God, The Devil and Consciousness

Dr. Josh Stout Discusses God, The Devil, Atheist Faith, the Universe, cosmology, spirituality, Truth, lies, race, religion, genetic similarity, music, math, spiritual experience, daimons, faith, and the eclipse.

God, The Devil and Consciousness
The eclipse, April 8 2024. Photo by Dr. Josh Stout, deeply moved.

Dr. Josh Stout 0:01

But doesn't, like respond to us. It just is. 

Eric 0:06

It's still Friday, April 19th, and this is episode two of season three. Josh just had taken such a long break that this stuff is just bursting out of him. What is it? What are we talking about here, Josh? 

Dr. Josh Stout 0:22

Okay, so I'm an atheist. I do not believe in what most people would call God, and I have discovered that I have a whole set of really firm beliefs, despite what I would think of as an atheist that I can't base on anything other than faith. And they have to do with what the universe is. 

Eric 0:44

But they are not faith in a god. 

Dr. Josh Stout 0:47

Perhaps. I don't know. I mean, I'm not agnostic. I know what I believe and don't believe. I believe in the universe. If you think the universe is God, then I believe in God. I don't think you could believe in a God that wasn't at least universe plus. And so I believe in that before the plus part. I believe in an infinite universe that, you know there is no universe but the universe. If you said there is no God but God and you said the God is the universe, I'd be like, exactly. Yes. There's no there's no universe before the universe. There's no universe outside the universe. 

Eric 1:23

Yes, I'd say I have no argument with that. I don't know that I'd say I agree completely. But yes, if you're saying there's no difference between the universe and God. Okay. 

Dr. Josh Stout 1:32

Anyway, it doesn't not. Not. Not in my particular faith. Okay. Again, it's a faith. 

Eric 1:37

Not in your atheist faith. 

Dr. Josh Stout 1:39

Not in my atheist faith that seems to almost have a God that we call the universe. But not exactly. So I just had not only these these sort of visions of what the shape of the universe is, and it's cosmology that we've been discussing. But I just had a something close to a profound religious experience. Going to see the eclipse. It was truly moving. I, I, I was I was amazed by it. 

It was it was everything that you read about in in religious experiences. And this was my second eclipse. And the first one wasn't like that. And there's a real difference. The first one I was with just a few members of my family in a field in South Carolina. And it was gorgeous and it was beautiful and I loved it. And it was an amazing, amazing thing to see. The second one, I was in a large crowd on a beach in Ohio, on the on the shores of Lake Erie. And it was profoundly moving. It was amazing as… 

Eric 2:49

Was the difference the people?

Dr. Josh Stout 2:50

It was the people. It was being part of a crowd. And there's something about religious experiences. There is there's the experience of the hermit away from the crowd, which is somewhat of like the visions I've been having of this sort of ultimate monotheism, the ultimate. There is no universe but the universe. That's what people tend to have out in the desert when they're away from people. But there's an ecstatic portion to religion. There is there is something else where you're feeling part of the crowd as well. And this is well-documented. And so I don't want to say that religion doesn't exist. I clearly believe that religion does and that it has been an important part of human evolution that, you know, we can't we can't ignore. 

