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This seems like such an obvious topic that it's probably been done before, but if so I don't recall it. Anyway. I've been making my views on religion known more than my relatively restrained usual lately, and I've come across some really smart people who disagree with basic premises of what I think. While I can definitely be persuaded on matters of semantics, the overall gist of the arguments I've seen - basically that disciplines other than scientific ones (say, philosophy, theology, even literature, etc) describe reality, that there is somehow a different sort of reality for them to describe, I can't be persuaded into thinking, at least not with the arguments I've met with so far. Whatever forces organize the universe are unlikely in my view to take human considerations (hey, isn't astrology a discipline to some people) into account when acting.

Anyway, I have gone many years with the (perhaps unjustified) assumption that most people on this board are atheists; but even if this is true there are likely to be disagreements about what the implications of this are. Lovecraft (an unapologeticaly elitist atheist) thought that voting rights should require an IQ test, for example. When I see Sarah Palin, I am tempted to agree. Intelligence does not mean that people won't be crazy it just makes it statistically less likely. Anyway that's enough from me, it's been a while since there was a good/new discussion thread on here so hopefully this goes somewhere.
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Heh 
I think my problem with your justification of skygod morality (as a practical thing today, as opposed to a useful/successful thing in the past, hell even SOME of what Islam introduced at that time may have been an ethical advancement)... is entailed in this statement:

"As they move up the knowledge ladder."

But... they don't!
I mean we as a species have moved up the knowledge ladder, but perhaps up to a billion people worldwide, still take some form or another of the skygod thing literally, and damn is that ever destructive.

I also don't want to go too far into romanticizing paganism, but in some ways paganism was a lot less nasty than monotheism, in some parts of europe anyway.

regarding your last statement, some ancient greek dude (so many awesome ones of those) famously said, "religion [in this day zeus and co] is considered true by the masses, false by the philosophers, and useful by the rulers" (or something like that).

I keep really pessimistic possibilities in mind, such as the idea that fundamentalists will actually control more of the world in 30 years than they do now. They certainly control more of the world now than they did 30 years ago. My main hope for the world is that we get genetic engineering, and one generation's IQ is double that of their parents, and they just don't fall for the brainwashing bullshit (not that intelligence is a guarantee of not falling for it, it just makes it less likely for it to work). 
Whoa ... Hold Up! 
My main hope for the world is that we get genetic engineering, and one generation's IQ is double that of their parents

First, the number of educated/thinking people is skyrocketing and continues to do so at a faster and faster rate. Prior ages, people simply did not have access to info. I'm talking like 10 years ago.

Second, --- and look this is tough to say in a way --- you don't know your food pyramid. Everyone cannot be chiefs. There needs to be a lot of indians too.

The pyramid is a normal feature of evolution. It is human to heavily dislike that, hence humanitarianism and the desire for man to help his fellow man. This is in some ways the "burden of the aware", to say those people shouldn't be suffering and to want to fix it and sometimes it even happens (disease eradication, immunization programs, etc, etc).

Life is a constant struggle. It is a struggle for your cells. It is a struggle for the individual. It is a struggle for society. And the rules keep changing and every time a problem is solved, two seem to replace them.

But today: Most ills are man-made. in the late 1800's people died from cholera all the time. Or the tons of illnesses before penicillin was discovered. Or malaria in a lot of the world. Today, we fight only ourselves. 
Actually 
I read Brave New World a long time ago, in which the argument was advanced that if everyone was smart, there would be a constant civil war because no one would agree to work as janitors/blue collar.

Now come on. Blue collar jobs are disappearing, not just moving from North America to overseas, but objectively disappearing (ie self-driving cars, less jobs requiring manual labour and heavy lifting, etc). You are assuming that if everyone was smart, the BNW scenario would be true, even in a world of hardly any blue collar jobs, and that a new generation 2x as smart as us for everyone (as opposed to some smart people and, in the states, half of em expecting jesus to be back within 50 years) couldn't come to some kind of reasonable arrangement.

