Brad Aisa

Religion: Scourge of Humanity

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I have come to conclude that the ongoing existence of religion is responsible, perhaps more than any other factor, for the continued primitive state of man's philosophic development.

There are two basic premises of religion:

1. there exists some kind of supernatural dimensions or forces, typically including a supernatural "soul", "life after death", etc.

2. blind arbitrary faith is the appropriate epistemological methodology to be used in the realm of religion, i.e. human philosophy

The ongoing existence of religion has created a sociological culture of irrational enablement--it sanctions, and almost demands, that people create a huge sub-department of life and fill it with irrational arbitrary nonsense. I believe the pernicious effects of religion spill over into more secular forms of religion, such as environmentalism, where the same kind of psycho-epistemology is evident, namely earth=God, arbitrarily selected "scientific" "texts"=The Bible, etc. This also enables the whole realm of "New Age" nonsense, up to and including such absurd nonsense as Homeopathy (for which Elsevier Science actually publishes a journal, for God's sake!).

What we have going on, at a global social scale, is a self-sustaining "meme" of utter irrationality, propagated and sanctioned by the vast majority of the world population, including allegedly "rational" people such as scientists.

I believe it is time for truly rational individuals to become much more strident and unaccepting of this ridiculous cluster-f**k of abject prehistoric irrationality, and demand that people grow up and stop acting like 3 year old children who still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. It must become socially unacceptable to be irrational.

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Although I dislike religion I do not think it is the primary cause. I think irrationalism is the primary cause and that is what a rational person will have to fight against if they are going to change humanity for the better.

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Have you read "God is Not Great", by Christopher Hitchens?

I recommend it.

Mockery is Hitchens' strong suit, and he brings all guns to bear on religion. He doesn't offer anything to replace it, but it's gratifying to watch him tear it apart, which he does thoroughly.

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I have come to conclude that the ongoing existence of religion is responsible, perhaps more than any other factor, for the continued primitive state of man's philosophic development.

Science (as we know it) was invented by Believers in Europe, initially anyway. Galileo was a practicing Catholic and Isaac Newton was a God Phreak. He wrote three times as much on ancient religious mysteries and alchemy than he did on the dynamics of moving bodies. Natural sciences have had a great deal of impact (mostly for the good) on Man's philosophic development. Both of these religious worthies (along with others of a religious bent) have brought experiment and empirical verification to the forefront.

It was materialists and mysterians who first moved mankind away from religious superstition. To wit, Demokritus and Lucippus (materialists) and the Pythagoreans (mysterians). Science was invented (initially) by the Ionians, not the Athenians. These early Greek thinkers had minds full of gods and were heavily influenced by Homer. But they did us the great service of detaching the operation of nature from the whims of the gods.

While -organized- religion has had a very dark and fell influence of mankind, a religious outlook is not necessarily malign. I give you for example the Amish and Mennonites who are very quiet peaceful law abiding folk who do not go about trying to convert others to their way. They do their thing and do not harm or bother their neighbors (O.K. Amish horse and buggies slow down traffic a bit in the area around Lancaster, PA). I have also noticed the Orthodox Jews generally do not hijack airplanes and crash them into tall buildings. Also some people brought up Jewish but who are not observant have made their positive mark on the human race. Einstein, Feynman, Salk, Sabin .... I could go on for a while in that vein. Einstein and Feynman have given us a better grip on Space, Time and Energy than did Aristotle.

As a previous poster has pointed out, it is not religion, per se, but irrationalism that has done the harm. Most religious people have managed to compartmentalized their thinking and have kept their rational ability safe and sound and not let their religious inclinations do them or others much harm.

ruveyn

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Although I dislike religion I do not think it is the primary cause. I think irrationalism is the primary cause and that is what a rational person will have to fight against if they are going to change humanity for the better.

I agree. And the basic form in which this irrationalism is expressed is the belief that emotions are tools of cognitions, specifically that if one feels something, it must be true about reality. People's fear of death is assuaged by the many poetic biblical references to the alleviation of pain after death and life in heaven. A person's desire for purpose and meaning in life is usurped by substituting God's purpose for one's own values. And individual's are not even aware this is being accomplished in their minds because religious ideas are taught to children before they know that reason is the way for them to understand the world.

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I have come to conclude that the ongoing existence of religion is responsible, perhaps more than any other factor, for the continued primitive state of man's philosophic development.

