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A Modern Religion Must Be Based In Reality

Theological arguments can somewhat convincingly reason there could be a higher intent in the universe but it’s still easier to attribute everything around us to unguided natural forces.
I think guys like Spinoza approached this the best way:  The universe is sacred because if there is a creative intent, everything that exists is a direct manifestation of God.  This way, we can treat the universe and the natural forces that animate it as God itself.  Laws of physics are the laws of God.
Christian learning inspired by the Ancient Greek philosophy led to science by espousing some attitudes very like this but remained bound to trying to reconcile this mode of reasoning with the teachings of Christ and the traditions of the church.
Since around the time of St. Paul, Christianity incorporated the pagan Greek idea of ideal forms to describe the perfection of heaven.  This meant that everything we see on earth is a pale shadow of a higher reality.  This concept was combined with the Zoroastrian cosmology of earth as a battleground between dualistic forces of good and evil.  The material universe became an illusory and temporary testing ground for our souls.  What started as a Greek-influenced offshoot of a Semitic world view evolved into an ethereal doctrine that possibly shared more in common with Buddhism than a Judaism or Islam that treated God as an unknowable abstraction while dealing with earthly life in legalistic detail.  This made Christianity incompatible with a materialistic world view.
The result was that science coupled with revolutionary Enlightenment values ended up becoming its own nascent religion rather than developing as a school of theology within the church.
Western thought has been bizarrely split ever since, looking for the sacred in a heaven that cannot co-exist with a “dead” physical plane.
The way out of this trap of course is to simply see there is no conflict between the sacred and the material, natural world.
This is perhaps why science has not been as direct a challenge to Islam and Judaism that spend most of their energy dealing with life on earth.  Even the Indian world views of Hinduism and Buddhism seem not to wilt so badly under the scrutiny of science because they do not require the natural world to be governed by supernatural forces.  A Buddhist may see reality as an illusion, but is not beholden to an elaborate theoretical true reality as a matter of faith.  The need for a legalistically defined ethereal realm creates a unique chemistry in Christianity.
Ironically, having reasons to apply legalistic reasoning outside of human social life may have led Christians to discover the laws of reality itself.  The tragedy is they could not embrace the system of natural laws they discovered as the divine expression of God they were looking for all along.  Christians could have developed science into a Sharia law of nature and avoided the great schism between flesh and spirit.

Environmentalism is a school of the Enlightenment science religion that attempts to treat the natural world as holy.  It’s an attempt to move in the right direction, to assign sacred values to the natural world, but it proves inconsistent when one minute we’re told it’s a tragedy if the whales go extinct and the next that our world is an insignificant speck of dust in an enormous universe.  Secular preachers like Carl Sagan could never resist showing off pictures of earth as a blue dot from afar to hammer in their point even as they simultaneously say how wonderful it all is.  Try as they might secular doctrine just can’t quite move past “dead matter” Christian attitude towards the natural world.
The really fatal flaw though is the split between religion and science renders environmentalists unable to deal with human affairs.  So environmentalism begins as a genuine attempt to capture the sacredness and wonder of nature, but ends up by portraying humans as the anti-natural force that must be countered.  The hypocrisy of environmentalism is that it is anti-human because in the secular religion, humans are oddly considered apart from the natural world in stark defiance of their own scientific knowledge.
Even were environmentalism able to incorporate humans as a natural element, it would still mean embracing worship of nature for its own sake seeing meaning in everything.  This would mean a throwback to animistic forms of spirituality typical of the stone age.  As the shallow fads of “New Age” have revealed, this means wandering into yet another trap.

The key for a successful post-Secular religion is to adopt an attitude of a holy universe in the Spinozan sense but to do so with a purpose and a mission.  The trouble with environmentalism is it proposes we should save the whales but offers no reason why it matters.
If we include humans with all the rest of nature we first have to ask, “What makes humans so special?  Why is a human any different than a pebble on Mars or a floating micro-organism?”  The answer is our conscious awareness.  That’s why we’d rank a lizard over a mushroom and a dog over a lizard.  Awareness is existence, without which the universe is empty.  There may be whole planets of fantastic landscapes covered in gardens of iridescent lichen but nothing to “witness” them.
Environmentalists insist on the intrinsic beauty of nature but miss out on the need for beauty to be perceived, or else it is wasted.
Because we see the intrinsic value of conscious awareness itself, it makes a pretty good foundation.  Furthermore it sets humans apart from inanimate matter or lesser living things without having to lie to ourselves that humans and human affairs are separate from the rest of nature.  By the same principle we also reason smarter humans of higher consciousness are more valuable than simpletons.  This paves the way for both eugenics and a meritocracy of intellect promoted by the state religion itself.  We have a reason to try to preserve and spread the human species.  It has potential to inspire us to be our best and then become better than we are.
Such doctrines would lead eventually to trans-humanism and practical immortality—to the rise of awareness that transcends humans as we transcend pets and livestock.
In a poetic way of thinking, those of awareness form the organ by which the universe knows itself, in other words—to become the mind God.

