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ethics, conscience, religion, savage atheism, quantum leaps...

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posted on Aug, 26 2010 @ 08:05 PM
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I'll just launch straight into this. Sorry if it looks like a long, dull read. I haven't the patience to try and format it, seeing as the formatting tools keep failing for some reason.


Why religion?

Everyone has a conscience - whether or not they have any experience of religion. True religion essentially teaches us to obey our conscience. Religion as an emergent feature of humanity - when applied correctly - serves as a framework, by which a young society stabilises, allowing individual humans and family/ community groups to exist in freedom. From there, each group, and specifically each person has a choice about whether they develop themselves in a psycho-spiritual way (sort of like Jungian 'integration'), and from there, whether they seek out communion with the Divine. There is room for exploration of the argument that humans may never have developed socially, to the point where we had 'ethics', without some form of revealed guidance... Most states/countries which are now considered 'first world', and thus are described as ethically advanced (or at least ethical in general) initially had a 'religious' foundation.


Savage atheism:

The counter argument against the idea that 'science cannot disprove the existence of the divine' is usually the sharp retort of 'it is up to the charlatans and control freaks of religion to prove the existence of the divine'. It's a weak argument. Science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of the divine, and any really open, honest scientist will accept that fact. There is nothing wrong with placing strong emphasis on science and matters of intellect; in fact, it's vitally important that we apply our intellect rigorously to solving the problems we observe in the world around us. However, to stand vehemently against the possibility of esoteric realities - beyond our capabilities of measurement - is a terribly irresponsible approach to the quest for true and beneficial knowledge.

When the arguments start, acid-spewing atheistic 'scientists' will quite often conveniently forget or belittle the actual beliefs of their scientific forefathers as irrelevant - a symptom of the age they lived in. These modern Godslayers fail to see that they may possibly be laying the groundwork for themselves to be considered in a much worse light by future generations - for evangelising the masses into ignorance of the possibilities of the universe, calling it scientific rationalism, or progress. Unfortunately, many 'believers' will fail to back up their own position with convincing argument - or worse, may discourage people from following a scientific path of exploration.

It's not a matter of expecting science to 'convert' - the particular scientists I refer to (Dawkins et al) should simply allow room for the possibility that they might be wrong, and as such they cannot reasonably condemn God to the refuse heap, no matter how glorious the literary spiel appears when they try to do so. No matter how comforting it becomes, to be able to view themselves as superior, 'evolved' masters of the universe, they will always be one step in the wrong direction when they seek to undermine something they cannot reasonably speak against (due to the untestable nature of the phenomena). By virtue of inherent features and function, the 'realm of spirit' is experiential and phenomenological. The principles of spirituality, religion and God, are essentially (and crucially) different from the zealous misapplications in human society of the same.


Lessons from history?

In the fourth century AD, Jewish scholars knew that the planets revolved around the sun. They had plotted the course of the other planets, knowing that they were not 'wandering stars' but planetary bodies orbiting the sun just like the earth. Conversely, many scientists ridiculed the notion of a heliocentric solar system centuries after these things were known by purely 'spiritual' people. In addition, the first scientists were like the minority in the academic communities nowadays - seeking a balance between matters of faith/spirituality and matters of science.

One of my favourite quotes? The book of Job, chapter 26, which appears to describe the Earth's axial tilt. The book has been dated by many scholars as being written sometime between 1600 BC and 700 BC:

7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
he suspends the earth over nothing.


And then.....???

Back to the present day - quantum physics is beginning to unravel immense mysteries concerning the nature of the universe... Scientists are even starting to tentatively suggest that the smallest particles of the material universe exhibit signs that they may in fact, on some level, be conscious entities. That's precisely what yoga practitioners and mystics from various traditions have been saying for millennia.

Consciousness originates from arrangements of matter, otherwise we wouldn't be conscious. Therefore consciousness as a 'principle' must somehow be inherent in the most infinitesimal constituent components of this universe.

For my part, I believe that evolution of material to complex organic states (within which ego personality can develop) can be seen as the overriding 'grand design' in the natural order of things. In my opinion, science will fairly soon leave us with no choice but to accept the possibilities of a 'spiritual' dimension to life. Agnosticism. It's the only TRUE stance any real scientist can adopt. Why? Because we don't yet know. Maybe one day we will.


