The typical religious person, isolated from his or her faith, probably contributes more goodness than suffering to the world. However the good ones all together fabricate the veil under which evil can thrive uncompromised. It is the good people of any church, mosque, temple, or what have you, who provide a shelter for such evil to flourish; a shelter built from faith to deceive the masses of true immorality. This kind of deception is only possible because of faith. Seductive lies of an afterlife combined with the veil of moral patrons disguise and justify many evils. But rationality will prevail. Rationality will permeate these lies and will bestow upon us a salvation the bastard son of a god could never have imagined.

Tags: church, deceit, deceive, deception, ethics, evil, faith, good, lies, morality, More…mosque, people, rationality, religion, temple

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Andrew, atheists often say that not all christians or muslims are bad people. That is true to an extent. But organized theism has been one of the biggest violators of human rights and one of the greatest hindrances to moral, social, and scientific progress. In matters of justice and progress, the church has always been on the wrong side of history.

 

My problem with theism is with theism itself, not with individual followers that we could call out by name. My problem isn't with Bob in Detroit. My problem is that theism itself is a lie; a fantasy; a vainglorious deception.

 

It is just as wrong to tell someone that god loves them and is rewarding them as it is to tell them that god hates them and is punishing them. Without empirical evidence for god, both are malicious lies. Both instill a false belief in the individuals who accept them. The problem with this is that we cannot justifiably condemn one and then praise the other if those values are chosen arbitrarily, which they are, as both or either is chosen without evidence.  

 

Of course, we know that people can be good without god. Also, individuals can certainly do good in some ways in spite of being christian or muslim, etc. But these same people do harm in other ways by supporting the systemic deception that is theism.

 

I don't think that "this kind of deception is only possible because of faith." However, faith itself gives people free license to do deeply immoral and socially harmful things without regard to the consequences of their actions. If my mythical god deems it okay, then whatever comes of it must be okay too, like blowing up people with bombs.

 

It's worth pointing out  that you never see any significant number of atheists strapping bombs to themselves in order to kill as many people as possible.

 

But you are completely wrong that rationality will prevail. Rationality will never prevail. Mankind changes, certainly, but it is an illusion to think that these changes are somehow leading to the perfecting of our collective human nature. There is no "salvation" in so-called progress. There is only more change. This change may seem like progress, and it is a useful word, but the change that human kind has undergone is not linear. There is no path to human "progress." There is only change.  

 

The concept that we can improve ourselves, and strive for the perfection of our nature, assumes that there is some external, objective "perfection" by which we could measure ourselves or move towards. There isn't.

You summed up most of what I meant in a more elegant way than I ever could. And granted "this kind of deception is only possible because of faith" is a little assuming. Thank you for opening my eyes to the assumption I made. But as far as rationality goes, I feel you may be a bit pessimistic when you say "rationality will never prevail" and that there isn't "some ... objective perfection by which we could measure ourselves or move towards."

Aristotle and Plato have an idea called teleology. "A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature" (Wikipedia).

Imagine yourself in an eternal, immortal state of bliss. Would this not be most people's idea of a final cause? Is it wrong to believe that, while that may not be every individual's idea of a final cause, that every individual may have a final cause? And as far as your comment about "rationality never provails"... are we as a human race not more rational than we were X amount of years ago? I mean, it used to not be uncommon for a woman to be deemed a witch and burned at the stake, for slavery to exist, for the holocaust to occur. I could go on and on. Many people, (in some cases, the majority of people), in those times, thought this moronic behavior was rational. Our state of rationality has evolved since then has it not? What about the first humans whose most advanced tools were made of stone? Have we not become more rational since then; more adept at reaping benefits and minimizing costs; more efficient at approaching our final cause?

I appreciate your response and I absolutely love that you challenged my idea, but you have failed to show me logically that rationality won't prevail, when evidence seems to suggest that it always has prevailed... It is true that we face some volatility of irrationality in the short term; some minor but brief setbacks (I believe theism is one of these volatilities) but as far as history goes, I feel like over all, life, and humans in particular, has always approached greater states of rationality. Who is to say that rationality won't continue this upward trend?

But as far as rationality goes, I feel you may be a bit pessimistic when you say "rationality will never prevail" and that there isn't "some ... objective perfection by which we could measure ourselves or move towards."

 

I don't think pessimism has anything to do with it.


Aristotle and Plato have an idea called teleology. "A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature" (Wikipedia).

