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10 atheist quotes that will make you question religion

By anonymous follow anonymous   2019 Apr 4, 7:14am 3,082 views  89 comments           share      

From psychology to neuroscience, what we believe is not nearly as relevant as why we do. The first few quotes below are big-picture social questions, while the remaining come from neuroscience and psychology books. They are not all atheistic per se, but they do point to the fact that humans tend to think very highly of themselves and what we believe, and that there are biological explanations for why we feel the way we do. The more we recognize that, the more likely we are to stop thinking there is only one way to discover truth.

On ego

"How much vanity must be concealed—not too effectively at that—in order to pretend that one is the personal object of a divine plan?" — Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Here comes logic

"Monotheism explains order, but is mystified by evil. Dualism explains evil, but is puzzled by order. There is one logical way of solving the riddle: To argue that there is a single omnipotent God who created the entire universe—and He's evil. But nobody in history has had the stomach for such a belief." — Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

The difference is often language

"In America, belief in the unreal seems to be very fungible. Individuals don't so much abandon religious fantasy in favor of reason as find different fantasies that better suit their particular excitement and credulity quotients." — Kurt Andersen, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire

A Buddhist approach

"Mindfulness accepts as its focus of inquiry whatever arises in one's field of awareness, no matter how disturbing or painful it might be. One neither seeks nor expects to find some greater truth lurking behind the veil of appearances. What appears and how you respond to it: that alone is what matters." — Stephen Batchelor, Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist

Enter Darwin

"Comprehension, far from being a Godlike talent from which all design must flow, is an emergent effect of systems of uncomprehending competence: natural selection on the one hand, and mindless computation on the other." — Daniel Dennett, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds

The physical can be spiritual

"Evolution simply happened—foresightless, by chance, without goal. There is nobody to despise or rebel against—not even ourselves. And this is not some bizarre form of neurophilosophical nihilism but rather a point of intellectual honesty and great spiritual depth." — Thomas Metzinger, The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self

Superego

"Supernatural thinking is simply the natural consequence of failing to match our intuitions with the true reality of the world." — Bruce M. Hood, The Science of Superstition: How the Developing Brain Creates Supernatural Beliefs

Out of body is still in the body

"Out-of-body flight "really happens," then—it is a real physical event, but only in the patient's brain and, as a result, in his subjective experience. The out-of-body state is, by and large, an exacerbated form of the dizziness that we all experience when our vision disagrees with our vestibular system, as on a rocking boat." — Stanislas Dehaene, Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts

Randomness produces beautiful (or efficient) results

"If you let something tumble long enough, it comes out almost perfect. Such is the power of random collisions and patience, and that constitutes the sum total of nature's intelligence. All the rough edges, the flaws, the things that don't work are systematically dispatched by natural selection. What remains and carries on into the next generation and the next after that and so on are the advantageous aspects, what does work what makes survival easier. And survival is the fuel of natural selection." — Rodolfo R. Llinas, I of the vortex: From Neurons to Self

"Everything happens for a reason"

"A long line of research in cognitive science has documented that people make causal attributions about events as a means of maintaining personal control. It is the feeling that things are spinning out of control that motivates the human brain to find a pattern in events and try to predict what is going to happen next. The left-brain interpreter thus will be activated whenever the individual senses a lack of control. Superstitions and conspiracy theories can be seen as the societal consequences of the interpreter's drive to find a causal explanation for events that are seemingly out of control." — Ronald T. Kellogg, The Making of the Mind: The Nueroscience of Human Nature

https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/10-atheist-quotes-that-make-you-question-religion?rebelltitem=3#rebelltitem3

#Religion #Beliefs

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38   anonymous   2019 Apr 8, 2:09am  

EBGuy says
Take a deep breath my friend. The United States isn't in a state of perpetual tribal warfare


Au contraire - no need for killing when you have "cold wars" of political tribal warfare 24 x 7 and election campaigning that never ends.

Add in the unresolved problems (cold wars) from the past decades of race, sexuality, gender, etc.

The country is no more at harmony now, then when all the winds of discontent were blamed on the previous administration.

Bringing segments of the population of the country together on anger and hate seems to be the objective as opposed to bringing the greater population together on things for the good of society in general.

This would seem to be directly related to a lack of leadership - from any one person or other assemblage of people in any political or religious affiliation(s).
40   FuckTheMainstreamMedia   2019 Apr 8, 5:06am  

This is all so silly. The Democrats and the left are busy building a new religion around ideals where government replaces God.

Amazingly, supported by nearly all the ardent atheists!
41   Reality   2019 Apr 8, 6:05am  

Blue says
A day will come for believer of old, existing or brand new god of any type, to be dragged onto mental facility.


LOL! That too has happened previously: the guillotine was invented to speed up the chopping of heads belonging to Catholic priests and nuns, but it didn't take long before the machine started working on the necks of the revolutionaries. The French Revolution was officially atheistic, but it took very little time before the atheistic leaders realized that they needed religion to run the society (as neighbors started denouncing neighbors to death in hopes of looting the victim families): first the Church of Reason, then the Church of Supreme-Being (Robespire himself), with the Church of Supreme-Being chopping off the heads of the leaders of the Church of Reason (his former friends) quickly followed by the head of the Church of Supreme-Being being severed on the guillotine.