If a future society requires everyone to do intellectual work most of the time, and split up whatever physical work is still left, I think a generation smarter than us, especially if everyone was that smart, could do that. Your model of a pyramid refutes itself in a way, since the pyramid's proportions were very different in the middle ages, and as you admit those proportions are changing all the time. A future generation with a much bigger proportion of much smarter people wouldn't be tied to the same union/corporate struggles that have made problems for society ever since the industrial revolution. 
Brave New World Was Satire Though 
Warning: Satire ahead
Sophisticated minds only.

If a future society requires everyone to do intellectual work most of the time, and split up whatever physical work is still left, I think a generation smarter than us, especially if everyone was that smart, could do that.

I'd opt for the outside job with the physical labor and laugh at the people that thought imprisoning themselves in a cubicle was the pinnacle of freedom.

At the bar, my physique shaped from using my body would make me especially attractive to the more desirable women. My work ethic would to some extent make it likely I would only find other women of similar work ethic interesting.

If I get the best women, I just won evolution.

If I just won evolution, all standards in the universe say those other guys couldn't have been the smartest. 
Hmm 
I'm enjoying this conversation, but my problem with your perspective is that you seem to be incapable of imagining fundamental changes in human nature which might result from humans obtaining mastery of their own DNA.

Yes BNW was satire and I loved it for that reason. I'd love to discuss it further but that's not the point of what I'm saying now; of course (and you know this) in BNW Mr Mond explains that issue of universal intelligence and I think Huxley WAS serious about that part, though NOT about Mond's policies. In fact Huxley didn't really even propose a solution at all (certainly not anti-tech aka the savage reserve).

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't you just say this:

1) in the future a construction worker will be more buff than cubicle workers and therefore get more sex.
2) getting more sex will entail "winning" evolution (only if you reproduce more - and even if you had the choice to do so which is now often a woman's choice, how smart would you be to do that with modern laws where you are now tied responsibility-wise for these "wins")
3) "smartest" equals most laid. Therefore Genghis Khan, whose genetic footprint is as far as I know is the biggest in history, is smarter than Einstein.

It seems like what you are saying is ridiculous and anti-intellectual and doesn't even requiring refuting, but if I've interpreted what you've said properly and anyone still needs to know why it is ridiculous here goes:
1) this isn't true now, white collar people aren't prohibited from working out and how you look physically is a matter of lifestyle and genes, being some exploited coal miner and shit does not make you some buff action hero like it does in the movies! Hell the higher your basic income the healthier you are in general, statistically.
2) See Richard Dawkins, Robert Trivers, and basically everything about evolutionary biology. No one WINS evolution! That's ridiculous. Evolution is just a process that exists as long as life that reproduces exists. You don't win evolution. The only "success" scale (and really wtf!) is the amount of genes you pass on, which unless you want 10,000 kids and can pay for them, isn't much of a win. Lots of sex without kids is great, but that is by no means a WIN of EVOLUTION!
3) Intelligence might have started to fight off tigers and seduce women, but art and science kind of show it's gone beyond that now.

Sorry for the giant post. You could skip my refutations. 
Hehe 
Yeah it was satire and a joke but I labelled it so.

You stole all the fun things in your reply. Genghis Khan and 10,000 kids, etc. Can't joke about that. Can't win evolution ... can't joke about that either.

You stole all my lines.

On a serious note: evolution that is occurring today is cultural. Einstein's culture influence is far bigger and deeper than Genghis Khan's.

They say that humans today are pretty much the same as tens of thousands of years ago, aside from modern nutrition/medicine/education.

You are correct, I haven't factored in changes that will be made to human DNA. I haven't been able to sort out my thoughts on that yet in a way that can be communicated well.

(And I don't want to step into human stratification right now ... i.e. Brave New World. Largely because I'm not sure how to communicate that con densely either.)

Fun conversations. But probably time to sleep ... 
Yee 
damn it!

