Existential crisis - please Help!

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by aaqucnaona, May 16, 2013.

  1. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

    Ok. It is after all about the biochemical cocktail in our brains. And isnt that a fascinating thought? All we think, all we do, all our body does without our knowledge; all our hopes and dreams and aspirations; our fears and regrets and doubts; our feelings, emotions and perceptions are all a bunch of chemicals and electrical impulses in our brains. The mind is what the brain DOES. We have arisen through a fantastic process of supernovae explositions and gas cloud coalescence and planet formation over billions of years until evolution produced our species and the matter that constitutes us came together to form us. As Neil Tyson [and Carl Sagan] said: "Not only are we a part of the Cosmos, the Cosmos are a part of us".

    Who says Atheists cannot be spiritual or revel in the beauty and grandeur of the universe.
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  3. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

    Put that way, I do think that my misanthropy is [thankfully] on shakier ground that I thought. It is also quite indicative of our restraint that this trend exists. I mean, Genghis probably killed not only the largest percentage of contacted people, he also most likely killed as many as the technology of the time allowed. Considering that we can, if we want, extinguish all life on earth, its really
    a good thing that we consider a 100 deaths as a massive tragedy.

    Speaking of benign worldviews, I now understand how my anglophilia developed. Like most people, I have had many a role model since my childhood. As far as I can remember, they were, from my childhood to present: Batman -> Sherlock Holmes -> Alistair Maclean's Hero characters -> Asimov and Clarke's protagonists -> The Doctor. I didnt realise I considered the doctor as my role model but it makes sense. I was introduced to the doctor just after I lost my faith. To see an advanced, benign and awesome character with a furturistic perspective on current affairs who nevertheless is an optimistic, energetic, curious person who revels in the magnificence of the universe and stars in beautiful, well written, happy stories which often have quite a few good messages to tell could not be beaten by anything else [except perhaps Sagan's or Attenbrough's Documentaries] as a useful tool to combat the depression and nihilism that commonly accompany the loss of faith. From there started my obsession with the English accent [for reasons I explained on another thread] and in the process of watching more british telly shows to reference the accent, I became an anglophile.

    Hear Hear! Isnt the story of our civilisation [and of science] a beautiful tale? I am tempted to think that if advanced ETs ever discovered us, they wouldnt make contact, they would just make our planet a secret reality show for their entertainment - like a planetary version of Big Brother [the show, not the other thing - I hope!] Btw, I am starting to see the beauty in everthing around me. This is probably the result of reading those books I mentioned as well as the fact that I am jamming out to the highlights of the dubstep concerts in Londonderry on BBC radio One's internet radio as I write this.

    “Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can't.” ― Johnny Depp

    “Music is the universal language of mankind.”― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    “Where words fail, music speaks.”― Hans Christian Andersen

    Why though? From an evolutionary perspective, what purpose does this serve?

    By cities, do you mean proper cities with streets and a city plan and some water supply/waste disposal system, etc? Of course, all those technologies would probably develop at different times, but maybe their beginnings could be detected there? I was quite fascinated by this when I read Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel.

    :shy: Thank you very much, though I cant claim much credit for that. Ever since I was a child, my mum often used to discuss with me at length many social, philosophical and theological topics and inculcated in me a deep appreciation of thought and a insatiable curiosity for knowledge. That, more than anything else, made me who I am. Besides, I have a lot of time of spare time on my hand and ever since I lost my faith, I have been reading, listening [to lectures] and watching [documentaries] intensively on most topics scientific, social, psychological, cultural and philosophical since I faced the daunting task of recreating my worldview having disposed of my religious one. I guess its that larger worldview I have managed to have that gives that impression. Thank you again. A bit of appreciation can go a long way, especially when one is [quickly becoming 'was'] down, not just emotionally, but also philosophically.

    Things are changing! Now more than ever, the non religious are a proper force in the world. There are 1.1 billion of us now!

    Well said and quite informative. You never cease to amaze me by how much you know - and how succinctly you can put it.

    Um, thank you? I am sorry if this wasnt the response you expected. I dont understand what makes you feel this way about that statement? I mean, it is a train of though I have, but I have actually done little. I have just given some to a few charities, mainly to cancer research. On a related topic:

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    I have also noticed that I have become much more charitable since losing my faith, no doubt because of my humanism.