When a previously predominant traditional religion dies in a society/culture, what happens is crisis of civilization, usually characterized by high crime rate, personality cult and chaos, until the next predominant religious tradition can be established (of course, religious institutions/establishment become corrupt over a much longer time period too, and eventually give rise to the loss of faith and crisis of civilization, so the cycles repeat). The fundamental reason is that earthly bureaucrats can not run a society efficiently without the help of religion: in a city like Detroit and Chicago, only 15% of murder cases are solved; so without some sort of god(s)/religion giving people an incentive (rational or not) to supervise themselves, it's quite impossible to maintain an orderly society after the entire society realizes that they can get away with murder 85% of the time.

Richard Dawkins famously said that religion is like a mental virus for a society; IMHO, a better analogy is that religion to a society is like Mitocondria to a cell: Mitocondria has its own DNA distinct from that of the cell's, so likely the result of an invasion/implantation at some point in the distant past (just like a virus), yet a high functioning cell can not survive without Mitocondria.
42   marcus   2019 Apr 8, 6:26am  

I questioned religion a lot while I was a child (teen actually). Those type of quotes(OP above) definitely impacted my thinking about 45 years ago. I was a fan of Bertrand Russel.

I'm not religious now, and I know it's counter intuitive, but I think religion going away will continue to coincide with the downfall of civilization.

EBGuy says
As an agnostic in terms of his religious commitments, in this excerpt Tom Holland nevertheless describes the way that the birth of Christianity has shaped much of what we value in Western society in terms of human rights, culture and rule of law.


Yep.
43   EBGuy   2019 Apr 8, 1:39pm  

Blue says
No one can bring Atheist back to barn.

Perhaps you didn't get the memo...
44   Shaman   2019 Apr 8, 2:07pm  

EBGuy says
Perhaps you didn't get the memo...


Exactly, as JP says: “Life is pain, and pain without meaning is unendurable.” Therefore we require meaning to make life worth living, and make it more than just mere meaning, to make it an act of heroism. Otherwise we slide into nihilism and despair, with all the inevitable addictions to our coping drugs of choice.

This truth resounds deeply within people who think, and thinkers tend towards the siren song of atheism more than anyone.
46   Bd6r   2019 Apr 8, 7:23pm  

EBGuy says
Christianity has shaped much of what we value in Western society in terms of human rights, culture and rule of law.

Law is so-called Roman law in most Europe (and LA in USA). Culture - Christians appropriated Pagan holidays (Christmas etc). Human rights - that's Enlightenment.
I do not deny that Christian faith has had a lot of influence, but it is just one of many layers that forms European and American civilizations.
47   Y   2019 Apr 9, 7:02am  

All those benefits are also available to those believing in a godlike force that's yet to be defined by man.
Blue says
The benefits of being an atheist are:
48   HeadSet   2019 Apr 9, 1:33pm  

One very important attribute of Christianity which is usually overlooked by leftists is that Christians are "innoculated" against Islam.

Actually, that "inoculation" is from modern society, science, and medicine. The Christianity we have in the USA is very lightweight, very few believe traditional Christian points that God will take care of you like how does the Lilies of the Field, or that faith will heal a snake wound. Lightweight Christians would rather find jobs and earn money rather than wait for a Divinity to provide, and will see a doctor when sick. Lightweight Christianity is acceptable to people who who believe in Jesus "just in case," but will not go as far as to abstain from sex before marriage or give all their money to the poor. Churches in the USA are more like social clubs than cults.

The deep faithful, those that seem to have a genetic predisposition toward worship, are susceptible to change from Christianity into devout Muslims, Devil Worshipers, Marxists, or other cults.
49   Heraclitusstudent   2019 Apr 9, 3:44pm  

Patrick says
That is, even if Christianity itself isn't scientifically true, it does have the objective benefit ...


It's becoming a fashion to claim religions has benefits even if it's not true .
That is: let's all believe something we know is not true - i.e. we don't really believe - because of the side effects of such beliefs.

If this ever worked, imagine what believing in the real reasons to act in a beneficial way will do for you.
50   Heraclitusstudent   2019 Apr 9, 3:48pm  

HeadSet says
Churches in the USA are more like social clubs than cults.


All cults are social clubs, first and foremost. Tribes.
51   marcus   2019 Apr 9, 9:44pm  

HeadSet says
Lightweight Christians


This Christianity you call lightweight is most of Christianity. Catholics, Lutheran, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and all the other protestant offshoots.

What are the heavyweights ? Mormons ? Christian Scientists ? Baptists ? Perhaps the Greek Orthodox ?
52   Reality   2019 Apr 9, 10:04pm  

Heraclitusstudent says
It's becoming a fashion to claim religions has benefits even if it's not true .
That is: let's all believe something we know is not true - i.e. we don't really believe - because of the side effects of such beliefs.

If this ever worked, imagine what believing in the real reasons to act in a beneficial way will do for you.


