Social Question

Master's avatar

What would mankind and the world be like when the great majority believes there is nothing else after this life?

Asked by Master (1353 points ) December 31st, 2009

And quite possibly no deeper ‘meaning’ or ‘purpose’ for sentient life.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

124 Answers

Symbeline's avatar

No human evolution.
Beliefs and faith aid man when faced with uncertainty, adversity and fear.
Otherwise, I don’t understand why so many different religions (But sharing all the same concepts.) have existed, and exist still.

laureth's avatar

Perhaps we’ll concentrate on making this world the good place it can be, instead of trying to get a reward (or telling people they’ll be punished) in the next, or thinking that this world doesn’t matter because it’ll soon be gone anyway.

Life is what we make of it.

Maximillian's avatar

What would it be like? Mankind would still create another deity. Every human being on the entire planet believes in something, whether it be God, Allah, Xxanzzanx, Buddah, money, mankind itself; man believes in something. Even atheists believe in something. They believe in their intelligence. Now, as to the after life, that is shown in the atheists today. Go find one and tell me what they’re like. That will reflect what you’re looking for.

eLenaLicious's avatar

People would probably have nothing to fear. They would live life to the fullest and pretty much do whatever they want without fear of not entering a kingdom afterwards or being punished.

faye's avatar

@augustlan lovely song. @Symbeline what would affect evolution?

Maximillian's avatar

@eLenaLicious Man kind will always be afraid of death. They may not think its God, but they don’t want to die.

laureth's avatar

@eLenaLicious – As an atheist, I note that there is still punishment for being a jerk. It just isn’t divine in origin.

Grisaille's avatar

Better.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. Mankind would be as the Klingon Empire, kudos to the strongest and those who would die with honor. Better to die fighting than live running…...

HumourMe's avatar

I’m pretty sure it’s already like that. The majority of people I know don’t believe in the afterlife. Which means they live life to the full now and don’t live it half-arsed waiting for something better to come along when they die.

AstroChuck's avatar

Xxanzzanx?

HumourMe's avatar

@laureth I think she meant to say there would be no punishment as in, no hell, because hell is an afterlife. Of course there is punishment like prison but no supernatural punishment like eternal hell. But not believing in it means there is nothing to be afraid of when you die.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Maybe then we could agree on a set of common ethics, or at least work toward that end over several generations. Sort of a “Rendezvous With Rama”- Arthur C. Clarke scenario.

Zuma's avatar

If you think about it, for such a materialist worldview to become dominant, there would have to be either some sort of draconian totalitarian state ruthlessly imposing this view over centuries, or else a highly educated and highly advanced civilization that has come to terms with its own mortality, and which has been able to let go of millennia of religious myth and parochialism to achieve a new consensus about what makes life worth living.

Neither of these scenarios seems at all likely to me, since I can’t imagine a civilization surviving very long that doesn’t give its members any sense of meaning and purpose in life. In a sense, we all do live on in the Humanity that defines us, which we constitute while we are alive, and whose effects ripple forward through our contributions to it.

We also live on in parallel universes, and in the four-dimensional manifold scientists call spacetime. There may be a sense in which our individual “selves” are illusions created by the limitations of having to occupy a single point of view in space and time—there may be a kind of protoconsciousness from which we emerge, and to which we return, even though “nothing” of our individual selves survives.

jerv's avatar

I think that we would make great scientific advances and have a lot less fear since we would take more risks in order to have some part of us be immortal.

Tesla is dead but AC electricity and radio control are still around. Newton is dead but his laws live on. See where I’m going here?

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

There would be no great change, as the great majority of humanity already believes that there is nothing more to come after they die.

daemonelson's avatar

About the same as I am.

Just trying not to be a douche.

Sarcasm's avatar

I don’t really understand the question.
There are millions of Atheists in this world who don’t go about pillaging and raping. You think if the Atheist population increases, suddenly that will change?
I don’t really want to start a huge religion argument 3 hours into the new year (yes 3 hours, fuck you to the other 23 time zones), but there is a disproportionately low population of atheists in prison (in the U.S., relative to the atheist population outside of prison), while there is a disproportionately high Christian population in prison.
There haven’t been wars fought in the name of science (except in Go God Go), but look at the crusades, war on terror, blah blah blah, etc. etc. etc.
The world is more likely to fall apart if religion is increased, rather than decreased.

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

Many of those prisoners didn’t become Christian until after incarceration.

jerv's avatar

I gotta go with @Sarcasm on this one. (+1GA)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Good point @Kelly_Obrien , a ploy for parole or clemency. Crawling the right way to get the sentence shortened. @Sarcasm you’ve hit it right on the nose. +GAs

Zuma's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land
Parole and clemency have nothing to do with why people “get religion” in prison. Nobody notices or cares about what you think or believe in prison.

HasntBeen's avatar

This is variation #325 on the question “what is the basis of value and meaning”? In general, those who believe that values and meaning can only occur if we believe in mythological and supernatural phenomena are far behind those who have worked the question hard enough to see how the pieces of life fit together: individual and collective, internal and external… it takes some effort, but an ordinary human being who is determined to understand can reach a point of closure and have a satisfactory understanding of life and its value without falling into nihilism or pure egotism.

But you gotta drop the mythology before that quest even begins in depth.

philosopher's avatar

I think if there was no religion people might be able to see we are all more a like than different. The color of persons skin is no more important than their hair or eye color. We are all Human. I don’t really comprehend racism or prejudge against different religions .
I also love John Lennon’s song Image.
Religion was suppose to unite people but sadly it has made people prejudge others and hateful .
I am an Agnostic. I wish I could believe in G-d . I wish there was away to get Humans to respect each other. To stop killing each other. To see what we all share.

janbb's avatar

A belief in the afterlife and ascribing meaning and values to this life are two separate issues. There is no reason that a world with more atheists in it could not be a world with less strife and greater quality of life.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Are you trying to intimate that people’s only motivation for moral behavior is fear of punishment in an afterlife? That’s like saying fear of punishment is the only way to raise children who make good decisions… Pfffttt. We all know how well THAT works!

dpworkin's avatar

In the unlikely event that this should ever occur, there would have to be some new, as yet unforeseen strategy for coping with existential angst.

janbb's avatar

@pdworkin Really? Do you think that people who believe in an afterlife have no existential angst? Do you think people in religions that don’t promote a belief in an afterlife have greater angst? I think finding purpose and passion in this life obviates against angst rather than pie in the sky when you die – which may be what you are implying will be necessary.

