Altruism leads to Genocide?

Tao_Equus

Interfaith Forums
Messages
5,826
Reaction score
4
Points
0
Location
Edinburgh, scotland
From the following article:

"Bowles modelled this possibility in a previous paper and found that even with a measure of inbreeding, altruists still win out. However, he agrees that it would slow the evolution of altruism through warfare. "A much better way to spread the genes is to kill everybody," he says."

Ancient warfare: Fighting for the greater good - life - 04 June 2009 - New Scientist

What a terrible logic! And it shows how we have to collectively and consciously develop new mass-survival strategies.
 
It's a strange claim - surely the point is that humanity is a social ape, and where different social groups come into conflict, then the individual will seek to protect the interests of the group?

We get this with other social species - chimpanzees and wolves immediately come to mind.

What I don't understand is the separation of altruism from social biology, when surely altruism is already a part of social biology?

In which case, the whole attempted observation seems a re-statement of the bleeding obvious to me - that individuals of a group will stick together as a group when in conflict with other groups, in order to protect their group interest.

Where's the revelation?

Or did I misunderstand the article. :)
 
In humans, there are a few general operating patterns...

Groups tend to stick together (solidarity) and have infighting amongst themselves, until a larger, more foreign group is felt as a threat, and then they suddenly band together in larger groups with wider solidarity (at least temporarily) in order to deal with the bigger threat. In tribal societies, these are called segmentary lineage organizations. For an example, see what happened with the Plains Indians.

At the same time, the human operating pattern is to be curious about others and want to mate with everyone. Hence, we do not exhibit signs of ovulation like wolves or chimps. We're receptive to mating all the time, fall in love/lust easily, and instinctively want to broaden our gene pool with those dissimilar from us. There were studies done, for example, that measured female arousal at the scents of males' shirts they had sweated in. I know, we're all thinking "Ew" but the body's arousal belied the cultural proscriptions against it. Interestingly, women were most aroused by the scent of men most dissimilar in genetics.

What is difficult to realize for most people is that genetic diversity does not correspond to our perceptions of genetic diversity. Cultures tend to teach us in terms of "races," but these are not biologically founded in real genetic diversity but rather just a few very manifest phenotypic traits. For example, there is more genetic diversity within single villages in Africa than between a "white" European and a Chinese person. The sweat's scent was tied more heavily to real genetic diversity, which may or may not correspond to a male that looks substantially different from the female.

Basically, we learn all this junk culturally about who is in "our group" and we often assume "our group" has some genetic basis to it and that we'd biologically "want" to maintain genetic purity. But this is actually not biologically the case. Whatever our cultural conditioning is, biologically we are driven to seek diversity and maximize the "hybrid vigor" of mixing it up. Healthier kids come from genetic diversity. Just take a look at the domesticated breeds like dogs and horses to see what happens when we breed according to phenotypic type over long periods without genetic diversity- all sorts of physical health problems and neurotic conditions. The mutt generally lives longest, is smartest, and has the fewest health problems.

So, it is more that we as humans are in a constant tension between two evolutionary drives. Cultural solidarity (the us vs. them mentality) maintains group distinctiveness and provides the foundation for emotional bonds within the group, which gives rise to altruism and sociality necessary for survival. But biologically, we are driven to "switch it up" in reproduction so that offspring are maximally healthy. In short, we are simultaneously curious about and scared of each other. Typically, it is when resources are scarce and there is a felt "threat" that the fear leads to violence and overcomes the natural curiosity.
 
The intriguing part of this article, to me, is this:

Bowles culled archaeological and ethnographic data on the lethality of ancient warfare and plugged them into an evolutionary model of population change.

Poo, how does one create an "evolutionary model of population change" ? That sounds like it deserves a Nobel Prize to me :)

Thanks.
 
It's a strange claim - surely the point is that humanity is a social ape, and where different social groups come into conflict, then the individual will seek to protect the interests of the group?

We get this with other social species - chimpanzees and wolves immediately come to mind.

What I don't understand is the separation of altruism from social biology, when surely altruism is already a part of social biology?

In which case, the whole attempted observation seems a re-statement of the bleeding obvious to me - that individuals of a group will stick together as a group when in conflict with other groups, in order to protect their group interest.

Where's the revelation?

Or did I misunderstand the article. :)

I kind of agree, definitely a candidate for the "No Sh1t Sherlock" awards. Yet sometimes despite something being 'bleeding obvious' it serves us well to be reminded of it. It was, after all, this precise observation that led to the public support of supremacist Nazi propaganda in the 1930's.
 