Eric 3:32


Dr. Josh Stout 3:33

Undeniably. And it is guided the way our consciousness works. And so, you know, it's certainly something I've been thinking about, how how can we address this without sort of falling into debate over existence of religion in one God versus another or any of that stuff. But talk about it in a sort of interested point of view of an atheist believer, let's say, and this is a profound experience for me to realize that there is something there and that something is the universe, but there's something else there. And that's something is human belief and feeling, and that's what I was really experiencing as as as part of this crowd. As it got darker and darker, there was this tremendous sense of expectation and somewhat anxiety because, one, it could be cloudy at any moment. We might not actually get to see it. The clouds have been rolling across. We've been driving up and down the shores of Lake Erie for 3 hours that day, already trying to find a good sunny spot. We'd ended up on this peninsula sticking way out into Lake Erie, and everyone else had gotten there, too. And it was it was the best place to be. You got a longer time in totality or you're very close to the midpoint. It was an amazing, amazing place. And the crowd had this sense of anticipation. Everyone was there for the same thing and we were all anxious and hoping and waiting. And as it got closer and closer, that that that feeling built and built and built. And, you know, as a teacher, I am used to being aware of the people around me. I'm aware of their there's sort of what we call energy levels of where of their their their focus. And I could feel everything focusing on one thing and the energy levels going higher and higher and higher. I'm used to feeling that in a crowd responding to it and being, you know, helping direct it. And here I was just passively part of something that I was I was just focused on this event with everyone else. And then when it happened, it was it was just a shattering moment as the whole crowd saw it. I'm tearing up right now just thinking about it. It was it was beautiful. But it was also this feeling of it happened. It happened just as it was foretold to us. And here it is being revealed from heaven, this thing. And everyone's just staring and all just just flat out. Or there was a pressure that built right as it was happening. Everything became almost silent in a huge crowd. And it was it was. It was spooky. It was. It was wonderful. And then when it ended, there was another cheer because the sun had come back and, you know, we were thinking, we can cheer that it was over. It was a little bit of like cheering after an event. But it was it was also, you know, the world continues to live and it was it was it was truly moving in that sense as well. And I just wept the whole way back to the car. And then as as as we were driving back, I was I was shaken because of being part of of of this. I don't think everyone experienced it the same way I did. 

Eric 6:52

But the others in your family feel anything like this? 

Dr. Josh Stout 6:55

They were happy. They were excited. They're really glad. No, no one was quite as moved in quite the same way. Well, I'd been really in touch with the feeling of being part of the crowd, and it's something that I've trained to do. 

Eric 7:08

Thinking about cosmology a lot just now. 

Dr. Josh Stout 7:10

And I've been thinking about cosmology. Exactly. And so I was I was thinking about what that is and that side of religion and as opposed to the God is the universe side of things. So God is the universe is for me, the true God. This is what is I believe in what is and what is this what is. And I don't have faith in anything other than what is, and that is the universe and that is reality. 

Eric 7:40

Isn't this enough? Just this? 

Dr. Josh Stout 7:42

Just this. Right. And I think it is beautiful in that it looks it appears beautiful when we damage it, it appears less beautiful. So I think we're actually removing from truth and beauty when we, you know, deforest a mountain. We are we're harming God in that sense. We're removing some of the reality that was there and then impinging on it. And I think that this is the aspects of essentially the false God. 

And the false God we tend to think of as evil and the devil, the father of lies, of falsehoods, of of of everything that's against truth. The truth is what is. Right? The universe. Truth is God. Truth is what is. the false God is lies, is the opposite of truth. False God does not exist. The universe exists. Not the universe doesn't exist. But these are what we produce as humans in our brains. Everything we do tends to be at a level one step away from from the actual truth. Right? Our perceptions can't perceive the truth directly. We can't see the world directly. Everything has to be filtered through our imagination. 

This is, you know, the Buddhist belief that there is an existing world, but the world that we as humans live in is the world of illusion. And, you know, part of this is, you know, all of the stories we tell to each other. And so are are these stories are these are these near lies hiding nature? I don't think so. So art and stories and poetry are ways of telling something that's not precisely true, that brings to a higher level of truth, where we appreciate the beauty of nature, where we appreciate the, you know, the truth of a mountain that that isn't there. Sitting there in the mountain, that's in the art. We make about it. But that art is itself true and sort of a higher level of beauty. 

But it can go the other way as well. We can use lies for power. We can manipulate each other and we do. And all of these things tend to remove from the beauty of the universe. They they're moving in the opposite direction. And so this is where we get the idea of, you know, ‘in league with the devil’, ‘the power of the devil’, the power of lying, the power of negativity. You know, I my wonderful philosophy professor, Elfie Raymond, said that the devil is the principle of negativity, the idea of not something, the idea you know, of of of, of causing someone pain, of lying to someone of of, of reducing truth. 

