Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Racism then and now

One problem is the fact that we have gone from blatant bigotry to more subtle forms of racism. "I have nothing against Mexicans, but why can't they learn our language like immigrants of the past used to when the came over. And, of course, a lot of them are here illegally." That isn't exactly calling them "spicks" like kids of my playground used to, but the racism is still there.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A big difference between Christianity and Islam

 There are some big differences between Islam and Christianity. A big one has to do with what happens when someone is caught in adultery. Muhammad approved of the stoning of an adulteress (after she bore and weaned her child), but Jesus required that the one to cast the first stone had to be without sin and ref used to cast it himself .

Sunday, June 09, 2019

What do we mean by "society?"

"Society" is a hypostasized abstract noun. I often wonder sometimes if it refers to anything.Is there such a thing as "society" or are there just socieities?

Are we genetically inclined to be generous?

It would be nice to believe that the human genome is constructed so as to find joy through contributions to the good of all. This is a claim that might require some scientific evidence. There is a popular belief in our society that our genetic structure pushes us to be selfish. In the new prefaces to Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene, Dawkins is at some pains to dispel the idea that the "selfishness" of our genes provides a justification for selfish behavior in humans.  But it looks like an attempt on his part to put a meme back in the bottle after if got out.  

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

No collusion? Witch hunt? Hardly

Let's go over some clear and undeniable facts. The Russians, not a 400-pound guy in a Manhattan apartment, engage in a great deal of illegal interference against our country's election system. This, in my view is an attack on our country. Countries that do that should be penalized, and we should make it clear we won't tolerate it. Even the beneficiary candidate has a moral duty to issue a "thanks, but no thanks" message to such a country. But instead, the beneficiary candidate starts acting as if he welcomes the interference,, even going so far as to suggest a further crime they might commit, of delivering the missing e-mails of Hillary Clinton. You also have Trump's staff getting the Republican platform changed from its prior anti-Putin stance to a more pro-Russian stance, you get all kinds of contacts during the campaign between Russian agents, contacts about which Trump official lied repeatedly. You had a campaign chairman who had previously worked for a pro-Putin dictator in Ukraine. You had a national security adviser who was an agent of the Turkish government and had inappropriate connections with the Russians. You had an attorney general who lied about contacts with the Russians and had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. You have a President who acts as if everything is normal and tries to keep Russia from suffering any harm from the crimes they have committed, and even at a conference in Helsinki took the side of the Russians against the word of all of his intelligence agencies that Russia didn't do it. And you're telling me that what was wrong was that they investigated the possibility that there might have been not collusion (there was plenty of that), but an actual criminal conspiracy between people in the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Oh, and I didn't even mention the Trump Tower meeting with Don, Jared, Manafort, and Veselnitskaya. Mueller didn't find enough evidence to issue conspiracy charges, although if they had been really a dirty cop in the pay of the Democrats he would have found a way to invent some. Oh, and you find Trump trying to shut down the investigation on multiple occasions, and if he had had a more cooperative staff it would have worked. But to say that do investigate all of this was a big no-no, and only someone who didn't like Trump's immigration policy would initiate such an investigation to keep Trump policies from being enacted? That's ridiculous. Anyone in their right mind would want to know what was going on, at least anyone who doesn't own a MAGA hat. We can all be thankful there wasn't some quid pro quo between the Trump staff and the Russians, and, if anything, we should be grateful to Mueller for assuring us of at least that. But that still leaves a lot of conduct on the part of the President and his aides that is, quite frankly, profoundly corrupt. To say "no collusion" as if this is a clear bill of health for the President is a shameful distortion of the truth and the product of clever marketing and propaganda. People like Justin Amash and 800 former federal prosecutors came to a very different conclusion when the actually read the Mueller report.

Monotheistic science, religion and the ecological crisis

With the rise of monotheistic religions, we began to think of the world as operating in accordance with laws as opposed to the whims of various deities. In this is makes sense of what science discovers about the world. But  science enables technology, and technology permits humans to exercise control over the natural world in a way they never could before. But that power of technology brings with it the temptation, never so much as experienced by ancient peoples, to exploit the earth's resources in ways that harm the ecosystem, make life more difficult for many living creatures, and make the world potentially unlivable for future generations.  You could, I suppose, say that monotheistic religion helped cause the ecological crisis for the same reason you might say that science caused the ecological crisis. But if you can condemn religion for this reason, you also have to condemn science for the same reason. 

China and the attempt to blame Christians for the ecological crisis

 Lynn White (and others) lay much of the blame for the current ecological crisis at the feet of the Abrahamic traditions, especially Christianity.

I think the refutation of Lynn White's thesis can be found by looking at the climate crisis in China, a country for years under atheistic communism and certainly no history of Christian domination. They have the worst climate problem in the world.