[KB] Burke, Deacon, and Theology

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Fri Mar 13 16:36:45 EDT 2015


	On the “synergy” that generates narrative, the first of the three ways evolved symbolic capacity transformed the pre-human mammalian brain into the powerful force for “action,” and theotropic speculation and motivation, it is today, according to Deacon and Cashman:

	All mammals (maybe birds, as well), Deacon and Cashman say, possess two mnemonic systems, two means of generating the memory that makes for enhanced adaptation to an environment and shifting circumstances.  One mnemonic agency is “procedural.”  The other is “episodic.”  D and C label the procedural, seemingly the lower-level, apparatus for retaining memory traces, “diachronic.”  The diachronic is concerned with, or pertains to, the historical DEVELOPMENT of something.  It is not of a uniform age or time.  Hence, diachronic or procedural memory fixes in the mammalian brain the means for rote motor skills, habits, eventually automatic responses that become “second nature,” as repeated again and again,  Procedural memory particularly enlists the basal ganglia, the motor cortex, and the cerebellum.  (These would appear to be lower-order neuro-mechanisms.  Yet, Deacon has said to me in correspondence that he does not hold to any strict notion
 of the tripartite brain.  This stance would seem to suggest that the brain works as something of a whole, an integrated unit of a sort.  So, I would need further clarification from Deacon on distinctions between “higher” and “lower” neuro-operations, a distinction he and Cashman seem to be making in this article.
	“Episodic” memory, which I will call here a higher-order mnemonic system (after D and C, note below) is “synchronic,” Deacon and Cashman assert.  Episodic memory pertains to “individual events and relationships.”  It has to do with the state of something at one particular time.  Though “classes of episodic memories” can be retained, the “different [neuro] structures” involved make for a “different kind of redundancy” in respect to the episodic.  “Serial redundancy is unavailable.”  The hippocampus is integral to the “distributive” nature of episodic retention.  “The hippocampus is reciprocally connected with many different areas of generalized neocortex.”  Nested in the cerebrum, it “correlates converging information from higher-order processing in each sensory modality.”  Episodic “redundancy” is found “in context to other events to which it was linked.”

	Now, as already indicated, all mammals, maybe birds, also, benefit from both kinds memory, the procedural and the episodic.  In those nonsymbolic animals, however, the two memory systems are separated, not integrated.  The symbolic capacity that the emerging species homo sapiens evolved into across the 2-million-year Quaternary brought the two mnemonic systems into a revolutionary synergy.  It is symbols that integrated and integrate the two types of memory.  The following is the result:  This is how it is done:

“        Syntax,” word order, “becomes part of our procedural memory system.”  “When we produce a sentence, it is a bit like riding a bike . . . . It is proceduralized.  But what we are doing with it is accessing and ‘downloarding’ information from episodic memory in order to express an idea or accomplish a communicative action.”

        Thus, “the interplay between the serial [that is, the procedural] and distributive associative [i.e., the episodic] tendencies brought into interaction by language provides a way to organize episodic memory into sequences.”  And so, “the narrative predisposition [that results] can be understood as an emergent consequence of the unique mnemonic synergy that language has made possible.”
So aver Deacon and Cashman.

        Now, what is distinctive about the ensuing “narrative” that nudges symbolizers toward religion, or metaphysical speculations?  Narrative is not merely the equivalent of the proverbial put-down of “history” as simply “one darned thing after another.”  Narrative is not just stories about synchronic episodes that progress according to diachronic habitual sequences.  Narratives tend to be peculiarly “directed” sequences, explanations, interpretations, allegations, justifications, commentaries, personal or group representations of the facts of the matter, made via causal connections, with indictment or praise for the parties involved (Deacon & Cashman; Shorter OED).  Indeed, narratives can generate “a sense of present or potential loss” that fuses “present, past, and imagined experiences” (Deacon & Cashman) in a way that conjures Neo-Freudian Norman O. Brown’s dramatistic explanation of how human narration creates “time.”