But we really shouldn't think of it as only this negative sense because, again, poetry isn't truth in our normal understanding of truth, but it's a higher level of truth. Art doesn't look exactly like the thing we're trying to represent. It's not a perfect truth, but it gives a higher level of truth and is beautiful because of that. So these these things that humans do, we for, you know, a really long time, often thought of as evil, right? Human civilization is moving away from God. We have to destroy the cities. We have all of these bad things, but culture also produces beauty. And so both of these things are the false God, the false God is human culture itself. And it can go either way, but we know that lies are a path to power and power corrupts, and that is, you know, being in league with the devil. And, you know, this is this is exactly what I see, you know, Putin's power in the world being that he is able to without the world's best army, create the world's best liars, and he sends them out to every nation on earth and they move towards this this idea of authoritarianism, this idea that I you you can't trust reality. You have to trust the leader. You can't believe even scientists who are trying to tell you the truth, you have to believe what the leader tells you. So, you know, he's. 

Eric 12:02

Or just that is you. If you you, you would think that the powers of evil would destroy. But as I've been saying for a while now, the way that he works is he builds things up, right? He just chooses what he builds up. 

Dr. Josh Stout 12:15

And this these these lies this is also something we discussed, you know, between each other is that there is there's a world of ideas that exists outside of our individual brains. So a Republican knows what to say without having to need to be told because there's this sort of larger milieu. 

Eric 12:34

That’s the idea of the smoke filled rooms are no longer necessary. 

Dr. Josh Stout 12:38

They're no longer necessary. We have our own sort of operating systems of beliefs. And, you know, once you have created this idea, they're very easy to manipulate. So, you know, in my opinion, the first lie was racism, the first lie in this country. That's why they would talk about it is as the as the original sin sin, because it's what really broke us and left us not able to see our own truths because we were both trying to say we hold these truths and inalienable and have slaves. So we we clearly couldn’t. 

Eric 13:14

Hold these truths to be self-evident. 

Dr. Josh Stout 13:16

Yeah, exactly. 

Eric 13:17

While we have slaves. 

Dr. Josh Stout 13:19

Same person, not just in general… 

Eric 13:23

You were born in conscious hypocrisy. 

Dr. Josh Stout 13:25

Yeah. So, So we broke ourselves with this first lie and this first lie moved into the anti evolution movement where basically white people didn't want to be related to black people who they clearly thought were something related to monkeys. And that whole thing wasn't going to work for them. And so the whole anti-science movement began with racism. 

And, you know, science had been pretty racist, and was for a while after that. But science started to realize what a lie race was and started to move away from it as even a thing. You know, it's not even it's it has no validity at all. Right. We can talk about gender as a social construct, but at least there you can see that there are differences between the biological sexes. There's a real thing there. There is no biological race. It doesn't exist. So this is a pure lie that has now moved us away from any kind of working with science. And then yet that got used by the same people who first needed to keep led in the gasoline. So the oil companies were using the anti-science, even though they were obviously scientists, they were using anti-science doubts to get across their oil lies then the anti-global warming, same oil companies. This is the same system of duping people into believing lies that is now all cored back to their sort of original faith in their racism. And this was all faith in lies. It's the devil, It's the devil at work. So what does the devil get to do because of this? He gets to destroy the earth and you know mine and drill for oil and pollute and all of these things because we believe these lies and they're all based on this one, you know, devilish lie of race in our country. And in my opinion, I can see a straight through line through all of these things. And this made us weak. And so Russia has been able to manipulate us in many ways because of this weakness. You know, they they're the ones that really were pushing the people against vaccines. They were before the Soviet Union fell, the KGB was pushing the liberal anti-vaxxers, and it became conservative anti-vaxxers under Putin, sending out these messages. Now we have our own crazy ideas. He just boosts them and helps them and pushes them along. 

Eric 15:45

He doesn’t destroy, doesn't tear anything down. He just builds things up. 

Dr. Josh Stout 15:48

Yeah. And so, you know, he loves race and he'll he'll fund Black Lives Matter and anti Black lives matter because he love he he loves the concept of race dividing us. And then and every time we get divided, he wins in any way. And the more divided we are, the more people tune out. So he wins again. And it's just this constant thing where it's it's it's clearly what we would see as the work of the Devil, destruction division, drawing a line between people Palestinians and Israel. 

