Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How could they have thought that back then?

In the 19th Century most people believed in white supremacy, including most of those who opposed slavery. Today believing in white supremacy is considered a major sign of ignorance. But we in our time are not smarter, or better, than our forbears, so why do we find it so easy to accept racial equality?

Which leads us to as, what practices that we approve of today will make our descendants scratch their heads and say "How could they have thought that way back then."

39 comments:

B. Prokop said...

Future generations will wonder how on Earth we in the so-called Enlightened West could have so blithely bought products from Asia and elsewhere in full knowledge or deliberate ignorance of the fact that they are being produced by workers subjected to the most miserable conditions, extremely low wages, and zero benefits - not to mention by child labor and worse.

Crude said...

Which leads us to as, what practices that we approve of today will make our descendants scratch their heads and say "How could they have thought that way back then."

Throw some bombs, you say? Sure, I have a backpack full.

...Actually, on second thought. I think there's one flaw in this question keeping me from having fun. I think 'our descendants' will be vastly more diverse than we are intellectually. Your question supposes that the future will trend towards intellectual unity - that, I think, is a key mistake. I think the future will result in intellectual fragmenting on a grand scale.

But just to throw one bomb out there: abortion will largely be seen as monstrous, and the 20th century practices of it, and justifications of it, will be regarded as textbook examples of contempt. "A woman's right to choose" and "women's reproductive health" will be regarded as stock examples of phrases employed by people doing what they know to be reprehensible.

And human sexuality will no longer be sacrosanct: what sexual desires people have will be, once again, regarded as an indicator of their mental health, regardless of whether or not their activities result in some immediate form of harm to a party other than themselves. 20th/21st century 'liberal' attitudes towards sexuality will be regarded as, ironically, another manifestation of irrational puritanism.

rank sophist said...

Subliminal advertising, housecalls for assisted suicide (recent development in the Netherlands), Eurocentrism in philosophy, Western superiority complex in general, eliminative materialism, functionalism, fundamentalism, evolutionary psychology, conceptual art, New Atheism, New Age-ism, the trend of willful ignorance and anti-intellectualism, hook-up culture, scientific "studies" based on easily-manipulated probability equations, increasing appetite for violence, the progress narrative, bath salts, individuality obsession, conformity obsession and complicity with China, among other things.

Most of this is probably wishful thinking, but a man can dream.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Let's start with an authority like the Bible:

""And all men are from the ground, and Adam was created of earth. In much knowledge the Lord hath divided them, and made their ways diverse. Some of them hath he blessed and exalted, and some of them hath he sanctified, and set near himself: but some of them hath he cursed and brought low, and turned out of their places. As the clay is in the potter's hand, to fashion it at his pleasure: so man is in the hand of him that made him, to render to them as liketh him best." (LXX, Ecclesiasticus 36.10-13)

Aristotle repeats a Greek proverb, "Tis meet that Greek rule barbarian".

Aristotle also points to a Natural Law, "All things are either in Authority or in Subjection". That is all things. In Classical Antiquity the Romans, Greeks and the Jews all had racialism, (racialism, the idea that their race was superior to others.) It is quite natural. The Japanese for the longest time thought of themselves superior to all others.

Hierarchy is throughout nature and one's achievements can lend the idea of supremacy.

Are not some individuals superior than other individuals? If that is the case, then in macrocosm/microcosm, some races are superior to others. There is no harm in that. Some people are.

Why people don't think like that today is that most people are socialists. And if one believes in equality in one sphere, he has to, according the natural law of macrocosm/microcosm, think the same way in other areas. But nature does not teach equality. It is man's whimsy that does so.

"Tis meet that Greek rule barbarian." It is unrighteousness to think otherwise.

rank sophist said...

Are not some individuals superior than other individuals? If that is the case, then in macrocosm/microcosm, some races are superior to others. There is no harm in that. Some people are.

Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.

rank sophist said...