At the same time, the human operating pattern is to be curious about others and want to mate with everyone. Hence, we do not exhibit signs of ovulation like wolves or chimps. We're receptive to mating all the time, fall in love/lust easily, and instinctively want to broaden our gene pool with those dissimilar from us. There were studies done, for example, that measured female arousal at the scents of males' shirts they had sweated in. I know, we're all thinking "Ew" but the body's arousal belied the cultural proscriptions against it. Interestingly, women were most aroused by the scent of men most dissimilar in genetics.
Which is my main argument for why the patriarchal bondage imposed on women within Islam, for example, is nothing less than 'investment protection'. As such systems work on marrying off cousins in pre-arranged 'transactions' genetic diversity is a real issue. The women become increasingly receptive to opportunist sex with strangers and so the whole male led social taboo thing is ratchetted up to try and counteract it. My 6 year experience in Greece, where I was offered 2 brides I had not previously met, showed me that having sex with an unmarried girl was close to impossible. But the married woman given the briefest opprtunity I had to sometimes run away from. As a Greek man once said to me "European women are whores for sleeping around before they get married", my reply was "Greek women are bigger whores for they wait till they are married before they sleep around". He knew it was true and conceeded it with a laugh.
 
"European women are whores for sleeping around before they get married", my reply was "Greek women are bigger whores for they wait till they are married before they sleep around". He knew it was true and conceeded it with a laugh.

haha It wouldnt suprise me about married women but Greek women are European. European is Greek a word, Western philosophy, Western Medicine, Western Democracy, Western military warfare tactics, all originate from Greece. It’s true that male dominance over Greek women was fairly tight in alot of Greek history. But I can't see this within my generation anymore when compared to anywhere else in Europe. A night out in Athens or Patra for instance will show this.
 
Which is my main argument for why the patriarchal bondage imposed on women within Islam, for example, is nothing less than 'investment protection'.

I'm not going to comment in a judgmental stance, but I will say that the pattern we find cross-culturally is:

Inheritance from father to son
+
Patrilineal descent (ancestry through father's line only)
+
Pastoral or Agricultural lifeway (i.e., the real and pressing need to inherit land rights and animals from parents to make a living)
+
Patrilocality (living with husband's father's family after marriage)
=

Tight constraints on women's sexuality

The reality is that you always know who the mother is; without paternity testing you can't know who the father is. This means that for most pastoral/agricultural societies in which dad wants to make sure his "real" son inherits all his stuff, he needs to make sure his wife is not cheating on him and pulling a fast one, shoving the inheritance out to some other family. In broader lineages, there is often the use of marriage and offspring to create deeper economic, social, and political bonds as well, so cross-cousin marriage is practiced. This is entirely acceptable because in a patrilineal system, those people are not considered your relatives.

Interestingly, in matrilineal systems you do not get matriarchies. What you do get is inheritance from mother to daughter, which eliminates the "Whose kid is this?" question. You also get matrilocality, which keeps grandmothers, mothers, and sisters together in family groups and leads to much more equality in rights.

You also get higher divorce rates, because the men have no rights over the woman's personal property, inheritance, or offspring. So, if a marriage isn't working or the man mistreats the woman, she kicks him to the curb.

To be honest, I have never come across a truly satisfactory explanation for why matrilineality is common among horticulturists, but patrilineality is generally the way among pastoralists and agriculturalists. From what I understand, the best argument is warfare and other violent conflict. The more war/inter-group violence plays a role in a society, the more the women tend to be stuck at home with the kids, due to the obvious necessity of protecting the reproductive bottleneck in a group. You can lose a lot of men and solve the problem through polygyny, but you can't lose a lot of women and bounce back easily. Hence, women are generally stuck at home in these situations. Meanwhile, war creates a context of social advancement and prestige for men (as well as wealth) that is inaccessible to women. As this progresses over time, there is greater and greater inequality.
 
"European women are whores for sleeping around before they get married", my reply was "Greek women are bigger whores for they wait till they are married before they sleep around". He knew it was true and conceeded it with a laugh.

haha It wouldnt suprise me about married women but Greek women are European. European is Greek a word, Western philosophy, Western Medicine, Western Democracy, Western military warfare tactics, all originate from Greece. It’s true that male dominance over Greek women was fairly tight in alot of Greek history. But I can't see this within my generation anymore when compared to anywhere else in Europe. A night out in Athens or Patra for instance will show this.