Eric 16:16

My only problem with calling these things the devil and calling things God is that this is the work of individual human beings across the board. It's people who who are doing these things. 

Dr. Josh Stout 16:28

It is absolute. Yes, yes, yes, yes. And so. 

Eric 16:32

It’s not Satan, it's not God. Okay. It’s people making choices.

Dr. Josh Stout 16:37

Ok. So. The Universe is a mountain just sitting there, right? And that mountain is just the mountain sitting there. The mountain, you know, does a rock care. The rock does not care. Does the universe care? I care. I'm part of the universe. So in that sense, it cares, but not really like like, you know, if the grizzly bear is coming. 

Eric 16:58

The grizzly bears coming. 

Dr. Josh Stout 16:59

I can't tell it. I have children and I need to feed them. It's going to eat me because it doesn't care. 

Eric 17:06

Sometimes you eat the bear. 

Dr. Josh Stout 17:06

Yeah, it doesn't care in that sense. Right. And so that's. That's the universe. Yes. But we build this human world of ideas where, you know, we've now developed like teams essentially in, in, in, in our in our understanding of politics. And one of those teams is purely dedicated to destruction and they think there's a civil war coming. And they. 

Eric 17:31

Yes, but again, like either side calling anything in this the work of the devil. 

Dr. Josh Stout 17:39

It's scary. 

Eric 17:40

It's but it's a mistake because it takes us away from the understanding of what's happening. It's people doing things. 

Dr. Josh Stout 17:47

What I'm saying is the devil is people. I don't believe in the devil as a thing. And so that that's what I'm trying to get at is, is the lies themselves. This, this, this, this ability is something that we have opened ourselves up to. And we have a a culture that has deep in its soul, a willingness to believe its own lies and and and that we must believe these lies to be our culture. And so we associate, you know, statues for the Confederacy with being for the South and for being for your state and for history and for heritage and for your family. And if you want your family to have a history, you must keep that statue there. And so we we, we we firmly, firmly believe in the lies that we've we've made our culture out of. And this makes us vulnerable. And this is what Putin is after us with. You know, we should be stronger as a democracy. We should not vote to help the richest people and harm the poorest people. And yet we do over and over again. And we do this partly because of race and partly because of all the other lies that we're told, you know, to keep our guns and. 

Eric 19:11

Because all of the wealthiest people are telling us the same lies all at the same time from all of the same news sources, it like, you know, it's baked in. It's stacked against us. 

Dr. Josh Stout 19:25

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And it's because we've been believing lies since the beginning. 

Eric 19:32


Dr. Josh Stout 19:32

And it we need to stop this and we, we need to move past the lies that we tell ourselves. 

Eric 19:42

And how do you move past an original sin that has hundreds of years of investment in it? 

Dr. Josh Stout 19:46

Yeah. No, we have to end the concept of race. Race is racist. And I have talked about this. 

Eric 19:53

Can we start with eliminating the Electoral College? 

Dr. Josh Stout 19:56

That would be a good start. 

Eric 19:57

I think that that I think that that was built on what you're talking about. 

Dr. Josh Stout 20:02

Sure, sure, sure. 

Eric 20:03

And I think that that is right now, at least politically, what is what is perpetuating it or at least making it possible for the rule of the minority. To continue. 

Dr. Josh Stout 20:12

Right. I’m not pro critical theory in general, because reading for bias, I think warps the thing you're reading. But the idea of critical race theory is looking at how race has indeed guided many of our institutions through history. And it's difficult to say it hasn't been happening. I think there are other things that have been happening in history. 

Eric 20:36

No, I know a lot of people find it easy to say, but I know what you mean. 

Dr. Josh Stout 20:39

But, you know, it's it's it's there's definitely a through line of the lies of racism and the development of our modern society. And there's there's no way to argue, it. 

Eric 20:53

It seems to me, to be undeniable. 

Dr. Josh Stout 20:56

Yeah. And we need to start addressing that directly as a thing to get rid of, you know, how how do we address that? 