Also, that's the fallacy of composition, just so you know.

B. Prokop said...

"some races are superior to others"

How convenient when one finds himself a member of the "superior race".

Bilbo said...

Wheeler: "Are not some individuals superior than other individuals? If that is the case, then in macrocosm/microcosm, some races are superior to others."

As Rank Sophist already pointed out, that is a logical fallacy.

Some Xs are superior to some Ys. Therefore, all Xs are superior to all Ys.

Sorry, Wheeler, it doesn't fly. Democracy was invented because nobody could objectively decide who was superior and should therefore rule. So we decided that politically, everybody should be equal. This doesn't mean that everybody is equally wise. It means that everybody gets one vote. It means (in theory, though not in practice) that everybody is equal under the law. All have the same rights and the same responsibilities.

BeingItself said...

Circumcision and capital punishment.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Socrates and Plato both were "misodemos", haters of democracy. Aristotle in his Politics has democracy as the bad form of politiea. The Romans translated 'politiea' as 'republic'. All Classical republics had caste, hierarchy and class distinctions.

What do you think aristocracy is? It is the creme of the race.

The other Natural Law is "Creme rises to the top". As within each race there is an aristocracy. There is races that are aristocratical. Nature, itself, is aristocratical.

I'm sorry, I'm a farm laborer. I've observed dairy cows line up in hiearchical fashion; observed the same thing in chickens. It is called the Pecking Order It is throughout nature.

Democracy is never "according to nature". Plato's Republic is about hierarchy. To refuse to acknowledge hierarchy, is to be a nihilist. No nihilist can be a philosopher. Democracy does not exist in nature nor in heaven. That is why Socrates and Plato both said, democracy ends in tyranny for it is so dysfunctional.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

The existence of Royalty and Aristocracy throughout history proofs my point. As in the Natural Law of Macrocosm/microcosm, that things repeat throughout the spheres, there is also an hierarchy amongst the races as there is in the angelic choir.

Just some of you hate the Natural Order. Can't help that. The so-called "Enlightenment", a movement of atheists, needs to be rejected en toto.

Cale B.T. said...

I've recently been reading the wonderful book, "What Science Knows and How It Knows It" by Australian mathematician and philosopher James Franklin.

He summarises the message of post-modern academics to the public as being: “We can't learn. We won't learn (but please, keep our academic salaries coming)"

I sincerely hope that, in the future, the broad consensus of academia will be, "How could they [the post-moderns] have thought that back then?"

Cale B.T. said...

"The other Natural Law is "Creme rises to the top"

Amen. He hath filled the fat cats with good things; and the untermensch he hath sent empty away.

B. Prokop said...

This wheeler guy is doing everyone a great favor by reminding us that racism still exists and still has the power to poison minds, just as "Gimli" reminds us there are still misogynists in the world, and Ilion that there are madmen.

Bilbo said...

Hi Wheeler,

In an ideal world, the perfect ruler will be Jesus, who achieved perfection by living as a servant to all. Therefore God will exalt Him on high above every name, and every tongue will acknowledge Him King of Kings, Lord of Lords.

In the meantime, we live in an imperfect world. As Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest."

rank sophist said...

Wheeler has countered accusations of the fallacy of composition by appealing to the naturalistic fallacy: "what is found in nature is good".

Papalinton said...

Bilbo
"In an ideal world, the perfect ruler will be Jesus, who achieved perfection by living as a servant to all. Therefore God will exalt Him on high above every name, and every tongue will acknowledge Him King of Kings, Lord of Lords."