ETpro's avatar

More honest with themselves, for starters. The notion that the only reason to be good is to get to Heaven and avoid Hell is rubbish in my opinion. Some of the most moral, honest people I know are agnostics..

dpworkin's avatar

@janbb Since religion is a temporal lobe phenomenon, and since it is enduring and cross-cultural, I assume it evolved for an adaptive reason. I think it was to cope with fear of annihilation, but I could be wrong about that. I don’t think I’m wrong that it is a deeply integral human process.

janbb's avatar

@pdworkin I always assumed it was to cope with phenomena that were otherwise inexplicable in the same way that mythology evolved, but that would not explain the seeming continuing need for it. How do you explain atheism then as a psychological phenomenon/adaptation?

ETpro's avatar

@pdworkin I would guess religion evolved in man’s thoughts to deal with fear of the unknown and misunderstood. Early man probably found lightning and thunder pretty terrifying and completely mystifying. They would have observed that it could spark deadly forest fires. They even saw it hit animals or other men and instantly kill them. Not having a clue what caused it, they ascribed it to the anger of the Gods, and instituted rituals of sacrifice and appeasement to placate such dangerous super beings. In time, the cave man’s promitive religion advanced to what we see in the world’s religions of today, still seeking to explain that which we still cannot understand, creation, life and death..

dpworkin's avatar

Atheism is a deeply held belief system. Simple agnosticism is harder for me to explain.

janbb's avatar

So you feel that it is the possession of a “deeply held belief system” that gives meaning to life rather than a belief in G-d or an afterlife per se? Maybe it is the doubt that leads to despair rather than a lack of religion?

janbb's avatar

(And the fact that I still write“G-d” indicates some degree of agnosticism or at least respect still.)

dpworkin's avatar

I think we are defining religion rather narrowly here. I don’t consider myself a “believer”, but I attend synagogue on High Holy Days as a matter of culture and tradition. I am always deeply moved by the services, and find myself crying, and swaying, and taking part in a very heartfelt way. I think this is the real phenomenon of religion: deep spiritual feelings that one doesn’t consciously summon, and I’m not convinced that not everyone has this, no matter what he or she believes.

janbb's avatar

So you’re talking about a spiritual or psychological hunger that can be satisfied through religious ritual? I can understand that; I’m still struggling with my intellectual doubt and my desire for continued connection with my roots….

Bluefreedom's avatar

There would probably be a lot more hedonistic behavior because people wouldn’t be worried about being judged in the afterlife. For those that believe that will occur I mean.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Bluefreedom Hedonistic is not necessarily antisocial though. As long as no one gets hurt.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land. That’s true in many cases. Good point.

laureth's avatar

I always wonder why people would think that the world would be more hedonistic or wicked if people stopped believing in $deity. There are plenty of us who do not believe in any deity at all, and are not hedonistic or wicked.

@HumourMe, I know that “punishment in afterlife” was what was meant, but I also see punishment in the living world as sometimes more subtle than a judge sending you to prison for being bad. Things such as, “If you eat a diet high in fat and sugar,” it’s not that you will go to hell for being a glutton or even to prison for being bad, but that you’ll probably have bad arteries and heart disease and be generally unhealthy and even have the social stigma of being fat. Instant karma, and all that.

And I think that’s what I mean about the world not necessarily becoming a wicked place if we don’t all fear a supernatural punishment. We (those who don’t believe in any deity) don’t necessarily need to believe in Heaven or Hell to be motivated to work for good. Those like me will be good because it’s the right thing to do, and/or because punishments are generally built in to bad actions. If I’m a jerk to people, people will be a jerk to me. It’s not always 100%, but it works most of the time, I think. We make our own Heaven or Hell right here.

However, if there are Believers who think that they’d go wacky and murder me and my family if they suddenly didn’t believe in God and fear Hell, then by all means, keep believing. Whatever gets you through the night, and keeps you from going on a nut where you can hurt people is okey-dokey by me. I only ask that you realize that not everyone feels the same, or needs the same motivations, as you do.

philosopher's avatar

Jerv I agree with you. You have common sense .
Lurve for you.
Happy New Year everyone.

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

I think we are defining religion rather narrowly here. I don’t consider myself a “believer”, but I attend synagogue on High Holy Days as a matter of culture and tradition.

Hahaha…You go to temple yet don’t believe…so you are just another one of those phonies we see in church all the time?!?!?!

dpworkin's avatar

@Kelly_Obrien I’m not sure what your beef is, but you seem to be perseverating in following me around and making unkind remarks. I can’t see what it adds to the conversation, and I wish you would stop.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Mass suicide? Removing the guilt trip would let many leave a useless life without fear of some later retribution.

Symbeline's avatar

@faye Mostly I’m thinking that fear is the primary motivational factor, seconded by desire once a sense of security is established.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

What categories are still open for the Darwin Prize?

gretchenpadams's avatar

i simply would think, if we found there was nothing to strive for, then what would we do here on our planet. nothing, but wait out our demise? but with a belief like there is no after-life i feel the world would go into a hysteria followed by some apocalypse where we then transverse into a post-apocalyptic planet.

laureth's avatar

Is religion and afterlife the only thing to strive for, @gretchenpadams? Are there not plenty of good things to strive for right here and now?

gretchenpadams's avatar

@laureth i just see living as this ultimate search, the greatest treasure hunt known to mankind even. despite a general response of “there are so many things to live for” i feel in a greater sense, outside of our planet, we all are subconsciously searching for that next level of living, not just religion/afterlife per-say, it could be extraterrestrial life or the big whale that gobbles us up after death, etc..

LeopardGecko's avatar

Mankind, if co-operative with these circumstances will invest more into science, I believe. There will obviously be a drop in wars and possibly a Universal set of ethics and behaviours. We would learn how to be more self sufficient and not rely on a mystical power to get us through hardships.

Hopefully we’d have less homeless with signs that say “The world is coming to an end – Bible verse xx”

@Symbeline – this would not result in a cease of human evolution.

Rarebear's avatar

There is no “meaning” or “deeper purpose” to life. The only point of life is to survive util you successfully reproduce and pass along your genes.

Once a life form dies, the dead body feeds further life.

HasntBeen's avatar

@Rarebear is correct that there is no inherent meaning. But if one stops with that conclusion, they miss the opportunity to be the source of meaning. That’s a pretty big misstep.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Rarebear Agree. +GA Life is its own purpose, it is especially meaningless for those who choose not to reproduce. Hedonism without harming others is probably the best compromise definition.

HasntBeen's avatar

So you would not think that a person who dedicated themselves to relieving the suffering of others had a meaningful life, just because they failed to reproduce??

dpworkin's avatar

@HasntBeen By that definition it would not. Change the definition and you change the answer. We are all just swimming around here in the dark. My definition of life is that it is a blind, random, contingent, temporal series of coincidences with no purpose. By my definition there is no meaningful difference between St.Thomas Aquinas and Gilles de Ray.

