The Book Sessions – Part 4 – The Slave Books (2 )

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Gorean Philosophy Class Lecture (6.25.15)

Ok,,,we can go ahead and begin.  As usual in these seminars, I will give a short talk, to introduce the topic and hopefully stir up some discussion.  When I finish, we will have plenty of time for questions and comments, so please hold them until I finish. (picks up his notes)

Tal and greetings Goreans.

I think that this second of our two sessions on the Slave Girl books is the perfect time to present a concept that I think often is missed by the readers of the Gorean novels.  Especially by those disturbed by certain aspects of the Master/slave dynamic that is so much a part of them, and even usually a bigger part of the Second Life role play world.  When taken alone, and not in the whole context of the series, these ideas were very radical and also impossible to defend against the critics of Gor.  Also, sadly, they were accepted blindly by many readers as representing either the philosophical ideas of the author or adapted by people claiming to adhere to Gorean philosophical ideas outside of role play.  I think that if Gor had been created as a role play game on the internet in the first place, this would have never become that much of an issue, but such was never its intent.

Imaginative Sex

So, in discussions and chat room debates, never envisioned in the author’s wildest dreams as he wrote them in a pre-internet world, people have tried to defend these false and inaccurate statements trying to justify or explain their feelings with the aid of the novels.  Many people are aware of John Norman’s book, “Imaginative Sex”, in which he suggested that the relationship between a couple could be enhanced by role play scenarios that added zest and titillation to their sexual activity.  Being the slave of a strong man from another planet was only one of many such scenarios.  It was, however, the one that he chose to base a whole series of novels on and the one that with the advent of the internet, grew into Online Gor.

Last night, I came across a girl that I have known in the past that was exploring the Gorean world, and did not have a very smooth experience in it as a Gorean slave girl, on her profile, she had written: “Do not attempt to give me any direction based on Sci-Fi books.”  I have spoken in previous sessions on the idea that the Gor Novels were not really classified as Science Fiction, but more in the genre known as “Fantasy.”  This is more compatible with the idea of the Master/slave on another planet sexual fantasy of “Imaginative Sex.”

All through the novels, Tarl Cabot, refers back to his old planet of Earth in very critical ways.  He speaks often of how people on Earth are like sheep being led by slogans and platitudes and half truths that pervert truth and allow people an easy way out because they can just foolishly follow and not question.

“I envy sometimes the simplicities of those of Earth, and those of Gor, who, creatures of their conditioning, are untroubled by such matters, but I would not be as either of them.  If either should be correct, it is for them no more than a lucky coincidence. They would have fallen into the truth.”  Page 7  Marauders of Gor


This quote, and others like it, are the warning labels of the Gorean novels.  You notice that Tarl is saying clearly in that quote that he envies the simplicity of the Goreans as well, and would not be like them either.  But, critics of Gor ignore these warning labels and attack such generalizations as:  “Goreans say all women are slaves.”  or  “Gorean say that there are two kinds of females, slaves and slaves.  For years, lovers of the Gor novels have tried to defend such inaccurate statements and ignore the truths that Online Gor, and, indeed, the study of human nature, have so clearly pointed out to us.  Whenever, I believe, that Tarl says,,,,”Goreans say” he is throwing out the “simplicities of their conditioning” having been born and raised in a society that uses such things in the same way Earth uses slogans and conditioning to subvert truth.

The four slave girl novels follow a simple pattern.  They are romantic love stories set against the back drop of a world that is as cruel and barbaric and in many ways misguided as Earth itself.  The basic truths that we might get from reading them, and that seem to be supported by the popularity of kajira role play in online Gor, as well as by many other scientific disciplines, is that many females are genetically wired to respond to strong and honorable men, and being in their presence causes strange feelings of submission.  These feelings of submission, perhaps, the result of millions of years of evolution when females depended on strong men for protection and attracting them was their own means of survival, have not been, and can not be, erased in a couple of generations of technological explosion.

