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The Little Book of Humanity.............................................................................................................................1 Philip K. Dick on reality.....................................................................................................................................2 Bertrand Russell on war.....................................................................................................................................4 Bertrand Russell on certainty............................................................................................................................6 Ryszard Kapuscinski on achieving goals..........................................................................................................8 Richard Feynman on not fooling oneself........................................................................................................11 Feedback for Post "Richard Feynman on not fooling oneself" ..............................................................13 Bertrand Russell on reason and courage........................................................................................................14 Feedback for Post "Bertrand Russell on reason and courage" ...............................................................16 Molly Ivins on confusion in democracy..........................................................................................................17 Feedback for Post "Molly Ivins on confusion in democracy"...............................................................19 Thomas Jefferson on democracy.....................................................................................................................20 Friedrich Durrenmatt on state as mythical entity.........................................................................................22 George Orwell on truth as a revolutionary act..............................................................................................24 William Hazlitt on love of liberty....................................................................................................................26 Thomas Paine on renouncing reason..............................................................................................................29 Feedback for Post "Thomas Paine on renouncing reason"....................................................................31 Bertrand Russell on virtuous and wicked nations.........................................................................................32 Robert G. Ingersoll on happiness...................................................................................................................34 Feedback for Post " Robert G. Ingersoll on happiness" .........................................................................36 Robert Owen on the interests of human race.................................................................................................37 Feedback for Post "Robert Owen on the interests of human race"........................................................39 Steven Weinberg on farce and tragedy of human life...................................................................................40 Jared Diamond on patriotic and religious fanatics ........................................................................................43 Baron May of Oxford on danger of fundamentalism....................................................................................45 John Stuart Mill on discovering new truths...................................................................................................48
Table of Contents
Marcus Aurelius on death................................................................................................................................50 Feedback for Post "Marcus Aurelius on death".....................................................................................53 Epicurus on need of natural science................................................................................................................54 Robert Owen on spirit of universal charity....................................................................................................56 Bertrand Russell on man as a credulous animal............................................................................................58 Feedback for Post "Bertrand Russell on man as a credulous animal"...................................................60 Mark Twain on traditions................................................................................................................................61 Stephen Weinberg on good and evil................................................................................................................63 Feedback for Post "Stephen Weinberg on good and evil".....................................................................65 John Stuart Mill on want of ideas..................................................................................................................66 Bertrand Russell on exact truth .......................................................................................................................68 George Orwell on war-propaganda................................................................................................................70 Epicurus on myths and pleasure.....................................................................................................................73 Kurt Vonnegut on noticing happiness .............................................................................................................75 Feedback for Post "Kurt Vonnegut on noticing happiness"..................................................................77 John Stuart Mill on exercising power over individuals .................................................................................78 Feedback for Post "John Stuart Mill on exercising power over individuals"........................................80 Marcus Aurelius on crime................................................................................................................................81 Robert G. Ingersoll on tyrant in heaven.........................................................................................................84 Bertrand Russell on dogma and natural kindness.........................................................................................87 Feedback for Post "Bertrand Russell on dogma and natural kindness".................................................90 Marcus Aurelius on giving and wealth...........................................................................................................91 Sinclair Lewis on woes because of the devil...................................................................................................94 . Thomas Paine on national institutions of churches.......................................................................................97 Epicurus on events in the boundless universe..............................................................................................100 Mark Twain on being dead............................................................................................................................102 Feedback for Post "Mark Twain on being dead "................................................................................105
Table of Contents
Marcus Aurelius on change ...........................................................................................................................122 Marcus Aurelius on rejecting the sense of injury........................................................................................125 Thomas Paine on securing liberty.................................................................................................................128 Bertrand Russell on science and philosophy................................................................................................130 Bertrand Russell on good life.........................................................................................................................132 Mark Twain on loyalty to petrified opinions ................................................................................................134 Bertrand Russell on authority in science......................................................................................................136 Bertrand Russell on being cocksure..............................................................................................................138 George Orwell on highly civilized human beings trying to kill him ...........................................................140 Feedback for Post "George Orwell on highly civilized human beings trying to kill him"..................143 Bertrand Russell on advances in civilization................................................................................................145 George Orwell on revenge..............................................................................................................................147 Feedback for Post "George Orwell on revenge"..................................................................................150 Thomas Paine on owning earth.....................................................................................................................151 Feedback for Post "Thomas Paine on owning earth" ...........................................................................154 Bill Bryson on the unity of life.......................................................................................................................155 Feedback for Post "Bill Bryson on the unity of life"...........................................................................157 Bertrand Russell on relying upon authority .................................................................................................158 Feedback for Post "Bertrand Russell on relying upon authority"........................................................160 Robert G. Ingersoll on ignorance..................................................................................................................161 George Orwell on atrocities...........................................................................................................................163 Bertrand Russell on skepticism and dogma.................................................................................................166 Feedback for Post "Bertrand Russell on skepticism and dogma"........................................................169 Seneca on crimes committed by nations.......................................................................................................170 Feedback for Post "Seneca on crimes committed by nations " ............................................................173 Marcus Aurelius on pain................................................................................................................................174 Karl Popper on correcting errors in science................................................................................................177
Table of Contents
Author's friends..............................................................................................................................................180 About the author.............................................................................................................................................181 Pageviews.........................................................................................................................................................182
The Little Book of Humanity
Philip K. Dick on reality
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick is of course putting in words a very basic truth. In fact it is so basic truth that we need somebody to put it in words to really appreciate it. After reading this sentence we may even think that everybody naturally understands it. However a harsh fact of life is that there are a lot of people who believe that not thinking about something makes it go away or that just wishing very hard for something to be true really makes it true.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_K._Dick by jaskaw @ 01.01.2010 - 14:14:50 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/01/reality-is-that-which-when-you-stop-believing-in-it-7672157/
Bertrand Russell on war
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell (attributed)
There is no certainty if this quote is really by Bertrand Russell, but it fits his character so exceedingly well, that I for one am quite willing to believe that he was the originator of this great quote. The saying shows a quick wit that he certainly had and Bertrand Russell was a pacifist all his life and he opposed violence in its all forms. This quote is important in reminding that nations do not win wars because they are morally more advanced or because they have the only true ideology. A feeling of moral superiority can of course help the war effort, but in the end wars are won by nations that are more capable in the battlefield. So the fact that Islam now holds sway over a billion people is not because of its moral superiority or the greater truth-value of its message, but because the Arab armies storming out of the Arabian deserts into the Christian Byzantine Empire and Zoroastrian Persia were militarily superior to their opponents. If the Byzantine army would have been stronger, Islam could be a small time religious enterprise in the Arabian Peninsula ands its immediate vicinity. Similarly the line separating the Protestant and Catholic parts of Europe was not decided on moral or ideological grounds, but in the battlefields of the 30 Years War.
by jaskaw @ 02.01.2010 - 17:27:38 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/02/bertrand-russell-on-war-7678285/
Bertrand Russell on certainty
"Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality." Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell is here setting one of the most difficult tasks any man or woman can face; the need to avoid absolute certainty, as only then one can really see all new evidence in a rational and open way. One is however so very easily and so very often tempted to think that one has found the only possible answer and only possible solution to different questions in life. Overcoming this very human feature is not easy and I do not think it is always even possible, but I think setting unreachable goals is part of the way we really can improve human existence.
We can however be certain of very many things, even if we are not absolutely certain that these things are unmovable and eternal truths. Think about it, there is a difference; this is the difference between scientific truth and a religious truth. A scientific truth is never absolute, as it can and must change if new better information is obtained, but new information has never had similar effect on religious truths, as they tend to be marketed as absolutes. by jaskaw @ 04.01.2010 - 21:12:56 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/04/bertrand-russell-on-certainty-7692296/
Ryszard Kapuscinski on achieving goals
"Our salvation is in striving to achieve what we know we'll never achieve." - Ryszard Kapuscinski
I was nearly overwhelmed by this quote when I first stumbled into it, as it collects in one sentence so much of the things that also I personally do see as the essence of humanity. Firstly I see that Ryszard Kapuscinski is saying that humans should or even must have higher goals in life and I do wholeheartedly agree with him. Secondly in my mind he is saying that striving to achieve those goals is the important thing, not reaching them, as reaching any real goals in human enterprise is impossible, as the real-world goalpost keep going further and further, the more we fight to reach them. And this is as it should be, as every time humans have started to think that they have reached a goal, the big trouble has started and social development has stagnated into standstill. Also all too easily people who are seen as threatening these achieved goals are soon seen as dangerous and defending these reached goals can get even to be the prime function of society. I think that Ryszard Kapuscinski is saying that we must definitely have goals, but we never must let ourselves fall into the trap of thinking that we have already reached them. One can have higher goals in life, even if one knows as Kapuzinski suggests that one can never really reach them. The life-goals people do have do not become null and void because of that knowledge, but they can become greatly enhanced from accepting this fact. It is also all about rejecting absolutes, which of course are so dear to mathematicians, but unfortunately non-existent in human societies.
by jaskaw @ 05.01.2010 - 21:26:18 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/05/ryszard-kapuscinski-on-achieving-goals-7698454/
Richard Feynman on not fooling oneself
"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." - Richard Feynman in lecture "What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society"
This quote collects in one sentence so much of the contradictions and also the greatness inherent in science. Science tries to be impersonal, but all the things that people do in the real world are personal in the end. When a scientist thinks that he or she has discovered something really new, he or she will inevitably create a personal relationship with that discovery, whatever it is. There is no escaping the fact that science is a personal thing also, but the greatness of modern scientific method is in the fact, that these personal feelings do not matter in the long run. In the end all scientific findings are put though the grueling test of peer review, before they can be accepted as part of the scientific explanation of the world. All truly important findings are rigorously reviewed by people who are not friends of the originators of the original idea or can even in many cases be even their worst competitors for scientific glory. This system makes sure that the personal attachment to an idea by the originator of the scientific theory does not matter in the end. Because of this system science can be truly a system for attaining a truer view of the world, even if all of the scientists are just human beings, with all the failings of human beings.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Feynman by jaskaw @ 08.01.2010 - 00:48:19 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/07/richard-feynman-on-not-fooling-oneself-7712099/
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Mike Layfield [Visitor] 08.01.2010 @ 08:51 Great quote! There is a typo in the commentary. second line: "ion" s/b "in".
jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 08.01.2010 @ 10:34 Thanks Mike, its corrected now! Hrothgir [Visitor] 08.01.2010 @ 15:48 I'd add Feynman's comments on Challenger "[... R]eality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."
Bertrand Russell on reason and courage
"To save the world requires faith and courage: faith in reason, and courage to proclaim what reason shows to be true." - Bertrand Russell
I fear that this idea by Bertrand Russell is very hard to understand wholly, especially as the bad word "faith" creeps into the discussion. I however think that crucial point here is to understand what Bertrand Russell really means by "faith". A fact is that to really understand that for example air consists of collection of different gases you need faith in that science can really resolve this kind of things. At deep down in the very bottom there is always the issue of "faith". I however think that trust would be a much better word in this case. That trust is in the case of science built on real world achievements and concrete results in making our lives easier and explaining the world in meaningful ways, but in the case of religions faith is built on mostly wanting things to be like religions so soothingly claim. If we do not think that problems are best solved with rational processes, what do we have? We have a situation where can start accepting all kinds of things at face value, just because we so dearly want them to be true as is the case with religions. This does not mean at all that humans would be rational creatures, far from it. It is is bout trying to harness our inherent irrationality to a certain degree, so that decisions in a society could be based on rational arguments when these are available and not for example on irrational claims and ancient texts written in strikingly different societies. I believe that humans are irrational beings who can however strive for greater rationality when they want to, even if perfect and full rationality is quite unattainable. by jaskaw @ 09.01.2010 - 00:53:04 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/08/bertrand-russell-on-reason-and-courage-7718350/
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bakrds [Visitor] 10.01.2010 @ 19:27 Speaking of irrationality, isn't it both irrational and a wee bit arrogant to assume that Betrand Russel wasn't aware of the connotations of the word 'faith' when he said 'faith in reason'. And what of assuming that your readers are not capable of separating faith in reason from faith in religion? I am sorry if this seems harsh, but I find this assumption a bit insulting. Science is built on faith just as much as religion is, in some ways even more. True, trust is a similar word but does not capture the leap - the 'inspiration' that drives the lifetime of toil and belief it sometimes takes to find the answers in science. Faith is just a word. Why are you afraid to let it stand? | Show subcomments jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 10.01.2010 @ 21:15 My comments are in fact based on my earlier publication of this quote in a different context, where some readers were outraged by the fact that Bertrand Russell even dared to use the word "faith" in the context of science. I however really do think that the "faith" Bertrand Russell is speaking of here is not the kind of blind and unblinking "faith" religions are demanding from their followers and I wanted to clear up this fact.
Molly Ivins on confusion in democracy
"The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion." - Molly Ivins
Molly Ivins is hitting the head of the nail here, I think. The big problem in democracy for many is that it is often not so easy to predict the outcomes of democratic processes. Democracy can fail miserably and produce a lot of wrong and mistaken decisions. The big thing in democracy is however that it is the only form of government that includes a inbuilt system of error-correction. The only alternatives to democracy are some forms of totalitarian systems of government and all totalitarian systems do also produce similar errors of judgment and wrong decisions as democracy does. The big thing why democracy in the end wins over totalitarianism is the question of correcting the mistakes that have been made. In a democracy errors can be brought up and discussed, but in a totalitarian system they are all too often swept under the rug. In a democracy a failed government is simply elected out, but in totalitarian systems you need violence and raw force to do the same, see Iran.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molly_Ivins by jaskaw @ 10.01.2010 - 12:08:27 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/10/molly-ivins-on-confusion-in-democracy-7725856/
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Paul Stillman [Visitor] 10.01.2010 @ 22:49 Actually, republicanism is an alternative to democracy and a positive one at that. Our Founding Fathers rightly feared giving too much power to the unwashed masses and created a republic when they drafted the constitution. They created a Chief Executive who was to be selected by an electoral college, a senate that was to be elected by the state legislatures, a House of Representat,ives that was to be elected by the people, and a Judiciary that served for life whose members were nominated by the president with the advice and consent of the people. Today, we have the voters, who frequently pay very little attention to the issues of the day, directly amending their state constitution based on political commercials that appeal to their emotions rather than their intellect. california, the most ungovernable state in the country, grants its voters the power of intiative, referendum, and recall. Consequently, in the 1970's, California amended its constitution with Proposition 13, a measure that permanently affected the way property taxes are raised in the state. Thirty years later, the state is plagued by huge deficits and underfunded schools. If we returned to our republican roots, we would elect people, arguably, who had the time, temperament, and knowledge to make rational decisions for us. Each branch of the federal govt would act as a check and balance on the other two so that no one constituency gained too much power; similarly, the states would act as a check on the powers of the federal govt and vice versa. While the founders didn't create a perfect system, they did create a system that, in my opinion, is preferable to the one that has evolved. We have become a virtual direct democracy where the whims of the majority ride roughshod over the rights of the minority. People who lack the education and knowledge to be decisionmakers threaten our elected officials and frequently prevent them from acting in the best interests of the nation rather than in the interest of the loudest and most vocal faction. What we have become is not what our Founders intended and, frankly, is inferior to what they bestowed on us. We have become a democratic tyranny rather than a republic ala Cicero and Rome. Daniel [Visitor] 11.01.2010 @ 22:23 That's a fair point. The article posits a bit of an "either or" argument without really considering all of the possibilities.
Thomas Jefferson on democracy
"The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind." - Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William Hunter (11 March 1790)
It can be now hard to remember that Thomas Jefferson was a extremist radical in his time. As he did slide on the revolutionary road he necessarily questioned all the things that had been thought to be god-given and eternal for centuries. This process of radicalization on all fronts was quite inevitable. The British government and ruling form of Christian religion were intertwined as one great whole and renouncing the other one part necessitated giving up also the other. In fact the Anglican Christian religion of that day was only a support arm of the government. He had no certain religious affiliation, but is widely seen as being a deist. Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without a need for either faith or organized religion. He saw clearly also the inherent inequality that was inbuilt in the feudal form of government and his words ring true to this day. Experience shows that all totalitarian forms of government have in real world ended up harming and oppressing some part of the population under their rule. There is no real reason to expect that the future totalitarian governments could be any better. All people can of course never be happy in a democracy either, but we have real world evidence that the median level of contentment is at a higher level in democracies in the long run, as democracies are capable of change and development in a way that is mostly unachievable in totalitarian systems, like Saudi-Arabia or Iran. by jaskaw @ 11.01.2010 - 23:01:46 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/11/thomas-jefferson-on-democracy-7736911/
Friedrich Durrenmatt on state as mythical entity
"For people who have no critical acumen, a state is a mythical entity, for those who think critically it is a rational fiction, created by man in order to facilitate human coexistence. " - Friedrich Dürrenmatt
There exists a strong belief that some things need to be as they are in a society because of some kind of higher or even divine plan and not because they are necessary for the well-being of human inhabitants of that society. There really are people who think that some things should be labeled as sacred and outside any scrutiny, because that they see them as so useful for themselves or the society that they must never be allowed to change. There are people who may think that even evaluating and analyzing central social phenomena threatens them, as they see that any kind of of questioning of the established basic principles of society may cause its downfall and make the established social order crumble. Friedrich Dürrenmatt is however stating the fact that states and nations are useful tools, but there is nothing divine or sacred in them. They are human creations that are created to serve humans, not the other way around. A great deal of all the things we choose to believe in of course fiction, which we choose to believe because it is so useful to us. Acknowledging that fact is however very hard, as fiction that is believed hard enough often becomes quite indistinguishable from the reality.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_D%C3%BCrrenmatt by jaskaw @ 12.01.2010 - 22:03:18 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/12/for-people-who-have-no-critical-acumen-a-state-is-7743037/
George Orwell on truth as a revolutionary act
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell
It is fascinating how often a very simple and basic psychological process happens. When a crucial decision is made, very soon all evidence starts pointing in ones mind that the decision that was made was the only one possible and there simply is no information telling otherwise to be seen. We don't even notice when this happens, as we just don't notice the contradictory evidence anymore. In the level of individual this is often quite harmless and even necessary, as otherwise we could be stricken be remorse for ages after every major decision we make. On the level of a society this process can however lead to situations where public view of reality is warped to accommodate the official policy that is in use. This in turn can lead to situations where policies are driven long after they have turned into something harmful and even evil, as world and reality have changed, but our perception of it has not. In situations like this we need people like George Orwell to raise their voices.
