The Strong See Brutalizing the Weak As Their Prerogative. Only the…
July 12, 2017 at 7:11 am #3550
ArcusParticipantJuly 12, 2017 at 11:11 am #3551
“self-examination” – I think this is a very relevant question. The religions have a reputation for dogmatism and discouraging free thinking. I think Christianity comes out of it better than Islam, perhaps because the Bible is acknowledged to have been written by people, while the Qu’ran is supposed to have been literally dictated word for word by God himself. So Christianity is perhaps more open to self-examination, and leeway, than Islam.
Rationality is inherently anti-authoritarian and free-thinking; anything else is frowned upon as bad practice, because we can’t be fully rational if we’re not allowed to think. QED. Self-examination is seen as a healthy way to get nearer and nearer to accurate knowledge and ideas (“truth”).
There is something very healthy about basing our beliefs in free-thinking, self-examining rationality, while it can be deadening, and toxic, when the answer is “God said so, and that settles it, and if you disagree, that means you’re EVIL”. The problem is that those texts might not have been as well thought through as they would be now, and God says basically whatever you want him to (especially if you’re a man).July 13, 2017 at 8:02 am #3561
It has to be said, to be fair, that a conscientious Muslim, or a conscientious Christian, will try earnestly and conscientiously to figure out what is the right thing to do, according to their world view. They use their loaf, they think. The difference is in the source material and how fixed it is. The religious books are treated as unquestionable fact; in “rational religion” the source material is scientific knowledge and everyday common sense, with no particular agenda, it’s just a trip of discovery, which is forever open to the possibility of change and innovation. This doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily better, since each one does exactly the same thing at its core. But apart from that, each one looks completely barmy to each of the others. Not everyone’s an intellectual, and each religion is like a different form of art; we wouldn’t get rid of “dancing” in favour of “painting”, we keep all form of arts as equivalent but different ways of doing similar things.July 14, 2017 at 8:35 pm #3576
It’s interesting to consider that the way to follow, and live out, a rational religion is different from the case of the monotheistic religions, and even different from Buddhism, which is pretty intellectual (too much so sometimes).
In a “rational religion”, thinking for yourself is the operating principle: being guided by the human faculty of rationality, which we know from science and mathematics can be very powerful. Aside from classical texts, Buddhism depends a lot on the mystical experience and training of meditation; Christianity and Islam have prayer; all of them make heavy use of rituals and communal worship. I’m sure these are all very effective.
Religion as pure rationality is something new: using facts and knowledge to reason about everyday social life. This implies that 1) nothing about it is binding, there’s no real “authority” that bosses people around and tells them what to do; 2) there’s a lot of freedom of choice in what is “right” – people aren’t really given some one-size-fits-all version of what they should want, they have to make their own minds up, based on fundamental principles, which are also up for discussion; 3) you are required to think and reason for yourself, and if you don’t, it doesn’t work. The way to be a “good rationalist” is to be well educated and honest about being rational.
Having new insights is a normal part of the process: when you apply the knowledge and reasoning to your situation, this is what happens. These insights will always be too numerous to contain in any one place, but hopefully, the world will be full of people talking about their insights, which just creates more.
So religious people will say, this means we see right and wrong as just opinions, and it means anything goes, why shouldn’t we —- [punch a cat in the face, or whatever]. We could respond, that atheists and religious people have differing value systems. Our value system is ethical human flourishing, backed up by simple scientific reasoning that is open to everyone. Their value system is a cherry-picked version of the Bible (in the case of Christians). So we can show that it has merit, from that argument, and in fact, it is a science, that has flexibility, and is open to progress, like normal science. We can also point out that the underlying value system is the same in both cases, but the two cultures are probably, inevitably, different (one is authoritarian and conservative, the other is anti-authoritarian and innovative by nature).July 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm #3587
@ Simon Paynton, I agree with a lot of what you have written but I disagree with this:
“I think Christianity comes out of it better than Islam“.