Eric 21:05

Have you ever in your classes discussed “there is no race that this is a lie”. 

Dr. Josh Stout 21:10

Yeah. And I and I mentioned that the people who believe in this are racists. And I say that anyone who talks about race is using race as a concept which is itself racist. And there's no way out of this conundrum. 

Eric 21:22

What do you what do what when you bring this up in classes, how do students respond to this? 

Dr. Josh Stout 21:26

They nod. 

Eric 21:27

They're just like “uh huh”?. 

Dr. Josh Stout 21:28

Yeah, okay. And and it's interesting because the people who are coming from right wing families, which there are a lot of them, they agree with that part. They agree with the idea because that's what the racists say, that there is no race and that's why -

Eric 21:44


Dr. Josh Stout 21:46

And that's why they say that, you know, the government is is racist against white people because, you know, they're they're giving advantages to black people and that's racism. All of these things, all of that is is is lies, lies, lies, lies, lies. Now, there are people there are people from different places. There are people people with different backgrounds. They have different cultures. These are things that make us richer as as as a country. And, you know, we should acknowledge that there are different groups of people. That's fine. But the idea of of of race and racism is racist.

Eric 22:19

We are Homo sapiens, and that's what we are. 

Dr. Josh Stout 22:21

Yeah, Homo sapiens. Exactly. Yeah, we we are. We are. We are one and we are one. More than almost any other animal is we we are almost genetically identical way, way more than, say, chimpanzees are. 

Eric 22:34


Dr. Josh Stout 22:35

Chimpanzees from one side of the Congo to the other have more genetic diversity than, say, someone from England and Papua New Guinea. Would you would think that those people would be much further apart. They certainly look different in many ways to us as humans, but they are almost not different at all, except for literally the skin deep melatonin, you know, sorry, melanin, you know, the pigment and that and that. It's just this these things we inherited from Neanderthals as we moved out of Africa, these various differences, it's it's bizarre how much importance we placed on these things and that they really haven’t made us different groups. 

Eric 23:11

Well, it’s not bizarre, like you said,  it's very clear it's extremely useful to the forces that want to control. 

Dr. Josh Stout 23:18

Right. And it's and it's playing on our sort of evolutionary patterns of… 

Eric 23:23

This is what I've always seen is the real purpose of religion is social control. So it's all of these things well, but. 

Dr. Josh Stout 23:29

In a good way and a bad way for if you're a society, you need to keep yourself together. Having a book of rules on how to keep yourself together and not kill each other. Yeah, it's super useful ones that do that are religions. 

Eric 23:41

Good things to eat, bad things to eat… 

Dr. Josh Stout 23:42

Tend to continue existing. Yeah, Religions that advocate pure celibacy tended to die out. Those have happened over and over again. Yeah. Why did they happen over and over again? People who are celibate probably get a lot more done, right? These are why, you know, monks got to copy all those books. You do literally have more energy to do things.

Eric 24:02

Gotta write!  Gotta write! 

Dr. Josh Stout 24:03

And so you can have a really successful group of people who've alienated themselves from the rest of society. They don't need anything from them. They can do everything themselves. But yeah, they're not going to live very long as a society. Society? Yeah, the next generation just isn't happening. All right. Yeah. I wanted to just sort of get at this idea of, of of culture as being both good and bad. I want to come back to the idea of the devil. Remember, the devil is also Lucifer. So this is the light bringer. This is Prometheus. This is this is science bringing us knowledge when we as humans describe anything, it's mediated through our description. I mean. 

Eric 24:40

When you're talking about the, the, the, the New Testament, I mean, I mean the the I mean we're the world wasn't wasn't the, the, the, the old Jewish concept of the devils as the mischievous forces in life. It wasn't evil. It was it was a new isn't the origin of this. 

Dr. Josh Stout 24:59

I don't know. I think you get to Babylonian stuff. 

The devils and angels in Judaism came out of the Babylonian captivity, and then you're talking about really strange things, you know, Leviathan and Tiamat and all of that stuff. And the biblical flood that was happening in the Babylonian version and Gilgamesh and eternal life and all that. 

Eric 25:24

So it's a completely different..

