OPEN DISCUSSION MAY 2019

May 1, 2019

This thread has been created for discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

Please note it is NOT for general chat, and that our Comment Policy applies as usual. There is a link to this at the foot of the page.

If you would like to refer back to previous open discussion threads, the three most recent ones can be accessed via the links below (but please continue any discussions from them here rather than on the original threads):

Open Discussion – February 2019

Open Discussion – March 2019

OPEN DISCUSSION APRIL 2019

87 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION MAY 2019

  • The May open discussion thread is now open.

    If you wish to continue any of the discussions from earlier Open Discussion threads, please do so here rather than there.

    Thank you.

    The mods Report abuse

  • For info – we have set up a dedicated thread for the discussion of books.

    Pretty much any kind of book – it doesn’t have to be about atheism or religion or science or politics. It doesn’t even have to be non-fiction.

    All we ask is that, whatever the topic or genre, the books are stimulating, intelligent and thoughtful, so that they are actually worth discussing, and that you post any recommendations along with a commentary giving a bit of background and explaining why you’re recommending it. Clearly “worth discussing” is open to interpretation, but hopefully you get the idea. Books originally in a language other than English are fine too, provided an English translation is available.

    The only real restriction is that, in keeping with our Comment Policy, users should not use this thread to promote any books they may have written themselves or  have any other kind of personal stake in.

    The mods

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2019/05/book-club/ Report abuse

  • Moderator #2  The idea of a book discussion thread is a fantastic idea.  Although I like a great many things about this site, I really appreciate the reading suggestions I have received since I began visiting here. Report abuse

  • Except in the United States, today is International Labor Day. 

    Let’s remember Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engel, Adolph Fisher, and Louis Lingg – known as the Haymarket Maryters. 

    May was selected as Labor Day in memory of a massive general strike that was called in 1886 to support striking workers at the International Harvester plant in Chicago.  Over the course of the next few days, there were massive demonstrations and a rally on May 4 was broken up by police and a bomb, thrown probably by an agent provocateur, killed a policeman.  Parsons Spies, and Engel were hung on November 11, 1887, and Lingg died in his cell.  Their struggle contributed to the winning of basic labor rights, such as an 8-hour work day, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, paid holidays etc. etc. Those rights were won with the blood of people like them. They should be remembered by workers everywhere.

    Happy Labor Day.  Solidarity Forever!! Report abuse

  • I posted #4 without adequate proofreading.  Martyrs was misspelled. The first line of the third paragraph should read May 1…    Those who were executed on November 11, 1887 included Adolph Fisher. Report abuse

  • Its catching, Michael.

     

    Knock Down the House.

    I’m so happy about this. Its essential Democrats see this to understand the systemic flaws in even their own party. My goodness if the USA could get this right, then well… what couldn’t be achieved? Report abuse

  • Book Club thread, LaurieB #6:
    “… We can be moral too?! In fact, I won’t be lumped in with theists at all when it comes to morality. I would edit the claim to read – Theists can be moral too, despite the fact that they’re religious.
    I think that was very generous of me.”

    Laurie, and Phil (who was making the same point at #5 of the Book Club thread),

    What an excellent point to make — that morality belongs first and foremost to freethinkers, people not committed to any religious or purely metaphysical or ideological belief-system, and only secondarily to people who are committed to such belief-systems. Morality cannot be present where there is no freedom of thought and enquiry, where the answer is laid down by an irrationally accepted authority, leaving no need for enquiry and reason, indeed even barring such free enquiry and thought to ascertain moral requirements. Following the directives of an unquestionable authority is not morality, the action of a free and rational agent, but servile obedience to something or someone that denies the human agent of his or her freedom of conscience. Since Plato and Aristotle, after all, conscience has been clearly understood as moral reason or reason concerning moral questions, and Immanuel Kant merely modernized Aristotle’s understanding of morality as moral reason, i.e. reason concerning how a rational agent can act well or ill — what Kant called practical reason.

    Determining the goodness or badness of an action requires the ascertaining of evidence and the use of reason. At no point in the process is the consultation of certain ancient holy writings required in order to render the findings of the process moral. No, morality is what humans, or, as Kant implied, any rational agents, naturally concern themselves with. Even the mistaken belief, and the actions that flow therefrom, that there is a supernatural being whom humans must revere and obey is based on natural human morality. Being rational definitely does not mean being right about everything. Reasoning is needed especially because we are not only rational but also instinctual and emotional by nature, and, as neuroscience is revealing, we even have biases built into how our brains operate. That is to say, we get so many things wrong, and reason is the one ability we have to counteract such obstacles to our knowledge and understanding of the reality (including ourselves).

    But to get back to the point, insofar as we are rational, we are capable of morality. Religionists, however, render themselves amoral insofar as they commit themselves, without evidence-based justification, to an unquestionable authority or source of information. They may so commit themselves quite freely, but, in so doing, they surrender their natural freedom to think and enquire into the facts that pertain to any moral question. They put their irrational beliefs before the moral process of ascertaining the relevant facts and reasoning to a moral conclusion. Their religious authority’s diktat precludes moral reflection and judgement. In that case, theirs is not moral agency but servile obedience. But abandoning their rightful moral agency is not the worst of it, for their obedience is to a superstition, something neither evidenced nor verifiable nor falsifiable, something quite unreal and unknown, except as something thought and felt in believers’ imaginations. Such a corruption of the moral integrity of a person is itself clearly immoral, even vicious.

    Secularists and all other kinds of freethinkers do need to be more assertive of their claim to morality on natural grounds. Morality is natural to large-brained animals like us, and we actually see signs of it in other large-brained animals with which we share this planet. The message needs to be made clearer in the public domain that morality does not come from religion, and that religion and its followers are bound by the same moral principles that bind everyone else rational enough to take responsibility for his or her own actions. Report abuse

  • Cairsley

     

    Bravo!

     

    Wish I had the nerve to take the picture. Labour day up on the mountains in Cyprus. Family of four with mums head covered having a barbecue right next to a sign saying “Do Not Light Fires”. Report abuse

  • Michael, #4

    Good post, Michael. We too easily forget those who struggled and suffered to give us the freedoms and protections we have today. And I have to say, even now the US still has a LONG way to go before it catches up with the norms of European societies. Report abuse

  • In the UK local elections it is a delight seeing from the outset Labour roundly punished for deserting the wishes of its new and younger base.

     

    Also the Conservative given a pretty good kicking . UKIP too. None of the major parties spoke for the new majority of remainers in the UK. None. No representation of a majority view. Corbyn a particular self serving disgrace.