When we forget the “Goreans say ALL” simplicity that the author warns us about again and again, we have a much stronger defense of Gor.  Ever since, the Gorean novels were introduced, the fantasy in them has touched many females.  They have identified with these four girls to one degree or another, from the few girls who get into it deeply in a alternative lifestyle in real life, to the thousands of females that simply enjoy role playing them and their adventures while keeping their real life separate and trying to convince us they spend hours and hours role playing slave girls without a single twinge of connection between the role and real life feelings.  And how much easier is our job in defending Gor, when we are not the ones dealing in absolutes.  When we try to make the claim that….”in every single female there is a slave girl waiting to come out”, we look as stupid as the critics of Gor, who say…”there is really no such thing as a submissive female, and anyone who takes this stuff seriously is sick in the head.” The Gorean novels try to teach us this lesson.

gor earth balance

Truth is not found on the extremes, but rather in the middle somewhere. We can learn to role play this Gorean extreme for fun, but if we want to discuss it seriously, we need to do like Tarl says in the quote, and be like neither of them.  Not all Gorean, and certainly not all wimpy politically correct unthinking Earthmen, because if either of them are right, it is only a lucky accident.  The four slaves girl books show us a fairy tale that we could wish for all females.  Stripped of the world where it takes place, the story tells us that if a girl is strong, brave, unafraid of risk, and able to bounce back from disappointment, perhaps, she might find her true soul mate.  Perhaps, when Men do learn to behave like men, females are drawn to them at an almost genetic level?

When we read them, and study them, and discuss them, these are the things we should be speaking about, the universal truths in them unsullied by the extremes of fictional Gor or the social conditioning of modern Earth. To get the most of these four books, we must get past the surface into the deeper issues.  They are not sacred scrolls as some have spoken of them in the past, nor are they immature sexual fantasy by a rejected suitor.  The experience of online Gor, the large numbers of girls who have been touched by them to the point they would identify as “slaves” in real life, let alone the larger numbers of girls that role play it, point to the fact that something is there.  Something beside sci fi.  That “something” is where serious students of these books should be looking and even what our role play should be exploring. (puts down is notes)

359 Wrong Ways To Go

The Gorean Compass is a class given every Thursday by Master Gorm Runo.  Classes are held at the Gorean Campus and are given at noon and 6pm SLT.  All are encouraged to come and join in the amazing discussions. This class was held on January 31, 2019

Tal and greetings
As I live my own life, I find myself holding to some very firm philosophical concepts.  Over the past few years, one of the strongest of these is the idea that things are not really as complicated as humans in this modern age are tending to make them.  Maybe, one way to express this is that there is an azimuth pointing to “the right way”, and all you have to do is hold the compass steady and see where it is pointing.
I have called this Course, The Gorean Compass, so obviously the analogy of a compass is very important in understanding what I am trying to say in these seminars.
I thought I would begin today with a brief refresher on how this azimuth business works.  A circle is divided into 360 sections, called degrees.  You have heard the expression, “he did a 360”, meaning he turned a complete circle.
 So, imagine yourself standing in a field.  There are 360 possible directions you could go to walk out of that field. If someone blindfolded you, and spun you around in a circle, and then when they stopped, you began to walk the direction you were pointing, you would be walking one of those 360 different directions, and that is called your azimuth.
When a person is following a compass, he sets in one of those 360 azimuths, and as he walks along he checks it from time to time to make sure he is following it exactly.  It seems fairly simple, but the problem with this analogy when you apply it to your philosophy, is that there are 359 wrong ways to go, and only one right way.    That is pretty strict.
In this age of diversity and inclusion, that is a pretty extreme stance.  Most people are going to argue that there are many different interpretations and things are not always black and white.
In Mercenaries of Gor, a fellow named Hurtha expresses this idea to Tarl.

“Right,” said Hrutha, ” if that is what you are interested in, seems to me a very hard thing to understand. I am not sure if there is really any such thing, at all.  I have never tasted it, nor seen it, nor felt it. If it does exist, it seems likely to me that it would be on both sides, like sunlight and air.  Surely no war has been fought in which both sides have not sincerely claimed, and presumably believed, for one reason or another, that they were “right.”