Noah.




posted on Aug, 26 2010 @ 08:06 PM
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References and further exposition to follow - tomorrow, after some much needed sleep.

A good night to you all, hope you enjoy the post.


Noah



posted on Aug, 26 2010 @ 09:02 PM
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If I can suppose the existence of esoteric realities are a fact and that at least some experiences are actual experiences of said realities, and they can cause and endless whirlwind of debate and jaw flapping in this reality, ultimately ending up as bits represented as RGB levels in my computer's display controller, then they can be detected scientifically once we know what we have to look for.



posted on Aug, 26 2010 @ 09:07 PM
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Originally posted by NoahTheSumerian



Why religion?

Everyone has a conscience - whether or not they have any experience of religion. True religion essentially teaches us to obey our conscience. Religion as an emergent feature of humanity - when applied correctly - serves as a framework, by which a young society stabilises, allowing individual humans and family/ community groups to exist in freedom.

===============================================

One of my favourite quotes? The book of Job, chapter 26, which appears to describe the Earth's axial tilt. The book has been dated by many scholars as being written sometime between 1600 BC and 700 BC:

7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
he suspends the earth over nothing.






Noah , may i commend you on the layout of your thoughts -
they were very easy on the eye.




True religion essentially teaches us to obey our conscience


But has that conscience , to some degree, not been constructed by religious thought/concepts etc. ?
With religion essentially teaching us to obey ..... religion.




Religion as an emergent feature of humanity


Religion , the established religions - were once emergent , yes . But in the modern age they are anything but emergent,. They are archaic ridged dogmas which betray their age, lacking the dynamism to shift with the Zeitgeist .
Well thats just my take on it - anyways.


As to the bible and astronomical events .....

Didn`t god stop the movement of the sun in the sky so Joshua could finish a battle .
Wouldn`t literate civilisations who had a keen interest in such heavenly events such as the Chinese or the Egyptians not of recorded such a truly remarkable event ?







edit in/on

[edit on 26-8-2010 by UmbraSumus]

[edit on 26-8-2010 by UmbraSumus]



posted on Aug, 26 2010 @ 10:32 PM
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While I agree with parts of your discussion, and also parts of your conclusion - I feel very strongly that religions are usually organized to allow some to accumulate power and control over others.

Christianity for example teaches people submission and poverty are virtues - for that alone I would utterly condemn it, but it goes further into far more egregious errors.

I am agnostic - and completely agree that unless you are willing to arbitrarily make assumptions, and base beliefs on them - then there is no other reasonable position.

As far as organized religions are concerned I am a complete atheist - I certainly question the motives of those who seek status and prestige derived from within those organizations.

On the topics of reality and the 'spiritual' world - I do not at all consider the 'spiritual' world to be unnatural, or mystical.

I see the universe divided into two parts, reality and possibility (I use the word possibility because it does not have anything but scientific connotation - I could have as easily said, spirit world, or fantasy world).

The sum of these two parts could be equated to zero - so removing any requirement for creation, as nothing has been created, rather - zero is simply unevenly distributed. So, 1+ (-1) = 0. We can arbitrarily assign physical reality to 1, and possibility to -1.

It seems intuitive that these two halves would interact with each other continuously, and one method that is of interest to us - is that information (which is what I would assume both parts are solely comprised) flows through points of consciousness.

For example, the world of JRR Tolkien does not exist in physical reality - but when you look at it, and measure its dimensions you have to conclude that it is rather big - so where is it, and more interestingly - where did it come from?

Well, we can assume it exists entirely in the realm of possibility (not in any way that we would recognize it though - not as a physical place etc) - that part of it that we can intersect with - the raw information that defines it, can exist in physical reality only through mediums like books or movies.

I feel that information is constantly flowing between these two places, and that one place we can readily see the result is through what we call mans creativity - which in my view is simply information flowing through a point of consciousness and being interpreted and represented in physical reality.

Science seems to be leading our understanding in this direction - I do not feel that any organized religion that I know of has produced any useful knowledge in this regard.