Even if you take every that is attributed to be the fault of Muslims, of which some isn’t (e.g., 911) the Muslims still look lily white compared to the Christians.
There are (just to name those that quickly come to mind) the Crusades, the 700 years of the Burning Times (Inquisitions) in Western Europe, which was bad enough for people to live in fear of their lives, thus we can blame the plagues on them too, the KKK, even Nazi Germany and the concentration camps and gassing of the Jews, were all a result of Christian religion gone wrong. I think they take the cake!July 15, 2017 at 4:02 pm #3591
@Kyrani Eade – “I think Christianity comes out of it better than Islam.”
I just meant in terms of how flexible adherents are allowed to be in interpreting the source material (holy book). It seems that Muslims basically have no freedom or leeway allowed in interpreting the Qu’ran, because it’s literally the word of God. The Bible is recognised by Christians to have been written by people, so there is more leeway in interpreting it.
As for who’s committed the most crimes – I think it’s impossible to judge.July 16, 2017 at 3:28 am #3597
It is hard for me to judge what happens in the Muslim population, whether the average person tries to interpret the words in the Qu’an or not. However from my Sufi involvement, I have seen a lot of debate between people as to meaning of text in the Qu’ran.
The Qu’ran is not a direct handed down text from Mohammad. Mohammad never wrote anything as he was illiterate. Others wrote what he said and from the accounts I have read, when Mohammad died there were many copies of his words. They decided to go through them and keep what they believed to be (or chose to be) the real texts and they burnt the rest. So we can’t be sure of what Mohammad said. So the Qu’ran must have some corruption in it as well, if not a lot of or at least a lot of wording that is not clear.
In judging the crimes, maybe you should also consider the Jews in there too, because they are behind a lot of the crimes done by Christians in today’s world. However the people that do the crimes are only professing religious affiliation. They are all inhumane. They get inside religions to cover their crimes and mislead people as to what it is all about.
And don’t forget there is a quiet war being waged by the inhumane against the humane in today’s world too. Disease is only a label that helps cover the damage and trade it for profit. All disease is a nocebo effect and when the truth be known the humane can overcome it without any doctor’s help AND retain their health under the worst foul play circumstances. This awakening is happening. So the time that the inhumane have left, regardless in which religious garb or other garb they want to wrap themselves, is little. They are all about to perish.. an extinction event! Then there will be peace.July 16, 2017 at 7:09 am #3599
“However from my Sufi involvement, I have seen a lot of debate between people as to meaning of text in the Qu’ran.”
– Sufis are really cool basically. It’s good that people debate about the meanings of the texts. Thank you for pointing out the difference: what I should say is, the original texts are not open for contradiction.July 17, 2017 at 1:13 am #3614
The will of the non-aggressive can become the rule of the people, both because we inherit the disposition to cooperate and sacrifice for our neighbors (as well as the disposition to dominate and to be aggressive) and because we can design a culture that rewards nonviolent behavior. Read both Michael Tomasello (e.g. “A Natural History of Human Morality“) and my new small volume, “Atheistic Nonviolence.” (available as a $0.99 Kindle ebook on Amazon.July 17, 2017 at 7:44 am #3622
@caseydorman – I can’t get the ebook because I’m in the UK. Do you have a pdf?
How do you go about designing a culture?July 17, 2017 at 3:06 pm #3623
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the PDF of “Atheistic Nonviolence” (as well as to anyone else who wants it). It should be available on the UK Amazon, but I don’t mind sending the PDF , not sure how to put it into one of the website replies. Designing a culture is what we do everyday when we write laws regarding behavior and when we engage in civic activities designed to affect the behavior of others or the lessons children in our culture learn as they grow up. More stringent design attempts have occurred in totalitarian societies and in utopian communities. UK and US have designed different societies around issues of gun possession and gun use as well as health care access. Skandinavian countries have designed different societies than the US around issues of taxation and public services. Switzerland has designed a society that embraces neutrality with regard to war. BF Skinner and Aldous Huxley, among others, designed societies on paper (Skinner tried his out for awhile). The Paris Climate agreements design societies around issues of carbon and methane emissions and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights designs a world society around issues of human rights. ISIS tried to design a society that fit fundamentalist interpretations of Sharia Law, etc.July 17, 2017 at 9:12 pm #3626
@caseydorman – the book seems interesting, I had a quick look through it.
