[From Dag Forssell (920504)]
Bill Powers (920429.0900), Ed Ford (920430.11:44)
The religious thing seems to be coming up again,....Perhaps what we
might more profitably do is examine belief as a phenomenon.
Bill is suggesting that we go up a level.
This phenomenon of belief isn't confined to biology. People arrive at
firmly fixed belief systems about electron flow, quarks, continental
drift, natural selection, grammar, etiquette, construction practices,
and proper forms of music, art, poetry, and dancing. If you challenge
their beliefs they will defend them. In most cases having to do with
less material beliefs, the ultimate defense is "I was raised to think
that ........". And of course that is true, although it doesn't make the
I agree, there is NO difference between BELIEF in what we label religious
areas and UNDERSTANDING in what we label secular areas.
I find Bill's post lucid and indisputable. - It hooks nicely into my
system of understanding, that is. It is one of those jewels that merits
saving. I must get a good indexing system going!
I can only recommend that others who want to see belief systems as
objects of study try to see them that way, ..... To see them this way
is not to accept or reject them, or to make them seem less than what
they are. It is only to see them FOR what they are.
Ed Ford says:
The problem for me is that to be properly studied, understood, and
fully tested, a belief system has to be checked out through experience.
Ed, as I interpret your comment, you do not mean to object to Bill's
statement as such, but to emphasize the practical difficulty of passing
judgement on some specific systems concept.
In your post, you clearly recognize that both PCT and Roman Catholicism
are systems concepts. You appear to me to support Bill's post, but you
also appear to go beyond it.
You bring up issues of testing and validation of a set of systems
concepts. In this you express a point of view that I think is a good
subject for discussion. This systems concept debate will not go away,
because it is of great interest to many. We are all attached to our
individual set of systems concepts. It illustrates the upper reaches of
HPCT, which is of great concern to you and me and any others who try to
learn from HPCT how to better teach or lead or counsel people.
I think the standards I've set based on my systems concept, the choices
I've have made which reflected those standards, and, most important of
all, the satisfaction that comes from achieving the various things for
which I have controlled are the real test of a systems of belief.
In my first reading of this I understand you to say that:
Systems Concept =====> Standards
and since the standards work and yield a satisfying life, this validates
the systems concept:
Systems Concept <==== Standards.
However, I believe this last part to be a mistake.
You may not mean the second part the way I interpreted you at first,
since you also say:
...When people are functioning effectively, then what ever they're using
to drive their system should be given respect.
I do think that the interpretation:
Systems Concept <==== Standards.
or: "My Standards work, therefore my Systems Concepts must be TRUE"
is an unexamined assumption behind most of the Systems Concepts strife
we see in the world around us.
I want to focus this post on the standards. Perhaps in that I am "going
down a level."
I would argue that the notion of validating or testing the Systems
Concept itself is a mistake in the first place. It is not necessary, as
you indicate in your last quote above. I respect you as a thoroughly
decent human being. I can never study, understand and check out your
belief system without living your life from its beginning. (Is this the
difficulty you meant)? I do not want to, and it is not necessary.
To think that the standards validate the Systems Concept implies that
those STANDARDS that do the validation are UNIQUE to that SYSTEM CONCEPT
PACKAGE (read religion). This is the implication I perceive and am
debating. Perhaps I am punching a big hole in the air. That's OK too.
I sincerely believe that if there are five billion people on this earth,
there are also five billion Systems Concepts (of God and everything
else). To a PCT'er it is obvious that the Systems Concepts are
individually designed by each person.
Just like we in PCT recognize that a diverse set of objects can with some
advantage be categorized as "chairs," so a diverse set of umpteen million
individual systems concepts with some common, perhaps even superficial
characteristic are called "Roman Catholicism." Other sets are called
"Mormonism," "Islam," "Hinduism," "Secular Humanism," "Atheism" etcetera.
This is good enough for wars.
It seems impossible to understand another individuals Systems Concepts
in anything more than the most cursory categorization, and then we know
that we really don't understand very much.