Though the unstoppable dragging into modernity is less visible in Athens and less so Patras it is still there. But out in the villages there are still arranged marriages with dowries. As I said I was "offered" 2 brides while I was there. Males dominate politics and religion but in my observation it is the matriarch that rules the home. Interesting to note that both the 'brides' offered had been 'naughty' girls, and perhaps the hope was I would take them and remove the source of their embarrassment. One of the girls was actually from Patras though and the dowry included land and a small house close to where I was working that summer, just north of Olympia. I like to think that as I was working for a small family business they were honouring the quality of my work for them and seeking to make me a permanent part of it. She was the neice of my boss.

Further south where I spent the greater part of every one of the 6 1/2 years I was in Greece, the people were still living with the hostility within families generated during the Greek civil war. And I mean palpably so, effecting evry facet of daily life. The village had two of everything so that socialists and fascists never had to 'betray'. Their affluence, generated by the rich tax-free status of olive and vine production allowed them all to send their children to universities and consequently it was only holidays you saw youth. The village of Gargaliani (pop c.9000) is as complete a rural isolation, and step back in time, from everything but basic technologies. The people themselves have changed little in recorded history. But it was changing fast!

I loved the area. I know the north of the peninsula pretty well from Corinth through to Patras but have a special love of Xylokastron where I spent two extended summer periods. The west coast I know best of all and love the most too. Pylos, 40km south of Gargaliani was my local 'chill' spot and where there was a colony of many nations living. I spent my first spring and summer close to Argos and Nafplio. I travelled several times the route from Athens to Kalamata both by train and motorbike and indulged in many random detours that took me to places that few ever see. I know the south west quarter of the Peloponesse fairly well away from the west coast too. But the North-east, east and south-east finger I have never visited. I think the farthest east I ever visited was Skala in Laconia, a little south-east of Sparta.

I have put the google map image in the following link of my farmhouse home for 6 years in Palea Valta, the plateau to the north-east of Gargaliani. In it you can see the tree nursery beds I started :)
gargaliani - Google Maps
 
.....is....... entirely supportive of what I say? Thats what I read ;)

Supportive in data, though I refuse to say it in a judgmental way. That's what I was getting at. Behind much of what you say is an implication of one culture being superior to another. I don't think that perspective is useful or proper for me as an anthropologist, but I figured you might want the patterns behind your assertions... if you didn't have them already.
 
Supportive in data, though I refuse to say it in a judgmental way. That's what I was getting at. Behind much of what you say is an implication of one culture being superior to another. I don't think that perspective is useful or proper for me as an anthropologist, but I figured you might want the patterns behind your assertions... if you didn't have them already.

I suppose I do make some qualitative judgements. I like to think they are informed though and not prejudiced to individual belief. My start point is the belief that mankind will not go backwards except by huge natural or not-so-natural catastrophe. Progress means mankind needs whole new mechanisms for a survival that is symbiotic rather than parasitic. That does not mean just adapting toward stewardship rather than ownership. Collectively maintaining class and cultural divisions that feed on the scarcity for masses and the riches for the few is not the way forward. I saw you say something along the lines that religion and politics evolved together. I agree 100%. Religion is politics. The back bone of it is ideological belief in both cases. This is the reasoning behind my disillusion with religions in general. They evolved entwined in politics and are now nigh on inseparable. And this is why they are used time and time again for political and commercial motives. Religion time and time again has hijacked peoples natural tendencies toward altruism to truly horrendous ends. Religions will always have that weakness in them. Thats why I am against them. When the only definition of religion that remains is "personal belief system" then and only then will my position change.
 
Your judgements may be decently informed, but they will always be prejudiced. It is just what happens- it is part of the human condition. Our very tendencies to pick up some information from our environments and not other information is prejudiced, not to mention our analysis and conclusions.

Yes, religion and politics evolved together socially. So did everything else that is cultural- family life, economics, art. That is the way human society works. An analogy is an ecosystem. One can only artifically and theoretically separate the trees from the soil from the waterways from the birds. But really, they are interdependent, evolved together, and function not only as individuals but also as a cohesive unit with emergent properties. The idea of having society and cultural categorically separated into various attributes independent of each other is just... not the way it works. It's like saying the human body should have each organ function without interdependency and intercommunication, without reliance on development or functioning of other organs. This is just not how these large-scale emergent things work.