    Ah, the perfect timing of coincidence. As I said above, I am jamming out right now. I have also ramped up my healthcare and food and am starting to "live a little". Things are gelling together. Hopefully this will be behind me in a few weeks and then will begin the harder task of understanding what happened and why so that it can be handled better in the future or even prevented and also because I am by nature quite a jolly person so understand what happened here might help me understand myself better. Speaking of which, I have been doing the surveys here: http://www.yourmorals.org/explore.php to understand my moral and value layout and quite a few unexpected anomalies have revealed themselves as a result - understanding and addressing them will surely help reduce some of the psychological dissonance.

    Ok, I will look into it. I would rather not see a professional if I can help it though, because as bad as this is, it is still a good opportunity to understand myself, learn to organise mental tasks and start to assume responsibility for myself. Still, if need be, I will do it.

    Nevertheless, you are a mature, objective, intelligent, extremely informative and helpful person. I have, over the couple years I have been here, learned a lot from you and understood myself quite bit better in discussions with you. So until the need arises, I think these discussions will more than serve the purpose!

    I guess so, though at the time, it was very much an attempt at humour very much in line with what Saturnine Pariah said. Besides, as I said, it is indeed worth it. I had said in the past that I would prefer the Truth to Happiness and I stand by that even now. I even replied to "which story do you prefer" in the Life of Pi as "It isnt relevant what I prefer. I would [obviously] like the tiger story to be true but I want the one that is true, regardless of which one it is." To gain the perspective I have gained, to understand the world as we know of it rather than as the religiously coloured worldview I had before, to appreciate the beauty of an orchid not just visually but ecologically and evolutionarily [as Feynman memorably said], to appreciate nature like Attenbrough and the Universe like Sagan is damn well worth the emotional, psychological and philosophical trauma we have to face as a part of the cutting age of our evolving culture. If Blake were alive today, watching Sagan's Cosmos may very well have been the inspiration for this:

    "To see a world in a grain of sand
    And a heaven in a wild flower,
    Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
    And eternity in an hour."

    See, this is the kind of the rosy perspective that appealed to me in The Doctor. I was quite down at the time I wrote that and now having read this, I realise how important perspective really is.
    Indeed. Every little helps. An empire for a horseshoe, innit? Butterfly wings and tornadoes.
    And a bit more of music seems fitting [I swear it isnt dubstep, its something you would like] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlYnqIFYYH8

    As an avid sports fan, I can confirm that this is indeed the case.

    Speaking of which, one of the lectures series I have aquired is this: http://www.thegreatcourses.com/tgc/courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=3810
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  5. Trooper Secular Sanity Valued Senior Member

    Existential crisis?

    It’s the heart of two truths, a desperate logic, that relentless forcing of one’s self into an unbearable corner. I preferred Allen Wheelis over Nietzsche. I’ve read all of his books. This one is free online at http://www.jstor.org.

    In the Reign of the King of Whirl: The Conditions of Morality by Allen Wheelis
    Nihilism and Reason (excerpt)
    Certainty is not to be had. But as we learn this we become not more moral but more resigned. We become nihilists. If we know nothing for sure, how can we ever know we are right? And if we can never know we are right, how can we act? We can live without truths if we must, but quietly. But to defend good an attack evil means killing people, and how can we do that without being sure? The longer we are paralyzed by this nostalgia for lost certainty the deeper our nihilism. To go back is not possible; to go one requires that we give up the demand for certainty, become willing to act in a field of probable goods and probable evils, “to fight a lie’ as Richard Hilary said, ‘in the name of a half truth.”

    Once we leave the mythical realm of certainty and enter the real world where all is contingent and temporary, we find immediately, as a great bonus, that we are already beyond nihilism. We are not in chaos, as we had feared, but in some agreement of what is wrong and what is right. Agreement is never complete, never yields certainty, but it is more than a random throw.
    Nihilism is a fraud. He tells a story that took place at a pastry shop.
    My wife and I order sandwiches and coffee, a couple with a child, sit at the next table. The boy’s knee upsets the glass of milk, it falls. The snap of glass and splash of milk is followed a moment later by another sound, something like the crack of a rifle; the boys head jerks back. After a moment he begins to cry. His father stares at him unspeaking, unmoving. All faces are toward the family, all eyes on the man who now slaps the boy again, his hand like rapier, quicker than a reflex, the child can’t see it coming, there’s no time to flinch: again that rifle shot, and the boy’s head jerks back. The outline of the father’s hand appears like a negative on his son’s cheek, finger’s white, outlined in red.

