« prev   random   next »

4
1

We Need Both Revelation and Reason

By cmdrda2leak follow cmdrda2leak   2019 Apr 8, 7:48am 1,095 views   28 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    



Western civilization. It's been around for a while, but suddenly everybody is talking about it. Some are anxious to save it; others are happy to see it go.

But what exactly is Western civilization?

Is it the great cathedrals of Europe or the Nazi concentration camps? Is it the freedoms secured in the US Constitution or chattel slavery? Life-saving medicines or poison gas?

The left likes to focus on the bad – genocide, slavery, environmental destruction. But those have been present in every civilization from time immemorial.

The positives are unique to the West – religious tolerance, abolition of slavery, universal human rights, the development of the scientific method: these are accomplishments of a scope and scale that only the West can claim.

These aren't the only achievements that make the West special and uniquely successful. As Western thought evolved, it secured the rights of women and minorities, lifted billions of people out of poverty, and invented most of the modern world.

Progress hasn't been a straight line, of course. But the arc of history is clear. The obvious proof is that the world is overwhelmingly Western. And, with few exceptions, those parts of the world that aren't aspire to be.

Why? Why has Western civilization been so successful?

There are many reasons, but the best place to start is with the teachings and philosophies that emerged from two ancient cities: Jerusalem and Athens.

Jerusalem represents religious revelation as manifested in the Judeo-Christian tradition: the beliefs that a good God created an ordered universe and that this God demands moral behavior from His paramount creation, man.

The other city, Athens, represents reason and logic as expressed by the great Greek thinkers Plato and Aristotle and many others.

These two ways of thinking – revelation and reason – live in constant tension.

Judeo-Christian religion posits that there are certain fundamental truths handed down to us by a transcendent being. We didn't invent these truths; we received them from God. The rules He lays down for us are vital for building a functioning, moral civilization and for leading a happy life.

Greek thinking posits that we only know truth by what we observe, test, and measure. It is not faith, but fact, that drives our understanding and exploration of the universe.

Western civilization, and only Western civilization, has found a way to balance both religious belief and human reason.

Here's how the balance works.

The Judeo-Christian tradition teaches that God created an ordered universe, and that we have an obligation to try to make the world better. This offers us purpose and suggests that history moves forward. Most pagan religions taught the opposite: that the universe is illogical and random, and that history is cyclical. History just endlessly repeats itself – in which case, why bother to innovate or create anything new?

Second, Judeo-Christian tradition teaches that every human is created in the image of God; that is, each individual's life is infinitely valuable. This seems self-evident to us now, but only because we have lived with this belief for so long. The far more natural belief is that the strong should subjugate the weak – which is precisely what people did in nearly every society in all of history. Only by recognizing the divine in others did we ever move beyond this amoral thinking toward the concern for human rights, democracy and free enterprise that characterize the West.

But Judeo-Christian religion alone didn't build our modern civilization. We also required Greek reason to teach us objective observation: that man has the capacity to search beyond revelation for answers.

Greek reason brought us the notion of the natural law, the idea that we could discover the natural purpose – the telos – of everything in creation by looking to its character. Human beings were created with the unique capacity to reason; therefore, our telos was to reason. By investing reason with so much power, Greek thought became integral to the Western mission.

Nowhere is this more perfectly expressed than in the American Revolution, in which the Founding Fathers took the best of the European Enlightenment with its roots in Greek thought and the best of Judeo-Christian practice with its roots in the Bible and melded them into a whole new political philosophy.

Without Judeo-Christian values, we fall into scientific materialism – the belief that physical matter is the only reality, and therefore also fall into nihilism – the belief that life has no meaning, that we're merely stellar dust in a cold universe.

Without Greek reason, we fall into fanaticism – the belief that fundamentalist adherence to unprovable principles represents the only path toward meaning.

The Soviet Union, Communist China and other socialist tyrannies rejected faith and murdered 100 million people in the 20th century.