HasntBeen's avatar

I think that’s true from an “objective” standpoint—reality can be reduced to just particles whizzing around without meaning. But human beings are more than just particles, if you don’t do reductionist thinking—just as a computer is more than 1’s and 0’s if you want to relate to it in a useful way. Reductionist thinking produces “useless truths”. So, if you leave it behind, and deal with questions about the meaning of human life on the level in which you have some understanding about what humans are, a very different picture shows up.

Humans develop toward maturity in particular directions—it’s not random. A mature person “encompasses” more of life, includes more of life, embraces more of life. A nihilistic view is actually an adolescent view… one that people normally outgrow.

dpworkin's avatar

Thanks for the lecture. I think an optimistic view is the juvenile view, and some people continue to need it. We disagree.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@HasntBeen Human development varies with each human. I’m not buying the nihilism=immaturity party line. Our views change with our needs and situations. In the last 50+ years I’ve gone from pessimistic existentialist to optimistic humanist to pessimistic nihilist and each change for a reason or a change of basic circumstances. My basic ethical principles have remained the same but the underlying world view has changed radically. The change from basic optimist to basic pessimist has not turned me into a serial killer.

HasntBeen's avatar

I didn’t say anything about optimism or pessimism—I’m talking about development. Moral development proceeds in stages: this has been extensively studied. Personality development as well. Physical development, intellectual development: humans grow and that growth has a kind of direction.

Being is an emergent property of human—a human who fails to develop a sense of being is, in effect, stunted. And a sense of being is correlated with an intuitive understanding of the meaning of life: there are many ways to say it, but they all express a recognition of the interconnectedness of everything and everyone. This isn’t some New Age fantasy with pyramids and rainbows, it’s a recognition of the same thing science recognizes, but at the level of human consciousness: it is all one incredibly complex and beautiful and terrible tapestry. That unity pulls the development of the mind, and humans find their highest expression when they recognize themselves in it.

What science discovers with ever-deeper detail is the interdependence of all phenomena. This is the same thing humans discover experientially by living and paying attention to their experience; learning to integrate it as they wonder “who am I?” and “what is all this stuff??”

Someone who thinks “it’s all dead rocks and my life is meaningless” has gotten stuck along the road—they can only recognize themselves as a thing among other things. They have failed to see that they are also intertwined with the whole… at home in a universe that is as much a part of them as they are of it.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@HasntBeen I see your point but in many cases chronological advancement does not always mean expansion or higher expression (I’m not talking about senile dementia). You can easily go from “who am I?” to “what is all this stuff?” to “cool, I understand some of this!” to “I just don’t give a shit anymore.”. It all depends on your life experiences.

You could make the argument I suppose that at the time you make statement #4 you have really resigned from the human race, at least as an active participant. Your agruments have merit on the macroscopic level, but at the individual level many burn out and are content merely to exist.

HasntBeen's avatar

I would say “there are many ways the process can malfunction”. That doesn’t invalidate the process, it just means skill and dedication and awareness are important qualities to develop along the way.

And my apologies to @pdworkin: it was not intended as a lecture. I’m trying to feed a baby and type at the same time, this certainly could have been more gracious. :)

dpworkin's avatar

What you call a ”[failure] to see that they are also intertwined with the whole…” I call a continued defense against existential inevitability, and I would postulate that the fully mature personality needs no such defense, but can function happily, dedicated to work, to love, and to amelioration despite his full awareness of his own eventual annihilation and his full acceptance of the essential meaninglessness of existence.

Zuma's avatar

Personally, I think that evolution will always provides us with meaning and purpose. The new biologists make a very good case that when we think (i.e., imagine scenarios, solve problems, or make choices) what we are actually doing is actively evolving. In any given culture, there are all kinds of memes and ideas that percolate from mind to mind, these contain internal errors and contradictions which give rise to cognitive dissonance which people resolve in various innovative ways. Those innovations pass from individual to individual and the ones that seem to work best tend to get passed along and eventually become part of the culture.

You may think your problems are entirely your own, but in reality you are participating in a species-wide exploration of what biologists call the fitness landscape. For example, you have millions of people exploring the secular ideas, such as the pursuit of life, liberty and personal happiness, while others are exploring religious ideas, like turning their lives over to God. These ideas collide in forums like this, and the best ideas win (we hope), and the culture evolves. From time to time, thesis meets antithesis and gives rise to a synthesis that is superior to each.

There is evolution (variation and selection) both at the level of mind and collective deliberation. In this respect, we find meaning and purpose by pursuing things that give us deep satisfaction, insight, pleasure and beauty, etc.

dpworkin's avatar

@Zuma Wouldn’t it be great if you were right? I hope you are.

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

What’s your deeper meaning, how did it get that way? I suspect you had an epiphany. ever consider others have had the same w/ out Jesus. I’ve gathered, then assert the fact that this is the only way for you and your small club that excludes others w/ out your foundation that dictates your morals. Has evil been don’t on both sides? I think so. define the difference in spiritual, psychological and societal terms that lead you to believe no one can reach the pinnacle and highest reaches of the human spirit w/ out going your way? add comments below. Add add all the flaws you think could be solved your way, please.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Zuma Echoes @pdworkin For the sake of humanity, I hope you’re right.

HasntBeen's avatar

I think @Zuma has done a great job of expressing this from a particular perspective: life is diversification and selection, it fills every crack of possibility and then drills into the rocks to create new cracks. What works stays around, and what doesn’t work falls by the wayside eventually, or comes along for the ride as harmless cruft. People evolve, culture evolves, mankind evolves.

The richness of that matrix is completely harmonic with what I’m suggesting above: that a healthy individual develops in a particular direction… a direction which respects the whole and recognizes the “inter-being” between individual and totality. All forms of malfunction are “broken” precisely because they fail, at some level, to recognize this interconnectedness: they produce isolated pockets of reality which are disconnected and become stagnant… places where the water of life stops flowing.

To me, in the modern marketplace of beliefs, there are two kinds that are particularly corrosive and dangerous to the future of mankind: the first is religious fundamentalism, with its divisive and aggressive stance toward diversity, it’s intolerance of change and its clinging to the past regardless of how dead that past may be. The other is nihilism, with its rejection of all values and ego-centered narcissistic desperation: lost souls, looking in the mirror and only seeing the vacant 1000-yard gaze of someone who has lost their way and now must drag others down with them to have company in despair.

Ironically, there’s a perspective from which nihilism and fundamentalism are mirror-partners of each other: both reject personal responsibility for values. They’re like black and white cousins from the same family, each accusing the other of being the enemy, but equally bereft of power to move forward.