    There is a murmur of protest. Ladies whisper disapproval. His mother is dismayed but does not intervene, does not protect, wipes away his tears with her napkin. I think the child feels her sympathy; she is telling him that this is all that is safe, that she would do more if she could.

    The man is carved stone, impaling the boy on a murderous stare. The man moves not a muscle; his controlled fury does not subside. His gaze remains fixed on the convulsed boy and his expression does not alter. A minute passes. The mother daubs at her son’s face.

    There it is again, that rifle shot. His head jerks back again. The murmur grows louder: “What a shame!” “He didn’t mean to do it!”’ “It was an accident!”

    I turn away, cannot bear to look. A young couple beside us is silent. The girl has lowered her head, the young man is staring at the father, his shoulders hunched forward, muscles as if they would burst out of the yellow tennis shirt.

    Where is nihilism now?
    How People Change by Allen Wheelis
    Suffering (excerpt)
    For many people suffering is imposed. Many of us have never known this kind of misery. And then there is self-imposed suffering. Some of it is public knowledge. Some of it is visible only to a few. And some of our suffering is altogether private, known to no one but he who suffers, not even the one asleep beside him, is borne with shame as some indescribable awkwardness in living, a kind of disloyalty to be in despair in midst of plenty.

    Imposed suffering takes priority over elected suffering. To those whose suffering is imposed, elected suffering seems unreal, made up, and illusory. Victims of the whip feel envy of those so sheltered from pain as to be able to dream up states of misery.

    We who compose our own misery are ambivalent toward victims of imposed suffering. We feel a subtle pride, a secret never expressed, unknown often even to ourselves. We feel that our misery is more complicated. As if we whisper, ‘The pain of being hungry or beaten is very bad, we sympathize, and we will make a conscious effort to help, but it is after all, a primitive suffering, whereas only a poet could feel what I feel.

    I would also recommend “On Not Knowing How to Live” by Allen Wheelis
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  7. IncogNegro Banned Banned

    Nihilism is the place where overcoming is realized, not where it is attained or tainted. It has nothing to do with religion. It's just the most common and easiest one to overcome.
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Sure. But you get a second chance. I've been fired twice and I'm none the worse for the wear. A rather large segment of the population (I wouldn't be surprised if it was half the workforce, although I don't have the figures) has been fired at least once, at least in this country.

    You don't get a second chance when you're dead. (Contrary to the fairytales propagated by the churches.)

    Being fired is one of life's experiences. You learn from it and become a better person, even though it may cause temporary hardship.

    Killing is permanent. There's no lesson because learning requires consciousness and consciousness requires life. And the hardship on your family, friends, pets, etc., is permanent.

    Anyone who honestly equates being terminated from a job with dying (rather than an exercise in internet hyperbole) has a huge problem with perspective and maturity. How's that person going to react to the death of a loved one, or some other genuine life-changing calamity?

    My best friend's husband died and left her (in her fifties) with two young children to raise. She would much rather have been fired. Thirteen years later I look into her eyes and I still see a lady who just came home from her husband's funeral.

    The second time I was fired was a blessing in disguise. I had been suppressing my disgust with the company and my immediate superiors, just trying to get along and keep the paychecks coming. But it only took six months to find another job that was infinitely better, with a full fifty-percent increase in salary. Many of my friends still work at the old place and they envy me. Including the aforementioned widow.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Or as I put it, the brain is the hardware and the mind is the software.

    We must not allow the religionists to co-opt the words "spirit" and "spiritual." We leave our spirit in everything we do. Every electronic communication carries the spirit of Gauss and Weber, who built the first commercial telegraph in 1833. Most of the popular music of this century (in the West) carries the spirit of Scott Joplin, who made syncopation respectable--many Euro-Americans literally couldn't stand it! Every Afro-American who can walk down the street without worrying about being harassed on every block carries the spirit of the Four Little Girls (still remembered that way) who died in the church in Birmingham, AL, that was bombed by the KKK on Sept. 15, 1963, finally shaming the government into passing the Civil Rights Act.