We do not need religion to develop ethics - everyone understands the elements of person, liberty and property and that to infringe any of these elements without consent is wrong.

In conclusion, yes to agnosticism, yes to a 'spirit world' (totally natural and mundane in my view, and one we interact with constantly), but no to most organized religions.

[edit on 26-8-2010 by Amagnon]



posted on Aug, 27 2010 @ 03:18 AM
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reply to post by NoahTheSumerian
 

You write well, Noah. A star for that.

Now, let's see where you go wrong.


Everyone has a conscience - whether or not they have any experience of religion. True religion essentially teaches us to obey our conscience.

Indeed, everyone* has a conscience. Our concepts of right and wrong, of fairness and reciprocity, of cooperation and exchange, of mutual tolerance and so on, are all derived from the interactive behavioural dynamics of the social primates (of which we are one species) and of social animals more generally. Other moral concepts, such as altruism, are not confined to social animals but are more widespread about the animal kingdom. We do not need religion to teach us right from wrong. Morality is in our genes. Evolution put it there.

Agreed, the function of religion is partly to reinforce this innate morality; but its more salient function is to introduce new moral concepts for which there is no biological rationale. Duty towards gods, worship and sacrifice--including, of course, human sacrifice, still practised by Christians as little as 300 years ago in Salem, Massachusetts--the erection of a parallel hierarchy and power structure for selectively unfit males, the justification of deeds repugnant to natural morality, and so forth. A third function of religion is to repress natural morality--particularly in the sexual arena--in order to create social structures within which it can thrive along with its priests and other promoters.


Religion as an emergent feature of humanity - when applied correctly - serves as a framework, by which a young society stabilises, allowing individual humans and family/ community groups to exist in freedom.

To simplify, religion helps keep the peace within a tribe, clan or nation. On the flip side, it also makes said tribe, clan or nation more united in its intolerance of other such groupings. Religion promotes and potentizes the warring instinct in man. It is no coincidence that Yahweh's Covenant was simply 'worship only me, and I will make you victorious in battle'. When the covenant was broken, says the book of Daniel, in swept the Philistines.


From there, each group, and specifically each person has a choice about whether they develop themselves in a psycho-spiritual way (sort of like Jungian 'integration'), and from there, whether they seek out communion with the Divine.

Oh, no. This is fantasy. Actually, people have less freedom to develop their potential for integration in religious environments than in secular ones. This is so obvious it barely needs stating--where can I (assuming I'm a native) be most myself? In Kandahar or Stockholm? London or Salt Lake City?


There is room for exploration of the argument that humans may never have developed socially, to the point where we had 'ethics', without some form of revealed guidance...

Go ahead, then, let's hear your argument.
 


*Barring psychopaths, of course.

[edit on 27/8/10 by Astyanax]



posted on Aug, 27 2010 @ 06:39 AM
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Thank you all for the responses so far. I'd like to particularly make the point that I agree fully with the implied point in Astyntax's post, that a person living under a religious regime is of course much less free to act according to their personal desires to integrate/ develop 'spiritually'. I didn't make myself clear enough on this point, and certainly it could appear that I have neglected the topic slightly. However, I did imply my own dislike of such regimes in saying that there's a difference between religious zealotry and true religious freedom.


CS Lewis summarises the fallacy of religious leadership gone awry, in his post-humous collection entitled 'Fern Seed and Elephants' (1975 Fontana Books)


"Theocracy has rightly been abolished, not because it is wrong that learned priests should govern ignorant laymen, but because priests are wicked men like the rest of us"



And here, addressing an audience of Oxford undergraduate and graduates in 1939, on the subject of the role of an academic (in wartime and in life generally):


"Humility, no less than appetite, encourages us to concentrate simply on the knowledge or the beauty, not too much concerning ourselves with their ultimate relevance to the vision of God. That relevance may not be intended for us but for our betters - for men who come after and find the spiritual significance of what we dug out in blind and humble obedience to our vocation".