     

    Time to ditch his cloth cap xenophobes and realise what the young overwhelmingly want for their future lives… the decency of a progressive Europe and not the shabby regression of a dominating dependence on the USA, not the reward of Catastrophe Capitalists like John Redwood, happy to gut their own country….

    Rock on Liberal Democrats, Greens and Independents… Report abuse

  • Phil Rimmer #13: “… Corbyn a particular self serving disgrace.”

    Phil (or anyone), the question that puzzles me now in all that political mess you have in the UK is: Why does the Labour caucus in Parliament keep him as leader when he so obviously opposes them on an issue of such basic importance as EU membership? How is Mr Corbyn able to hold his position?

    But it is good to know that the voters are giving the two main parties a taste of electoral reality in local and later (hopefully) EU elections. Report abuse

  • Cairsley says:

    Why does the Labour caucus in Parliament keep him as leader when he so obviously opposes them on an issue of such basic importance as EU membership? How is Mr Corbyn able to hold his position?

    The National Executive slipped a “Momentum”  loony-left resolution through conference, for the leader to be directly elected by members instead of the MPs, and then allowed masses of “know-nothing-ideologists” to join the party as voters on dirt cheap discounted subscriptions – as a “Momentum”  take-over move! Report abuse

  • Alan

     

    It did give incentive to youngsters like my graduate son to mobilise and try to make a difference. I have no idea what to say to him any more. He doesn’t even want to talk politics. As you know, I hung onto the ideal for as long as I could. What a horribly sad phase we are going through. I feel helpless. Report abuse

  • Great question, Cairsley.

     

    I think Alan has given a good part of the answer.

    Europe foolishly isn’t on their ideological map. It seems their sole concern is to get onto the issue of austerity and tackle the Tories on this which they see (reasonably) as a winner. They have been trying not to alienate too many by their position.

    They come across, though, as being patchily principled, even unprincipled. The upper echelons of the Labour Party dismiss party “Europhiles” as “not of the people” of being owners of some little gite in France or Tuscan hideaway, thoroughly ignoring the Keynesian powerhouse and defender of workers rights that the EU in actuality is.

     

    I have reported before how dismayed I was at a family friend (now again an MP with Corbyn’s ear) at the lack of understanding of the EU cultivation of business especially eco and circular economy. I applaud enthusiasm for Keynesian remedies and write about them often but the duff ignorance of much practical economic activity leads them to wrongly dismiss areas that are of huge importance.

    John McDonnell clever as heck. Too ignorant of world commerce.

    Labour is hijacked by well intentioned old white men ignorant of their own ignorance. Report abuse

  • I think Labour so far is not punished as much as the Tories perhaps because the mass of  Labour MPs may yet prevail over their narrowly idealistic leaders. Kicked hard by the electorate but not fatally so. Report abuse

  • Many thanks, Phil, for you response at #19 and #20, which amply supplements Alan’s. I had not been aware of the voting-system within the UK Labour Party. We see now how it skews the parliamentary party’s ability to act and even incapacitates it. You point out well the connection between this dysfunction in the party and such things as the economic activity in the UK, the EU and internationally, social issues, workers’ rights and conditions and so on. Still, it amazes me that you have a parliamentary party leader who does not depend on the confidence of his fellow caucus members. The integrity of Parliament seems to have been compromised in this way by the Labour Party.

    Labour is hijacked by well intentioned old white men ignorant of their own ignorance.

    Ah, that old Dunning-Kruger effect again! And as the proverb goes: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

      Report abuse

  • Olgun,

    I’m keeping an eye on Mayor Pete. I want to see how he does in the polls for awhile. I’m interested to see if there’s a gender gap and maybe a generation gap in his numbers as he goes along. I will also say he has put me off with his religiosity, as you would expect. He pits himself against the bad religious guy Pence by presenting himself as the good religious guy. I’m sick to death of listening to these people all puffed up and exclaiming their love of Jeezis. Eye roll.

    Too soon for any predictions but with Biden now fully engaged in the process and polling strongly I wonder if we won’t have a safe status quo President instead of someone who would be committed to making the systemic reforms that we need so badly here.

      Report abuse

  • Because not much discussion of anything, Ollie.

    People can (and increasingly do) leave religion when they are clever enough and resourced. Those beleaguered others get trapped from uncertainty or familial pressure or simple disappointment. For them the path to at least discovering a personal moral authorship is all we need hope for. Religion can become decent by degrees even if it means most of it fades away.

     

    Mayor Pete is for them. If religion is to linger on a and have a peaceful and mostly harmless dotage he is your man.

     

    Like Jimmy Carter. Report abuse

  • Olgun # 22.  That’s a good question.  At this point in the process, Pete Buttigieg is my first choice with Kamala Harris a close second.  My impression is that people whose first choice is Harris like Pete a lot too.  I think it will be a great thing for the Democratic party, and for the United States as a whole to have Pete be the candidate – he impresses me as being so intelligent and articulate that he will run circles around Donald Trump. 

    On the down side, I, like LaurieB #23, am uncomfortable about his need to defend his religious views.  However, I have to remember that as a gay man he was married in an Episcopal (Church of England) church by a priest.  This has to cause of lot of cognitive dissonance for the fundamentalists.  As a result, he’s frequently called on to explain his ideas about religion.  I wish he didn’t need to do that, but there it is.  I think he’s up to the task.  Furthermore, he doesn’t interject platitudes, such as “God bless the United States of America,” into his speeches – which I hope he continues.

    At his initial Iowa campaign rally, he expected about 50 people to show up – over 1100 came.  That’s a good sign.  I suspect he’s spending time now building state organizations and raising the horrendous amounts of money it takes to prosecute a successful campaign.            Report abuse

  • Michael100

     

    I do agree with all of your points above. Mayor Pete is intelligent, well educated and articulate. Even if he drops out of the competition for President, he will surely become a presence on the national stage in a different capacity. Report abuse

  • This morning on Huffpost, I saw an article that reported on “… tensions in the LGBTQ community between gay white men, who benefit from the economic and social privileges of being white men, and all the other queer people who don’t.”   https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pete-buttigieg-lgbtq-community-white-men_n_5ccb3cc5e4b0d12395505bd8

    In other words, is Pete gay enough to run as a gay man, or at least to have the support of the gay community?  The story reminded me of when Barack Obama was first running.  There were questions about whether Obama, primarily because of his education and success, was “black enough” to run as a black man.  My impression is that Pete, like Obama is comfortable with who he is, and will begin where Obama left off to lead the nation to new heights – not back to the Obama years, but forward to the Buttigieg years.  Pete doesn’t like the word “again.”  He wants the country to look to the future, not the past.

