Uncommon Sense

June 3, 2021

W.C. Fields, a Great Comedian/Philosopher

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment,Philosophy,Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 9:20 am
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I was reading a blurb for a book featuring some of W.C. Fields great lines. Fields created a persona of being a lush, which would not fly now (but did in my youth, thank you Foster Brooks). The blurb writer did not include my favorite Fields quote, which was his take on “spirituality.” I believe it went “Everybody ought to believe something. I believe I’ll have another drink.”

I think comedians are modern day court jesters, and since we govern ourselves, they send their barbs toward all of us. I miss George Carlin. There was none better at that role.

May 11, 2021

A Life Filling Boxes (Check Boxes Anyway)

Filed under: Philosophy — Steve Ruis @ 11:05 am
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I have been reading an interesting book “Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing” by Arthur M. Melzer. One section struck me as I am quite long in the tooth and just spent some time in a hospital emergency room two days ago, so my “end of life experience is much closer than farther away. Here it is (the section, not my end of life experience):

“The crucial point concerns what is meant by a ‘philosopher.’1 In the older view, it is not simply a person like “you and me,” only with a particular interest in philosophy (although there are such people too, of course), any more than a saint is a person with a peculiar liking for religion. Again, philosophy is not a specific subject matter like botany or geology, or a particular technique or expertise, as in the contemporary phrase ‘a professional philosopher.’ It is above all a distinct way of life—something that makes one a different type of human being. One is a philosopher not so much because of what one does or is able to do as because of what one most fundamentally loves and lives for. The philosopher is the person who, through a long dialectical journey, has come to see through the illusory goods for which others live and die. Freed from illusion—and from the distortion of experience that illusion produces—he is able, for the first time, to know himself, to be himself, and to fully experience his deepest longing, which is to comprehend the necessities that structure the universe and human life as part of that universe. This is the famous vita contemplativa, an ideal of life found, in one form or another, among virtually all classical and medieval thinkers and still powerful among many modern thinkers as well.”

“We of course know all about this contemplative ideal but have a tendency to misunderstand by assimilating it to the intellectual models that dominate today, such as the scientist, the scholar, and the intellectual. ones. Today, we admire the great scientist, scholar, and intellectual primarily for their extraordinary ability, for what they can do, not for their unique way of living and being.”

What struck me is that in my life I have been a scientist, a scholar, and an intellectual, as well as a philosopher. So, these categories are not mutually exclusive.

I trained from high school onward to become a chemist, a scientist, and became a professor of chemistry, so I think that qualifies me as being a scientist (at a bare minimum my advanced degree required original research, so I did contribute a tidbit of scientific knowledge to the pool).

I have been a scholar of education, producing papers on the status of general education and one on chemical education. Currently I am a scholar of archery, specifically the coaching of archery and have close to a dozen books in my name on that topic.

I have made my living since college with my mind and rarely my body, so that is somewhat of a qualification for being an intellectual. Currently I write and edit magazines and books for publication.

And, as to being a philosopher, I have studied philosophy for long. I had a minor in it in college and have read on the topic continuously ever since. This, as mentioned above, does not make me a philosopher (maybe an academic one) as I like the definition provided, a philosopher who has a philosophy guiding their life, and I do have that.

A quote provided in the book above hammers this home “Michel de Montaigne, who began to philosophise when he lost a dear friend, wrote an essay entitled “That to Study Philosophy is to Learn How to Die.” This is really an extreme way of saying that we can use our reason to quell our fears, but also take back control of our lives from fear and sadness. ‘A man who has learned to die,’ he wrote, ‘has unlearned how to be a slave.’”

As I told the techs in the emergency room, “People my age look at this as a dress rehearsal,” which says something about me in that I was having a great deal of trouble breathing, due to asthma, but not too much to make quips to entertain “my audience.” (An audience is a group of people who “hear” and this was a captive audience, but an audience nonetheless.)

I can’t wait to see that the bill will be for the EMTs and hospital for a three hour period of their services. That will probably provide fodder for another post. And, I may continue my slide into arrogance and post on my personal philosophy, but probably only if I get provoked to do so by comments! :o)

April 27, 2021

Deepak Chopra BS

Deepak Chopra is a medical doctor of some sort (his certification is in internal medicine; he specialized in endocrinology) and yet he is better known as a new age guru who harkens back to being an old age guru (he is a fan of chakras and other aspects of Indian medicine). Note This is why I refer to him as Mr. Chopra below because his doctorate is not in a field that impinges at all with his opinions in this article. Were he writing on the pandemic and endocrinology, I would refer to him as Dr. Chopra.

