can’t find a place to ask this, so I’ll fittingly put in on your ‘bee swarm’ post!
I’ve been following your blog since its inception and have come to really value the intelligence, consistency and even the compassion of your overall message- especially in regards to freedom from religious superstition and your constant defense of evidence-based reasoning in the face of ignorance, in addition to your position of racial and sexual equality. That said, I’m curious about your opinion to the following question- I wonder what you’ll say: Given everything you stand for- equality, science, reason, a bit of fun, etc. rather than ask where you think the world is headed, I’d rather ask you where you would LIKE to see it headed, and I don’t mean in the short term- I mean in the long term- centuries- millenia- . I guess my question is, in the absence of non-evidential based spiritual attitudes, what to you see at this moment as a positive driving and unifying force for humanity and where would you like it to drive us to? What would you like to see us evolve into?
Looking forward to your response, whatever it may be
That’s an interesting request. I’ll not respond extemporaneously.
I’m not sure I understand (much less approve) “in the absence of non-evidential based spiritual attitudes”
are there evidential spiritual attitudes?
but being ever so willing to “take your drift”
if you are asking, as you seem to be, for both a set of guiding principles AND some sort of Blade Runner vision of where we all headed, or ought to be, or given my druthers…
I shall need a moment. A reflection is in order. A selection of terms.
I am hard pressed to choose one among the many knife edges over which civilization hangs by the barest of threads. It doesn’t matter. War, pestilence, plague, water resources, dead oceans…
One way or another, rationally or chaotically, the human population will be reduced by two thirds. Good riddance.
I didn’t ask for what you think would happen, I asked for what you’d LIKE to see happen, in the long term- given the best of what you’ve drawn our attention to in terms of your values, what you admire about human accomplishments and our positive qualities. In no way a challenge- everyone’s answers would be different, just curious…take your time!
Alright, it took a while for a response to percolate to my fingertips but here goes: Taking your above response seriously rather than tongue and cheek leads me to conclude that you are a nihilist. If it is your opinion that there is nothing worthwhile fostering in the human species then this is the only conclusion. Unfortunately, that makes me completely disinterested in anything you have to say publicly again. What is the point of you speaking out against the injustice and hypocrisy of the Pope’s involvement covering up the actions of pedophile priests, for example, when, in your opinion, the world will be better off if we were ALL extinct. You might be a rational nihilist, maybe even a humanist nihilist, but if you can’t find anything worthwhile nurturing in the human race then all your criticisms of it are equally meaningless.
You make a fundamental logical error. I’m certainly not a nihilist.
Let me give you an analogy. Atheists (with the exception of the small faction of “strong atheists”) do not assert that god is not. They simply assert that there is no evidence to support the claim that there is such a thing as a god. They don’t say “X DOES NOT exist”, but rather merely “I see no reason to believe that it does.”
Theists, in constructing a straw man counter argument, keep returning to that tired old blather, “You can’t PROVE god doesn’t exist, so the argument that he doesn’t is a faith based claim JUST LIKE RELIGION! Atheism is a religion!” It’s an argument that either myopically or stubbornly misses the point.
You want to assert that unless I have some feature of humanity that I think ought to be uplifted / fostered, I then forfeit my right to critique; that without a positive belief, there is no value in my assessment – that I am a nihilist.
Leaving aside that my response was far too obviously tongue in cheek to be taken any other way – after all, the plain corollary of criticizing lies is an argument for honesty, is it not? – your argument, even if I were to accept your nihilist premise, does not support the conclusion.
That I critique, by definition, means I cannot be a nihilist. Why would a nihilist bother?
Further, that I think the planet would be a better place in the absence of the vast majority of the human population is simply a perspective. If you think we need more people, you’re welcome to your opinion…but I think you’re wrong.
And, back to the religion analogy. I certainly believe the planet would be a better place with fewer religions. The extension of that opinion ends, logically, with the absence of religion. In my view, religious faith leads to more suffering, both personal and social, than any good it might do.
That humans are capable of good and noble acts; that those qualities are something to be promoted is a fairly obvious statement. That people are capable of horrendous evil and inflicting massive suffering on their fellow humans and everything else is also rather plain. Would the world be a better place without all that pain and malice? Absolutely. The question then becomes, is the potential for good sufficient to outweigh the negative balance? That is a matter of perspective and opinion. But thinking that might just be the case doesn’t make me a nihilist, nor does it invalidate my critique.
…..”The question then becomes, is the potential for good sufficient to outweigh the negative balance? That is a matter of perspective and opinion.” ….
Your perspective and opinion on this question is precisely what I have been asking in the first place. Humanity DOES have not only a potential for good, but many ripened and constant examples of that good, however in this discussion everyone would have a differing opinion on what those good qualities were (a creationist Christian and you, for example) and therefore would have differing fantasies about what our society would become if those positive qualities were promoted. It is those qualities which YOU admire in humanity I am interested in, as well as your somewhat serious fantasies of what the far future could be like (sorry, you can’t envision a race of quadra-breasted philosopher nympho-scientists) if those positive qualities overcame our negative ones (also subjective). A bit of imaginative fantasy in a public place is perhaps a bit dangerous- you’ll always have people not like your fantasy compared to their own…but fuck it, it’s your blog isn’t it?
I want a population that can manage to live comfortably on the resources provided by this planet without poisoning the environment. I want free and complete health care for all from cradle to grave; free education for all; an end to the oppression and exploitation of humans – that all persons be treated as ends, not means. I want animals, even those raised for food, to be well treated until such time as they are humanely slaughtered so that I can have a delicious steak. I want an end to the insane war on drugs. I want the government to reign in the greed and exploitation that is inherent in capitalism. I want social justice.
Now, for my more totalitarian perspectives…I want the right to slap the living jesus out of Glenn Beck for using lies to incite hatred and stoke fear among the ill-informed and uneducated. I want a program of managed population reduction.
I want an end to home schooling. I want the teaching of creationism banned along with all forms of religious indoctrination. I want every citizen of this planet of have, by the time they finish high school, a fundamental understanding of basic principles of chemistry, physics, engineering, math, philosophy, history and a functioning ability in at least two languages. I want the rooftop of every building covered with a vegetable garden and solar panels. I want the Pope pimp walked into court into shackles. I want the news media to do its job, rather than blither “some people are saying…” in order to set up another bit of insane, false or misleading bit of horseshit. I want ice cream…with sprinkles.
I doubt these things will come to pass mostly because I don’t believe that people are inherently good. PERSONS – individuals – might be…I don’t know enough of them to make a call. But I can say with confidence that when you get more than a dozen of them together, expecting good outcomes is like playing roulette and betting it all on green 0-0.
An emptier world is a wider world, with more room to stretch in every possible sense, not just the literal.
It’d be nice to see the planet no longer straining under the weight of billions who only suffer and exist.
Give Earth some room to breath, for fuck’s sake, or she’ll suffocate.
(metaphoracly, not in the ludicrous ‘gaia’ sense)