  In the “id” there is no time, says Freud.  In the ego, however, “Time has to be constructed by an animal that has guilt [or a sense of loss] and seeks to expiate [or redeem or correct that sense of loss].”  Such a being must create and dwell on the notions of a “past” and a “future.”  “Archaic man [sic; and modern man and woman] experiences guilt and therefore time” (Brown, Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History, 1959, pp. 274, 276, 278, 87-109).`

        Even more to the point than the inherently dramatic nature of narrative plot lines and narrative’s temporal fusion of “loss” with a vision of something redemptively better, is the stark contrast between the “telos” essential to the narrative impulse, and the lack of such consummation in many, can we not say all, human lives.  The sense of narrative near impels symbolizers, Deacon and Cashman contend, toward transcendental plot lines.  “They [narratives] do not simply stop arbitrarily, as do most lives,” Deacon and Cashman observe.  “Instead, in the narrative of a life, whether real or imagined, birth and death are events that are usually subordinated to some telos, . . . .”  The gross narrative of a human life as actually lived, abridged of any larger meaning in itself, tends to be “embedded” in, or related to, a larger narrative that overmatches the glaring limitations of the “brief candle” of human existence.

        “Telos”: “End, purpose, (an) ultimate object or aim” (Shorter OED).

        Later, two more “synergies,” generated by language, that might well help to explain still further the otherwise strange otherworldliness of the symbol-using animal.


On Thu, 3/12/15, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [KB] Burke, Deacon, and Theology
 To: "Clarke Rountree" <rountrj at uah.edu>
 Cc: "kb at kbjournal.org" <kb at kbjournal.org>
 Date: Thursday, March 12, 2015, 3:53 PM
     At the outset of their article, “The
 Role of Symbolic Capacity in the Origins of Religion”
 (2009), Terrence W. Deacon and his coauthor Tyrone Cashman
 cite polling data that 86 percent of human beings believe in
 God or some sort of Supreme Being.  Burke, as I’ve
 argued, gives good reasons why that is the case
 IMPLICITLY.  From a very different academic vantage
 point, Deacon and Cashman do so EXPLICITLY.  Language
 is central in the case they, the three of them, make for the
 ubiquity of belief in the god-term, and the case for the
 global occurrence of belief in the Divine, as characterized
 in many variant ways.
     Deacon, the biological
 anthropologist/neuroscientist (I know nothing about Cashman)
 is coming at the relationship between symbolic capacity and
 the religious “predisposition” very much from an
 evolutionary and neuroscientific angle.  One notable
 point needs made at the outset: Forget about homo
 sapiens/homo dialecticus, language in tow, suddenly
 appearing on the scene circa 200,000 years ago.  D and
 C say language development and brain size-and- structure
 development gradually and reciprocally occurred over the
 entire Pleistocene, which is to say, across the whole
 near-2-million-year duration of the Quaternary Period. 
 Brain evolution gradually brought linguistic facility into
 being, while, at the same time, emerging symbolic capacity
 reciprocally altered the human brain.
     (Sounds a bit analogous to the
 Wallace/Lovelock/Gaia hypothesis on reciprocal changes in
 both life and the nonliving material scene over 3.5 billion
 years, but that’s another matter.)
     At the outset, also, the coauthors
 summarize the three most-cited theories about the origin of
 religion via evolutionary change: religion as
 “nonadaptive,” or useless, by-product of formerly
 adaptive changes, “misapplications,” so to speak, of
 evolved tendencies; more or less “adaptive” proofs
 against mortality; and “parasitic memes” concocted
 socially, rather than individually, as oppressive sanctions
 of one kind or another.  The first of the above is the
 most favored.  All these explanations are inadequate
 “reductionistic” takes on this universal human
 phenomenon, Deacon and Cashman contend.  
