Man a machine

by Julien Offray de La Mettrie is one those books I recommend you read during your December break. He writes somewhere

I do not mean to call in question the existence of a supreme being; on the contrary it seems to me that the greatest degree of probability is in favor of this belief. But since the existence of this being goes no further than that of any other toward proving the need of worship, it is a theoretic truth with very little practical value. Therefore, since we may say, after such long experience, that religion does not imply exact honesty, we are authorized by the same reasons to think that atheism does not exclude it.

or

Let us not lose ourselves in the infinite, for we are not made to have the least idea thereof, and are absolutely unable to get back to the origin of things. Besides it does not matter for our peace of mind, whether matter be eternal or have been created, whether there be or be not a God. How foolish to torment ourselves so much about things which we can not know, and which would not make us any happier even were we to gain knowledge about them!

or

[..]It follows that the study of nature can make only unbelievers; and the way of thinking of all its more successful investigators proves this.”

and to end this post, he says about the soul

The soul is therefore but an empty word, of which no one has any idea, and which an enlightened man should use only to signify the part in us that thinks. Given the least principle of motion, animated bodies will have all that is necessary for moving, feeling, thinking, repenting, or in a word for conducting themselves in the physical realm, and in the moral realm which depends upon it.

How faiths spread

But how do you think, then, that my religion became established? Like all the rest. A man of strong imagination made himself followed by some persons of week imagination. The flock increased; fanaticism commences, fraud achieves. A powerful man comes; he sees a crowd, ready bridled and with a bit in its teeth; he mounts and leads it.

Voltaire

We cannot be certain

Of the justice of men who are capable of fashioning and worshipping an unjust divinity; nor on their humanity, so long as they incorporate inhuman motives in their most sacred dogma; nor their reasonableness, while they rigorously decline to accept reason as a test of truth

Morley

I am sure Barry would disagree and I would too. There are many times humans have acted better than their gods. The Christians at least have stopped using the rake to discover who believes correctly and are no longer stoning their neighbours for having the wrong interpretation of religion.

But on the whole, if one worships a cruel overlord, it is not far fetched to imagine their capacity for cruelty. Look at the Muslims chopping heads in the name of God or it name of the profit?

To be fair to religionists, it can be said any ideology believed in that admits no error and is taken as absolute truth is likely to be intolerant of divergent opinion and can easily lead to inhumane and cruel acts.

Questions

Happy Monday everyone.

Those who read this blog religiously have, I am sure, read the questions of Zapata. I am not going to re-post them here. No, the questions we have are more interesting, but before the questions something we might all agree with.

Everything for which we love and venerate the man Jesus becomes a bitter and absurd mockery when attributed to the Lord Christ

James Thomson, Satires and Profanities

Now the questions

  1. he went about doing good; if God, why did he not do all good at once?
  2. he cured many sick; if god why did he not give the whole world health?
  3. he associated with publicans and sinners; if god, why did he make publicans and sinners at all?
  4. he preached the kingdom of heaven; if god, why did he not bring the kingdom with him and make all mankind fit for it?
  5. he loved the poor, he taught the ignorant; if god, why did he let any remain poor and ignorant?
  6. he died for love of mankind; if god, why did he not restore mankind to himself without dying? and what great thing was it to seem to die for three days?
  7. he sent apostles to preach salvation to all men; if god, why did he not reveal it at once to all men, and so reveal it that doubt had been impossible?
  8. he lived an example of holiness to us all; if god, how can our humanity imitate deity
  9. why did he ever let the world get evil?

I hope to hear your responses and have a great week everyone.

On free enquiry

Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; not upon rumour; nor upon what is in scripture; nor upon a surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, “The monk is our teacher”.

Kalama Sutta- The Buddha’s charter on free enquiry

of men and wokeness

we live in very strange times. or maybe it only happens on the internet. with all the wokeness doing the rounds, group identity, victimhood olympics and cancel culture one always finds themselves walking on glass shells when they are asked to mention who is their favourite anything. you start asking yourself whether you can still listen to R Kelly’s storm is over or do you cancel him; can you read Mencken on religion or will we cancel him because of his racism or cancel Nietzsche for his whip statement? It’s all tricky.

For some reason that I still yet don’t know, many of the works I admire greatly were written by people who are now dead. And for some reason they are mostly male. And with the woke brigade on their cancelling march, they too, might soon be cancelled.

Why am i writing all this? Well, I don’t know but i wanted to share this short essay i found yesterday written by Bertrand Russell before some woke person decides we must cancel him, especially now that people are being cancelled left right and centre.

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy — ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness — that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss.

I have sought it, finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem
too good for human life, this is what — at last — I have found.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart.
Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

What I have lived for by Bertrand Russell.

Have a cancel free Sunday.

Some theological aside

I am reading this interesting novel titled job, a comedy of justice. You can see it on the goodreads sidebar of this blog. In some place he writes

Many people seem to believe that the ten commandments forbid lying. Not at all. The prohibition is against bearing false witness against your neighbour- a specific, limited, and despicable sort of lie. But there is no biblical rule forbidding simple untruth. Many theologians believe that no human social organization could stand up under the strain of absolute honesty. If you think their misgivings are unfounded, try telling your friends the ungarnished truth about what you think of their offspring- if you dare risk it.

Job, A comedy of justice