Page 45 Mercenaries of Gor

It seems likely that right would be on both sides.   This is the anti-compass view point in a nutshell.  It suggests that there are many different ways to reach your destination, and it really does not matter all that much which one you chose.
This is the lesson that I learned when I was a compass man for an Infantry unit. As soon as the azimuth pointed to a direction that was hard, this was the time when people would begin to argue the merits of a “different way to reach your destination.”  I came to understand that the arguments to embark on one of those 359 other directions and abandon the azimuth were really excuses and justifications designed to cover up weakness and laziness.
It is important to remember when trying to understand this concept, that 99% of our decisions do not require the use of this “Compass.”   There is no “right” thing to chose for dinner tonight, or “right” time to go to bed.   Almost everything is an individual choice and people have a tremendous amount of freedom  The secret is to identify that 1% and then take out your compass, hold it steady, find the azimuth pointing to truth and reality, and follow it no matter how hard or inconvenient it might be.
In a recent seminar, we talked about the “ad hominem” problem. That was judging the merits of a thing based on the people involved and our opinion of them, rather than on the rightness or wrongness of the thing itself.  This is also the reason, I have consistently bashed the idea of intersectionality and victimization.  They are the ultimate ad hominem argument. They give us more moral standing and make us more “right” based on our skin color, or religion, or gender, or any other number of factors that have no relationship to truth or reality.
Truth. Reality. Right.      I have come to feel that the core Gorean experience is always about a search for truth, and an acceptance of reality, and a fanatical devotion to finding and doing what is right.
This is why it is so important not to dilute Second Life Gor with the baggage that is destroying the moral fiber of Earth culture.  If we are going to get anything at all from our time here, it is important that we do it right.  Most of the time we do “do it right.”  It is always easy to follow an azimuth over level and open ground. In our role play, and in our structure and behavior, we create a version of Gor, the Counter Earth and it is usually done very nicely.
But, then we come to the woods.  Or the azimuth points right into a swamp.  Things are not so easy anymore.  The excuses and justifications begin to fly like gnats around our heads, and we slip back into the cultural conditioning that many of us come to Gor to escape. Truth is offensive, and reality consists of fifty shades of gray.  We even wallow in ad hominem prejudices that totally obscure our ability to see what is right and what is wrong.

Once again, this is the time that you need to stop and take out the compass .  You need to point it toward truth and reality and follow where it points, even if you have to wade neck deep into the swamp.

Anyway, in a rambling sort of way, that expresses a philosophical approach to Gor that seems to have become firmly entrenched in my mind, and I sometimes wonder how in hell I ever got so enamored with it.  Then, I pick up one of the books, and thumb through it, and find a passage like this one.


“Culture decides what is truth, but truth, unfortunately for culture, is unaware of this. Cultures, mad and blind, can die upon the rocks of truth.  Why can truth not be the foundation of culture, rather than its nemeis? Can one not build upon the stone cliffs of reality rather than dash one’s head against them?  But, how few humans can think, how few dare to inquire, how few can honestly question. How can one know the answer to a question which one fears to ask?

Page 11  Explorers of Gor

It is scary stuff.  If you realize that there are 359 wrong azimuths, and only one right one, it seems really, really, hard to stay on course.  That is why it is so comforting to have a compass that you can trust.  I got my compass from reading John Norman’s novels, and thinking about what he said in them.
 I spent years discussing with others the meaning of his words and his ideas, and I looked honestly at the other side of the arguments.  I learned to stop caring so much about what others thought and said and did, and focus inwardly on my own behavior.   I still go astray from time to time, and tend to wander off course a bit, but I have my compass, and more and more it seems things are not so complex, and even from time to time, I get to taste right, and see it, and feel it.
  And it is at times like that I feel the most Gorean, and less a man of Earth.

The Age of Ad Hominem

The Gorean Compass is a class given every Thursday by Master Gorm Runo.  Classes are held at the Gorean Campus and are given at noon and 6pm SLT.  All are encouraged to come and join in the amazing discussions. This class was held on October 4, 2018

Tal and greetings

Welcome back, everyone. I am really excited to begin this new series of classes and discussions. I have said that we would be calling this Seminar, “The Higher Ground” and we would be talking more about the type of superior person that John Norman introduced us to in the Gor Novels. This superior person would be balanced, rejecting both the “too soft” of Earth and the “too hard” of Gor to find a middle ground.

I wanted to start off by talking about a few things that prevent us reaching that higher middle ground. The first one is what is called “the ad hominem attack” “Ad Hominem” comes from Latin and means, “to the person.” Here is a definition from the dictionary.