 To get to the pith and marrow of the issue, as Deacon and
 Cashman see it: With the evolution of language, three
 “synergies” emerged that made religious speculation and
 belief, as well as the general “metaphysical” search for
 underlying “First Principles,” an inevitable consequence
 of biological change  (“Metaphysics” for
 Burke?  “Coy theology,” you will recall).
     “Synergy”: “The production by two
 or more agents, substances [structures, capacities, etc.] of
 a combined effect greater than the sum or their separate
 effects . . . Increased effectiveness or achievement
 produced by combined action.”
     “Emergent,” quite similar in meaning:
 “An effect produced by a combination of causes but unable
 to be seen as the sum of their individual effects”
 (Shorter OED).
     Three “synergies,” occasioned by the
 evolution of symbol use over that long span of time, brought
 into being this “religious” or “metaphysical” being,
 the “symbolic species,” making religion, D and C assert,
 humankind’s “synergy of synergies.”  These
 combinations of, or symbol-generated interactions between,
 structures and capacities our mammalian ancestors possessed
 and utilized, are: 
 (1)    “The role of language in a novel
 synergy between 2 previously orthogonal modes of memory
 storage which is the basis for the narrative predisposition
 that is distinctively characteristic of human reasoning,
 identity, and culture.”
 (2)    A tropism toward conception of what D
 and C call a “bi-layered world,” namely, an “evolved
 attentional bias toward discerning a pattern
 behind-the-pattern, a bias required for language learning,
 which makes metaphysical dualism intuitively natural, and
 also makes the double-world metaphysics common to most
 religions a likely leap of symbolic imagination.”
 (3)     “The dramatic expansion
 and transformation of the mammalian emotional repertoire by
 virtue of the use of symbolic blends to induce unprecedented
 interactions and novel experiential synergies that we
 describe as emergent emotional experiences.”
 “Orthogonal”: As inferred from Deacon’s work as a
 whole, the meaning here, I would assume, is “straight,
 normal, proper [I think we can add “natural”], without
 external influence,” “completely independent,” which
 is to say, “free” of influence by the “absential
 feature,” or nonsymbolic negative, that nonhuman living
 beings are beholden to.  Hence, we’re talking here
 about the  “orthograde.”  “Orthograde,” in
 Deaconese, serves, it seems to me, as the opposite of
 “contragrade.”  “Contragrade” refers to a force
 that runs counter to mechanical nonliving processes.
     Yet, there seems to me to be an ambiguity
 here with this term.  “Orthogonal,” seen as a
 derivative of “orthograde,” would likely characterize
 nonsymbolic living beings, as well as symbolic.  Lower
 animals and plants appear to be “contragrade,” too, in
 the sense that they uniquely resist entropy by way of
 reproduction and photosynthesis, or by reproduction and
 direct or indirect ingestion of the products of
 photosynthesis.  Maybe I can get Deacon to bring me up
 to speed on the definition “orthogonal,” as employed
 here, when I forward the post to him.
     I’ll try to unpack the three synergies
 in subsequent posts.
 On Fri, 3/6/15, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
  Subject: Re: [KB] Burke, Deacon, and Theology
  To: "Clarke Rountree" <rountrj at uah.edu>
  Cc: "kb at kbjournal.org"
 <kb at kbjournal.org>
  Date: Friday, March 6, 2015, 8:57 PM
  Thanks for your extended and
  insightful reply to my post.  Hey, thanks for even
  my long rant!  You certainly make some good points,
  I would interpret the "potentiality" claim in RM
  as making our emergence out of a "wordless" Ground
  as maybe "more complicated" than that.  Following
  Burke, I could quote Scripture here, a passage in Romans
  one in Hebrews on how the visible things of this world
  adumbrate a reality that is beyond.  I'll let Deacon
  expand on the matter in his own way in a subsequent post.
  (Not that Deacon is
  necessarily a theist.  The religious sensibility that
  so "naturally" to the "symbolic species"
  is, for Deacon, just that: inevitable, yes, but natural. 
