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Posts posted by Memammal

  1. Try pointing out the immoral and disgusting stuff in the NT.

    One of the most immoral, disgusting teachings imaginable originated from the NT. Paul's doctrine of original sin. In my view, that is the worst of Christianity, arguably the worst religious teaching in the history of mankind. The alleged global flood would have been devastating (if true), destruction of Sodom & Gomorra was pretty bad (if true), the genocide of the Canaanites was probably one of the most disturbing divine acts, but the teaching of original sin has single-handedly enslaved 2000 years of Christian generations into believing that all of humanity, every single innocent baby being born, are sinful creatures who can only be saved from eternal hell through the church, or through divine forgiveness, by virtue of Jesus having died on the cross. Of course rational thinking, knowledge about our true origins and a bit of Bible reading will reveal that the entire idea of original sin is profoundly flawed. The damage that this silly idea has caused to the collective psyche of Christians is irreversible; all that can be done is to educate in order to cure and prevent further infection.

    Which reminds me...


    Prometheus wrote:

    ...In addition, unfortunately people still use this book for moral guidance. To engage with them we need to understand their perspective rather than just brandish them immoral.

    I responded

    It will take many generations for these societies to rid themselves from their religious roots, I am afraid. See my previous reference re skewed moral compasses. Not that I am branding them immoral though.

    I would have to reconsider that very last sentence. Should one turn a blind eye to collective ignorance considering its immoral consequences..?

  2. @ Prometheus: I think we are overcomplicating our discussion. I was reacting mainly to these parts of your original post:

    Religion has often played an important aspect in the development of morality in humans...[sNIP]...I imagine morality would have remained the province of sophists (in the original sense) for a lot longer. If our morals now seem obvious to us, it is because people have made great efforts to make it obvious. Those people were usually religious.


    ...I don't think humanity is yet ready to do away with the comfort blanket of religion...


    ...I believe even the Bible is still morally relevant today, including the old testament...

    I did not agree and still don't. I have stated why:

    • it was contentious to say that religion played an important part in the development of morality in humans;
    • I was not convinced that morality would have remained the province of either the sophists or the elite if it was not for religion...on the contrary, religion often claimed and reserved moral high ground for those representing the church and the monarchs;
    • I did not agree with your sweeping statement that morals became obvious to us as a result of religious people;
    • humanity never required religion in the first place and that it is possible (admittedly not easy, or a quick fix) for an entire society to rid itself from religion given the right circumstances;
    • Why the Bible (or other holy books) should not be seen as morally relevant today (of course religious followers think differently).

    As for this part that I snipped out:

    Quite what this development would have been like without religion is anybody's guess.​

    I think it reasonably safe to assume that we would have been perfectly OK. You only have to look at what happened with indigenous tribes in various parts of the world who were unburdened by the influence of major religions until fairly recently (a few hundred years ago). Most of them managed to establish successful, sustainable and moral societies on their own...admittedly each with their own superstitions and the odd inter-tribal war over food, land or power. Regrettably most of them are worst off today as a result of foreign influences, including religion (Africa, for example. is a hot spot i.t.o. wars being fought between Islam controlled countries/tribes and Christian controlled ones).

    You seem very sure of this conclusion, so perhaps you could provide references.

    The important underlying morals of you shall not kill, steal or lust, even (most of) the so-called seven deadly sins, were and still are pretty universal within most (if not all) cultures and religions. If you have a look at the Code of Ur-Nammu that I mentioned earlier, you would recognise quite a few "universal moral rules of society" that were applicable before organised religions came to the fore.

  3. What about societies with oral traditions or writing on more temporary mediums? I cannot spare the time required to delve into the veracity of all these sources, but my main point is that morality and religion met at some point, somehow. Since then many people come to morality via religion. Is this contentious?

    Yes, the ancient roots of humanity's morality are dealt with by numerous articles that are available on the internet (the google search that I referenced). The gist of the difference of opinion between what you argued and what I argued is whether humanity's morality relied and still relies on religion and/or whether morality is being furthered by religion. That seems to be your POV; I argued differently. When morality and religion intertwined, morality got dressed up in the different garments of the various religious cloaks. The underlying moral values remained pretty much standard, just presented in different narratives. Religion was not needed, it did not benefit society's moral values; on the contrary, it skewed our moral compass and aimed it at pleasuring some superstitious deity.