I particularly wish to discuss the point made regarding the way in which humans have inherited social structure from primates - mainly because that point, while seemingly raised as a criticism of what I wrote in the OP, does not actually conflict with what I said or what I believe. I firmly believe that the universe - and underlying impetus of its nature - drives all matter from an 'inorganic' condition (albeit possibly with some inherent property of consciousness), towards higher evolutionary states of greater and greater order; ultimately towards sentience, self knowledge and (imho) knowledge of the divine.

One last thing to add here: please don't say "let's look at where you're going wrong". That's prima facie evidence of the mindset I'm speaking against here!


Controlling religion is damaging. Correct application of religion should lead to a condition wherein enlightenment can progress in an environment of respect, shared knowledge (hyper-specialisation of modern scientific study makes much current science unintelligible to the layman) and community betterment/ progress. I'm not saying that I can show you any evidence of a fully correctly applied religion anywhere - but at least in the UK, our entire legal system is archaically based on the principles outlined in the Old Testament.

Obviously I've not addressed all the criticisms of posts above this one, but I will come back and aim to answer all of them more fully.

Back in a few days - holidays are calling!

Much respect,


Noah.



posted on Aug, 28 2010 @ 01:20 AM
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Originally posted by NoahTheSumerian
Thank you all for the responses so far. I'd like to particularly make the point that I agree fully with the implied point in Astyntax's post, that a person living under a religious regime is of course much less free to act according to their personal desires to integrate/ develop 'spiritually'.

Fine. I take it you are withdrawing that claim. The anthropological, archaeological and historical records all show that the evolution of religion out of magic and shamanism was invariably accompanied by the rise of a religious hierarchy and power structure, if not an actual theocracy, which imposed duties on believers as well as limits on what they might do, say and even think.

This is not to claim that religious belief is unnatural to humans, or that belief in gods is always imposed from without; it is a mere statement of historical fact, wherever the origins of the religious impulse may lie.

Origins of Organized Religion on Wikipedia.

Some Theories on the Origins of Religions at ReligiousTolerance.org


I particularly wish to discuss the point made regarding the way in which humans have inherited social structure from primates - mainly because that point, while seemingly raised as a criticism of what I wrote in the OP, does not actually conflict with what I said or what I believe.

It is most certainly in conflict with what you said. You claimed, essentially, that morality is either derived from or made perfect by religion. I see this as clearly false: religion, in fact, perverts and corrupts natural morality. At the other end of the intellectual scale, religion also inhibits the development of a humane and consistent system of ethics. Religion is inherently immoral and unethical, and it corrupts all its practitioners.


I firmly believe that the universe - and underlying impetus of its nature - drives all matter from an 'inorganic' condition (albeit possibly with some inherent property of consciousness), towards higher evolutionary states of greater and greater order; ultimately towards sentience, self knowledge and (imho) knowledge of the divine.

This sort of Chardinist speculation has long been discredited. If you demur, show us some evidence for it.


One last thing to add here: please don't say "let's look at where you're going wrong". That's prima facie evidence of the mindset I'm speaking against here!

Never mind the mindset. I am interested in the truth.


Correct application of religion should lead to a condition wherein...

There is no such thing as the correct application of religion. Who decides what is 'correct'? Society? The state? The individual? The religious authorities themselves?

Are doctrine and practice to be decided by popular vote?


I'm not saying that I can show you any evidence of a fully correctly applied religion anywhere.

Precisely.

[edit on 28/8/10 by Astyanax]



posted on Aug, 29 2010 @ 04:34 AM
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reply to post by NoahTheSumerian
 


Now, you specifically said this


When the arguments start, acid-spewing atheistic 'scientists' will quite often conveniently forget or belittle the actual beliefs of their scientific forefathers as irrelevant - a symptom of the age they lived in.


Ah, but take the case of Newton. Newton was a religious man, but he also held other beliefs as well, particularly a belief in alchemy. He wanted to turn lead into gold etc, we think it's nonsense now. But it wasn't nonsense back then, as we hadn't developed chemistry to a point where we could disprove it.

His religious beliefs interfered with his scientific explorations equally. When he was trying to come up with the physics of the solar system he famously gave up on coming up with a way to resolve the orbits of moons and their affect on planets by essentially saying 'god did it'. This was the man who invented calculus on a dare, he could have come up with it if he had tried harder.