The shocking truth is that for the bottom 80% of the population, abiding by the law may not be beneficial to himself. In a city like Detroit and Chicago, only 15% of the murders are solved, so statistically speaking one can get away with murder 85% of the time. For us in the top 20% of the society, there are plenty reasons not to take that 15% risk of being caught. However, for the bottom 80% of the population, it's not clear at all robbery and murder is not a statistically winning strategy. Please reference Dosdoevsky's Crime and Punishment on how that math works for a typical over-educated man with little marketable skills. That is indeed a problem with societies that emphasize education over market. Your perspective is showing some of that. Higher education churning out "over-educated" with similar skills therefore none marketable is in fact a highly dangerous social condition.

Historically, there have been attempts to solve that problem: the government-God, with extremely harsh laws to reign in those rotten "calculating" population . . . but those tend not to last long either as the officialdom tends to become extremely corrupt within a couple generations and the harsh laws reaching capital punishment on numerous crimes eventually force people into rebellion as a person can only die once.

So far as we know, religion reconciling people to their existing social conditions and incentivize people to self-supervise, tends to be a far more effective tool for social stability than just about anything else. A religion built around the government bureaucrats' super-human ability to enforce law and justice is even less sustainable than religions built around supernatural beings.
53   Heraclitusstudent   2019 Apr 9, 10:39pm  

Reality says
So far as we know, religion reconciling people to their existing social conditions and incentivize people to self-supervise, tends to be a far more effective tool for social stability than just about anything else.

Yeah: let's believe something we know is not true - or make other people believe it.
You're confusing so many things: the necessity of some level of tribalism: whether religious or nationalistic.
The organization of society top-down vs bottom-up.
The individual incentives: do you need to believe in God so as to not want to rob your neighbor? That's a specious argument. Most atheists do believe in being part of a larger community (tribe), being good people and helping others. No state required.
54   Reality   2019 Apr 9, 11:01pm  

Heraclitusstudent says
do you need to believe in God so as to not want to rob your neighbor? That's a specious argument. Most atheists do believe in being part of a larger community (tribe), being good people and helping others. No state required.


How do you explain the less traditionally religious political Left's penchant for robbing their neighbors via "taxes" and transfers to themselves? The desire to rob neighbors is obviously there for the overwhelming majority of the population, only a matter of how they justify their robbery and what kind of justice mechanism that they fear might restrain them: The default religion of the Government-God just happens to be a more costly one than most religions involving super-natural gods. Most atheists are in reality worshipers of the Government-God religion.

Let me put it this way: if you owe two people money, one would break your legs if you don't pay back, whereas the other is nice and wouldn't threaten you; whom would you pay back first? Most people would pay the former before the latter. Most people are simply not good people, as they clearly would facilitate evil due to fear of evil. In the absence of a more traditional religion, people would fall under the spell of the default Government-God due to this fear and servileness. "Being good" is a luxury that only people who can afford more than their own (minimum) expectations can afford.
55   HeadSet   2019 Apr 10, 8:35am  

marcus says
HeadSet says
Lightweight Christians


This Christianity you call lightweight is most of Christianity. Catholics, Lutheran, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and all the other protestant offshoots.

What are the heavyweights ? Mormons ? Christian Scientists ? Baptists ? Perhaps the Greek Orthodox ?


Yes, I believe we agree here.

The Mormons I know seemed to be heavyweights, as they are very strict in beliefs, no sex before marriage at all, no drugs, strong accommodation to Mormon poor, absolute belief in some real tall tales, and patronizing Mormon firms and investments whenever available. Other heavyweights would be vow of poverty Franciscans, and Orthodox Christians.
56   EBGuy   2019 Apr 10, 1:24pm  

Heraclitusstudent says
The individual incentives: do you need to believe in God so as to not want to rob your neighbor? That's a specious argument. Most atheists do believe in being part of a larger community (tribe), being good people and helping others. No state required.

This is taken from a Jonathan Haidt TED talk: The moral roots of liberals and conservatives (see 12:00 mark in video).
Altruistic punishment in humans by Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter published in Nature.
From the abstract: We show that cooperation flourishes if altruistic punishment is possible, and breaks down if it is ruled out.
57   Heraclitusstudent   2019 Apr 10, 9:52pm  

Reality says
How do you explain the less traditionally religious political Left's penchant for robbing their neighbors via "taxes"


How do you explain atheist libertarians?
There is a giant false dichotomy circling in the head of conservatives: if we lose religion, the statism will automatically take its place, probably in the form of soviet style collectivism.

How about no bullshit?
58   ad   2019 Apr 10, 10:01pm  

Heraclitusstudent says
Reality says
How do you explain the less traditionally religious political Left's penchant for robbing their neighbors via "taxes"


How do you explain atheist libertarians?
There is a giant false dichotomy circling in the head of conservatives: if we lose religion, the statism will automatically take its place, probably in the form of soviet style collectivism.

How about no bullshit?