The point I want to make is that many Systems Concepts packages support
the SAME standards. Therefore It does NOT follow that your Systems
Concept package is validated by the success of your standards.
I would be content to say (I think) that your Systems Concepts are
validated by the simple fact that they are yours. Your Systems Concepts
are YOURS and that is ENOUGH.
It DOES make sense to advocate religious freedom, and declare that any
religious notion is acceptable, as long as it does not violate important
standards that have been agreed upon after more or less public debate
over tens of thousands of years (often in the form of wars).
(A personal note: The Thomas Jefferson Research Center in Pasadena, Ca,
(818) 792-8130, led me indirectly to CSG. My references in this post and
some other neat stuff is available from them).
Here I will insert an excerpt from THE CASE FOR CHARACTER EDUCATION by
Frank G. Goble and B. David Brooks. I shall transcribe two pages from
Chapter 7: WHOSE VALUES SHOULD BE TAUGHT?
We sow a thought and reap an act;
We sow an act and reap a habit;
We sow a habit and reap a character;
We sow a character and reap a destiny.
William Makepeace Thackeray
Whose values, people frequently ask, do you propose to teach? Those
who ask this question, although they may not realize it, have been
influenced by ethical relativism - the idea that there are no enduring
When the subject to be taught is chemistry, physics, or astronomy,
no one asks whose chemistry? Whose physics? Whose astronomy? It is
assumed that the teacher will simply present the available information
to the best of his or her ability. Everyone assumes that there is an
objective reality about these subjects, in spite of the fact that our
understanding of the physical sciences is neither complete nor exact.
The question, whose ethics, implies that there is no objective
reality about ethics and this is exactly what the ethical relativists
"Such a position of normalness," writes Professor Philip H. Phenix,
....is a denial that there are really any standards of right or
wrong, of better or worse, because the whole human endeavor appears
to be meaningless and without purpose... If life is essentially
meaningless, there is no point in trying to promote or to improve
it. An anomic theory of values is fatal to education, as it is to
any sustained cultural pursuit. Unfortunately, it is a theory all
too widely held, either explicitly or tacitly, and it should be
recognized as an enemy of human morale and of educational
The influence of this relativistic, value-free point of view is
illustrated by this statement of Dr. Lewis Mayhew in an address given
when he became president of the Association of Higher Education:
"Colleges are not churches, clinics or even parents. Whether or not a
student burns a draft card, participates in a civil rights march, engages
in premarital sexual activity, becomes pregnant, attends church, sleeps
all day or drinks all night, is not really the concern of an educational
The problem with this point of view is that it is not realistic and
leads to increasing crime and violence and other costly manifestations
of social disintegration. There ARE basic ethical principles that are
necessary to social progress, and these principles must be identified and
American Viewpoint, whose Good American Program was described in
chapter 4, based its program on an empirical code of ethics. The code was
developed by writing to hundreds of outstanding citizens and asking their
opinions. From this was developed a list of values which had been
"hammered out in the anvil of practical experience." The Good American
list includes such concepts as conservation, courage, personal health,
honesty, initiative, perseverance, reliability, self-mastery,
cooperation, courtesy, fairness, respect, tolerance, duty, independence,
patriotism, responsibility and understanding.
The American Institute for Character Education, which developed the
Character Education Curriculum also described in detail in Chapter 4,
based its program on a worldwide study of value systems. This study
identified fifteen basic values shared by all major cultures and world
religions. These values are courage, conviction, generosity, kindness,
helpfulness, honesty, honor, justice, tolerance, the sound use of time
and talents, freedom of choice, good citizenship, the right to be an
individual, and the right of equal opportunity.
This code of personal values, now taught in thousands of classrooms,
has not proved to be controversial.