In an online essay (A Reality Reset is Coming) Mr. Chopra emphasizes the “flaws” of materialism. He refers to a recent experiment on muons that “may” challenge the standard model of physics. I emphasize the “may” because such things come along with great regularity. And, also with great regularity, the predicted possible disruption of current theory does not happen. On the flip side, experiment after experiment confirms the standard model, but those experiments do not make the news. Maybe the last one that did was the “discovery” of the Higgs boson. I say discovery because its existence was predicted decades earlier and what was looked for was a conformation of its existence. Predicted by the Standard Model and then found. Quite a success.

But Mr. Chopra goes on to state “Materialism, it turns out, is just a plausible story, not a viable way to explain the world around us and certainly not the world “in here” where the mind operates.” He goes on to list many things that have not been explained . . . yet:
• No one knows where the Big Bang came from.
• No one knows how life began.
• The origin of time, space, matter, and energy remain totally hidden.
• The two leading theories in physics, General Relativity (which explains how large objects work) and quantum mechanics (which explains how tiny things work) turn out to be seemingly incompatible.
• The relation of mind and brain is as up in the air as it was at the time of Plato and Aristotle.
• The nature of consciousness and how it evolved—if it evolved—cannot be agreed upon.

I suppose Mr. Chopra thinks that these are trivial problems that should have been solved decades ago, but he glides over several thousand years of philosophy and religion having failed to solve these problems. Consider that roughly 100 years ago, we thought that our Milky Way galaxy was the entire universe. We knew nothing of the Big Bang. We had no evidence of planets existing around other stars. We knew little to nothing about quantum mechanics. Both special and general relativity had been postulated but at most fewer than 100 people understood those theories.

And Mr. Chopra is criticizing that which brought all of that knowledge to us.

He concludes “To boil things down to their most basic, if you don’t know where the universe came from and are equally baffled by where thoughts come from, how reliable is your explanation of reality? Intellectual honesty forces an answer: not reliable at all. Persuasive stories and unexamined assumptions riddle our current worldview.”

Okay, Mr. Chopra. Exclude materialism and explain . . . reality for all of us. Go ahead, we will wait.

And as to the reliability isue. I offer a test to Mr. Chopra. I will hold a 50 lb weight over his foot and ask him what he would do if I looked as if I were to drop that weight? He, like ever other person, would move his foot out of the downward path of that weight. That behavior, aka falling, is dependable, even though we still don’t know what gravity is. Dependability is based upon testing, not upon whether one knows where the universe or thoughts come from.

April 25, 2021

The Meaning of Life, Part Whatever

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:42 am
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If you have read this blog for any length of time you know my thoughts on “the meaning of life,” mainly that meaning is something we create, rather than something given to us or something we find.

Just to cover all of the bases, I decided to open myself up to a feeling of purpose, of meaning from outside of me. I tried not to force anything, like a source or even a meaning, I just opened myself to the possibility and went about my business.

Both my partner an I are long in the tooth (she is 67, I am 74) and have mastered taking care of one another and ourselves fairly well, and our children are launched into very nice lives, so what other meaning might present itself?

And then it came to me, apparently our meaning in life at this stage of our lives is to make her dog happy. When I see the two of them together playing and the dog is happy, I am happy. When he wants a treat or to be petted, I oblige and am happy to do that. He seems happy to be with me, also, although he has a bit of a licker problem. He likes to lick my chin very, very much, even early in the morning before I have shaved, so I assume he may just be cleaning his tongue off, but he seems to want that and I am happy to oblige.

Never having been a “dog person” through much of my life, maybe I missed the meaning in my earlier life of making my cats happy, can’t really tell.

Considering how much Americans spend on their dogs, maybe this is the meaning of life much of us share. So, is this meaning god-given? If so, it would have to be Anubis or Set if Egyptian, Fenris, or maybe Hecate, or the Morrigan (I am part Irish, you know), or, oh, in America it might just be Coyote, the trickster god. If so then this “meaning” we perceive from the outside may be a trick on our meaning seeking natures.

The search goes on!

PS I just realized that dog is god spelled backwards . . . a sign do you think?

April 23, 2021

Why Would God Care About Morality?

Filed under: Morality,Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:09 pm

This is a rather brilliant and novel essay on the question portrayed in the title above.

Why Would God Care About Morality?



February 20, 2021

The Trolley Problem Solved!

