Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tracing the histories of our religions -- Judaism and Christianity.

An important goal Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor and Jim Myers shared at the beginning of our journey was discovering how our religions, Rabbinic Judaism and Protestant Christianity, began as two sects of Second Temple Judaism and became two mutually exclusive monotheistic religions.

Mutually exclusive means a person can belong to one but not both religions.

Monotheistic means both religions believe that only one God exists.

From my (Jim Myers) perspective the primary difference between our religions was that they have very different beliefs about God. From Jeffrey’s perspective beliefs about who God is are less important than doing what the God of his Scriptures instructed and commanded people to do. Read the complete blog at --

Friday, October 12, 2018

We are Genetically Structured Creatures

In 1953 when James Watson (left) and Francis Crick presented their model of a DNA molecule (deoxyribonucleic acid model). They had pieced together pieces of a scientific puzzle that scientists had been working on for many years. With the discovery of this model a new way of understanding life began -- humans could understand the basic building blocks of life for the first time in history. Understanding the biology of human behaviors begins with an awareness of the role DNA plays in every person’s life. In discussions that involve conflicts, it is important to identify relevant genetic factors – and make clear distinctions between the roles genes and memes play. Read the complete article at --

Thursday, October 11, 2018

A New Model for Discussing Humans and Human Behaviors

The TOV Center created a science-based model for understanding humans and discussing the ways human behave toward each other:

Humans are genetically structured, realities guided,
social creatures that are dependent on other humans for survival.

Human behavior has been a subject of great interest throughout recorded history. Ancient myths, legends, wisdom literature and sacred texts provide insights into the ways humans interacted with other humans and gods. But, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that science discovered DNA and began to understand how the human brain functions. Becoming aware of the roles genes, memes and social structures play transformed the way we understand what human are and how they behave. Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky sums up what he has discovered through a lifetime of research in the comments below:

1. You can’t begin to understand things like aggression, competition, cooperation, and empathy without biology.

2. You’re just as much up the creek if you rely only on biology.

3. It actually makes no sense to distinguish between aspects of a behavior that are “biological” and those that would be described as, say, “psychological” or “cultural.” They are all utterly intertwined.1

Understanding the biology of human behaviors is obviously important, but unfortunately it is hellishly complicated. However, simply becoming aware of certain facts provides us with distinct advantages, beginning with how most people deal complex, multifaceted phenomena. We break down those separate facets into categories and create “buckets of explanations.”2  Putting facts into nice cleanly demarcated buckets of explanation has its advantages — for example it can help you remember facts better.

But this process can wreak havoc on your ability to think about those facts. The boundaries between different categories are often arbitrary, but once an arbitrary boundary exists we forget that it is arbitrary -- and get way too impressed with its importance. To put it another way, when you think categorically you have trouble seeing how similar or different two things are – boundaries become barriers that focus people’s attention on specific trees and prevents them from being able to see the forest.  If you pay lots of attention to where boundaries are, you pay less attention to complete pictures.3

Each behavior isn’t a stand-alone act of freewill. It is the end product of all the biological influences that came before it and will influence all the factors that follow it. Thus, it is impossible to conclude that a behavior is caused by a gene, a hormone, a childhood trauma, because the second you invoke one type of explanation, you are de facto invoking them all – you have to think complexly about complex things. Wow, what a revelation!4

Today, we hear a lot about how much we have in common with other animals. But, in order to really grasp our humanness, we need to consider “solely human things” -- the things humans do that are unique.

● While a few other species have regular nonreproductive sex – humans are the only ones that talk afterward about how it was.

● Humans construct cultures premised on memes (beliefs) concerning the nature of life and can transmit those beliefs multi-generationally -- even between two humans separated by millennia (consider a person reading the perennial best seller, the Bible).

● Humans can harm other humans by doing things as unprecedented as, and no more physically taxing than -- pulling a trigger, or nodding consent, or looking the other way.

● Humans can be passive-aggressive -- damn with faint praise, cut with scorn, express contempt with patronizing concern.

All species are unique, but humans are unique in some pretty unique ways – especially when it comes to harming or caring for another human.5 Learning how to incorporate the TOV Center model in discussions about human behavior changes the dynamics of how participants interact with those who are “like them” and “those in other groups.”

