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So I Am human

So I Am human

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So I Am human

Length:
163 pages
2 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Mar 30, 2019
ISBN:
9781386860716
Format:
Book

Description

Popular-science book about man written for all those who are interested in learning more about the conditions of human existence and what can be learned from it in order to lead a happier life.
In a science-oriented world, the number of those who have become disoriented is growing rapidly when it comes to answering questions that go beyond what the sciences are able to answer. These are existential questions to which not many people are indifferent: Where do we come from? What is the meaning of life? Does God exist? Is there a life after death?
In view of scientific findings, many people of faith feel insecure. But the statement of the German reformer Martin Luther «Whoever wants to be a Christian, should tear the eyes out of his reason», is no longer valid. 
Science itself has now paved the way and is able to point to a transcendent (i.e. otherworldly) reality (a reality that exists beyond what we perceive with our senses and what we are able to understand with our reason) and what this means for our view of the world and our view of man. Modern natural sciences are in a position to show the way up to a point of rational insight from where it is impossible to go any further. They are not in a position to «say» what is beyond this boundary. Once you get there, however, you can «see» with certainty that such a reality exists. And this is an extremely liberating experience.

Publisher:
Released:
Mar 30, 2019
ISBN:
9781386860716
Format:
Book

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So I Am human - Rom Lammar

Jaspers)

PART 1

THE TRIUMPH OF THE MODERN NATURAL SCIENCES

THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW WORLDVIEW

In this chapter we will address the question why so many people (especially in Western cultures) are convinced that the only reality that exists or can exist is the one which can be scientifically researched, which means, only that which has a spatial-material dimension and, as a result, can be measured. A case can be made that one of the main reasons for such an attitude lies in the recent social and economic development history of humanity. The achievements of science and technology have been so overwhelming that there is an infinite admiration and enthusiasm among the general public for everything that has to do with applied science. And indeed: without scientific progress, the world in which we live today (and if you compare it to the world of a few hundred years ago, it is undoubtedly a much better one) would not be the same. The production of cars, airplanes, ships, satellites, computers, mobile phones, TV sets, modern household appliances and countless other machines that have become indispensable in our modern everyday lives; the construction of roads, tunnels, bridges and skyscrapers, agricultural and industrial machines, but also the production of electricity or the modern methods and devices that make it possible to diagnose and cure diseases, would all be impossible without the progress of science and the technologies based on it. They have made it possible to create a level of global prosperity that has never existed before.³ The triumph of modern natural sciences and the consequences associated with it were so impressive that the latter still decisively shape the idea most people have of the world and themselves today. Most people in modern industrial countries enjoy a high standard of living, i.e. a good life, even without believing in anything immaterial or «supernatural». Science and material wealth have become the measure of all things. When people discuss and disagree about a certain topic, typical statements are: «I must be right because it is scientifically proven that ....» or «finally science has proven that...» or « a scientific study has been conducted, which has shown that.....». Quite apart from the fact that when making such claims, most people cannot remember where and by whom the mentioned study was carried out, such statements are primarily intended to convince the opponent that any further discussion is unnecessary. Considering the high esteem in which modern science is held by the general public, one can speak of a downright science syndrome. For most people of the 21st century, something that cannot be scienti-fically researched and as a result, cannot be measured, is simply not existent. And if there is something the scientists have not yet completely decoded, then it is taken for granted that this will happen in a (more or less distant) future. After all, 500 years ago we did not know how to build cars, airplanes and computers, we didn’t know how to transport people to the moon on board a rocket, how to transplant a human heart and much more. The faith in the incessant progress of science is still unbroken.⁴ In order to understand how it could happen that modern man denies the reality of everything that cannot be measured we need to look back a few hundred years into the past.

