Uncommon Sense

May 18, 2018

Good Guys with Guns … Missing!

Filed under: Business,Culture — Steve Ruis @ 11:26 am

At least eight people were killed, and others were injured, in a shooting on Friday morning at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Tex., according to law enforcement officials. (Sound familiar?)

But where were the Texicans, the good’uns with their shooting irons? Surely Texas is NRA country and some of those good folks should have jumped into the fray, slapped leather, and saved those lives. Plus shootin’ the miscreant woulda saved the cost of a trial and a hanging.

Or, maybe, the NRA is just a bunch of people who are “all hat and no cattle.”

May 16, 2018

Manufacturing Sub-humans

Filed under: Culture,Race — Steve Ruis @ 12:17 pm
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In a recent post, Ian Welsh stated the following:

“So, Palestinians protested moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, and Israel shot and killed somewhere between 52 and 60 of them, and injured hundreds more. The rule of international law (yes, I know, a dead letter) is that force must be proportional to threat.

“This is disproportionate.

“The simple fact is that too many Israelis now think of Palestinians as sub-human: animals to be killed if they are inconvenient.”

It struck me that this is what white Americans are doing to black Americans. With the rollback of Jim Crow laws (and they weren’t just in the South), we have criminalized ordinary black behaviors far above white behaviors. We have made black males into archetypes of “dangerous people.” It is a regular occurrence now that white people call the police on black people for doing ordinary things in their neighborhoods (waiting for a business meeting in a Starbucks, moving into a rental unit, showing properties as a real estate agent, shopping, walking on a sidewalk, etc.).

Is it any surprise that the police in this country, those who are most intimately engaged with law breakers, are most susceptible to this propaganda? We have seen way too often how police shoot unarmed black men, black women, and black children for playing with toy guns in a park or holding a toy gun in a toy store (while talking on the phone, a clearly criminal behavior), or driving with a failed brake light. Non-black citizens can stalk black men, engage them in a fight and then when losing the fight, pull out a gun and kill the black man … and get away with it.

I do not see any way out of this problem for black people. It will take concerted effort on the part of white people to correct it (since we created it, we need to uncreate it). We need to stigmatize those who call the police on citizens moving ordinarily in society while black. We need to prosecute, not just fire, police officers who use excessive violence on black people. We need to train police officers better, including on what will happen to them if they use excessive violence in the context of their duties.

And, we need to apologize for this unwarranted attack upon ordinary black citizens. If we were to start now, maybe in a few decades we might be heard, but only if we back up our words with actions.



May 15, 2018

The Basic Problem with Our Religions

Filed under: Culture,Education,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:09 am
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A philosopher named Owen Flanagan quoted someone as saying that “A good human life is lived at the intersection of the true, the good, and the beautiful.” It seems that we all come equipped to determine what is true, what is good, and what is beautiful as part of our basic makeup, so if the aphorism is true, we all have the capability of living a good life. But if you ask a Christian apologist what is the true, what is the good, and what is the beautiful, they will respond that God/Jesus is the truth, only He is truly good, and He and His love are the beautiful. Humans, on the other hand, are depraved, sinful, and unworthy, and that none of those three (truth, good, beauty) come from anywhere but their god. Humans can be saved from their sinfulness, but only through faith in their god or at least obey the gods directives as interpreted by their gods servants.

I am reminded of a phenomenon of the 1970’s and 1980’s called Erhard Seminars Training or EST. This was a self-improvement program designed to improve the lives of the participants. The beginning of the course was described as being brutal as the participants were verbally abused into a state of pliable acceptance, then they were built up into different people, presumably better. Old school military training was similar, but the initial stages were more physical. “Recruits” were abused verbally and physically to make them more pliable for training into better soldiers (any number of movies have highlighted these processes—Private Benjamin, Full Metal Jacket, An Officer and a Gentleman, etc.).