Sorry, Bilbo. Can't let that one through uncontested. Your comment is singularly ethnocentric as to conveniently [perhaps inadvertently, but I doubt it] fail to remember the perspective of Muslims on this subject [the best they will ever concede is that he was just a prophet] and even that of the Jews, who have rejected your interpretation from the outset [apart from a little ecumenism to still the waters]. Equally, it would be interesting to witness a devout Christian as yourself trying to impress your view above upon a Hindu, or more interestingly observing the devout Hindu attempting to rationalise you to a belief in Ganesh. One must also be ever mindful of the meteoric rise of Hindu nationalism of late as India's mighty population begins to flex its economic muscle. An aggressive proselytizing Hindu fundamentalism will be a future match to any attempt by christianity to placate it.

The deficiency in your argument, Bilbo, is that christianity is simply but one of so many competing belief systems that attempt to stake out a claim for 'universal truth'. But they all claim that. And they are all willing to die for it. Doesn't this fact alone trigger any form of question in your mind that religions may be just internecine cultural projections?

It seems to me following decades of reading and thought that all you are protecting is your right to believe rather than the 'universal truth' of that belief system? Clearly christianity is not a universally accepted perspective. It does not and has never translated as being self-evident in the way that universal truths translate; such as the golden rule, 'treat others as you would want them treat you', or 'killing is wrong', or 'do not lie'. Every religion reflects these universals in one form or another. Even I as an atheist, reflect these moral universals. I realized that the god bits [be it Ganesh, Vishnu, allah, jesus[ and the supernatural bits of religions are the fluffy parts of the story, the narrative fill-in bits that joined the various universal truths all humans feel and experience regardless of the shape. colour and stripe of their god [or no god, as the case may be].

rank sophist said...

I think Bilbo was just speaking from a Christian perspective, Papa. Not that you'd let that stop you from going on a tirade.

I'd like to add that you clearly have no knowledge of Hinduism. Evangelism is a foreign--even repulsive--concept to many in that religion.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

To the "rank sophist", All of Creation was created thru Jesus Christ. In Genesis, God called it Good. Creation, i.e. the Cosmos, is perfect and good.

What guides the Cosmos is the Natural Law. Heraclitus calls this "steering from within" in the cosmos, the Logos. St. John the Apostle clearly refers to Christ as the Logos. The Natural Law is Christ!

Here is an article that explains that Christ the Logos, the font of Greek philosophy So to attack the Natural Law is to attack Jesus Christ. St. Paul uses this phrase, "What does nature teach...". Christ created the Logos, i.e. the Natural Law, you disregard that at your peril.

@Bilbo, I am not talking about an "ideal" world, I'm talking about the REAL world. We have to live in the REAL world. Not the "ideal" which is cooked up in men's minds.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Furthermore, slavery is not wrong. Never was. The Bible condones it. In the last commandment of the Ten, it says, "You shall not covet thy neighbors...slave". Right there in the Ten Commandments. No canon of the church condemns slavery, there are some that defend it. Slavery is an institution.

Aristotle said some men are natural slaves. The Bible and Platonic/Aristotelian philosophy agree. The Greek Orthodox Church has never condemned slavery nor will it.

I don't know what you guys are smokin' but you have all been huffin' that Enlightenment garbage.

Bilbo said...

Hi Papa,

My point to Wheeler is that I think he is right in asserting that a superior and perfect being should be ruler. I'm assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that Wheeler considers himself to be a Christian. If so, then he should believe that Jesus is the only person who can and will rule us perfectly. In the meantime, there don't appear to be any perfect people among us, so that of the competing forms of government in an imperfect world, democracy seems to be the least evil.

Now I was surprised to learn that Islam has a much higher view of Jesus than his just being a prophet. They believe that he had a virgin birth, was the Messiah, ascended into Heaven, and that he will return shortly befoe judgment day to kill the Anti-Christ. They don't believe he died on the cross (he was replaced with a stand-in double), and so they also don't believe that he rose from the dead or that his death had any atoning value. I would need to look at the Wiki article again, but I think they even believe that Jesus will reign on Earth for a while. So I would just qubble with them about the time frame. Or rather, I would let them quibble with Jesus.

