Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

911: Imagine No Religion

Eight years ago today, I watched WTC 1 (the north tower) collapse at 10:28, after it burned for approximately 102 minutes in a fire caused by the impact of United Airlines Flight 11. These attacks killed 2,603 people in New York City in the towers and on the ground.

Comments

  1. #1 doug l
    September 11, 2009

    If not religion, what would they have used instead?

  2. #2 Mike H
    September 11, 2009

    Yes, lets imagine no religion. A society ruled by man’s infinite wisdom and legendary compassion alone. Here is one version of what it might look like: Holodomor

    I seem to recall a particular ideology, and its mutant strains that were both virulently and militantly atheist and whose bloodlust knew no boundaries.

    Lets imagine indeed!

  3. #3 CW
    September 11, 2009

    Here is one version of what it might look like: Holodomor

    What exactly are you trying to say? That religion did not inspire the 9/11 hijackers? Or are you trying to tell us that since some people have committed horrible crimes which were not inspired by or in furtherance of their religion therefore religion is, what? Forgiven? Justified? Desirable?

    Maybe I’m just too long out of grade school to remember how tu coque is supposed to be a valid argument.

  4. #4 kermit
    September 11, 2009

    Nobody, Mike H., is claiming that lack of religion turns people into nice folks. But some people *do assert that religion makes one better – you do so implicitly in your post. If there are no gods (and I haven’t seen evidence for them) then there *is only human wisdom and compassion. Religion just muddies the water, and makes it harder to reconcile differences. Evil people will do evil whether they believe in magic or not. But it takes religion to persuade a decent person to do evil.

    The famine of Holodomor, BTW, was a direct result of Lysenkoism, the Soviet ideologically-based rejection of science in general, and evolutionary science in particular.

  5. #5 Bob O'H
    September 11, 2009

    But it takes religion to persuade a decent person to do evil.

    Hm, I’m not sure about that, unless you’re really going to stretch the definition of religion. The Milgram experiment presents a nice counter-example.

  6. #6 Mike H
    September 11, 2009

    Evil people will do evil whether they believe in magic or not. But it takes religion to persuade a decent person to do evil.

    Really? Was everyone who participated in atrocities committed by the Soviet Union evil? Is it inconceivable that good people who lived in the Soviet Union were convinced to participate in some of the most spectacularly brutal atrocities in human history by something other than religion?

    Me finds your strawman too flammable for the kitchen.

    The famine of Holodomor, BTW, was a direct result of Lysenkoism

    No, Lysenkoism was in small part responsible for a more widespread famine throughout the Soviet Union. The major reason was the policy of agricultural collectivism. Holodomor was the direct result of the Soviet Unions attempt to break Ukrainian nationalism through the use of forced collectivization, appropriating 100% of all food stocks in the Ukraine and sealing off the borders of troublesome Ukrainian areas to stop the inflow of aid and the exodus of millions of starving farmers.

    The release of millions of pages from the Soviet archives demonstrates this beyond any doubt, but its good to see Soviet revisionism is still so alive among the academy.

  7. #7 CW
    September 11, 2009

    The release of millions of pages from the Soviet archives demonstrates this beyond any doubt

    The suggestion was that without religion we would not see the atrocities religion inspires, like 9/11. Apparently you can’t address that, at all, so you’d rather clutch your pearls at the former Soviet Union and pretend that it is somehow cogent. It’s not. The Soviet Union merely demonstrates that while religion is a constant source of despicable behaviour it is not the only source. I think, if asked, our host would agree that “Imagine no oppressive totalitarian states”, while awkward on a poster, is also a welcome sentiment.

    Now if you would be so kind, how does any of your hand waving defend religion or divorce it from the events of 9/11?

  8. #8 Mike H
    September 11, 2009

    The suggestion was that without religion we would not see the atrocities religion inspires, like 9/11.

    Man’s ability to be fanaticized is responsible for atrocities. That’s why I draw the parallel to the (officially Atheist) Soviet Union. The entire post is fucking retarded. It would be like me posting a picture of a picture of a Buddhist monastery or Catholic church destroyed by Chinese Maoists and with the bodies of the faithful littering the grounds “Imagine no more communism”.

    The implication that religion is responsible for religious violence and not man’s innate and easily provoked brutality is what’s so fucking stupid, as made evident by the asinine statement, it takes religion to persuade a decent person to do evil.

    And then there was Kermits equally retarded Soviet revisionism.

  9. #9 CW
    September 11, 2009

    . It would be like me posting a picture of a picture of a Buddhist monastery or Catholic church destroyed by Chinese Maoists and with the bodies of the faithful littering the grounds “Imagine no more communism”.

    Well, perhaps if the US enshrined “In Totalitarianism We Trust” on the dollar, if violent radical revolutionary societies were granted automatic tax free status, if members of Congress proudly exclaimed that there was no morality without a police state, perhaps then you’d be onto something. The point you’re completely missing is that religion is widely treated as if it were a great blessing on society while oppressive murderous totalitarian police states tend to be frowned upon.

  10. #10 anon
    September 12, 2009

    Trust me, these attacks had NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING to do with religion. Only OIL and WAR. I knew someone who escaped the building, he did NOT see any commercial planes, only a smaller black one. Watch Loose Change everyone, please please please.