Science (as we know it) was invented by Believers in Europe, initially anyway. Galileo was a practicing Catholic and Isaac Newton was a God Phreak. He wrote three times as much on ancient religious mysteries and alchemy than he did on the dynamics of moving bodies. Natural sciences have had a great deal of impact (mostly for the good) on Man's philosophic development. Both of these religious worthies (along with others of a religious bent) have brought experiment and empirical verification to the forefront.

It was materialists and mysterians who first moved mankind away from religious superstition. To wit, Demokritus and Lucippus (materialists) and the Pythagoreans (mysterians). Science was invented (initially) by the Ionians, not the Athenians. These early Greek thinkers had minds full of gods and were heavily influenced by Homer. But they did us the great service of detaching the operation of nature from the whims of the gods.

While -organized- religion has had a very dark and fell influence of mankind, a religious outlook is not necessarily malign. I give you for example the Amish and Mennonites who are very quiet peaceful law abiding folk who do not go about trying to convert others to their way. They do their thing and do not harm or bother their neighbors (O.K. Amish horse and buggies slow down traffic a bit in the area around Lancaster, PA). I have also noticed the Orthodox Jews generally do not hijack airplanes and crash them into tall buildings. Also some people brought up Jewish but who are not observant have made their positive mark on the human race. Einstein, Feynman, Salk, Sabin .... I could go on for a while in that vein. Einstein and Feynman have given us a better grip on Space, Time and Energy than did Aristotle.

As a previous poster has pointed out, it is not religion, per se, but irrationalism that has done the harm. Most religious people have managed to compartmentalized their thinking and have kept their rational ability safe and sound and not let their religious inclinations do them or others much harm.

ruveyn

But, it is not religion that aided the cause of great men's rational endeavors, spurring them on, lifting them more easily up, to higher achievements. As for the Amish, not being vociferously or violently bad is not the same thing as being rationally good. Any man who raises his children to be passionLESS and selfLESS does evil, whether or not the child successfully escapes from such an upbringing. Also, while a man may keep his "rationally ability safe" compartmentalization is not an aid in making him a whole, integrated, and thus happy man.

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But, it is not religion that aided the cause of great men's rational endeavors, spurring them on, lifting them more easily up, to higher achievements. As for the Amish, not being vociferously or violently bad is not the same thing as being rationally good. Any man who raises his children to be passionLESS and selfLESS does evil, whether or not the child successfully escapes from such an upbringing. Also, while a man may keep his "rationally ability safe" compartmentalization is not an aid in making him a whole, integrated, and thus happy man.

Why do you think the Amish lack passion? They happen to prefer simplicity. It has not done them any visible harm. They sing and they dance, just like "regular" folks. And since they live within their means, they avoid much of the down-side of being addicted to gadgets and paper "wealth". When a business downturn occurs, you don't see the Amish jumping out of windows. They follow a way, that I do not, since I am a science and technology phreak, but I can appreciate some of the positive aspects of their technologically simple manner of living. One of the geniuses of America is that both the Amish and the technology phreaks can live in peace.

Now to your other point:

Astronomical research was actually promoted by the Church. Galileo for example, had a good relationship with Father Clavius (after whom is named a crater on the Moon). Notwithstanding the fight between Galileo and the upper management of the Catholic Church, it was the Church that funded early telescope development (for instance the Vatican Observatory). The motive was not scientific. It was to determine accurately when Easter arrives. Even so, the Church encouraged mathematics and astronomy. Also note that Tycho Brahe was funded by a christian monarch and Copernicus was a non-clergy functionary in the Church.

In England, Isaac Newton was funded by Cambridge, a religious school. Most of the science of the 16, 17 and 18th centuries was funded by monarchies which are religiously based. Also, early exploration was funded by christian monarchs, primarily to get at the wealth of the New World and to propagate their religious faith.

I think that organized and institutional religion, on balance, has been a negative, but there have been some useful side-effects of religions. Privately held religious beliefs, on balance, have not caused all that much harm. The bad news occurs when the power of the State is joined with the power of the institutional religious bodies.

In the United States the vast majority of Americans belong to their various churches for primarily social reasons and they keep their religious observances mostly to Sundays (or Sabbaths). Six days a week most religiously affiliated Americans behave more or less rationally and do not pay all that much attention to their religion. Churches function more as social clubs than mind benders. There are some notable exceptions among the evangelicals and fundies and some of the more extreme Muslim congregations. However, mainstream Catholics, Protestants and Jews generally behave themselves in a law abiding fashion.