As to the Jews, they are God's chosen people. According to Paul (Romans 11:25), a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the full number of the Gentiles comes in. At that time, God will remove the hardening and "pour out on them a spirit of compassion and supplication, and they will look on him whom they have pierced and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child." (Zechariah 12:10).

I don't know much about Ganesh. I know we want our king to be somebody who has suffered as we have suffered, so that he knows what it is like to be human. We want him to be compassionate and judge us by our hearts and not our lips. We want him to rule not out of pride but out of humility, having learned to be a servant to all. If Ganesh was like this, I wouldn't mind him being king. I know Jesus was like this. So I look forward to his return and rule.

Bilbo said...

Hi Wheeler,

We know that the present world is in the power of the evil one and has been since at least the fall. So any form of government will be corrupt at its very heart. Democracy, with limitations on mob rule (which is what the Bill of Rights is meant for -- to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority), has the best chance of being the least evil. Eventually, though, we know that all forms of government will fail until Jesus returns.

As far as slavery is concerned, Paul made it plain that if a slave could obtain his freedom he should obtain it (I Cor. 7:21), so that he can serve the Lord. Slavery, therefore, is not a condition that God wants us to be in. And masters for far too long abused their slaves (contrary to how God said they should treat their slaves), so that it is better that nobody have slaves.

But all human beings are created in the image of God, so that none of us should consider ourselves superiour to any others. Only the Lord is our true Master.

Crude said...

Rank sophist,

'd like to add that you clearly have no knowledge of Hinduism. Evangelism is a foreign--even repulsive--concept to many in that religion.

Linton, babbling at length about stuff he knows nothing of? Gosh!

My faint understanding of hinduism is that, yeah, the idea of proselytizing is foreign. I could be wrong, but I believe it's closer to judaism - while jewish converts are technically possible there from what I know, you're dealing with a faith that is lineage-based there first and foremost.

Papalinton said...

Bilbo
I am somewhat disappointed in the spin that your comment downplays the very very fundamental differences between christianity and Islam. There is no quibbling in Islam. "Islamic texts categorically deny the idea of crucifixion or death attributed to Jesus by the Bible." [Wiki] From a muslim point of view the very foundation of christianity is utterly false from the islamic perspective. To the muslim, the idea that the sacrifice of jesus [that god should give his only begotten son] as propitiation for the sins of the world is simply outrageous anathema to Islamic thinking. Don't they know that this is the absolute bedrock of christian theism? Don't muslims know there is no other explanation?
And for muslims to thoroughly reject this most basic of understandings around which christian theism is existentially pinned, simply demonstrates they too have no reason whatsoever to imagine it as nothing more than stuff that has been made up. Of course the to-ing and fro-ing between muslim and christian theistic claims simply flies in the face of any rational or logical discourse that might be had.

The balance of your commentary is wishing listing, attempting to garner an 'is' from an 'ought', a fully versed treatise replete with the literary devices of the apologetical explanatory method. Unfortunately, there is no transfer value in the apologetical technique because it simply does not translate across one religion to another. Indeed christian apologetics has little, if any, relationship with Muslim apologetics in matters of substance, efficacy of their respective knowledge bases, nor their fundamental precepts. In fact they are exclusory to one another.

So I cannot see a jesus ever being accepted as a 'model leader'. Muslims simply wouldn't tolerate it let alone allow it, nor the Hindus, Buddhists, etc etc

CONT.

Papalinton said...

CONT
Contrast the wider historical aspects of a supposed jesus:

"The following is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works:
Josephus, Philo-Judaeus, Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Suetonius, Juvenal, Martial, Persius, Plutarch, Justus of Tiberius, Apollonius, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Quintilian, Lucanus, Epictetus, Silius Italicus, Statius, Ptolemy, Hermogones, Valerius Maximus, Arrian, Petronius, Dion Pruseus, Paterculus, Appian, Theon of Smyrna, Phlegon, Pompon Mela, Quintius Curtius, Lucian, Pausanias, Valerius Flaccus, Florus Lucius, Favorinus, Phaedrus, Damis, Aulus Gellius, Columella, Dio Chrysostom, Lysias, Appion of Alexandria.

Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.

Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ’s miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

He was there when the crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place — when Christ himself rose from the dead, and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not."
From “The Christ” — John E. Remsberg


In centuries to come, humanity will look back on the myriad of religions and ask, "How could they have thought that back then?"

BenYachov said...

>Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.

So he is not mentioned anyywhere except where he is mentioned but if he is mentioned then it must be a forgery?

Neat trick.

The Talmud makes several polemical references to him I guess those don't count either.

Wow Paps you can't make this shit up.

BenYachov said...

>Furthermore, slavery is not wrong. Never was. The Bible condones it.

The Bible condoned polygamy before the New Testament Era. That doesn't mean polygamy was ideal & should be done today.

OT Slavery served the place of modern Welfare/Workfare in the Ancient near east culture. If you where poor you could sell yourself into slavery and eat.

Just like I joined the military during the recession under Bush the Older back in the 90's.

Papalinton said...

"Wow Paps you can't make this shit up."

Don't have to. History, facts and evidence is all that is needed. All the sh##-making stuff is best left to the experts that characterise Apologetics. Now that is historical fact. To rely on pseudepigraphical works, of unknown author/authors[?], of unknown provenance, of unknown origins, for unknown communities which they appear to have been written somewhere in the Middle East, the earliest physical copies of the manuscripts being copies of the copies of the copies written some centuries after the supposed event, doesn't look too promising a historical record, now that the stranglehold of Apologetics has been deshackled, and is no longer the prescribed methodology for historical and academic research.

Researchers of the caliber of Carrier, Erhman, Price, Dennett etc etc have exposed the soft edges of the narrative once considered absolute, ineffable. and inviolable. Such exposure comes as a painful cut to the body of the believer.

B. Prokop said...

I'm not feeling any pain.

Syllabus said...

"In an ideal world, the perfect ruler will be Jesus, who achieved perfection by living as a servant to all. Therefore God will exalt Him on high above every name, and every tongue will acknowledge Him King of Kings, Lord of Lords."

One slight amendment: in an ideal world, Christ would have no need of reigning, as reigning seems to imply imposition. In an ideal world, acceding to Christ's authority would not be necessary, as no one would dispute it and everyone would do it voluntarily and out of love. Other than that, excellent.

And to mention Carrier in the same sentence as Ehrman and Dennett is to pronounce a grave calumny. To put them on an equal standing could be considered the gravest of insults.

BenYachov said...

>Researchers of the caliber of Carrier, Erhman, Price, Dennett etc

Only one of these people is a credible bible scholar. The rest you got two Jesus Mythers loons and Dennett.

Papalinton said...

"And to mention Carrier in the same sentence as Ehrman and Dennett is to pronounce a grave calumny. To put them on an equal standing could be considered the gravest of insults."

I don't think so. Each is an internationally acknowledged authority in their particular disciplines. Erhman is a specialist biblical scholar of enormous repute. Carrier is one of only a few contemporary classical historians whose pursuit of the meticulous marks him as immensely influential and he is yet maturing into his profession. Dennett, a world-renown philosopher, is perhaps the most widely read and respected philosopher of our time.

Each has brought to the table from their respective and widely varying areas of professional research, a consistent and cogent narrative, ably supported by mountains of evidence, of both an intrinsic and extrinsic nature, that accounts for the character of religious experience and praxis, as a wholly-owned derivative of the cultural/social imperative. Reference to a supernatural netherworld is redundant.

By comparison, christian exegetes, christian apologists, christian philosophers, christian scientists, christian historians, christian archeologists, christian sociologists, christian cosmologists ..... Spot the invested grubstake.

HyperEntity111 said...