  • Laurie #23

    I know what you mean by his religiosity and my heart sank too but, is there a chance of another reformation in christiandom and a new American dream in this? One more step closer to a fully self confessed atheist president accepted even by the religious? I really am reserved to a step by step approach. Report abuse

  • Phil #24

    As my post to Laurie, I really do think it’s all we can hope for and I think it’s a very good compromise… so far. Report abuse

  • Michael #26

    I am excited about Pete but have to check myself as I was so excited about Corbyn and got it so wrong. Pete seems a different animal though but the doubters have already started.

     

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5cc980aae4b0913d078b0164/amp

     

    Why do people think changing your mind, as a politician and for the best, is so bad?

     

    I like your comparison of whether he is gay enough for the gay support. Hope he does come through it like Obama did. Report abuse

  • Olgun # 31.  I think what you are saying comes under the heading of healthy skepticism, and I agree that we need to be careful.  I think the advantage of having Iowa and New Hampshire being the early tests in the election process is that these two states have small enough populations that the candidates must get out and meet actual people.  It’s not a perfect system (remember Jimmy Carter) but I think it’s a good counterweight to the states like California and New York where the entire campaign takes place on television.  Like you, based on my early impressions, I hope Pete passes scrutinizing analysis of the campaign.  Check this — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FbAXIEMjmM    Report abuse

  • I just finished listening to the clip I posted in #32.  The mayor was interviewed at WGBH, a first class public radio station located in Boston, which is across the street from New Hampshire.  Pete was excellent.  One of his points was about the danger of criticizing Trump.  Pete said if we focus on his latest insult to a war hero, we forget that he’s trying to destroy the health care system.  Exactly right.  The reason Trump gets away with so many outrageous things is that by the time you can digest your angry amazement at something he’s done — he’s doing something worse so that you forget about the first instance.  I think Buttigieg is looking really good at this stage of the process. Report abuse

  • Michael #32/33

    Thanks for the link. I really am hooked on this guy. If I had any need at all for religion, I would convert to his doctrine. He will have to be satisfied with my support as a person.

    I am constantly surprised by how many young people I meet who seem to want to move to Canada. Even here in Cyprus. The word has definitely gotten out. If America becomes a same respected place and, as Mayor Pete says in the link, “ the Republicans get punished by the voters so that the democrats can change too”, then the world will be a better place for sure. The voters have taken America in the wrong direction and other parties have had to follow that trend. The U.K. has done the same ever since Tony Blair in my opinion. I remember the question of “what does Labour have to do in order to oust the Conservatives”. Well, Blair out conservatived the Conservatives and negative politics has been the norm since. Mayor Pete is now saying the same things I have been screaming  at the television since then. “Stop telling us how bad the other sides are. Tell us what you are going to do to fix things”. I very rarely watched the televised party leader debates. Even then from behind the sofa. Cringeworthy pointless media lead tripe.

     

    Till otherwise advised, or observed, Goooooo Mayor Pete!! Report abuse

  • Ps.

     

    I would like to hear how you all think Mayor Pete will do against the fossil fuel companies. I was very happy to see a couple of acres of solar panels installed by one of the huge hotels here in Cyprus. Report abuse

  • Olgun #34. I know what you mean about Tony Blair. In the US, the Clintons did the same thing to the Democratic Party. The Clintons called their wing of the party, the Democratic Leadership Conference (or Committee, DLC in any event).  They wanted to make the party “more moderate” i.e. more like the Eisenhower Republicans. I think they thought that moderate Republicans who were unhappy with Ronald Regan would vote Democratic, and progressive Democrats had no where else to go. It worked for Bill — partly because of his charisma and partly because in the 1991 election Ross Perot drew off enough Republican votes to give Clinton an electoral college victory. Like a lot of progressives, I held my nose and voted for Clinton twice. I think Hillary would have made a better president than Bill, mostly because of her experience, but she had neither Bill’s charisma, nor a third party candidate to draw off votes from Trump’s dedicated and well organized base and loyal Republicans — of course there were a lot of other factors as well.

     
    I like all the younger Democratic candidates, but Pete Buttigieg stands out in front. I think he has the intellect to crush Donald Trump in any argument and not be distracted by Trump’s shenanigans. So far, he looks pretty charismatic.  If he can just build a strong organization, I think he can lead the party, the nation, and the world in the right direction. I have nothing against the older candidates, but it’s time for new blood. 
     

    Good question in # 35. My impression is that Buttigieg understands the urgency of climate change, and the issue will have a high place in his agenda, Report abuse

  • Ollie,

     

    I’m a huge fan of Mayor Pete. I think he is almost perfectly equipped for the job. He’s intelligent, business savvy, but anti anti Citizens United. Almost everything is check box perfect.

    I want to see policies on reform of financial institutions like a trading tax to favour longer term investments over casino banking. I liked that the vaccination exemption slip up by one of his aides was quickly corrected.

    He’s a bit conservative looking, but that will undoubtedly help in some areas.

     

    I’m with Michael. We need new blood. There is a whole untapped group of non-voting young, who are brighter than their ossifying parents, and just need to be galvanised by seeing themselves up on screen.

    I love Bernie to bits for showing the way, but the young ‘uns will finish the job.

      Report abuse

  • https://amp.businessinsider.com/pete-buttigieg-husband-chasten-attend-jimmy-carters-sunday-school-2019-5
     
    Come on Pete, I’m your friend, but I want to hear you talk about the climate, about renewable energy sources, about cleaning up the oceans — or at least how to stop polluting them, about health care, about gun control, about a fair tax system, about education, etc., etc.

    I suppose he has to make his peace with churches of various stripes, if for no other reason than to short circuit the fundamentalist crowd who will dog him on the campaign trail, but please Pete remember the wall of separation.  It’s easy to say that it doesn’t hurt to pay a visit to a church on Sunday morning, but there is a danger — when an important issue is on the line, is Pete – or any politician – going to remember the church crowds, or that story he/she read someplace about those “nones?”

     
    This brings me back to my thoughts on the power of organization, the life blood of politics. The churches are highly organized institutions, and there are a lot of them. A politician would be crazy to ignore the people who attend them. I live in a small suburb of a medium sized city — I can count 9 churches within walking distance of my home.  Three are mainline Protestant, one is catholic, one is a non-denominational protestant, one Jehovah witness, one Jewish, and the other two I would describe as “fly-by-night.”   When I looked for an atheist club, I came up empty. I’ve been talking to some friends about this, but so far nothing has materialized.  If we “nones” are going to flex our proverbial muscle, we had better get together and demonstrate our numbers.  As the song says, there is nothing weaker than the feeble strength of one.