Filed under: Culture,Philosophy — Steve Ruis @ 12:01 pm
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I assume you have heard of the ethical problem called the Trolley Problem. There are a number of versions of this problem but I will use just the basic problem which is an ethical dilemma. A trolley car is racing downhill toward an intersection. Just before that intersection, the rails split. You have access to the switch and you must choose which way to send the trolley. Unfortunately on one spur of the tracks stands a solitary man, often described as being fat, while on the other, five workers are standing. Onto which track will you switch the trolley?

Here are a number of solutions from various sources:

The Cannibal Solution
It doesn’t matter, either way we eat!

The Utilitarian Solution
You switch to the track that kills only one instead of five. It is a win-win all around.

The Overthinkers Solution
What if one of the five is another Hitler or maybe the fat man is a budding saint. What if the lone man is the sole support of his widowed mother? What if I get sued no matter which way I throw the switch? Dithering, you miss the opportunity to take action and the problem solves itself.

The Republican Solution
The workers are probably union people so they probably vote Democrat, so fuck ‘em.!

The Democrat Solution
We will have to hold some focus groups, check in with our donors, and maybe hold hearings. We will get back to you next week.

The Putin Solution
Quick, bring second trolley!

The Evangelical Solution
It doesn’t matter, it is all part of God’s plan.

The New Age Solution
Consult your spirit guide. Mediate upon the problem to see if it just is a mirage and then fast for three days and an answer will come to you.

The Obvious Solution
Since this is an hypothetical problem, I reach into my hypothetical pocket and pull out my hypothetical revolver. I fire three warning shots into the air. All six people look in my direction, see the runaway trolley, and move out of its path. Ta da!

February 3, 2021

Atheism is Just Another Religion, Right?

Filed under: Culture,History,Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:20 am
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How many times have you heard this claim? In my case, it is way too many times.

I have been working my way through Create Your Own Religion: A How-To Book Without Instructions by Daniele Bolelli and ran across this:

“Several secular ideologies also preach a faith in pure, abstract ideas that can never be realized in the world as it is. Plato’s philosophy is a prime example of this. In his view, the real can never match the ideal; what is earthy is rejected in favor of a ‘pure’ dimension beyond the Earth.”

I feel the need to unpack this claim as it is flawed at its core. That Plato’s philosophy can be considered an ideology at first rankled but then I looked up a definition ideology:

Ideology (noun)
a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.

Okay, it is an ideology. What I really object to is the sloppy use of two words “preach” and “faith.” Both of these words have religious connotations and lead people to believe the things they are labeled with to be religious ideas. (The word “preach,” even when used in a secular usage, caries religious overtones.)

Faith (noun)
1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something, Example: “this restores one’s faith in politicians”
2. strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

Here you can see the two main uses of the word faith: the common use and the religious use. We really need to split these apart. Using the word in the first sense is “received” in the second sense by many of the religious.

And, Plato’s world of ideals was set aside form our world because our world contains no such absolutes. Perfect or ideal things exist only in our imaginations. That we could imagine them, yet they certainly didn’t exist, apparently led Plato to formulate some of this ideas. Questions arise such as: if they exist in my mind yet not in this world, where do they exist? etc. Hidden realms, spiritual realms had been with us before language and history so, the postulation of such a hidden realm is far from unusual.

To illustrate the ideas of measurement and perfection I used to walk my students through measuring a table in our laboratory. The first measurement was by estimation or by body parts (cubits, spans and whatnot). Then we used a wooden meter stick. Then a steel measuring tape. Then a surveyor’s transit. Then we jump up to a laser interferometer. (Most of these required a short explanation to college freshmen and the “measurements” were done in the imagination after the first one.) When we get to finer and finer instrumentation, something interesting happens. We discover that where we take the measurement is important. We get different values measuring the “length” of the table depending upon where we take the measurement. We, in fact, discover that the two ends of the table aren’t parallel. (What did they expect? It was a government school and the table was made by the low bidder.) Even if the ends were parallel, a careful examination of each end would show that they are not perfectly smooth, that there are high and low spots, tiny mountains and valleys. We end up basically struggling to define where the table begins and where it ends. In other words the “length of the table” becomes obscure. This is the case in every other physical object and any of its dimensions.

As to “In his view, the real can never match the ideal; what is earthy is rejected in favor of a ‘pure’ dimension beyond the Earth.” It is not “in this view,” but in all views that the real can never match the ideal. But why on Earth (pun intended) would one “reject” what is earthly in favor of some airy-fairy idea land we cannot access? Who thinks “Damn, there is nothing perfect in this land; I reject it and refuse to live in it!”

