On human intelligence or lack of it

I cant recall who it was that said he is displeased by anyone who doubts that we are intelligent or who compares our intelligence to that of other animals. Though I like what Plutarch wrote

For I do not believe there is such difference between beast and beast, in point of reason and understanding and memory, as between man and man.

Plutarch

but the most relevant to this post is

The man from Mars who saw how men suffered in the last war and how frantically they are preparing for the next war, which they know will be worse, would come to the conclusion that he was looking at the denizens of a lunatic asylum.

Norman Thomas, 1935

I just finished reading AC Grayling’s An enquiry on war where he reviews many topics around war such as what causes war, justifications for it, future of war and such. My contention and I think Grayling would agree is that as long as our nation states continue to build arsenal in preparation for war, we cannot claim to be intelligent. In a world where there is starvation, homelessness, disease, poverty, it is insanity to keep spending trillions of dollars on armaments. It is madness. Blind folly.

Maybe some day war will end and until that day, we must remember that man is only capable of being intelligent but may not be intelligent, yet.

on Jesus Christ

In yesterday’s post or link, Superman was leading in the battle of the heroes. This quote from Ingersoll is a good addition to the debate

“Why should we place Christ at the top and summit of the human race? Was he kinder, more forgiving, more self-sacrificing than Buddha? Was he wiser, did he meet death with more perfect calmness, than Socrates? Was he more patient, more charitable, than Epictetus? Was he a greater philosopher, a deeper thinker, than Epicurus? In what respect was he the superior of Zoroaster? Was he gentler than Lao-tsze, more universal than Confucius? Were his ideas of human rights and duties superior to those of Zeno? Did he express grander truths than Cicero? Was his mind subtler than Spinoza’s? Was his brain equal to Kepler’s or Newton’s? Was he grander in death – a sublimer martyr than Bruno? Was he in intelligence, in the force and beauty of expression, in breadth and scope of thought, in wealth of illustration, in aptness of comparison, in knowledge of the human brain and heart, of all passions, hopes and fears, the equal of Shakespeare, the greatest of the human race?”

Col Robert Green Ingersoll, About the bible

things people have said

it would be better to destroy every other book ever written, and just save the first three verses of Genesis

William Jennings Bryan

If Jennings was granted his wish, what would become of Paul? Of the talking donkey? Of the fall of man? Of the Abrahamic land grab and all those fancy stories told in the bible? Does it mean that only the first three verses are indisputable and the rest being noise?

If there is a contradiction between a definitive [Koranic] text and conjectural science, then the scientific theory is refuted

A speaker at the First International Conference on Scientific Miracles of the Koran and Sunnah

think about this for a moment. you are doing research and then you check your results against the Koran and they contradict the text of the Koran. You don’t even have to publish your findings. They are refuted for all time.

All quotes are from J Rauch’s Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought

religious disservice

It is Monday, Easter is around the corner and maybe it is time for some sermons. I have been rereading Okot p’Bitek’s Artist the Ruler: Essays on Art, Culture and Values which I highly recommend, if you can find it that is. He quotes Eric Mascall who wrote

It has been emphasised that Christianity is historical in a sense in which no other religion is, for it stands or falls by certain events which are alleged to have taken place during a particular period of forty eight hours in Palestine nearly 2000 years ago.

Eric Mascall, inaugural lecture

Okot continues to say after this that all sorts of strange things happened during these few hours

  1. how for one do you interpret Peter’s so called denial? Why should a rugged fishermen deny his friend
  2. did Jesus ever claim to be king?
  3. who were the other thieves who were hanged on either side of the Christ?
  4. when some fellow, Joseph of Arimateus took Jesus’ body, was he really dead?

Elsewhere, he quotes from Rene Fullop-Miller’s Lenin and Gandhi

It is truly sickening….God creating: is this not the worst type of self reviling? Everyone who occupies himself with the construction of a god, or merely agrees with it, prostitutes himself in the worst way, for he occupies himself, not with activity, but with self contemplation and self reflection, and tries thereby to deify his most unclean, most stupid and most servile features or pettiness.

Lenin in response to Alexei Maximovich’s god-seeking

Have a pleasant Monday, will you.

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.