Furthermore, the rational and predictable properties of all that exists in order to communicate an argument are presumed to be objective, since any communication between human beings requires an acceptance of the objective properties of matter. It also is not the summit of psychological insight to understand that I have a need to create an alternate universe wherein I am faithful to my wife because I am fairly sure that I will be unfaithful to her again in the future, and am preparing the way for another transgression. If we want to lose weight, and go to a bookstore, and see 50 diet books on the shelf, how likely are we to choose the diet book written by a fat author? If someone argues that existence is equal to nonexistence, challenge them to walk through a wall rather than an archway.[3]. Clearly, this is why agnostics do their n-dimensional somersaults – to avoid the anger, offense and potential retaliation from the religious. . A conscience is nothing terribly complex; it is simply the extrapolation of our stated principles into universals, followed by the comparison of our actions to these universals. That which is self-contradictory cannot exist. Why on earth would I need to create an alternate universe in which North Korean children were not starving? This phase contains a variety of insurmountable tensions, which inevitably fragment the new monotheism into an even more bizarre version of the older polytheism, such as the Holy Trinity and the thousands of saints. Cloud’s End Cliff’s base is known as the Grim Reaper’s Cemetery. First of all, I do not consider the position itself to be cowardly, but rather if superior and irrefutable strong atheist arguments are consistently rejected in favour of the mental fog of agnosticism, I consider that cowardly and enormously destructive. Despite our staggering advances in technology, medicine, physics, biology, engineering – and almost any other field you would care to name – our progress in moral philosophy has not changed since the days – and death – of Socrates. First of all, agnosticism is always and forever specific only to the existence of deities. Would this not be a rather bewildering statement for me to make? We do not have to hunt the entire universe to know that a square circle cannot exist, because it is a self-contradictory concept. Text as well must have the presence and absence of somewhat contrasting colours, otherwise only one colour is seen, which is not an argument. To any modern, rational thinker, this is an entirely unsatisfactory definition – which is exactly what you expect from a word originally defined by theists. If I say that supernatural beings such as leprechauns do not exist, why would anyone imagine that I only disbelieved in a single leprechaun named “Bob”? An Essay On: Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein by Christoph Champ, 25-May-1999; EC201 . You cannot compare anything to an unknown “X” – particularly something with known properties. Jeb must have the interest and power to interfere in the universe. Consciousness is an effect of matter, and thus to postulate the existence of consciousness without matter is to create an insurmountable paradox, which only proves the nonexistence of what is being proposed. We do not see agnostics attempting to rehabilitate the phrase “human sacrifice” by referring to it as a synonym for benevolence, because the strangeness, irrationality and quite frankly psychological problems that would be revealed by such a goal would be far too obvious. It is the same principle that he is applying to the atheist, and so he cannot reasonably complain when it boomerangs back and knocks over the foolish house of cards he is pretending to build. In the same way, we may meet among the stars fantastically advanced beings – however they will not be gods, but rather just highly evolved life forms. The closest current analogy to the anarchy of self is the voluntarism of free-market, without government, where wealth and authority may ebb and flow, but all is negotiation and peaceful interaction. Every morning, they must get on their knees and plead for Bob's good opinion, otherwise he might butcher all of them by drowning them in toilets, as he did once before when he was offended…. One of the reasons that medieval economics remained so primitive and unproductive was the Guild system, which required many years of poorly paid labour to learn even the most simple and menial of tasks. 12 Against the Gods: The Story of Adventure by William Bolitho As I wrote for Thought Catalog earlier this month, I picked up this book sight unseen after I saw Elon Musk recommend it. But power is morally neutral at best, and while it may elicit awe or deference, it cannot be morally worshiped in and of itself. If an agnostic can honestly admit that he is afraid of confronting religious people, then he does not need to continue slithering through the foggy gymnastics of alternate universes and the certain knowledge of the uncertainty of knowledge. Jeb must only listen to prayers from the members of a particular sect. In many video games, there is a secret “god mode,” which allows players to stroll through the game without taking any damage from enemies, usually with infinite ammunition and pixel-shredding weapons. My rule is: If I want a book, I buy it--cost be ! This may be overt, or more subtle, through exasperated sighs, rolling one's eyes, and rolling out the tired old bromide that the child will understand when he gets older. December 15, 2009 | History. Description - Against the Gods by Peter L. Bernstein A Business Week, New York Times Business, and USA Today Bestseller "Ambitious and readable . In the same way, when agnostics affirm that no statement can be proven or disproven, are they creating a magical exception for that statement? If certainty is impossible in this universe, then surely we should start by opposing violently enforced certainties – such as physical self-defense – rather than merely strongly worded opinions, such as the fact that gods do not exist. These are all paradoxes that every reasonably intelligent person has mulled over at one time or another, but they have remained essentially unchanged for thousands of years, and I would argue that this is largely due to religion. In this sense, risk is a choice rather than a fate. Ah, but what about the future? In other words, the violent enforcement of certain perspectives is perfectly acceptable to the agnostic, but mere arguments for other perspectives must be aggressively and endlessly opposed. Would such a book not more properly belong in the comedy section? By saying that every conceivable human perspective could be valid in some alternate universe, agnostics raise rank subjectivism to the status of scientific objectivity, and madness to rational skepticism. The religious also believe that gods watch and judge us, and this seems entirely in accordance with the subconscious reality of a conscience. A man who claims an imaginary illness – even to himself – is a liar, who is obviously uncomfortable with his own choices, and chooses to bewilder and confuse others rather than be honest at least with himself. If you walk up to a man and tell him that his parents lied to