  "Teleology" is real, one of the last frames in his
  second Ginn Lecture proclaims, but to transcendentalize it
  is "redundant, Deacon avers.  An unsatisfactory
  denouement for the "symbol-users" or the
  "symbolic species," i.e., coming at the matter
  from either Burke's perspective, or Deacon's. 
  That's why 86 percent of Americans believe in God, or
  some such figure, as Deacon and Cashman note at the
  beginning of their journal article.)
  By way of illustration, I offered in one of my
  posts to Deacon the characters in Samuel Becket's black
  comedy, "Waiting for Godot."  At the end of the
  play, they are still waiting, and the implications are
  Godot is not going to show up, yet these forlorn wretches
  will continue to wait . . and wait . . . and wait . . .
  never stop waiting.  
  the symbol-user's tendency to "see" drama in,
  or superimpose drama on, the supposedly blind motions of
  universe---Deacon has a powerful explanation for that,
  I'll get to eventually.
  Thanks again for replying---and rebutting!
  On Fri, 3/6/15, Clarke Rountree <rountrj at uah.edu>
   Subject: Re: [KB]
  Burke, Deacon, and Theology
  "Edward C Appel" <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
   Cc: "kb at kbjournal.org"
  <kb at kbjournal.org>
   Date: Friday, March 6, 2015, 12:23 PM
   Dear Burkelers--
   My good friend Ed obviously
  has a passion for seeing Burke as a theologian
   (coy or otherwise), despite Burke’s
  insistence that he
   isn’t a believer in
   Of course one can get around the
  problem of Burke not
   actually believing in
  God through the
   Spinozan strategy of making
  God equal to Nature, so that the
   GROUND of
   itself is equivalent to God. And,
  notably, if verbalizing is
   in or implicit in that GROUND,
  then, Ed reasons, that is an
   at least a God principle at work. Even
  an old atheist like
   me will admit that
   we humans, surprisingly, arose from a wordless
  world, that
   post facto we know carried the
  potentiality for
   creating wordy
   creature. Note, also, that Burke insists that
  when humans
   are gone it will go
   back to its wordlessness. (I’m speaking of
  Earth only, of
   course; I think it
   perfectly obvious that there is sentient life
  elsewhere in
   the universe.)
   Last year
  my son John and
   I published our essay from
   Burke conference in Belgium where we
  argued about the
   potentialities and
   dangers of the motivational bias of humans.
  (We called it a
   guide. I don't have the citation handy,
  but I can get it
   if anyone's
  interested.) That is, building on my
  “Dramatism as Literal” essay in KBJ (2010), we
   noted that it is intrinsic to humans to see
  the world
   through the grammar of
   motives, and that this grammar becomes a
   terministic screen. (It
   also is a wonderful thing, of course, as it
  makes us
   recognizably human—my point
   in the 2010 essay.) After mulling over that
  issue, I have a
   new appreciation
   for Burke’s suggestion that toddlers may
  learn the idea of
   “No” before they
   learn the idea of “nothing.” The
  implication is that
   “scientific” or
   understandings of the world
  are an add-on—something
   secondary we have
  to learn,
   while the search for motives is
   Now, early humans learned
  search for motives in prey and
   in animals
  that preyed on them. Scientists may tell us now
   that animals don’t
   have the
  capacity for the kind of actions we may attribute
   to them, but
   thinking that
  way may have been beneficial in making us wary
   of what animals
   are doing
  when they run or attack. Of course, walking around
   with a “pentadic”
   set of
  glasses on the world undoubtedly gives rise to
   animism and, later, more
  complex forms of religion, with gods in the river, the
   the sky, etc.
   (Let me
  add quickly as
   well, that the dramatistic
  screen did not handicap humans
  developing technology and improving their lot; it’s
   just that every agency
  connected to a human purpose, every scene implicitly
   asked “what can be
  [for humans] with this?” Indeed, that's one of
   the warning John and I make--that we have
  trouble seeing
   anything except as it
  relates to us.)