As for mankind progressing forward... actually, humankind evolved to adapt to its environment through culture. There are both positive and negative results of this. The positive result of our evolution through culture rather than (primarily) through biology (as other species do) is that we can adapt extremely rapidly and create our own environments favorable (at least short-term) for our survival and propagation. We are one of the most adaptable species on earth for this reason, with a real potential to colonize other planets. The negative result of this is that our primary drive is social, not rational or for survival. We are primarily driven (as a species) by social sanctions- by how others think about us, by a sense of belonging, by a sense of prestige and value to the group. While this can drive altruistic behavior, it can also be profoundly maladaptive, which we often see in the historical and pre-historical record. Our drive to feel good socially- to feel valued and respected- means that we often consume far more than is reasonable for long-term survival, that we are violent with each other, that we twist and warp every aspect of our culture in ways that harm our own species and our earth, that we have constant conflict. This frequently threatens civilizations (and ends them, as greed, violence, and other problems outstrip resources and the capacity to be resilient). It is only since the population of humanity became so high that we see a potential threat to our entire species as our greed and violence harms the earth itself on a broad scale.

I hope that our culture, globally, evolves in some way to overcome the real threat we are to ourselves, and I have some ideas about how this might happen. But as all of human history shows, this does not happen by throwing out everything the culture ever was, or even most of what it was. Cultures evolve, like genetics, through small but important changes to what was existing before, often adding up to entirely new and unexpected things. But change too dramatically, too rapidly, and it is too much to survive. Huge changes to societies often cause disintegration of the very knowledge necessary for future adaptation. Much of this knowledge about human health, effective conservation and natural resource management, plant and animal species, and so on, is encoded in the world's religious systems. While someone like yourself may ignore all this and look only at the world religions and modern society, I do not, and so I recognize that it is impossible and probably quite damaging to attempt to remove religion from society- this is like removing some element from an ecosystem. One doesn't know how it will play out, and the likelihood to do further harm is high. It is a better question to ask how to maximize the useful aspects of some part of culture and minimize the harmful aspects. Change from within generally has more chance for success and less chance of harm.
 
While someone like yourself may ignore all this and look only at the world religions and modern society, I do not, and so I recognize that it is impossible and probably quite damaging to attempt to remove religion from society- this is like removing some element from an ecosystem. One doesn't know how it will play out, and the likelihood to do further harm is high. It is a better question to ask how to maximize the useful aspects of some part of culture and minimize the harmful aspects. Change from within generally has more chance for success and less chance of harm.

As usual Poo, a wonderfully thoughful post. This last portion resonated with me differently than the rest of the post. You envision religion as part of an ecosystem like an organ in our body. Of course removing your heart or kidney does not work too well. But lets take your analogy to the next level. The appendix is an organ which became vestigial as humans evolved. It is possible that religion will become unnecessary as well ?

I am simply asking this question, I do not presume to know the answer. Communist Russia and then the Soviet Union proved that extracting religion, in the way that you described, did not work.

But isn't it possible that we will evolve in a way that many of the questions that are asked by religion, are eventually answered ? What if the remaining questions which remain are primarily ethical and moralistic in nature ? Won't these issues then fall more under the domain of philosophy rather than religion ?
 
Avi said:
But isn't it possible that we will evolve in a way that many of the questions that are asked by religion, are eventually answered ? What if the remaining questions which remain are primarily ethical and moralistic in nature ? Won't these issues then fall more under the domain of philosophy rather than religion ?
Very interesting posts.

I am not ignoring Avi's question, just cant answer it. I second it.

I will add: What if we could replace humanity with human like machines without these problems? What is wrong with that?
 
PoO,

I do not expect to see things change fast but the debate does need to be had amongst those capable of it. As I indicated was my opinion with Sweden and its rejection of at least organised religion this is due to the combination of both excellent education and social provision. I have in the past talked of a utopian world where economics and money has been superseded by provision on request. A world where people do not have to work if they do not want and where increased mechanisation leads to efficiencies that provide for all at current middle class 'western' standards and improving on them. I believe we have the technical ability to change to that today. If we had the will or imagination to try.

Religion as it has evolved as a part of the political structures of rule stands in the way of such change. Religion is the "hearts and minds" part of a state propaganda and just as you can call the Democrats and Republicans virtually indistinguishable and in a collusion that gives you an essentially one party state, so the religions, all of them, work as mercenary organisations providing support and fooling people into thinking they have choice. Many here think I am unfair about Islam or Catholicism, that I only look at the negatives. My take is that these negatives are so big there should be no other debate. Its like supporting a wife beater because he never forgets their sons birthday.