However, participating in discussion in which the TOV Center model is used allows all members of the group to engage in a new way of self-discovery. It doesn’t usually take long for people to recognizing the irrationalities of humans.

● Humans are not rational optimization machines.

● Humans are more generous in games than logic predicts -- we decide if someone is guilty based on reasoning but then decide their punishment based on emotion.

● Humans make strong moral decisions without being able to explain why.

● You can’t readily reason yourself out of a belief that you weren’t originally reasoned into.

The first benefit of incorporating the TOV Center model of humanness in discussions between members of “Us vs. Thempolitical, religious and economic groups is the creation of “opportunities for cooperation.” In a nation in which disagreement, hate, polarization and fragmentation have become the expected outcomes -- the possibility of “cooperation” is very appealing.

The TOV Center’s Lives 1st Initiative is committed to helping people survive and thrive in the new environments in which we live today. Connect with the TOV Center’s Lives 1st Initiative in one or more of the options below.

Link to the TOV Center’s Lives 1st Initiative through Facebook, Twitter and our Blogs.
Visit the TOV Center website for links to all of these so you will stay up to date.

Please “Like” the Lives 1st Facebook Page now if you find this interesting.

1 Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky © 2017; Penguin Press, New York, NY; p. 4-5.
2 Behave; p. 5.
3 Behave; p. 6.
4 Behave; p. 7-8.
5 Behave; p. 11.
(Updated 10/14/18)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Upgrading to a 21st Century Lives 1st Reality

We are experiencing a society unlike any generation has ever experienced before. It is the product of an evolved democratic society, groundbreaking scientific discoveries and powerful new computer driven technologies that are placing new power options in the hands of the masses – and delivering relentless attacks of weaponized memes against them.

Old Realities institutions are incapable of, not only protecting Americans, but also of making sense of life in America today. Only a New Reality model can protect us from these new dangers and equip us to take advantage of the new opportunities we have to make our lives much safer, better and happier.

● The first step for equipping ourselves to survive and thrive in this new world is by becoming aware of the 21st century scientific model of what humans are -- Humans are creatures that are genetically structured, memes driven and socially dependent for survival.

The next step is to become aware of the roles genes, memes and social structures play in your life and the lives of everyone else in America today.

Old Realities are not working in the social media driven Realities that exist today. They will only intensify the epidemic of conflicts that are sweeping across America and destroying relationships between family members, friends, neighbors, citizens and strangers – and the violence associated with them.

The 21st century scientific model of what we are as humans provides us with an opportunity to break through Old Reality barriers that no generation has ever had before. Think of what it would mean to move past the political, economic and religious conflicts that have taken over our lives!

The TOV Center’s Lives 1st Initiative is committed to helping people survive and thrive in the new environments in which we live today. Connect with the TOV Center’s Lives 1st Initiative in one or more of the options below.

Link to the TOV Center’s Lives 1st Initiative through Facebook, Twitter and our Blogs.
Visit the TOV Center website for links to all of these so you will stay up to date.

Please “Like” the Lives 1st Facebook Page now if you find this interesting.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Watch discussions between Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor and Jim Myers on Genesis 1

Watch discussions between Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor and Jim Myers about the ancient wisdom principles and values embedded in the Hebrew texts of the first creation account in Genesis. Genesis 1 Part 1 consists of eight very short videos that cover the first four days of creation. They have been posted on Facebook, but you do not have to be a Facebook member to watch them. When you click on the play button of each video, a “Sign Up Screen” will pop up -- just click on the “Not Now” option and the video will play. Go to the TOV Center Videos Page to find links to the eight short videos online – CLICK HERE.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

What is The Image of God?

The first clue the ancient text provides about this mysterious image is found in two words of Genesis 1:2 – “RUACH ELOHIYM.” RUACH is defined as breath, wind or spirit; ELOHIYM is the word translated God. They are traditionally translated as “Spirit of God.” But, since they are in a “construct state,” this means they are so closely united that “together they constitute one compound idea.” Read the complete blog at --

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Beginning of the Sixth Day of Creation

I began this series by asking why is it important for 21st century Americans to share a common understanding of “what it means to be humans?” My answer to that question was because it is the one thing that affects every thought we have that includes humans – others and ourselves. And then I pointed out that if your beliefs about God are linked to the words of Genesis, then your understanding of what it means to be a human includes “humans are created in the image of God.” This is the second blog in this series and it is about the first activities that took place on the Sixth Day of Creation.