Gosh, do you think, maybe, that there were gods in Plato’s time? And do you think that contesting the idea of the existence of those gods was good for business? Or do you think sucking up to god-believers was good for business? (Plato ran an academy which was supported by student subscriptions.) Gosh, gods are perfect, so where do you think they live? Actually in Plato’s time, gods were not perfect unless being perfect asshats from time to time made them more perfect and not less.

There is so much religion woven into the fabric of our languages, our thinking, our discourse, even our ideas that it is hard to extract anything from the world of ideas without dragging a coating of religion along with it.

Plato’s philosophy is not a secular ideology which is a viable view of the world subscribed to by atheists or anyone else. (There are probably a few, but until they outnumber the flat-Earthers, they are small potatoes.) No one I know “preaches” it (aka teaches it with religious fervor).

And, no, atheism isn’t a religion. Heck it isn’t even an ideology, there being no “system” and no ideas/ideals, especially one which could form the basis of economic or political theory and policy or, really, anything else.

“No, Virginia, there is no atheist religion.” Santa Claus

January 17, 2021

What is the Strongest Proof that God Does Not Exist?

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:07 am
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(I have a practice of trying to offer religious posts on Sundays. This is no exception. S)

The question in the title of this post was a question that popped up on Quora. It came with over 100 answers. I did not read them all, but quite a few of those I did read included some form of this tidbit “To be clear you can never say with 100% certainty that a god of some type does not exist.”

Maybe it is my scientific training but “100% proof” is something that does not exist except in our imaginations. We desire certainty in matters that are life and death. Even 50:1 odds in your favor don’t guarantee that you win. But 100% proof is an absolute that just doesn’t exist. And insisting on 100% proof that a god does not exist is a ploy to ensure failure for anyone who tries, a dishonest ploy. The request for the “strongest” proof is quite honest, however.

The example I use as my standard of a very high probability occurrence is the Sun coming up tomorrow. I predict that it will. I am very, very sure that this will happen. I understand why it has this high probability. Physically, either the Earth would have to stop rotating upon its axis or be thrown somehow off into space or maybe the Sun would have to disappear or explode or something of that ilk. The amount of force that would be necessary to stop the earth from rotating overnight (I did say the Sun will come up tomorrow) is so immense that the Earth would be sundered into pieces were it to be applied. Similarly if the Sun were to blow up, so as to not be there when the Earth rotates around through the night, it is unlikely the Earth would survive such an explosion.

So, the prediction that the Sun will come up tomorrow is secure and near 100% in certainty. I can imagine a scenario in which it does not, say involving aliens with advanced planet-busting weaponry (Like the Death Star of Star Wars!). It could destroy the Earth so that there is nothing to rotate around and no one to see the Sun “rising.” So, my prediction is not 100% certain.

So, is anything 100% certain? I do not think so. All quantitative laws in science are based upon measurements, none of which are 100% certain. All qualitative laws are based upon observations, which also are not 100% certain.

Human opinions, such as you may think Emily is a total Karen, a total bitch, but then you find out she dotes on her grandfather, so . . . not 100% certain. And so on. . . .

So, back to the God question. What is a reasonable sort of standard of proof? Since no proof currently exists, we should start with a low standard. I suggest 50+%. In words this would be “more likely than not.” This could be plugged into Bayesian calculations for our assessment.

So, can anyone make such an argument and have it be valid?

I have studied this question at some length. Recently I read a book entitled “The Non-Existence of God” by Nicholas Everitt. Doctor Everitt is a professional philosopher (I am only an amateur philosopher) and you can tell his conclusion based upon an exhaustive search through history for all of the philosophical arguments for the existence of a god. I say this so that you will understand that philosophical arguments will not serve our needs here. I seriously doubt that a philosophical argument can prove anything. At best they can attach conclusions to sets of premises, the outcomes of which are determined by the truthiness of the premises.

So, we need something other than a philosophic argument. The best option would be a scientific argument. So, start with some evidence, make a conjecture and then see if it holds up.

Any takers?

Note Obviously from the numbers of answers to questions regarding the existence of a god or gods, this is an important question to many people. I am hesitant to add another “answer” a question that already has 100+ answers as I am unwilling to read all of those answers so that I do not just duplicate one of them with my own. But I do take a stab every once in a while.

July 4, 2020

The Good and the Perfect

Filed under: Philosophy,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:15 am
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I am reading a survey of the roots of western civilization and am at the ancient Greek stage.

