1. SubscriberFMF
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    26 Jul '14 02:24
    Duration 10 mins

    AUDIO FILE:
    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/pov/pov_20140718-2100a.mp3

    "Some critics of religion see having faith as being childish. But John Gray argues that believing that human beings are rational is more childish than believing in religion. The belief in the power of reason to improve humankind rests on childishly simple ideas he says. One of the commonest is that history's crimes are mistakes that can be avoided as we gain greater knowledge. But if history teaches us anything, Grey asserts, it's that behaviours and attitudes like cruelty and hatred are permanent human flaws. To imagine that we can become more rational is an example of magical thinking and an expression of the belief in the omnipotence of the human will that psychoanalysts identify as the fundamental infantile fantasy. John Gray believes that we'd all be better off if we saw ourselves as we are: intermittently and only ever partly rational creatures, who never really grow up."

    Programme Homepage - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qng8

    It'd be interesting to hear the thoughts of atheists and non-religionist theists [in particular] on John Gray's point of view.
  2. Standard membervivify
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    26 Jul '14 03:402 edits
    Human beings have become more and more rational throughout time. For example, legalized slavery was common in the ancient world, but it's pretty much abolished as a legal practice. We also live in a time where gays experience unparalleled acceptance, compared to times past. Roles for women as well as their rights have greatly expanded.

    It was humanity becoming more reasonable that enabled such positive change, whereas religion or different "faiths" not only brought most of the problems (mistreatment of women, gays, etc.) but also helped to keep these changes from happening more quickly.
  3. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    26 Jul '14 06:131 edit
    Originally posted by FMF
    Duration 10 mins

    AUDIO FILE:
    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/pov/pov_20140718-2100a.mp3

    "Some critics of religion see having faith as being childish. But John Gray argues that believing that human beings are rational is more childish than believing in religion. The belief in the power of reason to improve humankind rests on childishly simple id ...[text shortened]... e thoughts of atheists and non-religionist theists [in particular] on John Gray's point of view.
    I agree with a lot of what he says. We aren't beings of pure logic, like the Vulcans of Star Trek. We have our own strange prejudices and feelings, sometimes so interwoven into our lives that we're hardly aware of them.

    One of the reasons I left religion is that I came to see that the 'easy fixes' just didn't always work out. People could not reform their entire lives simply by praying a one-minute prayer; they had to work hard and get help from other people to do it.

    I think skeptics can fall into the same fault; it's easy for us to think that, if we could just get rid of religion, that the world would quickly become Utopian. But that just can't be right. We've had secular regimes in various countries who have committed genocide with enthusiasm equal to that of the most corrupt religious dictators.

    Religion at worst is only a symptom of a greater problem; that people don't want to confront reality and instead surround themselves with soothing and comforting myths. It's not a problem confined to religious people by any means.

    I've been reading SJ Gould's book, The Mismeasure of Man, where people in the name of 'science' managed to claim that black people were inferior. They were so confident in their objectivity that some of them even published all of the data that led them to their findings. The same data read by people of today reveals a clear pre-determined conclusion and faulty analysis based on a prejudice that the scientists could not see in themselves.

    We'd do better to try to keep going forward, while giving up the delusion that we can do so perfectly. Instead of pretending we have no flaws and no biases, we should be actively on the lookout for them, so that we can know when to doubt our own conclusions.
  4. Territories Unknown
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    26 Jul '14 22:02
    Originally posted by vivify
    Human beings have become more and more rational throughout time. For example, legalized slavery was common in the ancient world, but it's pretty much abolished as a legal practice. We also live in a time where gays experience unparalleled acceptance, compared to times past. Roles for women as well as their rights have greatly expanded.

    It was humanity ...[text shortened]... eatment of women, gays, etc.) but also helped to keep these changes from happening more quickly.
    I disagree emphatically with the idea that slavery has somehow been abolished.
    While it certainly doesn't resemble in outward appearance the physical aspects of its previous iterations, the subtleties of today's slave trade make it far more insidious than what existed in years past.
  5. Joined
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    27 Jul '14 00:48
    Originally posted by FMF
    Duration 10 mins

    AUDIO FILE:
    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/pov/pov_20140718-2100a.mp3