  • Michael 40

     

    Sorry, a quick one as we got back from Cyprus in the early hours and have a lot to do, if I can keep awake. Apologies to others that have replied to me too.

    Every time I soften a bit on religion and the ones that practice it…..

    I have just been sent news that the Bursa region of Turkey has taken down a statue depicting a young woman sitting and reading a book. The Mayor saying it encourages women to become atheists. Has me fuming. A journalist who also owns a magazine sent a post to our FB page about the virtues of Ramadan and the faith. I sent her a message saying I would not let it through and said I was angry that as a woman she writes such stuff. I told her that these people are most afraid of women and if they fall then we will all suffer. She is reply’s no to me as I write this. One message accuses me of censorship and oppression. Need to go see what else she says. She is not religious either. Mind boggles. Report abuse

  • Olgun

    This is so worrisome and discouraging. The self-sabotage of these women speaks to the power of brainwashing. They should be more careful what they wish for. Report abuse

  • Olgun #41.  I agree with LaurieB that what you write is both worrisome and discouraging.I don’t know which to be more upset about – the mayor who claims (rightly I hope) that reading encourages atheism particularly on the part of women, or the journalist who wants to embrace a reactionary religion which teaches that it’s a sin to teach women to read.

  • Hi Phil [#45],

    A very interesting read.

    Following the referendum Corbin played a clever tactic of: The Torres own this, let them reap what they sowed.  Except that this ‘plan’ had no clear end game while the electorate remained divided so evenly.

    It is taking a long time, for reasons that are obvious to media watchers but I don’t have time today, and the message that an actual exit will be extraordinarily costly is slowly sinking in.

    As the poll tide turns, Corbyn’s tactical move to support the Tory government looks more and more like a move in the wrong direction.  As the piece you pointed to explains so well, too many have been too quick to run old ‘empirical’ style political rulers over a modern ‘metricated’ electorate – and have very clearly come up with the wrong measurements.

    Whereas, at one time, Corbin looked like he would reap a great political reward for ensuring the Tories would own a debacle, he seems to be moving Labour into fellow-traveller territory and, in the process, alienating the very voters Labour will count on in the future.

    It seems to me that if Corbyn doesn’t change course soon he’ll be hemmed in by bad choices.  He’ll either be the Labour Leader who sold the British working class into globalised servitude, or the Labour Leader who failed so badly that the Labour Party becomes an irrelevance.

    Peace. Report abuse

  • My summary “The Left screwed it but its still recoverable” is of a commentary in January, since when they have done little to do any recovering.

    Parties held together by overmuch dogma find adapting to change painful. Each locks the other in place. The world changes around them. The EU morphed from that patrician bosses’ club to a protector of the individual’s rights, a fighter against monopoly especially in the new technologies, an instigator of eco-businesses and policy through progressive standards and incentives, and an investor in the poorest regions in good Keynesian fashion. Albeit with problems of some democratic deficit and insensitivity to the world changing around it (migration management etc.) Report abuse

  • Hi Phil [#47],

    Yes, in spades!

    The British Government can no longer be trusted with our human rights, as their horrific, totalitarian-style, laws on Net access demonstrate.

    I would also add protection of innovation against vested interests to your list of EU successes (a little bruised recently, but still miles ahead of some member states including the UK).

    Corbyn and Momentum’s actions might seem pardonable to some, in the light of a Tory party seemingly bent on an internal zero-sum struggle over dogma.  I believe that to be, possibly, one of Labour’s biggest mistakes in my lifetime.  In politics you definitely kick when the other guy is down.  It’s the dirtiest business there is, after all.

    Many, myself included, were ambivalent on the EU’s democratic deficit (I even spelled it out on this site) prior to the referendum.  I have since recalled a very important lesson which I learned, of all places, when reading The Economist:

    Bureaucracies may tend to slow things down – but there is an up side. They also tend to drive quality into final delivery of the products, systems, or services they supervise.  The key is to constantly question if the balance of time, and other resources, expended is a good trade-off for that quality.

    On balance I believe the much-maligned Brussels Bureaucrat is well worth the outlay.

    Labour could still come out on top, and waiting may not turn out to be so bad in the long run, but they’re definitely reaching the point of skating on thin ice.

    Peace. Report abuse

  • SoW

    I don’t have a problem with Euro bureaucracy either. I’ve been part of a Euro-standards committee and written parts of standards. It was all brilliantly tech savvy. Our new standard was simpler, clearer (no big words!) less fatuously restricting. Our Swedish boss figured out we mixed bag of nationals very well. Having seen many other technical standards from around the world, I think European technical standards are leading edge and peerless.

    For whatever reason, the whole enterprise comes off as highly professional. Report abuse

  • quarecuss and Cairsley draw our attention to Stoicism in the book thread. This got me reading and thinking a lot about the four Socratic “Virtues” and the three Christian adders that Thomas Aquinas shoved on the end,

    Wisdom, Justice, Courage, Moderation;

    Faith, Charity and Hope.

     

    The four are as good a set as any and have far more reach than might appear the case at first glance. I loathe the thinking that Virtue Ethics (centred on a person’s character) is the root of all that is moral, a reductive religious idea, that misapprehends what morality may be and how it became a thing. In fact…

     

    Morality comprises those thoughts and actions that better facilitate our mutuality.

     

    No more, no less. It must flow from living with others. Among the actions, necessarily cultural, are those (endless!) Cultural Codifications (and recodifications) of Wisdom and Justice.

    Among those thoughts, necessarily personal, are our endless rehearsals of our inevitable encounters with those externalities and our desire (if we are moral), more reliably, to enact them. Courage and Moderation as the Personal Virtues in rehearsal of actions, seek to balance confidence and a need to act with uncertainty, Wisdom grows we see. Justice refines its sensibilities.

     

    So, what of the trinity of Christian “virtues”? Well it seems to me…

    Faith is for when you fuck up Wisdom.

    Charity is for when you fuck up Justice, and

    Hope is for when you fuck up Everything.

     

      Report abuse

  • Thanks, Marco. That was very satisfying to write. I’m now thinking a slim tome entitled

    Philosophy for Grown Ups

    or

    Philosophy with Gonads

    or some such.