Just to indicate my bias, I put more weight on doing no harm than on doing good (whatever that is). I am content to be at peace with my neighbors who leave me in peace. Since I have no great expectations for and from people outside my family, I am rarely annoyed or disappointed. From and for myself, I demand a great deal. From others I only expect that they respect my person and property and little more.

That is why I like living in the U.S. Most folks are decent and cordial. I don't expect more.

ruveyn

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But, it is not religion that aided the cause of great men's rational endeavors, spurring them on, lifting them more easily up, to higher achievements. As for the Amish, not being vociferously or violently bad is not the same thing as being rationally good. Any man who raises his children to be passionLESS and selfLESS does evil, whether or not the child successfully escapes from such an upbringing. Also, while a man may keep his "rationally ability safe" compartmentalization is not an aid in making him a whole, integrated, and thus happy man.

I have not been around the Amish, but I did live in the mist of a large community of Mennonites and employed several. They practice an very inhuman method of banishment. If a member breaks a rule, they're completely shunned by the entire congregation. It's horrible to observe. They are only allowed to complete school to the 8th grade, and because they are not allowed to mingle outside of their group, they are the worst gossips I have ever witnessed. The evilness of their religion totally disgusts me.

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Why do you think the Amish lack passion? They happen to prefer simplicity. It has not done them any visible harm.

ruveyn

Who is "they" and how do you know that no one has been harmed? The leaders to do no allow anyone - not - to prefer simplicity. You either accept their rules, or you're banished from family and friends.

My father is a blue-collar Methodist, but he hasn't banished me from his life because I'm atheist. I can assure you that would not be the case in the Amish or Mennonite communities.

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I have not been around the Amish, but I did live in the mist of a large community of Mennonites and employed several. They practice an very inhuman method of banishment. If a member breaks a rule, they're completely shunned by the entire congregation. It's horrible to observe. They are only allowed to complete school to the 8th grade, and because they are not allowed to mingle outside of their group, they are the worst gossips I have ever witnessed. The evilness of their religion totally disgusts me.

They have offended you, but have they harmed you? And what is inhuman about shunning? If you don't like someone or dislike what they do, then have nothing to do with them. It is a totally non-aggressive way of dealing with what displeases. No physical force is deployed. So what is evil there?

As for school, please tell me the virtue of keeping a kid in a public funded illiteracy mill? Learning at home is much more effective. I am sure both the Amish and the Mennonites teach their children what they need to know to live their communities. If later on, a youngster feels hemmed in or restricted, he can leave.

Freedom of association implies the right to shun whomsoever one would. No one is obliged to associate with anyone else (except for dependent children whom one is obliged to care for).

ruveyn

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There are only two phases to life, growth and death. When one decides to stop growing (of which I mean their intelligence) they are moving toward death, and stagnation is the beginning phase of death. So when the Amish, or any other religious group, say they will only learn a certain amount about reality and that is enough, they then begin the phase of death.

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Astronomical research was actually promoted by the Church. Galileo for example, had a good relationship with Father Clavius (after whom is named a crater on the Moon). Notwithstanding the fight between Galileo and the upper management of the Catholic Church, it was the Church that funded early telescope development (for instance the Vatican Observatory). The motive was not scientific. It was to determine accurately when Easter arrives. Even so, the Church encouraged mathematics and astronomy. Also note that Tycho Brahe was funded by a christian monarch and Copernicus was a non-clergy functionary in the Church.

In England, Isaac Newton was funded by Cambridge, a religious school. Most of the science of the 16, 17 and 18th centuries was funded by monarchies which are religiously based. Also, early exploration was funded by christian monarchs, primarily to get at the wealth of the New World and to propagate their religious faith.

That is because, in those days, ALL intellectual activity was controlled by the Church.

It is similar to the way that almost all basic scientific inquiry is now funded by the government. Under those constraints, if someone with a government grant makes a great scientific discovery, would you say it is because of government funding -- or despite it?

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Under those constraints, if someone with a government grant makes a great scientific discovery, would you say it is because of government funding -- or despite it?

I would wager, based on what I've read and personal recent observation, that over 99% of today's scientists would indeed state that it's because of, and not despite of, that funding.

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Under those constraints, if someone with a government grant makes a great scientific discovery, would you say it is because of government funding -- or despite it?

I would wager, based on what I've read and personal recent observation, that over 99% of today's scientists would indeed state that it's because of, and not despite of, that funding.