  11. #11 MikethePhilosopher
    December 10, 2009

    We live in a complex world that has evolved on a planet quite different in many respects than the one we now inhabit. The biological evolution that determined life forms is being supplanted by a cognitive technological evolution that is gradually winning the evolutionary advantage.

    Historically hunter gatherers passed information orally to their children and the amount passed was limited by aggregate human memory. Authoritarian culture helped those groups who adopted it. If told that a snake is poisonous, don’t take time to question it, just get away from the snake before you die. Before development of scientific thinking magical thinking predominated because most observations of the world were not comprehensible to our cognitive minds and we learned to rationalize to construct a world view. Our species won the struggle for survival in large part because of this inbred authoritarian learning ability. We trusted authority and survived. In the Common Era civilization began to change the world significantly. We developed more concentrated population densities in cities and partitioned work using money, making barter unnecessary and commercialization of resources possible on a grand scale. Scientific thought was allowed to develop in a portion of our species and those scientists participated in a technological revolution that gave rise to our current world environment. The human mind, however, evolved in an environment that was quite different than the complex cultural world we now inhabit. Now, the authoritarian mindset lives conspicuously side by side with the scientific mindset. The magical early attributions of natural phenomena like lightning gave rise to the supernatural god, Thor. Likewise other natural phenomena were believed magical until explained by science. The controversial phrase “it takes religion to persuade a decent person to do evil” can be illustrated by many examples but is not supported in some others and arguments along these lines are futile because there is a more complex underbelly with layers of evolutionary history driving a diverse world.

    Authoritarian people tend to be religious which emanates from what I have said and they tend to keep this connection because of their “faith” that has been honed by millions of years of socialization. The scientific view of the world held by scientific thinkers generally abandons the authoritarian religious world view.

    These two world views come together in this discussion in an interesting way that illustrates the complexity of our reality. People get information in random ways so it is inevitable that they come to different conclusions. There are two objective divisive concepts that seem quite different but have explanations that I think can be understood from the evolutionary perspective and these come together in this discussion. They are religion and 911. Both comprise belief systems held by the majority of people in the US and both are based upon accepting authority without rigorous questioning and submitting the status quo to rational analysis. Both of these topics elicit strong emotional reactions because of their ties to the individual’s world view. While most scientist’s are not religious they still have faith in a herpetologist who cautions them about contact with a venomous snake. While most religious people are authoritarian, they can still question the design of a consumer product that might be a danger to some children and develop a better product. The scientist could be foiled by a herpetologist who has malicious intent and lies. The authoritarian might unwittingly design a product containing a toxic material. This indicates a high degree of complexity when studying such situations.

    I will present two websites both containing information supporting a divisive issue. You should agree or disagree with the thrust of both websites if your thinking is consistent. If you disagree with one and agree with the other I would suggest you provide an explanation for the discrepancy. There are four obvious possibilities: agree with both; disagree with both; agree with the first and disagree with the second; disagree with the first and agree with the second. I think it would be instructive to use this as a point of discussion for both of these important issues. Here are the two sites:

    http://godisimaginary.com/

    http://www.ae911truth.org/

    Comments about interpreting and comparing and contrasting these two sites may provide diverse insight and help us all learn something by way of emergence.

  12. #12 Sandy Lennox
    December 30, 2009

    Imagine there’s no religion.
    The question is asked of an Atheist as if to imply that bad things would not happen if religion did not exist. (or If God did not exist)

    Atheistic regimes have more innocent blood on their hands than all the worlds religions combined. Besides, religion is the enemy of God, it was religion that framed the Lord Jesus Christ and handed him over to be crucified, and when they had the opportunity to have him released, they cried out with one voice, crucify him.

    I used to be a religious man, up until God saved me in 1970. Religion is a man made wall that not only separates him from the one true God, but from his fellow man also. So when God meets with a man, no matter what that mans religion is, God in saving him, will also demolish his religion, that is why ex religious men like I, can fellowship in peace with other ex religious men and women in church.

    God has been expelled in most western counties from their great institutions, and from their very thinking, but nature does not allow for a vacuum, in expelling God, the void has to been filled, and filled it has become, with Atheistic secular humanist. Now look at the mess our counties are in, anything goes, people make up their own morality, in fact every man does what is right in his own eyes.

    God help us.

  13. #13 Sandy Lennox
    December 30, 2009

    Imagine there’s no religion.
    The question is asked of an Atheist as if to imply that bad things would not happen if religion did not exist. (or If God did not exist)

    Atheistic regimes have more innocent blood on their hands than all the worlds religions combined. Besides, religion is the enemy of God, it was religion that framed the Lord Jesus Christ and handed him over to be crucified, and when they had the opportunity to have him released, they cried out with one voice, crucify him.

    I used to be a religious man, up until God saved me in 1970. Religion is a man made wall that not only separates him from the one true God, but from his fellow man also. So when God meets with a man, no matter what that mans religion is, God in saving him, will also demolish his religion, that is why ex religious men like I, can fellowship in peace with other ex religious men and women in church.

    God has been expelled in most western counties from their great institutions, and from their very thinking, but nature does not allow for a vacuum, in expelling God, the void has to been filled, and filled it has become, with Atheistic secular humanist. Now look at the mess our counties are in, anything goes, people make up their own morality, in fact every man does what is right in his own eyes.

    God help us.

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