    I didn't adopt mine until adulthood: Piglet (in Winnie the Pooh), Frodo Baggins and Kermit the Frog. Piglet's mantra (from the Saturday morning cartoon, not the book), "My worst fear is having to come face-to-face with my worst fear," is a very succinct description of my childhood. I could not accept the fact that I was afraid of my mother. (A screamer, not a hitter.)

    Wow! There certainly is a tremendous advantage to being born and raised without faith rather than having to grow out of it. Of course when I discovered that there was such a thing as "faith" (around age seven) I had my own negative epiphany, but it manifested as cynicism. It took about thirty years to get over that.

    You seem to have your own problem with cynicism. Why do you automatically assume that a species that has overcome the impediments to space travel (an eighty-year round trip to the nearest star and we already know it has no life-bearing planets) will have also overcome the little quirks that come with a gigantic brain? Why won't they be just as silly as we are in their own way?

    Music is the first intelligence and it strengthens what we learn. -- "Ask Amy" advice column

    In a village, everyone knows everyone else by name. Even though they're not all blood relatives (as they were in the much smaller clans of the Paleolithic Era) they still regard each other as pack-mates, caring for and depending on one another without need for administrative oversight and books of accounts. A city is so large that no one knows everyone, and in fact may not even have met everyone. People work in harmony and cooperation with these complete strangers because history (and their elders) have taught them that this greatly increases productivity, wealth and comfort, allowing some people to be full-time musicians, explorers, teachers, tinkers, etc. But they need this understanding to be reinforced by rules and administrators. It is possible for people to cheat, and when the person they're cheating is a complete stranger it's not only possible but easy.

    As for the technologies, bear in mind that the first cities were Neolithic habitations: Stone Age cities made of stone and wood with tools made of stone and wood. There was no running water and waste was dumped out in the woods. There was no need for “streets” as we understand the word, for two reasons:
    • 1. The wheel could not be invented until bronze metallurgy was developed around 3000BCE. Wheels must be cut from boards because the cross-section of a tree trunk does not have strength in the necessary direction, and you can’t cut a board with flint blades.
    • 2. There were no draft animals to haul carts around. Sheep, goats and small birds had been domesticated for their meat (and in some places their milk, which then caused an evolutionary adaptation for lactose tolerance in adulthood), but the large strong animals like oxen and horses were a couple of millennia in the future.
    They had footpaths.

    I don’t know about the knowledge part of that, but I earn a living as a writer so I guess I do have that skill.

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    Everybody feels that way. What’s wrong with consulting an expert in any domain that either interests you or in which you’re having a problem?

    These people are not going to come up with a solution to your problems that you may not feel is the correct solution. They are going to give you a toolset that you can use to solve them yourself.

    All any counselor, therapist, healer, guru, whatever, is going to do is help you understand yourself. They’re just going to give you the tools. It’s up to you to put them to work.

    Comedians and the entire entertainment industry have given us an insulting and entirely incorrect impression of mental/emotional health practitioners. And of course you should go to one who is recommended by someone you trust rather than just picking a name out of the phone book, because like any stupid stereotype, there are obviously a few people who fit it or nobody would have thought it up.

    I read the book but I haven’t seen the movie yet. I was very disappointed with the book, but it’s obvious that the movie doesn’t have the same stoopid ending so perhaps I’ll enjoy it more.

    I’m so sorry that your religious background made your life so miserable and that, therefore, it was so traumatic to break from it. Many people who consider themselves religious appreciate Feynman, Attenborough, et al as much as we do. I suppose in many of them it’s simply a case of cognitive dissonance, but I’m just as sure that for many others it’s simply the ability to recognize metaphors as metaphors and not insist that in order to be a “good Christian” you have to believe that sea level once rose to cover the highest mountains, even though that would require at least three times the total amount of water on the planet.

    Since you like PBS, I hope you caught Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey.” It was before your time but the DVDs are selling nicely. Campbell was the most successful popularizer of the work of Carl Jung. He discovered that many people simply cannot grasp the concept of metaphor, so if you tell them that the moon is a silver chariot traveling across the night sky, they will tell you, “That’s a lie,” whereas if you tell them that the world was created in seven days they will tell you, “That’s the truth.”