 

Yes, but at the end of the day it is just that: an idea. Ideas are not evidence. And while teleology may hold true for individual motivations, we cannot justifiably assert that the the Universe as a whole, or man's place in it, is teleological by "design or purpose." There is no design and there is no purpose. There is only cause and effect. The actions that have and that are currently taking place will lead to a fairly predictable end (science shows us this). But that end was neither the goal nor the reason why the Universe acts in the manner that it does.


Imagine yourself in an eternal, immortal state of bliss. Would this not be most people's idea of a final cause? Is it wrong to believe that, while that may not be every individual's idea of a final cause, that every individual may have a final cause?

 

I think I object to your use of the word "cause" here because it sounds too much like "intention," as if there is an intentionality to existence. There isn't. Actions may be motivated by intentions, but the Universe is not. We have no evidence to suggest that.

 

And as far as your comment about "rationality never provails"... are we as a human race not more rational than we were X amount of years ago? I mean, it used to not be uncommon for a woman to be deemed a witch and burned at the stake, for slavery to exist, for the holocaust to occur.

 

Terrible and inhuman tragedies that still go on today in one form or another. For example, slavery still exists all over the world via forced labor, child labor, and sexual slavery. And we still have people being burned as witches.

 

I could go on and on. Many people, (in some cases, the majority of people), in those times, thought this moronic behavior was rational.

 

No they didn't. People did not decide to burn witches at the stake becaused they examined the evidence, weighed the pros and cons, and rationally decided that burning a woman alive was the best course of action. These crimes were motivated by fear, superstition, and the church (who must always find scapegoats in order to control the sheep). Now, people may have had post hoc rationalizations for their actions, e.g., my crops failed so my neighbor must be a witch who cursed them, therefore burning her was the right thing to do. But this kind of "rationalization" is not the same thing as ratiocination.

 

Our state of rationality has evolved since then has it not? What about the first humans whose most advanced tools were made of stone? Have we not become more rational since then; more adept at reaping benefits and minimizing costs; more efficient at approaching our final cause?

 

Certainly we have, but it was not reason that drove man to design a spear to kill animals. It was hunger. Insight, inspiration, and innovation are not driven by reason. They are driven by experience and very often a sudden and inexplicable understanding of X. Also, I completely reject the notion that we have a "final cause." We may have a finality to our collective existence, but that is not because there is some inevitable goal or state of being which we are moving towards for some unexpressed universal purpose.

 

I appreciate your response and I absolutely love that you challenged my idea, but you have failed to show me logically that rationality won't prevail, when evidence seems to suggest that it always has prevailed...

 

IMO, you give rationality too much credit, or at the very least put too much faith in it. Culture, social norms, politics, and human justice are not governed by rationality/reason. They are governed by umwelten, as well as circumstance, affect, expectation, power, need, desire, and very often, tradition.

 

For example, it is certainly better that slavery has ended in the US, but its demise was not brought about by rational thought.  Affect, conflict, politics, and even the industrial revolution played much more pivotal roles than reason ever did. If man was "reasonable," slavery would never have existed in the first place.  

 

It is true that we face some volatility of irrationality in the short term; some minor but brief setbacks (I believe theism is one of these volatilities) but as far as history goes, I feel like over all, life, and humans in particular, has always approached greater states of rationality. Who is to say that rationality won't continue this upward trend?

 

Rationality and logic are not a state of being. We cannot be rational. Reason/logic is a tool; a way or a method of thinking. It is not a state of being. in spite of all our social "progress": women can vote, blacks have equal rights, children go to school not the factory, etc., humanity is no more ruled by rationality and reason than it was in the past, or will be in the future. Civilization is brought about by our circumstances (technology, abundance of food, adherence to law). We are not maintaining a civil society because of our love and devotion to rationality.

 

Some things I think you should explore. These deal mainly with human self-knowledge and motivation/decision making, and are, I believe, relevant to this discussion. I have read some, but not all of these:

 

The Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail: A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment

 

On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not

 

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

 

How We Decide

 

How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life

 

And here is a great lecture by Lawrence Krauss in which he shows that if the Universe had been only slightly different (the chain or cause and effect, I mean), that we would not be here today. This is relevant, I think, in discussing the "design or purpose" of the Universe, for which there is none. The way the Universe is now, the "end purpose" of it (if we're still around to see it) will be a world of complete isolation and darkness. The Universe will continue to expand so rapidly that future generations will not be able to detect anything in outer space (no light, no sound, no radiation) because space expands faster than light or sound can travel, so the expanding Universe will outpace the speed of light itself.