The decisive turning point on the road to the new age (which we call the materialistic age because of the prevailing worldview) began in Europe in the 17th century, an epoch which should later be called the Age of Enlightenment. In the preceding centuries living conditions for most people were largely so unbearable that the detachment from this life (thanks to the development of modern natural sciences and their consequences) was truly liberating. In the European Middle Ages it was almost inconceivable to live a life without believing in God. Religion was omnipresent, the church fathers determined what was right and wrong, what was good and what was bad. The Church preached that salvation could only be granted to man through faith and that those who did not want to believe were in for incredible torment in hell. How could people of that time have known better? Most (over 90%) lived in the countryside and could neither read nor write. They were poor, god-fearing, frightened and had to obey those who held the power, and these were the aristocracy and the church. The latter taught that God created the world. To doubt that was blasphemy. The church was in authority. Those who opposed the ideas of ecclesiastical authority were punished. Before the introduction of the Inquisition, the so-called judgment of God decided whether or not an accused was guilty. During the trial by water for example (probably introduced in the 9th century by Pope Eugene II), the accused was tied up and thrown into water; if he swam, he was guilty. During the trial by fire it was observed which injuries the defendant suffered when touching a redhot iron and how the injuries healed, and in the Bahr test in the case of a murder the suspect was led to the dead body and had to touch the wounds; in case these began to bleed again, this was regarded as a divine sign that the defendant was guilty.

When the Church felt threatened by the increasing number of heretics in the 13th century, Pope Gregory IX appointed so-called inquisitors who were authorized to take action against suspects. Thus, on behalf of the Catholic Church and by decree of the Pope, methods of torture were developed and officially permitted to purify dissenters. During the Inquisition, tens of thousands of people were brutally tortured and killed in a bestial way. The machinery of violence, erected in the name of God, worked for five centuries. People‘s joints were painfully stretched on a stretching bench or ladder (sometimes for several days), muscles and tendons torn apart and bones pulled out of the joints. During the torture, the victim was interrogated. Lifelong disabilities were the result. The thumbscrew used throughout Europe, where fingers or thumbs were slowly crushed between two metal plates, usually caused severe damage to the tortured (crippled hands for example). Even more cruel was the head press, in which the head of the victim was trapped under a metal bowl and pressed together. This resulted in unimaginable pain, permanent damage and fatal injuries. How great the fear and horror must have been among people who knew of such torture can only be guessed.

In addition to the religious constraints and restrictions, for most people of this period, everyday living conditions in terms of work, health and nutrition were very difficult to bear. More than 90% of the population lived in rural areas. The agricultural work was hard and the average life expectancy was low (mostly under 40 years). Diseases (smallpox, bubonic plague, Black Death) and famines carried millions of people off. The majority of the population lived in extreme poverty and was subject to a small upper class (clergy, nobles, landowners). In his book «The rational optimist»⁵, Matt Ridley describes a fictional family of that time. I quote: «.............. the father's Bible words are interrupted by his rachitic cough, a sign of the lung inflammation that will carry him off at the age of 53 - and which certainly did not get better by the wood smoke of the fire....... The baby is dying of smallpox, which is already making her cry. The sister will soon be under the thumb of a drunkard. The water the boy pours into the cups tastes like the cows that are watered in the stream, while the mother suffers from toothache. At this very moment, the daughter in the barn is impregnated by the neighbour's stable-lad in the hay and her son will end up in the orphanage. The stew is grey and full of gristle, yet meat is a rare change from the never ending gruel. There is no fruit and no salad at this time of year. They eat with a wooden spoon from a wooden bowl. Since candles are too expensive, they have to be content with the light provided by the hearth fire. No one in the family has ever seen a play, painted a picture or heard the sound of a piano. The school education consists of a few years of boring Latin lessons, taught by the bigoted drillmaster in the vicarage. The father once visited the city, although the journey cost him a week's wages, but the others have never been more than about 20 kilometres away from home. The daughters each have two wool dresses, two linen shirts and a pair of shoes. The father's jacket cost him a monthly income, but now it's full of lice. The children share a bed consisting of a straw mattress on the floor..........».