I know, but I wouldn't -- any more than I would credit Galileo's discoveries to the beneficence of the Church.

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I know, but I wouldn't -- any more than I would credit Galileo's discoveries to the beneficence of the Church.

Sure, I was taking it for granted that no Objectivist would make such a misattribution, just noting the unfortunate fact that today's government fed scientists seem to think that government grants are the only conceivable way to do science.

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Under those constraints, if someone with a government grant makes a great scientific discovery, would you say it is because of government funding -- or despite it?

I would wager, based on what I've read and personal recent observation, that over 99% of today's scientists would indeed state that it's because of, and not despite of, that funding.

I would state to those scientist that they do not know how wealth is created and that the government did not create the wealth they are giving away. The wealth that is being given away as funding is still and will always be created by producers. Whether people call it private funds or public funds it was all originally and primarily private funds.

Of course most here on THE FORUM already know this information.

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It is similar to the way that almost all basic scientific inquiry is now funded by the government. Under those constraints, if someone with a government grant makes a great scientific discovery, would you say it is because of government funding -- or despite it?

Both. Governments have both encouraged and forbidden research. For example, during the middle ages and later during the Renaissance, the Church forbade the dissection of corpses. As a result medicine suffered. Doctors who wanted to learn the makeup of the human body had to do business with grave robbers to get cadavers and had they been caught they would have suffered severe penalties. (Please reference Burke and Hare, well known grave-robbers).

The Church and Government, encouraged other discoveries. Government funded and granted patents to researchers doing work to further weapons development (does this sound familiar?) and navigation. For example, Britain offered a prize equivalent to two million current dollars to anyone who could calculate the longitude. The prize went to Jonathan Harrison who developed a compact chronometer that would lose no more than one second a month. This was back in 1776. There is no doubt that the government prize encourage people to work on the problem of the longitude. Harrison made no bones about wanting the money and working hard (for over 20 years) to get it. It was his only chance to create a nice nest egg for his sons. Without the prize, Harrison would have worked on something that was immediately profitable - most likely accurate large clocks, unsuitable for going to sea, but good for putting on public buildings or on private estates. The only other people seriously working on the longitude problem were "establishment" astronomers, like the Astronomer Royal Flamsteed who was nowhere near coming up with a practical means of determining longitude. Getting the longitude was absolutely essential to Britain's policy of dominance on the seas. That is how Britannia continued to Rule The Waves.

It was the same motive that produced the expedition of the Frigate Beagle, the ship that carried Charles Darwin to the Galapagos. While the British government had no specific interest in evolution (which was a happenstantial consequence of the voyage) it positively needed to map the coasts of South America and have some idea of what the natural resources were. Even so, it was government tax revenue that put Darwin on the Galapagos and without that trip, it would have been either no one or perhaps Alfred Wallace that would have discovered the theory. Wallace had nowhere near the clout and reputation of Darwin, so that without the expedition the theory of evolution might not have caught on for another 50 years. It was the theory of evolution and its consequences that motivated much of the early research into finding the hereditary mechanism and that produced the re-discovery of genes (Gregor Mendel works were obscurely published and nearly forgotten, when the hereditary mechanism was re-discovered around 1900 by De Vrees).

Sometimes the government helps, sometimes it hinders. On balance it hinders more than it helps, except when it come to weapons and national dominance.

When it comes to commerce, one is more likely to get help from private sources. For example the laying of the transatlantic cable in 1866 was a private venture. Also the railways of Britain were privately funded.

ruveyn

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Sometimes the government helps, sometimes it hinders. On balance it hinders more than it helps, except when it come to weapons and national dominance.

When it comes to commerce, one is more likely to get help from private sources. For example the laying of the transatlantic cable in 1866 was a private venture. Also the railways of Britain were privately funded.

I refer you to my last post just above yours.

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Under those constraints, if someone with a government grant makes a great scientific discovery, would you say it is because of government funding -- or despite it?

I would wager, based on what I've read and personal recent observation, that over 99% of today's scientists would indeed state that it's because of, and not despite of, that funding.

I would state to those scientist that they do not know how wealth is created and that the government did not create the wealth they are giving away. The wealth that is being given away as funding is still and will always be created by producers. Whether people call it private funds or public funds it was all originally and primarily private funds.

Of course most here on THE FORUM already know this information.

Correct. It is the same with the money the church uses and takes credit for. It is obtained by pandering to people's irrationality and selflessness. It is not earned. No church should get credit in any way for aiding in scientific pursuits or voyages of discovery. Not if justice is one's concern.