The religions in this country favor depicting potential believers as being unworthy, sinful, even abominable, before offering the “cure.” They describe the world around us as being filled with temptations and dangers, for which they have, of course, solutions. They refer to their followers as docile animals, as their “flock,” as “lambs and sheep,” and as children, with priests referring to their parishioners as their children (My Son, My Daughter, My Child) and accept the title of “Father,” all of which disempowers the parishioners and puts them into the pliable state of a child, ready for indoctrination.

As a teacher I was taught that my primary goal was to provide a “safe learning environment” for my students, so they could learn free of coercion, bullying, sarcasm, and humiliation. I taught college kids, adults, so was that requirement because all of my students had already been safely religiously indoctrinated as children and it was now not okay to coerce them? Why does this “safe, learning environment” requirement not apply to religions, which terrorize young children with images of their loved ones burning in Hell. (Please don’t tell me this doesn’t happen, I have spoken to too many people who have confessed their nightmares regarding their grandparents or other loved ones roasting in fire.)

Why do not we use, as a theme for educating our children the simple phrase “a good human life is lived at the intersection of the true, the good, and the beautiful” and operate as if we believed that?

Spelling Counts! (Really!)

Filed under: Education,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 9:13 am

Every city has assholes in it, but apparently KC is above average.

May 9, 2018

Marx Was So Right, So Often

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:52 am
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Even though I am a philosophy nerd, I read no works of Karl Marx when I was young because, you know … psst, he was a communist. When I was growing up (1950’s and 1960’s) if you wanted to defame someone you called them a communist, even though most people didn’t know what that meant, it was just an euphemism for “bad guy.”

Now that I know better I have decided to see if there is anything there and so I started reading some of Marx’s works. The first thing I picked up has the title of “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843-4).” Here a few excerpts:

  • For Germany, the criticism of religion has been essentially completed, and the criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism.
  • Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
  • The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.
  • Thus, the criticism of Heaven turns into the criticism of Earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.
  • What a sight! This infinitely proceeding division of society into the most manifold races opposed to one another by petty antipathies, uneasy consciences, and brutal mediocrity, and which, precisely because of their reciprocal ambiguous and distrustful attitude, are all, without exception although with various formalities, treated by their rulers as conceded existences. And they must recognize and acknowledge as a concession of heaven the very fact that they are mastered, ruled, possessed! And, on the other side, are the rulers themselves, whose greatness is in inverse proportion to their number!
  • Luther, we grant, overcame bondage out of devotion by replacing it by bondage out of conviction. He shattered faith in authority because he restored the authority of faith. He turned priests into laymen because he turned laymen into priests. He freed man from outer religiosity because he made religiosity the inner man. He freed the body from chains because he enchained the heart.

Is any of this not still true today? The phrase “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature” resonates strongly with what I see as the role of religion in coercing our labor to serve the interests of the elites. And “He (Luther) turned priests into laymen and laymen into priests” clearly shows that Marx recognizes the transition of the outward imposition of the shackles of religion into an inward one. No guards are needed anymore because we become our own slave masters under Protestantism.

I will continue to read up on Marx, who apparently has a bad reputation, not because of his ideas, but because of what certain autocrats did with them.

May 8, 2018

The Pruning of Christianity

Filed under: History,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 2:25 pm
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Pruning, pruning … now where is The Branch?

I have commented often that in my opinion, religion thrives because it coerces the masses to serve the interests of the religious and secular elites. I have supported this assertion with comments such as: Christianity became a major religion because it was adopted as a state religion of Rome and then later as the state religion of Rome. Had Christianity not endorsed slavery, those adoptions would not have taken place and today Christianity would be a minor, very minor religion or set of sects. Christianity became a major religion because of state power, starting with Rome.

I also continue to insist that religions continue to be supported by states because of the same reason. The effect of this support, though, is a mixed blessing. I have noticed that quite a few elements of Christianity have been pruned away, precisely because they do not support the interests of the secular and religious elites. For example, Jesus said “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21) This is hardly ever followed, except by ascetic monks and nuns. If every Christian were to do this, it would collapse the economy. The elites need a low cost, complaint work force and this commandment conflicts with this, so in the main, Christians do not do this. This command (from God!) goes ignored because it conflicts with the interests of the elites.