him about everything that is true and good and right in the world, and sold his hide to thieving priests because they were afraid to stand up for truth and virtue, naturally he will be very, very upset. Jeb must listen to prayers, rather than just read minds. An extremely readable history of risk. You are now reading Against the Gods 1 online. It may be too much to ask for true originality in solving these problems, but we should at the very least ask for an avoidance of the false answers that have so repetitively failed for the past 2,500 years. Every morning, Bob reminds his bewildered and mentally challenged wards that the air is full of invisible demons who will attack their brains, eyes, teeth and tongues if they ever disobey one of Bob’s Commandments. It is a combination of action, comedy, fantasy, adventure, martial arts, romance, and other genres, so there is something interesting for many readers. I have an arm which I can call my arm in a sense, but it is not really my arm, because it existed before I experienced an “I.” My arm preceded me, since it developed in the womb – and my ego had no part in its planning or creation, but rather my ego grew out of my body, many years later. It would be epistemological madness to argue that an open door is synonymous with a closed door. Imagine that a home for such individuals existed, run by a man named Bob. “Against the Gods” is the prime example of a series that is steeped in emotion, playing to the common denominators to keep the reader interested. . However, since gods do not exist, and so cannot intervene, religions have the rather challenging task of explaining why their “moral” God does not help those in need. Against The Gods? I have no particular issue with people who do not want to step into the boxing ring of philosophy – not everyone is suited for these kinds of conflicts, and certainly battling superstition is not a strict moral requirement. Furthermore, since the individual subatomic particles examined by quantum physics can never have any effect on objects perceivable by our senses, this invalidates all historical – i.e. If we say that no human statement of truth can ever be proven or disproven, what are we to make of that statement itself? Compare the above definition to this one: “Atheism: The acceptance of the non-existence of imaginary entities such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Bronze Age sky ghosts.”. There is no possibility that self-contradictory entities can exist anywhere in the universe. If I want to sell a dessert, I do not describe it as an appetiser, a mountain or a virus. I feel queasy at the sight of blood; I’d make a terrible surgeon – but I know and accept this fact, so I don’t need to recast my queasiness as other-dimensional courage. Twitter. It is scarcely a novel insight to point out that our minds are divided between our conscious ego and our subconscious. Facebook. Our conscious memories are specific to our own lives, as are our more conscious choices and plans. Since agnosticism is fundamentally an epistemological position, it cannot be confined to the existence of gods, but rather must be fundamental to all forms of human knowledge. Hunted for possessing a heaven-defying object, Yun Che is a young man in both that life and the next. When we think of religion, we think of a puny consciousness – that of man – embedded in an eternal, infinite and seemingly omniscient consciousness which never shows itself directly, but which takes an enormous interest in us, and evaluates our choices and preferences, and rewards us and punishes us, and responds in maddeningly oblique ways to our direct and painful supplications. When you are inventing a new idea, using the word that describes its exact opposite is a very bad idea. We can all imagine how offensive it would be for a man to argue that we cannot call rape immoral, or attempt to prevent and punish it, because it might be virtuous in some other dimension – such a man would be obviously attempting to deal with his own psychological problems by creating some nonsensical and fogging philosophical junkyard of confusion. Man is considered to be a creation of God, and God is a deep and eternal consciousness that has existed forever – is this not an exact description of the relationship between the conscious ego and the subconscious? The first virtue is always honesty, and the first honesty is always with the self. No, agnostics never ever advocate these or a hundred million other absurd, offensive and insane positions. Jeb must also not reward those who do not give money to his priests – and ideally, punish said folks. It is infinitely more accurate and healthy to say that what is required is a stateless state of mind, or the anarchy of the self, where all is negotiation, and no final arbiter can enforce decisions. A sick animal might break into a pharmacy and eat the pills that coincidently happened to treat its illness, but we would not call such an animal a pharmacist or a doctor. “God” refers to not only a pre-scientific period, but an anti-scientific and anti-rationalist stage of our development, if development is even the right word. Read 35 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. There is so much that is wrong with this position that it is hard to know even where to start, so let's start with something quite simple, and then work up to the more complex objections. Believing that consciousness can exist in the absence of matter is like believing that gravity can be present in the absence of mass, or that light can exist in the absence of a light source, or that electricity can exist in the absence of energy. Two main errors are generally made when examining the existence of gods. What if a god is invented which does not possess self-contradictory characteristics? There is no such thing as being “against the existence of gods,” any more than there is such a thing as being “anti-leprechaun.” In fact, to say that you are against one leprechaun in particular is to imply that you believe in leprechauns overall, but find one of them in particular somehow offensive. If one man tells you to murder, you get a jail cell – if another man tells you to murder, you get medals and a pension. Some theists – and even agnostics – use the same “Dimension X” argument examined above, but place the alternate universe in a time before our own, rather than parallel to it in some manner. Either philosophers are religious (or afraid of the religious), in which case they tend to avoid attacking fundamental moral problems, for fear of arousing attack – or philosophers are statists (or afraid of the government), in which case they tend to avoid attacking fundamental moral problems, for fear of arousing attack. It is not for everyone, it is not necessary, and one can live a virtuous and happy life without taking on this kind of combat. The science of medicine has attempted to escape the primitive foolishness of witch doctors and the superstitions of demonic possession – to say that true medicine leads us towards such primitive fantasies, rather than helping us escape them, entirely misunderstands the purpose of science, reason and medicine. 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