by jaskaw @ 13.01.2010 - 21:50:39 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/13/george-orwell-on-truth-as-a-revolutionary-act-7749570/
William Hazlitt on love of liberty
"The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves." William Hazlitt
This is a extremely strong sentence that is loaded with many meanings, but one central theme for me is the fact at the core of freedom is responsibility. When one gives away his or her freedom he is also relieved from responsibility, as this responsibility is handed over to the authority controlling your life. This is of course a very tempting preposition for many, even more as one is simultaneously relieved from the need to think about the motives and reasons for doing things in certain way. The success of radical Marxism, radical Islam or radical Christianity shows clearly how very many people want this liberation from the need to think for themselves and from building their own opinions. On the other hand freedom and liberty require responsibility, as without responsibility freedom simply does not work. When a person is not forced to do certain things in a certain way he or she must reflect over what are the consequences of one's actions in a quite different way than in a authoritarian system, where somebody else can always be blamed for ordering things to be done in a certain way. The big paradox is that totalitarian system is a for many a very easy place to live, as you always know your place and your future, but a free society can be personally much more demanding place to live in. However I see that Hazlitt is saying that a totalitarian system is egoistic, as the ease of life is in the end accomplished by taking away the possibility of choice from all.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hazlitt by jaskaw @ 14.01.2010 - 20:55:08
Thomas Paine on renouncing reason
"To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine in the "The American Crisis" (1776)
This quote of course needs no explanation as such, as the message is clear; there is no point in arguing with a person who lets adherence to a dogma wholly dictate his or her thoughts and ideas. Thomas Paine was not of course familiar with the Internet debates of today. However anybody familiar with the world of religious debate raging in thousands of mailing lists, chats and comment-pages will instantly recognizes the type he is speaking about, it is the person who is splurging out endless streams of dogmatic liturgy spiced with endless quotes from some holy book. Even over 230 years ago it was quite plain to Thomas Paine that there is no point in arguing with them, as the truth is in the old saying: "You can't teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of time and it annoys the pig." by jaskaw @ 15.01.2010 - 21:45:25 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/15/thomas-paine-on-renouncing-reason-7762228/
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Brenda P [Visitor] 15.01.2010 @ 22:29 This is hilarious and great timing. Thanks. Anders [Visitor] 15.01.2010 @ 23:27 I know the type all too well. This is another good quote; "What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?" -George Orwell
Bertrand Russell on virtuous and wicked nations
"No nation was ever so virtuous as each believes itself, and none was ever so wicked as each believes the other." - Bertrand Russell in "Justice in War-Time" (1916)
Bertrand Russell of course points here to the life-blood on jingoistic nationalism. In it one's own nationality is presented as something better and nobler than others, even if there mostly would no real reasons for that elevation. The simple accident of birth is changed into something that has a higher meaning. Of course there is also differences between nations, but the biggest differences are always transient things that are results of accidental historical processes and unique situations than very often evaporate as time and history goes by. To say that for example Germans as a nation would have been wicked because the Nazis were able to take hold of the political power in that country for a decade is not a reasonable thing at all. For a bit over decade the machinery of the German state was hijacked by a ruthless gang of political psychopaths, who misused that machinery for their own ends. Of course they persuaded and also forced with the power of the state a great deal of their fellow countrymen to take part in their evil and bad deeds. It would however have been even an absurd thing to say that every German of that day would have been somehow evil. The nationalistic view of world however inevitably leads into this kind of generalizations, where members of different nations are seen just as stereotypes and the incredible variety of individuals in every society is in purpose hidden from view. There is a simple reason for this; to reach a true nationalistic fervor of hating one's neighbors one needs to be able to forget that the other hated nations are made up of quite similar individuals as you. On the other hand accusing some kind of "national character" for the bad deeds of the Nazi state machinery relieves the pressure to analyze what was the role of the state in all this. We need not think why the law abiding, decent citizens of Germany were so easy to lure and most of all order into committing all the atrocities the German Nazi state did commit. Then we need not think that it was not in the end the evil Nazi party that made people do these things, but that without the machinery of the state that had fallen into their hands they would not never had a chance of doing most of what they finally did. If we fall tha blame on the "national craracter" we do not need face the terrible possibility that a ruthless enough gang of political psychopats would succeed again in a thing like this and take over an state machinery that is geared into obedience for the current regime whatever it is. by jaskaw @ 16.01.2010 - 18:46:01 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/16/bertrand-russell-on-virtuous-and-wicked-nations-7767061/
Robert G. Ingersoll on happiness
"The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert G. Ingersoll
Colonel, American political leader, and orator Robert G. Ingersoll (1833 1899) can be rightfully considered as the grandfather of the modern freethinker movement. He rose to oppose the religious dogmas, which by his day was again having the field wholly for themselves, as after the hectic days of the American Revolution the Deism of the founding fathers had more or less evaporated and by his day American society was becoming more and more infatuated by Christian religious ideas. Robert G. Ingersoll had also a deeply humanistic agenda of caring for others and most of all for caring for those who were not able to take care of themselves. He was a friend of the down-trotten and a friend of the working man in general. Robert G. Ingersoll picked up the torch where Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and other more or less Deistic founding fathers had left it, and continued even further into full-blown agnosticism, which rejected even the Deistic idea of a god as a vague world-spirit that does not however interfere with the matters of the mankind. Deists had already rejected the established religions, but Robert G. Ingersoll doubted also the very idea of a god. He however believed in the inherent goodness embedded in mankind, if it just is allowed to blossom.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_G._Ingersoll by jaskaw @ 17.01.2010 - 18:17:17 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/17/robert-g-ingersoll-on-happiness-7773488/
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Mikel [Visitor] http://atheistyogi.com 17.01.2010 @ 19:51 Lovely blog! I will check back here often.
Robert Owen on the interests of human race
"Is it not the interest of the human race, that every one should be so taught and placed, that he would find his highest enjoyment to arise from the continued practice of doing all in his power to promote the well-being, and happiness, of every man, woman, and child, without regard to their class, sect, party, country or colour?" - Robert Owen (1841)
Robert Owen was a humanist, philanthropist, the founder of modern co-operative movement and in the end one of the first forerunners of the modern western democratic socialism. He was also a practical man who did run a successful business where he did show with his own example that he could earn a good living, even if he cared for his workers and arranged decent conditions for them. This kind of compassion was absolutely not the norm is his days, when factories were often horrible and cruel places of physical torture. He developed more and more idealistic ideas in his later days. He was deeply involved in building up idealistic community experiments that did in the end fail. After these failures he did eventually end up in the rising spiritualist circles of Victorian England, but he always rejected the established religions and saw that the human race had only itself to rely on to improve its lot. He however always believed that human race really was capable of improvement, just if it takes matters in its own hands.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Owen by jaskaw @ 18.01.2010 - 12:58:52 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/18/robert-owen-on-the-interests-of-human-race-7779141/
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jose joseph [Visitor] http://www.atheistnews.blogs.fi 18.01.2010 @ 13:33 every human being should live for the good of other fellow beings.othewise what is the meaning in calling one a human being. make money for oneself,eat.defacate,sleep,procreate and die like a dog.it is better such a person doesn't come to this earth.love is the true religion. if there is love in your heart,you cannot hoard when your fellow beings are starving.all organized religions are doing harm to human race.the leaders enslave their felowmen their mental slaves and make them lick the leaders feet. they preach terrorism of hell and damnation.no goodness in their heart.they are the real terrorists.all brothers and sisters of this universe get away from the clutches of these crooks.be simple,love everybody,try to help the needy and enjoy the life.
Steven Weinberg on farce and tragedy of human life
"The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things which lifts human life a little above the level of farce and gives it some of the grace of tragedy." Steven Weinberg in "The First Three Minutes" (1993)
There is incredible beauty and poetry in nature and in our universe, but there is also a deep sense of mystery in the when one looks at the origin and character of our universe at a deeper level. With science as our guide we can marvel freely at the remaining mysteries of nature, as we know that do not have the whole answer yet on how our physical world was formed and or even what are all the laws and processes that have guided its development. Only religions can make preposterous claims of having all the final answers on the origins and the nature of our physical universe, but science can and will never make claims like that. Science is all about accepting the fact that our knowledge will always be limited by what we are, by where we are and what we can observe from the universe. Science bows its head humbly on the sight of all if new marvels of the universe it reveals bit by bit, as scientists do know that the answers they can give are just the best answers for the moment, and those coming after them will provide even better, deeper and more magnificent answers. Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg is well-known for his strong support for the scientific way of thinking and his strong opposition of force of irrationality. He was awarded the Nobel prize in Physics in 1979 for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Weinberg by jaskaw @ 19.01.2010 - 21:25:27
Jared Diamond on patriotic and religious fanatics
"Naturally, what makes patriotic and religious fanatics such dangerous opponents is not the deaths of the fanatics themselves, but their willingness to accept the deaths of a fraction of their number in order to annihilate or crush their infidel enemy. Fanaticism in war, of the type that drove recorded Christian and Islamic conquests, was probably unknown on Earth until chiefdoms and especially states emerged within the last 6,000 years." - Jared Diamond in "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies"
Jared Diamond is one of the real big current names in Big History, or in the scientific attempt to find and examine the often quite hidden real big trends in human evolution and human history. His books have opened at least my eyes into seeing many things that I would in some cases may have never seen without him. Jared Diamond has studied many wildly ifferentiating cultures and very found many themes that are common to them all, as all humans are basically very alike. The basic psychology and physiology of the human species has been formed during the millions of years of evolution of our ancestors. The rulebook however changed dramatically first with the invention of speech and then even more with the invention of writing, as one could develop complex local ideas that changed the landscape of humanity forever for the better and for the worse in some things. This is the big change to which Jared Diamond is referring to here. by jaskaw @ 20.01.2010 - 23:26:34 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/20/jared-diamond-on-patriotic-and-religious-fanatics-7843687/
Baron May of Oxford on danger of fundamentalism
"Punishment was much more effective if it came from some all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful deity that controls the world, rather than from an individual person. In such systems, there is unquestioning respect for authority. Faith trumps evidence. But if indeed this is broadly the explanation for how co-operative behaviour has evolved and been maintained in human societies, it could be very bad news. Because although such authoritarian systems seem to be good at preserving social coherence and an orderly society, they are, by the same token, not good at adapting to change. The rise of fundamentalism, not just in the Muslim world but in the United States, and within the Catholic church, could actually make global co-operation more difficult at a time when an unprecedented level of teamwork was needed." - Robert May, Baron May of Oxford
Religions were created to fulfill a clear need in ancient societies. They were needed to create a new kind of mental bond between the members of emerging state-like communities. These new communities began to emerge after the innovation of agriculture made it possible to support armed ruling classes who could live on the surplus produced by others. This same surplus was of course used to support also the new religious elite that allied itself with the armed ruling class. These new societies needed new things that would bond together people who would often even never meet, but were often united only by common rulers. The emerging new kind of national religion was a social glue that was needed to bind these new warrior states together after the stronger communities had started taking over weaker ones and a idea of a modern state was invented. This kind of bonding did serve these societies well, but the real problem is that they got too good in their job. Religions all too often became closed systems, that were good at creating intensive group cohesion and defining borders between different groups of people, but they are already a real a problem in sitautions where co-operation with strangers is needed. Now in a globalized world where everybody is depending on what other people does, this kind of tribalism is all too often a real liability and not a advantage at all anymore.
by jaskaw @ 21.01.2010 - 20:24:11 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/21/baron-may-of-oxford-on-danger-of-fundamentalism-7848701/
John Stuart Mill on discovering new truths
"There is always need of persons not only to discover new truths, and point out when what were once truths are true no longer, but also to commence new practices, and set the example of more enlightened conduct, and better taste and sense in human life." John Stuart Mill in "On Liberty" (1859)
John Stuart Mill was a follower of the Enlightenment and personally rejected all established religions as false, but admitted their usefulness for society in certain situations. He however saw that clinging to any kind of dogma would be always dangerous, as it would inevitable became a hinder for advancement and development in society. He saw that societies need to evolve, and he believed that the religions should evolve with the societies. By his time the old dogmatic forms of Christianity were already fast losing ground in the Western Europe and on the rise was a new kind of Christianity that had been immersed in the ideas of secular humanism. Among the very same Anglican church that had only a little earlier been a bastion of opposition to all change in the society, there emerged the new anti-slavery movement that in the end put the end to the slavery in the British Empire. This fine example shows clearly how even religions are forced into change, when societies change enough, given that they are not in the position to prevent the change in the first place.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill by jaskaw @ 22.01.2010 - 20:35:03 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/22/john-stuart-mill-on-discovering-new-truths-7854956/
Marcus Aurelius on death
"He who fears death either fears to lose all sensation or fears new sensations. In reality, you will either feel nothing at all, and therefore nothing evil, or else, if you can feel any sensations, you will be a new creature, and so will not have ceased to have life." Marcus Aurelius
The fear of death is one of the main selling points of Abrahamic religions, as giving at least a false hope of something after death gives comfort to many people. Too many are after all not able to deal with this inevitable and necessary part of life cycle of all living creatures. We now assume that human species is the only species that spends time pondering about its own death, even if in reality we do not know if other more advanced species do have ideas of their own about death. To be able to think about also of the end of one's life is of course the price we pay for the highly developed intellectual machinery that makes it possible for us to do a lot of things even other primates are unable to do. One of the most basic instincts that any living thing must have is avoiding things and situations that can be lethal to it. The instinct for survival has been perfected necessarily by evolution, as those with strongest aversion to death have survived better than others. This natural and necessarily extremely strong instinct for survival may however lead to a situation where even idea of the inevitable death becomes too difficult to handle. This situation is used to to maximum by the Abrahamic religions, who benefit greatly from heightening this fear of death, as the promise to solve the problem of death is one of their main selling points. Marcus Aurelius is so here attacking one of the pillars of Christianity when he reminds that in the end there is really nothing to be afraid in death.
Like a true agnostic he covers all bases with the last sentence. This does not however mean that he himself would have believed in this kind transformation of the soul.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius by jaskaw @ 23.01.2010 - 22:38:44 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/23/marcus-aurelius-on-death-7861315/
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Julianne G [Visitor] 15.03.2010 @ 15:35 This is a simple truth, really. However most people choose to believe in soothing lies over troubling and ambiguous truths. It is not this or that, but how we handle these truths, that defines our psychological independence from society and our integrity of character.. Julianne
Epicurus on need of natural science
"If we had never been troubled by celestial and atmospheric phenomena, nor by fears about death, nor by our ignorance of the limits of pains and desires, we should have had no need of natural science." - Epicurus (Principal doctrines, 11)
/> This Epicurean Principal Doctrine is not about morality or philosophy as many of the other 39 of the 40 Epicurean Principal Doctrines are, but it is more of an explanation for the very human thirst for knowledge and in the end also for the birth of modern science. Epicurus is simply saying that fear of unknown does motivate people to find things out, but on the other hand really understanding why things do really happen in the world gives a person also simply more peace of mind. Epicureans are also saying in this doctrine that if we accept the religious explanations for things around us, we would not need no more explaining and we would not need to have science in the first place.
http://beinghuman.blogs.fi/tags/epicurus/ by jaskaw @ 24.01.2010 - 22:28:56 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/24/epicurus-on-need-of-natural-science-7867068/
Robert Owen on spirit of universal charity
"I was forced, through seeing the error of their foundation, to abandon all belief in every religion which had been taught to man. But my religious feelings were immediately replaced by the spirit of universal charity not for a sect, or a party, or for a country or a colour but for the human race, and with a real and ardent desire to do good." - Robert Owen in his autobiography (1857)
Robert Owen was a certifiable good person. He did spend his whole life and even his personal fortune in trying to develop more humane ways to organize production of goods and create a more human model of society. He was a philanthropist of the first class, but he did good thing because he wanted himself to be a good person and make other peoples life easier, not because he would have thought that doing good things would somehow be rewarded to him in some kind of afterlife. One could even argue that the latter motive would even be a extremely selfish reason for doing good deeds. by jaskaw @ 25.01.2010 - 23:10:15 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/25/robert-owen-on-spirit-of-universal-charity-7873636/
Bertrand Russell on man as a credulous animal
"Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good ground for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones." - Bertrand Russell in "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish," in "Unpopular Essays" (1950)
One of the most important original functions of religions was to to give even an some kind of an explanation to things that simply could not be explained otherwise at that time. Early religions offered a way to explain why world and nature behaved the way they did behave when no other explanations were readily available. Of course religions also served as tools for upholding social rules, building social cohesion and what was most important for securing the power of ruling elites and the then current type of feudal ownership and government. Their role as explanation-giver was only one factor behind their success in taking over whole societies and later even continents. As humanity progressed there however emerged real scientific explanations in practice for all of the things that had been explained with the aid of the religions in the past. This process slowly ate away one of the crucial founding blocks of religions and religions had two different strategies open to them. They could either deny the role and importance of science or they could adapt to a new world built with the aid of science, when there finally existed real knowledge of things that had earlier been explained with explanations provided by religions. The western protestant Christian state churches of Europe did mostly opt for the latter course and they slowly but firmly developed into a new kind of social and cultural organizations that concentrated on giving solace and certainty for people living in a world full of uncertainty. Mainstream Islam and the many Christian fundamentalist revival movements chose the first path. This road did however lead them into crashing course with science. The main reason for choosing this difficult route was that they did not want to give up any of the power the religions used to have. The route chosen by western state churches did also mean ending up in the sidelines in the power-structures of the modern societies and all religious leaders could not simply swallow this bitter pill. by jaskaw @ 27.01.2010 - 22:53:13 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/27/bertrand-russell-on-man-as-a-credulous-animal-7887131/
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jpfib [Member] 28.01.2010 @ 18:06 every organised religion perpetrates one or other kind of terrorism.they are created for the leaders and their cronies.they terrorise feloowmen with hell and damnation. they proclaim they hold the keys of the kingdom.who are ready to lick their feet will be allowed to enter the heaven.they are the sole custodians of god.they hate each other and compete for positions among themselves. one religion preach hatred against the other.love is the true religion.love every other being, human or otherwise.if there is true love one cannot fill one's stomach when his fellowbeing is starving.here all religious leaders make money in the name of charity.they committed and committing all kinds of crime.then theyuse money and power to get away from law and punishment.in india two priests and a nn killed another nun for witnessing their sexual misdeeds and using money and power to get away from the clutches of law.this is the religion.get away from all theses wicked people.love is the true religion.if there is love you canot compel your fellowmen to accept your views and make them your slaves. love expects nothing back.
jpfib [Member] 28.01.2010 @ 18:06 every organised religion perpetrates one or other kind of terrorism.they are created for the leaders and their cronies.they terrorise feloowmen with hell and damnation. they proclaim they hold the keys of the kingdom.who are ready to lick their feet will be allowed to enter the heaven.they are the sole custodians of god.they hate each other and compete for positions among themselves. one religion preach hatred against the other.love is the true religion.love every other being, human or otherwise.if there is true love one cannot fill one's stomach when his fellowbeing is starving.here all religious leaders make money in the name of charity.they committed and committing all kinds of crime.then theyuse money and power to get away from law and punishment.in india two priests and a nn killed another nun for witnessing their sexual misdeeds and using money and power to get away from the clutches of law.this is the religion.get away from all theses wicked people.love is the true religion.if there is love you canot compel your fellowmen to accept your views and make them your slaves. love expects nothing back.
Mark Twain on traditions
"Often the less there is to justify a traditional custom the harder it is to get rid it." - Mark Twain in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876)
Author Mark Twain was a skeptic all his life, but he became openly agnostic and even atheistic in his later years, even if this fact was kept as a tightly kept secret by his family for a long time. His various writings criticizing religions were kept behind locks for decades before the family secret was finally spilled out. Mark Twain is in this quote referring to a extraordinary ability inherent in all societies to adopt traditions whose real meaning is not very clear to anyone. The force of tradition is however one of the strongest social forces and these traditions are upheld, even if nobody really knows what are the benefits they will give to the society. One of the main beneficiaries of this very human failing has of course always been religion, as once a religion has got the upper hand in any society, the force of tradition has made upholding its power an incredibly easier task than the original acquiring of the position of power was. by jaskaw @ 29.01.2010 - 00:19:50 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/28/mark-twain-on-traditions-7894321/
Stephen Weinberg on good and evil
"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil that takes religion." - Stephen Weinberg in "A Designer Universe?