1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect an ad hominem argument

2 : marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made made an ad hominem personal attack on his rival

The first definition defines it as “appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect.” The second one talks of an attack on an opponent’s character, and I would like to suggest a third definition. Rather than an attack on a person’s character, it can also be support for an argument based on something positive.

In the famous tavern scene in Raiders of Gor, when the tavern keeper is defending Surbus’ decision to throw the slave girl to the urts in the canal, he makes this comment.—

“I have sold her for five,” said the proprietor, “to this noble gentleman. Do not interfere, Stranger, this man is Surbus.”
Surbus threw back his head and laughed. “Yes,” he said. “I am Surbus.”
“I am Bosk,” I said. “from the Marshes.”

Page 121 Raiders of Gor

This is an example of what I am calling the “positive ad hominem” argument. This argument claims that something is either right, or it is wrong, based on the standing of the person or persons involved, and not on the merits of the thing itself.

Back in the early days of online Gor, when a venue called AOL was one of the centers of Gorean interaction, a fellow opened up a really fancy message board to allow fans to discuss the Gorean novels. The problem was that this man hated Gor, and he hated anyone who thought of themselves as Gorean, especially if they claimed to be lifestylers of any sort. He used his message board to set them up, and then to tear them apart and embarrass them in his answering posts.

In one of our exchanges on the board, he claimed that a recent poll had established that 51% of the people polled had agreed with him, and only 48% with me, with 1% undecided. This, he claimed, proved that he was right and I was wrong. More people agreed with him.

This is an example of the “ad hominem” thinking. It was establishing the absolute right or wrong of a matter by taking a vote on it, and accepting if a few more people believed it, it had to be true.

I have always been amazed in our Earth society on the use of sports and entertainment celebrities not only to endorse products in advertising, but to become spokespersons for all manner of political and social causes. The idea seems to be that if a person is a good athlete, it automatically makes him a better judge of razor blades, or if he appeared as an actor in a successful motion picture, it automatically makes him an authority of social issues.

It is true that the Goreans in the novels did not have mass media, but, it is clear that they had heroes. We hear of great Kaissa players known planet wide, and the factions that supported Tarn racing in Ar appear no different than our Earth sports fans, and thus would have favorites and heroes. However, I get a very strong feeling that the average Gorean would not view them as authorities outside Kaissa or Tarn racing, and would not be looking to them for moral guidance and advice on shaving.

The inward looking approach of Goreans would work against looking outward for answers and truths that must be found by self examination, and not by hero worship. In the quote from Raiders, we see the proprietor making this kind of positive ad hominem claim. The argument can be made thusly:

“Surbus is a well known captain. He is a rich and powerful man. He is reputed to be the best swordsman in Port Kar. He does this kind of thing all the time, therefore, throwing slave girls to the urts for displeasing must be morally acceptable.”

If you have been following the political arena in the United States, you have seen the majority of the discussion focused on the character, or lack thereof, of the President, and very little on the actually issues represented by the opposing sides. The policies, we are usually told, must be wrong, because the President is crude in his language and behavior. The policies of the previous President were much more valid because he was polished in his manner, and charismatic in his speeches. This, again, is pure ad hominem thinking.

I suppose all of this would be merely of passing interest, and not directly related to Second Life Gor if ad hominem thinking did not permeate our online interactions. Sadly, I believe that it does. I, personally, deal with it constantly both in the dealings with the slaves in my Slave House, and with my fellow citizens in my role as Administrator.

I am told that this girl must be wrong, because everyone knows she is a bitch. I am told that this man’s opinion is not valid because he is not well liked by certain people. It is so easy to fall into the ad hominem trap. Skin color, sexual orientation, gender, and a number of other factors are being factored into the moral arguments of Earth, and we tend to bring this baggage into our online Gorean world, despite the fact that the books seem to be telling us they have no place here.

The Alar, Hurtha, in Mercenaries of Gor, says he is not sure if there is any such thing as “right”, because he has never tasted it, or seen it, or felt it. Tarl responds by asking him if he has ever tasted or seen or felt Honor, and Hurta replies that he has seen it, felt it, and tasted it, although it was not like tasting bread or seeing a sword, or feeling a woman. Tarl suggests that, perhaps, right is like that.

I think right is like that. I have seen it, and I have tasted it, and I have felt it, and I suggest all of you have done the same. In our tavern scene, I have yet to hear one person argue that Surbus was in the right. It wasn’t even a 51% to 49% split, so maybe there was an absolute right involved there.