Or the ChiCom version; heaven help us if that happens
59   Heraclitusstudent   2019 Apr 10, 10:06pm  

Religious conservatives like Ben Shapiro are all ready to concede they do not believe in the most naive parts of the bible (like the flood) but they believe somehow "Judeo-christian" morality enabled the western civilization.
How does he pick and choose what to respect in the Bible? Uh... REASON... of course.

Give me a break. Christian morality has been for a long time about killing Jews like Ben Shapiro, killing Protestants if you were Catholic and vice-versa. Christian morality has been for centuries about torturing any intellectual investigating something that could contradict dogmas. Dogmas without which the entire edifice would collapse.

Ben Shapiro wants to provide logical reasons why his moral is necessary, but doesn't eat pork because of dogmas.
How did "Judeo-christian" Western civilization flourished with so many Christians eating pork? I would like to hear his explanation.

His line of thinking makes no sense whatsoever.
60   Patrick   2019 Apr 10, 10:11pm  

EBGuy says
Altruistic punishment in humans by Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter published in Nature.


Thanks! The article is not free, but at least the abstract is:

Human cooperation is an evolutionary puzzle. Unlike other creatures, people frequently cooperate with genetically unrelated strangers, often in large groups, with people they will never meet again, and when reputation gains are small or absent. These patterns of cooperation cannot be explained by the nepotistic motives associated with the evolutionary theory of kin selection and the selfish motives associated with signalling theory or the theory of reciprocal altruism. Here we show experimentally that the altruistic punishment of defectors is a key motive for the explanation of cooperation. Altruistic punishment means that individuals punish, although the punishment is costly for them and yields no material gain. We show that cooperation flourishes if altruistic punishment is possible, and breaks down if it is ruled out. The evidence indicates that negative emotions towards defectors are the proximate mechanism behind altruistic punishment. These results suggest that future study of the evolution of human cooperation should include a strong focus on explaining altruistic punishment.


I learned a new term: "altruistic punishment"

Makes sense to me. I've felt that urge.
61   Heraclitusstudent   2019 Apr 10, 10:15pm  

The truth is the western had to fight religion tooth and nail every step of the way in order to flourish.

Ben Shapiro is a nice guy. Don't let that fool you.
62   Reality   2019 Apr 10, 10:16pm  

Heraclitusstudent says
Reality says
How do you explain the less traditionally religious political Left's penchant for robbing their neighbors via "taxes"


How do you explain atheist libertarians?


I asked "how do you explain the less traditionally religious political Left's penchant for robbing their neighbors via 'taxes' and transfers to themselves?" as a way of pointing out the mistaken assumption you made about most people don't want to rob their neighbors. The deeper reality is that most people have no qualms about robbing their neighbors when necessary and can get away with it. Most people don't do that personally in real life (when outside voting booths) only because it's not necessary to take the risk of getting shot by their neighbors or getting caught by either earthly enforcers or God/gods/karma.

As for Atheist Libertarians, I can think of at least two possibilities for someone taking that combination of positions:

1. Too naive and don't understand the fundamental evil and servileness of most human beings;

2. Recognizing the basic evil and servileness of most human beings, and further recognize that government bureaucrats with privileges (while still being greedy/evil and servile if not more so than the average population) would only make the situation worse.


There is a giant false dichotomy circling in the head of conservatives: if we lose religion, the statism will automatically take its place, probably in the form of soviet style collectivism.

How about no bullshit?


It's not a false dichotomy but a valid expectation born out of numerous historical experience and precedence. French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Chinese Revolution, Cambodian Revolution, etc. etc. were all militantly atheistic and quickly turned into personality cults built around the living political leaders. In fact, it's entirely possible that at least the 3 monotheist religions starting with Judaism was invented precisely to curb against the Government-God that the Pharoah embodied. It's quite possible that much of the promotion of atheism promoted by the gate-keepers in the past century was done precisely to promote a more powerful and more invasive government . . . just as how it was done in French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Chinese Revolution, Cambodian Revolution, etc. etc. numerous times in the past.
63   Reality   2019 Apr 10, 10:34pm  

The most important reason for the flourishing of West was political fragmentation, and the resulting competitive environment for new useful ideas (e.g. effective guns, fast ships, steam engine, rail roads, etc. all of which would have been discouraged and most likely banned outright in a big unified political entity that give priority to preserving existing political/economic interests while facing no competitive pressure from the outside). The story about the Tower of Babel in the Bible seems to give some hint that there had been much more advanced global civilization on the planet than what's taught in typical history textbooks. Likewise, the prevalence of massive flooding in the historical/founding myths of almost all cultures on this planet may well be more than a co-incidence.

Remember Arthur C. Clarke's quote: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Read up on the Cargo Cult history. The Papua New Guinea primitives apparently considered American transport planes dropping food and supply to US Army units on the ground to be gods. That was during WWII, less than 80 years ago. Likewise, human ancestors tens of thousands of years ago would perceive space aliens arriving on the planet via flying machines and doing genetic modifications to human ancestors to be gods or God, if there was such encounter. If.
64   Heraclitusstudent   2019 Apr 11, 10:59am  

Reality says
The deeper reality is that most people have no qualms about robbing their neighbors when necessary and can get away with it.