Seems like about half the world’s population has fallen into one or the other of these roadside gulches. Offering people a way out should be a top priority for mankind.

janbb's avatar

@HasntBeen Who are you, John Locke?

HasntBeen's avatar

Hehe. Just a guy with a keyboard.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@HasntBeen Re: Your paragraph #3. What is even more dangerous is the “balkanization” of the media. Where every group has there own news source with customized spin that reflects back and reinforces its own predjudices. Especially the Christian Fundamentalist Right which has created its own warped duplicate of every genre the media has to offer. The “mega-churches” have even duplicated services, so that one can go to a gym without having to rub shoulders with dangerous heretics and non-believers. Next step, shopping malls that check religious credentials at the door?

jerv's avatar

@Zuma The problem I find there is that there are many people that are quasi-fit or unfit (from a biological point of view; I won’t step on a landmine by suggesting we euthanize idiots) to live that manage to survive thanks to interference.
Sure, cancer and disease are sad, but some congenital conditions are nature’s way of thinning the herd. Evolution is like the free market; it’s looks good on paper and works well as long as greed and selfishness (at lest to the extent that only humans are capable of) doesn’t enter into the equation. Once it does, it’s a whole new ballgame and the rulebook goes out the window.

Zuma's avatar

@jerv I’m not entirely sure what you are getting at, but evolutionary fitness as a concept is a characteristic of populations and not of individuals. Also, what is “fit” in one environment may be “unfit” in another. I’m not postulating Social Darwinism here, since that is an “every man for himself” philosophy, where more cooperative and mutually supportive and altruistic philosophies may actually be more fit. Here, predators may actually increase the fitness of the herd by setting off a co-evolutionary arms race.

Or, to put it another way, if corporations don’t kill democracy they will make it stronger. (I know, it’s still a big “if.”)

jerv's avatar

@Zuma Not quite where I was going. I fail to see how susceptibility to cancer, tendency towards obesity (not just a little fat to keep you warm like an eskimo, but a genetic predisposition towards weight-gain to the point where one gets diabetic), and other such things benefit the “survival of the fittest” that other species seem to be doing well with. In other words, other species let the weak die off. Altruism may be our downfall here.

The only way that anything societal enters into the mix is in that we judge fitness by economic success. In other words, an overweight millionaire of below-average intellect is seen as more fit to survive than a poor genius with a healthy immune system that can run a 5-minute mile. And I think it safe to say that (on average) altruism and cooperation are increasingly discouraged in modern America. Look at the debate on healthcare; it basically boils down to “Screw the greater good, I don’t want to give up any of my hard-earned money to help anybody! MINE!!”.

In short, I think that there is an artificial devolution going on in our species. A deliberate dilution of the gene pool.

laureth's avatar

@jerv – Those things may be with us despite survival of the fittest, not because of. Cancer tends to strike mature adults (although there are some sad exceptions), usually after those individuals have procreated. If it doesn’t kill ‘em before they pass on the genes, it can’t be bred out.

Similarly, the obesity is largely an effect of a standard “western” diet full of fats and sugar. Not to say that there aren’t fat people in non-western-eating populations, but I don’t think it gets as out of control. Remember, a desire to eat fats and sugars would have helped our ancestors to survive, because those things were high-energy foods in short supply and you had to eat them when you could. Nowadays, though, there’s all over the place and cheap. Our culture has undone us.

jerv's avatar

@laureth “Our culture has undone us.” My take is that that means we have to adapt though. Not all evolution is strictly biological ;)

ETpro's avatar

@jerv & @laureth What a fascinating evolution this thread has taken from its starting point. Thanks for the interesting thoughts onthe continued evolution of man.

philosopher's avatar

I do not eat a traditional American diet. I eat Whole Foods. I eat little saturated fat .American’s should learn how to eat to be healthy. The problem is people do not want to. The FDA allows unhealthy additives to be in our food.
When anyone tries to remove them some moron screams about government interference. My answer is go head and eat yourself to death; but if you insist on it I do not want to pay for you health care.
There are so many unhealthy additives in process food. That is why America is over weight. Americans also refuse to walk any place.
If this keeps up Americans will eventually have shorter life expectancies than our Grandparents.
I walk around my neighborhood and get comments. I enjoy walking and I thank G-d I can.

laureth's avatar

Not everything at Whole Foods is healthy. They still sell cake, coffee, alcohol, and even a few things with preservatives.

jerv's avatar

@philosopher I agree with some degree of accountability. When my 450-plus pound aunt died of a heart attack, I just couldn’t find any sympathy; she did it to herself. I mean, she was in the hospital asking people to sneak her in foot-long grinders and 2-liter sodas!
The real problem is a combination of ignorance and laziness. It’s easier and cheaper to eat junk food than to cook wholesome meals Why do you think obesity and poverty go hand-in-hand? I know I eat less healthy here in Seattle than I did in NH because it’s hard finding affordable quality ingredients.
However, I accept responsibility for my actions. Many Americans would rather sue McDonalds for making them fat than change their behavior or practice any degree of moderation.
And it’s funny that people who eat whole-fat stuff (like the French, who use real butter) or use actual sugar seem to have fewer problems with heart disease or obesity than those who drink Nutrasweet or eat margarine in the mistaken belief that that alone will make them healthier. I eat real food, fry stuff in butter, and do all sorts of other things that make weight-watchers cringe, and yet I have been the same weight (rather slender) for >20 years, in part because I feel full after consuming a decent amount of calories. The low-fat living tricks your body into over-indulging, and some of the stuff (like Nutrasweet) is outright dangerous.

HasntBeen's avatar

Sidebar: I’m fairly new here on Fluther, but I have to say it’s a wonderful experience to see so many intelligent posts in a row, even from those I disagree with. Very refreshing. Do continue! :)

HasntBeen's avatar

@Zuma: I realized I’m not done praising your previous answer… :)

Evolution at the level of the human mind and spirit is the key concept that I think is missing in our view of the world: we don’t quite realize (most of us, anyway) that humanity’s large brain opens up new possibilities for what ‘evolution’ means. We are no longer merely puppets of the natural laws, we have the capacity to actively participate in our own development… not by genetic manipulation, but by taking responsibility for it—by being proactive with regard to our own future.

The reason nihilism is poisonous is because it is ultimately simply resignation with a fancy suit on… it says that the future is just the past repeating itself, and there’s no point in attempting to steer the ship. Nothing could be further from the truth—in fact, the ship desperately needs intelligent navigation. But those who wish to avoid responsibility sit in the galley drinking and explaining why it’s all meaningless anyway. That’s the smell of justification, of cowardice. The one defining quality a helmsman needs on this voyage is courage.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jerv Holy smokes! You had the audacity to utter that obese people are to blame even in part for their own fatness <sarcasm dished very dryly>? Quick, get that man a flame proof suit. As you say fat people would rather sue the restaurant or the food company before they take blame for any of the ice cream they shoved down their pie hole. When I was fat I did it to myself, stuffed my face and was a major couch potato. At lease I did not try to bamboozle myself into thinking I could be fit and fat too, then I would have had an excuse not to lose it.