    Confucianism and Buddhism are religions. This comes up quite often on this forum, maybe worth its own thread to debate?

    I am not convinced that Confucius or Buddha set out to teach religions. A form of religion (Tibetan monasteries for example) followed from their teachings.


    For sure there are secular countries but most countries aren't, just as there are secular people but the vast majority of the world is religious. Some of these religious people use religion as a moral compass. There would be consequences to removing this compass; some good some bad i imagine.


    ...Are the USA or UK yet secular? My point is it takes time and you can't impose it.


    ...In addition, unfortunately people still use this book for moral guidance. To engage with them we need to understand their perspective rather than just brandish them immoral.

    The countries affected by the Age of Enlightenment are mostly secular, even though a lot of people still cling to religious traditions (cling more than practice). Most of central Europe in fact, while you can add the Scandinavian countries to that list as well. USA & UK (and South Africa) are still religious because most of their inhabitants (incl. European settlers) were never exposed to the Age of Enlightenment. A lot of them fled the violence of inter-faith persecution. They were staunch Reformers or Roman Catholics, so what else would you expect? It will take many generations for these societies to rid themselves from their religious roots, I am afraid. See my previous reference re skewed moral compasses. Not that I am branding them immoral though.


    What is exactly religion ? Religion is a particular system of faith and worship followed by a group of people. It should be noted that religion, in its strict term, does not create groups, it is humans who create religions according to the needs of the groups.

    I agree to some degree with your assessment, but I am not convinced about the last sentence. I don't think religions get created according to the needs of the groups. Islam may be a good example of a religion that was created for a specific purpose, but I am not sure that it is applicable to all other religions. Come to think of it...the Hellenization of Christianity was probably quite significant in order to make it palatable for the Greeks, Romans and others to follow.

    Consider our collective morality is a narrative, a story. We can't really understand the story if we forget the beginning.

    And for that we need to look at what happened before the rise of (organised) religion and also how religion might have affected the natural evolvement of morality (as alluded to by other posters). Again, IMO religion was not a prerequisite for the furtherance of morality among our species, in many cases it was a hindrance.

  4. Religion has often played an important aspect in the development of morality in humans. Quite what this development would have been like without religion is anybody's guess. I imagine morality would have remained the province of sophists (in the original sense) for a lot longer. If our morals now seem obvious to us, it is because people have made great efforts to make it obvious. Those people were usually religious.

    With emphasis on often in the first sentence above...i.e. yes and no. There is a wealth of literature that confirm that morality, even ethical codes predate religion, even suggesting that religion flowed from humanity's sense of morality in conjunction with our sense of superstition. Do yourself a favour and google "morality and ethics before religion" and read up on it. The oldest actual remains of written laws that were found and that were used to govern a society originated from the Neo-Sumerian Empire, long before the Mosaic law. The famous Code of Ur-Nammu of this era was not of a religious nature. The sophists indeed had some sort of monopoly on intelligent (incl. moral) property during the Greek Empire and the later Graeco-Roman society, that part seems true, but only within that particular society. Confucius, of course, was one of their far-eastern peers. There would have been numerous other non-religious moral teachers (Buddha comes to mind).


    If however we could just dispel religion overnight it might help in some ways, but harm in others. Many people need religion to have a meaning in life. The only other real alternative available to the masses is hedonism via capitalism...


    I don't think humanity is yet ready to do away with the comfort blanket of religion.

    I often see and hear this and to me it comes across as a fallacious statement. First of all, there are many (including some secular) countries in Europe, for example, that have been doing pretty fine without relying on religion since the Age of Enlightenment, in fact one can make a strong case for the advantages of an a-religious society outweighing that of a religious (think of religious suppression & persecution that have taken place around the world). Also why would the only choice be between religion and hedonism? Surely there are many high-level psychological needs that humans naturally aspire to apart from religion or hedonism.


    I believe even the Bible is still morally relevant today, including the old testament.

    Again, this seems like a contentious statement. I fail to see the significance of Biblical morals in modern-day society, especially any of those that may exist in the Old Testament. We don't need the Bible (or any other holy book) to teach us morals, full stop.

  5. None of the above requires a god, to work, but we do have to believe it for it to work; heaven and hell is here and now, we only have too choose which we want.

    memammal I'm not singling you out in this post, it's just a convenient platform.