I would love it if the overwhelming contribution to mankind's journey from religion was an uplifting and unifying one but it simply is not and never has been. Religion has only ever been about supporting leadership by a small elite class. Every priest, Imam or Rabbi is just middle management and evolved in tandem with tax and army raising for the top brass. Settling their quests for more power and riches. And so far things have not changed a bit.

Even on the personal level however we can never agree about religion. Even here where we try to discuss it moderately there is little consensus ever really reached. Because gods and deities are not real things we can never even be sure, even if we have chosen to believe. And the worlds religions are also dominated by ancient largely irrelevant texts written by a few desert wannabes rendered meaningless in the sands of time. I am not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. At the evolutionary peak of humanity where education is taken in, digested and accommodated into a coherent world-view you find mostly atheists. There is enough information to render beliefs in gods, deities, intercession or an afterlife utterly irrational. I do not know if what I call the evolutionary peak of our species will turn into a dead end or not. But I cannot see a world I'd want my descendants to live in if religion in all its divisive and intelligence sapping, cancerous support of nefarious tribalism is allowed to persist.
 
As usual Poo, a wonderfully thoughful post. This last portion resonated with me differently than the rest of the post. You envision religion as part of an ecosystem like an organ in our body. Of course removing your heart or kidney does not work too well. But lets take your analogy to the next level. The appendix is an organ which became vestigial as humans evolved. It is possible that religion will become unnecessary as well ?

Of course it is possible. But this would happen over time organically on its own. The problem with schemes like Communist Russia is trying to tinker with the organic nature of social emergent phenomena, which simply doesn't work on such a scale. This is also what I am trying to tell Tao. Perhaps religion and "belief systems" in general will one day not be part of our social melieu, perhaps not. But a lack of patience on the part of atheists, a desire to hurry the potential process up, is not going to fix anything but rather (as we have seen) it just exacerbates the "us vs. them" mentality. I simply argue against courses of action that (a) don't work (b) can harm people or cause suffering; I see such courses of action as pointless. I guess I'm just a rather patient sort and have faith that the either the potential of humanity will eventually conquer its negative aspects or that we'll be wiped off the planet and life continues on. The latter possibility is disappointing, but since I am not spiritually focused only or even primarily on our own species, and am rather earth-centered in my religion, it does not particularly bother me that we could face extinction one day (or at least severe depopulation) if we do not get our collective act together.

My point is that it doesn't do much good to try to push others into a single way of thinking. This never works, feels threatening to people, and causes more conflict. Patience and understanding typically are more successful at building the type of safe feeling most people need to learn anything.

I will add: What if we could replace humanity with human like machines without these problems? What is wrong with that?

Why not just not replace humanity with anything? Other beings except for the domesticated species would almost universally get along in life better without us.
 
Last edited:
PoO,

I do not expect to see things change fast but the debate does need to be had amongst those capable of it. As I indicated was my opinion with Sweden and its rejection of at least organised religion this is due to the combination of both excellent education and social provision. I have in the past talked of a utopian world where economics and money has been superseded by provision on request. A world where people do not have to work if they do not want and where increased mechanisation leads to efficiencies that provide for all at current middle class 'western' standards and improving on them. I believe we have the technical ability to change to that today. If we had the will or imagination to try.

I dunno. I think people are improved with working and most people get bored, selfish, and quite frankly, fat and unhealthy when they are lazy and sit on their bums all day. To propose that people should not have to work only functions well if people have all evolved to universally pursue higher ideals of art and philosophy and hugging trees. They haven't. In the States, you already get a culture where most people spend all their free time watching television and buying crap. Mechanization of things doesn't fix the problem that underlying our current global culture of capitalism is a system in which people's basic social fears and greed are fed, and "happiness" is defined by lazing around in an armchair, overeating, and overconsuming... which leads to individuals' illness and earlier death, and more importantly, to a lack of environmental sustainability and compassion for other beings.

I think work is good for people. It is just not good that many people work so hard and cannot have the basics.

Reality is it would take 4-5 earths to support people at the US version of middle class universally in the world. We can't do that. We need to scale back.

My take is that these negatives are so big there should be no other debate. Its like supporting a wife beater because he never forgets their sons birthday.