Just off the top of my head I came up with a short list of the “Ins and Outs” of Christianity, those aspects that are encouraged and those that have been pruned out. I am sure that, if you put your mind to it, you could add to both lists.

Allowed to Stay In

  • Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Matthew 11:24) Note: Don’t ask us for anything, ask Jesus.
  • So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34) Note: Don’t worry, be happy … and show up to work on time.
  • Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:12) Note: Yes, you are oppressed but when you die….
  • For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18) Note: Whatever you do, don’t join a union and don’t ask for a raise. Just shut up and do what you are told. Your reward comes later … much later.

Pruned Out

  • For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12) See Exhibit A: Donald Trump
  • Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 23:12) See ‘War on Christianity, War on Christians, War on Christmas, Christian Persecution Complex.
  • In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16) Note: There is too much work doing good deeds, besides it takes away business from profit-making enterprises. Faith is enough.
  • I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Note: Rich man good, poor man badshiftless, lazy, etc.
  • Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. Note: The lazy bastards need to get a job!
  • But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6) Note: But who would notice?

Thinking About a Flat Earth

Filed under: Reason,Science — Steve Ruis @ 12:18 pm
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Look at all of that water! I wonder where the flat-earthers are going to put it?

The recent resurrection of the idea that the Earth is a flat disk (a zombie idea in that it will not die and stay dead) I believe is fueled by a certain iconoclastic feeling  amongst the “believers” to state something outrageous to get attention. This leads me to believe that the vast majority of “flat earthers” are male as female attention seekers tend to seek positive attention while male attention seekers seem to favor attention of any flavor.

I have come up with simple facts that prove this idea is wrong (for example, why do some of us experience night while others experience day at the same time; this you can test with a phone call; also why is it winter in Australia when it is summer in the U.S., etc.) but I decided to give it another try at some semblance of a “proof.”

The “standard narrative” is the Earth is roughly spherical, not perfectly so but it appears spherical to the naked eye. The diameter of the Earth has been measured to be 12,756.2 km and if it is spherical, that means it surface area is 510 million square kilometers, calculated using simple geometrical formulas. The continents have all had their areas measured and if you sum up those areas you get 148 million square kilometers. This shows the common knowledge that the oceans cover about three quarters of the surface of the planet while land covers about one quarter [(148/510) x 100 = 29%].

But if the earth were flat, a disk 12,756.2 km in diameter would have an area of only 127.8 million square kilometers. And that is not enough area to hold all of the continents, let alone oceans having almost three times the area of the continents.

If the flat-earthers decide that both sides of the disk are populated, they open up a whole other can of worms. People near the axis of the rotation (the earth would still have to rotate on its axis once a day to explain the light-dark cycle) would experience a very different feeling toward the ground than those living on the edge. I also wonder why people haven’t reported looking over the edge of the disk, now that there are no longer dragons to keep them from looking.

I do not expect this argument to convince any flat-earthers because, like committed Christians, they are committed to their belief and no amount of arguments or evidence will convince them otherwise.

The round Earth conclusion fits in well with all of the other bits and pieces of our knowledge, such as the earth was formed of rock and iron and nickel in a molten state and in the absence of outside forces such a body automatically forms a spherical shape. To make a disk it would have to have been spun like a pizza and what would have done that task? Apparently the flat-earthers either are ignorant of the evidence or, more likely don’t care. I encourage them to bask in their limelight as they get only 15 minutes of fame. After which time they go back to being just ordinary fucking idiots.


May 7, 2018

Economic Apologetics

It seems that economists, some not all, behave much like Christian apologists. When challenged they respond with what sound like well-constructed arguments but which are just narratives with no evidence (or mixed evidence at best). Take, for example, this narrative:

“… most Americans subscribe to the view that market-determined gaps between rich and poor should be softened by government. The rich should be taxed, and the poor should be helped. But how much should government intervene? One common argument is that there is a trade-off between efficiency and fairness. If the rich are taxed and the poor helped through transfers, the hard work of the rich is punished and the idleness of the poor is rewarded. The rich cut back on their effort—for example, by not opening a new business—while the poor use their windfall to support their leisure, for example, by not taking an available job. The result, say the critics of income redistribution, is that society squanders much more than the $1 of income for each $1 of government help that actually reaches the poor. Redistribution, they believe, should be severely limited, used to address only the most extreme problems of poverty and hunger.” (Source: The Price of Civilization by Jeffrey D. Sachs)

This argument is quite popular right now amongst neoliberal politicians and most of the people in the Republican Party. (I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you.) But does this “narrative” hold water? Is there anything supporting it?