That's a very depressing view of humanity that quite obviously doesn't match reality. People in times of need are very often helping others in their community. Why? Because human beings have empathy for others. They have compassion. And most do believe in an orderly community, and where they expect to be respected they understand they have to provide the same respect for others. This is not rocket science.
And this has nothing to do with religion.

One could say morals exist in a pack of hungry wolves that refrain from eating each others.
Similarly evolution has built compassion and the compulsion to help each others in humans.

Not only that, but within a tribe, belonging is vital, people are simply afraid of not conforming because there lives depend on being accepted by the tribe. This fear goes from simple shame, to the fear of being excluded by their fellow tribesmen. Shame, fear of judgment by others are very much in effect today. Have nothing to do with law enforcement per say. This is a natural behavior of humans.
Again, no religion required.

Reality says
how do you explain the less traditionally religious political Left's penchant for robbing their neighbors via 'taxes' and transfers to themselves


I can look around in the BA and many wealthy people are in favor of this. Robbing themselves, not exactly to their benefits. Why? Because they truly have pity and compassion for the poor. However you call it "robbing", you can't escape the fact that the left at least partially acts out of compassion.
65   Heraclitusstudent   2019 Apr 11, 11:15am  

Reality says
It's not a false dichotomy but a valid expectation born out of numerous historical experience and precedence. French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Chinese Revolution, Cambodian Revolution, etc. etc. were all militantly atheistic and quickly turned into personality cults built around the living political leaders.


We already established in previous discussions that you are confused regarding the ideological anchors of the French revolution. It was certainly not based on personality cults.

The reality is you are confusing the human need for tribalism, with the requirement of national tribes to replace the religious tribes.
The 20th century was an historical one-off where the centers of powers emerged as national level (before that they were far more regional) and simultaneously mass-media made it possible to propagandize ideology. This sudden alignment of forces resulted in Nazism and Communism, hijacking the human need for tribalism.
But this evidence (quite anecdotal based on history) certainly doesn't prove that more healthy forms of tribalism cannot exist outside nationalism+ideology or religion.
Tribalism takes many benign forms, from sport teams, communities, companies, political parties, army, nations, religions.
Nowadays most people are parts of several tribes, at several scales. Which is why we no longer need or believe in statist tribes trying to be everything to everyone, and replacing religion.
We just need to render each tribes the role that belong to them.
66   Heraclitusstudent   2019 Apr 11, 11:21am  

Reality says
The most important reason for the flourishing of West was political fragmentation


BS. Europe in the middle ages was fragmented in counties and baronies owing a lose allegiance to a king, often not talking the same language. Talk of political fragmentation.
As time passed, power was increasingly concentrated. You had city states, then in nation states, then united states.

What made civilization possible was the progressive lifting of the carcan of obscurantism brought on by the church, seeking to maintain its power. This resulted first in the renaissance. And from there science and technology progressed to the point where new industries were possible. We know the hiccups: Galileo and others.
67   Heraclitusstudent   2019 Apr 11, 12:13pm  

Reality says
most likely banned outright in a big unified political entity that give priority to preserving existing political/economic interests while facing no competitive pressure from the outside


Where did a "big unified political entity" faced no competitive pressure from the outside?
China maybe? This is why they stagnated so long.
Not the West where many smaller countries were always competing against each others.
68   Reality   2019 Apr 11, 5:22pm  

I think your post #69:


Where did a "big unified political entity" faced no competitive pressure from the outside?
China maybe? This is why they stagnated so long.
Not the West where many smaller countries were always competing against each others.


Was a good answer to your post #67. You are making my exact point: "political fragmentation" == "many smaller countries . . . always competing against each other"

The universal-state stagnation phenomenon was not at all unique to China. Japan experienced the same thing after unification stabilized under Tokugawa (even fire arms were banned because they were considered unsporting! Oda Nobunaga had relied on firearms to start the unification of Japan, yet by the time Commodore Perry showed up 300 years later, Japanese were surprised to see firearms!), Mayan civilization and Aztecs likewise stagnated after achieving universal-state. To a large extent, stagnation as a universal state aptly describes even Roman Empire, especially compared to the rapid advance of commerce, science and philosophy previously in the same Mediterranean region under Greek and Phoenecian city states.

The theory of competing city-states / fragmentation leading to advancement of civilization and unification/universal-state leading to stagnation can be further affirmed by looking at even China itself (the culture most infamously associated with unification and bureaucracy) before unification by Chin: continental east Asia witnessed just as vibrant commerce and rapid advancement in sciences and philosophy as their contemporary ancient Greece in the several hundred years of city states prior to the Chin unification in 3rd century BC. Alexander's destruction of Greek Liberty (city states) through unification took place only a few decades before the state of Chin put an end to Chinese Liberty (as city states). The next periods of relatively fast advance in science and living standards in continental East Asia were once again during periods of fragmentation: especially what they call the "Southern Song" period, which was really when continental East Asia (what we call "China proper" in modern times) was divided into 2, 3 or more pieces.

Heraclitusstudent says
As time passed, power was increasingly concentrated. You had city states, then in nation states, then united states.