   When scientists look at
  world as objects, they blind
   themselves to
  this primary way of thinking (though, as Burke
   says, not so much that
  don’t know to treat their fellow chemists differently
   than the chemicals
   with which
  they work). When people want to look at more than
   investigating the
  human and the social, wearing these
  blinders threaten to make
   them miss the
  FUNCTIONS of pentadic screens in human
   Now Burke, looking at
  religion, would be missing much if he
  so blinded; but of course he is not. He not only
   accounts for the key term
  ACTION in human relations (while excoriating those who
   on MOTION), but he
  investigates the potentialities of symbolic action. That
   this leads him to find
  particularly potent (and “perfected”) symbolic form
   religion is
  unsurprising—religion is one of the oldest, most
   scrutinized, most pervasive,
  most defended, most argued over, and (thus) most
   symbolic systems we
   Ultimately, I believe that
  the perfectedness of religion as
   a symbol
  system has nothing to do with its intrinsic truth
   (except as, perhaps, an "end of the
  line" human
   truth, an implication of
  our terminology). It does have much
   to do
  with its relation to power, making it a key bone of
   contention for those
  would rise to prominence in social systems. And
   Burke’s focus on religion
  has more to do with the fact that, given its intense
   scrutiny by some of the
  brightest minds for millennia (at least since Augustine)
   is the most thoroughgoing
   symbolic system around. However, as I noted in
  a QJS
   article on the construction of George
  H.W. Bush in the
  presidential elections (1995), there are other well
   developed symbol systems that have
   pushed the envelope of what is “thinkable”
  through our
   dramatistic grammar—my key
   example, criminal law, where hundreds of years
   Anglo-American law (and
  earlier law as well) helped to refine the possibilities
   guilt and
  Had Burke spent more time talking to law folks,
   maybe he would have
   landed on
  criminal law as a perfection of symbol systems
   (though, note, he does
  a lot of time with constitutions!). That wouldn’t
   make him a lawyer; and
  finding perfection in religion doesn’t make him a
   theologian. Just an admirer
  of what has been wrought.
   That’s my oar in the
  (On a side note, I’m a
   great fan of
  Ed’s explication of
   Deacon’s work and
  its implications for understanding
  Burke’s work. I look forward to the next
   On Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 2:52
   PM, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
           I’ve posted at length here on
   between Burke and Terrence W.
  Deacon, Chair of the
   Department of
  Anthropology at Cal Berkeley, you may
  recall.  (Of equal importance, Deacon is a
   as well.)  In response to
  a recent e-mail of mine on his
  described “tour de force,” Incomplete Nature: How
   Mind Emerged from Matter (Norton, 2012, 2013),
   Deacon kindly sent me additional
  materials of his: two more
   of his published
  articles, bringing my cache to seven in
  toto; and several series of exceedingly well wrought
   powerpoint frames and other visuals he has
  used in lectures
   at the University of Oslo
  in Norway, in Holland, the Ginn
   Lectures in
  Atlanta, and a couple of presentations to
           As some of you
  will likely suspect, the theology
  immediately piqued my interest.  Here we have, it
   seemed to me, another important point of
  convergence between
   Burke and Deacon,
  adding to the considerable list I’ve
  already outlined.   The focal reference here will be to
   Deacon’s coauthored article (with Tyrone
  Cashman), “The
   Role of Symbolic Capacity
  in the Origins of Religion,”
   Journal of
  Religion, Nature & Culture, 2009, Vol. 3 No.
   4, pp. 490-517.
    I want to begin, in this post, with my take on
   Burke’s anfractuous relationship to
  theology, then in a
   subsequent edition,
  summarize Deacon’s position.