In many instances it is truly the case that the religion of a scientist was a symptom of his or her age and also their location.



These modern Godslayers fail to see that they may possibly be laying the groundwork for themselves to be considered in a much worse light by future generations - for evangelising the masses into ignorance of the possibilities of the universe, calling it scientific rationalism, or progress.


The possibilities of the universe are immediately truncated by the introduction of a religious framework. The universe is far more interesting in the eyes of modern science than it ever was and ever could be in the eyes of religion. No religious group or institution came up with the beauty of the rainbow's creation, it took physics for that. The understandings of things are where true beauty lies, not in being satisfied without an explanation.



Unfortunately, many 'believers' will fail to back up their own position with convincing argument - or worse, may discourage people from following a scientific path of exploration.


It could be that there is no convincing argument for belief. I certainly have never seen one.



posted on Aug, 29 2010 @ 02:50 PM
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Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
No religious group or institution came up with the beauty of the rainbow's creation, it took physics for that. The understandings of things are where true beauty lies, not in being satisfied without an explanation.


True, but it is a monk named Theodoric of Freiburg who is often credited with devising a correct scientific explanation for the rainbow.



posted on Aug, 29 2010 @ 04:34 PM
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reply to post by EnlightenUp
 


Did I ever say that the religious are excluded from science? I did point out that Newton was religious. However, I believe religion can act as a hindrance to human understanding of science at points.

Take evolution. It's basis is often attributed to Darwin, but we can go even further back to a priest named Gregor Mendel for our basis in genetics, which is fundamental in our understanding of inherited traits.

Religion and science aren't mutually exclusive, but I do believe that science (and a great many other things) can be thoroughly hindered by religion.



posted on Aug, 29 2010 @ 04:35 PM
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reply to post by madnessinmysoul
 


Darwin actually published before Mendel. In fact there was a copy of the journal that Mendel's article appeared in on Darwin's desk when he died.



posted on Aug, 29 2010 @ 05:33 PM
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reply to post by Xcalibur254
 


Ah yes, I always mix that up. My point wasn't really on chronology, just on Darwin not being a Moses-like figure for evolution. He didn't write down the whole 'torah of evolution', he just started us on the right path, other people, including a priest, filled in more pieces.



posted on Aug, 29 2010 @ 11:15 PM
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Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
reply to post by EnlightenUp
 


Did I ever say that the religious are excluded from science?


No, and I don't believe I said that you did. I thought I hedged my bets against fail by leaving unicorns to the reader. O how I hath misjudged thee!


I did point out that Newton was religious. However, I believe religion can act as a hindrance to human understanding of science at points.


He was, but he had familiarity with the esoteric aspects rather than just exoteric dogma.

I understand that Einstein read alchemy books but I don't feel confident at this moment to state it as fact.


Religion and science aren't mutually exclusive, but I do believe that science (and a great many other things) can be thoroughly hindered by religion.


Clearly it can drive science or hinder it depending upon the personal relationship one has with religion and its hidden codes.

[edit on 8/29/2010 by EnlightenUp]



posted on Aug, 30 2010 @ 03:31 AM
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Originally posted by EnlightenUp
I understand that Einstein read alchemy books but I don't feel confident at this moment to state it as fact.

He not only read them, he wrote them. Newton's alchemical research and writings



posted on Aug, 30 2010 @ 03:50 AM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 

Dude, Newton and Einstein are not the same person



posted on Aug, 30 2010 @ 04:03 AM
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Originally posted by rhinoceros
reply to post by Astyanax
 

Dude, Newton and Einstein are not the same person


Uhoh, Astyanax just made a "Newtonstein" monster that is now out of control?


reply to post by Astyanax
 


I was speaking of Einstein separately. I know Newton was into that quite heavily. I'll go have a look-see if there's any new goodies for me there, thanks.

[edit on 8/30/2010 by EnlightenUp]



posted on Aug, 30 2010 @ 10:58 PM
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reply to post by rhinoceros
 

Sorry, this damn thing keeps distracting me. Slithering all over me while I type.