Interesting and debateable point, but I am more interested in what is practical and useful than what is accurate. What I keep coming back to with you is that even if you are right in this statement, it doesn't make it possible to get rid of religions that 2 billion people follow. Just because Tao wants to wave the magic wand over the world and make people more like himself doesn't make it pragmatic, nor is there a pragmatic way to get it done. The experiments in forcibly removing people's religion (i.e., Communist Russia and China) were horrific. So, I find it useless and a waste of my time to devote energy to wishing for something that isn't going to happen and is impossibly to socially engineer in the forseeable future. It is easier to make a difference from within than this type of social engineering from outside.

I would love it if the overwhelming contribution to mankind's journey from religion was an uplifting and unifying one but it simply is not and never has been. Religion has only ever been about supporting leadership by a small elite class.

Sorry, that is a blatantly wrong statement, and if you refuse to read the materials that would expand your views, I can't help you there. Religion has been about supporting leadership in this way since the rise of chiefdom level society, and solidified with state-level society. Before that, for most of human history, that was not religion's role (i.e., in hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies at the band and tribal level). In short, it seems that our social complexity progressed without our widespread emotional and spiritual advancement. The result is devastating, but it isn't religion's "fault." If you refuse to study religion in any sort of long-term historical/pre-historical and cross-cultural context, then I really can't discuss this aspect of religion with you very well, because you insist on a conclusion that is falsified by the data.

Even on the personal level however we can never agree about religion. Even here where we try to discuss it moderately there is little consensus ever really reached. Because gods and deities are not real things we can never even be sure, even if we have chosen to believe.

Scientists rarely agree or reach consensus either, but agreement of everyone is not necessarily desireable. It thwarts efforts for diversity that are important to human thought, to creativity, and to our successful adaptation. You seem to wish for consensus, for everyone to agree. I wish for peace, for everyone to respect each other. There is a big difference. Any time our goal is consensus, it will eventually lead to force being used by someone with more resources to get everyone aligned with his/her ideas. But when our goal is peace and understanding, this allows individual freedom within a framework of mutual respect. Because scientists seek understanding, they are usually able to maintain civility despite many disagreements about the data. The result is a very useful system that allows the sharing of ideas, challenges people's perspectives, and allows individual and communal growth. Religion could be approached in the same way, but often isn't, and particularly is not approached this way by most atheists, who can be as bad about going after agreement as many fundies are. The result is that nothing much gets accomplished, everyone continues to bicker, and there is no mutual respect.

At the evolutionary peak of humanity where education is taken in, digested and accommodated into a coherent world-view you find mostly atheists.

How nice for you that you have aptly determined that those like yourself are "the evolutionary peak of humanity." :rolleyes: I can't help but tease you about it, because it is just too funny.

I think the evolutionary peak of humanity are those that seek most to alleviate suffering and serve their fellow human beings. And among those, there have been atheists, but also Mother Theresa, Amma, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others who are spiritual people, if not religious.
 
I dunno. I think people are improved with working and most people get bored, selfish, and quite frankly, fat and unhealthy when they are lazy and sit on their bums all day. To propose that people should not have to work only functions well if people have all evolved to universally pursue higher ideals of art and philosophy and hugging trees. They haven't. In the States, you already get a culture where most people spend all their free time watching television and buying crap. Mechanization of things doesn't fix the problem that underlying our current global culture of capitalism is a system in which people's basic social fears and greed are fed, and "happiness" is defined by lazing around in an armchair, overeating, and overconsuming... which leads to individuals' illness and earlier death, and more importantly, to a lack of environmental sustainability and compassion for other beings.
This overwhelmingly describes lower class western peoples who are educated to be fat and stupid, as I have often seen yourself comment, by media brainwashing. I think there is an artist and philosopher in everyone. Education is the key to aligning potential with realisation even in this regard.

I think work is good for people.
So do I. Imagine how good work would be if everyone doing that job wanted to do it?

Reality is it would take 4-5 earths to support people at the US version of middle class universally in the world. We can't do that. We need to scale back.
I do not agree with that. The truth is we could near achieve it on what the US sends to landfill each year.



Interesting and debateable point, but I am more interested in what is practical and useful than what is accurate.
:rolleyes: Rational?