    "Some critics of religion see having faith as being childish. But John Gray argues that believing that human beings are rational is more childish than believing in religion. The belief in the power of reason to improve humankind rests on childishly simple id ...[text shortened]... e thoughts of atheists and non-religionist theists [in particular] on John Gray's point of view.
    Don't touch that dial! It's a pop quiz.
    - [Students groan] - I know.
    I know.
    Okay, you ready? Turn it over and start now! I, uh, think there might be a mistake.
    The answers are stapled to the test.
    Correct! Before Miss Goody-Two-Shoes here blew the whistle, the neurons in your ventromedial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices were firing on all cylinders, creating a rush of adrenaline and dopamine not unlike a boxer about to enter the ring.
    But the fight here was between impulse and self-control.
    It's called temptation.
    Now, her cognitive control mechanisms stopped her from cheating, but some of you were about to go through with it.
    - I know you were.
    Yeah.
    Right? - [Laughter] Your your self-control was hyped by the more emotional and impulsive limbic system, which wanted the easy "A.
    " That's bad.
    That's bad because when we exercise self-restraint, we have greater success at work, stronger relationships, and better mental health.


    Via self-restraint one can alter how the limbic system responds.
  6. Joined
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    27 Jul '14 13:50
    Originally posted by FMF
    Duration 10 mins

    AUDIO FILE:
    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/pov/pov_20140718-2100a.mp3

    "Some critics of religion see having faith as being childish. But John Gray argues that believing that human beings are rational is more childish than believing in religion. The belief in the power of reason to improve humankind rests on childishly simple id ...[text shortened]... e thoughts of atheists and non-religionist theists [in particular] on John Gray's point of view.
    "...we'd all be better off if we saw ourselves as we are:.."

    We are what we think, do and say. What else is there? Let the record speak for itself. We have the ability to reason, but it is flawed. Not a single individual has perfect reasoning powers, and there's no indication there ever will be. Therefore, we, the human race, are destined to repeat the same errors generation after generation.

    The first step to better reasoning is to acknowledge to ourselves that our power to reason perfectly is flawed. The next step is to acknowledge the one who's power of reasoning is infinite, and to follow Him as best we can.

    Proverbs 3:5,6
    Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
    In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

    Key to right living! It's an internal affair. Anyone can amass a fortune in material goods and give an outward appearance of success, but God desires to live within the heart, to give spiritual life, meaning and reason to all we think, say and do. To bring to life the eternal things of God within the heart.
  7. Standard membervivify
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    28 Jul '14 12:43
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    I disagree emphatically with the idea that slavery has somehow been abolished.
    While it certainly doesn't resemble in outward appearance the physical aspects of its previous iterations, the subtleties of today's slave trade make it far more insidious than what existed in years past.
    How many countries have legalized slavery?
  8. Standard memberKellyJay
    Walk your Faith
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    28 Jul '14 13:00
    Originally posted by vivify
    How many countries have legalized slavery?
    Legalized, perhaps not; however, hidden but there in numbers more than
    a few.
    Kelly
  9. Standard memberDeepThought
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    28 Jul '14 13:15
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    Legalized, perhaps not; however, hidden but there in numbers more than
    a few.
    Kelly
    It is on the rise, this makes for depressing reading:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28463036
  10. Cape Town
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    28 Jul '14 13:27
    Originally posted by FMF
    It'd be interesting to hear the thoughts of atheists and non-religionist theists [in particular] on John Gray's point of view.
    Humans use techniques to make sense of the world and to make decisions more efficiently and faster. These techniques can lead to the wrong conclusions and be considered irrational.
    If you think about his references to childishness - he is grouping a set of behaviours that we expect from children. He is also expecting us to recognise those behaviours as well as to despise them. All these are shortcuts to getting the point across but not necessarily valid claims in a totally rational sense.
    But I would say that humans can be rational when they try to for specific situations. We can train ourselves to spot our shortcut techniques and foresee when they will give incorrect results and thus guard against these mistakes. We will however never be truly rational all the time.
  11. Joined
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    28 Jul '14 13:47
    Originally posted by FMF
    Duration 10 mins

    AUDIO FILE:
    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/pov/pov_20140718-2100a.mp3

    "Some critics of religion see having faith as being childish. But John Gray argues that believing that human beings are rational is more childish than believing in religion. The belief in the power of reason to improve humankind rests on childishly simple id ...[text shortened]... e thoughts of atheists and non-religionist theists [in particular] on John Gray's point of view.
    Some critics of religion see having faith as being childish.

    In some ways, it is. Dawkins has a hypothesis that there might be an innate 'gullability' built into young children by evolution to which religion appeals to. It should be eliminated as we grow up, as with the tooth fairy and Santa Claus, but parental pressure overrides this.

    But John Gray argues that believing that human beings are rational is more childish than believing in religion.

    This is nonsense. Human beings are rational. That is a fact. They are not, however, completely rational. Religion, almost by definition, is irrational.

    The belief in the power of reason to improve humankind rests on childishly simple ideas he says.

