Tuesday, April 16, 2013

North Korea, Life Without God

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offers many faces, many threats - The Washington Post:

When Nietzsche exclaimed that "God is dead", it was a cry of despair. Without a believable ultimate moral power that included the potential of eternal joy or punishment, man was "free" in this life.

Nietzsche thought that science had "killed god", because it had "proven" that creation had no use for him -- it all happened randomly with no divine "watchmaker", running in "simple", understandable by humans and repeatable laws. Or at least the last few hundred or thousand years had.

I'm not going to go into the fairly obvious problem with inductive reasoning, other than to mention the Thanksgiving Turkey Problem -- confirmation bias of repeatability rises to a plateau and then there is an "oops", often quite painful or terminal to the inductive reasoner.

I'm completely happy with God creating the universe any way he desires. I tend to allow the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent the freedom to act in the manner they see fit, I feel it is the least I can do! From what I can see, it certainly DOES have "the appearance of age", although God capabilities allow creation to proceed in a number of ways that would be beyond even our imagination. I have no problem with "going with what we see", so it LOOKS like things have taken a very long time.  (I'm also fine with going with 100% fundamentalist, it's 6k years old.

Let's assume that I'm wrong. My faith is foolish, there is no God, all is random. In that case, it would seem that the "very long time" forces that have acted on our selves, morality, society, etc would be even MORE important -- since there is no potential for intervention by an eternal god, being very conservative with cultural, social and even religious (major part of "culture") rules, practices, heuristics, etc would be vital. Screw it up and everyone -- or at least 100's of millions are likely to die (as they did in the "moving toward godless" 20th century).

This is the point at which I wonder if I must be especially evil. Take God and the potential for eternal joy or punishment away, and I'm not very sure of what **MY** actions might be. WORSE, I'm not very sanguine about the potential for action by other godless people -- Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc come to mind right away.

So why is it that Kim Jong Un ought NOT nuke Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, or whatever it is that he thinks would make him the most eternally remembered???Let's face it, barring something of that nature, we are not going to remember any of the "Kim Jong's" at all.  While Hitler is going to be hard to beat, even a relative fizzle nuke ought to get him remembered over Osama, Oswald and guys like that in the historical pantheon.

Doing something GOOD to be immortal is a hell of a bar --- Einstein, Gandhi, Newton, Lincoln, DaVinci ... I'm not going to go look up top ten good and bad recognized names world wide, or maybe recognized after having been dead 100 years ... a criteria that a number of mine don't even make. Without any hope of real eternal life, the only sort of "immortal" available is in future generations, and I'd argue they have more of a bias for remembering the BAD then the good. (Quick, which character do you remember from Star Wars?).

Let's face it, "Un" has ZERO chance of making that list for good, but kill 5-10 million people?  Pretty much a shoo in, and if there is no God, then what is it that makes us all calm that there won't be more people that think that way? True, "all gods are not equal" --- Allah is apparently OK with exterminating infidels to bring about "peace" (rubble tends to be very "peaceful"). But to be truly certain there is no "eternal collateral damage", it is hard to beat no god at all passing judgement before you fry a few million of your fellow man.

"Choosing poorly" on an eternal question isn't the kind of mistake the less than fully faithful in the "big nada" after death are likely to feel good about. We humans have a tendency to practice what we actually believe in order to help assure ourselves we really believe it. For the believer in God, the religions all provide regular actions -- prayer, worship, study of sacred works, sacrifice, communion, acts of contrition, love, etc.

What about the atheist? Well, after you are done abusing Christians (usually they don't particularly worry about abusing other faiths), maybe posting lots of nasty things on the web, what are the godless to do? They are "completely free", but just how do you really really let people know that you are so very and completely not held hostage by any "old tired many thousands of years old religious moral kinds of thinking"?

Perhaps that is the reason that atheists are less trusted than believers. It is completely up to them -- especially since becoming an atheist usually already means some level of leaving family and other "roots" behind. You have netted yourself a lot of "freedom", but it could be that a lot of humanity isn't all that trusting that the "soul-less free" are all that likely to be "good" ... and certainly completely unconfident that "soul-less good" is likely to have much overlap with the few thousand year old versions of good.

An environmentalist looks at anything that man does -- carbon, fracking, habitat changes, diet, etc and says "we have to be really really careful because the earth is very fragile". This is an earth that they believe has had completely random life continuously for over 3 billion years.

In contrast, human culture has been recorded for less than 10K (with exception of a few cave paintings that look to be 30K years old). The Roman Empire that lasted for 500 years 1500 years ago is still the champion for longevity. Right now, the US has a decent claim to being the longest continuous Democratic Republic on the planet. One can have long discussions on this ... Greece, first but not continuous, New Zealand if you aren't really democratic unless you have "universal suffrage". So I assume that "Undocumented Democrats" (formerly "Illegal Aliens") might have to be allowed to vote before maybe the US even COUNTS as "democratic"?? ... and on it goes.

The POINT is that the systems of government that we now consider to be the most "advanced" are not all that old -- and all of them are in MAJOR trouble for having promised more in benefits than they can provide. One of the reasons that democracies have historically failed, so our founders tried very hard to avoid the government having enough power to bankrupt itself. Nice try!!

So man is GOING to have something that is effectively a  "religion" -- "a practice", a "highest good".   Communism is one of the atheist attempts, and China is the current likely replacement to the old "advanced" world leadership. Can a democratic republic survive without a transcendent religion, or will be the result be what the founders of the US and guys like Toqueville thought?? That the representative democracy could not exist without the majority of the people being practicing Christians.

Or worse -- will some Kim Jong "whatever", like figure be the "final immortal" for mankind by mass killing, maybe via germ warfare or eventually nano-tech? One might have thought that the "experiment" with god being dead in the 20th century and man being "free" to slaughter 100's of millions on the alter of the state would have been enough to give more people pause, but apparently not.

I've never been clear on God intervention. I have a strong thought that the Jewish people will survive, although they always have been, and will remain the leading targets for extermination by others. They have a direct promise for their survival from God.

The gift of free will is a very dangerous gift. We currently seem especially bent on testing the limits of mankind hanging around, at least with any actual freedom, except maybe "freedom from god".

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