Socrates focused on living a life of virtue and based it upon a search for the meaning of “good.” What is good? is the question he asked . . . and tried to answer. He felt that any man who didn’t have the exactly correct definition of virtue, would be mislead and make mistakes leading to a life that is not virtuous, at least in some aspects.

And, of course, thousands of years of philosophy have resulted in the following definition of “is good” . . . <cricket, cricket, . . .>.

Plato followed up the idea by extending it to all things, not just “the good.” He felt that it was obvious that there is a realm in which perfect examples, called Forms, of everything existed. Not just chairs and swords and Quiche Lorraines but abstracts like Beauty, Virtue, and Bravery.

This is somewhat understandable as one can imagine a craftsman building some device, a chair perhaps, and if they took their time and worked carefully and kept on improving that chair, either there would be an end to that process, a perfect chair, or there would not be. Plato was, like Socrates, enamored of perfect states, even though no such thing exists in nature. This was swept under the rug by declaring that all real things were but imperfect copies of the perfect Forms available in that other place.

Obviously, some people have too much imagination for their own good.

This ideas of perfect states feeds into the ideas of dichotomies, e.g. good and evil, dog lovers and cat lovers, Republicans and Democrats. The idea was that the other have of the pair is needed to define the first part and without that other part being in existence then we would not feel the first part. This is utter nonsense of course. (And dangerous. We think Repubs and Dems are opposites because they oppose one another when, in reality, you can’t tell which is which from their appearances or behaviors. They are not opposites, they are both defenders of the status quo.)

I have written on the dichotomy of good and evil and the claim that without evil, then good wouldn’t exist. This lame argument is, I suspect, a weaselly argument in defense of the argument from evil, basically “if God is all-good, why does evil exist?”

Good and evil, to start, aren’t opposites. The real opposites are good and bad. I have a rather extensive vocabulary and couldn’t come up with the opposite of evil. Here’s two lists I found:
Antonyms goodness, good, redeeming(a), beneficent, virtuous, redemptive, goody-goody, beatific, sainted, white, saving(a), saintlike, angelic, saintly, angelical. Synonyms malevolent, vicious, malefic, malign.
The antonyms are wishy-washy and the synonyms are vicious. There is no good antonym for “evil,” one that depicts the extreme nature of that word.

And, the silly argument that one part of the dichotomy is needed to define the other is easily disproved, even a baby can do it. Offer a baby (of suitable age) their first lick of an ice cream cone. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, said baby will express pleasure and want more. It will act out the thought, “Hey, that shit is goood . . . gimme, gimme, gimme.” Now does that baby know a definition of evil, does it know evil at all? Is it necessary that it have an innate understanding of “bad” or “evil” to appreciate the goodness of ice cream? Or is it the case that that baby has programmed into it a number of behaviors that lead to its success? Of course, religious apologists will say that the baby has an innate morality as a gift from their god, but that doesn’t explain anything, that is just another baseless claim to add to the stacks of the other baseless claims they have made.

The philosophical “problem of evil” is often explained away that man can do evil because we have free will, otherwise we would just be slaves to Yahweh’s will. And what do they say in other areas? They say, “Be a slave to Yahweh’s will, it will make you happy! And you will end up in Heaven and not Hell.” So, being a slave to Yahweh’s will is a bad thing if it is involuntary but a very good thing if it is voluntary. I think being a slave to Yahweh’s will is . . . being a slave to Yahweh’s will.

Plus, as I have pointed out often enough, the tradeoff is not “evil for free will” it is “evil for the free will to do evil.” Yahweh could have made us lacking in the free will to do evil things but with free will in everything else. Is that a tradeoff you would be in favor of? Hell, even Donald Trump would take that deal . . . well, maybe not.

Dichotomies, like perfect states are stages of thinking, I think, that we had to go through, just like the phases your parent’s talked about when you were young, e.g. “Oh, it is just a phase she is going through.” This was a universal excuse used by parents for inexplicable behavior of their children when I was young. (Is this still the case?)

Unfortunately way too many moderns are still stuck in these archaic, simplistic modes of thinking. Believing in imaginary things and perfections are rife in our culture.

How different things would be if we, as the new age gurus encourage, were to “focus on the journey and not the destination.” If a piece of software had to be perfect before it was sold, we wouldn’t have any software. If a car had to be perfect before it was sold, we would have to cars. If loaves of bread had to be perfect, the shelves of our supermarkets (the “bread aisle) would have empty shelves.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough.