This quote by Nobel laureate Stephen Weinberg is already a classic in freethinker and atheist circles and has been cited often by professor Richard Dawkins also. The quote is so popular because it contains an immense truth. There is always a large group of people ion any society that are good and and well-mannered under all circumstances and these people are very often drawn to religions as they seem to represent order and certainty in a world seemingly full of chaos in uncertainty. On the other hand in every society there are sociopaths, psychopaths and people who just don't fit in the society and who will very easily end up outside the socially acceptable mode of behavior notwithstanding what is the ruling religion in any given society. One could even however argue that the more strict the codes of conduct are in a society, the more people will end up hitting the walls of allowed behavior. The main point of Stephen Weinberg however is the religious dogma has in innumerable cases caused good, peace-loving and law-abiding citizens to attack, torment and kill their similarly good, peace-loving law-abiding neighbors just because they believe in wrong kind of religious dogma or worst of all at no dogma at all. The saddest part of course is that these good fathers and husbands have throughout the history been lauded as champions of faith and rewarded even by the society, when they kill and maim people just because they have the wrong kind of thoughts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Weinberg by jaskaw @ 29.01.2010 - 21:27:11 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/29/stephen-weinberg-on-good-and-evil-7899963/
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Adelaide Dupont [Visitor] http://duponthumanite.livejournal.com 30.01.2010 @ 05:08 For good people to do evil, it takes passion + ideology. Passion blinds us to 'wrong' thoughts and ideology excuses them. | Show subcomments jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 01.02.2010 @ 23:41 You are quite right Adelaide, in the name of passionately felt communist ideology there has been done even more harm in numerical terms than in the name of religions. PS. Gmail has for a while gotten these messages for comments in my blogs in the spam-folder and I did not know of your comments. That is the reason for the late reply, sorry.
John Stuart Mill on want of ideas
"God is a word to express, not our ideas, but the want of them." - John Stuart Mill
A great quote is one which can put in one sentence ideas that can take a whole book to explain. For me this classical quote by John Stuart Mill is one of those things that put a whole section of human endeavor under new kind of light. John Stuart Mill is highlighting the fact that a very important function of the religions has always been giving explanations to things that have had no real explanation. Religion is in fact very often been a substitute for a question mark, as a answer provided by religions has been better than no answer at all. Of course this function is still present, even if the mysteries in our physical environment do not need religious explanations. Science has finally provided real answers and removed the need for using the substitute provided by religions. There will however always remain some metaphysical questions that will never have a clear cut answer, like "Why are we here" and "What is the meaning of life". Science will never provide answers to questions like this, as they are basically ideological questions and answers to questions like this are provided based on values and not on bare facts alone, as there is no "truth" in things like this, but answers are really often chosen by their efficiency in giving comfort. Religions are seemingly good at giving answers to these deepest metaphysical question. However when these answers are put under a closer scrutiny it is all too often revealed, that they just seem to be real answers, but in fact they are just wishful thinking and smokescreens that hide a lack of any real answers. However the current religions are not only ones giving answers to metaphysical questions. The history of philosophy is a tale of the brightest minds of their day in search for meaningful answers to these questions. They have also found many good and even magnificent answers, but they are not presented as final and unswerving dogma as in religions. Modern secular humanism is basically based on these philosophical ideas and it provides a good set of answers to these question also. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism by jaskaw @ 30.01.2010 - 15:38:08 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/30/john-stuart-mill-on-want-of-ideas-7904002/
Bertrand Russell on exact truth
"Although this may seem a paradox, all exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation. When a man tells you that he knows the exact truth about anything, you are safe in inferring that he is an inexact man." - Bertrand Russell in "The Scientific Outlook" (1931)
This idea of Bertrand Russel may seem odd at first glance, as we have very often learned to see science as something very exact and rigid. A fact of life is that the current central findings of science are often in real life schools at least presented as some kind of absolute truths, even if this kind of thinking goes exactly the opposite of the true scientific method. True science does not have any final truths, as there just must always be the ability to take every single scientific fact and theory under new scrutiny and also modify and correct it, if it then proves to be wrong in some way. So also the current theory of gravity must be corrected, if we get new information on its nature, even if this theory has been quite unchanged for a very long time. Science gives good, great and even magnificent answers about the most important questions concerning human life and universe, but they are never final and unchanging answers. As Bertrand Russell says science is art of approximation based on available facts and as the facts change, must the answers change too. Of course a degree of rigidity is inbuilt in this system, as to change well-established scientific findings one needs really compelling new evidence and getting them accepted can be a tedious and long job. This inbuilt inertia however makes sure that scientific explanation of the world does not change in a whim of a single genius for example, but the international scientific community makes thorough checks on all new ideas before they are universally accepted. However, Bertrand Russell is here referring to those who claim to have found exact and final answers to the big questions concerning life and universe. They are however normally not scientists at all, but followers of different kinds of ideologies that claim to know the 'final truth', which is of course different in every single ideology. by jaskaw @ 31.01.2010 - 22:10:36 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/01/31/bertrand-russell-on-exact-truth-7912715/
George Orwell on war-propaganda
"All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting." - George Orwell
George Orwell was a strange kind of pacifist. He was a man who fought as a volunteer in a bitter civil war that was really none of his business. He was seriously wounded while fighting in the trenches for a cause that in the end was not his at all. George Orwell or Eric Blair was however an ardent believer in democratic socialism and his idealism got him into the Spanish civil war fighting for the Republican government that was just only turning into a totalitarian communist regime when he was there. He fought among the Spanish anarchist and shared with them the violent attacks of the communists, when they finally turned against their earlier allies. His experience in Spain made George Orwell lose forever all his illusions on totalitarian communist systems, but he did never lose his faith in democratic, western form of social democracy. He was even stranger kind of pacifist, as he always supported wholeheartedly the fight against the Nazi Germany. He did however never lose the will and ability to question the basic question of why aggression and wars are openly promoted and accepted in human societies. It is very difficult for many to understand that one can support fighting the actual forces of evil, but at the same time question if fighting wars really is inevitable part of humanity. I however think that one can really ask if mankind could some day evolve to a stage where state-sponsored violence becomes a disgrace and those promoting it would be treated as common criminals in all societies, as are those who promote slavery, that was the accepted social norm for tens of thousands of years. To even think on these lines is of course a laughable sign of naive idealism on this day and hour, when states are main perpetrators of violence all over the world. Even Jesus of the Christians did not however question the morality of the system of slavery and similarly state-sponsored violence has got into a position where nobody even questions it. This is of course result of centuries and and centuries of continuous and heavy bombardment of indoctrination for accepting the states right to apply violence every time the leaders of state see a political need for it. Even questioning this right means standing outside the boundaries of a socially accepted behavior at the moment and the universal acceptance of state-sponsored violence will continue as long as a large enough group of people will see that this needs to end.
However also slavery did finally come to an end when groups of dedicated people took to their hearts and minds the need to end it. Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead by jaskaw @ 01.02.2010 - 23:26:42 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/01/george-orwell-on-war-propaganda-7920141/
Epicurus on myths and pleasure
"It is impossible for someone to dispel his fears about the most important matters if he doesn't know the nature of the universe but still gives some credence to myths. So without the study of nature there is no enjoyment of pure pleasure." - Epicurus
The 12th Epicurean Principal Doctrine really does not need explaining, as it is clear as bell. Epicureans thought that humans do really need first hand knowledge of their physical world, nature and the universe. They thought that only when we truly understand their true character, we can also really enjoy them fully. Epicureanism did later develop into a religion-like movement in the open marketplace of ideas that Roman Empire was for hundreds of years. That is before the unfortunate rise to power of the Christianity, which did eventually mercilessly destroy all other religions that got in its way. Among them was of course also Epicureanism, which was seen as a dangerous foe by the early Christians. Epicureanism was based on reason, when Christianity was based on emotion. More rationally minded people did very often prefer it to the strange mysticism of East that Christianity represented. Unlike most religions Epicureanism did however not have any explanation of its own for nature of the physical universe, as they relied wholly on science to provide it. The really grand thing is that this explanation is then allowed to develop and change with the development of science. This puts Epicureanism in league of its own among most religion-like movements. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicurus by jaskaw @ 02.02.2010 - 23:54:18 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/02/epicurus-on-myths-and-pleasure-7928564/
Kurt Vonnegut on noticing happiness
"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." - Kurt Vonnegut in "Knowing What's Nice", an essay from "In These Times" (2003)
Kurt Vonnegut was surely no philosopher, but he was a humanist with a big heart and a keen sense on how humans behave and misbehave. In my mind he is here grasping on one of the basic problems of modern human endeavor; when and how to notice and decide that things are good. We are programmed by the society to strive for better, bigger and more comfortable things, as this constant craving for improvement basically keeps our society going. In fact this craving for betterment has been one of the main sources of all development in all human societies, even if it has grown tremendously in importance during the last hundred years especially in industrialized western societies. The inevitable negative side of this craving for improvement is of course the sense of deprivation and even loss if our conditions stays unchanged, as for most of the people it will stay for most of the time. Kurt Vonnegut is reminding us that a passing moment on a ordinary sunny Sunday in the swing chair with children playing in the background, but nothing really happening could just be one of the best moments of our life. Really noticing these fleeting moments of happiness could just make our life more bearable in the world full of anxiety over status and achievement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Vonnegut http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Kurt-Vonnegut-Jr/156947517295?ref=ts by jaskaw @ 03.02.2010 - 22:25:01 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/03/kurt-vonnegut-on-noticing-happiness-7935956/
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Kate [Visitor] http://facebook.com/lastvoicemusic 03.02.2010 @ 22:37 All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. www.lastvoices.com Kate [Visitor] http://facebook.com/lastvoicemusic 03.02.2010 @ 22:47 All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. www.lastvoices.com
John Stuart Mill on exercising power over individuals
"That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant." - John Stuart Mill
This thought by John Stuart Mill is surely one of the most quoted things he ever wrote, but at the same time one of the most disputed of his ideas at the moment. Most of the ideas that John Stuart Mill was propagating in his time at the early 19th century have been quite universally accepted in western democratic societies, as John Stuart Mill was a champion of the liberty of the individual. The freedom on the individual is still in the core of our values in western democracies, but there are more and more limitations to it. The current trend is that the health of an individual is not considered a person's private matter anymore, but it more and more seen as a issue where society can take even strong action to protect and save a person from his or her lifestyle that is seen to carry any kinds of health hazards with it. This is of course based on a view according to which the society knows better than the individual what is best for him or and most of all that society can decide what the goals in life must be. Maximizing the longevity of all members of a society has been raised as the main goal in life in many western societies and all sections of society have slowly been drawn to serve this ultimate purpose. Of course society always restricts the rights of the individual, but the issue is where is the final line drawn. This quote by John Stuart Mill is a red cloth to many people who have dedicated their lives into making other people to live like they do. The real issue just now is if society can intervene in person's life also when no immediate harm is done and other people are not affected in any way, just to make sure a person lives a bit longer in later stage in his or her life? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill by jaskaw @ 04.02.2010 - 23:12:45 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/04/that-the-only-purpose-for-which-power-can-be-rightfully-7942823/
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clay barham [Visitor] 05.02.2010 @ 22:36 Mill was OK for an elite, but looked down upon the less useful. America began in 1620 based on individual freedom and the rule of law for all people, which at that time the law was the Geneva Bible. America grew around individual interests, the family and even the closest community, as described by John C Calhoun cited in The Changing Face of Democrats on Amazon and claysamerica.com. We were never based, as Obama said, on community interests being more important than are individual interests, which reflects a Rousseau-Marx ideal which has never worked, which also is closer to Mill than would be Jefferson and Madison. I'd suggest staying away from Old World idealists and concentrate on our own who actually experienced what America was like. claysamerica.com
Marcus Aurelius on crime
"Poverty is the mother of crime." - Marcus Aurelius
It is quite amazing how this very basic thing is so very easily forgotten, when the moral failure of the individual is all too often seen as the only possible cause for crime. It can however statistically shown without any doubt that there is always less crime in affluent societies that do share their wealth evenly than in less affluent societies and in those in which accumulated wealth is not shared among the whole population through taxation and social security based on it. The sociopaths and psychopaths are of course present in every society and a crime-free society is simply impossible. But poverty forced on individuals by economic and social circumstances is one of the main reasons why also mentally stable people resort to crime. Of course there are also self-inflicted addictions that do make people unable to make a honest living, but in society with social security in place even they are less often drawn into life in crime. In socially more just societies people simply have less incentive to turn to crime when they can support themselves with other means. Crime is in the end for most normal people the last resort when all other means of support fail. In the true spirit of Marcus Aurelius one could even say that sharing the accumulated wealth in a society more evenly is the best method of crime prevention there is. There will undoubtedly be crime as long as humanity exists, but evidence shows that the we can affect level and most of all level of violence carried with it by creating societies which is seen as just by at least most of its members. One could also say that a crime-free society is impossible as long as there is those who have more wealth than others and there are those who want wealth, but do not know how to obtain it with accepted means. Sharing all wealth in a society evenly is in practice quite impossible and making all people able to obtain it is likewise impossible. The only thing we can really do is try to keep it to the minimum and this is much easier in a just than in an
unjust society. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius by jaskaw @ 05.02.2010 - 21:23:33 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/05/marcus-aurelius-on-crime-7949161/
Robert G. Ingersoll on tyrant in heaven
"We are satisfied that there can be but little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven." Robert Green Ingersoll in "The Gods" (1872)
Robert G. Ingersoll's remark is still quite current today, even if during the last 150 years there has risen a new kind of Christianity, which has been changed so much by the absorption of the secular humanistic ideas that it is a quite new kind of religion. The current mainstream Protestant Christianity exemplified in the Protestant European state churches has abandoned the ethos of totalitarian feudal societies that was for nearly two thousand years at the very core of Christianity. Christianity was originally born in a totalitarian feudal society and was during its centuries in power fine-engineered into a tool for controlling population in totalitarian feudal societies. Robert G. Ingersoll is referring to the fact that the basic structure of Christianity with an omnipotent totalitarian ruler that must be obeyed without questioning him in any way is of course copied from the power structure of totalitarian feudal societies. However, a similar huge development as the one seen in the Protestant Christianity has not taken place in the old-fashioned Catholic or Orthodox versions of the Christian faith and most of all it is almost totally lacking in Islam. Also, most of the radically fundamentalist versions of Christianity (like Pentecostalism) are in the same category as Islam in this sense. The underlying governing principles in western societies began to rely on the basic ideas of secular humanism and egalitarianism so heavily that even the Protestant Christianity was forced to adopt them to stay in touch with the changing society in the late 19th century and early part of the 20th century. This process of change in the Protestant Christianity was not instantaneous, but a long process, where the old core dogmas were quietly dropped. Many old dogmas were relegated to sidelines, when they did not fit in with the tremendous rise of scientific knowledge and the new rise of rational argumentation as a basis for real decision-making in society. Of course, also the Roman Catholic church was changing, but there the process has been left halfway, because the safeguarding of the church power structure has been seen as its most import goal. This state of affairs has led to a situation where the Catholic Church is quite out of touch with the real needs of modern western societies. More and more people are also awaking to this fact, as societies change, but the adherence to old-fashioned dogma is keeping the Catholic Church at a status of no development. Similar fate has befallen Islam. In fact, the difference between the core values of western democracies and even the mainstream Islamic
thinking has been growing during the last decades, as western societies have become more and more tolerant and rationality-based, but Islam has seen no development at all in this core issue. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_G._Ingersoll by jaskaw @ 07.02.2010 - 01:01:47 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/06/robert-g-ingeroll-on-tyrant-in-heaven-7959841/
Bertrand Russell on dogma and natural kindness
"Dogma demands authority, rather than intelligent thought, as the source of opinion; it requires persecution of heretics and hostility to unbelievers; it asks of its disciples that they should inhibit natural kindness in favor of systematic hatred." - Bertrand Russell
One of the biggest contradictions in all of the modern Abrahamic (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) religions is that they profess to bring the message of kindness and goodness into the world, but in reality have are all too often been a major cause of aggression, hatred and strife themselves. The reason for this apparent disparity is of course the simple fact that kindness and goodness are in these religions reserved for those who adhere to the exactly same version of religion. All other people are all too often seen as dangerous, strange and even lacking in any kind human value. In practice, the charity these religions seem to propagate can be extended to all people only if all other people would accept the rule of "the only true religion". So in principle these religions are bringing the message of goodness and non-violence to the world, but these good attributes are in reality reserved for those who agree to accept the overlordship and the whole dogma of the religion which is in principle propagating good and wholesome values. This double standard leads to a situation where followers of a religion can sincerely think that this religion is really bringing the message of goodness and kindness to the world, even as followers of that religion are at the same moment acting extremely cruelly and unmercifully towards other people. They are simply all too often quite unable to see how their religion works outside the circle of true believers. This can even lead to a situation where non-violence is a central dogma in religion, but when propagating the religion overrides everything else, the professed dogma of non-violence can be propagated with extreme cruelty and violence, as the history of both Christianity and Islam all too amply testifies. Western humanistic thinking carries with it a core thought of universal humanity that must be extended to every human being. In the Abrahamic religions this human value has been traditionally reserved for those who accept that religion without questioning it. Recently especially the many modern western Protestant versions of Christianity have accepted the basic humanistic concept of universal human value and dignity, but the more old-fashioned versions of Christianity and in Islam this idea is still missing. When one scratches the surface of the most modern versions of Christianity, the same ideas of religiously motivated inclusion and exclusion are present even there. Especially the missionary work is often cited as selfless good work, although if it principally aims to expand the circle of inclusion by recruiting new people to accept the religious dogma. It could be even claimed that most of the "selfless" good works done by all religious organizations aim to principally propagate the religious dogma. The people being helped are drawn into the circle of "us" from the
circle of "them". The work done by religious organizations could be classed as truly selfless only in those cases where the religious message is not brought up at the connection of the work. However, there just are no religious organizations that would not involve propagating their dogma in their works of charity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_russell by jaskaw @ 07.02.2010 - 21:55:03 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/07/bertrand-russell-on-dogma-and-natural-kindness-7964897/
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Pat [Visitor] 09.02.2010 @ 00:15 Well said.....& right to the point! Love this site, & thanks so much for some great reading!!! shahid siddiqui [Visitor] 22.03.2010 @ 06:37 Man has two aspects of his psyche. The Virtuous or sympathetic and the devilish or the selfish. All the religions of the world stress on love, peace and harmony, unfortunately, the selfish aspect of Man's psyche negate these good aspects of religion and contorts the true face of faith and religion by projecting extremism and bigotry. All the great philosophers of the world like Russell advocated tolerance, moderation and sympathy, but its a pity the material oriented world interferres and nullify all these cherished ideals and make this world an inferno. SHAHID SIDDIQUI GOVT. MURRAY COLLEGE, SIALKOT. PAKISTAN.
Marcus Aurelius on giving and wealth
"The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away." - Marcus Aurelius
The idea behind this quote is, of course, quite simple. You can lose always lose your material wealth quite instantly because of an accident of nature or by manipulations of mischievous men. Then you have but the memory of it left, but if you have done nothing worthwhile with that wealth, there is not much to remember. I would, however, go a degree deeper on the basis of this famous quote, for personally I do not see it only as a call for individual philanthropy, but also as a call for sharing. I do not see that problems of unequal distribution of wealth embedded in modern economic systems could be corrected by personal acts of generosity, but only by a more systematic distribution of accumulated wealth. I live in Scandinavia, where we have a long practice of creating equality through taxation and supporting also the weakest members of the society at their lowest points in life. A fact of life is that after a certain point in rise of income, the added income is not used for real needs, but it is accumulated into objects of status or just safekeeping. I think that the well-to-do people in Scandinavia have in fact lost nothing they would really need when they accepted the higher level of taxation, but they have gained tremendously in security and safety of the society they live in. The rich people in Mexico, for example, give a tremendously smaller part of their income to the state. However, they pay the price for that by living in a society where they are under constant threat of highly violent crime and social unrest, which are on the other hand quite rare in Scandinavia. Of course, there are other very important factors too, but in general one could say that sharing the wealth creates more stable and safer societies. By giving away more of their wealth, the rich people in Scandinavia are not just assuring that they can really enjoy the fruits of their investments in peace in their own lifetimes, but that their children will be able to, as well.