What I keep coming back to with you is that even if you are right in this statement, it doesn't make it possible to get rid of religions that 2 billion people follow. Just because Tao wants to wave the magic wand over the world and make people more like himself doesn't make it pragmatic, nor is there a pragmatic way to get it done. The experiments in forcibly removing people's religion (i.e., Communist Russia and China) were horrific. So, I find it useless and a waste of my time to devote energy to wishing for something that isn't going to happen and is impossibly to socially engineer in the forseeable future. It is easier to make a difference from within than this type of social engineering from outside.
Again I state I do not hope to. I have no messianic aspiration :p. My talking here is based on a utopian ideal as I have already clearly stated. Yet despite that I 'hope' the picture I paint with my broad brush is itself one of hope. I believe in education. In critical thinking. And in progress. You understand evolution, how nothing but nothing remains unchanged forever. go with me on it. I am not talking of a world where people have no spiritual philosophy but one where they are not hijacked by institutions. No one person or group has any divine sanction. If there is anything close to resembling any divine then it does not work like that. Politics and religion as they stand are going to destroy humanity. We need a new way of thinking and that is all I do here.



because you insist on a conclusion that is falsified by the data.
It is? Should I read.... "Interesting and debateable point, but I am more interested in what is practical and useful than what is accurate."...?:rolleyes:


Scientists rarely agree or reach consensus either, but agreement of everyone is not necessarily desireable. It thwarts efforts for diversity that are important to human thought, to creativity, and to our successful adaptation. You seem to wish for consensus, for everyone to agree. I wish for peace, for everyone to respect each other. There is a big difference. Any time our goal is consensus, it will eventually lead to force being used by someone with more resources to get everyone aligned with his/her ideas. But when our goal is peace and understanding, this allows individual freedom within a framework of mutual respect. Because scientists seek understanding, they are usually able to maintain civility despite many disagreements about the data. The result is a very useful system that allows the sharing of ideas, challenges people's perspectives, and allows individual and communal growth. Religion could be approached in the same way, but often isn't, and particularly is not approached this way by most atheists, who can be as bad about going after agreement as many fundies are. The result is that nothing much gets accomplished, everyone continues to bicker, and there is no mutual respect.
Funny here how you have essentially been in disagreement agreeing with me :p



How nice for you that you have aptly determined that those like yourself are "the evolutionary peak of humanity." :rolleyes: I can't help but tease you about it, because it is just too funny.
Yeh I can see all the ironies and and chuckle right back :) I believe I am at the pinicle of human achievement. I have all the gadgets and technologies and a thirst for information that can in all fairness be said symbolic of our rapid recent evolution. I have travelled extensively looking all the time. No people before our time have lived as interfacers of technology and information as vast as that at our fingertips. You can debate if it of course, you can imagine a pastoral utopian garden of eden instead. An YouTube - Weird Al Yankovic "Amish Paradise" I take the Bob Marley line in Redemption Song where he sings "Have fear of atomic energy, for none of us can stop the times". I love technology. I love the potential of humanity to reverse all this destruction by really understanding it well. And I believe it takes excellent technology to do that.

I think the evolutionary peak of humanity are those that seek most to alleviate suffering and serve their fellow human beings. And among those, there have been atheists, but also Mother Theresa, Amma, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others who are spiritual people, if not religious.
Me too. Though I dont believe in making people important because they have attached their religion to human ethics. That itself is an old religious pastime. Some even try still to claim Darwin. The world is full of unsung heroes. And untold tragedies that result directly from religio-political conflict. Hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of people die horribly in them every year. Yet we should be more... "interested in what is practical and useful than what is accurate." ?
 
This overwhelmingly describes lower class western peoples who are educated to be fat and stupid, as I have often seen yourself comment, by media brainwashing. I think there is an artist and philosopher in everyone. Education is the key to aligning potential with realisation even in this regard.

I hate to be a realist, but from what I've seen, it is not just the lower class people- I have seen such behavior in the middle and upper classes as well. Having money doesn't make one less lazy or more philosophical. I've hung out with cowboys that made better artists and philosophers than many academics and white collar professionals.

My point is that you can't force people to like learning, and a lot of people just plain don't. This is of course reinforced by media brainwashing, but there is also a basic difference in people's innate personalities and intelligences, and while some people will be artsy and philosophical if given the time, others will just eat, drink, and do nothing much nor contribute anything to society.

So do I. Imagine how good work would be if everyone doing that job wanted to do it?

Great. I have that utopian dream, too. I just don't expect that is around the corner. There's just a whole lot of work that people don't like to do. Many people would prefer to do nothing for anyone else. At least right now, necessity prevents this by and large.

I do not agree with that. The truth is we could near achieve it on what the US sends to landfill each year.