    I am just highlighting part of your post, not ignoring the rest. I have no problem with what you posted, except the specific references to Jesus as if his teachings were any more unique than for example Buddha or any of the other "philosophers" of old. That being said, I realise that you probably just reacted to what I wrote. And just to clarify, (some of) these same teachings that are credited to Jesus (and to Christianity) were allegedly not original. They were already in use at that time.


    As for good and bad, heaven or hell, personally I prefer the notion of yin and yang​...both good and bad, light and dark that are reliant on each other. They form part of our (and all sentient beings') inner nature; deep down we have both. Fortunately we also acquired morality along our evolutionary path, something that we as highly skilled social animals learned to fine-tune to a point where we were able to engage in what appears to be a social contract (ethical behaviour) with one another. That ability comes with lots of underlying psychological skills/intelligence under the skin though.


    So I am still of the opinion that god(s) and religions are mere human constructs, perhaps a projection of that inner wrestle between good and bad against the backdrop of our highly superstitious nature.


    * Edited to correct a few grammar errors in a hastily written post *

  6. It is a simple matter re sustainability of natural resources, including fauna and flora, in the wake of seemingly uncontrollable- and excessive exploitation thereof by humanity while climate change further dampens any chance of survival, or recovery. But then we were told in circa 1980 that humanity would never make it to the year 2000...yet here we are.

  7. ...all of us acknowledge the necessity of including the fact that we live in the present.

    But not all of us agree that our present experience of our life and our environment is any more valid than that of our past or future experiences thereof, or for that matter that of our ancestors, or of our descendants.

  8. My conclusion has been that God will reveal Himself to those that seek Him. There are not controlled studies of this, only anecdotes...

    ...As I said, the incidents I described are contextual, and were meant to convince me. They will not have the same meaning to you. God is fully capable of convincing you, or anyone, individually of His existence in my opinion.

    I already made reference to the incident involving a worker of mine and the sangoma who successfully chased away (exorcised) a tikoloshe. Does that prove anything? Yes, it does. It is all in the mind of the seeker.


    I believe that God is the source of all love, so He is in all living beings including atheists.

    That is not the impression that I am getting from the Bible though. The God of the Old Testament was a god of vengeance with lots of blood on his hands in defeating and exterminating the enemies of the Jews...men, women and children. Jesus preached forgiveness and tolerance...to a point...he clearly disliked the opposing Jewish sects of the time and then there was the matter of either accepting his God or eternal hell awaits.


    Now some societies will incorrectly describe God as Zeus etc, where I believe that the correct description of God is explained by Catholic theology.

    And as I wrote before, the Jews believe that the correct description of God is explained by Judaism, the Muslims believe that to be Islam. Then we have the Jehovah's, the Mormons and a long list of different interpretations of various religions and gods. Man made...all of them. The RCC was but one of many Christian inspired churches following the apotheosis of Jesus and Hellenization of Christianity. The RCC turned out to be more successful due to its sometimes violent historical enforcement of its doctrines onto pagans and due to its ever spreading global influence throughout history.


    I notice you steered away from the issue of religious anthropocentrism...man's unique (and somewhat strange) relationship with God which is centred on the premise of sin and its inherited guilt, the need to repent, all of which is entirely at odds with the evolution of our species other than the result of primitive superstition that rooted itself into our psyche.

  9. @ dedo: It will be wrong from me to criticise you religious beliefs because a) this thread was not really intended for that and b) if religion (or superstition) was indeed a product of evolution in the form of an adaptation, a spandrel or a meme, then it is pretty much instinctive in those who are exposed to that genetic/environmental make-up. I find it hard to resist making a few comments though:


    The God that answered is Jesus Christ.

    This is of course a dead give-away. We can safely assume that the gods of all mainstream religions (past and present) were human, or cultural constructs. We just have to rewind back to ancient mythologies and also consider the various world religions in order to detect a pattern. So a Jew would be convinced that Yahweh is answering his prayers, a Muslim believes that it is Allah, a Greek who lived in 500 BCE would have thought that Zeus is the go-to god, etc. So if you would have answered that some previously unknown God has actually made itself known to you, I would have found it slightly more believable. Your answer seems to reflect a subjective conviction of faith. You are convinced it is JC because it has to be him..?


