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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: RE: (urth) God in the Machine
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 08:46:37 -0700

Welcome, Daniel Goss.

You wrote (among other interesting things):

> the other thoughtful posts on this list are much more interesting to 
> read than my own newbie contribution will be. 

Oh, I don't know ... you've got some good points here.

(You quoted Roy):

> > Chems did, however, come to be self aware (though they were always, to
> > sure, self aware) in a manner and to a degree not intended and not
> > for by their creators."

> I found the possible Genesis parallel here particularly interesting. Roy's

> description of "tools" originally lacking the requisite self-awareness for

> moral agency sounded very much like a description of Adam and Eve before
> became aware of Good and Evil. 
> Which implied, in my mind, that Wolfe's views of God and Typhon might 
> actually be similar in some respects.

Bounce that against the idea that "demons who pretend to be gods become
them" (or however Wolfe puts it), e.g. that Kypris is becoming (a part 
or aspect of) the Outsider, and you have a very interesting point here 
indeed. Though one then has to decide what one thinks was meant by 
their becoming "aware of Good and Evil" -- my own interpretation runs 
with that of Charles Williams, who rephrased it as "the knowledge of 
good as evil," i.e., that everything in creation is good unless one 
chooses to misperceive it, at which point anything can become evil. 
(As Gandalf puts it: "Nothing is evil in its beginning ... Sauron himself 
was not so.") Evil then has its origins in a failure of perception which 
leads to wrong thoughts, attitudes, and behavior, to misuse of the
things and especially the people in the created world. 

Many of the statements of bios and chems cited thus far in the dialog 
are easily understood under this rubric: for primary example, the 
various ways in which bios, chems, and "gods" disdain or worship each 
other as inferiors or superiors, when all are, in the end and in fact, 
created beings and so equal as over against the one Creator. 

> Unless of course one assumes that God, being both omniscient
> and omnipotent, _intended_ His creations to acquire 
> their moral sense by means of their tragic Fall. 

This is a common but probably heretical interpretation. A somewhat
more "nuanced" approach to the same quandary is that God, omniscient,
knows all true things, but the Fall is not a true thing unless He
actually creates the world -- this still fails, however, as it seems
to attribute to God a failure of imagination, of ability to consider
possibilities. Perhaps best is to say that God, knowing the Fall,
would have been able to prevent it, but considered the ways in which
He could have done so (which have the common characteristic of His
in some way overriding the freewill of a creature), or their 
consequences (such as making the creature into an automaton, which
would not be a proper candidate for divine love) to be worse than the
Fall and _its_ consequences ... which, to be sure, from a Christian
(and so Catholic) perspective He chose to take upon Himself in His
second Person.

Dragging that question back to the Long Sun, one then asks whether 
Typhon/Pas knew (or could have known) that the chemical persons 
would turn out to have "free will," "souls," etc., and if so, whether 
he intended this. The most likely partial answer I can suggest is
that, if he did have any inkling of this, he would not have _cared_;
his use of Piaton shows clearly his contemptuous approach to such

> But one is then left to wade through questions about divine 
> predestination and the Gnostic doctrine of God as Author of
> All Things: both Good and Evil alike, both obedience and
> disobedience alike. 

Not quite my understanding of Gnosticism -- rather, that there
is a god, the "god of this world," which is the author of evil,
matter, etc., and a higher God, Author of Good, to Whom we are 
to aspire.

> Which in turn raises one of the oldest theological questions 
> regarding Original Sin: if Adam and Eve weren't moral agents
> before partaking of the fruit of (moral) Knowledge, how might
> the Fall have resulted from their breaking a moral commandment?

Or: if they knew no evil, how could they commit an evil act?

> In the context of Wolfe's chems, another question rears up: 
> _whose_ "tools" had the chems originally been intended to be? 

From what we know of Typhon, everything on the Whorl was, in
all probability, intended to be his own personal tool and/or

> At the end of Chapter 7 of LotLS, Silk asks the talus he 
> confronts: "Don't you fear the immoral gods, my son?" To
> which the talus retorts: "I serve Scylla!" 
> Does the talus serve a goddess? Or a woman digitized into the 
> mere semblance of a goddess? 


> I'n the James Jordan interview, discussing _There are Doors,_ 
> Wolfe remarks: "Laura is my idea of what a pagan goddess might
> be who survived into the Christian world." 
> What sort of theological status Wolfe grants such entities 
> (Laura doesn't seem like the Christian conception of a 
> demoness), I don't know. 

He seems (at least in that novel, as well as the _Soldier_
books) to be taking the position that they are not demons, at
least as such -- possibly they are the "spirits of the middle
air" of which the medieval schoolmen spoke, who had served
neither God nor Satan in the Rebellion. Or possibly he takes 
a related position that they are beings native to Earth but 
of a different order than humans -- rational souls with no
physical body (and so no vegetable and animal souls), though
in the case of Laura at least, this seems unlikely. A third
possibility is that they are something similar to the wizard
of "dufflepud island" in Lewis's VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER,
who is actually placed on that island to guide the natives,
who are not yet "ready" to meet Aslan (==Christ); this fits
with the very common idea that other religions, including but
not limited to Judaism, were given to humans as "preparation"
for Christianity ... with the implication that their lingering
after Christianity has come is either a mistake or a sin.

Still, the gods of Mainframe are clearly quite different from
Laura and the various gods Latro meets ... they're "self-made"
gods, man (6) elevating himself to the status of God (3), that
is, in numerological terms, 666.

> Roy also said:
> "I can't tell from the text whether or not Wolfe thought 'the 
> Outsider loves them as persons'." 
> I don't know whether Wolfe agrees with his protagonist on the 
> subject, but Silk's words to the talus in LotLS are at least
> worth mentioning: "'I don't want to hurt you,' Silk told it.
> 'It's evil--that means very wrong--to destroy chems, as wrong
> as it is to destroy bios, and you are very nearly a chem.'"
> Then, after killing the talus in self-defense, Wolfe says of
> Silk: "His chant was flat and almost mechanical at first, but
> as the wonder and magnanimity of divine amnesty filled his
> mind, his voice grew louder and shook with fervor." 
> The passage seems to confer some measure of spiritual 
> significance on the talus--at least in Silk's rapidly
> enlightening mind. 

...as reported, of course, by Horn, who was not present. But,
yes, this seems to give at least some credence to the idea that
even a talus is to some extent an ensouled being; also in favor
of this is Olivine's special devotion to Quadrifons, who turns 
out to be the Outsider. Quite possibly she also enjoys favor from 
Quadrifons ... but to understand that, we must remember how often
the favored of God seem to "enjoy" special afflictions: Sts 
Teresa of Avila (Teresa of Jesus)and Therese of Lisieux both 
seem to be at least partial models for Olivine.

> (On the other hand, it's worth noting that Silk (or Wolfe, 
> anyway) doesn't invoke the Outsider during the ritual--which 
> he had been doing with bios in  similar circumstances.)

And, again, we have to remember that this is Horn's reconstruction.

> For myself, I suspect Wolfe sees both chems _and_ bios as 
> slaves: not only (on occasion) in relation to each other,
> but (always) in relation to God. 

Ultimately, I think, yes. You cite St Paul; I would add to your
citation his claim to be a slave to Christ. But first and more
obviously, Crew, Cargo, and Chems are slaves to Typhon -- slaves,
in St Paul's terminology, to sin, to the "god of this world,"
the god of the Whorl.

Great post, Daniel. Clearly you are deserving of an insectile



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