One need only go back into recent history to find that it does not. Take, for example, the rich. Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s the federal government had marginal income tax rates as high as 91%. Did this level of “confiscation” deter the rich from doing what they do? Let’s use the example of Fred Koch, the father of the Koch brothers. Since Fred died in 1967, his final two decades were under the federal tax rates indicated. Having worked for both Stalin and Hitler, he established much of his wealth before WW2. He died a very rich man, passing on his private companies to his son, Charles, to run. Was their any slacking of his pursuit of wealth because of the very high personal income taxes? The answer is no. The same holds for all of the other “titans of industry” of that time.

In that postwar period, the pursuit of the trappings of wealth for immediate gratification focused less on salary (much of which would have just been funneled off into federal coffers) and more on perquisites. Many CEOs had lush offices decorated with expensive art (the company owned them, the CEO didn’t). The company also owned the apartment the CEO lived in, the company limousine, the private jet, etc. For long term wealth, the rich bought and ran companies to increase their value. Since they owned their companies and did not sell them, the increase in the value of those companies did not get taxed. Basically they developed assets to constitute their wealth; they didn’t take it in the form of salary or profits.

Do you know of anyone who made an immense amount of money, north of say 100 million dollars, who stopped working completely? Most of those people just started working on their next hundred million. Billionaires want another billion, etc. Some, like Bill Gates, create a new job they enjoy more than their old one, in Gate’s case, one of being manager of a very large and very well endowed foundation.

Now let us consider the other end of the spectrum. Let’s take Ben Carson. Dr. Carson started out in a very poor family. He is now quite wealthy as a retired neurosurgeon and Cabinet Secretary. Did he stop when he had enough money to cover a nice lifestyle? Did he kick back and put his feet up? No? If you look at any of the rich who have published their stories and select out the ones who started poor (not Mitt Romney or the Walton heirs), every man Jack of them blew right on through any easy living stopping point. Nobody does, except maybe big lottery winners and that situation is quite different. The “poor use their windfall to support their leisure” just doesn’t show up anywhere except in the stories these people tell one another. The majority of the poor work, many work multiple jobs. If their salaries were to be doubled tomorrow, do you think all of those people would be satisfied with their lives at that point and work no harder than they had been or, as is implied, work less? I suspect this would only happen with the people who are working so much now, just to get by, that it is ruining their health, their relationships, and families … but they would keep working.

This “narrative” regarding “income distribution” is a story the well-to-do tell themselves to make them feel as if there is justification for their viewpoint, a viewpoint totally unsupported in reality. So, where do they get this viewpoint? I suggest, in the case of the U.S., that it comes from their religion, not the religion of their scriptures, but the one they hold too now, the one adapted by the religious and secular elites (the rich) to serve their needs. While scriptures clearly talk about things like “how you treat the least of us, you treat me (Jesus)” the current religion talks about the poor being shiftless and lazy and unworthy and … I think you have the picture. I am sure some racial animosity is stirred in here, but that also serves the interests of the religious and secular elites, so they do not discourage it.

Just as with the bullshit arguments of religious apologists, we need to challenge the bullshit narratives of the priests of the new order, the economists.

May 4, 2018

The Kanye West Backlash

Filed under: Culture,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 9:48 am
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I don’t get it.

Kanye West stated some of his thoughts on Twitter. One of which was that he thought that if American slavery of Black Africans lasted 400 years that some “choice” was involved. Choice is always involved: slave’s choices were “obey or be whipped,” then “obey or die.”