Zuma's avatar

At the risk of mutating this thread even further, I was recently watching an interview with Nick Bostrom, a philosopher, who was asked why we don’t see any evidence of intelligent life when we look out into the universe. And, basically, he said that if we did, it would be very bad news for us because there are obviously evolutionary “filters” that prevent life from forming advanced civilizations and spilling out across the galaxy. The first filter is the “spark” which gives rise to self-organizing life and evolution in the first place; and the second—and here is where my own reasoning takes over—occurs after sentient life appears and has to solve the problem of creating a planetary civilization that does not destroy itself through war or an inability to deal with threats to the planetary ecology.

Essentially, there is a race between the ever-increasing destructive potential of human technology—which empowers people to the extent to where a relative handful of individuals can bring down or annihilate the whole civilization—and our ability to come to a kind of spiritual consensus which allows us to find meaning and purpose in life without singling out some subset of humanity as “the problem” and marking them for scapegoating “solutions.”

The problem is, that we are all constantly pitching one another various kinds of “sucker bait” which, when we take it, embroils us in conflicts that undermine human solidarity. Take, for example, the flame bait potential of this question to and its transparent effort to pit atheists against believers in yet another sterile, polarizing debate—or the invitations to self-righteousness implicit in discussing the prevalence of obesity in terms of character and individual moral failings.

Ironically, one of the most highly corrosive tropes with respect to human solidarity is the way we use “personal responsibility” as an excuse to withdraw our sympathy from one another and abandon people to their fate. Now, I’m not saying that personal responsibility is a bad idea. Far from it. What I am saying is that all too often “personal responsibility” is used as a club to beat others in a kind of self-congratulatory, holier-than-thou way. By making common human failings all about individual character and personal morality, we not only cast these problems in terms of a struggle of “good” against “evil,” we tend to lay off societal problems on individuals.

This, of course, tends to short circuit any systemic analysis of the problem. It removes the social problems from the political arena and places them outside of the processes by which we exercise collective responsibility as a society. And it leaves individuals pretty much isolated and on their own to contend with things like corporate power, and historical legacies of injustice and bad faith. When the economy is mismanaged and millions of people are thrown out of work, it’s not because there is a sudden epidemic of laziness—and yet people are often quick to find some personal fault as to why other people are unemployed.

Likewise, when millions of people are faced with foreclosure, it’s not because they are imprudent buyers living beyond their means—but yet, this is exactly the sucker bait being offered up by corporate lobbyists as to why the banks deserve to be bailed out and individual borrowers don’t. In the case of obesity, if we can blame this entirely on individuals and their moral failings we don’t have to look at how the whole food system has been mechanized in ways that rely heavily on fertilizers, pesticides and antibiotics, and how foods themselves have been re-engineered to make them more addictive and profitable, and how all of this is assisted by government subsidies which are held in place by lobbyists paid for out of the vast profits generated.

Look at how the ideology of “personal responsibility” has been used (above) to pillory marginalize people who sue fast food corporations. They are not seen as public heroes attempting to pry open this hidden system of addictive, unhealthful, ecologically unsustainable food, and thereby gain some measure of public accountability for decisions made by these corporations. No, they are portrayed as lazy and greedy, and therefore undeserving of our sympathy and support. It’s all Big Food sucker bait propaganda.

In this respect, it is in the interest of corporate power to undermine human solidarity, and to place corporate profits over things like affordable health care, healthful food, motor vehicle safety, measures to mitigate climate change, and the general empowerment of ordinary citizens. If we are to survive as a civilization and as a species, we will have to solve this problem. We have to start paying attention to how we undermine human solidarity by taking moral cheap shots at one another.

HasntBeen's avatar

@Zuma: I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but there’s “more of the same” buried in the analysis—now we’re scapegoating people who do scapegoating, and scapegoating people who use ‘personal responsibility’ as a weapon… which is basically saying more of “it’s the people who are weak or don’t understand who are the problem”.

But those people are part of “we”. Everybody is part of “we”: the fundamentalists, the environmentalists, the bankers, the government, the poor, the Muslim radicals, the people who abuse the idea of ‘personal responsibility’ and the people who don’t believe there’s any such thing. It’s all we.

But… every one of us is capable of losing the connection to community, and quite easily. Our sense of belonging to the whole is terribly fragile, or in many cases non-existent. That sense of being part of “we” (the whole, in one perspective) is the maturity I’m talking about. It’s not giving up individuality for belonging, it’s recognizing that these are not two entirely separate things: to be yourself is, in part, to belong to the whole, and to belong to the whole is, in part, to find yourself.

So when “we” fall prey to beliefs which divide humanity into “us vs. them”, we are just being human—losing touch with the radio signal of true being and going off into an isolated pocket somewhere to whine or accuse or sulk or take our share of the ball and go home.

Thus the real heart of the matter, the core of what is missing, is the understanding of the individual’s relationship to humanity and vice versa: each individual falls into fear that they will be co-opted by the group, or annihilated by a competing group, and therefore clings to a false kind of individuality which is really an unnatural isolationism. Likewise, each individual is capable of enjoying the fruits of belonging, while selling out their individuality to get those benefits, or (worse) mistaking belonging to some sub-group superior to belonging to the whole (divisiveness).

I say this is the issue that “spiritual” development is about. That’s what spiritual development is supposed to solve: producing an individual who is strong internally without sacrificing their connectedness and sense of belonging—the sense which has them care about what happens to others enough to take intelligent action.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@laureth Another interesting case of disease and gene transmission is Sickle Cell Anemia. The Sickle Cell blood condition actually has a protective effect against malaria. It allows its victims to live long enough to reproduce and then kills them in their 20s or 30s. Many of the cultures in the malarial zone of Africa have adapted to this trait by reproducing at as young an age as possible so that the children are at or near reproductive age at the time most of their parents are dying off. A sad and cruel thing, but a survival trait nonetheless.
Another sad side effect of this trait was that during the time of slavery, plantation owners noticed that African slaves from these regions lived longer on plantations in malarial areas. The slave-hunters were paid a premium for captives from these regions. So the survival value of the Sickle Cell victimized these people twice; short life expectancy and greater chance of enslavement.

Zuma's avatar

@HasntBeen I wholeheartedly agree, but let’s not get sucked into a deconstructionist vortex to a point where we recoil from being “intolerant of intolerance” and other such nonsense.