    Sagan did for science what Campbell did for psychology. The Rule of Laplace, “Extraordinary assertions must be supported by extraordinary evidence before we are obliged to treat them with respect” (there are many renditions of this), is now known in the USA as “Sagan’s Law.”

    You might enjoy World Party’s song, “Put the Message in the Box.” That line is worked into the lyrics. It was written in 1990 but it sounds like a Grateful Dead track that had been lost in the studio for 20 years.
  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    The worse thing we can do is succumb to the spirit of mediocrity that pervades our overtelevised mass-produced culture. There is never anything mediocre about science and the fact that we all somehow got here after billions of years of cosmic shaking and baking. I wake up every morning freshly astounded that I'm alive and conscious and experiencing a reality that itself composes me. What a reason to keep going! To see what lies behind the next bend. What weird truth will we discover next? What new invention will transform how we interact with Being itself? Existing is very exciting, no?
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    You were mean to people, and now it's coming back at you.
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Awww, Fraggle, caricaturing other people's input has always been your forte, and so is drama.
    Can't keep up with you!
  13. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

    No I wasn't! I was the always the shy kid who sat in the corner and didnt bother anyone. I never bullied nor did anything malicious and I have always been quite very kind and charitable [and even more so since I lost my faith]. What makes you think I was mean?
  14. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

    What's wrong? Why are you suddenly being so nasty?
  15. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

    Yes indeed. Science is working away faster and better than ever before. As for the future, this might help: http://www.thegreatcourses.com/tgc/courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=1391
    You might want to check it out. It's available and it's available. Take your pick and enjoy 12 hours well spend.
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Huh??? What exactly is "caricature" about citing a real human being's experience with a real life-altering crisis and commenting on its real (so far) lifelong effect on her? You're the one who said that being fired is comparable to being murdered. This lady would much rather her husband had been fired than having terminal cancer.

    As usual, you have not responded to my own response to your post. You make cute little snarky comments but you zealously avoid continuing the discussion of the issue that you, personally, brought up!

    There's nothing "sudden" about it. She always does this when she can't win an argument honestly--or even debate well enough to end in a draw--or even just "agree to disagree."

    I'd be very curious if anyone else understood what she was referring to when she accused me of "caricaturing her input" by speaking of an actual death and its impact, in a discussion of murder.
  17. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    You seem to have come to the end of the road.

    What exactly do you mean by ''elimination of the opposition''?
    Can you cite the texts so we can look at them in more detail?

    Remember though, the middle east has always been a violent place, even before Muhammad. I would say it started with Cain.

    What are ''unessential desires''?
    Why do you think that hedonism is so good, that it could become the ''primary driver of human progress''?
    And what is ''human progress'' in that context?

    What other models of reality are there?

    What do you think ''progress'' is ?
    What I think IS important is contentment, simple living, high thinking.

    Because it's the only discipline that caters for the essential part of the human being.
    Can you think of any discipline that does that?

    Biology didn't overtake anything. In fact now we have the means to view particles like the inside of a cell, we see intelligence at work. It's undeniable (in some circles), and those nay sayers have to work hard to convince themselves otherwise (although they wouldn't admit it)

    You can't get rid of religion, you can only affect it, or change it to something other than God-centerednes.
    Young people may not believe in God, but they will believe in Justin Beiber, Beyonce, or satanic rock idols. They dress, talk, walk, eat, sleep, and associate with the particular culture they accept, and that's what ''religion'' is. So while we have lost our connection to God, we still look for something greater than ourselves to believe in. This is ''irreligion'', religion without God at it's center.

    If you want to know what ''real religion'' is, or how it should be practiced, then read any scripture and you'll find examples of human beings who themselves are surrendered to God, and whose lives are exemplary. You'll find that although these are different people, they all have the same thing in common, and to find what that thing is, is to find ''real religion'', not the showbottle stuff.

    What do you mean?

    What do you mean by ''answers''? Religion teaches you how to live your life. It's not interested in mundane questions or answers, those are different subject matters.