    I love philosophy like some precocious, aspie child. But it’ll be so much better when it grows up, chills out and finally gets laid. Report abuse

  • Phil Rimmer #50

    Important as the four cardinal virtues are, I agree with you that they are not the root of morality but four basic ways in which our sense of morality is exercised to good effect. The root of morality is in our natural intersubjective connections and our ability to reason about our dealings with each other, resulting over time in the formulation of increasingly more refined, better focused and more widely applicable principles and guidelines to which members of society assent. You capture a sense of the dynamic of this process nicely in the last two paragraphs at #50.

    Your assessment of the three theological virtues, faith, hope and charity, is a humorous way of showing the unfortunate way in which Thomas Aquinas, the mediaeval Christian thinker who contributed most to the reinstatement of reason as essential to responsible decision-making, messed up his work by mixing the natural with the supernatural. Report abuse

  • Cairsley.

     The root of morality is in our natural intersubjective connections and our ability to reason about our dealings with each other,

    Exactly so. Reason evolved most probably as a persuading thing, not as a rational thing. And intersubjective a thing perhaps even before subjective was a thing.

    In evo psych a credible hypothesis is that we developed a sense of others’ minds before we developed a sense of our own. When modeling the behaviours of others (other agents) it was important to be able to predict what they did by developing a theory of mind for each and, usefully, each type. We had a sort of feel for our own likely behaviours but only later we saw failures in prediction because of a failure in our side of the simulation, a failure of courage or actual competence or energy level, or even caring/wanting enough. Cultures in the meantime were already developing.

    As Raoul Martinez says in Creating Freedom

     

    “The problem is that, by the time we have developed the intelligence necessary to contemplate our own identity, we are already very much in possession of one. How we think about ourselves and the world around us will already be framed by the conditioning we have received up to that point.”

    The experience of individual development is often a mirror of evolutionary development, its sequencing, its chronotopy, reflecting that of evolution.

    We are made by our cultures first and foremost; our concerns and valuations are gifted by them. We are mutual (cultures by definition are mutual) before we emerge as individual.

    This is the way the Abrahamic religions most misrepresent us, ensouled and fully formed as individuals with free will and a propensity for evil. They don’t have this culture first idea. This is why I like the simplicity of

    Morality comprises those thoughts and actions that better facilitate our mutuality. Report abuse

  • Phil.

    The neurosciences are revolutionizing our understanding of the way we think and behave. It is not only the Abrahamic religions that misrepresent us; most of the Enlightenment thinkers also misrepresented us as naturally self-contained individuals in their efforts to promote human rights against political oppression and ecclesiastic dogmatism. In doing so, they achieved much good, but they also gave rise to some extreme forms of individualism that persist in some parts of the Western world. The primacy of human familial and tribal groups as the cultural setting for the life of each human individual did not begin to be appreciated until after Darwin’s theory of biological evolution was established in the nineteenth century and the neurosciences opened up in the latter half of the twentieth century. Your quotation from Raoul Martinez captures the new thinking well. Yes, we emerge as individuals within a mutual cultural setting. I tend to see morality in terms of personal responsibility towards self and others, but I like the emphasis you give to the mutuality within which we each become self-aware individuals and moral agents. Report abuse

  •  we emerge as individuals within a mutual cultural setting.

    Hold that thought. Now Martinez wishes us to shift the balance of our moral obligations and expectations.

    If we are substantially made by our cultures, (though in our notional social contract we, not unreasonably, are required to own our own actions), is it not a requirement of societies also, to, far more than presently, also own the actions of its citizens, including the seemingly malign? Is it not as individuals, that we not simply be virtuous individuals, but virtuous citizens, more mindful of the moral-breeding potential of our societies our culture?

    Is not the “Invention of the Individual” (for Prof. Larry Siedentop a crowning glory for Christendom, granting free will and complete personal responsibility for our own spiritual and secular salvation) a moral catastrophe, dividing us to better conquer us? A grave distraction, at least, from the true mechanism that allowed us to devise our moral societies and thus breed our moral selves in the first place? Report abuse

  • If we are substantially made by our cultures, . . .

    Phil, you have slipped the word ‘substantially’ into the discourse and stymied your question. Substantially? Hardly. If the word ‘substantially’ is to be used, then we are substantially made by a very long process called biological evolution. What we are substantially is precultural, and without it there could be no culture.

    . . . is it not a requirement of societies also to own the actions of its citizens, including the seemingly malign? . . .

    How would “societies” own citizens’ actions other than as they do now through duly constituted governing and administrative bodies? The point of this question, even if the proposition contained in the conditional clause upon which it depends were true, is not apparent. Given that we are not substantially made by our cultures, is there still a question here worth considering?

    Is not the “Invention of the Individual” (for Prof. Larry Siedentop a crowning glory for Christendom, granting free will and complete personal responsibility for our own spiritual and secular salvation) a moral catastrophe, dividing us to better conquer us?

    No. It seems that you have simply failed to understand what Prof. Siedentop was writing about in his book Inventing the Individual. It so happens that I am rereading the book at present. Reading books at least twice is a good practice to get into. I suggest you read this book again, and make more effort to recognize and follow the argument. I have no idea how you have come to such a weird interpretation of the book. Did the scholarly detachment with which Prof. Siedentop treated the materials he had to deal with in order to pursue his argument fail to satisfy something in your own subconscious? Or are you not as familiar with historiography as you are with the more cut and dried disciplines like sciences and engineering? I really have no idea, Phil, and will leave it at that. Report abuse

  • Thanks for these observations, Cairsley. This will be brief as, even today I am at work.

    Clearly some clarifications are needed. Mostly my failings to put enough detail in.

    “If we are substantially made by our cultures”

    (per Martinez) is a coherent argument. Genes underlying everything is a truism, surely? Culture as a part of our phenotype is literally an expression of the genotype. But there is something new we are seeing in understanding the specific  reach of genes in personalities and individuals and the profound nature of  culture in the specifics of neural wiring. I’ve talked a lot in the past about neuro-constructivism and how it is starting to illustrate the contingency of our very neural wiring.

    Genes don’t encode the startling cultural difference between Czechs and Poles, neighbours, genetically indistinguishable, the least and most religious folk in mainland Europe, with a politics to match. Culture substantially makes us even down to our emotional and expressive vocabulary. Our cognitive skews and bodily attributes from our genes and our personal early experiences of love or neglect, delivers the balance.

    “is it not a requirement of societies also, to, far more than presently, also own the actions of its citizens”

    Restoring the quote restores my meaning.