    I assume he means 'childish' in the sense of 'naive' (i.e. untrue). Again this is nonsense. Reason has helped mankind to put aside religious dogma in any number of ways in favour of preferable outcomes.

    One of the commonest is that history's crimes are mistakes that can be avoided as we gain greater knowledge.

    Less than 50 years ago, my neighbours could have been be put in prison for being gay. Now they are married. The resistance to legalisation came from a mixture of religious dogma, emotional and physical distaste and a complete lack of understanding of what it meant (or did not) to be gay. The impetus for change came from greater knowledge and the rationalisation that no-one had the right to dictate what could be done between consenting adults.

    But if history teaches us anything Grey asserts, it's that behaviours and attitudes like cruelty and hatred are permanent human flaws.

    Irrelevant and trying to set up a strawman. Just because cruelty and hatred may be permanent does not mean that we cannot make incremental steps to improve society bit by bit.

    To imagine that we can become more rational is an example of magical thinking

    We have become more rational.

    and an expression of the belief in the omnipotence of the human will that psychoanalysts identify as the fundamental infantile fantasy.

    Another strawman. Who has said that the human will is omnipotent?

    John Gray believes that we'd all be better off if we saw ourselves as we are: intermittently and only ever partly rational creatures

    Another strawman. This is how most of us see ourselves. Though most would argue we are more than just 'partly rational'.

    who never really grow up.

    Nonsense. Again.
  12. Joined
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    28 Jul '14 15:081 edit
    Twice in one morning I have the following response to a post.

    It's the nature of living things in general, or, at least, animal life.

    Alan Watts: “For there is a growing apprehension that existence is a rat-race in a trap: living organisms, including people, are merely tubes which put things in at one end and let them out at the other, which both keeps them doing it and in the long run wears them out. So to keep the farce going, the tubes find ways of making new tubes, which also put things in at one end and let them out at the other. At the input end they even develop ganglia of nerves called brains, with eyes and ears, so that they can more easily scrounge around for things to swallow. As and when they get enough to eat, they use up their surplus energy by wiggling in complicated patterns, making all sorts of noises by blowing air in and out of the input hole, and gathering together in groups to fight with other groups. In time, the tubes grow such an abundance of attached appliances that they are hardly recognizable as mere tubes, and they manage to do this in a staggering variety of forms. There is a vague rule not to eat tubes of your own form, but in general there is serious competition as to who is going to be the top type of tube. All this seems marvelously futile, and yet, when you begin to think about it, it begins to be more marvelous than futile. Indeed, it seems extremely odd.”

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/106005-for-there-is-a-growing-apprehension-that-existence-is-a
  13. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
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    28 Jul '14 15:16
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    It is on the rise, this makes for depressing reading:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28463036
    One thing for sure: We are only free from religious rulers by a fluke, it is not out of the realm of possibility. It could happen again and is happening as we speak in Sudan and other places.
  14. Joined
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    28 Jul '14 16:391 edit
    Originally posted by FMF
    "Some critics of religion see having faith as being childish. But John Gray argues that believing that human beings are rational is more childish than believing in religion. The belief in the power of reason to improve humankind rests on childishly simple ideas he says. One of the commonest is that history's crimes are mistakes that can be avoided as we gain gre ...[text shortened]... es as we are: intermittently and only ever partly rational creatures, who never really grow up."
    I have two big problems with Gray's argument.

    First, he is attacking a strawman. Just because a person believes that faith is childish does not mean that they also believe humans are rational. One can easily be a member of both groups, neither groups, or only one group, and I am skeptical that there is much of any correlation between these two groups. In fact, a negative correlation wouldn't surprise me (for instance, it wouldn't surprise me if atheists were less likely than theists to say that humans are rational).

    Second, he claims that belief in the rationality of humans is more childish than belief in religion. What this quite literally means is that he thinks you are more likely to find a child that will claim that humans are rational than a child who will claim to be a member of a religion or obey authority/parental figures. This is absolute nonsense. I suspect you could search your entire life and never find a young child who volunteers the conclusion that humans are rational.

    He means to argue that both stances (belief in religion and belief in the rationality of humans) are irrational beliefs, but "childish" and "irrational" are not synonyms, at least not in the sense that he is using them here. The "childish" claim he makes is children obeying a parental figure vs. religious people obeying a parental figure (e.g. God). What he is really arguing is that since children obey parental figures and are also irrational, therefore all irrational people are childish, and this is quite clearly not a logically sound proposition, even if you accept his premise.

    There is a decent point he is trying to make (that humans are not as rational as some people might believe they are), but his presentation is complete rubbish (or if I were to misuse words and logic like Gray, I might even call it childish).
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