Much of the modern Muslim world has embraced faith but rejected reason. It's noteworthy that when the Muslim world did embrace Greek reason, from the 8th to the 14th centuries, it was a leading center for scientific advancement.

So, again, we need both – Jerusalem and Athens. Revelation and reason.

[...]


1   Shaman   ignore (2)   2019 Apr 8, 7:53am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Nice.
And correct.
Rejection of either pillar of our civilization results in an unbalanced structure that cannot stand.
This has been demonstrated many many times in the last century, but we still have a lot of slow learners.
@kakistocracy you should check this out!
2   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:17am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

All fine and good however China has been around for thousands of years now hasn't it ? Same for Japan, India etc.

China has survived wars, invasions, political upheaval over and over yet remains, same for the other countries in Asia, SE Asia.

Hindus, Buddhists, Shintos all miraculously thrived and prospered, brought the world gun powder, most likely pasta etc. without ever hearing of Jesus.

We do have an abundance of hubris in this country and I doubt the lifespan of the U.S. will be able to compete with anything from the east even with our superior religion.

Greed and corruption from within will take us down and someone else will take us over as a subsidiary
3   cmdrda2leak   ignore (0)   2019 Apr 8, 8:23am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Kakistocracy says
All fine and good however China has been around for thousands of years now hasn't it ? Same for Japan, India etc.

China has survived wars, invasions, political upheaval over and over yet remains.

We do have an abundance of hubris in this country and I doubt we will see anything close to the lifespan of anything from the east


Is this why, the moment a Chinese person/family amasses a sizeable enough fortune, they immediately decamp to a comfortable Western country? At one time, it was Hong Kong when it was under Western conservatorship, but today those Chinese wealthy enough to flee take their families to places like Vancouver, London, New York, San Francisco,...? Is it because, in fact, China is a miserable place to live for free human beings?
4   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:24am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

cmdrdataleak says
Is this why, the moment a Chinese person/family amasses a sizeable enough fortune, they immediately decamp to a comfortable Western country?


Neither here nor there - there will be a China long after this country is a memory, they have endured and survived much worse than the wealthy families bailing it to the west.

The U.S. has been around a few hundred years now, already past peak empire and looking at a downward spiral. Our star has passed its' zenith and is on the wane, the east however is staged for another comeback, without without the U.S.

Contrary to popular belief not everyone want to come to the U.S. - some people have more sense
5   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:27am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

cmdrdataleak says
Is it because, in fact, China is a miserable place to live for free human beings?


Still neither here nor there - the U.S. isn't all that great either if you are working poor who has to choose between getting medical attention or food
6   Shaman   ignore (2)   2019 Apr 8, 8:28am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Also, China has contributed fairly little to western civilization. It’s best known for stealing/appropriating ideas from western civilization and taking them to the nth degree.
Much as it did with Marxism.

China had its own civilization, sure, but it didn’t have much of an effect on the rest of the world, aside from being a place to get silk and spices.
7   cmdrda2leak   ignore (0)   2019 Apr 8, 8:28am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Kakistocracy says
cmdrdataleak says
Is this why, the moment a Chinese person/family amasses a sizeable enough fortune, they immediately decamp to a comfortable Western country?


Neither here nor there - there will be a China long after this country is a memory, they have endured and survived much worse than the wealthy families bailing it to the west.


Nobody's saying it won't be there.

The question is: will it be worth living in?

When standard of living ceases to be part of a civilization's calculus for planning the future, human suffering is rarely far behind.
8   cmdrda2leak   ignore (0)   2019 Apr 8, 8:30am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Quigley says
Also, China has contributed fairly little to western civilization. It’s best known for stealing/appropriating ideas from western civilization and taking them to the nth degree.
Much as it did with Marxism.

China had its own civilization, sure, but it didn’t have much of an effect on the rest of the world, aside from being a place to get silk and spices.


... and paper and gunpowder. and some other advances.

But compared to the West, the scientific advances are meager in proportion to population, and continue to be.
9   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:31am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Quigley says
China had its own civilization, sure, but it didn’t have much of an effect on the rest of the world, aside from being a place to get silk and spices.