I guess all I can say is:
I think with current human nature we are fucked.
We've avoided nuclear holocaust thus far but we will never avoid environmental and population catastrophes because that shit requires planning ahead more than the next election.

We are DNA-wise the same as we were before sharpened sticks. I think if you give sharpened-stick people, with concerns like that, the keys to the destruction of the world, they can't be trusted. I know I couldn't be. If you saw Chronicle recently, at that age, I would do exactly that. Our tech is too far ahead of our brains (biology) and our culture. All I can say is my ONLY HOPE is for us to find a way to make future generations smarter, wiser, more rational, than us. 
And 
I mean that technically, DNA-wise, genetic engineering. We're smarter than rats because of the structure of our DNA. Culture won't do shit. In cultural terms Christianity has a third of the world, Islam has another third, and "sorry, I don't believe in the tooth fairy" has 5%. Physical genetic improvements in the brains of future generations are my only hope. 
Change 
The thing about change is that it always happens slower than you want, but it also happens deeper than you would have imagined.

The world is fundamentally a great place, humans are fundamentally a great species.

But to understand the universe and the world (or even humans)

1) You have to have a blank slate and no preconceived expectations.
2) Seek to understand how the universe and the world world by observation. Study history, literature, sciences, human behavior, social behavior.
3) Develop methods and theories that based on these observations, test them and apply them. Some will be validated, some will not be. For those that are not, go back to your data and observations. Find what you missed.

Undereducated people as a general rule of thumb aren't happy with where they are, what they have. So they can be exploited by ...

1) Class warfare
2) "holy causes"
3) Simple ideas of "the real reason you don't have what you want is <insert external enemy>" where <external enemy> might be "rich people", "Wall Street", "The United States", "the West", "Israel", "atheists", "some other religion", "religions", "Christianity", "Islam", "Illegal immigrants", "The White Man", "Black culture", "The government", etc.

The reason undereducated people are often gullible is that they are desperately searching for answers.

Preferably simple answers.

But they'll take solutions over explanations every day. But not necessarily voluntarily. To some degree like how a sick dog still doesn't want the vet to give him a shot or swallow medicine.

Hence you have to find the right kind of trojan horse solutions or more creative implementations.

In a lot of ways, you are complaining that this isn't easy.

But the universe is always more impressed by the people that can do the things that aren't easy. Anyone can do the easy stuff. 
An Alternative Perspective 
Tronyn, religion cannot actually inherently be displaced.

There is a ...

1) A sense of wonder in life
2) A sense of wonder that anything exists at all
3) Questions about these wonders
4) A desire to know everything is "okay"
5) That there is justice in this world
6) That does really help to do good
7) That it is right to care, that this is important
8) The desire to find something more

I am quite a bit in the optimistic "I'm not sure what I believe but something is out there seeking us to find it" camp.

All humans and all life struggle against the forces of nature.

There is something to doing good. It is a definite possibility we are "alone". Maybe there are no higher reasons to do good.

But when you truly help someone, when someone does an act of good, the recipient sure appreciates it.

Maybe evolution is the doomed struggle to fight the forces of nature.

The fiercest stance against the forces of nature and the struggle the survive is an unshakable hope.

The belief, justified or not, somehow there is an unseen justice and even if this does not actually exist our thoughts can make it so.

We have one thing against the forces of nature that nature can never have: a mind and the willingness to use it. 
Extraterrestial Life 
There are 500 stars like our own within the sphere of the space 100 light-years from Earth. Within 200 light-years one would expect to grow to 4,500 stars like our own.

Every direction we point the Kepler telescope, it keeps finding more and more planets every which way. And due to our technical limitations, it usually only finds the big Jupiter sized ones.

They say life on this planet started a mere 500 million years after the Earth was born. And this might be too quick for any terrestrial evolution to have happened, so the concept of panspermia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panspermia ) possible enters as a factor.