United States as an act of secession from British Empire was a good thing, but United States as an empire lording over its member regions and citizens is not. In the case of Europe, the power almost united Europe was Germany; within Germany, the power that united Germany was Prussia, the most benighted totalitarian state among all German states: out of all the well known 19th century scientists and artists and musicians that Germany produced, almost none of them were Prussians. The case was remarkably similar to Chin unification of China and Macedonian unification of ancient Greece: the most benighted brutes imposing their beastly jackboots upon the rest of the civilization. Do we even need to talk about Mongols almost uniting the entire Eurasia or Hitler's near-success in uniting Europe?

In Japanese history, the time period leading up to Oda/Toyotomi/Tokugawa unification of Japan was called "Sengoku Jidai," which is a remarkable term in that it's a recycling of the historical name for the period in next-door Chinese history 1500+ years earlier: the Warring State Period prior to Chin unification/conquest of continental East Asia, putting an end to hundreds of years of rapid economic and culture advancement during prior city states / fragmentation period. Likewise, we can use "Greek Warring States Period" to describe the period leading up to Alexander's conquest of Greece, "Mediterranean Warring States Period" to describe Roman conquest of that "known world," "European Warring States Period" or "Global Warring States Period" to describe what's been happening since WWI and WWII.

Perhaps, some sort of concentration of power and "unification" will eventually happen, just like you (and I) will eventually die. Cancer and death will come after youth; that doesn't make either cancer or death a higher state of being or more desirable than youth and health. Progressivism is a death cult; i.e. a form of Satanism, to which Karl Marx (the original advocate of Progressive Historiography) openly subscribed.



What made civilization possible was the progressive lifting of the carcan of obscurantism brought on by the church, seeking to maintain its power. This resulted first in the renaissance. And from there science and technology progressed to the point where new industries were possible. We know the hiccups: Galileo and others.


Let's not forget Renaissance took place in Italian City States.

Liberty and freedom in pursuit of science is not possible when there is a centralized concentration of power and resources. Witness today's AGW "science" under the aegis of government funding, and Lysenkoism for decades holding back biological research in the Soviet Union, which was officially an atheist mega-state. To wrong is only to be human. Competition (and free market place, which is a form of competition, including for ideas) is an error-correction mechanism. Concentration of power removes that error-correction mechanism and grossly enlarge the detrimental effect of human errors. While the infamous Star Chamber of inquisition killed less than a couple thousand "heretics" in its 500 years of existence, the atheist revolutionaries in the 20th century killed tens of millions of "heretics" in less than a century.
69   Reality   2019 Apr 11, 6:25pm  

Another interesting observation about civilization cycles:

Just before Alexander rose to stamp his boots on Greek Liberty (city states), there were Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and of course the original "Academy." Plato was of course an outright totalitarian theorist; Aristotle was much less so, in fact almost humanistic, yet among his students was Alexander, the man eventually put an end to Greek Liberty.

Just before Chin conquered all of continental East Asia (the zone suitable for agriculture), there was likewise a plethra of schools and philosophers, both of which were obviously enabled by rapid advancement in the economy (and sciences/technology/productivity), just like in Ancient Greece.

Just before Prussian unification of Germany (and likely German unification of Europe if not for US intervention), Prussia was likewise the world leader in public schools (they invented it as a state institution) and Germany the world leader in universities.

What is it that causing schools to produce destroyers of civilizations?

I think there are five reasons:

1. The top-down environment in typical schools (teacher teaching students, very lopsided information balance of power) make students accustomed to and want to emulate a type of top-down dictatorial posture and assumption of informational asymmetry when later dealing with the general public. . . ignore the fact that other people have their own knowledge and feelings. The map fantasy: painting the map as if one controls all human in that map zone with the same color (like playing a game of RISK or Civilization by Sid Myers) whereas in reality the Emperor controls nobody besides himself, as numerous emperors were assassinated, including possibly Alexander himself and obviously Caesar. The cartographic fantasy was clearly a result of schooling, as the joke has it that the average American can't find any country on the map (which ironically is a good thing!). Schooling makes the student susceptible to being a cog in a top-down slave-driving system.

2. Schooling gives the students bigger ambitions. At the same time, by churning out many students with nearly identical skills (which are likely borderline obsolete due to the leading industries pay more than the academia, therefore, "Those who can, do; Those who can not, teach"), make none of students command pricing power; reducing the cost of (semi-)skilled labor was precisely why business owners and their bankers endorsed public schools, both in the US and in public school movement's birth place Prussia. So the result is a lot of over-ambitious students with no marketable skills . . . perfect for becoming canon-fodders.

3. In late stages of civilization, schools already have too many academics, so in order to stand out, some academics carve out their own space by questioning and trying to uproot existing civilization maintenance religions; seeing their early success, others copy them. So the result is a crop of students who are faithless and antagonistic towards the main myth that holds the civilization together.

4. Paper degree qualifications tend to find better value in government bureaucracy than in the market place, therefore leading to a bloating of bureaucratic burden on society/economy, further mucking up the flow of commerce.