     

    Please note Larry Siedentop’s last chapter when you get to it and his approval of the robust individualism of US society and disapproval of the rather feeble European  one with its individuals dilutied in his view by its Greco-Marxian heritage.

    I fully approve of and agree with his scholarship. He makes a superb case for the “Individual” as a product of much Christian thinking.

    I did not intend to put words in Larry Siedentop’s mouth. I actually put my closing bracket in the wrong place (it shougld have been after Christendom) and over-compressed the writing. What I intend is… Larry Siedentop’s claim “The individual” is a crowning achievement for Christendom. My Claim this was got by “free will” and personal salvation and is a moral catastrophe. Apologies if this was not clear.

    I did indeed read it again recently.

     

      Report abuse

  • A couple of bite sized quotes for others regarding  “Individual” and Siedentop.

    Larry Siedentop.

    “…the Christian conception of God provided the foundation for what became an unprecedented form of human society…”

    From a Guardian review.

    ” it is Christianity we have to thank, and particularly the Christianity that was being formed in the dark and early medieval ages, for our concept of ourselves as free agents.”

    Cairsley, I’ve mentioned the book a few times in the past couple of years here. It could be a good review subject for the book thread when you’re done? Report abuse

  • Phil Rimmer #58-59.

    Thank you for the clarifications.

    If the statement ‘we are made substantially by our cultures’ was made in the context of phenotype and the new field of research called neuroconstructivism, then I see no reason to object. The word ‘substantially’ troubled me, seeming to have a philosophical sense (which suggested anything but phenotype), when it seems actually to be used here in an ordinary sense of something like ‘to a significant extent’. That was not apparent at #56.

    You still seem to be attributing views to Prof. Siedentop merely because he stated them in explaining stages in the religious, legal and political developments of the notion and status of the individual. He may have said in Inventing the Individual “…the Christian conception of God provided the foundation for what became an unprecedented form of human society…” (which I cannot locate, but that does not matter, for this is one of many similar statements he makes in the book), he is doing history, not philosophy or theology — he is merely stating a cultural fact of history, that turned out to be the basis for “an unprecedented form of human society,” a secular, liberal democracy, that resulted from a centuries-long process of development.

    Larry Siedentop’s claim “The individual” is a crowning achievement for Christendom.

    But that is not Larry Siedentop’s claim! What he shows in his book is the long, complex process by which St Paul’s moral claim of Christian liberty was gradually converted into a secular social status according to the principle of equal liberty under the law. Yes, this principle was worked out within monastic, episcopal and papal contexts by canon lawyers within the church through the Middle Ages, but it was adopted at different stages by different levels of secular authority, and was eventually used against bishops and popes who were still trying to control and enforce people’s beliefs. It was, as Prof. Siedentop puts it at the beginning of the final chapter (25) of the book, a natural, not a legitimate, child of the church.

    There are occasional points in the book where Prof. Siedentop seems to say that liberalism presupposes Christian moral principles; for example, in chapter 25, page 338, he writes: “Yet liberalism rests on the moral assumptions provided by Christianity. It preserves Christian ontology without the metaphysics of salvation.” One might go, “Eek!” Or one might calmly disagree, noting with due respect the historical Christian origin of the principles of liberalism and the further historical facts concerning the replacement of both Christian ontology and the metaphysics of salvation with rational principles, like the Golden Rule, which William of Ockham championed in his emphasis on personal autonomy. Instead of understanding everyone’s moral equality under the fatherhood of God or the sovereignty of the pope, we understand it as equal participation in a common human nature. Instead of the pope’s or king’s sovereignty, we have the sovereignty of a democratically elected parliament or congress, and so on. We have moved on, keeping the good and leaving behind the no-longer-useful, at least when we know what we are doing. More to the point, despite such references to the Christian foundations of liberalism, Prof. Siedentop also notes all the secularizing steps taken in the formation of the secular liberal state, where each individual participates in sovereignty. Report abuse

  • Cairsley,

    Yes this is what Siedentop, an ardent old school Liberal, does and he does it with excellent scholarship, but you seem not to be addressing my point of the Martinez hypothesis. What if Liberalism as more strongly realised in the UK and particularly the US, is not the ideal political end-game we need? What if the “diluting” of individualism in the Greco-Marxian tradition Siedentop associates with Europe, has more opportunity?

     

    It is notable (my claims not Siedentop’s) that the US, freakishly Christian for a maximally developed nation, is also wildly selfish, codifies indeed the virtues of hyper individualism in a form if Liberalism max through the invention of Neo-Liberal through to Libertarianism itself.

     

    Perhaps?

    “The Crown for the invention of the Individual would have to go to the ideas developed in Christianity, rather than those of other schools of thought.”

    I do go for the sound bite rather. Report abuse

  • Have we merely kept the good?

    I had something like that in mind when I completed the sentence you quoted with the clause: “… at least when we know what we are doing.” For Christians, mostly an educated élite of mediaeval Catholics, the development of the individual person as the unit of subjection and possessor of natural rights in a legal and political framework, together with the notion of secularism itself, had unintended consequences, once Christendom fragmented with the Reformation and secularism became increasingly the norm. Christianity itself came more and more to be seen as a private matter, as opposed to the proper matter of the state and the law. In recognizing the achievements of Christian thinkers in the long process whereby Western civilization was transformed from the aristocratic model of society to the model of liberal democracy, it has to be borne in mind that those Christian thinkers would have been horrified to be informed that their ideas would eventually give rise to liberal democracy. It is misleading to suggest that this is their crowning achievement. It was, in terms of their objectives, a regrettable consequence of their work. They did not foresee the Reformation and the break-up of Christendom.

    But your question is indeed a good one. On your comments about liberalism, neoliberalism and libertarianism, we seem to be in accord. I am not familiar with the work of Raoul Martinez; so I thank you for another addition to my ever-lengthening reading-list.

    Pax et bonum. Report abuse

  • There is a good article posted on this site under the SOCIAL heading and subheading TWEETS.  The title of the article is: The Nones Aren’t as Politically Diverse As you would think.  The article is by Ryan P. Burge who teaches at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.  The Article asks why so many elected officials identify with religious groups, and only one or two fall into the unaffiliated category, let alone atheist. 

  • Cairsley

     It is misleading to suggest that this is their [i.e.Christian Thinkers] crowning achievement. It was, in terms of their objectives, a regrettable consequence of their work.

     

    Indeed, it might be. But the achievement is judged to be so by a socio-political analyst not by a Christian spokesperson. The unintended consequences of religion are legion. In retrospect we can see good and bad.