    Why would religion be ''very different'' 10,000 years ago? Would eating, and sleeping be very different?

    Religion is a part of life, and you have no choice but to partake either in it, or in it's counterpart (irreligion). By ''religion'' I don't mean a ''particular religion'', just religion itself.

    Because their interest in you is limited to statistics, if you're not with them, they're not interested in you. The world is changing and they want a stake in it. I suppose it is no different than after the demise of the roman empire, they switched to religion and ruled the world.

    Proper religion is not interested in securing positions in this world. It is about learning to live this life in the highest human capacity. Read the Bible without prejudice, or any scripture, and you'll see what I mean. All that evangelical stuff is not present in any scripture, neither is the way they pray or worship God. You won't find that style in any scripture. That is all about commerce, mind manipulation, and big egos.

    Find a snippet of one of those evangelical services, and let's compare their methodology, philosophy, and religiosity to any God-conscious personality in the Bible.
    I pretty sure that you'll an ocean of differences.

    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Like all the other prominent religions, the practice of Islam does not always bear a strong resemblance to the principles in its texts. To give one example in answer to your question, Saudi Arabia has a national law against the existence of Christian churches. How's that?

    Cain was a mythical figure, but you surely already know that. The entire world has always been a violent place, and the emergence of our species in Africa ca. 200KYA didn't change that. We are obligate carnivores so our violence was focused on other species until our population grew to the level at which rival clans of humans were competing for scarce hunting ranges during a lean year. From that point on, violence by another human was the cause of death of more than 50% of adults. More humans were killed by other humans than by all other causes combined!

    This did not change until the invention of agriculture, the twin technologies of farming and animal husbandry, around 10,000BCE. At this point there was finally a food surplus. Not only did people no longer have to kill each other for sheer survival, but economies of scale and division of labor made larger villages more productive than smaller ones, so our ancestors had an incentive to merge their clans and learn to live in harmony and cooperation.

    The Bronze Age, which began around 3000BCE, provided the first "weapons of mass destruction," metal blades and armor, but the fact that deposits of tin and copper ore are almost never found in close proximity required the city-states to maintain an uneasy peace so they could trade the raw materials needed to sustain their civilizations. It wasn't until the Iron Age, around 2000BCE, that war as we know it became a common activity, since iron ore is easy to find and smelt, once we learned how to build incredibly hot fires. (The two Bronze Age empires of the New World encompassed such large areas that they had both tin and copper, so the Aztecs and Incas were able to become warrior states.)

    So it's not fair to single out the Middle East for its violence. It may be a hot spot today, but every region has taken its turn. Europe was a slaughterhouse during the century of religious warfare we euphemistically call "the Reformation." Oh and don't forget that as recently as the last century the Europeans and Americans fought two wars (with a little help from Japan in the second one) of such enormous scope that we call them "world wars." The second one killed three percent of the entire planet's population--including fifty percent of its Jews! The American Civil War was so bloody (three percent of the country's population died) that 150 years later we still haven't gotten over it.

    I suggest that in any context human progress can be measured by our climb up the steps of Maslow's Hierarchy. What percentage of the population are still on Step One or Two, concerned primarily with survival and security? How close are we to understanding what Step Five is all about; what the hell is "self-actualization" anyway? How soon will we be able to see through the mist at the top of the pyramid and get a glimpse of Step Six?

    Science and technology are clearly key tools in this progress, especially the new digital electronic communication technologies that allow virtually everyone to be in touch with virtually everyone else, making them feel like family instead of abstractions on the other side of the planet, about whose welfare we needn't concern ourselves. But our social paradigms have to evolve too.

    Unfortunately, religion appears to be one of the main impediments to this final merger of all humanity into a single community. The Abrahamic religions, in particular, teach their members that they are just a teeny bit better than everybody else because they have the True Word. So they have not just permission, but a mandate to do whatever it takes to make the rest of us believe their fairytales, to spare us from the Fires of Hell. Even if it requires violating what we regard as our own rights!

    Yes yes, Islam is certainly the villain in this scenario today. But the Inquisition, the Crusades, the witch-burnings, that hundred years of non-stop war while the Catholics and Protestants argued over which of them were the "real" Christians, and the obliteration of the two "heathen" civilizations of the Western Hemisphere are not that far behind us. And it's quite fair to mention the Holocaust a second time: as badly as the Jews were treated by the Muslims (and under the Ottomans they had genuine "second-class citizenship"), the Middle East was a paradise for them compared to European Christendom.