5. "Unification" / imperial expansion is usually a desperate attempt to hide the bankruptcy of the state (due to growing bureaucratic burdens): by outright looting of neighboring countries or by eliminating competing currencies so the empire can get away with devaluing its currency / counterfeiting. So, as a pyramid scheme, the gig is up when the universal-state is finally achieved: no more new outside targets to loot.

For those who enthusiastically embrace "unification is the future" and "inevitable result," keep in mind that on the road from fragmentation to unification, the first who succeeds at unifying tend to be road kills: Alexander died young of poisoning, Caesar died of assassination, Chin lasted only a dozen years (about as long as Hitler's regime) after "unification" (the city state / princely state of Chin had been 600+ years old before conquering the other city states / princely states), Oda was assassinated and Toyotomi had his entire family exterminated by a rising lieutenant of his shortly after his own death . . . do we really need to talk about Kaiser Wilhelm II or Hitler? The last two were close to success but didn't even succeed at "unifying." Even for those who did succeed at "unifying," the real life game didn't end when the entire map showed one color . . . the game of personal survival only became a lot harder!

Keep in mind also the biblical story of the Tower of Bable. Who knows, when someone finally unites the entire earth, space aliens might just intervene and reset the game.
70   Reality   2019 Apr 11, 10:39pm  

Heraclitusstudent says
Reality says
how do you explain the less traditionally religious political Left's penchant for robbing their neighbors via 'taxes' and transfers to themselves


I can look around in the BA and many wealthy people are in favor of this. Robbing themselves, not exactly to their benefits. Why? Because they truly have pity and compassion for the poor. However you call it "robbing", you can't escape the fact that the left at least partially acts out of compassion.


LOL! How many of them donate to the IRS or Treasury Department voluntarily? There is absolutely nothing preventing any of them writing a check of any amount (so long as the check doesn't bounce) and send it to the treasury of either the federal government or the CA state. No raising of taxes is necessary at all if what they want is "robbing themselves." Their votes and advocacy to raise taxes are always about raising taxes on others (along with themselves? but they know they can get more back through government job pays like those working government jobs, or through government contracts and subsidies like Buffet: they disproportionately get more money from the government so raising taxes on everyone is beneficial to themselves.)

Heraclitusstudent says
Reality says
The deeper reality is that most people have no qualms about robbing their neighbors when necessary and can get away with it.


That's a very depressing view of humanity that quite obviously doesn't match reality. People in times of need are very often helping others in their community. Why? Because human beings have empathy for others. They have compassion. And most do believe in an orderly community, and where they expect to be respected they understand they have to provide the same respect for others.


Human beings are quite capable of reconciling the two sets of actions in the same person: division of labor through mutually willing exchanges, and robbing people, adjusting to the cost and benefit of each action based on the circumstances. For example, many on this forum can buy goods from the local grocery store (mutually willing exchange) and vote to raise taxes on the store-owner (robbing that same store-owner); rent from a landlord (mutually willing exchange) and perhaps even going out one's way to take very good care of the house (being very compassionate) yet once in the voting booth vote to raise property taxes in the mistaken belief that would rob the landlord (when in reality property taxes always get passed onto tenants, as that's the payment portion on which landlords don't have to compete against each other). Many German soldiers/officers put their neighbors or former teachers or former doctors onto the cattle car to concentration camps, some of whom they may well have helped quite compassionately under different circumstances; while most wouldn't choose to be sadistic torturers (even that assumption is questionable as proven in the Milgram Experiment and its more recent repeats), only a tiny tiny statistical minority have the moral fortitude to be Oscar Schindler.
71   Reality   2019 Apr 11, 11:07pm  

Heraclitusstudent says
We already established in previous discussions that you are confused regarding the ideological anchors of the French revolution.


When did that happen? News to me.


It was certainly not based on personality cults.


When traditional religions are uprooted, personality cults become the default religion. That's a reliably repeating pattern in history . . . simply because most people are too stupid/lazy/fearful to live with uncertainty, and they demand something that is "Certain!" When they can't have a super-natural God or gods to be certain, they turn to a fantasy about an omniscient+omnipotent government with an omniscient+omnipotent leader . . . neither of which any human being can deliver.
73   Reality   2019 Apr 12, 8:51pm  

If we are to make a scientific documentary video today about the history of the universe, it would still start with light: the Big Bang as a gigantic flash of light. Light came before all material: Big Bang producing Hydrogen, thermonuclear ignition of stars for producing Helium from Hydrogen, then Nova and Super Nova events for producing all the heavier elements in our material universe.

It's quite remarkable for a bunch of early Bronze Age people to recognize this sequence of events (light before material, which as your post #74 pointed out is quite counter-intuitive), the importance of light/electromagnetic-wave and its speed (Speed of Light) being the fundamental constant in this universe, defining the smallest increment of time in this universe: Planck Time, defined as the time for light to travel Planck Length. In other words, light not only comes before material, but also defines (the relationship between) time and space; ie. defining this Universe in which we live!