    From a purely political standpoint we may judge that some of the good may actually be less so as those unintended consequences have not yet stopped occurring where religion remains virulent. Hyper individuality is a case in point.

    Its interesting in this recent analysis

    https://religioninpublic.blog/2019/05/15/the-nones-arent-as-politically-diverse-as-you-would-think/

     

    how left of centre (compared to the average) Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Atheist, Muslim folk are.

     

    The very notable Christian exceptions are from oppressed  groups. For the mainstream that commie hippy, Jesus, seems a very contingent option.

    The claim I’m going to move on to is that Reality has a left wing bias, because morality comprises those thoughts and actions that aid our mutuality and our achievements flower out of our mutuality.

    I’d be really interested in your take on Martinez, “Creating Freedom” should you read it. But he has a 15min or so TED talk from when he started to put his ideas together.

  • Michael, #64

    It is a really interesting article. (I used it above for other purposes).

    Answering his question I would suggest that somehow in the US the idea of what constitutes moral has been corrupted. Perhaps the very pronounced dislike of government and its institutions means that doing good can only be effected through charity for which Christianity claims a patent. A Christian Politician has the tools needed using (distastefully) government as a means to an end. Report abuse

  • Phil Rimmer #65: “… The claim I’m going to move on to is that Reality has a left wing bias, because morality comprises those thoughts and actions that aid our mutuality and our achievements flower out of our mutuality. …”

    There certainly are factors within our real, physical make-up that bias us towards mutuality and thus in politics towards the left. But there are also other factors in our make-up which bias us in other ways. We are conflicted souls! In the same make-up of humanity are the bias towards family and clan or tribe as the default units of belonging, loyalty and authority, and within these units our mutuality was able to flourish long before leftists turned up with their more sophisticated notions of mutuality and shown how, with the right balance of the various factors, much greater wellbeing for all can be generated. Those tribalistic factors, along with such tendencies as natural inequality, social stratification and the like, remain as inbuilt tendencies in us, and societies therefore have a tendency to revert to less democratic, less equalitarian, more authoritarian social arrangements, if the common commitment to the good of all members of society is weakened or contaminated by policies favoring particular groups or individuals at the expense of others. So, yes, Reality has a leftwing bias, but it has various other biases too, including a rightwing one. Because we are brainy enough to be aware of such things and work out what arrangements would most benefit us as members of society, we can work together to provide for everyone; but, as history has shown from time to time, such arrangements depend on our collective moral choices and commitment to that goal, which are not as durable as inbuilt instincts such as self-interest and tribalism. Your idea that “morality comprises those thoughts and actions that aid our mutuality and our achievements flower out of our mutuality” is attractive as a basis for developing a policy of societal wellbeing — it is certainly much more down-to-earth and reality-based than Marxism ever was — and it is an idea that can be promoted in order to strengthen and enliven further the mutuality and social flourishing and inclusiveness that have already been achieved. But my sobering thought is that there will never come a time, so long as we remain human, when such a goal will cease to require our efforts to attain or maintain it.

    Thank you for the book recommendation. Report abuse

  • Phil #  66  “…I would suggest that somehow in the US the idea of what constitutes moral has been corrupted.”  I think that’s exactly right.  I think most expressions of American religious “morality” are actually expressions of prejudice.  This is probably my own prejudice, but I think American “morality” is rooted more in racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia, than the mythological sermon on the mount.  On the other hand, Enlightenment morality is based on the golden rule.
         
    The Burge article reinforces my opinion that the reason that atheists are under-represented in government, despite our growing numbers, is that we are simply not an organized group.  We (including our elected officials) all think we are alone in our rejection of religion.  If not alone, we thought we were a tiny minority.  Office holders and candidates don’t want to offend the religious sensibilities of large voting blocks, but they don’t realize that by paying lip service to religion(s), they may be offending the rationalistic sensibilities of a growing segment of the electorate.  I hope that more and more elected officials and candidates will come to understand that if they cease observing meaningless superstitious rituals, it’s not going to hurt them on election day.  No one needs to be insulting to religion, but neither should they be allowed to insult rational constituents who find more comfort in scientific explanations than in the religious practices of their parents and grandparents.  I suspect that most of our friends and neighbors are not as offended by religious expressions as we are, but it’s incumbent on us to constantly point out religion’s negative effects. Report abuse

  • I just read an interesting article in The New Yorker – n.b., I said interesting, not great, maybe 4.5 on a 10-point scale.  The article, Losing Religion And Finding Ecstasy in Houston, by Jio Tolentino (a staff writer at The New Yorker), can be found at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/05/27/losing-religion-and-finding-ecstasy-in-houston
    It’s about a young woman who grew up in a mega church in Houston, Texas, USA.  As she grew older, she discovered pleasure from taking drugs such as ecstasy (MDMA).  The article attempts to compare religion and drugs.      The first thing I found interesting was her description of the mega church complex, the campus of which includes a six-story worship center that seats 6,000 people,  a sanctuary that seats 800 people, a small chapel, a school, a restaurant, a bookstore, three basketball courts, and exercise center, a sports field, and a  playground, not to mention a school — kindergarten through 12th grade.  She writes:  “You could spend your whole life inside the Repentagon,” the sobriquet given to the complex by the kids who attended the school, “starting in nursery school, continuing through twelfth grade, getting married in the chapel, attending adult Bible study every weekend, baptizing your children in the Worship Center, and meeting your fellow-retirees for racquetball and a chicken-salad sandwich, secure in the knowledge that your loved ones would gather in the sanctuary to honor you after your death.”  Keep in mind that these ecclesiastical enterprises don’t pay anything, not so much as a kopek, in taxes.    The majority of the article talks about rap music, and various means to achieve intoxication, and then the author ties some forms of intoxication to religious experience.  She writes:  “… I found religion and drugs appealing for similar reasons. … Both provide a path toward transcendence, a way of accessing an extrahuman world of rapture and pardon.”  Continuing she wrote: “I have been overpowered with ecstasy in religious settings, during bouts of hedonistic excess, on Friday afternoons walking sober in the park as the sun turns everything translucent.  Church never felt much more like virtue than drugs did, and drugs never felt much more sinful than church.”  She writes:  “Ecstasy (MDMA) can provide a sense of salvation that might be more likely to stick than, say, a hallucinogen epiphany delivered from a face in the clouds.”  “Ecstasy’s magic … can feel like divinity.”  Okay, if you say so. While reading this article, I was reminded of the studies in which subjects were scanned in functional MRIs which showed the areas of the brain which became active during suggestions of religious experience.
     As I said at the beginning, the article has a few interesting observations, but my feeling was that the author had not abandoned a belief in the supernatural, she just discovered that illegal drugs could possibly provide a more intense experience that what can be obtained in a “for-profit” (my term) church.  It would have been nice if she had rejected both religion and drugs for the mystical experiences found in great literature, music, art, astronomy, biology, mathematics and physics.  Oh well, to each his/her own.    P.S., I debated with myself whether I should post this in the discussion thread or the book club.  Because it’s about an article, I put it here.  Please let me know if it should have gone to the book club.