We really do have enemies. There really are powerful vested corporate interests that deliberately undermine human solidarity and in order to keep us divided and disenfranchised. Sure, a shared understanding of our relationship to humanity would immunize us against a lot of this sort of thing, but look at how the corporate-funded demonizing of “socialism” in the present health care debate is a full frontal assault on a particular understanding of the individual’s relationship to humanity and vice versa.

HasntBeen's avatar

Ok, but what is ‘an enemy’ made out of? It’s one of us who has lost contact with the whole, yes? That is the same thing I do, and the same thing you do. To create a “them” who is the permanent, fixed “enemy” is to reify a natural aspect of the human condition and imagine that it is embodied in those evil ones, but we are immune. It’s self-righteous and distorted.

Mr. J.T. Smith, CEO of Megacorp, is making choices about his life and his actions in the company. Those actions are shaped by how he sees himself in relationship to the world—his aggressive self-centeredness is precisely the same symptom I have when I’m just sick and tired of hearing about the poor damn starving people in Darfur. He is me, and vice-versa, he is not “them”. The moment I conceive of him as some sort of alien life-form, an external demonic presence out to do me harm, I both elevate myself above “merely human” and demote him.

He is part of ‘we’. Now, it is still true that his actions are harming others, and perhaps on a scale that I can’t accomplish with my smaller footprint on life. But how do we communicate with ourselves? By dividing up into “us and them” and trying to eliminate or disempower “them”? That really just plays right into the original interpretive error that is causing the problem: the illusion of separateness. It plays the very card you’re criticizing in the prior post—“sucker bait” that undermines the solidarity of humanity.

The solution to this sort of paradoxical problem isn’t to get twisted up into logical knots like concerns about “tolerance of intolerance”, the solution is to take ownership of the human condition: all of it, not just the nice parts. I am made of the same stuff as Mr. Smith, and so are you. We are all vulnerable to the beliefs that isolate individual from the whole and group from group—we all tend to go into dark tunnels that obscure the totality. To the degree I am disciplined and dedicated to pulling myself out of those tunnels, I’m potentially helpful to others in the same task: whether it’s Mr. Smith or a nameless starving child in Darfur.

philosopher's avatar

The problem in America Jerv is people work hard . Women today come home to their families. They are tired and must prepare food . They do not have time to cook whole foods . They do not even know how in many cases. They look for convince. All the processed foods have unhealthy additives, high fructose corn syrup, trans fat,simple sugars and excessive amounts of salt. They take out the fat and replace the flavor with additives that actually slow down the metabolism. Unnatural simple sugars found in diet soda and high fructose corn syrup slow down the metabolism . They add calories because our bodies store them as fat. This is what the Human body does with substances it does not know what to do with. Often this slowing of the metabolism leads to a metabolic disturbance and diabetics. This junk is in most Soda, fruit drink, cakes , cookies and processed entrées.
Vegetables and fruits is what Humans should eat most of. Our Ancestors consumed less saturated fat. They could not kill poultry, cows or pigs every day. They did manual labor every day. They worked off the fat to survive.
These bad eating habits promote disease and poor health. Even farmed fish often contains too much Mercury and swims it it’s own waste. Genetics and environment also play a role in health.
We should also eat wild fish salmon, shrimp, and scallops have omega 3 the good fat.

Zuma's avatar

@HasntBeen Yes, yes, we have met the enemy and “they” are “us.” So, what is your plan? Shall we declare our solidarity and common humanity with the rich and the super-rich while they remain in a state of “aggressive-self-centeredness” and continue to prosecute their war of divide and rule against us? Shall we, be good little Quakers and sing Kumbaya with our fascist brethren, as we all go together arm-in-arm into a global apocalypse brought on by our inability to do anything about global warming? Shall we say nothing about the corporations adulterating our food lest we be accused of “scapegoating the scapegoaters”?

HasntBeen's avatar

There’s no point making a plan while the mindset hasn’t really changed. You’re still thinking in terms of “the good guys” and “the enemy”. The mind so configured will produce thoughts and plans that call for more of the same, and we already know that “more of the same” doesn’t really change anything.

This is like one of those situations where a man is in trouble with his wife, and anything he says will just make it worse. If you’ve been that man (and who hasn’t?), and you’ve really been honest with yourself, you know that it’s not about what you say, it’s about the fact that your attitude is the same no matter what words you form with your lips.

You really do see “the enemy” as a grayish abstract blob with these characteristics. “But HasntBeen, they really are that way!!”. That belief is going to shape whatever comes out of your action-factory. But to give up that belief requires awareness, understanding, and most of all: courage. It takes a lot of courage to let go of the righteous certainty that you are the bright light of justice and truth, ready to mete out judgment upon them. That’s an entirely addictive posture for all of us.

Zuma's avatar

@HasntBeen So, what’s your plan?

jerv's avatar

@philosopher I know many people (of both genders) who manage to put in a long day and still whip up something decent. My wife has a habit of “pre-staging” certain things and is also fond of her slow-cooker. As for me, my talents are more limited, but I still manage to do a few things, like pancakes from scratch. It’s not terribly hard unless everybody in the house is either working two jobs or totally lazy.
As for the seafood, I’ll find tastier (and cheaper) ways to get my Omega 3 :P

philosopher's avatar

Jerv I take Omega 3 supplements too. I cook whole foods almost every day. It does take effort .
I buy most of my Fish at Costco Wholesale. Their prices are fear. I also buy my fruit there. The quality of most of their merchandise is very good. Less expensive than fish stores. The fruit is superior to most Super Markets.

jerv's avatar

@philosopher We got the Costco thing going on, but my wife is the only fish-eater in the house. I can barely even stay inside when it’s cooking.

HasntBeen's avatar

@Zuma: my plan is to keep talking until somebody gets it.

You said earlier “By making common human failings all about individual character and personal morality, we not only cast these problems in terms of a struggle of “good” against “evil,” we tend to lay off societal problems on individuals.” That indicated that you understand the problem at some level. But, like all of us, that understanding disappears when standing in front of the mirror—you are doing the same thing regarding “them”, only your them is the rich and powerful. You are the righteous crusader, determined to expose them as the problem.

This is divisive in precisely the same way you’re attempting to enlighten others about. All I’m saying is “we’re all like that”. The people you are accusing of being the problem have their version of it too! Probably you and “people like you” are their idea of “the problem”. This is just how the mind works, it’s just the human condition: we conceive otherness—external threats—and imagine that if the other could be eliminated or neutralized, all would be well.