    My answer is above.

    Sure (although personally I don't appreciate simplicity--this brain cannot possibly have evolved to be bored to death). But technology plays a key role in providing us with those things. Starting with the flint blades that allowed our ancestral species to scavenge the bits of meat left over by predators, increasing the protein content of our diet and allowing our species to grow larger brains. Technology has shortened our work week and allowed us to work while sitting down, reduced infant mortality from 80% to less than 1% (if you want to talk about "contentment," where do cemeteries dominated by tiny gravestones fit in your life?), given us writing and every advanced form of communication that came after it, and yielded art forms our ancestors couldn't have imagined, including photography, animation, and professionally composed and performed music available 24/7.

    Huh? Another person who doesn't understand the massive power of coincidence?

    I try very hard to avoid the circle of woo-woo.

    No, it all hinges on numeracy, a skill that most Americans woefully lack. This is why we've borrowed trillions of dollars from China in a vain attempt to eradicate terrorism, while American with guns kill more of us in one year than terrorists have killed in my lifetime, yet we don't give a flying fuck about those murders.

    I suppose you can pull up an academic definition of "religion" and argue from it, but most of the people you're talking to understand religion as being centered around a deity. You'll end up with something like the Dao or Scientology.

    Belief in the supernatural is an archetype (an instinct programmed into the DNA in our synapses by evolution), and belief in one or more gods is a central feature of that archetype. So if you want to supplant the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Rastafari and, arguably, Baha'i) as well as Hinduism and the Native American and African faiths, with a New Dao (wait a minute, the Japanese already did that, that's the literal meaning of Shin To), you've got your work cut out for you.

    You're using Dictionary Definition #6 or 7, "Baseball is my religion."

    I'm not sure why you picked 10KYA, perhaps just because it's a round number. If you go back to 12KYA before the Agricultural Revolution, eating and sleeping were much different. Meat was the primary food, since without cultivated grains there's not enough protein in plant tissue to nourish our gigantic brains--which use more than half of it! Nomads have no use for pottery so there was no way to store food very long. Although most hunter-gatherer tribes had a home base of caves, they spent most of their time chasing their food across the landscape, sleeping in temporary camps. The taming of fire and the domestication of dogs made sleeping safer and had a profound effect on our sleep cycle. It caused a quantum increase in our R.E.M. sleep, which is when we unconsciously organize the things we learned in the previous day, making us a little bit smarter every morning.

    Fortunately a few of us seem to have a mutation that eradicated that archetype from our psychology. There has been no religion in my family for three generations. When another little boy first told me about it I thought he was just making up a fun story. When I asked my mother about it, it was painful for her to admit that the vast majority of adults actually believe these fairytales. It was at that moment, seven years old, that I became a cynic. It took more than 30 years to get over it.

    Yes. This is what distinguishes the Jews from the other Abrahamists. Although they believe in "bodily resurrection," it will not occur until the end of the world, perhaps billions of years in the future. So they don't concentrate on living a life that will get them into Heaven. They don't want to embarrass their family and community by doing bad deeds, or to leave their loved ones apologizing for them after they're gone.

    Of course this attitude doesn't seem to work any better in practice than the "gotta make it into Heaven" attitude of the Christians and Muslims.

    The Christians seem to believe that they have a mandate from God to convert all of us. That's evangelism.

    Some denominations don't stress it, and some modern American churches simply focus their sermons on honoring God by doing good deeds rather than analyzing the scriptures.
  19. Chipz Banned Banned

    He askd for citations to use as comparisons not the story of ur child hood fraggle. You didnt answer his questin. U basicaly wrote a 2 page diatribe full of condescension and perrsonal gratuity.
  20. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

    Jan's female. And this is not the place to discuss citations. Jan [and wynn] have been presented with them on other occasions and it has not been a productive discussion EVER, as the 700 post long thread on religious violence will show. While your criticism of Fraggle's post is sensible, in this context, it is indeed the proper reply to Jan's post.
  21. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    As an advocate for the truths revealed by science about the inner workings of cells, I would have to disagree. It takes an enormous amount of work to unwind the clock and unlearn that these are physical, not metaphysical, processes at work. That makes the science remarkably undeniable.

