Why is there religion???

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Religion, science, atheism... all swim in the same ocean of ignorance and try to escape the angst and anxiety of uncertainty by claiming to "know" what they cannot possibly know.

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2 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Where's your info on that death rate? From DNA analysis?

There were a hell of a lot of people 200 years ago.


200 years ago the human population was a bit over 500,000,000.  Death rates were much higher then.  Half the children died before they reached adulthood.

After Samelweisse and a Pasteur  survival rates increased when it was realized disease was caused by microscopic organisms.  People started to clean up better after that became known.  In the late 1700's   inoculation became more common.  The effects of smallpox (caused by a virus) were reduced somewhat. 

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1 hour ago, william.scherk said:

I speculate and lose my shirt:

Further back in the logjam of argument I must go. I am pretty ignorant about a pantheist  argument on ethics, or a pantheist incarnated in philosophy. At first glance/think it seems unassailably vague and nice and suitable for mixed company,  but I then I find Schopenhauer, a demiurge of metaphysical evul, O'vish style 

From my standby in times of ignorance in philosophy, the sometimes catty online wonkery at http://plato.stanford.edu/  

15. Pantheism and ethics

If, as we have suggested, there is room for value in pantheism then there is room for ethics. But does pantheism prescribe any specific ethics? There are two respects in which pantheism might be thought to have significant ethical implications.

Firstly, for pantheism, there is no higher power, no external authority to tell us what to do. Insofar as it rejects any sense of a transcendent external lawgiver or—to put the matter more positively—insofar as it regards deity as the distributed possession of all, pantheism may be represented as endorsing the Kantian doctrine of the autonomy of ethical judgement. But the implications of this are open. It can lead to either democratic communitarian ethics or to individualism. Paradoxically, it might equally well result in a species of conservative conformity to whatever is deemed to be the ‘natural state’ of the world every bit as stifling to the human spirit as conformity to whatever is deemed to be ‘the will of God.’

Secondly, it may be argued that pantheism is able to give a particularly strong ground for an ethic of altruism or compassion. To Schopenhauer (with whom this argument is particularly associated) only genuinely altruistic or compassion actions have moral worth, but only pleasure and pain are capable of motivating the will, from which he concludes that genuinely moral action is possible only if the pleasure and pain of others can stir us to action as directly and immediately as can our own pleasure and pain. It is not enough that we sympathetically imagine ourselves in their shoes, he argues, we must literally feel the pleasure and pain of others as our own, an attitude that will be rationally grounded only in a monistic metaphysics in which the distinction between ego and not ego becomes a trivial or illusory one between two manifestations of the same underlying unity. (Schopenhauer 1839) Schopenhauer includes nonhuman animals in this argument. To the charge that what is defended here remains but a species of egoism— metaphysically enlarged, but still morally worthless — it may be replied that self-concern is to be deprecated only insofar as it is something that exists in contrast with concern for others; a contrast which no longer finds any purchase in this scheme.

He might have examined human need out of human nature. Proper human morality from that can come. But the problem of endless arguments then arises, such as here on OL. So God--the old white guy with  a beard up in the sky--simplifies that problem by eliminating, one way or another, the argument, for we are made in his image and the Pope brings in Michelangelo for illustrative purposes. I don't argue with Christians. I do ask them not to proselytize me. All I want is the art.


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The Foundations of Quackery - H. L. Mencken 1923

"No democratic delusion is more fatuous than that which holds that all men are capable of reason, and hence susceptible to conversion by evidence. If religions depended upon evidence for their prolongation, then all of them would collapse. It is not only that the actual evidence they offer is extremely dubious; it is mainly that the great majority of the men they seek to reach are quite incapable of comprehending any evidence, good or bad. They must get at such men through their feelings or resign getting at them altogether.

"So in all other regions of the so-called mind. I have often pointed out how politics, under democracy, invariably translates itself from the domain of logical ideas to the domain of mere feelings, usually simple fear---how every great campaign in American history, however decorously it started with a statement of principles, has always ended with a violent pursuit of hobgoblins. The great majority of the half-wits who followed William Jennings Bryan in his three Presidential battles . . . . What attracted them was . . . his adroit demonology . . . he invented demons that palsied them and took their breath, and so they stormed after him.

"The number of men eligible to membership in such mobs is always underestimated. That is to say, the number of men capable of anything properly describable of logical reasoning is always put too high. Worse, the great progress of all the exact sciences in our own time tends to diminish it constantly. . . . The average man, finding himself getting beyond his depth, instantly concludes that what lies beyond is simply nonsense.

"It is this fact which accounts for the great current prosperity of such quackeries as osteopathy, chiropractic and Christian Science. The agents of such quackeries gain their converts by the simple process of reducing the inordinately complex to the absurdly simple. Unless a man is already equipped with a considerable knowledge of chemistry, bacteriology and physiology, no one can ever hope to make him understand what is meant by the term anaphylaxis, but any man, if only he be idiot enough, can grasp the whole theory of chiropractic in twenty minutes."


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I don't remember much about a story exposing Chiropractic pseudo science but I remember it was at odds with medical science. I have known people who befitted from it as physical therapy, but not as medicine.   


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  • 2 months later...
On 5/8/2016 at 2:06 PM, Brant Gaede said:

In the early 19th century it was awash in whiskey.



Mostly because clean drinkable water was hard to come by,  especially in cities...  Hard cider was a healthier drink (at that time)  than water from the nearby stream.  You know, the stream that the animals peed in.  

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