Of course one must challenge what doesn’t work, but it’s much more useful to go after beliefs than people. There really aren’t any villains from that perspective, there’s only people who are infected with unhelpful beliefs. Beliefs are the pandemics of human culture: they move into a mind, tell that mind what’s important and who is who and what role to play in the great drama, and once they are thoroughly entrenched it takes powerful medicine to get them out. But what doctor attacks the patient? No, you attack the disease: distorted ideas. That does not divide “us” from “them”, it says “we are all us, but some of us are infected with bad stuff and need help”.

ETpro's avatar

@HasntBeen I’ve been following this back-and-forth between you and @Zuma with great interest. You and I once had a similar discussion on the merits of partisanship in politics. We left that discussion never having reached agreement on whether there are times when “good” men and “bad” really do exist. Would the world have been better off, for instance, if “good” men had opposed and derailed the Nazi Brownshirt aggression before it put Adolph Hitler into the seat of power and let him contribute to the death of upwards of 60,000,000 people.

As a thought experiment, let’s suppose for the moment that there is a distant planet where global warming isn’t a vast Al Gore organized hoax, but is very real. For those partisans who have strong feelings about this question, set them aside and just pretend that we live on planet Htrea where CO2 actually IS a greenhouse gas and the inhabitant’s production of it to power their planet actually IS causing potentially runaway warming. Further, since this is my thought experiment, let’s suppose that there are billions of tonnes of frozen methane (A greenhouse gas 26 times worse than CO2) locked in Htrea’s frozen tundra and undersea calthrates, and that unless the CO2 production is brought into check rapidly, temperatures will hit a point where this methane begins to flood the atmosphere, causing unstoppable, runaway warming, and the effects of this will be catastrophic to all higher life on Htrea.

Would you continue to speak of understanding that we all fall victim to the us versus them syndrome hoping that 6 billion inhabitants of Htrea catch on in the next few years, or raise your voice instead in opposition of those claiming that there is no problem and Htrea ‘s energy consumption should proceed as usual? How do we properly divide our time between altruistic hopes for the evolution of man’s mind and applying what wisdom and voice we have obtained toward keeping mankind from an early extinction that would dash any hope of human growth?

HasntBeen's avatar

The issue here is simple: the human mind is vulnerable to belief, and particularly to defining identity in terms of beliefs. You, ETPro, have defined your identity in part by the position “anthropocentric global warming is a hoax”. Now, anybody who holds the opposing belief is the enemy, and anybody who agrees with you is the good guys. Zuma has defined his identity in part by the belief “the wealthy and powerful are screwing us all over”, so now anybody who agrees with that is at least potentially his friend, and anybody who disagrees is part of the problem or deluded.

I just finished watching “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”... a movie about a young boy who happens to make friends with another young boy—the first is the Nazi death camp commandant’s son, the second is one of the prisoners in the camp. The Germans became infected with the idea “the Jews are evil and have ruined the Fatherland”, and did evil things under the influence of that idea. Many believed they were doing the right (if unpleasant) thing.

The true enemy of mankind, if there is one, is not mankind—it’s bad ideas, and our proclivity to believe them and build our sense of self out of them. All forms of “us vs. them” are some variation on this theme: “we define ourselves by X idea, but they do not”.

The liberation of mankind will not occur until we develop a deeper understanding of this problem: we are addicted. Our lack of clarity about who we are drives us to cling to false sources of identity (beliefs). Our commitment to defending said identity produces distorted thinking that is capable of truly horrific actions.

HasntBeen's avatar

@ETpro: I’m 51 years old. When it’s quiet at night (or just quiet in my head), I have no problem remembering things I’ve done in the past that were most definitely bad. It bothers me, I wish I had made different choices, etc. On the other hand, would I be who I am today without those mistakes and regrets? How much compassion would I have for others who have also transgressed, if I couldn’t look straight in the mirror and know that we are made out of the same stuff?

I’m not a big Christianity fan, but Jesus was right about some things—he told the crowd that whoever was without sin should throw the first stone at the woman. The oldest men left first.

ETpro's avatar

@HasntBeen I am actually convinced by the weight of scientific evidence that global warming is quite real and man-made. You may have mistaken the disclaimer I included for those who believe the opposite as a statement of personal belief. It was not.

But what I believe about that is not the point. You didn’t answer the question posed in the thought experiment.

I do not disagree with you that us vs. them thinking is in the way of mankind’s higher development. But the point I was trying to make with my thought experiment is that such altruistic thoughts may need to be temporarily set aside when some despot arises to lead humanity to total destruction. There are human movements which, if allowed, would prohibit man ever reaching that lofty potential you envision. Should we not oppose them?.

HasntBeen's avatar

Of course they should be opposed. I’ve said nothing that suggests one should be passive in the face of injustice or aggression.

The difference between what I’m talking about and the usual approach is that the indignant self righteousness and distorted thinking goes out of it. What causes the distortions is the identification: the close binding between ego and belief. Once the mind is convinced that “threat to the belief” => “threat to the self”, the fight-or-flight machinery evolved over millions of years kicks into gear: perceptions get distorted, freedom of thought is restricted, opposing evidence gets discounted, supporting evidence gets magnified, “corrective actions” become justifiable.

In short, the ego is not a trustworthy steward of the truth or effective agent for balancing competing concerns. But the ego is what we do our believing with—and that accounts for the intensity with which people press their beliefs and the severity with which those beliefs alter reality for the subject.

When one is simply opposing injustice—without having it be an ego issue—it’s not personal. It’s much like a doctor doing his best to help a patient recover from a disease: there’s no sense in being angry at the disease or the patient, it’s just what one does to restore health to the organism.

Zuma's avatar

@HasntBeen “Of course they should be opposed. I’ve said nothing that suggests one should be passive in the face of injustice or aggression.

Actually, I’m afraid that your plan of “talking until somebody gets it” amounts to being passive. Mere talk without the backing of credible force has never counted as meaningful opposition. Aggressors and perpetrators of injustice do not act in good faith. They are not interested in voluntarily giving up any power or advantage, much less listening to your reasons why they should admit you and yours into their circle.

Earlier I pointed out that the human race faces a systemic problem: we face extinction as a species because our technology is advancing so rapidly that fewer and fewer people can bring down the whole civilization, and I pointed to corporate greed as an example.

Your response was to accuse me of denying the humanity of Mr. J.T. Smith, CEO of Megacorp, whose aggressive self-centeredness is really a mirror image of our own indifference to the suffering of people in Darfur. By singling him out (which I didn’t) I am presumably making him an “other” to be eliminated or annihilated (which I do not); I am denying a priori his humanity and commonality with “us” (which I do not); and I am “scapegoating the scapegoaters” (which I do not)’; all for presumably base reasons of ego and self-aggrandisement (which I do not).