Never heard about Einstein writing any alchemy books. I bet he read them. People like that read everything. Besides, he was contemporary with Carl Jung, who had a theory that alchemy was a kind of metaphor for psychological transformation... a bit bizarre, but it was in the intellectual atmosphere at the time. I'm sure Einstein knew of it--maybe he got curious.

Newtonstein.
EnlightenUp's on a roll these days.



posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 08:36 AM
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Hi everyone - glad to see there's been some activity on thread while I've been away. A quick point:





Originally posted by NoahTheSumerian
Thank you all for the responses so far. I'd like to particularly make the point that I agree fully with the implied point in Astyntax's post, that a person living under a religious regime is of course much less free to act according to their personal desires to integrate/ develop 'spiritually'.


Fine. I take it you are withdrawing that claim.


Well, no. I think you've drawn the meaning you were looking for from my statement. Religious regime is different from religious structure.

I hold that the correct application of a religious framework will lead to a society that is better organised, better able to implement the infrastructure required to allow religious/personal freedoms to operate. And I'm not for a moment suggesting that this has ever happened.


As an example - The moral and practical revelations that were included in the Torah were intended to be a blueprint for a young and artificial society (the Jews/ Semites) to empower itself into a position of nation status. While there has never been a complete, continuous application of the Judaic legislature by the Jewish people, I firmly believe that the application of the exoteric principles of the Torah (and later, the esoteric principles of the Kabbalistic mythos) enabled the Jews to move from the position of 'slave race' in Egypt to that of an effective 'master race' in modern times. They hold key political, media powers etc, and have moved into dominance in a host of economic and societal structures.

They have achieved this (imho) in spite of persecutions under Russia and Germany (and before that from various others) by the application of obedience to divine revelation. Not all of them have followed the letter obviously, but the overall trend is towards obedience to the Torah. Torah specifies rules that will be perceived as bizarre by some, until the esoteric understandings are processed and the greater (idealist) picture of a society under divine rule, in harmony with their environment is seen. The most general rules match well with all other moral and religious traditions, and by following the rules, habits develop. Habits of obedience to a moral code, which in time becomes a 'quickened conscience'.

I believe that this is an example of how religion can serve as a force by which man's conscience is quickened, leading to overall benefits in the wider society (one could say that by adhering to a moral code, they are generating positive 'karma' for their society).


The above are merely opinions, and there are some ideas there which could take a lifetime to expound upon and justify in the light of history. Therefore I won't be answering calls to 'prove' or justify my opinion. However, I hope it makes for interesting food for thought.

In summary, I want people to be aware that while I hold the principles of religion in high esteem, I find that humans have thoroughly perverted the point of religion. In fact, time and again throughout the Old Testament, the prophets made that exact same accusation against the people of Israel. Later on, Christ told people to beware of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Jewish religious and societal leaders of His day) because they had twisted the true purpose of the original divine revelations to suit their own evil.

For the record, I read New Scientist and enjoy various scientific journals online; I regularly read detailed scientific works in areas such as genetics/ molecular biology, medicinal ethics, quantum physics etc. Ergo, I'm not any kind of 'flat earther', 'hollow mooner' or (heaven forbid) a fundamental creationist.

Doubtless there's more to say, and more to answer, but we all have lives to lead so it may be a while before I come back to this thread. All the best, and thanks for stopping by.


Noah.



posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 11:40 PM
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Originally posted by NoahTheSumerian
I hold that the correct application of a religious framework will lead to a society that is better organised, better able to implement the infrastructure required to allow religious/personal freedoms to operate. And I'm not for a moment suggesting that this has ever happened.

If it has never happened, that means there is no historical evidence for this belief of yours. Why, then, do you believe it?

Is it supported by some theoretical argument, based on given principles taken as axioms, the same way Socialism and other political philosophies are? If so, could you summarize the argument for us, please?


I firmly believe that the application of the exoteric principles of the Torah (and later, the esoteric principles of the Kabbalistic mythos) enabled the Jews to move from the position of 'slave race' in Egypt to that of an effective 'master race' in modern times. They hold key political, media powers etc, and have moved into dominance in a host of economic and societal structures.

Slave race? Master race?




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