Paps posted: "The deficiency in your argument, Bilbo, is that christianity is simply but one of so many competing belief systems that attempt to stake out a claim for 'universal truth'. But they all claim that. And they are willing to die for it. Doesn't this fact alone trigger any form of question in your mind that religions may be just internecine cultural projections?"

Atheism is a belief in a universal truth which if true entails that the majority of the planet's population is wrong. It is held with a remarkable degree of certainty by many of adherents and some are willing to die for it (as evidenced by the large number of Marxist suicide bombers). Has it ever occured to you that a belief so at odds with what the rest of humanity believes might be nothing more than an 'internecine cultural projection'?

Have you also considered the possibility that 'different people in population X confidently hold different (incompatible) beliefs. This proves that all of their beliefs are false.' is an invalid piece of reasoning?

By the way I know many Muslims who believe that in the crucifixion and the resurrection. Just the other day I was speaking to an Arab Christian who assured me that the Koran itself affirms the resurrection. Since this person is fluent in Arabic and has read the Koran in its original form I am much more inclined to take his word over that of an anonymous Wikipedia editor. You would have made your point much better by pointing out that the doctrine of the Trinity is incompatible with Islam. But many Chtistians don't believe in the Trinity either. This does not prove that the doctrine is false. I say this to drive home a simple point: that a person who assigns truth to ideas by checking to see how many people hold them is deeply confused and cannot be taken seriously.

HyperEntity111 said...

In reply to Papa's last post: Richard Carrier has been unable to find work in an institute of higher education since he completed his PhD because his views (that Jesus did not exist) are so out of touch with mainstream scholarship that no one will touch him. To hire him would be like hiring a person who denied the existence of the planet to a geology department. That Daniel Dennett is widely read has no bearing on the truth of his ideas. The Bible is more widely than Dennett and is respected by more people but I'm sure you would agree that this does not entail that it is true. Secondly the fact that Dennett has failed so spectaciularly to convince the wider philosophical community of the truth of eliminative materialism (even his fellow naturalists) suggests that he is not as respected as you believe (and I have never seen him argue that theism or Chtistianity is false). Finally I think it is very strange to think that two anti-theists and an agnostic are more likely to be objective when giving an account of religion than religious people. It seems perfectly reasonable to think that anti-theists will operate with an anti religious agenda that will prevent them thinking objectively and lead them to say silly things like how the universe created itself or might have been caused by numbers or that Jesus did not exist and so on.

Bilbo said...

Hi Hyper,

I'm pretty sure Islam denies the resurrection, since it denies that Jesus died, but affirms that he ascended into Heaven.

Bilbo said...

Hi Papa,

My point is that Islam teaches that Jesus will return and will rule on Earth (I re-read the Wiki article). So Muslims will accept him as king. They think his rule will be temporary. I'll let them argue with Jesus about that.

As to whether Jesus really existed, I think plenty of scholars have adequately replied to the Mythicists. But let's say that the odds of Jesus having existed and lived the way the New Testament says he did are a million to one. Those are good enough odds for me to bet my life on it. I don't think I've lost much over my lifetime. But I have gained a great deal.

BeingItself said...

HyperEntity111,

I am no Carrier apologist. But what evidence do you have for your claim that "Richard Carrier has been unable to find work in an institute of higher education since he completed his PhD because his views (that Jesus did not exist) are so out of touch with mainstream scholarship that no one will touch him."

What jobs has he applied for, if any? What jobs has he applied for and been rejected because of the reasons you mention? Thanks.

Victor Reppert said...

I agree. Why someone did or didn't find a job in academia is pretty difficult to determine from the outside.

Unknown said...

Colossians 3:11
[In this new creation all distinctions vanish.] There is no room for and there can be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, [nor difference between nations whether alien] barbarians or Scythians [ who are the most savage of all], nor slave or free man; but Christ is all and in all [ everything and everywhere, to all men, without distinction of person].