    Burke, we know, claimed publicly that his
   interest in theology was entirely secular. 
   the late-Burke title for
  his philosophy looked at as an
  “epistemology,” was solely about the contours of
   symbolic action, its motives and tendentious
  operations, not
   about any putatively
  transcendental reality.  Logology was
  “systematic study of theological terms for the light
   they might throw on the forms of language,”
   terms being the most
  thoroughgoing, far-reaching, ultimate
  in language,” language, in Burke’s pat phrase,
   taken to “the end of the line.”  Tim
  Crusius doubled
   down on Burke’s
  affirmation in Kenneth Burke and the
  Conversation After Philosophy (Southern Illinois UP,
   and in his review of Greig
  Henderson’s book,  Kenneth
  Literature and Language as Symbolic Action, in QJS 76
   (1990), pp. 340-342.
    Add to Burke’s official position on logology
   (was it, or was it not, something of a façade
  that a
   cluster/agon analysis can maneuver
  around?---I ask, and have
   asked) Burke’s
  private claim to have been a nontheist. 
  Wayne Booth  (“Wax ‘N Wayne,” as Burke would call
   privately) was a frequent correspondent
  of KB’s.  In his
   chapter, “Kenneth
  Burke’s Religious Rhetoric:
  ‘God-Terms’ and the Ontological Proof,” in
   Invention and Religious Inquiry
  (Yale UP, 2000, pp. 25-46),
   Booth takes
  note of Burke’s demurrer.  (See, also, “The
   Many Voices of Kenneth Burke, Theologian and
  Prophet, as
   Revealed in His Letters to
  Me,” in Unending Conversations:
  Writings by and about Kenneth Burke, Eds. Henderson and
   Williams [Southern Illinois UP, 2001, pp.
  179-201], where
   Booth offers a second
  reprise on his 1996 plenary address at
  Duquesne Conference, i.e., the Third Triennial.)
           On his actual belief or nonbelief,
  I think we
   have to take Burke at his
  word.  Let’s assume he was the
  he told people he was.
           That having
  been said, Burke’s demonstrable
  theological obsession cannot be gainsaid.  In Literature
   and Language (1988), Henderson looked behind
  the curtain:
   “For Burke logology is in
  some sense a surrogate
   theology.”  Greig
  added, “The analogies he makes for
  heuristic purposes betray a psychological need for a
   of permanence akin to a religious
  faith in the curative
   power of the word
  made flesh” (p. 105).  That same year,
  at ECA (April 29), Trevor Melia speculated about “what
   kind of Christian” Burke was, suggested that
  the label
   “secular Christian” can only
  be a starting point, and
   concluded that
  Burke was at least “up to his ears in
           At length, I had
  already corresponded with Burke
   on the
  matter (late 1983, early 1984), my case, “Kenneth
   Burke: Coy Theologian,” later published in
  the Journal of
   Communication and Religion
  (September, 1993).  Burke had
   even allowed
  at the Philadelphia Conference (March,1984)
  that I had made a “powerful argument” that he was a
   theologian.  I got that news from Herb
  Simons, who was
   present at the after-hours
  discussion several key scholars
   had had
  with Burke after the first day’s seminars.
           Other names that can be added to
   speculations about Burke and religion
  include, as per Booth
   in that Yale
  publication, Burks, Carter, Duerden, Durham,
   Freccero, Gunn, Gusfield, and Jay.  And I can
  add Richard
   Thames and Steven Mailloux to
  their number (Steve’s paper
   at the Ghent
  Conference: “Under the Sign of Theology:
  Kenneth Burke on Language and the Supernatural
    I won’t lay out my entire case on Burke as
   “coy theologian.”  But I’ll highlight a
  few central
    The bottom line in my correspondence with KB,
   and in my journal piece, was this: It
  doesn’t matter what
   Burke personally
  believed or did not believe.  When a
  theorist posits that symbolizers are inherently
   “theotropic”---I’m borrowing a term from
   here---that theorist is at least a
   theologian.  A “lure” in
  rhetoric, whether in
   “error” or not,
  strongly nudges homo loquax “Upward”
  not only toward a “god term” in general, but also
   the most “perfectly” satisfying
  God-term of all (GM, pp.