Dr. Josh Stout 25:26

It’s a completely different religion that got stuck on there. Yeah, but, you know, the idea of, science studying reality, the universe, but then bringing out of it something that becomes part of human culture. So we can we can use it and it becomes the atomic bomb and it's kind of inherently evil in that it just destroys, right? It's what. 

Eric 25:53

But Chris Nolan makes a beautiful movie. 

Dr. Josh Stout 25:55

The ultimate sort of power of negativity is this ultimate destruction. But, you know, these were just theories about the nature of the universe that really were letting us understand what the universe itself was. But once we bring it into the human world, then we've turned it into this this world of culture. You know, this is this is why, you know, Lao Tzu, when he was writing down the rules for for living, put them on a on a on a bronze bell and then melted down the bell because as soon as you put something into words, you've moved it out of truth and into the human world. And the more you do that, the more impact it can have on humans. Yes, but the less truth it is, You know, so, so math is perhaps our highest language of truth that you can't really lie in math. But, you know, as my colleague likes to say, you know, figures never lie. But liars can figure, you know, you can you can use math to say whatever you want, because once it's in the human realm, you can you can. What about music? You know, music is is is, is is beautiful math, essentially. And so I think it tends towards truth and as as shown by its beauty. But you know then it all sorts of not everyone perceives it the same way we get into the human aspects of it where you know, I might not like it kind of music that you like as music. So there's matters of taste that are I might think that my music is more true than your music, you know, that's like, my God is more true than your God. 

Eric 27:24

Well, but that's what I'm saying is, is any music not true? Is any music a lie? 

Dr. Josh Stout 27:29

I don't think so. But there are certainly aspects where I can like something and I might not like something else. Or I could I could over time grow to like something. 

Eric 27:37

But that wouldn't. But that's not dealing with its truth. 

Dr. Josh Stout 27:40

Exactly. So this is what I'm talking about with with the culture, having a truth that's outside us would be things like music and math and the stuff where we've made these things to talk about truth, to talk about the universe, and that are to a certain extent outside us. And this is again, where I'm not I, I'm an atheist, absolutely. But there seems to be something beyond us that exists, and it's us. It's our culture, but it's it's like math and music. It's like what I was feeling at the eclipse is this It's this larger feeling that we make ourselves but is real and is certainly something that is a through line, through human evolution that we have this this, this ability to make something larger than ourselves, to hold ourselves together, to have communities that can continue on about. 

Eric 28:31

Are you talking about spirituality? Is this a spiritual feeling that you're feeling? 

Dr. Josh Stout 28:36

It's something like memes, but like not the memes of… 

Eric 28:40

When you were standing there at the eclipse and you had this feeling that you could not have expected and that you don't even know what other people were feeling. Mm hmm. But it was affected by the other people being there. Yes. Yes. It sounds very spiritual. 

Dr. Josh Stout 28:54

Well, I think it's what a lot of people feel and then describe as a spiritual experience. 

Eric 28:58

Yes, but you're not. 

Dr. Josh Stout 28:59

I was experiencing being part of a culture. And I think that's what a lot of spiritual experiences are. And I have a hard time with that because I don't feel part of a culture in many events in a church, for example, I could feel it a little bit for a Christmas celebration when everything gets quiet and everyone singing Silent Night together. And it's really sweet. You know, there's a there's a moment there. 

Eric 29:21

But you're not going to put your finger on that experience of the eclipse and say that that was a spiritual experience. 

Dr. Josh Stout 29:26

Well, the same way, like what I would be feeling in church singing Silent Night Together, I feel part of a community. I feel tied to something. But it's not God. But it is. It is real. But it's it's again, it's the false God. It's Lucifer. It's the light bringer. It's it's. It's Prometheus. It's. It's our source of knowledge and art and everything that humans create. It's both bad and good. So it's it's Einstein coming up with understanding relativity and the way the universe works. And then that being turned into atomic weapons. 

Eric 29:57

So you’re using Satan very much in the the what is it, the Church of Satan where we're that's where it's not there's nothing negative It's it's the concept of of of of human awareness and human knowledge and human ability like you said, to take things from nature and make them real and bring them in. I think that's what that, that's what you're describing is. 