Okay here you have taken everything out of context. I agree with you that there is no design or purpose. I never said the Universe as a whole, or man's place in it, is teleological by design, so I'm not sure why you think you are disagreeing with me when you say that. In addition, cause does not mean intentionality, and I have nothing to say about intentionality. You're right; there is no intentionality to existence.

 

Terrible and inhuman tragedies that still go on today in one form or another. For example, slavery still exists all over the world via forced labor, child labor, and sexual slavery. And we still have people being burned as witches.

 

True, but to a much, much smaller extent. And that was my point.

 

Then you go on an make many arguements that are based on a fundamental misunderstanding as to what I meant by rationality. Maybe that is my fault for using the term rationality. It is possible that I should have used another word. Nonetheless here is what I meant by rationality in terms of a population's rationality: a population's rationality is the average teleological efficiency of an individual in that population. In other words, when I refer to the rationality of humans or the state of rationality, I am talking about the extent to which behavior efficiently advances the average individual to its final cause (final cause being teleology, if that clears up any confusion as to my use of the word cause).

 

So basically, I am talking about consequence, not intentionality. I have made no conclusions about human decision making, only on the progression of our behavior's efficiency. Nothing that I said had anything to do with decision making so you really took us off an a tangent there. But if there is a better word I should use than rationality let me know what you think! And if you still think I'm wrong now that you know what I'm talking about let me know why!

I agree with you that there is no design or purpose.

 

Glad we see eye to eye on that.

 

I never said the Universe as a whole, or man's place in it, is teleological by design, so I'm not sure why you think you are disagreeing with me when you say that.

 

Because you said:

... an idea called teleology. "A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature" ... Is it wrong to believe that, while that may not be every individual's idea of a final cause, that every individual may have a final cause?

 

That sounds like your suggesting mankind has a collective purpose or specific end.

 

Terrible and inhuman tragedies that still go on today in one form or another. For example, slavery still exists all over the world via forced labor, child labor, and sexual slavery. And we still have people being burned as witches.

True, but to a much, much smaller extent. And that was my point.

 

Pinker has argued that this is the case. Perhaps so. But I think such things are difficult to quantify. Man's inhumanity to man is still alive and well, and it is not governed by things such as sentiment or rationality. It is only tempred by circumstance, such as an abundance of food, access to medical care, etc.  


Nonetheless here is what I meant by rationality in terms of a population's rationality: a population's rationality is the average teleological efficiency of an individual in that population. In other words, when I refer to the rationality of humans or the state of rationality, I am talking about the extent to which behavior efficiently advances the average individual to its final cause (final cause being teleology, if that clears up any confusion as to my use of the word cause).

 

 

So you're simply saying that our behavior isn't counterproductive? That we are better now at achieving our goals than we were in the past?

 

I have made no conclusions about human decision making, only on the progression of our behavior's efficiency. Nothing that I said had anything to do with decision making so you really took us off an a tangent there. But if there is a better word I should use than rationality let me know what you think!

 

Well, you used the term "rationality" a lot, which puts me in mind of what rationality / reason is used for: to assess and decide. In that context, decision making is highly relevant. And, if I'm understanding you now, I think that it is still relevant if you're talking about the "extent to which behavior efficiently advances the average individual to its final cause." Surely knowledge (or a lack thereof) and the quality of our decisions is relevant to that end.  

I only meant that individuals may have a final end, not to suggest that all individuals should have the same one.

 

Exactly, "our behavior isn't counterproductive" is a bit of an oversimplification, but that is aligned to what I was saying. And you're right, there must be a better word for what I am trying to express than "rationality". Remember that this whole argument came from just two sentences from the original post. "But rationality will prevail. Rationality will permeate these lies and will bestow upon us a salvation the bastard son of a god could never have imagined." So it makes sense that most of our lengthy discourse stems down to a simple misunderstanding, and ultimately a simple idea. haha. But thanks for helping me refine my thoughts. You're the only one who posted something skeptical and that is what I really wanted to read.

My Grandpa used to say that religion was the scourge of the Earth.  Smart man.

I agree 100%. : )

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.
-- Steven Weinberg


Personally, I still think the above says it all.

That's true too Loren!

That pretty much sums it up in a sentence!

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