You state that “modern scholarship suggests that mutual aggression was the natural state of our hunter-gatherer predecessors”, but it seems that even more modern scholarship has shown this to be a myth. It’s based on a cherry-picked selection of evidence. If the totality of evidence is considered, then we see that warfare only started around 12,000 years ago, sporadically at first, and then increasing, as societies became more settled and sophisticated. See (e.g.) “Pinker’s List” in “War, Peace and Human Nature – the convergence of evolutionary and cultural views” edited by Douglas P Fry. If you’re interested in human violence, this might be an essential book for you. These people have found that warfare is far from inevitable and arises only in certain circumstances. It makes sense that the human race would prefer not to have warfare in general.
I think that violence, and respecting the individual, are both related to thriving: we respect the individual’s need to thrive, and their cherishing of their own thriving, because of our empathy for a fundamental, universal need. But empathy depends on approving of someone: if we don’t approve of them, we don’t feel empathic concern or interest in them. So one issue could be, how to avoid disapproving of people and promote approving of them. The most successful way to achieve this when we are thinking of out-group members is to stop seeing them as an alien, threatening mass, and actually meet a few of them in person, and realise that they are just human beings like us.
Overall, following the two-dimensions model of competition and cooperation, the goal should be to reduce destructive competition and increase cooperation, which leads to more peace. I think the goal of reducing overall violence sits well within a total overall theory of morality and ethics. This theory is, inevitably, spiritual, in a major sense, so I disagree with your premise that it’s not a spiritual issue. Steven Pinker says that violence is steadily reducing over history, and I think this follows the characteristics of the evolutionary pressure to thrive: maximising, universal, and individual (steadily increasing universal human rights, and the quality of morality, over time).
I was watching a youtube video about Islam, and a UK Muslim leader said that Islam is not an idealistic religion but a pragmatic one: whatever people do is OK for Allah, he doesn’t insist on anything special from people. How depressing. Also, slack, lazy and complacent. I’m sure sufis don’t think like this. This is where Christianity would appear to have an advantage: for all its perceived faults, it’s clearly idealistic, especially in the figure of Jesus.July 18, 2017 at 12:56 am #3627
Simon: Thanks for the observations on my brief book. The volume by Fry sounds interesting and something I need to read. The evidence for one human killing another during the hunter-gatherer period (which is probably more akin to murder than to war) comes from multiple sources and is conflicting, but suggestive, as summarized in Harari’s book “Sapiens” published in 2015, which cites archaeological studies from 1999-2007. I’m curious why you think that the “the goal of reducing overall violence sits well within a total overall theory of morality and ethics. This theory is, inevitably, spiritual, in a major sense,” since it is exactly my point that such a theory of morality or ethics does not need to be spiritual, which was also the topic of my earlier book, “Is God Really Necessary?” My point is that most theories of morality or ethics that support nonviolence have had a spiritual basis, but such a basis is not necessary. My arguments for a theory that relies upon both evolutionary and cultural influences, is an example of such a theory, which is not spiritually based.July 18, 2017 at 1:20 am #3628
Michael Tomasello’s newest book, “A Natural History of Human Morality” (2016) gives a good evolutionary and historical cultural account of the development of human morality.July 18, 2017 at 3:31 am #3629
Non belief in the supernatural results in violent behavior almost immediately. Take sharks for instance. We have not found any evidence for shark-god worship in great whites, however we frequently record examples of violent behavior against seals and surfers . In contrast, hammerheads are known to be christians and their symbolic cross-shaped heads serve to remind them not to attack the weak or tasty, even when hungry.
Sorry, but non belief by itself is not a basis for anything.
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