Keeping things in context is essential for creating accurate understanding of the words of Jewish and Christian Scriptures. For some readers, some of the things you are about to read may challenge your understanding of certain verses. That’s normal because of the linguistic model we use to translate the ancient Hebrew text into English.

We let the words of the ancient texts tell their own culturally and historically accurate stories
instead of reading our stories and theologies into the words of our Bibles.

When we find differences between the ancient meanings of the words of the Bible and our beliefs, we work to discover the origins and histories of our beliefs and why they differed. Now let’s review some highlights of activities on previous days that led up to the events on the sixth day.

Prior to Creation: Immersed in absolute darkness is a deep primordial ocean with a surface above which an unnamed god with a RUACH ELOHIYM hovers. The creation process that follows is the result of the will of the unnamed god and nothing else.

Day One: Mysterious form of light created, distinctions made between light and darkness, light named “Day,” darkness named “Night,” first use of the TOV Standard, first unit of time created.

 Day Two: Solid dome-like structure made below the surface of the deep ocean creating two completely separate bodies of water, solid dome-like structure named “Heavens.”

Day Three: Waters inside solid dome-like structure commanded to “gather” into one place and named “Seas,” in the previous place a “dry thing” appears and is named “Earth,” Earth commanded to cause plants and trees to sprout and grow, and the Earth does as commanded.

Day Four: Two great lights and the stars are made “set in” the solid dome-like structure like a jeweler sets precious stones in a bracelet, they give light on Earth which is for signs, seasons, days and years.

Day Five: First creatures with a soul created, they live in the Seas, winged creatures that fly created, new water creatures empowered to be fruitful, multiply and fill the waters, and winged creatures empowered to multiply upon the Earth.

All of those things had to take place before the creation of humans, because in many cases, if they had not been done first the environment required for human survival would not have existed.

The Creation of the ADAM

The first action that takes place on the sixth day is the creation of animals.

God said, “Let the Earth bring forth a living soul like her kind; a large animals, smaller animals, and wild predator of the Earth, like her kind.  And it was so.

God made the wild predators of the earth like her kind, the large animals like her kind, and every small animal of the Earth like his kind.

And God saw that it was TOV.1

It is very important to understand the roles of the Earth and God in the creation of animals.

1. The Earth brought for an Earth soul with appetites, desires and longings linked to her. In Hebrew a soul is the seat of appetites, desires and longings. The Earth soul is the seat of appetites, desires and longings of three kinds of animals – one of which devours the other types of animals as food. 

2. After the Earth brought forth an Earth soul, God made the physical bodies of the animals. They share many things in common, but have important physical differences.

3. God measures His work with the TOV Standard. For an act to measure TOV it must be beautiful and pleasing to the Creator’s eyes because lives are protected and preserved, made more functional and the quality of life increased. What God saw was TOV. 2

Next is the account turns to the creation of humans.

God said, "Let us make ADAM in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the Earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 3

Simply by understanding the roles of the Earth and God in the creation of animals, answer the question of who the “us” is. The real question raised by the text is “What is “ADAM?” According to the context and ADAM is a “them.” They will have an Earth soul too, with her appetites, desires and longings. They will be creatures that exercise dominion over other creatures, including the animals. The Hebrew word “ADAM” has these meanings – people, men, man or be a name Adam.”

God created the ADAM with His image;
with the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.4

You may also have noticed that we used “with” instead of “in” – “with His image.” Let’s breakdown what happened here.

1. The ADAM is a creature created by God.

2. The ADAM is a creature with the image of God.

3. The ADAM is a “him.”

4. The “him” is “male and female.”

5. The “male and female.” is a “them.”

6. The ADAM is a “them.”

We have now answered the question above and understand how ADAM is a “them.” In the next blog I will discuss what “the image of God” means.

If you found this blog interesting and informative – and want to know when the second blog in this series “The Sixth Day of Creation” will be online -- please let us know by “Liking” the TOV Center’s Lives 1st Facebook Page by clicking here. Also please share this blog with others -- and discuss it!

1 Genesis 1:24-25a
2 The traditional definition of “TOV” is good. Our definition is based on the context of its use in the first creation account.
3 Genesis 1:26
4 Genesis 1:27