If you buy into the Simulation Hypothesis, it's as if they got the word directly from the game designer! Either that, or the ancients already knew Einstein's General Relativity from an earlier iteration of civilization, which most likely had nuclear weapons predicted by Relativity's matter-energy conversion formula.
75   DooDahMan   2022 Jun 22, 3:59pm  

A God beyond logic - The history of natural theology shows that Intelligent Design and New Atheism both got it wrong, in strangely similar ways

The idea that God’s existence could be proven by simply observing life on Earth – that divine presence could be found in human eyes, the wings of bees, the order of orchids or the movements of the planets – seemed archaic in a secular world where science reigned. And by the late 20th century, even those who rejected this secular world had started to turn away from natural theology: in the United States, evangelical Christians and other groups looked to the Bible, not nature, to justify their values. The very grounds of natural theology became something worthy of parody. I remember the British author Douglas Adams’s depiction of the Babel fish in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979). This improbable living creature could provide instant universal translation to anyone who placed it inside their ear canal. For Adams, its existence served as the definitive disproof of a deity:

The argument goes something like this: ‘I refuse to prove that I exist,’ says God, ‘for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.’

‘But,’ says Man, ‘the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.’

‘Oh dear,’ says God, ‘I hadn’t thought of that,’ and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

Adams’s fantastical parody of the design argument came at a time when natural theology was increasingly regarded as both obsolete and absurd. Just under a decade later, Richard Dawkins wrote The Blind Watchmaker (1986), which also took aim at arguments that God was revealed through the natural world. Dawkins wrote that there was compelling evidence and logic behind the natural theology arguments of previous centuries – particularly those made popular by the British clergyman and philosopher William Paley in 1802 – but that these arguments had been rendered obsolete by Charles Darwin’s accounts of living creatures that were not designed. Instead, they had ‘evolved by chance’. By the early 1990s, even antievolutionists were latching on to a version of this argument.

More: https://aeon.co/essays/for-natural-theologians-proving-god-was-beside-the-point
76   richwicks   2022 Jun 22, 6:15pm  

Blue says


No one can bring Atheist back to barn. But can make them pretended believer with discrimination etc.
In US about 26% are out of barn, this number is about 40% for young and its growing. This will make a great country. A day will come for believer of old, existing or brand new god of any type, to be dragged onto mental facility.


I'm pretty much still an atheist, but you're completely wrong.

Every society, every single one, has had some sort of deity or religious belief. This is a natural evolutionary trait of the human species. When it is removed, it's FORCIBLY removed, and so far, it's never been an improvement. People instead of looking for a deity, are then programmed to view the government as a god.

In that case, god really is unquestionably evil.

Just because something is wrong, factually, just because somebody has a belief which is untrue, does not always damage them. It appears to be that at least in the case of religion, it helps them.

Now the past is no perfect predictor of the future, but no matter what time you live in, you live in "modernity". In the 1980's we were at a pinnacle of science and thought, or so I believed. Same in the 1990s, same in the naughts, same today. Looking back on a traditional models and successful institutions is a worthwhile thing to do. We often make the mistake of the appeal or novelty - i.e. "newer is better" and atheism is VERY new.

If religion is extinguished you will regret it. You will very much regret it.
77   Blue   2022 Jun 22, 7:07pm  

richwicks says


Every society, every single one, has had some sort of deity or religious belief. This is a natural evolutionary trait of the human species. When it is removed, it's FORCIBLY removed, and so far, it's never been an improvement. People instead of looking for a deity, are then programmed to view the government as a god.

Agree with this part, more so as we observe more and more of the woke junk. Also, its wrong to put too much faith in gov to begin with as its a political entity with a clear bias to server to certain segments of the population more than the other. Even at the expense of the others sometimes. But it doesn't mean that we go back and support none existing junk and folks who are busy molesting women, children and loot using the tax code made for them self. On the other hand I have a sympathy and respect for the not too religious, hard working regular people who do not take advantage or go after others under the name of religion.
78   NuttBoxer   2022 Jun 23, 9:29am  

anonymous says

"How much vanity must be concealed—not too effectively at that—in order to pretend that one is the personal object of a divine plan?" — Christopher Hitchens


How much vanity must be concealed to think that God is incapable of a personal relationship with a human being. To set a boundary on what God can do.

anonymous says

"Monotheism explains order, but is mystified by evil. Dualism explains evil, but is puzzled by order. There is one logical way of solving the riddle: To argue that there is a single omnipotent God who created the entire universe—and He's evil. But nobody in history has had the stomach for such a belief." — Yuval Noah Harari


Yuval fails to understand love. You cannot compel love, or it is not genuine. God wanted a world where man could choose to love Him. And with choice comes the ability for man to commit great good, and great evil. Yuval also seems to have a distaste for personal responsibility.

anonymous says

One neither seeks nor expects to find some greater truth lurking behind the veil of appearances.


Except this flies in the face of enlightenment and Nirvana. Seems this guy is practicing what was quoted right before this in OP.

The rest of the quotes are so obviously flawed I won't bother to address them. The common thread I find with atheists is their desire to absolve themselves of personal responsibility or consequence for their actions, and their attempt to take systems infinitely complex beyond their understanding and explain them away as random. One shows a lack of personal morality, the other a lack of intelligence.

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