That gunpowder thing just might have been "the" big game changer along with the pasta
10   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:32am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

cmdrdataleak says
Nobody's saying it won't be there.

The question is: will it be worth living in?


Always has been, will this place be worth living in say 200 years or less from now ?
11   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:34am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

cmdrdataleak says
When standard of living ceases to be part of a civilization's calculus for planning the future, human suffering is rarely far behind.


Can someone pass that on to the administration and everyone on here who is constantly screaming about the waste of money on social programs that address the needs of the economically disadvantaged.

Kind of think we are nearing the point of no return, if we keep up much longer cutting environmental, social programs and the like to keep the war machine funded more than it needs to be funded
12   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:37am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Quigley says
It’s best known for stealing/appropriating ideas from western civilization and taking them to the nth degree.


Did the west "borrow" or steal gun powder ?

Everyone wants to focus short term - think long term, the Chinese do that is why we wont get a swell trade deal or much else out of them.

They are playing a different game then we are and we do not know how to adapt.
13   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:40am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

cmdrdataleak says
But compared to the West, the scientific advances are meager in proportion to population, and continue to be.


Closing the gap really really fast - we can not even compete with their 5G technology

Not so sure what the scientific advances in proportion to the population matters as long as the advance better the overall population.

In some areas only one or two really big things are needed to propel things in a new direction.
14   cmdrda2leak   ignore (0)   2019 Apr 8, 8:42am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Kakistocracy says
cmdrdataleak says
When standard of living ceases to be part of a civilization's calculus for planning the future, human suffering is rarely far behind.


Can someone pass that on to the administration and everyone on here who is constantly screaming about the waste of money on social programs that address the needs of the economically disadvantaged.

Kind of think we are nearing the point of no return, if we keep up much longer cutting environmental, social programs and the like to keep the war machine funded more than it needs to be funded


This particular thread isn't about Trump. I think you want the next door down the hall. Or the next one... or the next... or...
15   Onvacation   ignore (6)   2019 Apr 8, 8:42am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Kakistocracy says
the U.S. isn't all that great either if you are working poor who has to choose between getting medical attention or food

In China the working poor are locked in at night. In China they are amazed that "poor" people are so fat in America. In China you would not be able to say Kakistocracy says
Our star has passed its' zenith and is on the wane,
16   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:47am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

cmdrdataleak - wasn't trying to make it a Trump thread, that is the specialty of the base.

People who are continually screaming about the waste of money on social programs etc. that address the needs of the economically disadvantaged etc. need to realize that is exactly part of what is needed to maintain that standard of living, that it is ceases to be part of a civilization's calculus for planning the future, human suffering is rarely far behind.

We are getting a handle on the human suffering now and have been for quite some time - several decades now, a few more and we will have it perfected
17   Shaman   ignore (2)   2019 Apr 8, 8:49am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Kakistocracy says
Did the west "borrow" or steal gun powder ?


And that one major contribution to world science was a total accidental discovery found by Chinese Taoists, a religious group, searching for immortality.

So ya, stealing one idea centuries after its discovery is totally the same as stealing hundreds of millions of ideas and technologies from the west. Same same!!
18   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:52am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

cmdrdataleak says
The Soviet Union, Communist China and other socialist tyrannies rejected faith and murdered 100 million people in the 20th century.


The United States has been doing the same world wide for several hundred years now, usually invoking the name of God
19   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:52am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Quigley says

And that one major contribution to world science was a total accidental discovery found by Chinese Taoists, a religious group, searching for immortality.