Social Engineering Should Be Tested First

The best intentioned reformers often make things even worse.  But so would anyone trying to solve massive, complicated problems on the first try. It’s actually more surprising anything ever goes right.
It amazes me looking back over history to see how reformers and revolutionaries try to apply their ideologies without ever having tested them. Imagine a tech company releasing a new device without extensively testing it first or a computer programmer writing code for an entire program without ever trying to compile it. Ridiculous, yet that’s what people try to do all the time. Too often the result is disaster.
The higher castes have greater agency through which they deal with greater responsibilities. They can’t just say “oops” when there’s a big logistical screwup and a couple million people starve to death.
Any responsible sentient being in power naturally has a system to test new ways of organization before implementing them on a large scale.
Observing differences between local governments and the study of history provides lots of fertile material for hypotheses, but the devil is in the details.

There would have to be some sort of R and D department for trying out new social technologies. Perhaps there could even be reality shows of a sort where in the first round groups of maybe 150 or so live under a hypothetical social model then those groups that make it past the elimination get expanded up to 1000 and so on. There would be rules to keep it ethical. People who “die” in the experiment would just be “voted off the island” and sent home. Not being “real” would of course distort the data, but perhaps money or other incentives could make the results worthwhile. Someone who “dies” might lose all their prize money, representing a total loss.

Or to make this simpler maybe a reform simply gets tried first in a small town or a single city first and upvoted or nexted based on results. Perhaps there might be an actual experimental province set aside with discrete zones. Those who chose to live there would simply vote with their feet. In the absence of any Berlin walls, it would quickly become evident which zones people like and which they avoid and what type of people or demographics prefer different systems. Of course, the experimental province might give unrepresentative data if they attracted outliers of the population, but it could be a start. Not to mention, there would probably have to be incentives to get people to choose to live in experimental land.  Perhaps they’d sign contracts to stick around in experimentland for a year or two or else they lose all their bonuses.
As enough information was amassed from real life experiments maybe computer simulations would become more effective at projecting results and maybe programs could be written to project hypotheses for ideal social organizations taking every aspect of human nature into account that maximize both raw competitiveness and creativity/adaptability to new stressors.

Throughout history, groups have settled on something that works for the time period and then try to perpetuate it ad nauseum across milennia.  Talmudic Judaism was a brilliant way to coordinate a particular Semite tribe over 2000 years ago.  Islam turned out to be the right solution for quarreling Arab city states about 1300 years ago.  But one of the things we immediately notice is that all these systems buy a professional suite of anti-virus software to prevent change to that successful formula, even if it’s a thousand years later.
Sadly, social technologies tend to stagnate because they only ascend to apotheosis in the first place because they have serious protection against change.
The challenge before us then is how to design a society to be both resilient and highly adaptable to new stressors, so that when the next big asteroid hits, we aren’t among the dinosaurs.

Averroes: An Islamic Philosopher Who Influenced Christian Theology

“Averroes is generally regarded as the greatest of the Islamic philosophers of the Medieval period and indeed one of the greatest Medieval philosophers. Nicknamed ‘The Commentator’ (because of his incisive commentaries on Aristotle), Averroes’ thought has two main strands…
Christian Averroists represented the most radical assimilation of Muslim Aristotelianism, adhering to Averroes’ supremacy of reason over revelation and the theory of the eternity of the world. Such heterodox views brought Siger and the Averroists into conflict with the Established Church and many of their propositions were rejected in the Condemnation of 1277…
The influence of Averroes (and also of Avicenna) on the development of Later Medieval Christian thought is therefore unequivocal. But this intellectual debt to Islam is very rarely mentioned in our times. When one considers the further development of the modern West, based on a paradigm of rational enquiry, it is Averroes who seems to best anticipate this model within the medieval epoch.”




Islamic Extremists in London

The Influence of Zoroastrianism On Abrahamic Faiths

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