  • Michael 100

    I do remember that feeling of transcendence from when I was a child in church. I now think that churches, especially the big cathedrals are built with that very goal in mind. I’ve also experienced transcendence as a part of all the sources you mention above. But the transcendence that is produced by certain drugs is of a greater magnitude and ever so interesting to those who have even the slightest curiosity about neurology.

    Strong marijuana and light hallucinogens can knock out the “explainer” part of our brain and the effect is that of a computer that is ignoring the rules and constraints of rational thinking. Creativity is greatly enhanced and all of the things that are pleasing on their own, art, music, food and for me, especially nature, are overpowering in their sublime existence.

    My memories of these experiences are still vivid years after the fact and I’m glad to have gained some insight into the workings of my brain when it is completely unleashed from conventional thinking. I have some greater sympathy for the unfortunate psychotics who cannot come back to rational thinking as I happily did.

    It seems like humans have always been interested in the mystical, spiritual value of intoxicants going way back in time. This is part of our human cultural experience.
    I wonder if the more dangerous source of the transcendent for the woman in the article isn’t religion. I believe the side effects are very unfortunate compared to the minor side effects of marijuana and even ecstasy. Report abuse

  • LaurieB #72.  I especially like the last paragraph of your post.  Although religious ritual, especially in the “high churches – e.g., Roman, Anglican, Orthodox,” can provide a mystical experience, the price tag is a requirement that truth must be abandoned.  At least with marijuana, MDMA, and LSD one is not required to profess “Credo in Unum Deum …” as the price of admission.  The drugs about which Tolentino writes can’t be too damaging – she is, after all, a staff writer for The New Yorker.  And, I think your point is what she was aiming to make.       Report abuse

  • Michael 100

    Yes, that’s right. I won’t defend the use of all drugs, that’s for sure. Some of them have lasting deadly consequences if they get their hooks into you – heroin/opiates, meth, alcohol, nicotine and others are catastrophic in the end but what’s wanted is a rational, harm reduction view to the situation. There are lists out there that rank substances as to their degree of harm to the individual, family and society and also the degree of the ferocity of the physical addiction they create in the individual. This is how to begin with a rational approach to substance use. That list is an excellent conversation starter with teens and even with adults. It’s surprising to see where certain drugs end up on that list but important to understand how they got into their individual positions. Report abuse

  • Here is a couple links to an interview of Pete Buttigieg at the Washington Post.  The first (https://youtu.be/rFfoIh9dryA) is an excerpt in which Pete talks about Trump’s successful efforts to avoid military service during the war in Viet Nam.  As Buttigieg notes – efforts based on conscientious objection are admirable, but using one’s wealth to obtain questionable (Pete uses stronger language) medical diagnoses, are despicable.  The second link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prmDkTr8aj4) is the full interview.

  • So here’s the thing if he gets the nomination. Most atheists will vote to remove a vile atheist from office and for a man of god.

    The lesson goes every whichway.

    Its the Morality, Stupid!

    It was always that. Report abuse

  • I see “the religion of peace” is showing its usual sense of neighbourly consideration of others and harmonious citizenship. as usual!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-48438333

    A Hindu veterinary doctor in south-east Pakistan has been charged under the country’s strict blasphemy laws after allegedly selling medicine wrapped in paper bearing Islamic religious text.

     

  • Phil #78. I agree. The situation drips with irony!!  But at least Pete is honest about what he believes and doesn’t try to shove it down other people’s throats, unlike the phony people fell for last time. I keep remembering that Hillary won the popular vote. Report abuse

  • I think the LBGTQ community will have cause for some celebration of progress in their search for recognition.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48448804
    Transgender health issues will no longer be classified as mental and behavioural disorders under big changes to the World Health Organization’s global manual of diagnoses.
    The newly-approved version instead places issues of gender incongruence under a chapter on sexual health.

  • Hello.  I would like to ask Professor Dawkins a question.  Now, I understand you can’t know everything and you are probably a skeptic when it comes to Freud and psychoanalysis.  But, Freud came up with the theory that belief in God is infantile narcissism.  This is why I don’t believe in God.  I used to believe in God but a psychiatrist cured me of it and now I’m into reason and science.  Why isn’t Freud included in your book on why there is no God?  I thought there would be since it is called The God Delusion since that is all belief in God really is.  Maybe you could study it and add a new chapter to your book.

     

    Thank you

     

    Stephanie K Report abuse

  • Hi Stephanie.

    Welcome. Hope you stick around for a bit. Here’s my thoughts.

    It could be that Dawkins had a surfeit of material he could include, but rather more is that Freud in The Future of an Illusion offers no real substantive arguments against the existence of God but rather assumes that that fact is obvious. What he argues is that if God is a collective illusion, why is this so. What he offered was an account of why psychologically we need a God.

    Freud has somewhat fallen out of favour as a reliable scientist. His accounts why we do what we do seem somewhat unrooted in any evidence. This is a real pity.

    Freud’s great achievement is in his scientific proof (with evidence!) of the existence of a sub-conscious where these psychological self-accounts can happen. Report abuse

  • I just saw this headline on Huffpost:

    North Korea Reportedly Executes Officials For Failed Trump-Kim Summit

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/north-korea-reportedly-executes-officials_n_5cf06bdee4b0e8085e3758e3
    This is pretty scary news — Kim is someone about whom Trump has had glowing words of late, the earlier “rocket man” remarks notwithstanding.  As Trump feels the walls closing in around him, he may think he can emulate those he admires — Kim, Mohammad bin Salman, Putin, Rodrigo Duterte, etc., etc.
    My sense is that whenever Trump feels the heat for something he has done, he does something worse so that the pressure of the earlier event pales in comparison.  I think it time for the Democrats to bring the charade to an end, do as the Constitution demands and impeach the President.  If the Republicans in the Senate think they can withstand the judgement of history by failing to convict, that’s on them. 

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