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%TEST PERSONAL EXPERIENCE POWER CORRUPT ADDICT 930816 Generalizations seek to point to what is in common among many situations in spite of what is unique to each situation. Generalizations in the sciences often point to the common consequence of some common set of conditions; describing "laws" of nature. Such generalizations say in effect that if certain conditions are set up, then certain consequences will follow---to the extent that conditions are duplicated with sufficient accuracy to permit predictions of meaningful accuracy. Generalization may be descriptive, as is the case in scientific descriptions of how natural objects behave in "obedience" to natural "laws". One of the most accurately predictable patterns in nature is the pattern of the motions of the planets of our own solar system. Yet, not even the future positions of the planets in the solar system can be predicted with meaningful accuracy for 60 million years into the future. The accuracy of predictions depend upon the level of complexity, the accuracy of known initial circumstances, and how far into the future the attempt at making predictions points. Generalizations may be prescriptive in character based upon some descriptive statements about consequences of particular decisions, actions, and generated circumstances. Prescriptive generalizations are often based upon the conviction that descriptive generalizations are accurate and reliable. Certain things should/not be done because we think we know what the consequences of them are sure to be. Other prescriptive generalizations are made to be matters of ultimate concern, and are treated as gods or idols; not to be questioned or tested in the light of the experiences of real unique humans talking about their own personal experiences openly and honestly within secure contexts. When prescriptive generalizations are made matters of ultimate concern and divorced from being tested honestly in terms of human experiences, those who are ultimately concerned about the prescriptive generalizations engage in idolatry. They contend that the prescriptions shall be obeyed even if the consequence of such obedience is the destruction of all forms of life on planet earth. They disallow the possibility of discovering that the prescriptive generalization is disintegrative of personal and communal wholeness, health, and well-being. The commands of prescriptive generalizations are, in their view, given to us to obey without question in selective scriptures which have been carefully chosen to meet the needs of the people who abuse the scriptures to meet their own personal needs. Descriptive generalizations and prescriptive generalizations are individually and/or collectively regarded as the essence of God; or as what God wants for us, desires for us, or issues as commands to us. It is idolatrous to threat them as such. People who do treat them as such often set themselves up as self appointed legislators, administrators AND judges in God's Kingdom; and arrogate to themselves excessive powers without restraints---and become intolerant, unforgiving, abusive and violent people who try to dictate how others should behave, or else. Such people occasion much estrangement, misunderstanding, and alienation; and so help to create many evil relationships. (c) 1997 by Paul A. Smith in "Search for Integrity and Honesty" (On Being Yourself, Whole and Healthy)