    An awful lot of religion is long-gone. The trend appears to indicate that religion is probably becoming obsolete.

    Other than as a metaphor for teen crazes, fashion, style and art I wouldn't call celebrity role-modeling a religion. Religion necessarily has a connection to the ancient world, even if it pretends to have been only recently invented. It's rooted in superstition, myth, legend and fable, and either shows direct origins from ancient attempts to explain phenomena for which they had no science, or it has a modern reformulation that casts doubt on physical interpretations of known natural laws, and almost always includes the belief in magic regardless of the terminology used, that is, that the laws of nature are subject to repeal, and almost always the entity doing the repealing is a deity or pantheon. Religions are marked by actual ritual, even if only ritual belief, which is not what we mean we use metaphors like "teen idol worship". No teen in her right mind would actually believe that Justin Bieber is a prophet sent by God to save all people from eternal damnation, or that Beyonce rode with Arjuna in the great battle that preceded history. It's the actual belief in fantastic stories that distinguishes faith from fad, or cult from culture.
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    At the time of the American Revolution, only 20% of our people were members of churches. Now it's more than 50%. Much of that dates to the Religious Redneck Retard Revival around 1980. The Baby Boomers believed that they were the only generation that had done the things they had done, like sex and drugs and rock'n'roll. So they were overcome by the need for penance--rather than a good reading of history!

    Fortunately, religion is indeed on the wane in most of the rest of the Western World, as well as China. It also seems to be losing its strength in much of Latin America. One might almost suspect that religion is a desperate plea, to hopefully-not-imaginary gods, to intervene in worldly affairs and raise a community out of despair. So once their lot begins to improve they dump it. I'm not sure what this says about their sincerity, since, logically, they should be down on their knees thanking those gods for hearing and answering their prayers!

    This is a perfect example of aaqucnaona's complaint about Jan's dishonest style of debate, conveniently ignoring information that she can't rebut. I already noted Jung's paradigm of archetypes, which are beliefs, motifs, behaviors, etc., that are hard-wired into the DNA of our synapses as instincts, through evolution. "Facts" which we remember "knowing" since birth feel more true than any information we acquire subsequently through reasoning and learning. Most instincts are obviously survival traits which evolution easily selects for since individuals that don't have them will die before reaching reproductive age. Belief in the supernatural is not so easy to understand, but on the other hand there obviously can be a few instincts that serve no purpose but survived through genetic drift or a genetic bottleneck.

    Let's see if she ignores this again. No wait, she'll probably just dismiss Jung as a charlatan.

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    That's how you can tell university graduates from the rest of the population.

    Well... I'm a rock musician so I go to a lot of concerts. (The kids are always delighted to see me and treat me kindly because I'm proof that at age 69 you can still rock.) A lot of what goes on at a rock concert is, indeed, ritual. The fist pumping, the tossing of lingerie onto the stage, the precise obedience to all instructions shouted by the band for dancing and screaming, etc.

    Frankly a lot of kids have a nagging doubt that their parents are telling the truth when they warn them that rock'n'roll is the devil's music and if they don't stop listening to it they will go to hell. Okay, probably not Justin Bieber, but certainly the death-metal bands and a lot of the rappers.

    Anyway, I think most people (including lexicographers) agree that a religion has to have at least one god. So when people say that baseball, or gardening, or poker "is my religion," they're speaking metaphorically. Which is ironic, considering that religion itself is nothing more or less than a collection of metaphors.
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Let's recall some of the things you wrote about at the forums:

    You pretended to be a Christian, for, as you called it, utilitarian or pragmatic reasons, so that you could still have people (in this case, Christians) to associate with. You criticized them and spoke ill of them here at the forums (even your user name is a reflection of your intention to do), behind their backs, while in person, you pretended that there's no problem and that you're one of them.

    You challenged your mother on religious, philosophical and scientific topics, and made demeaning remarks about her in public. As if she would be just a kid you know and fight with. Your mother!!

    You were mean to some posters here, treating them like they couldn't count to 3.

    Yeah, it's quite right that you're now faced with trouble.

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