Granted the remark was more than a little stupid, but what do we expect from Kanye West? He is hardly a public intellectual. To parse that further: he is public; he is not an intellectual.

He commented with regards to some topic or other than “he had not completed his research” and I suspect that said “research” involves reading diatribes on websites of dubious distinction. I suspect books and consultations with experts will not be involved.

Basically I am perplexed with all of the outrage over “Kanye West said something stupid.” A simple Google search shows that this was not an aberration. The blowback, however, is a little like someone being hysterical because Donald Trump uttered a lie.

May 3, 2018

First Civilizations—Religion

Filed under: Entertainment,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:56 am
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PBS is airing two new series, one called “Civilizations (BBC created)” and the other “First Civilizations (PBS & BBC created).” I saw fragments of both and programmed my DVR to record episodes. Last night I started viewing an episode of “First Civilizations” with the episode title of “Religion.”  I settled in with a bucket of popcorn looking to become enlightened … which lasted all of ten minutes. I will finish the episode, I guess, but here is some of what I saw in just the first ten minutes.

In the intro they said “When people share beliefs they are more likely to be cohesive … which allows a civilization to form.” This is basically true but is said in such a passive way. It could have been put ‘When people are forced to believe the same things, they are more likely to be able to be controlled … which allows a civilization to form.” Their verbiage makes it sound as if people spontaneously got together and said “Hey, gang let’s share beliefs so we can make a civilization.”

Then they ask a rhetorical question, a rather good one: Religion is the glue that binds us together (they slipped in “religion” to take the place of “shared beliefs”) … but how did people come to this conclusion? Again, this is on the right track but it makes it sound as if “the people,” as in “We, the people, …” were the actors, the deciders here. I think not. I think people are told what to believe and are usually threatened with negative consequences if they do not.

They began their answer to that rhetorical question above with the claim that by and large we were animists for the vast bulk of our existence, that gods and spirits were all around us. This was short but, I think, fairly accurate. They went on to say, “Switching to herding changed the viewpoints of animists. They started building sacred spaces. (Their example is rock jumble in Egypt that predates Stonehenge by a couple of millennia.) By building them, they were saying that the gods were to worshipped in these spaces and only there. They went on to point out that a number of these rocks weighed over one ton, so cooperation was needed to move them into place. They concluded that the stones must have some spiritual significance (emphasis added).

Click. (That’s me changing channels.)

There are more than a few problems with their claims. For one, if there were gods or spirits everywhere, how would anyone be convinced that they could only be accessed in one place? That the stones were moved into place apparently has been established and the conclusion that cooperation of a lot of people was required is valid, but ask yourself, what reason would people have to drop the productive labors they were engaged in (herding, cooking, weaving, etc.) and enter into nonproductive labors, strenuous labors (moving rocks)? The creators of this program are selling these actions as “spiritually motivated,” but in reality this doesn’t play out this way. All religions are based upon threats. That may sound harsh but bear me out. Imagine some shaman of one of the herding clans telling the herders they have to leave their flocks and move some really heavy stones around the desert. Most of the herders would respond with the equivalent of “WTF?” Would the shaman plead or just ask? Would the shaman argue how much better things would be with the rocks moved? I don’t think so, the shaman is in a position of power. To keep it he needs to exercise that power. He would threaten the tribe, as he always had, with the terrible things that would happen if they didn’t do his bidding. Since terrible things happen with some frequency, everyone has these things in mind and the idea of placating the gods for these terrible things has already been established. The shaman has “protected” the tribe in the past and “knows” which gods need to be placated. I am sure this is the variant of the “Elephant Repellent Spray” con. (There are no elephants around here! See, it works.)

So the tribe’s members are threatened with repercussions if they do not do as the shaman asks. The more “religious,” aka the more fearful, help coerce the less fearful and there you are. The labor was not spiritually inspired, it was coerced through threats of retaliation from gods or spirits.

Another problem is: where would the idea of a scared space come from? These are animists, the gods are all around. Lift up a rock and there is a god there. If the gods are everywhere, you do not need special places. (This same question could be asked of Christians who go to their churches to light a candle and pray, while at the same time arguing their god is everywhere and can hear their voice no matter where they are.)