Dr. Josh Stout 30:21

Yeah, I think I need to have a podcast just on magic soon. But the the ancient Greeks had the idea. 

Eric 30:29

But it's interesting because every time you say this is the devil, this is the this is the you know, the it's not that this devil is not a force of darkness can be. It could be. But but because knowledge can go in any direction. But but it's it's not inherently dark and evil and bad. 

Dr. Josh Stout 30:45

Absolutely not. No. And it's taken over over time particularly like in medieval Christianity. The more something was associated with humans, the more bad it was. And they got to the point of this sort of almost manichaeistic universe of completely two different sides where there was this outside God who was the Creator, God. And then there was the this is the Albigensians or the Cathars. They and they they didn't believe that anything they saw was real. Everything was created by the devil. And so they became, you know, so the Catholic Church, for this heresy, killed them all, proving the dominance of the good God, you know. 

But yeah, I mean, they had debates like the bishops having debates on like, you know, the Catholic bishops saying, isn't the world beautiful? Don't you see the beauty in the world? And they're saying, no, the world is purely evil. So this is something that happened more and more within modern religion, is that everything having to do with humans in the world and desire and all of this is evil. And I disagree with it. 

Eric 31:41

You disagree with this. And what you're saying is that when you say Lucifer or the devil, you're more talking about a character. A character who who, who can bring certain things to humanity, and then humanity chooses what to do with them. 

Dr. Josh Stout 31:56

Something like that is Prometheus. 

Eric 31:57

Not inherently bad or evil. 

Dr. Josh Stout 32:00

So so in in, in, in Greek culture, there was the idea of the daimon. The daimon, the daimon was energy itself. And it was the the, the, the good luck you would have. It could be bad luck. But you wanted the good luck, you wanted the good energy. It was often a snake you kept in your house and fed honey and cakes. Which is kind of strange because snakes don't eat those things. Maybe the rats did and that’s what fed the snakes. But this was the good luck of your house. The Agathodaemon, the good, the good energy, the Agatha tyche and the the this this idea of of the daimon was very much related to the idea of concepts of spirit. For example, later in Christian thought. But, you know, there is this idea of, you know, good spirit, evil spirit. Some religions put this in. It's like two sides where there's good versus evil. I would I would say the universe is one thing, but anything having to do with humans is mixed and divided. Then you get into sort of the Heraclitian thing. You can't step into the same river twice. You know, we're we're a mixture. Everything is a mixture of our intentions, which are a mixture of all of our thoughts together. 

Eric 33:17

And but I like this because because you know, this, this, this, this matches up with with what I've been, you know, inoculating my children with with against against religion, which is that, you know, these are characters in a story and that it deepens and understanding you know, it's no one is all good or all evil in reality. And if we can understand these as characters and read these stories as literature rather than religion, our understanding of them deepens and our understanding of what these figures can be in life and in culture, right? Deepens. 

Dr. Josh Stout 33:54

Because all of that's the human side. All of that is the stories we tell ourselves to try and understand something that's bigger than us, that is beyond us. And that's the universe. Yes. And the universe is. And it just is. And it's not mixed. It's not like part something. 

Eric 34:12

The Universe is, and only the universe is the universe. 

Dr. Josh Stout 34:14

Exactly. It's not. It's not it's not mixed up with other stuff. [There is one universe.] Exactly. So so this is what I'm talking about. The difference between sort of a false God and a true God. But as you say, that's probably not the best way to talk about it. 

Eric 34:26

It has a negative connotation. 

Dr. Josh Stout 34:27

It has a negative connotation. 

Eric 34:28

The false god is evil. 

Dr. Josh Stout 34:30

Yeah. No, I'm talking about culture itself. 

Eric 34:31

You're not you're not saying,… your false. god is absolutely not necessarily evil. It's humanity that casts evil-ness or good-ness on a thing or a piece of knowledge. 

Dr. Josh Stout 34:42

And to the extent that something becomes destructive, then it becomes the destructive bad side. 