The quote that, to me, sums up our quest to become the type of person envisioned and promoted by John Norman, is found in Marauders of Gor.

“I envy sometimes the simplicities of those of Earth, and those of Gor, who creatures of their conditioning, are untroubled by such matters, but I would not be as either of them. If either is correct it is for them no more than a lucky coincidence. They would have fallen into truth, but to take truth for granted is not to know it. Truths not won are not possessed. We are not entitled to truths for which we have not fought.”

Page 7 Marauders of Gor

I fear that a major part of the conditioning of those of Earth is to jump too quickly into the ad hominem attack. As with much of this, that is the easy way. To reject something, and even to accept it based on who is saying it, and what you think, personally, of the speaker, frees us of the responsibility of fighting for the Truth.

One of the goals of “The Higher Ground” philosophy of Second Life Gor is to free us from this kind of conditioning and easy cop outs. We have to train ourselves to do this. I saw a movie when I was a young man, and have since forgotten the plot, or even who was in it, but I have always remembered the title. “The Singer, not the Song.” I think I began my own personal journey toward the rejection of ad hominem thinking by understanding what that meant.

This influenced my experience with Religion, for example. When people would talk about the hypocrisy of the Church, or the horrible behaviors of certain Christians, or of a certain Pastor who had been caught doing something horrible, I would hear a little voice telling me to stop listening to the singers who were butchering the melody, and couldn’t carry a tune, and start looking for the song itself.

I think this applies to Second Life Gor as well. The vision of Gor and the idea of superior people rising above the petty, shaking off their conditioning, embracing Natural Order, and seeking Truth is a beautiful song. The fact that for years it has been sung by some rotten singers should not be the criteria for judging the song itself, but it is what we do too often.

This might be a difficult mental adjustment for us to make. Not only do we tend to attack the singers, we are often stubborn and blind to our own positive ad hominem assertions. “Yes, he laughed, “ I am Surbus.” Do we do that? Are we arguing that we are right because we are us, and they are merely them? Do we replace logic and reason with personality and status?

I think Earth society is failing miserably to accomplish this. We are living in the “Age of ad hominem” down there. It is never about what is right or wrong anymore, but it is always about who said it, and who they are, and what group they belong to, and a host of other factors that, when you really understand this, have nothing to do with right or wrong, or with Truth.
I think we can be better than that here.

Pseudo beliefs

The Gorean Compass is a class given every Thursday by Master Gorm Runo.  Classes are held at the Gorean Campus and are given at noon and 6pm SLT.  All are encouraged to come and join in the amazing discussions.

This class given on April 12, 2019

Tal and greetings

I came across a rather complex paragraph in the book Savages of Gor, and I had a hard time getting it out of my mind this last week. Part of the problem was John Norman’s pedantic use of big words and conversations that seem very unnatural in the context they are taking place, but even once I had defined the terms properly, the underlying message nagged at me.

I will give the entire quote and then we can break it down and see if we can make any sense of it, and also see if it has any application toward our Second Life Gorean experience.


It can be found on pages 298-299 of Savages of Gor

“The most pernicious beliefs, ” I said, “are not actually beliefs at all, but, better put, pseudobeliefs.
The pseudobelief is not assailable by evidence or reason, even theoretically. Its security from refutation is the result of its cognitive vacuity. It cannot be refuted for, saying nothing, nothing can be produced, even in theory, which would count against it. Such a belief is not strong, but empty. Ultimately it is little more, if anything, than a concatenation of words, a verbal formula. Men often fear to inquire into their nature. They tuck them away, and then content themselves with other concerns. Their anchors, they fear, are straw; their props, they fear are reeds. Truth is praised, and judiciously avoided. Is this not human cleverness at its most remarkable? Who knows in what way the sword of truth will cut? Some men would rather die for their beliefs than analyze them. I guess that it must be a very frightening thing to inquire into one’s beliefs. So few people do it. Sometimes one grows weary of blood-stained twaddle. Battles of formulas, you see, as nothing can count against them, are too often decided by wounds and iron. Some men, we have noted are willing to die for their beliefs. Even larger numbers, it seems are willing to kill for them.”

Ok, how many know the definition of “concatenation?”