What might motivate the creation of “sacred spaces?” Here is a counter narrative: when we became pastoral, which is not a sedentary lifestyle like agriculture creates, even so we become somewhat restricted in our movements. Like the skateboarding kid taking selfies, it seems as it he is stationary with the rest of the frame moving (because he is stationary relative to the camera), if you want to find a herder, look for the herd. The herd keeps moving (to find forage) but the herders are always next to the herd, so they are unlike hunter-gatherers in that their movement is more restricted. And herders follow patterns: there is winter pasturage and summer pasturage and the routes in between. They don’t migrate into unknown lands too much, who know what dangers might be there, so they make loops. By the time they get back to a spot they previously inhabited, the grass has had time to grow back, etc.

These pastoralists were not isolated from one another. Groups traded with one another, stole cattle, stole brides, arranged for marriages, etc. There were spaces where these groups met for such transactions and these spaces became “truce” spaces where it became bad juju to pull any fast ones. The shamans in each of these tribes would quickly learn in these trading spaces that they had “competitors” in the form of other shamans. Each shaman, not knowing what bullshit was being purveyed in the next group, was inclined to disparage the other shamans as weak or false. But what if another shaman’s message gets overheard by members of your tribe and they like it better than your spiel, what then? I’ll tell you: trouble in River City.

At some point, as a power ploy, one of the shamans has what he thinks is a good idea, the idea to create “a sacred space.” None of the others would have one of these. But he needs to get his tribe to build one. He does this and other tribes take notice. What is going on over there? Why are they dragging rocks around uselessly. When their own shamans can’t answer the question, the entrepreneurial shaman gains prestige.

Interestingly, the Stonehenge-esque site in Egypt shows a large number of small rings of stones scattered in a much larger circle. Could it have been that when the first tribe built their sacred space, the next tribe built a bigger one? (Sound familiar?) Soon you have a half dozen of the damned things surrounding the former “safe trading space.” The shamans, realizing that if they stay in conflict with one another there will be winners and losers, come to a tacit agreement over what the sacred spaces mean.

Now, I cannot “prove” my narrative, not do I want to try, but which narrative do you think is more likely? The one powered by spiritual feelings of “the people” or the one coerced by shamans seeking power? (In a court of law you can win a case not by proving the other side is wrong but simply by supplying a more likely narrative.)

These programs, at least the ones produced most recently by the BBC, have a reputation for sucking up to the religious. So, they start from “religion is a good thing” and “religions wouldn’t use fear and ambition to shape humanity’s future,” and well, I am sure you get it. So things are framed to cut religion a lot of slack, a whole lot of slack.

In reality, the religions we know are all based upon fear and threats. The Abrahamic religions have a god who says straight out that “I am a vengeful god.” Isaiah 45:7 in the King James Version reads, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” This god is then described as being “all-good” and above criticism.

Believers are to be rewarded, nonbelievers get horribly punished. If you don’t want to be punished, you had better do as you are told. Threats. Many such threats permeate the Bible. (They do not care if you truly believe and will accept you if you fake it. If you think this is harsh just read the stories of people who lost their faith. They lose their faith but nobody notices, as long as they act as they always have. You will see this over and over. Then, if they don’t just run away, if they actually tell their fellow parishioners that they have lost their faith, the threats and punishments begin.)

The role of religion in the creation of civilization is simple. Religions are organized systems of coercion to get the masses to behave so that they serve the interests of the religious and secular elites. Mostly this is in the form of coerced labor. Coerced labor that accomplishes nothing of value to the religious (making circles of standing stones) is a display of power: “See what I can make them do? They placed all of these rocks in a circle at my behest.” It is no mystery that the first three civilizations in the “Cradle of Civilization” that is Mesopotamia, were ruled by religious elite cadres. So were Egypt’s. The earliest story ever recorded is that of Gilgamesh and Gilgamesh was originally ruled over by religious elites.

Fear and threats … coercion … what do you want to bet that these topics are not touched upon in the other 50 minutes of that program?

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