    As for the rest of the alleged incidents that you have mentioned, it comes across very clearly that you have been searching for divine causes in stead of looking at each of those rationally and ask yourself if there might have existed perfectly natural explanations for each of them. I see no reason why not, but then I do not believe in guardian angels and the likes.


    Once I had a real problem with one aspect of theology involving the coexistence of free will and God's ability to "see the future". At this time I was browsing in a religious bookstore and randomly picked up a novel about religious fiction that I felt I should read. The novel answered the question exactly.

    More pertinent question would be if said God can change the future based on prayers, or if it is all predetermined, part of God's divine plan, regardless..?


    For example, a key ingredient to seeking God is repentance, that removes sin that separates man from God according to my understanding of Christian theology.

    What set our species apart from the rest of (sentient) species? We know that we are a product of evolution, we know our ancient ancestors (hominids) as well as other closely related wild animals exhibit(ed) various degrees of morality. When and how in the process of evolution did we acquire a soul, did we become sinful to the point of having to repent for said sin. Is sin not also just a human construct? The Adam & Eve narrative is essentially flawed, they could not have been the first humans so sin could not have been inherited from them, God never mentioned it in his Genesis punishment and Jesus never made reference to having to die for humanity's sins.


    I am also seeking a method to instill the desire to seek God in society. One argument I am looking at is that if God exists, then it is not logical to think that humanity will thrive apart from God individually or collectively. Thus, if you think the world is in trouble, the first step is to seek God, and then serve others according to how you are called.

    I don't quite follow your logic. Humanity either thrive or don't thrive notwithstanding their belief in whatever God is- or was the flavour of the day in any culture.

  10. My belief system was in large part based on Pascal's Wager when I was younger. However, at one point I decided to seek God partly out of intense curiosity, and partly out of a feeling of "something missing".


    The result was that prayers were answered etc. that erased any doubt I had had about the existence of God.

    So you initially wanted to play it safe, just in case. Then you wanted confirmation inside your head...or heart...that you were not wasting your time and hallelujah, your prayers got answered and all your doubt about the existence of God vanished. So I am curious as to which God answered, Yahweh, Jesus, Allah or anyone else? You do understand that Muslims have similar "mind" experiences, so too Judaists, Hindu's or any other superstitious bloke. I have a guy who worked for me who believed that the sangoma chased away the tikoloshe that was running over his roof every evening, so his prayers and his payment to the sangoma worked out pretty well. Hence the reason us sceptics consider this to be "mind" games. I am curious though, in what way did your God answer your prayers that it erased any doubt..?

  11. Go ahead try and google the term "relativistic presentism pdf" You will find dozens of papers that state presentism conflicts with SR.

    Yes, that seems to be the consensus. I can only find one paper (Hinchliff, Mark: A Defense of Presentism in a Relativistic Setting) that argues according to its title.

  12. Also a lot of misconceptions about the block universe models, so it seems. At the end of the day those models describe a 4 dimensional space-time reality, hence the block. The way that space-time coordinates and/or slices are dealt with w.r.t. being equally real, especially future events, is the primary separating factor between the various block models. The premise on which block universe models are formed is GR and SR, the models were thus moulded from Einstein's relativity. They are being frowned upon by those who feel that such models are counter-intuitive w.r.t. the way we perceive time, entropy, determinism (the other thread Determinism or Indeterminism is pretty interesting to follow), eternalism (especially the future), among others. I thought there was consensus that 3 dimensional space and presentism (which is the topic under discussion) are at odds with relativity and that we have shed the idea of a 3 dimensional space and presentism. Clearly not..?

  13. Here you can learn more about the flynn effect: https://pumpkinperson.com/2016/09/29/an-analysis-of-the-flynn-effect/

    I am well aware of the flynn effect and the controversies surrounding it.


    Sorry I'd prefer data over peer commentaries. What makes you think there was no selective pressures for intelligence in early society? I just showed you our mutation rate was speeding up, but You're simply speculating that the recent changes are environmental. All evolution is a reflection of its respective environment. They share a dynamic relation. Lactose tolerance, literacy, disease, all recent mutations that affected intelligence in some way.

