lessons from Spinoza

I am currently reading Spinoza’s Theologico- Politico treatise from where most of our reflections in the next few days will mainly come from unless we are rudely interrupted by criminal activity around the world for example car bombs, honor killings and any such madness, then we may add our commentary to that type of madness.

Spinoza advises thus

we must not go to the prophets for knowledge, either of natural or of spiritual phenomenon.

He continues in the next line to say

we have determined, then, that we are only bound to believe in the prophetic writings, the object and substance of the revelation; with regard to the details every one may believe or not, as he likes.

If only evangelicals let everyone in peace to believe or not to believe, we would have lesser things to fight over.

The American credo

By Mencken and George J. Nathan

I like Mencken, I really do even with his faults. In this book they make a contribution toward the interpretation of the national mind. Some of the anecdotes I think still seem true today as they were when they penned this book. 

They write for example that it is part of the national psyche that Bob Ingersoll is in hell. 

What I found interesting was this

The constitution of his country guarantees that he shall be a free man and assumed that he is intelligent, but the laws and customs that have grown up under that constitution give the lie to both the guarantee and the assumption.  It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law, in fact, that the average citizen is half witted and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts. If there were not regulations against the saloon, he would get drunk every day, dissipate his means, undermine his health and beggar his family. If there were not postal regulations as to his reading matter, he would divide his time between Bolshevist literature and pornographic literature and so become at once an anarchist and a guinnea pig. If he were not forbidden under heavy penalties to cross a state line with a wench, he would be chronically unfaithful to his wife.

thoughts out of season

In the recent past, 3 fellows were severely beaten, killed and later dumped in a river by, we suspect, cops. In the US of A, there is a similar story and elsewhere in Baghdad, some over zealous religiots blasted a building killing more than 200 people.

this brings me to my first question of the day; Has existence any worth? What is the value of human life.

A mammal is a warm-blooded vertebrate animal of a class that is distinguished by the possession of hair or fur, the secretion of milk by females for the nourishment of the young, and (typically) the birth of live young. I see an animal befitting the above description and call it a mammal. And this is designated as truth. Anyone who disagrees is a madman or a madman.

My second question of the day; What is truth?

On free will

I think this quote below best illustrates how the freewill proponents see it. It is from one of the essays by Voltaire.

He writes 

I neither will to make my nest nor the contrary; it is a matter of complete indifference to me; but I am going to will to make my nest solely for the sake of willing, and without being determined to do it in any way, merely to prove that I am free.

the Questions of Zapata

I know most of you are familiar with the work of Voltaire: Toleration and other essays in which is found the questions of Zapata. Zapata presented his questions to a committee of doctors in 1629 which did not answer him but suppressed them.

The questions are not new, but they are quite refreshing

  • Is Genesis literal or allegorical? How did God create light before there was a sun? How could there be a day before the sun was made? How was the firmament created when there is no such thing. Was not the firmament an illusion of the ancient Greeks, who came later than the Jews?
  • Since God allowed the construction of the pyramids, how high was the tower of Babel? Did it reach the moon?
  • Exodus says the Jews remained in Egypt for 400 years. Counting carefully, only 205 years can be accounted for; why the disparity?
  • Moses took an idolater to wife. Why did God not reproach him? How could Pharaoh’s magicians change into blood all the waters since they had already been changed into blood by Moses? Led by God, why did not Moses simply take Egypt, in which God had already slain the first born? Why did they take the long and difficult way home instead of going straight to Canaan?

There are many more questions in that link that I don’t think our pious friends have answered. Maybe Ark’s friends James and Willy have answers.