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Under those constraints, if someone with a government grant makes a great scientific discovery, would you say it is because of government funding -- or despite it?

I would wager, based on what I've read and personal recent observation, that over 99% of today's scientists would indeed state that it's because of, and not despite of, that funding.

I would state to those scientist that they do not know how wealth is created and that the government did not create the wealth they are giving away. The wealth that is being given away as funding is still and will always be created by producers. Whether people call it private funds or public funds it was all originally and primarily private funds.

Of course most here on THE FORUM already know this information.

In a discussion along these lines, in answer to my question "But where do you think money comes from?", I once got a reply that was, in essence, "From the government. They print it." It would have been more accurate to ask, "But where do you think wealth (or value) comes from?" but sometimes one slips up in the immediate give and take of conversation. I tried to establish that proper context, but the person I was talking with seemed to take "They print it" as a profound revelation and wouldn't let go of it - part of what followed included something like "so I have no problem paying taxes, because it's just giving back what's they gave me." banghead.gif

Naturally no one here would confuse money with value - the difference always seemed obvious to me, even long before I found Objectivism or studied my first minute of economics: after all, "filet greenback à la Sauce Béarnaise" wouldn't exactly be tasty or nutritious. whistling.gif But in thinking about what I'd observed in others besides that person I realized that in many minds the two are one and the same. For those minds, since money comes from government, government is the source of all value, and it's perfectly proper for government to decide how money will be put to use.

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I tried to establish that proper context, but the person I was talking with seemed to take "They print it" as a profound revelation and wouldn't let go of it - part of what followed included something like "so I have no problem paying taxes, because it's just giving back what's they gave me." banghead.gif

It would have been interesting to pursue that line of argument. Do they just go to the mint and pick up an allowance each month? I can just see it: lines of people waiting to pickup money, only to realize that there are no goods to buy it with because people have stopped producing.

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Just to indicate my bias, I put more weight on doing no harm than on doing good (whatever that is). I am content to be at peace with my neighbors who leave me in peace. Since I have no great expectations for and from people outside my family, I am rarely annoyed or disappointed. From and for myself, I demand a great deal. From others I only expect that they respect my person and property and little more.

But they do harm to their children not only through religious indoctrination but by denying them the intellectual growth that would make them independent enough to leave and pursue their happiness. It reminds me of Ayn Rand's article, "The Comprachicos" in Return of the Primitive. What the Amish do is not illegal because it does not involve the use of physical force, but they stunt their children's ability to think more effectively and permanently than any liberal institution. These are potential scientists, artists, and industrialists who have been bred to build barns and sew quilts. I think it's terrible.

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But they do harm to their children not only through religious indoctrination but by denying them the intellectual growth that would make them independent enough to leave and pursue their happiness. It reminds me of Ayn Rand's article, "The Comprachicos" in Return of the Primitive. What the Amish do is not illegal because it does not involve the use of physical force, but they stunt their children's ability to think more effectively and permanently than any liberal institution. These are potential scientists, artists, and industrialists who have been bred to build barns and sew quilts. I think it's terrible.

Not my problem. It is enough that I see to it my children and grandchildren get the best possible opportunities. I am not the guardian of the world. If strangers do not bother me, I do not bother them.

What is mine is mine. What is theirs is theirs.

ruveyn

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Not my problem. It is enough that I see to it my children and grandchildren get the best possible opportunities. I am not the guardian of the world. If strangers do not bother me, I do not bother them.

What is mine is mine. What is theirs is theirs.

ruveyn

But the question was whether the religion has done harm, not whether it's your problem. We may not be its victims, but there are victims.

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But the question was whether the religion has done harm, not whether it's your problem. We may not be its victims, but there are victims.

I don't see victims. Has any child been physically abused? Has any crime been committed? Who has bled? Whose ox has been gored? Surely not mine. I simply cannot get upset about what does not concern me and mine. I do not have a dawg in that hunt. I am content to pay attention to those things which either have or are likely to have an impact on my well being. And besides, what can I possibly do about how the Amish school (or don't school) their young. As long as the Amish feed themselves and do not constitute a danger to my health or that of my family and as long as they are no burden to me or the public, I just don't see why I should be concerned. The Amish are peaceful and law abiding and that is all I ask of any stranger: be peaceful and law abiding. I have no further claim on anyone's time beyond that.

ruveyn

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