If indeed the Principles/Standards/Values are what count, and most people
on reflection and discussion will arrive at a similar set, it will not
be surprising that there is a great uniformity in that area between all
religions. In the course of history many creative thinkers / founders of
religions have postulated different Systems Concept packages on top of
I find it interesting to look at the HPCT hierarchy, which may confirm
Systems Concept: "The Way it Is" / Understanding / Belief
Principle (Also ->) Principle
(Morals & Laws of Nature) (Morals & Laws of Nature)
(Standards & Values) (Standards & Values)
Programs (Also ->) Programs
Notice that the (SAME) Principles/Standards/Values used to create a
particular Systems Concept structure logically could be expected to be
derived from it.
It is also possible that a principle taught or experienced "on the way
up" is remembered and used "on the way down" without being explicitly
recognized as part of a system of concepts. We experience a lot as we
grow up in our families, which stays with us as principles/ values/
standards without deliberate connection with, reflection on, or support
by our religious beliefs. The idea that
Systems Concept =====> Standards
does require a deliberate effort to think things through. This should not
be taken for granted!
It seems to me that the common inclination (if there is one) to validate
your own particular Systems Concept package by the effectiveness of the
(common) standards leads to some very unfortunate side effects.
The idea that the Systems Concept package is validated to be (rigid,
objective) TRUTH sets the stage for fruitless discussion, fights and
wars, since anyone who looks can see that the OTHER GUY'S Systems
Concepts package is FALSE. (Heretic is the word, I guess. Death to
Religions as Systems Concepts packages typically include a whole super
structure of baggage in the form of miracles and explanations which at
one time probably were designed to sell the package to illiterate,
ignorant people and keep them in check. Some of this creates unfortunate
standards which prevent people from functioning well.
I have my Systems Concepts which flavor my interpretations. If a God
created the Big Bang (today's news), fine with me. I do not recognize a
God that can hear me. I think a pastor who tells people from the pulpit
that if they pray together in HIS name to put Jello gelatin "salad" to
good use in their bodies - and they BELIEVE it - is doing these ignorant
people a great disservice. Of course they can pray for healing on Sunday.
I have heard enough of this as our family attended church regularly a few
years back. We no longer attend.
To me this is part of the baggage that I personally object to as creating
misleading and damaging standards. But then, as Ed says:
It would be hard for my own view or systems of beliefs not to get in the
way of those systems I'm trying to study.
These packages may include some principles/values/standards that are not
only misleading but deny people rights we as westerners take for granted.
As Ed puts it:
Does it respect the rights and beliefs of other living control systems?
Consider women's rights under Islam.
Since Islam is TRUE, validated by the satisfaction of Muslim men, how can
you question those things?
By going "down a level" and recognize that the Systems Concept is nothing
more than a construct in your mind. It is not TRUTH. There is no TRUTH
to be had anywhere. It is ALL subjective systems concepts. In a post not
too long ago, (which I would like to relocate and re-read, date anyone?)
Bill ended a discussion of the levels with the statement: "It is ALL
I have bared a little of my prejudices here. Everyone has their own. The
point is that as I see it, the debate on creation has NOTHING to do with
standards; miracles don't matter. A lot of the things we fight over in
religion, between religions, against religion and for religion do not
matter; they are not essential to justify the PRINCIPLES/VALUES/STANDARDS
that DO MATTER.
While I looked at my bookshelf of Thomas Jefferson materials, I was
reminded of: THE FIVE THOUSAND YEAR LEAP by W. Cleon Skousen. This book
by a constitutional lawyer and scholar spells out the twenty-eight
PRINCIPLES which the American founding fathers considered as they formed
our government (a Systems Concept!!!). It is very clear from this book
that the American constitution is based in large measure on the political
writings of Marcus Cicero, which were well known to our founding fathers,
NOT on the Judeo-Christian tradition, as we are told often by some
A nasty thought crosses my mind in regard to some of these salesmen. To
paraphrase Hitler's information minister Goebbels: "A point of view
repeated often enough becomes the truth." Perhaps Goebbels is another
historic figure who clearly anticipated William T. Powers. But then
Salomon said: "There is nothing new under the sun."
Happy Principles/Values/Standards everybody!
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