In the true spirit of Marcus Aurelius, I would say that by giving to others, they are gaining something that is retained also after their own physical demise. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius by jaskaw @ 08.02.2010 - 22:34:58 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/08/marcus-aurelius-on-giving-and-wealth-7971298/
Sinclair Lewis on woes because of the devil
"The theory that India and Africa have woes because they are not Christianized, but that Christianized Bangor and Des Moines have woes because the devil, a being obviously more potent than omnipotent God, sneaks around counteracting the work of Baptist preachers." Sinclair Lewis in novel "Elmer Gantry" (1927)
I have nothing in particular against Christianity. I even value its more enlightened versions over most of the other current religions. Especially many of the more modern Protestant versions of Christianity have been changing with the times and society around them to a much greater extent than for example the Catholic Church or Islam. I have however an issue with intellectual honesty and I see especially presenting missionary work as selfless good work as a display of intellectual dishonesty on a large scale. In the end, the chief motivation driving these people just might be spreading the dogma of their adopted religion. I do fear that the good works are just a by-product of this higher end and also a mask behind which these organizations can work undisturbed in their fight for rooting out local traditions and the whole local age-old way of life. The worst part is that they all too often spread the western values, but do not provide any kind of means to live by them, as there is nothing done to boost the economy, even if new medicines and schooling are provided. Of course individuals taking part in missionary work are often motivated by quite pure and selfless motives. However the denial of the value of local customs and way of live, the wholesale importing of foreign values and customs from a quite different society done by these eager, often ignorant and naive people is not always a "good deed" as so many seem to assume. The most fundamental problem with the missionary work is that Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant missionary effort is also a major cause for the population explosion that is threatening developing nations at the moment. Spreading these religions makes population control nearly impossible in the main areas of their influence. In fact, they are not helping at all the societies they claim to help when they spread their dogma of rejecting all means of population control, when the population explosion is currently badly damaging these nations by causing population to spiral out of control and when the economy does not provide the means to support the growing population. The situation is made only worse by the advances in health care as they do guarantee that more and more people are going to live to reproduce more, but the means to limit this growth are not available thanks to the missionaries.
In the end the missionaries and their dogmas on reproduction can be held as in part responsible for the hunger catastrophes and deaths that await many of the developing countries in the future if the current trend in population growth is not stopped. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_Lewis by jaskaw @ 09.02.2010 - 23:21:48 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/09/sinclair-lewis-on-woes-because-the-devil-7978338/
Thomas Paine on national institutions of churches
"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." Thomas Paine in "The Age of Reason" (1793)
Many modern religions have changed immensely from the times of Thomas Paine, as the societies around them have changed also. In his time common open and unashamed coalition of the ruler and local religion has in our time largely been either broken or hidden from direct view. In Thomas Paine's time the state religions were extremely important parts of the machinery that did keep the totalitarian feudal societies in a state no change and the absolute rulers of that day in power. Religions were extremely important in keeping up the feudal rule, as they effectively denied even the possibility of ever questioning the existing social order, as it was divinely ordained. Now, in countries where there are no feudal rulers any more, also religions do not have similar functions any more, even if they still are markedly conservative and change-resisting forces everywhere. In countries like Saudi-Arabia religion however still retains its role as the central support arm of the feudal rulers and the words of Thomas Paine do still apply. As this example shows it is wrong to speaks of religions as one big unchanging lump, as all major religions have changed and evolved tremendously through ages. For example Islam was from its birth an aggressively expansionist and violent religion in a quite different way than the early Christianity was. Christianity made converts for the first couple of hundred years by persuasion alone. However, anybody reading Koran knows that Islam was spread by sword from the very beginning and it has always been the religion of the rulers and ruling class. Muhammad was a absolute feudal ruler among the original little flock of believers and he and his followers subdued with utmost violence neighboring tribes and later even cities like Mecca. Christianity was on the other hand conceived as a religion of the meek and downtrodden and not as a tool of government at all. However, after its adherents suddenly and unexpectedly gained absolute power in Rome, it too was very soon changed and developed into a powerful tool of government, which did not shy from use of utmost violence to defend itself and its sponsors position of power. The nature of Christianity as organized religion changed immensely and irreversibly. The original humble and
caring message was however also retained as a fig leaf that did hide from view the immense new power structure of the new Catholic Church. This former religion of peace and loving care was transformed in a few centuries to a originator of persecution and violence on the level mankind had not witnessed before. In the meantime Islam was leaving its expansive phase and the acts of violence committed to foster that ideology were soon much more rarer than those done in the name of expansionist Christianity of that time. Only in past few decades Islamist extremists have again drawn into light the violent and bloody legacy of the early Muslims. One must remember that these early Islamists did conquer a large portion of the Earth with violent and aggressive wars of conquest. Both of these religions act even today in two quite different levels. There is the level of an individual believer, who can still choose to believe in the original message of kindness and love. Then there is the higher level of organized religion, where quite different and morality does apply and where the use of even extreme violence to defend the original message of love and kindness is a allowed and a quite moral thing to do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_paine by jaskaw @ 10.02.2010 - 22:21:43 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/10/thomas-paine-on-national-institutions-of-churches-7984259/
Epicurus on events in the boundless universe
"There is no advantage to obtaining protection from other men so long as we are alarmed by events above or below the earth or in general by whatever happens in the boundless universe." - Epicurus
This is the 13th of the 40 Epicurean Principal Doctrines that form the basis of the Epicurean philosophy. I think it states that acquiring a good social standing and a secure position in a society are not enough to make a person feel secure, if person allows his or her mind to be bothered too much by things that he or she cannot change or affect in any way. Above all Epicurus clearly stares the mental harmony of a person can be adversely affected if he or she allows the unverified superstitious or religious explanations of the world. Most of all I see this doctrine as a call to concentrate on the real world at hand and to avoid the unsatisfactory metaphysical explanations of the universe offered by the religions. Epicurus did live over 2300 years ago in the first society that we know of where rational thought and empirical knowledge and evidence were widely accepted as a basis of building a world view. However, the religious ideas did have a very strong position in also the ancient Greek societies, even if Epicurus himself did already build his own view of the world on rational thought and empirical evidence.
by jaskaw @ 12.02.2010 - 00:37:10 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/11/epicurus-on-events-in-the-boundless-universe-7991631/
Mark Twain on being dead
"I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit." - Mark Twain
One of the oddest and surprisingly also most resilient ideas mankind has harbored is that human life would not have an clear ending in the end of physical life, even if it has a very clearly defined beginning at the moment of conception. This odd situation has been explained by the fact that when we die physically, we continue to live on in the minds of those who have known us. This presence in mind can very easily grow into a feeling of person being really still there or even present in some level. The foregone generations are either worshipped or feared in most of the older and animistic forms of religiosity, but we know for sure that the Egyptians had developed ideas of some kind of non-physical part of a person remaining after death already over 5 000 years ago. These ideas were transmitted into the Judaic traditions, which contains a quite surprising amount of ideas of Egyptian origin. Jews did develop these ideas further, even if the immortal soul was not such a central tenet at all in that older faith, as it was in the Christianity that was born out of it. The early developers of Christianity however did turn these beliefs into one of its main marketing strategies, as they extremely boldly promised eternal life in heaven for those (but for only those, of course!) who accepted fully their newly-fangled religion. This new religion was a collection of most of the then current religions mixed with the some of the most popular philosophical ideas of that time, but this bold promise of personal immortality was one of the major reason for its success. Mark Twain is here pointing out to a simple fact that Christianity has never tried to answer; if we have a eternal soul, where is it before we are born? Modern biology of course has a ready answer for that. Our genes will go on as long as our lineage continues, which makes our genes quite immortal in practice.
Biology explains how the mixture of genetic information stored in genes of mother and father creates a brand new person in every conception, and how every time this mixture creates a new kind of person, as genes mix differently in every conception. A new child has the features of its predecessors, but can also create new and unique ones because a similar mixture has never been in existence before. This process produces the real, biological immortality. We see ourselves in our children and our grand-children and their children as long as humanity lingers on. The memory of a person can of course last for millennium also, if he for example happens to create important works of art, or is an important political or military figure. However all of us can see our life work leaving it's smaller or bigger mark in the grand and immortal flow of the life on earth. by jaskaw @ 12.02.2010 - 22:49:27 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/12/mark-twain-on-being-dead-7997223/
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Durathror [Visitor] 16.02.2010 @ 18:06 What is rationality? It is all about thinking in the box, a box so small and so narrow it only expands with science. Science is like the primate that has discovered that fire may be transported. He is so proud of his discovery that he forgets where the fire came from but thinks he created it himself. Knowledge breeds yet further ignorance and arrogance. Arrogance denies truth and harvests more boxes to think in. | Show subcomments jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 16.02.2010 @ 20:08 Dear Durathror, what is your choice for believing in reality, as science in fact is just a explanation of our reality? It has been said that reality is that which does not go away when you stop believing in it. Are you thinking about accepting a explanation of the world offered by some religion over the scientific one? You should remember that religious explanations are in theory always fixed and unmovable, when the scientific answer develops and moves constantly towards a better understanding of our species and our universe. Of course the religions also experience considerable evolution over time, even if they always hate to admit it, as they always profess to offer the original and pure truth. The basic thing is that the scientific explanation will never be final and one cannot say where it will end, but a religion always forms a rigid box which has very firm sides, top and bottom. Occasionally the bottom however falls away and the religion develops into a new one with brand new final truths and final explanations of our universe. Durathror [Visitor] 17.02.2010 @ 12:02 Our reality? Yours may be somewhat different to mine I suspect. For me science is another sense that God has given us. Nothing more than this. The end game will be played out when you die and the truth discovered in all its reality once and for all, or not, as you suspect is the case. You are simply attempting to define religion in scientific terms, which naturally makes it rather limited or 'within the box' To be frank there is little point in discussing this further (but its fun to do so). I do not think Christianity has evolved in its essential message, at all. Its rites may change, the commandments have not. The Anglican church struggles with aspects of political correctness and the ordination of women and practising homosexuals for example but the essentially the same. Islam has not changed, buddhism has not changed. (Please correct me if I am wrong). I would never describe Christianity as box like or limited in its view of life or science. Quite the contrary, it was once in fear of science (for obvious reasons) but it now lapse up new discoveries with great excitement albeit with a caution that not all science is good science! To describe Human yearning for the spirit (as well as the here and now) as narrow minded, I suggest is simply wrong. I imagine that what confuses the earth bound here, is the limitations set by religious laws, ie the fear of offending a God. If one cannot do what one pleases, if one is not ones own God so to speak, then this is considered being bound by chains. Freedom is what it comes down to perhaps, if there were true freedom it would have a price. I believe that we chose that freedom, somehow, somewhere and our life of suffering on the earth is the price we paid. Well you can keep it my friend, i'm off to find another kind of freedom, one founded in God. | Show subcomments
jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 17.02.2010 @ 12:45 Dear Durathor, your reality is just the same as mine, but you seem to prefer see it through a distorting lens of a religious ideology. There is nothing much I can do about that, but to wish you all the best on the path you have chosen for yourself. It does not bother me at all that some people believe in different things than I (even if these beliefs are quite funny and bizarre at times), but I reserve for myself the right to look at also these beliefs also critically and let voluntary readers to read these ponderings if they want to. Have you a problem with that? It's however rather funny how you don't admit the evolution of your pet religion, but in the next chapter tell how it has changed in very fundamental ways because the society around it has changed. Durathror [Visitor] 18.02.2010 @ 21:38 What fundamental changes, do please explain? The Catholic church has not changed at all, it has refined various things that is all. If I have missed something fundamental please advise? I do not find your beliefs peculiar, i find your views narrow and can see no possible reason why people should be quite so vehement in their unbelief. It is not logical. How can you be so dogmatic when there are great scientists and theologians all around you, who feel they have no choice but to reach the conclusion that there is intelligent design, a God? Perhaps you are suffering depression and do not know it? I certainly do not have a problem with you however, just find it amusing. | Show subcomments jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 18.02.2010 @ 23:16 Do you really think that the Church of 5th or 10th century is the same as the current Catholic Church? How much have you really studied real history that has not been written by zealots of your peculiar faith? Mostly they have of course dropped the most coarse things, as burning witches and heretics, but did you know that funny idea of The Immaculate Conception was solemnly defined as a dogma by Pope Pius IX in his constitution Ineffabilis Deus as late as on 8 December 1854. So this thing has been a required belief for Catholics for only under 150 years. Did you know that papal infallibility was defined dogmatically in the First Vatican Council of 1870 as a result of unification of Italy that robbed the Pope of his earthly kingdom. I do marvel at you having the nerve to accuse of narrow-mindedness of people who do generally look very openly same way on all human ideologies, as human inventions that need to be studied and analyzed as interesting and important social phenomena, when I do have strong reasons to believe that you have chosen one very narrow-minded and extremely closed religious ideology that you adhere to. As for your other question, this is a small sample of philosophers, authors and scientists who have refused the theistic explanations wholly or to a great degree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nontheists_%28philosophy%29 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nontheists_%28authors%29 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nontheists_%28science_and_technology%29 Durathror [Visitor] 19.02.2010 @ 23:02
These are deep theological questions that the church has had to tackle but so what? They are not fundamental problems. Do scientists not also re evaluate and change their conclusions in many areas? Frankly so bloody what!? Wikipedia? Come on, you can do better than that, surely! I was waiting for the old chestnuts and you did not fail to please, burnings etc etc. Yes, indeed nothing is perfect on earth, especially people. Oh, apart for Atheists of course, they are innocents, you may throw the first stone my dear chap!
jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 21.02.2010 @ 00:23 Dear Durathon, I must say that your babbling does not really deserve an answer as there is nothing of any substance to answer, but one thing bothers me immensely. It is people who belittle Wikipedia, which is one of the greatest inventions of our time. It slowly collects the essence of human knowledge for everybody to see and study. The most fantastic thing about it is that does it not because somebody wants to earn money by selling books to others, but because there are people who love knowledge so much that they are willing to work for free to provide the immense gift of human knowledge to others. That is something that I say is true work of charity. This work is done because of a true love of all humanity, not because these people want to sell a certain kind of ideology to others. In a recent survey Wikipedia has less errors than Encyclopedia Britannica and do you know what; these errors are constantly corrected in real time, as in EB the same errors can linger on for decades on the shelves of a library. Many articles in Wikipedia are written by the best experts in their field and most important of all, the best experts in all fields are more and more turning into it in search of knowledge and the mistakes in it are corrected with more and more expertise, as the Wikipedia grows and matures. However, I do happen to know that there are people who in fact hate knowledge, as selling baseless beliefs is always harder to people who have real knowledge of the origins and development of human species, of the workings of our little blue planet and of the true nature of our vast and endless universe. In may may astonish people in more advanced European countries at least, but there really are people why think that the stories in the beginning of older part of the holy book of Judaism and Christianity are truer than the existing and firmly established scientific explanations. These people do very easily hate every source of scientific knowledge and these people quite universally also hate Wikipedia. Durathror [Visitor] 21.02.2010 @ 16:55 Knowledge without God is meaningless. It is the desire for lists of carefully chosen facts (of human failings or gaps in historical certainty) that Atheists love to throw at people with faith, it is the substance of the physical plain, the silt in the crystal clear waters of wisdom. Wiki is frequently updated by frauds and psuedo experts, not very trustworthy. There are those who consider science to be the new religion, they also have come no closer to disproving God, for all their knowledge. Do you really think that the theory of evolution somehow discredits the bible? The creation story is a story written for simple folk, its order is accurate, its detail is lacking but not important or indeed relevant. So Darwin seems to have the details, so what? Knowledge on its own is dangerous, it can deceive us into thinking it provides the truth. Science has discovered much but opened up even more questions, it is proving itself utterly inadequate to final answers, the more it gazes into its crystal testicals, why are you so sure that you know the mind of God, or have solved the end game riddle? Seven days to God is the same as seven days to man? Does it really matter? Is this part of the question of Humanity, the symbolism or apparent discrepencies picked up by Pedants? The bible is not something that has been created in a few days by a bunch of nutters, it is a voice of humanity over the great ages supported by historial facts. It is utterly authentic, it is war, tragedy, death, revelation and a route to salvation and yes I
believe at times and throughout - the voice of God through Man. Man and God relationship is there for all to see, not a perfect relationship but just like a parent/child struggle. The growing disrespect for God in our age, is like a spoilt teenager, like the prodigal son. The Bible is a series of witness statements distorted in time no doubt but carrying essential material that points to the coming of Christ (another historical fact). It is something that serious scholars would not dream of dismissing. It has a beginning, a middle and the most dramatic end imaginable. Why have scientists not been able to prove Christ did not actually rise again? The silence is deafening! Your knowlege of the beginnings are simply compartments with lists and dates, you have no more knowledge of why the big bang and what it is expanding into, what CAUSED it, then man did in the Old Testament - of how man developed awareness and came out of the trees or indeed why life developed in this way... If you want to be pedantic however, there are still good theories why Darwins theory of evolution may not be accurate afterall.
jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 21.02.2010 @ 22:13 Dear Durathon, I can just say that we have nothing to talk about here any more. If you think this way, you are in so deep in the darkness of the pride of not knowing, but just believing what you are told by founders of your faith, that I cannot think how can I can never reach out for you there. I fear that I can never really even understand how a thinking person can end up in a such a state. You are simply seemingly not living in the same reality or even on the same planet as I am. The private little universe of your pet faith has rules of its own that need only faith to work and no evidence can ever shake them. Carvaka [Visitor] 21.02.2010 @ 23:35 if we have a eternal soul, where is it before we are born? Moreover, if this eternal soul is incorporeal, by what mechanism does it imbue a corporeal being at conception? And I think that begs the question, what the heck is it made of if it incorporeal? If it's made of something doesn't that mean it is corporeal? @Durathror: Jaskaw being pedantic? Hardly. I wonder why Jaskaw didn't sink his teeth into some of the obvious logical fallacies committed by Durathon. Such as this gem that shifts the burden of proof: "Why have scientists not been able to prove Christ did not actually rise again? The silence is deafening!"
Why has nobody been able to prove the existence of the one and only celestial tea pot? Oh, how the silence is deafening! Durathror [Visitor] 27.02.2010 @ 21:25 Poor people. No, once again children, we are not talking tea pots here ok? but GOD/CHRIST/witness statements/history; the origins of the Universe, from absolutely NOTHING...; the inability of science to provide anything other than more questions; (just one of the many rational arguments, I am sure you have carefully avoided thinking about them too much - that scholars seriously consider, when thinking about intelligent design (true scholars and not the Jackasses of this world - sorry Jaskaw I mean).