What I meant is that the US middle class standard relies on buying and consuming a lot- too much to be sustainable. You are reinforcing my point. I am for ditching middle class standards and figuring out a different kind of middle class- one that is based on having time for family and hobbies, low consumption, home gardening and cooking- trying to teach people how to enjoy being a human being again. Most people have forgotten how to have fun and enjoy life, to be honest. Giving them the current middle class lifestyle will not fix that.

:rolleyes: Rational?

I don't know what you mean. Care to explain? What I am saying, and I think you get it, is that religion can provide a reliable means for encoding useful information. It was not always entwined with elite politics and economics. I am for digging out the usefulness of old-time religion (WAY old-time religion- that encouraged sound ecology and resource management, caretaking of others, healthy living, etc.) and for ditching what is not useful. I am not for throwing out all belief systems and religions because modern state-level society screwed them up.

My talking here is based on a utopian ideal as I have already clearly stated. Yet despite that I 'hope' the picture I paint with my broad brush is itself one of hope. I believe in education. In critical thinking. And in progress. You understand evolution, how nothing but nothing remains unchanged forever. go with me on it.

Amen, brother. Preach it! :)

I am not talking of a world where people have no spiritual philosophy but one where they are not hijacked by institutions. No one person or group has any divine sanction. If there is anything close to resembling any divine then it does not work like that. Politics and religion as they stand are going to destroy humanity. We need a new way of thinking and that is all I do here.

LOL- I could make the same speech. LOL You have sometimes debated against belief systems, even individual ones- anything that deviates from materialism. So forgive me if I fail to know whether you are operating from that standpoint or this one, which is quite different. I don't think I've ever argued the institutions are rendering mostly positive results, but religion is not the same thing as a religious institution. You know I don't think any group has divine sanction, nor do I think the divine works in that way either. However, I also do believe in my experience of the divine, and because of this, I neither become institutionally bound nor do I follow the other extreme of materialism, thinking there is no value whatsoever to the spiritual experience.

It is? Should I read.... "Interesting and debateable point, but I am more interested in what is practical and useful than what is accurate."...?:rolleyes:

Those early forms of religion were practical and useful and worked well, sometimes keeping people sustainable for thousands of years. I think we stand to learn something from them, even if they are "primitive" as some modern Westerners would think.

Funny here how you have essentially been in disagreement agreeing with me :p

It's what we do- it's the POO and Tao show. :p

No people before our time have lived as interfacers of technology and information as vast as that at our fingertips.

I agree. But this is currently a natural social experiment. We have no idea if all this will end in some sort of evolutionary dead-end and our extinction or severe cut-backs... or if somehow our ethics and compassion will catch up to our technical achievement and we can create a much better global society. Currently, given the situation, if I had to place a bet as a scientist, I'd bet on severe depopulation. But out of my faith springs a hope for advancement. I'm an optimist even though some part of me recognizes the absurdity of it.

You can debate if it of course, you can imagine a pastoral utopian garden of eden instead. An YouTube - Weird Al Yankovic "Amish Paradise"

I don't believe in a pastoral eden. I do think humans had shorter, harder lives as hunter-gatherers, but probably were happier and more peaceful during that shorter lifespan. And there is absolutely no doubt that lower level of technology and society (and population) was far, far better for the earth.

Since I pretty much just see humanity as one more creature on the earth, I have little attachment to my own species and tend to be more concerned with the overall sustainability and peacefulness for all beings. Humanity currently is like cancer upon the earth. I wish it were not so, and of course we have some lovely things we've done, but mostly we wreck havoc and are killing off other beings. We poison the very soil, air, and water. We are a dumb, irrational species that has lots of knowledge and technology but precious little wisdom.

And untold tragedies that result directly from religio-political conflict. Hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of people die horribly in them every year. Yet we should be more... "interested in what is practical and useful than what is accurate." ?

You're talking to a pacifist and one who is neither nationalist nor sees any particular religion as THE way. So clearly I don't think the current state of things is practical or useful, at least not for the vision I have for the earth and humanity. But I can look at Communism and see that removing religion doesn't fix the problem. The problem lies deeper than the institutions themselves. And I am for replacing disfunctional institutions with functional ones-- this is one of the reasons I am a big proponent of earth-centered, small-time religion... where people form their own small groups, write their own rituals, and have no leaders. What I do not advocate is either mocking those with spiritual beliefs or thinking spirituality is useless. I guess you could say I am the "middle way."
 
Back
Top