June 8, 2020

The “Biblical” Source of Our Western Traditions, Part 2 of 2

I ran out of gas on this response to a claim I read. Here is the second half of my response (after the repeat of the lead in). Steve

* * *

I have been reading another William G. Dever book “What Did the Biblical Writers Know & When Did They know It?” The title sounds like a Watergate catch phrase but the book was written in 2001, so. . . ?

Near the end of the book the author is commenting on the value of the Bible in our civilization/culture and he stated the following as being derived from the Bible:

  1. The absolute worth of the individual (the right of self-determination)
    2. The rule of law and justice (democracy)
    3. The immutable authority of morality (virtue)
    4. Liberty and justice as the foundations of politics (public morality)
    5. A free, entrepreneurial market
    6. The power of mind to dominate nature and grasp truth of higher order (science)
    7. Government as ordained (the rule of law and order)
    8. The importance of tradition and meaning (religious and cultural values)
    9. History as purposeful (progress)
    10. Universalism as the ultimate goal (triumphalism).

Of these Dever states that we take “for granted the following notions and cultural values, nearly all of them derived from one or another interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. . . .” (Emphasis added.

Interestingly, I have owned dozens of Bibles and I must not have got the one he is drawing from.)

Finishing, Finishing

  1. The power of mind to dominate nature and grasp truth of higher order (science)
    So, human beings would never have figured this out had it not been for the Bible? really? What did humans do for the 200,000 years before the Bible was written? Apparently not dominating nature and not grasping truths of higher order. So, the evidence that over ten thousand years ago, American native peoples didn’t use fire as a means of controlling the forage available to their prey animals. And they didn’t stampede prey animals into cul-de-sacs to slaughter them. Nor did any of those people have any religious thoughts at all, despite the burial process we have uncovered, and ritual spaces that were built? I am gob-smacked at this claim. Even after the Bible was written New World peoples used extensive irrigation systems to grow crops, built massive public works, cleared square miles of jungle to plant crops, established mail systems, etc, And they did it all without the guidance of the Bible . . . it’s a miracle!
  2. Government as ordained (the rule of law and order)
    Let’s see . . . to ordain means “order or decree (something) officially” so you cannot even have anything ordained until you have something like a government (theocratic or not) to do the deed. I presume this is a reference to a secular government being ordained by a religious government, as when the Israelites begged Yahweh to give them a king. Basically this seems to be the ability of religions to form governments. This doesn’t sound like the “rule of law and order,” this sounds like a thing guise of oppression. In other words, “we get to do to you want we want because God has ordained us to be able to do that.” This is the source of the divine rights of kings and, gee, I just don’t know how we would have gotten to our western civ without those wastrel, vicious kings.
  3. The importance of tradition and meaning (religious and cultural values)
    What? People didn’t transmit their culture, by indoctrinating their children until the Bible told them to or okayed the process? All of those rites of passage of prehistoric people were, what, unauthorized at best? People didn’t think traditions were important before the Bible? People didn’t imply meaning all over the place before the Bible? You know, hijacking is now a crime.
  4. History as purposeful (progress)
    Wow, I just don’t know how we get on in our day-to-day lives without knowing that our history was purposeful. In the US alone, all of those “settlers” (a disgusting euphemism for “conquerors”) were motivated by bring the word of god to the heathens. Greed for land and natural resources had nothing to do with it. History is not written by the victors then, it is simply the way that Biblical purposes play out. We are all just pawns to history writ large. What a crock of baloney. History is purposeful . . . what a concept! I guess those who claimed that “Progress was their most important product” were right in that they were just making it up . . . as a product . . . which we now call propaganda.
  5. Universalism as the ultimate goal (triumphalism). So, Genghis Khan’s desire to conquer the world was Biblical? Alexander the Great . . . him, too? So, our ultimate goal as participants in “Western Civilization” is to bring every other country into the fold? Is that true? The Bible’s stated goal of having the Jews rule the entire world is quite apparent. (This is what Yahweh promises.) The Catholic Church also that that particular goal, as does Islam. Gosh, don’t you think we would all be better off if that goal didn’t exist at all? This is hardly a good thing, you know.

* * *

I happen to like this author’s works (I have only read two) but this list is beyond the pale. These are the defining characteristics of Western Civilization . . . and they all come from the Bible? If that is the case, why is it that the longer a country is part of the Big WC, the less religious it becomes? That doesn’t seem to be a Biblically sourced idea, now does it?



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