    Take it up with the Skottke. The paper principally relied on a number of cited studies, rather than the peer reviews. The underlying conclusion of the paper is that humanity as a species pretty much have had a homogenous collective intellectual potential/capacity (sum total of the various types of intelligence) since initial evolutionary adaptations (i.t.o. intelligence) have stagnated many thousands of years ago. Hereditary transfer is a given. Certain genetic deviations/markers have been identified that could play a role. But overall this intellectual potential/capacity just gets better developed, or better utilised, by individuals and/or by populations depending on changing environmental circumstances.

  14. You mean a pularity? There is no single racial group which will be as larger or lager than whites in our lifetimes. Asians are 3% of the U.S. population, Blacks 13% of the U.S. population, and etc. White are and will continue to be, for a very long time, the largest single demo in the country.

    As I said earlier, I read/watched something about the fast changing demographics in the USA. I think it was this: The Changing Demographics of America's Schools and confirmed by articles like this: A Study On The Changing Racial Makeup Of ‘The Next America’. So still a few elections to go...


    The far-right alliance has woven such a clever myth and presented such a palatable lie that the turkeys have voted for thanksgiving.

    Poetic justice..?

  15. ^ In addition, was this not the last election before the USA's demographics will change towards a white minority..? A bit of paranoia and a last grasp at the straw, perhaps?

  16. I don't know whether this holds true in SA but one cultural difference that struck me when I first moved out here is that when there was a problem to be solved, the European instinct was to wander off to a quiet corner and start jotting down thoughts on paper, while the immediate response of the Nigerians would be to call for a communal discussion.

    Yes, it is called an indaba.


    Maybe it's possible to make good judgment calls consistently not just through the capabilities of your own genes but by pooling resources with your neighbours. That is, the 'clever' genes that guide you in acting intelligently don't necessarily have to be inside your own body - they might be inside someone else's. This approach would allow different individuals within the community to specialise in developing the thought processes that came naturally to them - instinctive, experience based, visual, spiritual, deductive or whatever, and not waste individual resources on developing faculties that came more naturally to others.

    This is indeed one of the points that the paper that I referenced conveyed...and also the different challenges that are being posed by our modern (business) environment and how our cognitive ability (read the plasticity thereof) and intelligence had to develop ("...the challenges we face in modern society have forced the independent domain of intelligence to assume the roles that other domains would have played in the primitive environment in which we evolved..​. the g region of the brain is forced to account for much more than it would otherwise have to").


    Doesn't that seem contradictory? If there has been increasing pressure for g shouldn't that mean we are evolving to have higher IQ's? Especially sense the flynn effect has shown our IQ have been increasing every decade or so. How do they know it hasn't had that much time to evolve as a beneficial trait? our mutation rate has sped up by a lot since 40,000 years ago.

    The paper does not deal with the Flynn effect per se, but it points to the development of (multiple types of) intelligence in order to cope with our changing environment. "(Langer, 2004). This study demonstrates that intelligence develops over time, and if intelligence can develop over time in one individual, it is possible for intelligence to develop over time for an entire population. Since intelligence can develop and because popular views on intelligence and types of intelligence are changing, there has also been increased pressure to revise methods of testing intelligence..."


    Also the writer was arguing that there was no real stress w.r.t. survival in the past thousands of years, so evolution of our species would have stagnated to a large extent. The challenges that the new environments brought did not really pose a threat i.t.o. survival, just a change in how we utilise (and develop) our inherent intelligence to cope better with abstract reasoning ("Since our environments are abstracted, a greater importance has been placed on cognitive ability and intelligence to allow us to function in modern society... Thus, the part of the brain that is able to process abstract thought is used to help us navigate and cope with our "foreign" environments.")


    Have a look at the peer commentaries though, which touched on the point that you raised. Even the peer commentaries seem to confirm that a) any "recent changes" would have been mostly environmentally driven and in the way we utilise the various types of intelligence and b) evolutionary adaptation will take considerable time.


    The paper does not touch on any relationship between race and intelligence brought about by evolution; per implication it becomes a moot point due to its underlying message.

  17. Terrible Trump To Truimph..?! This is pretty devastating news, not only for America but also for the rest of the world. There is a sweeping move towards the conservative right across the globe, I fear, and volatility and typical right wing agenda's are likely to become the norm. Terrible timing i.t.o. global warming. This man could take the world past the tipping point.

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