Thanks Carvaka for the input, I deliberately search the sites that attract Atheists, it amuses me, they tend to be so very full of Atheists - always a challenge (cough cough). If we have an eternal soul where is it etc... Good question, hey you are catching on... Eternal soul, to me suggests it will last for eternity once God has brought it into being. The rational (for Jackasses sake) for a soul, you like ancient Greek philosophers Jackass, try this one for size (sorry but Tatian was converted - he chose to convert by the way, believe it or not he made up his own mind!): http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0608.htm Have a look at this link, its also very good and you might learn something. http://y-jesus.com/jesusdoc_1.php
jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 28.02.2010 @ 19:14 Dear Durathon, the thing that bothers me most in religions is the fact that do profess to supply final answers to questions like how our universe was born, as we really have no way of knowing it as things yet stand. I well understand that credulous people are drawn to these authoritative sounding explanations, as they can put their mind at ease and stop thinking about thing that are too difficult to handle for them. This promise of a final answer is just too good thing for many and they are careful not to think how these religions have really got their answers. They do not want to think and accept the inevitable fact that ordinary men have written these holy books of all religions, as they seem to provide answers to the BIG questions that bother them too much. However sadly they are just illusions created by ancient men on the other hand just to satisfy their thirst for explanations and on the other hand to build a base for a mind-control system they were building up also to feed a new emerging class of priests, who did not want to toil in the fields anymore and preferred to be fed by others believing in their stories. Durathror [Visitor] 01.03.2010 @ 11:46 You clearly haven't thought about this or looked at the link I suggested above. These are not ramblings (well some very possibly) but based on a historical premise, of witnesses and documentational evidence that has provided people with hope and - yes - some very real possibilities for salvation and a God being. You cannot just put God or Christ or the thirst for the 'other' to a few old peoples' delusions, thought about while on drugs or suffering the effects of famine. Yes documents and letters (say Pauls for example) were indeed written by people, Christ was a person, prince Siddharta was a person... What were you hoping for, Aliens? 'However sadly they are just illusions created by ancient men on the other hand, just to satisfy their thirst for explanations and on the other hand to build a base for a mind-control system...' My dear chap, you have mentioned this before, your rather worrying assumption that everything is a plot to draw you in! 'Mind-control' Wow! Heavy stuff! Perhaps they were Aliens, I should have seen it all along! How astute of you! Christ, an Alien? I would like to go to His planet I must say! As for these damn useless priests (abusers all!), they should be imprisoned for: A. allowing themselves to be brainwashed and B, for being a drain on society. Come on!? Have you ever really thought about the hardship involved in being a good priest? The years of study, no, not just propaganda (a word you might choose) but also versed in all the usual anti-propaganda they have to put up from those who do not believe, they have to be wise as serpents. They bring great comfort to people and they represent (or most try to) the apostolic traditions, going back to the first priests, the disciples.
The above site I gave you is written by scholars (probably aliens) who can answer your questions (or brainwash you - beware!) better then I possibly could. Hooray, Spring is here!! Joy to all those who believe and who are called to His supper. Sorry if I was too aggressive in my blogs by the way, you are right I must tone down my lanquage at times.
jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 01.03.2010 @ 12:25 You are hitting the nail here; "Christ was a person". I do not really doubt the possibility that there could have been a person called Jesus in the Galilee, but I have never believed for a single second that any of the supernatural stories told about him would be true. I do not believe that he was a "son of god" or that he would have risen from the dead. I simply believe that these stories were made up long after his death as marketing tools for the the faith, that did choose this Jesus-guy as its emblem. You know, not a single one of these supernatural stories has any other evidence than these texts themselves, even if the existence of this man called Jesus has some backing. The fact that a person called Jesus has existed however does not mean at all that these supernatural stories invented much later would be true at any level. Tom Hamilton [Visitor] 03.03.2010 @ 00:04 Well here we enter the area called rational instinct, at least that is the way I feel about it. As a person with a police background I would say that witness statements from people like Theopholus, Paul, the apostles and countless other simple - yet also some very high brow figures, - should have had anything to gain from making up the Christ story. What makes you think these stories were made up later and why exactly would they have been made up? Logically the apostles would have quietly dissapeared into the undergrowth with shame and fear, but they did not. What happened to them, that made them fill the history books with their martyrdom and suffering, why on earth would simple folk take on the might of Rome? (Taken from a web site) 'A major part of the New Testament is the apostle Paul’s 13 letters to young churches and individuals. Paul’s letters, dated between the mid 40s and the mid 60s (12 to 33 years after Christ), constitute the earliest witnesses to Jesus’ life and teaching. Will Durant wrote of the historical importance of Paul’s letters, “The Christian evidence for Christ begins with the letters ascribed to Saint Paul. … No one has questioned the existence of Paul, or his repeated meetings with Peter, James, and John; and Paul enviously admits that these men had known Christ in the flesh.” 'But is it True? In books, magazines, and TV documentaries, the Jesus Seminar suggests the Gospels were written as late as a.d. 130 to 150 by unknown authors. If those later dates are correct, there would be a gap of approximately 100 years from Christ’s death (scholars put Jesus’ death between a.d. 30 and 33). And since all the eyewitnesses would have been dead, the Gospels could only have been written by unknown, fraudulent authors. So, what evidence do we have concerning when the Gospel accounts of Jesus were really written? The consensus of most scholars is that the Gospels were written by the apostles during the first century. They cite several reasons that we will review later in this article. For now, however, note that three primary forms of evidence appear to build a solid case for their conclusions:
* early documents from heretics such as Marcion and the school of Valentinus citing New Testament books, themes, and passages (See “Mona Lisa’s Smirk”) * numerous writings of early Christian sources, such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp * discovered copies of Gospel fragments carbon-dated as early as 117 A.D.' ...and so it goes on. A very good web site. http://y-jesus.com/jesusdoc_3.php Many cleverer folk then you have decided that there is something here that is worthy of more research. If, and this is a perfectly logical and rational IF - the stories are true it turns your life upside down rather. Well it would do if you had started off only believing in the here and now (I mean who is to say that ANYTHING we read in History is true, if you go down your road my friend. I can think of areas where history has been re-written and lied about but for more obvious reasons then anything simple fishermen would have been able to offer you).
jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 03.03.2010 @ 00:53 Dear Tom, has it never occurred to you that every single one of the people in the area of Christian "Bible studies" are out there to find evidence for their beliefs? They do discards routinely those ideas that do not support their faith and do routinely exaggerate all the hints and small clues that could be interpreted as supporting their claims. There is incredible amount of money available for these studies that do differ from the true science in one extremely crucial point; the result is always well known before the study begins. There are so very good reasons to discard their testimony as immensely partial on both ideological and financial grounds. In fact in these "Bible studies" there is a huge library of claims that rest on other similar claims or interpretations and one can forge immensely good looking chains of argument on thin air drawn from the thousands of similar useless ideologically motivated "studies" of the past. Tom Hamilton [Visitor] 04.03.2010 @ 22:02 Dear Tom, has it never occurred to you that every single one of the people in the area of Christian "Bible studies" are out there to find evidence for their beliefs? Nonsense! Or do you mean people like yourself perhaps? | Show subcomments jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 04.03.2010 @ 22:11 It has seemingly never occurred why the Christian scholars do the same studies year after year do the same things over and over again; because they need the money, that is to be had from the very generous supporters of these studies and also to turn away the gnawing fear that there just must may not be nothing there. After all these generations on the work and millions of pages of learned study there is not a single piece of hard evidence and there will of course never be, as if there is nothing in the first place, it can never be found, even if you spend millions of man-hours searching for it. Tom Hamilton [Visitor] 04.03.2010 @ 22:44
You might as well say every Jew is out to find evidence to justify their paranoia. | Show subcomments jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 04.03.2010 @ 23:09 I would not. The things that happened to Jews in WWII are well documented and there is ample evidence for them in thousands of document, books and photos. For the original Christian story there is one book written by people who had a new religion to sell in the hotly contested religious marketplace of the Roman empire. The stark truth still is that there is and has never been any other other evidence for any of the alleged supernatural things this Jesus-fellow is claimed to have been part of. Durathror [Visitor] 04.03.2010 @ 22:49 'may not be nothing there'. Now you are into double negatives. I agree visitor... Why haven't we heard of you before Jaskaw? To challenge so many scholars and historians etc, you are truly wasted here in this sad little blog. Bye! May God in his compassion forgive you your blindness and your ignorance and forgive me for my arrogance. Durathror [Visitor] 06.03.2010 @ 12:01 ...Oh, by the way, (I just can't keep away can I!), you will find that despite the promise of riches, most are not wealthier in mortal terms. The vast majority of believers are the poor, both in spirit and wealth. The church has become wealthy but because both poor and rich GIVE money, wealth detracts from the spiritual path. Peter, for example was a fisherman, he was crucified upside down and had nothing to gain from dying. This was not an act that was designed to feed his family. To think of the evidence for Christ as 'one book' is I am afraid simply wrong but clearly no amount of information, historical or otherwise will pursuade you otherwise will it? I make no apologies for taking again from the web: Theologian R. C. Sproul puts it this way: “The claim of resurrection is vital to Christianity. If Christ has been raised from the dead by God, then He has the credentials and certification that no other religious leader possesses. Buddha is dead. Mohammad is dead. Moses is dead. Confucius is dead. But, according to…Christianity, Christ is alive.”2 Many skeptics have attempted to disprove the resurrection. Josh McDowell was one such skeptic who spent more than seven hundred hours researching the evidence for the resurrection. McDowell stated this regarding the importance of the resurrection: “I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, OR it is the most fantastic fact of history.”3 But not everyone is willing to fairly examine the evidence. Bertrand Russell admits his take on Jesus was “not concerned” with historical facts.4 Historian Joseph Campbell, without citing evidence, calmly told his PBS
television audience that the resurrection of Jesus is not a factual event.5 Other scholars, such as John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar, agree with him.6 None of these skeptics present any evidence for their views. .... Durathror [Visitor] 06.03.2010 @ 12:02 True skeptics, as opposed to cynics, are interested in evidence. In a Skeptic magazine editorial entitled “What Is a Skeptic?” the following definition is given: “Skepticism is … the application of reason to any and all ideas—no sacred cows allowed. In other words … skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true. When we say we are “skeptical,” we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe.”7 Unlike Russell and Crossan, many true skeptics have investigated the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. In this article we will hear from some of them and see how they analyzed the evidence for what is perhaps the most important question in the history of the human race: Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Self-Prophecy In advance of his death, Jesus told his disciples that he would be betrayed, arrested, and crucified and that he would come back to life three days later. That’s a strange plan! What was behind it? Jesus was no entertainer willing to perform for others on demand; instead, he promised that his death and resurrection would prove to people (if their minds and hearts were open) that he was indeed the Messiah. Bible scholar Wilbur Smith remarked about Jesus: “When he said that He himself would rise again from the dead, the third day after He was crucified, He said something that only a fool would dare say, if He expected longer the devotion of any disciples—unless He was sure He was going to rise. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a thing like that.8 In other words, since Jesus had clearly told his disciples that he would rise again after his death, failure to keep that promise would expose him as a fraud. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. How did Jesus die before he (if he did) rose again? A Horrific Death and Then. . . ? Durathror [Visitor] 06.03.2010 @ 12:02 You know what Jesus' last hours of earthly life were like if you watched the movie by road warrior/brave heart Mel Gibson. If you missed parts of The Passion of the Christ because you were shielding your eyes (it would have been easier to simply shoot the movie with a red filter on the camera), just flip to the back pages of any Gospel in your New Testament to find out what you missed. As Jesus predicted, he was betrayed by one of his own disciples, Judas Iscariot, and was arrested. In a mock trial under the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, he was convicted of treason and condemned to die on a wooden cross. Prior to being nailed to the cross, Jesus was brutally beaten with a Roman cat-o’-nine-tails, a whip with bits of bone and metal that would rip flesh. He was punched repeatedly, kicked, and spit upon. Then, using mallets, the Roman executioners pounded the heavy wrought-iron nails into Jesus' wrists and feet. Finally they dropped the cross in a hole in the ground between two other crosses bearing convicted thieves.
Jesus hung there for approximately six hours. Then, at 3:00 in the afternoon—that is, at exactly the same time the Passover lamb was being sacrificed as a sin offering (a little symbolism there, you think?)—Jesus cried out, “It is finished” (in Aramaic), and died. Suddenly the sky went dark and an earthquake shook the land.9 Pilate wanted verification that Jesus was dead before allowing his crucified body to be buried. So a Roman guard thrust a spear into Jesus' side. The mixture of blood and water that flowed out was a clear indication that Jesus was dead. Jesus' body was then taken down from the cross and buried in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb. Roman guards next sealed the tomb, and secured it with a 24-hour watch. Durathror [Visitor] 06.03.2010 @ 12:03 Meanwhile, Jesus' disciples were in shock. Dr. J. P. Moreland explains how devastated and confused they were after Jesus’ death on the cross. “They no longer had confidence that Jesus had been sent by God. They also had been taught that God would not let his Messiah suffer death. So they dispersed. The Jesus movement was all but stopped in its tracks.”10 All hope was vanquished. Rome and the Jewish leaders had prevailed—or so it seemed. Something Happened But it wasn't the end. The Jesus movement did not disappear (obviously), and in fact Christianity exists today as the world's largest religion. Therefore, we’ve got to know what happened after Jesus’ body was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb. In a New York Times article, Peter Steinfels cites the startling events that occurred three days after Jesus' death: “Shortly after Jesus was executed, his followers were suddenly galvanized from a baffled and cowering group into people whose message about a living Jesus and a coming kingdom, preached at the risk of their lives, eventually changed an empire. Something happened. … But exactly what?”11 That's the question we have to answer with an investigation into the facts. There are only five plausible explanations for Jesus' alleged resurrection, as portrayed in the New Testament: 1. Jesus didn't really die on the cross. 2. The “resurrection” was a conspiracy. 3. The disciples were hallucinating. 4. The account is legendary. 5. It really happened. Let's work our way through these options and see which one best fits the facts. Was Jesus Dead? Durathror [Visitor] 06.03.2010 @ 12:03 “Marley was deader than a doornail, of that there was no doubt.” So begins Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, the author not wanting anyone to be mistaken as to the supernatural character of what is soon to take place. In the same way, before we take on the role of CSI and piece together evidence for a resurrection, we must first establish that there was, in fact, a corpse. After all, occasionally the newspapers will report on some “corpse” in a morgue who was found stirring and recovered. Could something like that have happened with Jesus?
Some have proposed that Jesus lived through the crucifixion and was revived by the cool, damp air in the tomb–“Whoa, how long was I out for?” But that theory doesn’t seem to square with the medical evidence. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association explains why this so-called “swoon theory” is untenable: “Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicated that Jesus was dead. … The spear, thrust between His right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung, but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured His death.”12 But skepticism of this verdict may be in order, as this case has been cold for 2,000 years. At the very least, we need a second opinion. One place to find that is in the reports of non-Christian historians from around the time when Jesus lived. Three of these historians mentioned the death of Jesus. * Lucian (c.120–after 180 A.D. referred to Jesus as a crucified sophist (philosopher).13 * Josephus (c.37–c.100 A.D.) wrote, “At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man, for he was a doer of amazing deeds. When Pilate condemned him to the cross, the leading men among us, having accused him, those who loved him did not cease to do so.”14 * Tacitus (c. 56–c.120 A.D.) wrote, “Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty … at the hands of our procurator, Pontius Pilate.”15 This is a bit like going into the archives and finding that on one spring day in the first century, The Jerusalem Post ran a front-page story saying that Jesus was crucified and dead. Not bad detective work, and fairly conclusive. In fact, there is no historical account from Christians, Romans, or Jews that disputes either Jesus’ death or his burial. Even Crossan, a skeptic of the resurrection, agrees that Jesus really lived and died. “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”16 In light of such evidence, we seem to be on good grounds for dismissing the first of our five options. Jesus was clearly dead, “of that there was no doubt.” The Matter of An Empty Tomb No serious historian really doubts Jesus was dead when he was taken down from the cross. However, many have questioned how Jesus’ body disappeared from the tomb. English journalist, Dr. Frank Morison. initially thought the resurrection was either a myth or a hoax, and he began research to write a book refuting it.17 The book became famous but for reasons other than its original intent, as we’ll see. Morison began by attempting to solve the case of the empty tomb. The tomb belonged to a member of the Sanhedrin Council, Joseph of Arimathea. In Israel at that time, to be on the council was to be a rock star. Everyone knew who was on the council. Joseph must have been a real person. Otherwise, the Jewish leaders would have exposed the story as a fraud in their attempt to disprove the resurrection. Also, Joseph’s tomb would have been at a well-known location and easily identifiable, so any thoughts of Jesus being “lost in the graveyard” would need to be dismissed. Morison wondered why Jesus’ enemies would have allowed the “empty tomb myth” to persist if it wasn’t true. The discovery of Jesus’ body would have instantly killed the entire plot. And what is known historically of Jesus’ enemies is that they accused Jesus’ disciples of stealing the body, an accusation clearly predicated on a shared belief that the tomb was empty. Durathror [Visitor] 06.03.2010 @ 12:04 Dr. Paul L. Maier, professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University, similarly stated, “If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable … to conclude that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been
discovered … that would disprove this statement.”18 The Jewish leaders were stunned, and accused the disciples of stealing Jesus’ body. But the Romans had assigned a 24-hour watch at the tomb with a trained guard unit (from 4 to 12 soldiers). Morison asked, “How could these professionals have let Jesus’ body be vandalized?” It would have been impossible for anyone to have slipped by the Roman guards and to have moved a two-ton stone. Yet the stone was moved away and the body of Jesus was missing. If Jesus’ body was anywhere to be found, his enemies would have quickly exposed the resurrection as a fraud. Tom Anderson, former president of the California Trial Lawyers Association, summarizes the strength of this argument: "With an event so well publicized, don’t you think that it’s reasonable that one historian, one eye witness, one antagonist would record for all time that he had seen Christ’s body? … The silence of history is deafening when it comes to the testimony against the resurrection."19 So, with no body of evidence, and with a known tomb clearly empty, Morison accepted the evidence as solid that Jesus’ body had somehow disappeared from the tomb. Grave Robbing? As Morison continued his investigation, he began to examine the motives of Jesus’ followers. Maybe the supposed resurrection was actually a stolen body. But if so, how does one account for all the reported appearances of a resurrected Jesus? Historian Paul Johnson, in History of the Jews, wrote, “What mattered was not the circumstances of his death but the fact that he was widely and obstinately believed, by an expanding circle of people, to have risen again.”20 The tomb was indeed empty. But it wasn’t the mere absence of a body that could have galvanized Jesus’ followers (especially if they had been the ones who had stolen it). Something extraordinary must have happened, for the followers of Jesus ceased mourning, ceased hiding, and began fearlessly proclaiming that they had seen Jesus alive. Each eyewitness account reports that Jesus suddenly appeared bodily to his followers, the women first. Morison wondered why conspirators would make women central to its plot. In the first century, women had virtually no rights, personhood, or status. If the plot was to succeed, Morison reasoned, the conspirators would have portrayed men, not women, as the first to see Jesus alive. And yet we hear that women touched him, spoke with him, and were the first to find the empty tomb. Later, according to the eyewitness accounts, all the disciples saw Jesus on more than ten separate occasions. They wrote that he showed them his hands and feet and told them to touch him. And he reportedly ate with them and later appeared alive to more than 500 followers on one occasion. Legal scholar John Warwick Montgomery stated, “In 56 A.D. [the Apostle Paul wrote that over 500 people had seen the risen Jesus and that most of them were still alive (1 Corinthians 15:6ff.). It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus.”21 Durathror [Visitor] 06.03.2010 @ 12:05 Bible scholars Geisler and Turek agree. “If the Resurrection had not occurred, why would the Apostle Paul give such a list of supposed eyewitnesses? He would immediately lose all credibility with his Corinthian readers by lying so blatantly.”22
Peter told a crowd in Caesarea why he and the other disciples were so convinced Jesus was alive. We apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Israel and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by crucifying him, but God raised him to life three days later….We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. (Acts 10:39-41) British Bible scholar Michael Green remarked, “The appearances of Jesus are as well authenticated as anything in antiquity. … There can be no rational doubt that they occurred.” Consistent to the End As if the eyewitness reports were not enough to challenge Morison’s skepticism, he was also baffled by the disciples’ behavior. A fact of history that has stumped historians, psychologists, and skeptics alike is that these 11 former cowards were suddenly willing to suffer humiliation, torture, and death. All but one of Jesus’ disciples were slain as martyrs. Would they have done so much for a lie, knowing they had taken the body? The Islamic martyrs on September 11 proved that some will die for a false cause they believe in. Yet to be a willing martyr for a known lie is insanity. As Paul Little wrote, “Men will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false. They do not, however, die for what they know is a lie.”24 Jesus’ disciples behaved in a manner consistent with a genuine belief that their leader was alive. No one has adequately explained why the disciples would have been willing to die for a known lie. But even if they all conspired to lie about Jesus’ resurrection, how could they have kept the conspiracy going for decades without at least one of them selling out for money or position? Moreland wrote, “Those who lie for personal gain do not stick together very long, especially when hardship decreases the benefits.”25 Former “hatchet man” of the Nixon administration, Chuck Colson, implicated in the Watergate scandal, pointed out the difficulty of several people maintaining a lie for an extended period of time. "I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, and then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world—and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible."26 Something happened that changed everything for these men and women. Morison acknowledged, “Whoever comes to this problem has sooner or later to confront a fact that cannot be explained away. … This fact is that … a profound conviction came to the little group of people—a change that attests to the fact that Jesus had risen from the grave.” Were the Disciples Hallucinating? People still think they see a fat, gray-haired Elvis darting into Dunkin Donuts. And then there are those who believe they spent last night with aliens in the mother ship being subjected to unspeakable testing. Sometimes certain people can “see” things they want to, things that aren’t really there. And that’s why some have claimed that the disciples were so distraught over the crucifixion that their desire to see Jesus alive caused mass hallucination. Plausible? Psychologist Gary Collins, former president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, was asked about the possibility that hallucinations were behind the disciples’ radically changed behavior. Collins remarked, “Hallucinations are individual occurrences. By their very nature, only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly aren’t something which can be seen by a group of people.”28
Hallucination is not even a remote possibility, according to psychologist Thomas J. Thorburn. “It is absolutely inconceivable that … five hundred persons, of average soundness of mind … should experience all kinds of sensuous impressions—visual, auditory, tactual—and that all these … experiences should rest entirely upon … hallucination.”29 Furthermore, in the psychology of hallucinations, the person would need to be in a frame of mind where they so wished to see that person that their mind contrives it. Two major leaders of the early church, James and Paul, both encountered a resurrected Jesus, neither expecting, or hoping for the pleasure. The Apostle Paul, in fact led the earliest persecutions of Christians, and his conversion remains inexplicable except for his own testimony that Jesus appeared to him, resurrected. From Lie to Legend Some unconvinced skeptics attribute the resurrection story to a legend that began with one or more persons lying or thinking they saw the resurrected Jesus. Over time, the legend would have grown and been embellished as it was passed around. In this theory, Jesus’ resurrection is on a par with King Arthur’s round table, little Georgie Washington’s inability to tell a lie, and the promise that Social Security will be solvent when we need it. But there are three major problems with that theory. 1. Legends rarely develop while multiple eyewitnesses are alive to refute them. One historian of ancient Rome and Greece, A. N. Sherwin-White, argued that the resurrection news spread too soon and too quickly for it to have been a legend. 30 2. Legends develop by oral tradition and don’t come with contemporary historical documents that can be verified. Yet the Gospels were written within three decades of the resurrection.31 3. The legend theory doesn’t adequately explain either the fact of the empty tomb or the historically verified conviction of the apostles that Jesus was alive.32 Why Did Christianity Win? Morison was bewildered by the fact that “a tiny insignificant movement was able to prevail over the cunning grip of the Jewish establishment, as well as the might of Rome.” Why did it win, in the face of all those odds against it? He wrote, “Within twenty years, the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish church. … In less than fifty years it had begun to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire. When we have said everything that can be said … we stand confronted with the greatest mystery of all. Why did it win?”33 By all rights, Christianity should have died out at the cross when the disciples fled for their lives. But the apostles went on to establish a growing Christian movement. J. N. D. Anderson wrote, “Think of the psychological absurdity of picturing a little band of defeated cowards cowering in an upper room one day and a few days later transformed into a company that no persecution could silence—and then attempting to attribute this dramatic change to nothing more convincing than a miserable fabrication. … That simply wouldn’t make sense.”34 Many scholars believe (in the words of an ancient commentator) that “the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church.” Historian Will Durant observed, “Caesar and Christ had met in the arena and Christ had won.”35 A Surprise Conclusion With myth, hallucination, and a flawed autopsy ruled out, with incontrovertible evidence for an empty tomb, with a substantial body of eyewitnesses to his reappearance, and with the inexplicable transformation and impact upon the world of those who claimed to have seen him, Morison became convinced that his preconceived bias against Jesus Christ’s resurrection had been wrong. He began writing a different
book—entitled Who Moved the Stone?—to detail his new conclusions. Morison simply followed the trail of evidence, clue by clue, until the truth of the case seemed clear to him. His surprise was that the evidence led to a belief in the resurrection. In his first chapter, “The Book That Refused to Be Written,” this former skeptic explained how the evidence convinced him that Jesus’ resurrection was an actual historical event. “It was as though a man set out to cross a forest by a familiar and well-beaten track and came out suddenly where he did not expect to come out.”36 Morison is not alone. Countless other skeptics have examined the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, and accepted it as the most astounding fact in all of human history. But the resurrection of Jesus Christ raises the question: What does the fact that Jesus defeated death have to do with my life? The answer to that question is what New Testament Christianity is all about.
jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 07.03.2010 @ 23:09 Phoof; you must have had a hard time cutting and pasting all this stuff, dear Durathon; a original idea of your own would of course be welcome also now and then, but then in the world of Christian dogma original ideas are definitely frowned upon... All these fine gentlemen you cite however face the same dilemma; they want to have evidence for their faith, as they want to be reasonable men and believe in real things and not in some made up myths. The basic fact is however still the same; there is nothing else than the stories in the Bible to back the claims of the Christians, and there has never been nothing else. These gentlemen try different approaches to cover for this gaping hole, but the end result remains the same. You are quite welcome to believe in these naive illusions, but what I don't like is misquoting and misunderstanding people like Bertrand Russell, who did not accept the Christian myths for a single second during his entire adult life. He was btw. one of the finest minds I know of and I think you should read this fine essay by him: "Why I Am Not A Christian" by Bertrand Russell in http://users.drew.edu/~jlenz/whynot.html Durathror [Visitor] 10.03.2010 @ 19:28 Original ideas? Where were yours? These gentleman, do you actually know anything about them? Seems to me they were looking for evidence and found it. You simply ignore it. What is your dogma then, if I may ask? You keep mentioning B.Russell! Is he your bible by any chance? And what are the myths you are talking about? WAKE UP! SMELL THE GRASS! ITS UNDER YOU NOSE! I have read quite enough of BR and others of his ilk to know how shallow and how short their chosen path actually is. They have chosen a path and thats fine. Your conclusions however on what I have so carefully cut and pasted for you, are frankly the clearest indication yet that if a feast were placed before you, you would still convince yourself you were eating pig swill! | Show subcomments jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 10.03.2010 @ 22:25 There is only a small problem with all your "evidence". It is evidence of deep faith and of wanting to be certain only. Life is too short to take these things one by one, but they all share the same bias; they all are based on wishful thinking that glues over the glaring omissions.
The thing that Christianity was born after the death of the originator of the cult is not a proof of his resurrection in any way, but it tells how good story was created to explain away the demise of the original cult-figure. This story was a work of literary and psychological genius, to have this effect, even if most of it was borrowed from the mythology of other then current religions. A classical example of self-deception going on here is the Josephus thing; if one reads the passage of Josephus with open mind, one sees immediately that he is just telling what has been told to him by some wild-eyed followers of this Jesus-guy. He clearly has never seen or met him and does not have anything other than hearsay to tell; this kind of evidence would be thrown out of any court anywhere in the world. Durathror [Visitor] 13.03.2010 @ 14:15 'It is evidence of deep faith and of wanting to be certain only.' Faith and evidence are not related things. The evidence is found, by those, like yourself, enquiring minds (not really like yourself, as you do not have an enquiring mind), who never had any faith in the first place. You cannot dismiss everyone with evidence, following lengthy enq's, as fools. This is precisely what you are doing. 'Life is too short to take these things one by one, but they all share the same bias; they all are based on wishful thinking that glues over the glaring omissions.' Indeed life is short, but thousands of years have not prevented the voice of Him from shouting like thunder (sorry to be emotive, I know its not your thing). There are indeed omissions I grant you, just as there are within science and say, Darwins theory of evolution or AGW (Anthro. warming etc); the origins of the universe etc. 'The thing that Christianity was born after the death of the originator of the cult is not a proof of his resurrection in any way, but it tells how good story was created to explain away the demise of the original cult-figure.' This clumsy paragraph of yours shows me that you have only skimmed the 'evidence' and using the very wishful thinking you assume in all those 'cult' members you ridicule, you dismiss it all out of hand, almost in panic. To think of Christianity as a cult is simply frantic and bitter criticism illustrating (once again) complete ignorance and shallowness. A cult is usually a small religious group, imposing excessive control over its members. I do not see any of this control at all. It is primarily a gentle religion and renowned for its liberal attitudes and infact rather undisciplined exponents. The feast days and joy the forgiveness and the inclusiveness etc, belie what you claim to be a sort of dangerous cult! Yeah, sure we have had exceptions like Waco in the USA and evil individuals dressed up as priests etc. This (if you believe in evil) is what one expects from the human dark side now and again. This is not a religion of totalitarianism or hate. 'This story was a work of literary and psychological genius' 'Back to the grind stone...' I mutter to myself... Who wrote this story (gospels) and why? I would like an answer please? (Feel free to make up any reason you like, it does not have to be based on any historical evidence or thoughtful, even logical assumptions based on the existing facts, or by any respected figures within the historical and theological realms...). 'borrowed from the other mythology of other then current religions' Firstly you are possibly refering to the Old Testament and the religion of the Jews. What do you mean 'borrowed'? What was borrowed exactly and what other religions are you refering to here? Can you be more specific please?
There are many witnesses some of whom have not met Christ (like Paul), there are outsiders of historical importance who speak of Christ and his followers. You have to look at the whole picture, not just pick up on individual, choice morsels that suit you! The subject is huge and deserves thorough investigation. 'wild-eyed followers of this Jesus-guy.' Your pathetic assumptions are frankly not worth this! If you took the trouble to take the most basic texts and letters of say St Paul or actually read the gospels carefully, you will see that these people are anything BUT wild eyed or mad. This remark, more than any other, marks you out as rather wild eyed yourself. No, this matter of the Jesus 'thing' would not be thrown out of any court, again, more nonsense! You really must stop assuming you are the only psuedo intellectual who sees 'the' truth, or is somehow capable of rational thought processes! It has stood the test of many experts and lawyers, believe me, many actual lawyers strangely enough... (But they are all fools of course, you are the only person who does not need a crutch in life, wow! what a guy! A pity your picture does not do your powerful aura justice) Got to go... son needs the computer for work.... Robin [Visitor] 30.03.2010 @ 15:42 I find both of your comments very interesting and both have valid points. Your are very passionate about your convictions and your backgrounds and knowledge far exceed mine.... but I have a simple observation: many of religions' "rules" are good-hearted, and many make no sense. Many humans do as they were raised, so if born a Christian, remain a Christian, born a Muslim, remain a Muslim, etc. We need to be open-minded. There is a similarity between religious people and atheist people: both are quite sure they "know" there IS something after death or there is NOT. We all have egos - these sometimes interfere with our ability to carefully consider all viewpoints. Let's all worship the golden rule, keep an open mind and open heart, do our best to not live in fear and do good while we are here. PEACE
Marcus Aurelius on change
"Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are, and to make new things like them. " - Marcus Aurelius
The main point of this quote is to remind that change is a extremely important and even central feature of our physical world. It still is a very important thing to utter aloud in a world where all too many people believe that permanence and resisting change is the natural order of things. Some religious people have always seen that Marcus Aurelius is speaking here of Universe as some kind of divine force, but I strongly disagree. Men did just express things like this in this way in Marcus Aurelius' times. I see that the expression "Nature of the Universe" just means that our universe just has certain universal qualities that find their expression in different events of our physical world. I of course understand why many theists have mistakenly inserted automatically "God" into the place of "Universe" in this quote for nearly two thousand years. I see, however, that this quote says nothing of the ultimate causes why things work the way they do work and is just referring on how the basic structure of the Universe appears to humans. I do believe that good old Marcus did not think that "nature" would have a "will" or "mind" of its own, but he is just referring to how the mechanism of our universe works in a poetic way. One should remember that Marcus Aurelius was a always rationalist first and foremost even if his ideas on the deep nature of our Universe can also be interpreted as Deism. Deism, however, has never had anything to do with any of the existing religions, as it is just a idea of original cause and order of things. In Deism there is no concept of any kind of personal god, eternal life or eternal punishment and there are in fact no gods interfering in human affairs at all. Deism is in reality not a religion, as it has no holy books, no rituals and no priests. It is just a feeling that one
needs to have a answer to a very basic question; why does this Universe of ours exist and how has it home to into being? Of course the other option is to say that we have a lot of good and even satisfactory scientific answers, but we have no final answers as yet. Perhaps we just should learn to live with the idea that there are questions that we do not have definite answers. I think we should not fall into false hubris of claiming to have all the answers we need, as the religions are so eager to proclaim. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius by jaskaw @ 13.02.2010 - 14:10:51 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/13/marcus-aurelius-on-change-7999969/
Marcus Aurelius on rejecting the sense of injury
"Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears." - Marcus Aurelius
There are of course also mental injuries that are so deep that you just cannot make them disappear, but I still claim that Marcus Aurelius was right in stating that the less you dwell in your mental injuries, the better you will inevitably feel in the long run. He is of course not speaking of the physical injuries, but the mental injuries are very often far more serious that physical ones, as they often much more difficult to heal. Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic and central to the Stoic way of life was to accept with dignity also the bad cards the life sometimes deals and make the best out of also bad situations, the more so as you never know when the tide will turn. The problem with all philosophy is very often that it speaks in absolutes. Philosophical ideas are all too often presented as absolutes, even if in the real world they are applicable just in certain situations are in principle just goals that one can strive for, but never really reach. However, I think that you can vastly improve your life without really getting to the goals you set up, but just by trying to go in the general direction of a goal. This process of improvement is the main thing, not attaining fixed goals. One can of course not say that all mental injuries will just disappear, if you just forget them. I do not think that Marcus Aurelius is even claiming that, but that he us just setting a goal in which one can aim for. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism by jaskaw @ 14.02.2010 - 18:22:10 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/14/marcus-aurelius-on-rejecting-the-sense-of-injury-8006696/
Thomas Paine on securing liberty
"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." - Thomas Paine in "Dissertation on First Principles of Government (1791)
The most difficult task facing any democracy is how to respond to those who threaten the democracy. We have the sorry example of Germany in the 30's when the enemies of freedom did take over a major industrial nation largely by just using the tools provided by the democratic system itself, even if they did break it in a very early stage of their march into power. Thomas Paine or course did not have that precedent before him, but I still think that he was right. Democracy must be protected by the means provided by the democratic process; otherwise we might still end up in a totalitarian system, as protecting democracy with undemocratic means will always undermine it and slowly eat away its essence. The very basic question that we must always answer when considering eroding the freedoms and rights of citizens in democratic country, is why should anybody defend a democracy that is not a democracy anymore? I think that that we simply must take the risk of losing some battles to win the war, as the enemies of democracy love nothing more if their actions will erode democracy from the inside and there is nothing to differentiate democracies and totalitarian systems. by jaskaw @ 21.02.2010 - 22:49:08 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/21/thomas-paine-on-securing-liberty-8050111/
Bertrand Russell on science and philosophy
"In science men change their opinions when new knowledge becomes available; but philosophy in the minds of many is assimilated rather to theology than to science." - Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell had a great insight into both science and philosophy, as he was a famous name in both fields during his lifetime. Here he is pointing out a fundamental difference between those two disciplines. Science is always in search for a better answer and there is and never will be a final scientific truth on anything. One can however in most cases say which scientific theory is the accepted scientific 'truth' of the given moment, that is accepted by the majority of the experts of that given field, even if it will change if new and better 'truth' is found out. On the other hand in philosophy there has never been and will never be such consensus of opinion, as philosophy is not dealing in hard facts, but it is about ideas and even more about human comprehension of those ideas. There is never a 'true' philosophy as there is scientific 'truth'. In general accepting one philosophical idea does not prevent accepting also other even very different philosophical ideas, even more as they can just be different manifestations of the same ideas. Of course also in the field of philosophy there are people who think that they have found some kind of final truth, but these people are most often mixing the fixed religious and theological ideas into philosophy. In the end only religions can promise final and unmovable truths. Science will never do that, or it is not science any more and becomes a religion with fixed final truths. In the end science is not about facts, but about the scientific method, where the constant search for new truths has already produced the results that have already transformed our world beyond recognition. by jaskaw @ 22.02.2010 - 22:28:19 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/22/bertrand-russell-on-science-and-philosophy-8056288/
Bertrand Russell on good life
"The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge." - Bertrand Russell in "What I Believe" (1925)
One of the most familiar claims made by religious people is that their religion is main or the only real source of love and caring for them or for the society. Religious people are often afraid of losing the feelings of love and affection that they have come to associate with their particular brand of religion, the more so as they are constantly and systematically led to believe that the love and passion they feel towards other people are there only because of their religion. On the other hand the reality just might be that strong religious attachment just happens to interest people who are loving and caring persons. It just might be that the source of their caring and loving feelings just could be in themselves; and that they just project their personality through the religion. Bertrand Russell was a non-believer all his life, but he was a extremely passionate person who had love for the whole of the humanity. He did work all his life for the causes he saw as forwarding the good of all humanity and not just the good of his fellow believers or forward the cause of his own nationality. He was however not guided in his love of humanity by ancient religious dogmas, but by the knowledge he had acquired of the evolution, history and current state of the society he did live in. He did also change his opinions several times during his lifetime, when he saw that he had been acting under insufficient or wrong information earlier. Passion for humanity and knowledge guided his life. by jaskaw @ 26.02.2010 - 00:31:15 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/25/bertrand-russell-on-good-life-8075401/
Mark Twain on loyalty to petrified opinions
"Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world and never will." - Mark Twain in a paper delivered in Hartford (l1884). This quote is engraved on Twain's bust in the National Hall of Fame.
