rosner spent much of the late Disco Era as an undercover high school student. In addition, he spent 25 years as a bar bouncer and American fake ID-catcher, and 25+ years as a stripper, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television. Errol Morris featured Rosner in the interview series entitled First Person, where some of this history was covered by Morris. He came in second, or lost, on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? over a flawed question and lost the lawsuit. He won one game and lost one game on Are You Smarter Than a Drunk Person? (He was drunk). Finally, he spent 37+ years working on a time-invariant variation of the Big Bang Theory.
Currently, Rosner sits tweeting in a bathrobe (winter) or a towel (summer). He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, dog, and goldfish. He and his wife have a daughter. You can send him money or questions at LanceVersusRick@Gmail.Com, or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
(Updated January 1, 2020)
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