In their introductory article to the 30th edition of «Geo-Epoche», Insa Holst and Hendrik Fischer also underline the poor living conditions in medieval Europe: «For centuries the conditions in the countryside have hardly changed. The wealth and power of a nobleman were always measured by how much land and people he commanded. Many people were serfs. They lived in the same miserable villages as their parents and grandparents, were not allowed to leave the land of their landlords. It was a modest life, from hand to mouth, crammed into a system of clear hierarchies, founded on command and obedience, but also on «protection and fidelity».                                  

In the centuries that followed, however, profound changes and improvements occurred in the everyday lives of countless people. Although not from the beginning, all social strata gradually benefited from these changes, which also extended far beyond the borders of Europe.

Professor of History Dorinda Outram sums up the essential spiritual characteristics of this new age in her 1995 work «The Enlightenment»⁶: «The desire for human affairs to be guided by reason rather than religion, superstition or revelation; and the belief in the power of human reason to change society and to free the individual from the fetters of tradition or arbitrary authority. All this is supported by a worldview that is increasingly «validated by science rather than by religion or tradition». In the 17th and 18th centuries, religious faith and the ruling classes gradually had to give way to reason and the individual's desire for freedom and independence. Some of the outstanding personalities in this process were the English natural scientist Isaac Newton (1642-1726/7) whose achievements contributed to the fact that reason, freedom and progress increasingly became the dominant yardstick for human actions and decisions (with his two main works «Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy» and «Opticks» he laid the foundation for modern scientific research principles), the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), who dealt with questions of ethics («Critique of Practical Reason»), aesthetics («Critique of Judgement») and epistemology («Critique of pure reason»), or the British naturalist Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution provides a scientific answer to the question of the origin and development of the human organism. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, who was a doctor, botanist, poet and inventor, was also fascinated by the new enlightened ideas and, like many of his contemporaries and friends, wanted to understand the world. He was convinced of the changeability of all that exists and wanted to know how the earth and everything that belongs to it came into being. His publications already contain many of the ideas that his grandson should take up later (see next chapter).

From now on science should be accessible to everyone, new findings should be based exclusively on observation and systematically conducted experiments that were published and should be repeatable (i.e. reproducible) all over the world. The world's first scientific association, the British «Royal Society», ensured, among other things, that the new scientific findings became part of the public domain. New and stronger microscopes and telescopes opened up worlds for mankind, of which they had not known anything until then. Newton was convinced that nature followed invisible laws that had to be unveiled, and so it was he who «discovered» gravity (also called gravitation) and formulated the laws of mechanics. Gradually, those who possessed scientific knowledge - researchers and technicians - played an increasingly important role in society. Their knowledge and inventions changed society. More and more those who controlled knowledge determined the progress of things and the future of the world. The authority of the Church and the aristocracy were increasingly challenged. The French author Voltaire (1694-1778), who is regarded as an important (intellectual) precursor of the French Revolution, contributed with his works substantially to the criticism of the grievances caused by absolutism and the authority monopoly of the Church and the concomitant intolerance (which forced him, among other things, to spend a big part of his life abroad). For Voltaire it was clear that one of the most important liberties for man was to «speak» his mind through writing and to educate himself (through reading).

Many other personalities from various fields could be mentioned: the French René Descartes (1596-1650), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) and Denis Diderot (1713-1784). The latter had to go to prison for three months because of his publications, but despite this he managed to publish the first encyclopaedia together with his collaborators. In England, the «father of liberalism», John Locke, (1632-1704) ensured with his ideas that man (and no longer God) became more and more the focus of events. His political philosophy had a decisive influence on the content of the constitutions of the United States of America and of the revolutionary France. Although the Church (especially in countries such as France and Portugal) attempted by all available means to stop the spread of the new ideas, the triumph of modern natural sciences and the new understanding of the world and man could no longer be stopped. A devastating earthquake in Lisbon on the first of November 1755 (All Saints' Day), to

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