Mark Twain was as a free soul if one could be in the United Stated in the late 1800's. Only very late in his life he did however also very cautiously publicly air his very strong opinions about all established order of the society, but especially the religions. He was however always aware of the danger that opinions of that kind did pose in a profession so dependent on the good will of the buying public. As also his family wanted to keep this side of him secret after his death, most of his critical pondering's have seen light of the day only during the later part of the 20th century. Mark Twain was a progressive and a pragmatist, who believed that the world would be a better place is reason would be allowed to guide human life. In this quote Mark Twain reminds how religions and other very strong unchanging ideologies are a force that always work against change. They were conservative forces that did help also to preserve the worst parts of the medieval feudal society in the time when it was time for it to give way to more modern forms of government.
by jaskaw @ 28.02.2010 - 23:32:17 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/02/28/mark-twain-on-loyalty-to-petrified-opinions-8091822/
Bertrand Russell on authority in science
"The most essential characteristic of scientific technique is that it proceeds from experiment, not from tradition. The experimental habit of mind is a difficult one for most people to maintain ; indeed, the science of one generation has already become the tradition of the next." - Bertrand Russell in "The Scientific Outlook" (1931)
The thing Bertrand Russell is here calling the scientific technique is of course now better known as the scientific method, that is the groundwork on which all real science is based on. It guarantees that the wrong guesses and wrong interpretations that are inevitable also in scientific work will be eliminated given due time, when all findings can and must be treated at their face value. However the danger of relying on force of authority is present also in science, when scientist start taking the work of previous scientists as something that one does not dare to touch or a scientific finding achieves a status where nobody questions its validity anymore. This kind of development can seriously hamper the advancement of scientific knowledge, but happily these bottlenecks are mostly just temporary things, as the very basic premise of science does not lay in force of authority, but in fact in questioning it. One can be quite certain that as long as scientific method is honored in science, bad science will be eventually discarded, even if can take time. Only if scientific method is discarded, is there a real danger of science becoming like a religion with Final Truths of its own. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method by jaskaw @ 07.03.2010 - 23:58:43 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/03/07/the-most-essential-characteristic-of-scientific-technique-is-that-it-8135027/
Bertrand Russell on being cocksure
"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. Even those of the intelligent who believe that they have a nostrum are too individualistic to combine with other intelligent men from whom they differ on minor points. This was not always the case. "- Bertrand Russell
One of downsides of understanding that there just might be no real absolute and final truths is understanding the relativity and fleeting nature of knowledge. When you understand that in practice all things can be seen at least from two sides and even very solid looking things can change, and most of all our perception of them can change fundamentally, you very easily end up as a underdog to people who do not see things in this enlightened way. A person believing in very simple and unmoving truths can act in a much more straightforward way. What more he or she has will find it much easier to convince other people of their views, as people in general love to have simple and easy to adopt truths. The validity and real truth-value of these 'truths' is very often a secondary issue, as many people will always choose soothing and empowering lies over troubling and ambiguous truths without giving another thought. The real challenge for all scientists and thinkers is to present difficult and many-sided issues in a way that do on the other hand retain the real ambiguity of our universe and still show a firm and easy to follow line of thought. That is a challenge not many have risen to, but I must say that I think that Bertrand Russell definitely is one of them. by jaskaw @ 11.03.2010 - 00:34:31 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/03/10/bertrand-russell-on-8154169/
George Orwell on highly civilized human beings trying to kill him
"As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me. They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are only doing their duty , as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life." - George Orwell in The Lion and the Unicorn (1941), Part I : England Your England
One of the most difficult issues facing any thinking person is what to think of the system of controlled violence that is called war. In his or her heart every human being instinctively knows that war must be wrong, as arbitrarily killing other people is wrong. On the other hand defending oneself, one's family and birthplace must be allowed, as the ruffians would take over the world otherwise. Many intelligent and wise people go round the issue completely if they live in peaceful times. George Orwell however was living through one of the worst nightmares humanity has had to face thus far and he could not afford such luxury. George Orwell did harbor pacifist tendencies, but he was also a staunch supporter of liberty, democracy and social justice and he was ready to defend these ideals when they were attacked. He did not hesitate one second to join fight the rising forces of Fascism and Nazism. He did in fact volunteer to fight in the Spanish civil war where he was badly wounded and he did support the British war-effort against the Nazis whole-heartedly. The first question in this quote however is about the absolute authority of the state to make its peaceful, law-abiding and friendly fathers, uncles and sons to attack other peaceful, law-abiding and friendly fathers, uncles and sons, if just the leaders of a country so wish. The second question raised in this quote is about the need to dehumanize the enemy, which is a very important part of every war. As George Orwell reminds of the basic absurdity of situation, he reminds also that those men high above in their airplanes are still human beings, even if they are ordered by the authority of the state to do things they would never even dream of doing otherwise. His basic pacifism and strong humanism shines wonderfully through in this magnificent quote, as it takes a
real courage to remind in a situation like this that one's enemies are still human beings, even if their country has been taken over by one of the meanest, hardest and inhuman ideologies there has ever existed. by jaskaw @ 17.03.2010 - 00:08:07 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/03/16/george-orwell-on-higly-civilized-human-beings-trying-to-kill-him-8189746/
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Trimegistus [Visitor] 17.03.2010 @ 01:14 But what about the complementary case of highly UN-civilized human beings trying to kill you? How can one possibly "dehumanize" someone willing to hijack a planeload of passengers in order to destroy a building full of office workers? Or plant a bomb in a Baghdad marketplace simply to sow misery and chaos? It's all very well to muse abou thow "the state" makes men into killers, but what about men who kill perfectly viciously without any flag or uniform? Seems like sometimes, some fellows just need killing. | Show subcomments lancedboyle [Member] 02.07.2010 @ 09:41 Trimegistus They do have a flag and a uniform very similar to that of other zealots, that being religion. xavier [Visitor] 17.03.2010 @ 03:35 Trimegistus: Your points are valid from a logical and certainly an emotional perspective, but I challenge you to dig a little deeper. Orwell had a lot to say about the perversity and oppression of religion as well as statist oppression; it just wasn't part of this particular anecdote. Religion has inspired some pretty dreadful behavior, from the Crusades to the Inquisition to suicide bombing and other 'terrorist' acts. But Orwell's point about the human being in the airplane still applies, because the individual blowing himself up on a bus is quite obviously assured of the righteousness of his act -- assured enough, even, to destroy himself in the process. Our Western definition of 'civilized' may be put to strain in declaring that such a person committed their act out of a deep sense of conviction, and it may be a conviction to principles we would consider barbaric, but it is still a conviction nonetheless. The terrorist, like the Nazi bombardier, surely loves his family and his culture -- and is, like the Nazi, entwined in an apparatus that deceives him into believing that what he is doing is absolutely right. In addition, there are causative issues at play here, whether we're talking about Nazi Germany (a result of the country's brutal economic punishment at Versailles) or Muslim terrorists (who can point to a litany of hostile acts by Western governments as their cause). I am justifying neither of these sets of villains nor their actions; I am merely saying that they did not appear in a vacuum. Instead, they constitute the inevitable blowback from very UNcivilized behavior on the part of the countries that subsequently ended up being victimized by them. This is an important factor to remember, if we are ever to rid ourselves of the monsters we continue to blindly create. In summary: a man wrapped in explosives detonates and kills himself and several innocent people on a bus or a plane or in a shopping mall. He is convinced that in doing so, he has killed some of the 'infidels' -- enemies of his culture and his god -- and earned his place in an eternity of peace and perfection. He is convinced of this because of religious leaders who have perverted and abused his faith for their own agendas, AND because he has seen with his own eyes the violent actions of the 'infidels' who have abused and destroyed his culture
and ancestral lands. He kills civilians partly because his religion tells him that unbelievers are not quite human -- and partly because he has seen innocents in his own country, perhaps family members, torn to pieces by 'civilized' armies with weaponry he cannot hope to match. If we are to end this madness, we must first understand where it comes from. Or else we will simply create more of it, until the whole world is consumed and destroyed by it.
jaskaw pro http://www.beinghuman.blogs.fi 17.03.2010 @ 11:11 Bravo xavier! I must say that I have not encountered for a long time a text I can so wholeheartedly underwrite as your comment. A standing ovation! I must add that the dehumanizing process is going on all the time everywhere there is a violent conflict. As a atheist I myself must be very careful not to fall into the trap of forgetting the basic common humanity of all human beings when looking at the awful things that are done because of religious fanaticism. If one however sees religious fanaticism as a contagious disease, one can however see also these fanatics as humans with a curable ailment. Admittedly fanaticism is one of the hardest things to cure in humans, but on the other hand also AIDS was seen as incurable not so long ago. | Show subcomments Luis Blanco [Visitor] 03.05.2010 @ 15:16 I absolutely agree. Congratulations for keeping a rational and human point of view! andy [Visitor] http://www.siliconrockstar.com 28.03.2010 @ 21:46 'Seems like sometimes, some fellows just need killing.' I laughed pretty hard at that one (gah, I'm going to hell). I would rephrase it as: 'Seems like sometimes, some fellows are just trying to die.' Also, bravo Xavier. Violence is a vicious cycle, and to think it can be stopped by perpetuating the cycle is very naive.
Bertrand Russell on advances in civilization
"Every advance in civilization has been denounced as unnatural while it was recent." - Bertrand Russell
This quote is easy to dismiss as a lighthearted joke, but I do not think that Bertrand Russell wrote or did mean it lightheartedly at all. In fact in my mind this short sentence contains an immense truth, that has plagued mankind as long as there has been progress; which includes of course the whole history of mankind. Also the utter unfairness of the medieval feudal society was sanctified as the natural state of man, before this inefficient, unjust and cruel model for running a society was finally broken after the great French and American revolutions. Slavery was seen as God-given and highly natural part of life also in Christian lands for nearly two millennium, before the rise of humanistic thought made also many of the Christians to accept the basic equality of all humans and turned them against this evil institution. Eventually even Islamic world was forced by pressures coming from the more advanced parts of the to give up the inhuman institution of slavery that is however still clearly sanctioned by that religion. In more recent times we have of course seen all kinds of technological innovation stamped as unnatural. The conservative mindset has always hard time adjusting to change and technical innovations have during the last decades changed our lives in a faster pace than never before in the history of the human race. by jaskaw @ 21.03.2010 - 23:46:46 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/03/21/bertrand-russell-on-advances-in-civilization-8219073/
George Orwell on revenge
"The whole idea of revenge and punishment is a childish day-dream. Properly speaking, there is no such thing as revenge. Revenge is an act which you want to commit when you are powerless and because you are powerless: as soon as the sense of impotence is removed, the desire evaporates also. " George Orwell in "Revenge is Sour", Tribune (1945-11-09)
I have already noticed that this quote is extremely hard for many people to swallow. The idea of revenge is extremely strongly embedded in many people's minds, even if in real world getting your revenge will just often mean lowering oneself to the level of the original wrongdoer. In my mind this is a very Epicurean, but also Stoic idea, where a person is expected to overcome his or her original feelings of hurt when the original hurtful situation is over and think rationally on the consequences' of one's actions in the new situation, when emotions start cooling over. A rational person should be able understand that his or her response to the original wrongdoing can all too easily constitute a continuation of injustice in a new level, if the action is not aimed at correcting the wrongdoings that have been done and most of all preventing them from happening again, but simply aims at revenge. Of course no person in this world is wholly rational, as raw emotions play havoc on the mind of every human being walking the surface of this earth. I however claim that understanding the core message of this quote can help in understanding the forces at play in handling situations where people feel that they have been unjustly treated. George Orwell was here speaking about the revenge against the German nation that had just lost a war and had caused a worst human made catastrophe in the history of the world. They had killed, tortured and mistreated other humans on a unforeseeable scale, but still George Orwell was writing these terse sentences on the futility of revenge. One must really ask why he did this? I think that George Orwell saw that punishing nations is as justice just like punishing a whole family including the uncles and aunts just because their nephew has gone awry. I think that he saw that punishing those who are responsible for dragging a nation into mud would be the first objective; the main thing should however be preventing these awful things from happening ever again.
George Orwell also very well knew the lessons that were learned from the injustice that was levied on Germany on the end of the First World War. The peace treaty of Versailles was a form of revenge dictated by the vengeful French. Many people warned outright that it already contained the seeds of the new war, as the vengeful injustice levied on Germany made them just thirst for a change to repel that in justice. The treaty of Versailles is a classical example of letting emotions like revenge dictate real world policies. Nations will not go away, but they will still be there even after your sweet revenge is meted out, as well as your mean co-worker will be there even if you beat him or her in a spiraling race of meanness. by jaskaw @ 28.03.2010 - 21:25:35 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/03/28/george-orwell-on-revenge-8264915/
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andy [Visitor] http://www.siliconrockstar.com 28.03.2010 @ 21:39 I fully agree with this assessment. Revenge is a selfish emotion that has it's source in feeling powerless. I have experienced this firsthand after my lover was murdered. I have never wanted revenge so bad, I wanted to take from them what they took from me, I wanted her killer to hurt like I had hurt. But when the problem is suffering, when your adversary is violence, how can you expect to solve that problem by creating more suffering and violence?
Thomas Paine on owning earth
"Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property." - Thomas Paine in "Agrarian Justice" (1795 - 1796)
I think that Paine reminds us that we all in fact are just borrowing something that in the end really cannot be wholly owned, when we claim to own land or water. I believe that when we understand that we must in the end return that borrowed property in good condition to its rightful owners, as any lender of borrowed things must do. These true owners are of course the coming generations, the humanity as a whole and earth as a extremely interdependent ecosystem. I mean that we can never own a piece of land in a way we own a television set and do whatever we like to it. We have obligation to keep this land in such a condition that also coming generations can also use it; in that sense we are not owners, but just borrowers. We can improve and use our land, but we should always remember that we are not the final owners of it in a way we can be final owners of cars or boats. I am not talking about abolishing legal ownership of land at all, but about the deeper mental relationship with land and the whole earth that in my mind should exist. Human ownership of anything is always just an imagined relationship, and it ends when this relationship is not imagined any more. When I abandon something I owned earlier after I lose interest in owning it, this imaginary relationship is ended without much ado. It is easy to forget that the private ownership of land is also a very late human invention. This novelty has however served humanity well, but only when humans have taken real responsibility for the lands they claim to have legal ownership of. Ownership of land is an imagined thing that is based on human conventions only, as so much of the things keeping our societies together of course are. A human convention is however real only as long as it is enforced by humans themselves. A nation is similar imagined convention that lasts as long as people keep imagining its existence. A nation disappears the moment people lose faith in its existence, as private ownership of land would disappear, if humans would lose confidence in its existence. I must take the pains to emphasize that all this does not mean that I would be against the private ownership of land or the existence of separate nations. I just think that it is good at some point realize that we humans are good at making up things that soon seem so real that that we can t see their true nature as human inventions anymore.
This does not at all mean that these social conventions would and could not serve good and valuable purposes, but realizing that we have ourselves invented them makes much easier to also look at also these things critically. In the end I try also to say that in my mind at least owning anything transient that is made by humans themselves is a quite different thing than claiming to own something that has been there before the dawn of humanity and that ultimately exists even after humanity has disappeared altogether. by jaskaw @ 02.04.2010 - 22:28:04 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/04/02/thomas-paine-on-owning-earth-8297291/
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Adelaide Dupont [Visitor] http://duponthumanite.livejournal.com 03.04.2010 @ 05:29 Your last paragraph was especially good. People are good at making up boundaries like nations. Paine has a point about the improvements making the land valuable, rather than the land itself. These days we tend to value unspoiled land. Thanks for the clarification to say you would not be against. Penny C [Visitor] 22.05.2010 @ 21:27 I wish though that we did not give the ground beneath our feet so much value that common people cannot own their own space. I live in a State that needs people to keep it running. Yet, our grandparents, great-grandparents, have priced its' value way beyond their grandchildrens reach. We see fewer and fewer young people stay. Business' have been slowly leaving this area. Still, most of these people find that real estate speculation is wonderful. How can it be wonderful to price your grandchildren out of a good home? How can they condemn both parents to have to work slavishly while their children go un- or under supervised? They are too busy spending their profits. I see so many of the elderly question the values of their youth. Than I look around me and sigh. As they sip their margaritas or down their fancy coffee's how can they ignore the fact that so many of our youth will not know the comfort or tranquility that owning and keeping a stable place to raise a family in will bring? How is it that so many of us have forgotten where we came from and how we got so far? I just don't understand it and it makes me sad. Often.
Bill Bryson on the unity of life
"Every living thing is an elaboration of a single original plan. As humans we are mere increments each of us a musty archive of adjustments, adaptations, modifications and providential tinkerings stretching back to 3,8 billion years. Remarkably we are even quite closely related to fruit and vegetables. About half the chemical functions that take place in a banana are fundamentally the same as the chemical functions that place in you. It cannot be said too often: all life is one. That is, and I suspect will ever prove to be, the most profound true statement there is." - Bill Bryson in "A Short History of Nearly Everything" (2003)
Science writer Bill Bryson brings forward a very central theme, that is in my mind however not commonly brought up when discussing evolution. This discussion is all too often centralized on the subject of interrelations between hominids and primates, but the bigger picture is often forgotten. The stark fact however is that the lowest forms of bacteria and humans have common ancestors in the early misty days of life on Earth, as all life has risen from the same original source. Their evolutionary paths have just taken them to be strikingly different creatures, but when you start analyzing the very basic chemical processes that keep the living organisms ticking, the common origin becomes clearly visible time after time. The mind of a human being is however built in such a way that the simple fact of having a common ancestry with bacteria is too difficult to grasp for many. Even those who accept evolution as a very basic scientific fact, do not necessarily want to elaborate on the issue in public, as if people have difficulties understanding that there is no real evolutionary difference between different groups of human, so accepting bacteria as your relatives would just could be a bit too much. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Bryson by jaskaw @ 04.04.2010 - 23:41:40 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/04/04/bill-bryson-on-the-unity-of-life-8307984/
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jerseyguy [Visitor] 12.04.2010 @ 16:07 Humans have a compelling need to divide not just humanity, but all life forms, into “us” and “them”. Paradoxically, religion claims to be a force for unity, but by promoting the ideas of “good” and “evil”, it (a) reinforces this need, and (b) it undermines the use of critical thinking for evaluating behavior, thereby becoming yet another a force for division.
Bertrand Russell on relying upon authority
"As soon as we abandon our own reason, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our troubles." - Bertrand Russell in "On Outline of Intellectual Rubbish
Bertrand Russell would be a fool if he would have claimed that one should abandon all authority, even if on the surface of it this quote seems to imply it. No, the important part is the abandoning of one's own reason, as only this would lead to relying solely on the force of authority. The blind relying on authority alone led to a situation where generation after generation believed that women do have less teeth than men, as none other than Aristotle had made such a erroneous claim, even if anybody could have counted those teeth and would have seen that that great man was wrong in this matter. Of course we inevitably accept a mass of things on face value on the basis of the authority of the informant alone and this fact cannot much be altered, as a life without such sources with authority is just impossible. I however do think that Bertrand Russell is here saying that after we receive new information we should however always use our own reason to analyze it. Are the received facts still current? Why this person is saying these things? The most important question of them all is: can this person have a hidden agenda that he tries to bolster by giving just these facts? The danger always arises, when we start accepting things on face value, as these hidden agendas are present everywhere. The thing is made all more difficult by the fact that the source of new information is not often even conscious him- or herself of the mental process that leads to the picking and choosing one's data to suit one's hidden goals. I think that Bertrand Russell is here just saying that one should never completely surrender one's critical faculties. The danger is of course greatest when we are in the same mind as the source of the information; we are prone to let our critical faculties drop when we receive information that we want to be true. This if of course human and inevitable, but being aware of the trap may just help sometimes. by jaskaw @ 24.04.2010 - 20:50:26 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/04/24/bertrand-russell-on-relying-upon-authority-8444683/
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Douglas [Visitor] 10.05.2010 @ 08:33 I sincerely hope you aren't finished with this wonderful blog.