   306; RM, pp.
  275-76, 290-91; RR).
           And especially
  when it can be related to extant
  historic theological systems, that generic theology takes
   on some kind of shape, affords a bit of
  implicit commentary
   this ubiquitous
  attribute.  I’ve characterized Burke’s
  dramatism/logology as a quasi-gnostic (a radical sense of
   “Fall” into language, not into a
  lustful body)
   universalism (the quest for a
  “god-term” that unites all
   of humanity,
  and a focal program aimed at “purifying”
   conflict and “war”), friendly to
  Whitehead’s process
   theology (with its
  dialectics, de-perfecting of the Godhead,
  and rejection of a life after death; note what Burke said
   the movie shown at Airlie House,
           Add to these pillars of
  support what I would
   conceive as Burke’s
  occasional drift into theological
  principles in the paradigm sense, i.e., statements that
   to do with, or surely adumbrate, the
  actual existence of a
   Divine Essence of a
  kind.  When Burke says the
  ground” out of which humans proceeded
  “contains the principle of personality, quite as it
   contains the principle of verbalizing,” that
   “’nonverbal’ ground must have
  contained the
   ‘potentiality’ of the
  verbal, otherwise the verbal could
   not have
  emerged from it,” Burke has crossed the line, I
   would suggest, into theology or religion
  proper (RM, pp.
      An analogous proposition is found in the
   Calabi-Yau version of string theory via the
   principle,” the “notion
  that the observed laws of nature
   must be
  consistent with the presence of intelligent life
   and, specifically, the presence of intelligent
   like us.  Put in other terms,
  the universe looks the way it
   does because
  if conditions were even slightly different,
  life would not have formed and humans would not be around
   observe it” (Shing-Tung Yau and Steve
  Nadis, The Shape of
   Inner Space: String
  Theory and the Geometry of the
  Hidden Dimensions , Basic Books, 2010, p.
           Analogous, also, as I see it,
  is this quotation
   highlighted in one of
  Deacon’s two Ginn Lectures: “We
   need an
  understanding of nature such that it is not absurd
   to say that it has us as its products,” by
  Belgian chemist
   Ilya Prigogine and the
  physicist Victor J. Stenger. 
  (“Naturalizing Teleology: The Redemption of Science by
   Rediscovery of Self and Value,”
  Deacon, 2014.)
           Illustrative of
  what different observers will
   “see” in
  a given statement, question, lacuna, or
  phenomenon, Stenger was one of the “new atheists,”
   author of God: The Failed Hypothesis: How
  Science Shows That
   God Does not Exist,
  2007.  Stenger, former blogger for the
  Huffington Post, famously said, “Science flies you to
   moon.  Religion flies you into
  buildings.”  One could
   just as
  “truthfully” say, “Religion prepares meals,
   low cost or free, for the elderly and needy in
   Country, Pennsylvania, and in
  other communities across the
   world.  The
  likes of godless communism and Nazism kills a
   hundred million persons, give or take a few
  tens of
   millions, in quest of a
  ‘heaven’ on earth.”
           As Burke
  says, symbols unite and divide, select
  and select out, induce attention toward and induce
   attention away from.  Pick the blinkered
  lenses of your
   choice.  They’re all
           So, later, an examination of
  the case for the
   ubiquity of religion
  Deacon and Cashman make in the article
  concludes: “We speculate that something like a
   religious predisposition, in the most general
  sense of the
   term, should be considered a
  universal consequence of the
  capacity evolving, whether here on earth, or in any
   other context where symbolic cognition might
   KB mailing list
   KB at kbjournal.org
   Clarke Rountree
   Chair and
  Professor of
   Communication Arts
   342 Morton Hall
   University of
  Alabama in Huntsville
   Huntsville, AL 
   clarke.rountree at uah.edu
  KB mailing list
  KB at kbjournal.org
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