Eric 34:46

Yeah, that's a whole other way. You just need to have this, you know, your terminology needs to be discussed before you use these words because these instincts just kick in when you use these words. 

Dr. Josh Stout 34:55

Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm thinking much more of the way you say Indonesians would often think of a demon. A demons are neither good nor bad, but they're pure power. And so you can work with them, but they're likely to get you in trouble. 

Eric 35:10

But you better have respect because, man, that can hurt. 

Dr. Josh Stout 35:12

Power tends to corrupt. Yeah. And so the demons tend to corrupting you. So this is, you know, this is what nuclear power did to Oppenheimer. He, he, he was a good person who was partly corrupted by his own ability to find power in a literal sense and what he was doing. So, you know, we have to be careful of of of of those demons. They are they are dangerous. 

Eric 35:35

And they actually exist. 

Dr. Josh Stout 35:36

And they actually exist in this sense. And, you know, there are also our inner demons, you know, our desires, the things that control us, the things that we have to resist, but also give us energy so that everything has these two sides to it. You know, if you're stubborn, you could also be determined. You know, if you're fearful, you could also be cautious. The two sides to almost everything inside us are these demons. And if they're working for us, we're powerful, they're working against us. We are weak. If they control us, we're lost. We're lost. Exactly. Yeah. And so these these are these are the choices that we've always tried to describe with religion. But I think what they're describing is the way human culture works and that religion keeps going back to. But there's this other thing that's reality, and then there's culture that talks about it, and then religion is the culture. So it's talking about the reality. We get the, you know, the the Jewish psalms, which are all about how distant God is because you can't really describe God - anything we use for words isn't going to succeed. 

Eric 36:47

Is not going to be anywhere near God. 

Dr. Josh Stout 36:49

Exactly. Because of the nature of God. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And so this this is sort of what I'm trying to get to in a sort of atheistic way. 

Eric 36:57

How do you describe the fact that the speed of light is the same no matter where you are, how fast you were traveling? 

Dr. Josh Stout 37:02

Yeah. And can I prove that I can't because the universe is bigger than me and I can only test small parts of it right here. Yeah. Yeah. Where it is right here, right now. And so I believe it's the same everywhere, because anything else would be madness. 

Eric 37:18

So I have to believe that. 

Dr. Josh Stout 37:20

I have to believe that. Yeah exactly.

Eric 37:21

With my fists gripped tight. 

Dr. Josh Stout 37:24

Exactly. Yeah. Anyway, I just. I needed to get some of that off my chest, and I really, really, really, really wanted to put some beautiful eclipse pictures as the logo for this, this particular episode because it was. No, I have some. 

Eric 37:37

Of the ones you took. 

Dr. Josh Stout 37:38

I have one that is really amazing and it actually I'll describe it for a moment. Just before totality, the sky is actually getting dark. It didn't get dark until just before, like even with a sliver of sun. It looks still bright. Is a normal day. Starting to get a little chilly, though, and then it's getting noticeably darker in the sky just before totality. A plane flew across the sun, leaving a contrail that perfectly bisected the sun. There was a halo of ice crystals around the sun. Now, all of these things happen all the time, but because it was happening during an eclipse, the shadows were crisper. And so I saw something like an eye in the sky that I had never seen anything remotely like that before. And it was all, you know, human interaction that we happened to be looking at, that the plane was there. Right? Very much human. But oh, my God, there was a giant eye in the sky. And it was it was part of what I was feeling as this sort of overwhelming event. And I understood it as absolutely part of being a person, experiencing this with other people. But it was still, you know, a cosmological event that I was I was I was I was watching. So anyway, it was really, really moving. And I want to put that picture up, that particular picture I just described. Yeah. 

Eric 38:44

All right. Thank you for sharing that, Josh. All right, folks, until next time. 

Atheism - Wikipedia

Manichaeism - Wikipedia

Heraclitus - Wikipedia

Agathodaemon - Wikipedia

Catharism - Wikipedia

Leviathan - Wikipedia

Tiamat - Wikipedia

Gilgamesh - Wikipedia

Solar eclipse - Wikipedia

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