If that is a factor, I have the distinct feeling that in less than 700 years we might have some surprise development that change the world view like has not been done before.

But 700 is just some number I made up based on the speed of radio transmissions.

What if like the movie Contact, it happens tomorrow, or 8 years from now. Or what if we are not a wholly native species or what if they are "already here".

I do not believe in "aliens", but I do believe in statistics. Perhaps your concerns about "humans fixed in their thinking" becomes a short-term problem?

Or maybe we are the first intelligent life in our galaxy. I have a hard time believing that in 300 years of rapid technological advance that we won't have greater ambitions by then. 
Final In The Much Demanded Quadruple Post 
Tronyn ...

The movie you must see: I Heart Huckabees.

It has very sophisticated humor that is lost on most, understood by few, but does an outstanding job tying together the kinds of lose ends that seekers of knowledge seek.

Somewhat the polar opposite of a Stanley Kubrick work but with the same intellectual capacity knitted in the reverse.

More I shall not say. 
Saw This Today: 
 
da fuk? is that meant as a joke or did they never take a piss? 
 
are they taking the piss or did they never take a piss? 
Lol! 
that has to be a joke, haha, it assumes that what scientists are claiming, is that humans have existed for as long as the earth existed (this is what creationists say, not scientists), and also that population has been static since the start of earth and the human race. lol. imagining 6 billion humans on an earth too hot for liquid water 4.5 billion years ago is an amusing kind of image, kind of like imagining 6 billion humans on venus now. they wouldn't be drinking 2 litres a day per long, in fact I think it would take approximately 1% of 1 second for them all to die! 
IT Frightens Me That Christian Extremists Try To 
trivialise science.

Pushing the boat out here, but Republicans seem to have opinions that sway towards this kind of logic. Like creationism. AFAIK Palin was into creationism. I.E. the could-have-been-the-second-most-powerful-woman-in-the-world believed that "God" created the earth in 7 days, about 5000 years ago or whatever. I mean I'm not from the US, nor do I live there, but when I heard Obama had been re-elected, I breathed an audible sigh of relief.

Now I'm not saying that all Republicans are creationists (Please god don't let them be all creationists), or that I know the first or second thing about US politics, but from my little old desk here in the UK, the bits of info I have overheard SCARED ME SOME. 
...werful-woman-in-the-world * 
 
In Other News 
Denmark: Muslim majority in local board cancels decades-old Christmas tradition, finances Eid party with 10,000 USD

http://europenews.dk/en/node/61029 
And Uganda 
Don't forget about Uganda.

Homosexuality will be punishable by death by law. Or for 'minor homosexuality', life imprisonment. 
In Other News: 
http://m.local.stv.tv/glasgow/news/200797-man-stands-trial-for-trying-to-feed-sausage-rolls-to-police-horses/

That might not be directly religion related, but I'm sure there must be a religion where it's immoral to feed pig to horses. 
Lol 
I'm just glad that here in Canada things seem to be staying sane. Or wait, maybe not.

Still, the one thing we Canadians always tell ourselves is, "at least we're not the US" (though our countries are close allies, they have many things about their country we do not want). I don't think it was Obama winning so much as people voting against the republicans after all their nasty comments about rape, etc. 
LOLz 
http://scrwmedia.com/ufj/files/2011/12/Proving-Atheists-Wrong.jpg >>> is that one of those gimmick tests they give to 10 year olds??

Still....it does prove something VERY effectively. 
Re #195 
This news does not surprise me at all actually... as soon as you mix religion and politic power, it ends up in non-sense decision... come on....

Unfortunately, this is democracy, and if the majority is a bunch of morons, then you are screwed up... I am just wondering how Danish people and government will react to this: it sounds interesting to follow-up the story :E

Anyway: when you cut a pig's queue, it is still a pig... 
Religion Be Like A Dick, Y'all 
It's all good that you've got one, just please don't wave it round in public, and don't try and shove it down my throat.

P.S. Don't force it on your children either bro. 
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