Robert G. Ingersoll on ignorance
"Only the very ignorant are perfectly satisfied that they know. To the common man the great problems are easy. He has no trouble in accounting for the universe. He can tell you the origin and destiny of man and the why and wherefore of things." - Robert Green Ingersoll in "Liberty In Literature" (1890)
A sad fact of life is that the more you accumulate knowledge, the more acutely aware you became of limits of your true knowledge. As Robert G. Ingersoll points out, only a person with a limited view of all of the possible knowledge that is already available can have a misconception of having found some final and unmovable answers to the big questions in universe. The situation is made even more complicated by the fact that the more you accumulate knowledge, the more you become aware of the fleeting nature of most of it. A cold fact of life is that outside the realms of mathematics and natural sciences there are very few truly immutable facts. The true scientific method is based on the very basic idea that there cannot be scientific ideas or findings that cannot be reviewed and analyzed again if furthering our knowledge requires it, even if those fact have been long established and very basic findings and chancing them would require to rethink big chunks of science. Absolute certainties can of course be very comforting and reassuring and this may be the main reason why people choose to believe in their existence, even if their reason says that absolute certainty is just on illusion that is most often created on just for the exact purpose of creating these feelings of comfort and assurance. In the words of great mind Bertrand Russell: "Do not feel absolutely certain of anything."
by jaskaw @ 19.05.2010 - 22:13:30 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/05/19/robert-g-ingersoll-on-ignorance-8627481/
George Orwell on atrocities
"Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence." - George Orwell in Looking Back on the Spanish War (1943)
There is also a very common reasoning according to which it is quite okay to do bad things if the people on the other side are doing bad things too. This is the other side of the Orwell's quote. The main current example of this thinking is of course the Middle East. I personally detest the religious fanaticism that is so apparent at the moment in many parts of the Muslim world and in Hamas of Palestine in particular, but I detest as much also the religious fanaticism that makes many Israelis deny the Palestinians their basic humanity and human rights. This Jewish version of religious fanaticism makes all too many in Israel just now think that they have some kind of "divine" mandate to take over Palestinian lands in the West Bank and for example build new settlements on land taken from other people. This Jewish fanaticism is as big obstacle to peace as is the Islamic fanaticism at the moment. I fear that all too many people end up thinking that they must take a definite stand in a issue like Israel vs. Palestinians and when they have chosen "their" side they will never, ever see something wrong in the doings of their favorites. I however think that it is possible here in more far-away lands at least to see the situation neutrally and also support all initiatives that seem to further peace and seem to diminish violence. I know remaining neutral is extremely hard when there are two extremely strong streams of propaganda pounding the other side and extolling the virtues of one's own side. I however think it is possible to take the side of humanity and try to diminish the effects of the nationalistic fervor that just feeds and inflames the ongoing conflict in Palestine. International politics is not however a sports event, where to fully enjoy the spectacle you must choose your side to support. I really think that it is possible to see at the same time the atrocities and unjust deeds committed by the Israelis and see the atrocities and unjust deeds committed by the Palestinians and also similarly always condemn them. It is however extremely surprising how rarely one meets people who would not have chosen to believe only the horror stories of the other side and dismiss all similar stories told by the other side. It is really funny how people telling stories supporting ones side seem so honest and trustworthy, but quite similar people in similar situations telling very similar stories from the other side of the front line seem so prone to be just lying and deceiving listeners.
I of course know that there is no easy solution to the problems of the Palestine, as both sides must make great sacrifices if a real state of peace is to be achieved and they are at the moment just not willing to do that. The state of Israel is now a historical fact and there will never be a lasting peaceful solution that can ignore that fact. Even if the methods by which state was originally built were very violent and unjust at times, the existence of this state with its several million inhabitants is a unavoidable historical fact. On the other hand the existence of the landless Palestinian population is a similar unavoidable historical fact and no such real peace solution is ever possible that they would not approve of. There just must be a compromise, if a lasting peace is to be achieved. The other side just can't win in any final sense, as any kind of military solution and submission of the other side will always only prolong the suffering, as the fighting will always just turn to another level. by jaskaw @ 08.06.2010 - 17:59:04 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/06/08/george-orwell-on-atrocities-8760045/
Bertrand Russell on skepticism and dogma
"Neither acquiescence in skepticism nor acquiescence in dogma is what education should produce. What it should produce is a belief that knowledge is attainable in a measure, though with difficulty; that much of what passes for knowledge at any given time is likely to be more or less mistaken, but that the mistakes can be rectified by care and industry. In acting upon our beliefs, we should be very cautious where a small error would mean disaster; nevertheless it is upon our beliefs that we must act. This state of mind is rather difficult: it requires a high degree of intellectual culture without emotional atrophy. But though difficult, it is not impossible; it is in fact the scientific temper. Knowledge, like other good things, is difficult, but not impossible; the dogmatist forgets the difficulty, the skeptic denies the possibility. Both are mistaken, and their errors, when widespread, produce social disaster." - Bertrand Russell in "On Education, Especially in Early Childhood" (1926)
A very central problem with theistic beliefs is they they do give their followers a free pass from personal responsibility: 'It is just too bad if you don t like our commands, but there is nothing we can do, sorry, as they are divine commands and we mere humans cannot change them'. This situation leaves one without direct personal responsibility of even very bad things that are done in the name of a religion, when it is based on claims of some sort of supernatural origin of their dogma. However, the very same thing can also happen with ideologies that are not based on supernatural claims as soon as they are taken to be the unmovable, ultimate truth of something. The very basic problem with for example communism was and still is that the hard-core communists do see the basic ideas of their faith as something that cannot be altered or even criticized at all. The end result is however the same as with theistic beliefs; the follower has no personal responsibility, when he is just doing what the unalterable dogma requires. The basic problem is of course the belief in the existence of a absolute unmovable truth, be it of divine or human origin. People accepting the existence of unmovable truths are just not seeing world and universe as the continually developing and changing process it really is and of which we can always receive new and often also much improved information. This does not however mean at all that one should reject all ideologies as equally dangerous, as the crucial thing is the level of commitment to an idea. I do personally think that humans must have higher goals and ideologies do offer these higher goals. One should just be prepared to face the possibility that even the ideology that one supports has it wrong in some issues, even if it still could be the best possible solution overall. However the fact that if an person rejects supernatural origins for theistic ideologies and also of the absolute
truths presented superhuman thinkers does not mean that he or she could not support and also further ideologies that are invented by humans. A person rejecting supernatural and also superhuman explanations can still be a good humanist, a keen democratic socialist or a very active Epicurean. However a lot is achieved if a person realizes that any of these ideologies does not contain the final and unmovable truth. I do think that much is gained if a person can see that even they are just things that good, honestly thinking people in certain kind of societies in certain points of history have thought out as best possible solutions for some issues they have seen to be in need of rectifying. by jaskaw @ 14.07.2010 - 16:46:07 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/07/14/bertrand-russell-on-skepticism-and-dogma-8973412/
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Hector [Visitor] 14.07.2010 @ 17:22 Like reading your blog post, when a new one is up, i rush an see the entire post...really enjoy it keep up the good work Prakhar Manas [Visitor] http://alienhomesick.blogspot.com 14.07.2010 @ 20:50 A big russell fan.... and I can see you preserved his thoughts very nicely in the post. Visit my blog for similar posts culandun [Visitor] 14.07.2010 @ 21:00 Where we do not have the intellectual capacity, or the education, or sometimes neither; to understand the world and times in which we live, then dogma based on faith becomes the method by which we come to terms with the inexplicable in terms of our relationship with our own nature, that of other species and the universe in general. Thus we promote to high status within our communities those who should help us to come to understand. However, there are many more leaders of faith who confirm dogma, than there are leaders of education that encourage intellectual growth. kaz smith [Visitor] 29.07.2010 @ 19:40 Bertrand Russell was a legend.....even managed to meet him once briefly Alas I can not remember I was only 6
Seneca on crimes committed by nations
"We are mad, not only individually, but nationally. We check manslaughter and isolated murders; but what of war and the much-vaunted crime of slaughtering whole peoples? There are no limits to our greed, none to our cruelty. And as long as such crimes are committed by stealth and by individuals, they are less harmful and less portentous; but cruelties are practised in accordance with acts of senate and popular assembly, and the public is bidden to do that which is forbidden to the individual. Deeds that would be punished by loss of life when committed in secret, are praised by us because uniformed generals have carried them out. Man, naturally the gentlest class of being, is not ashamed to revel in the blood of others, to wage war, and to entrust the waging of war to his sons, when even dumb beasts and wild beasts keep the peace with one another. Against this overmastering and widespread madness philosophy has become a matter of greater effort, and has taken on strength in proportion to the strength which is gained by the opposition forces." - Seneca the Younger (c. 3 BC 65 AD)
I think that we need a all new kind of a peace movement. The old peace movement was discredited when it did became a ideological tool and de facto defender of a very possible aggressor 70 s a and the 80 s. This peace movement lost its credibility when the nuclear weapons and building of armaments of another party were presented as a threat to humanity and the similar doings of the other party were just presented as necessary tools for self-defence. International peace movement has not yet sadly recovered from this incredible loss of credibility, even if the need to speak for peace has not diminished at all. International peace movement was at its all time height at the 1920 s after a the most unnecessary and cruel war that humanity had ever witnessed. It was a war that killed millions of people in useless, endless and meaningless slaughter. After this experience it was very easy to agree that something simply must be done to prevent it happening again. Unfortunately for peace movement the unjust and unnecessary First World War was followed by just and necessary Second World War. The need for pacifism was a hard sell after the Nazis had tried to take over the world with brute force. The problem is that absolutism does not work even in matters concerning peace, as it does not really work anywhere else, either. If one takes a stand that condemns all use of violence in all situations, one is inevitably put into a very difficult position, as there will be the need to defend oneself against aggression as long as there are aggressors.
However, one can well be peace-activist even if one accepts this inevitable fact of life. The core problem that remains here is of course to define aggression; is one also for example allowed to make preemptive attack on a enemy that is seen as a possible source of aggression? I do think a lot could be achieved if there would exist a truly international and ideologically truly independent peace-movement that would concentrate wholly on trying to diminish the social and ethical acceptance of aggression in all societies of the world. The main thing would be try to affect the current zeitgeist or the spirit of the time so that clear moral and ethical lines are drawn that ultimately could prohibit policy makers even of considering starting any kind of aggression on their own without a public outcry. (More on the importance of zeitgeist here: http://beinghuman.blogs.fi/2010/07/12/why-christians-did-finally-turn-against-slavery-8961607 ) The practical goal of a new truly international peace and in independent movement needs not to be a perfect world where there are no arms at all, as this is not possible as far as we know in practical terms. Even thought the armless world must of course be the ultimate goal. We must just remember that it is one of the hardest goals mankind can set to itself in the current state of the world. To achieve it the current practices but most of all current thinking of the mankind need to change in an quite extraordinary manner. It is not wholly impossible of course, as the practices of mankind have changed in extraordinary manner before. Currently it is just very hard to see what would initiate such changes. Accepting this fact of life does not however mean that we should surrender at all. I think that we can achieve a lot by just trying to chance the over-all acceptance and perception of violence and aggression. Ultimately we should change the prevailing zeitgeist of our times in this matter. The results of this work are of course very hard to discern. One needs perhaps decades of dedicated hard work by a large group of humans to to achieve real changes in the zeitgeist. These changes can be achieved only by endless stream of on-line debates, discussions on all kinds of forums, blog writings, e-books, YouTube-videos, podcast-talks and appearances by those who have really set their goals to achieve a change the acceptance of aggression as a tool of national policy.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca, or Seneca the Younger) (c. 3 BC 65 AD) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. His father was Seneca the Elder. by jaskaw @ 15.07.2010 - 11:07:45 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/07/15/seneca-on-crimes-committed-by-nations-8977377/
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jose joseph [Visitor] http://http/:thelittlebook.blogs.fi 15.07.2010 @ 14:17 there are two poles in every being.good and bad.which is more prominent prevails if not directed. it must be directed from the womb itself.now everybody is after money,power and enjoyment at the cost of their fellow brothers. when vast majority are selfish out come will be horrible.parents must teach their children to be good and love their fellow beings.for that they themselves should be good.that is lacking.everybody preaches for others, not for themselves to practice.of course there are basic factors in every being,food, sleep,fear and sex.inhibitions only create chaos.train them in such a way that they won't hinder other peoples freedom.accept them as reality and not sin.religious fanatics first name everybody else as sinners.then they make own fellow beings to lick their feet for emancipation.they are most dangerous terrorists here.they perpetrate violence,hatred and terror for their own ends.they are whitewashed tombs.so educate the society to prevent them from selfishness.these cheats like,religious people,political leaders won't allow it to happen.if the whole world is good there is no need for them and no way for their enjoyment and exploitation.they spread hatred and speak publicly love,goodness peace and brotherhood.they don't think or rather understand that life is too short and have to vacate the place soon.so why we should spread hatred,evils,terrorism for ones own happiness at the cost of ones fellow brothers.do to others what you expect others to do to you.this is not for preaching. but to practice. everybody preaches it for others,not to practice for themselves.
Marcus Aurelius on pain
"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but rather to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment" - Marcus Aurelius
This extremely simple and extremely straightforward sentence is so easy to understand, but it contains things that are among the most difficult things in the world to make really happen in real life. A unbelievable amount of young lives could and would be saved, however, if people really could carry out the simple act of correct estimation of the outside mental causes of their distress. Alas, it is not that easy at all, but I think that this sentence should be uttered in every school of the world to every young person entering adulthood. This should be done in the (all too often vain, of course) hope that they would understand that they really can became the masters of their own minds and even masters of their own destiny. Of course if this is extremely difficult to believe at times when the world around us is so full of uncertainty and unknown dangers. I must stress that Marcus is not at all saying that it would be easy. In my mind he is just saying that it is possible to alter the way how your mind reacts to outside influences, if you put enough real conscious effort into it. I however do not think that he was in fact talking about physical stimuli or things like wanting something, but much more of about how we react to emotions and ideas of others, which is of course even more important to a social animal like human. However, I think that this maxim can be seen the other way round also. When people say things like that posing in the nude degrades a person, I think that they just cannot fathom at all that THEY are the people doing this degrading and it simply does not exist without also them thinking as they think. A quite impossible thing to understand for so many people is that if they would not continue their degrading of that person, she or he would not quite probably not feel degraded him- or herself anymore. In the end this degrading exists only in the minds of people who feel that they must be offended by such
things. If they would not feel the need for the offense anymore, they quite likely would not feel the need to believe also in a inherent degrading effect of some things that other people do and the real causes for that degradation would slowly vanish. On the background there is the basic inability to see that prevailing opinions in society are formed by us and nobody else. We all are the people who make the zeitgeist or the spirit of the time what it currently is. The common idea of what is seen as recommendable or acceptable or non-acceptable behavior in a society is created with every single daily action we do. If we just state that there are things that just are so because somebody somewhere out there thinks so, and they will always be so, we will never see true change in society. by jaskaw @ 20.07.2010 - 02:40:08 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/07/19/marcus-aurelius-on-pain-9003861/
Karl Popper on correcting errors in science
"The history of science, like the history of all human ideas, is a history of irresponsible dreams, of obstinacy, and of error. But science is one of the very few human activities perhaps the only one in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected. This is why we can say that, in science, we often learn from our mistakes, and why we can speak clearly and sensibly about making progress there." - Karl Popper in "Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge" (1963)
There are people who are fond of saying things like " Faith is the basis for belief in the scientific method also". I must differ and I must differ strongly. The first thing is that the basis for modern scientific method is that others must be able to verify and even reproduce independently at will every hypothesis, theory and finding that is included in the scientific curriculum. There is no faith involved in this process. The second and crucial thing is that there are no absolute truths in science that would require faith these things to be accepted as some kind of final word on anything. The theory of gravity or the theory of structure of carbon must and will be altered if new information on their nature is found out through new findings. Of course these new findings must first be reproduced so many times that the need for alteration of the original theory is seen as inevitable by the majority of the experts of the given field. No single scientist creates scientific 'truth', even if a single scientist can initiate a change in scientific paradigm's. The final outcome is however always based on the consensus of the best current researchers in given field of the world-wide and ultimately fully open scientific community. Any person from anywhere in the world can become part of that universal community by simply acquiring suitable education and knowledge on any given field of science and also by showing by in practice that one really masters his or her field of expertise. The basis of modern science is the scientific method, but it really is a method only. It is not a article of faith at all, but it can be altered or given up altogether if a better method for acquiring trustworthy knowledge of our reality is someday discovered. The blunt truth is that the modern scientific method has simply been found in practice to produce the best results in the field of scientific inquiry. It is a practical proposition, not a ideology. New competing scientific 'truths' do emerge all the time, but only after enough experts of a given field are convinced by the new evidence they became part of the current version of the scientific truth . So, the scientific method it is just a practical solution to the very practical problem. It is currently seen as the
best method for finding out as reliably as possible as much as possible about the physical reality that surrounds us. Only religions do offer absolute answers and absolute truths. Science can never do that. Even if you do not need to have faith in science, but of course you need to have a certain level of trust. Science is that respect no different from any other field of life, as you need to evaluate and create a level of trust for every single source of information you encounter during your whole life. Trust is of course the very basic building block of human life. On the basic level life is very hard if we do not trust ourselves. We must also trust our society to be based on justice to be able to live peacefully without fear of injustice. Without trust life would simply not just be bearable. If we do not trust our employers to pay your wages in the end of the month, if we do not trust the garbage man to take the garbage as he promised or we cannot trust the bus to appear at all in the morning, life will be very, very hard. A failed state is simply a state without trust. The level of trust you forward to science can of course also vary according to the specific issue at hand. Scientist do of course also speculate and make too strong hypothesis out of too weak evidence. The great thing about scientific method however is that these inevitable failures and mishaps are normally weeded out in the long run. On the other hand the absolute truths of religions do not normally change at all, even if our knowledge of the world changes even immensely. At end religious faith is believing in claims that are not backed up by reliable real world evidence. Religious faith is in fact a quite different animal than everyday trust, even if some dictionaries do mistakenly define these words as synonyms. These dictionaries do forget that in the field of religions word 'faith' has a completely different meaning that it does have elsewhere. So, you can trust science to provide the best knowledge that is available to humanity at the moment as you can trust your television to show news, your mobile phone to bring the voice of your loved ones and your refrigerator to keep its cool, even if you do not have any kind of 'faith' in them. You do need only trust to believe in the existence of real world things, but you need the religious kind of faith to believe in things whose very existence is impossible to show or verify. "The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific, and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our knowledge of our ignorance. For this, indeed, is the main source of our ignorance the fact that our knowledge can be only finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite." - Karl Popper in "Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge" (1963) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method http://www.facebook.com/pages/Karl-Popper/131272180219102 by jaskaw @ 28.07.2010 - 22:49:26 http://thelittlebook.blogs.fi/2010/07/28/karl-popper-on-correcting-errors-in-science-9062951/
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jaskaw (Jaakko Wallenius), male, 52 years old, Lohja, , speaks Finnish (FI) (English version at bottom) Uusi ja yllättävä tieto on minulle ylivoimaisesti parasta viihdettä. Rakkaus historiaan syttyi jo kansankouluaikana, mutta viime vuosina melkoisesti aikaa on vienyt myös tietotekniikkaan syventyminen. Opiskelin aikoinaan historiaa, sosiologiaa ja valtio-oppia, mutta lyhyeksi jäänyt poliittinen ura vei miehen pian mukanaan. Jo 17 vuotta sitten alkoi nykyinen taloustoimittajan ura. Asun pienessä omakotitalossa pienessä kaupungissa vaimon, kahden koiran, kahden lapsen ja viime laskun mukaan 14 kalan kanssa. Korjailen toimittajan päätyöni ohella sivutoimisena yrittäjänä hyvien kaupunkilaisten tietokoneita. Olen myös kotitoimitukseni pääluottamusmies. New information is always the best entertainment for me. My everlasting love of historý started at the elementary school at tender age of nine, when I read The 600 pages of Pocket World History, admittedly skipping the dull parts about culture... I have studied history, political history, political science and journalism in universities of Turku and Tampere, but have never graduated from neither. A brief but tempestuous political career blew the man premately to to wide world from the comforting womb of university. A more steady career in journalism followed and I have been a professional writer and journalist for the past 20 years. At present I live in a small town in a small house with a wife, two not so small teenagers, two middle-sized dogs and 14 fish of various sizes. By day I work as a journalist writing about local economy in our local newspaper. Its a job i have held for the past 17 years. In the evenings and week-ends I repair the computers of the good citizens of our little town as a private entrepreneur.
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