Actually, it is defined as :a series of interconnected things or events.

I suppose that someone could have written out that paragraph in a much more concise and easy to digest manner. I had to read it several times and go to the dictionary once to make complete sense of it.

But, once I did begin to get the message, I was once again impressed with the fact that John Norman was seeing a trend beginning at the time he was writing these novels that would eventually explode into the idiocy of our current times.

In a seminar last year, we discussed how he had coined the term “signal words.” Those were those words and expressions that are thrown out in place of rational argument. When you call someone a signal word label, such as racist, or gamer, or leftist, or even lifestyler, it can not be defended by reason. The quote says they can not be refuted because they really don’t mean anything. They have “cognitive vacuity.” (Wow, how I love finding examples of non-cognitive expressions, and different ways of expressing the concept) Cognitive vacuity.

I had to look up “vacuity” too, and was pleased to find it is defined:

lack of thought or intelligence; empty-headedness.

Now, I was pleased to be able to define many of these non-cognitive expressions as not only having lost all meaning and use as communication, but also they imply that those who use them frequently are showing a lack of intelligence and empty headedness..

Anyway, it occurred to me as I thought on this wordy quote that I might have been on to something recently when I proposed the idea that the least by the book thing we could possibly do in our creation of a Gorean role play world would be to be too religious in our adherence to the idea of “btb”

My favorite part of the quote is when he says, “Who knows in what way the sword of truth will cut.”


When we create role play venues such as “ancient Rome” or “Game of Thrones” or any number of other examples, we can focus our major attention on the accurate depiction of how it might look and how people might speak and act within such a world.

The Gorean novels could give us a similar experience, unless we make the mistake of actually reading them and understanding them. When we do that, when we are really starting to be “by the books”, we have to change our focus a bit. We need to be more concerned with truth and the search for it than the physical environment in which it takes place.

I am not suggesting that we do away with the attempts to accurately create a realistic looking Gorean world. And we should not give up all the fun and interesting trivia that makes Gor so unique. Neither should we abandon the desire for role play that depicts great adventures and exciting story ;lines. And we shouldn’t stop seeking fun and enjoyment.

But, I am suggesting that the longer we stay here, and the more we learn of Gor and the deeper into the novels we dig, the more the search for truth is going to be forced on us.

Gor is a direct challenge to the pseudobeliefs that are becoming so prevalent in our modern society. This is one time I am not mocking the Liberal Left down there on Earth either. Both sides of the political spectrum are becoming more and more guilty of retreating into verbal formulas that defy refutation simply because, broken down, they actually are just virtue signaling and meaningless concatenations of words.


The Gorean novels are not self-help books that you can use to get comfortable. They are books of questions and suggestions that are demanding we re-evaluate some basic truths of human nature, and the natural order of the world.

I am sure many people will laugh off this rather dire warning about the dangers of participation in Second Life Gor, but my experience in the online world of Gor for the past two decades has shown me that you can not roll around in this for very long before some of it starts to get inside you. You can not continue to pretend to be a Man for very long before you begin to ask some serious questions about the responsibilities and nature of manhood.

And you can certainly not play a harmless game of pretending to kneel naked at the feet of a Man forever, before something stirs inside your belly. Maybe it will be a knot of disgust and a total rejection, or maybe it will be a smoldering ember of submissive fire, but sooner or later, it is going to be there.

Maybe, to get to my point here, we can see the whole idea of “by the book” as being the guiding mantra of Second Life Gor, but isn’t that a pseudobelief that JN was warning us about. It is the easy way because it doesn’t mean anything, and so doesn’t even require us to think. We say it, and go off to our other concerns.

I think it is much better to create a brave new world that is not going to be afraid of which way the sword of truth cuts. If we adhere to a definition of “by the book” that has, as the quote put it, cognitive vacuity, we are going to be continuing to operate a potentially dangerous and very adult community irresponsibly.


It is very clear that John Norman was not creating utopia and urging us to emulate it. He was showing us a rational middle ground, and that rational middle ground has been the thing that has resonated with us from our first exposure to Gor.

We have been gifted with the opportunity to create a real world here, based on the basic truths of the Gorean ethos, in many ways , a counter-Earth that is very strong, where Earth is weak. We are led by visions tempered by practical realities, and not by “sacred scrolls” or pesuodbeliefs.