But is was "the" game changer never the less
20   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 8:56am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Quigley says
stealing hundreds of millions of ideas and technologies from the west


Keep telling you they are playing a different game then we are - funny on one wants to talk about how much intellectual theft takes place between companies in the U.S. but blame China for all of our problems.
21   anonymous   ignore (null)   2019 Apr 8, 9:01am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

cmdrdataleak says
The left likes to focus on the bad – genocide, slavery, environmental destruction. But those have been present in every civilization from time immemorial.


cmdrdataleak - this one line makes it fair game for politics...one more right good, left bad thread.
22   cmdrda2leak   ignore (0)   2019 Apr 8, 9:07am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Kakistocracy says
cmdrdataleak says
The left likes to focus on the bad – genocide, slavery, environmental destruction. But those have been present in every civilization from time immemorial.


cmdrdataleak - this one line makes it fair game for politics...one more right good, left bad thread.


I'd agree with you there that this particular sentence is unnecessary and dilutes his overall message.
23   cmdrda2leak   ignore (0)   2019 Apr 8, 9:10am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Kakistocracy says
We are getting a handle on the human suffering now and have been for quite some time - several decades now, a few more and we will have it perfected


I share your optimism in this regard. Though I also think it will only be a success if we (individually) are vigilant, and also proudly carry the torch of the Enlightenment to cast light where there is darkness.
24   Heraclitusstudent   ignore (2)   2019 Apr 8, 12:54pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

The notion of revelation is probably the most toxic belief invented by mindkind.
We adopted moral because it made sense.
Religious people are very quick to take the credit for our civilization despite the evidence that they slowed it down all along.
25   NoCoupForYou   ignore (2)   2019 Apr 8, 1:05pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Quigley says

And that one major contribution to world science was a total accidental discovery found by Chinese Taoists, a religious group, searching for immortality.

So ya, stealing one idea centuries after its discovery is totally the same as stealing hundreds of millions of ideas and technologies from the west. Same same!!


The Chinese discovered gunpowder while looking for fireworks.

Their military use of gunpowder largely consisted of making rockets and bang-bangs to scare Mongolian Horses.

The development and employment of the Arquebus and Cannon were entirely European.

The Turks hired Italian cannon makers, they did not send to China for them.
26   Patrick   ignore (1)   2019 Apr 8, 8:41pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

China and the Chinese mentality were created by several millennia of strong centralized government, a meritocracy based on standardized testing for government jobs, and ruthless executions of all violent criminals and non-conformists.

I seriously think that that culture has affected the present day genetics of the Chinese. They are less violent than Europeans in their interpersonal relations, but also much more conformist.
27   cmdrda2leak   ignore (0)   2019 Apr 8, 8:56pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

Patrick says
China and the Chinese mentality were created by several millennia of strong centralized government, a meritocracy based on standardized testing for government jobs, and ruthless executions of all violent criminals and non-conformists.

I seriously think that that culture has affected the present day genetics of the Chinese. They are less violent than Europeans in their interpersonal relations, but also much more conformist.


Meritocracy: no. most are rewarded in proportion to family connections and loyalty to the Party. even top performers are merely the top of those juiced in.
Genetics: Mao incited the youth to turn on the populace approx. 1966, this is fewer than 2 full generations until now, not enough to impact genetics. (But plenty enough time to brainwash the youth, who are now 60+ years old.)
Less violent: I would make the argument that turning on your family elders and sending them to labor camps or worse, then playing along with the new regime like it is progress is a special kind of violence deserving of a special place in hell, so to speak.
Conformist: Too fucking right. Watch out for these people in your (modern) life. They're all around us. They're our comptrollers, they're our purple-haired colleagues, they're our future AI/ML programmers, casting out ethics board members and reporting them to the politburo for wrongspeak. (ahem, Google, ach, spit, ptooey.)
28   Patrick   ignore (1)   2019 Apr 8, 9:04pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag      

True, family connections have always been important in China, but the Imperial system of exams was actually a realistic way for ambitious and talented poor men to rise in society. And it went on like that for 2,000 years or so, so I could totally see that having an impact on reproduction, and therefore genetics of the present population.

I'm quite certain from all the stats I've seen that the Chinese consistently commit a much lower number of violent crimes per person than Europeans. And it may well be from the centuries of executions of anyone who demonstrated violent behavior. Not that this makes them any better politically.

about   best comments   contact   one year ago   suggestions