Mr J.T. Smith is certainly indifferent to our suffering, but the fact that we may be indifferent to someone’s suffering in some remote corner in the world hardly binds us in human solidarity with him. He not only has his foot on our neck, he (or one of his surrogates in the political class) has decided that it is not worth the expense of sending troops to Darfur to end the genocide; so overthrowing him is actually to declare our solidarity with the folks in Darfur, whom we would then be empowered to help. If Mr Smith cannot be persuaded by reason or an appeal to his Humanity to give up all his surplus power and wealth, then we break out the guillotine. It’s nothing personal; it’s just like doctor excising a cancer. Ego and self-righteous vengeance are not the primary motive, even if some do indulge.

Is this “scapegoating a scapegoater”? No, not at all. A scapegoat is someone who is sacrificed as a purely symbolic gesture—to appease the mob’s appetite for vengeance—while still leaving existing power relations intact. Here, we are altering the existing power relations and, in so doing, we are overthrowing injustice and oppression. If Mr. Smith does not think we are willing to back up our demands with force, then nothing we say need be taken seriously, especially if he has all the guns and the law at his beck and call.

Let me put this a little more starkly. Imagine, if you will, that you are a slave in a slave-holding society where both law and custom are on the side of the slave holder. What makes you think your master would even allow you to speak, much less consider anything you have to say? Do you think there is anything you can say that will get him to surrender his power over you and treat you and your fellow slaves as equals? I think not.

Do you think that by organizing a slave rebellion you are perpetrating the same evil as he? If you do, you cannot be trusted and your fellow slaves would be well within their rights to slit your throat for breaking solidarity with them. What difference does it make if you are indignant and self-righteous when overthrowing your oppressor?

Earlier you remarked that you “plan is to keep talking until somebody gets it.” I never did get an answer to my question. “Get what?”

HasntBeen's avatar

You asked what my plan was—that’s pretty open ended, unbounded: I answered about my plan regarding this conversation (and conversations like it). I am, in fact, quite involved in social causes and a strong supporter of opposing injustice, helping those who need and deserve help, speaking out against abuses of power, etc.

Since I don’t see a way to make progress at the moment, I’ll skip my turn to rant :)

ETpro's avatar

Thanks, @HasntBeen. I find no fault in that plan, but still struggle to oppose error when I see it and remain objective in doing so.

HasntBeen's avatar

Perhaps a metaphor helps: the true Samurai doesn’t hate his enemy—his actions, while aligned with doing right, do not come from seeing himself as separate and righteous while his foe is evil and vile. His actions are simply justice using him as a vehicle for fulfilling itself.

janbb's avatar

@HasntBeen I haven’t read the whole argument so may be interjecting inappopriately but isn’t that a bit hubristic on the part of the Samurai or am I missing something?

Zuma's avatar

@HasntBeen Um, no, a samurai is a hired gun. Loyalty to his master is his paramount obligation and concern; “good,” “right” and “justice” do not even remotely enter it.

I’m sorry, but I still don’t see where you have explained anything about your plan other than that it is “open-ended,” “unbounded,” and involves a lot of talking.

HasntBeen's avatar

@janbb : it’s a metaphor. Like all metaphors, it has limitations… the point is to emphasize the lack of ego, not to make broad characterizations of Samurai, who, as Zuma points out, weren’t necessarily models of character all the time.

@Zuma : having annoyed you enough to elicit nothing but a sequence of sarcastic responses, I’ll presume more of this conversation isn’t of interest to you. Thanks for trying.

Zuma's avatar

@HasntBeen ”...you are doing the same thing regarding “them”, only your them is the rich and powerful. You are the righteous crusader, determined to expose them as the problem.”

Well, let’s think about this for a second. I’ve just presented what I think is probably the most critical problem facing humanity—the inability of human civilization to keep pace with the rapidly increasing destructive power of its technology—and you treat it as if it were a deconstructionist parlor game. You argue that my structural analysis of the ways that “personal responsibility” is misused to undermine human human solidarity is really “more of the same”; i.e., “scapegoating the scapegoater,” which it is not. Scapegoating is a subterfuge; it is purely symbolic action which never touches the real problem but, instead, actually preserves and strengthens the power relations that create the problem.

Nonetheless, you have succeeded in sending the conversation down an an intellectual rabbit hole—an intellectual hall of mirrors—in which accusations of ego and suspect motives dominate the discussion and undermine any further serious consideration the central problem. Congratulations, if this meme was in any way important to Humanity’s continued survival, you have just tried to strangle it in its crib.

Hence my irritation. I keep asking you for your plan to get human civilization back on track, and your answers become increasingly vacuous and evasive. So, yes, thanks for trying.

HasntBeen's avatar

It appears that you entirely misinterpreted my complaint way-back-when: that explains the hostility. Anyway, I don’t sense any genuine interest in what I have to say, and I’m not interested in conflict for its own sake. If it’s not obvious by now that your upset is ego-based, there’s no point in further talk on my part.

Zuma's avatar

@HasntBeen Actually, I am quite interested in what you have to say, if you have anything to say about the problem I posed about technology outrunning civilization.

philosopher's avatar

All of Humanity could benefit if people would worked together. Hatred and decimation hurt us all.
I am not sure people will ever get past their judgmental nature or why it exist.

badminton80's avatar

The same as it is now. I don’t think that people really believe in Heaven or Hell. If they did then why would they fear death so much? Why is the thought of dying so dreadful for most people? The truth is that even though people say they believe in an after life I don’t think they do. I think people want to believe it but deep down in their hearts they know it’s not true.

ETpro's avatar

@badminton80 Astute observation. I bet you are right.

Ron_C's avatar

The knowledge that you have one life and there is noting after will make people appreciate what they have and want to improve the lives of other. I expect there will be a great ethical awakening when the whole world catches on that the idea of an afterlife makes it easy to give up the one you have to a cause that does nothing but bring misery to others. Therefore having only one life makes it much more precious.

philosopher's avatar

@Ron_C
John Lennon wrote down what he thought it would be like in his song Imagine
Maybe we would finally have piece on Earth.

Ron_C's avatar

@philosopher you are right, I just didn’t want to plagiarize him.

janbb's avatar

(And this used to be the level of discourse on Fluther. My how we have changed!)

philosopher's avatar

@Ron_C
Many of us think of Lennon often. He made us think even as children.
Happy Friday.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Nothing like life here on this existence.
A different existence ( soul) Spirit.
Though could be Spirit as well.
Without the ability to think we would be vegetables.
Perhaps our thoughts are our soul?

Shinimegami's avatar

Like it if people discard primitive ignorance and con games. Priests use fake after life control people, make people give priests much money, allow priests control all people’s actions, words and thoughts. Is great if end that evil swindle. Hope all people eventually learn is no after life. Truth superior of delusions.

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