Is humanity worth saving?

Intended for constructive conversations. Exhibits of polarizing tribalism will be deleted.
Felix
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Post by Felix »

I can take the 100 - 200 people I can say anything meaningful about and overgeneralize it to over 7 billion people, add a bit of prejudice and dry theories I learned about history and psychology and give you some sort of unfounded guess, I suppose.
Given the lack of foundation for any condemnation of mankind, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth »

There's an important distinction to be made.
Do I want to be saved? Hell yes.
Do I deserve to be saved? I'm not so sure. It's like asking a serial killer facing death row if he deserves to die or not, or if a CEO of a bankrupted company deserves a $50 million golden parachute. You'll pretty much get the same answer, because they're really saying what they want, and not what they deserve.


Surio
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Post by Surio »

@Jacob,

Too much time to spare? Is your submitted algorithm job for a trading strategy taking too long to finish? ;-)
> I find it interesting that in the eastern

> religions, sages, upon reaching enlightenment,

> mostly seem to retract into the mountains

> and become hermits. Maybe they're onto something ...
Yes, they were definitely onto something. I am glad you discovered it by yourself :-)
@Chad,

+1 for the most original and vainglorious (in a nice way?) answer.
@mikeBOS,

Never at a loss for words, are we? :-)
@secretwealth,

I liked your thoughts on this topic, the best of all.
I come from an "eastern religion" background so my usual response is to go and flip some hoary old texts. I found this:

Paritranaya sadhunam, vinashaya cha dushkritam |

Dharma sansthapanarthaya, sambhavami yuge yuge ||

(The Bhagavad Gita)
For the up-liftment of the good and virtuous,

For the destruction of evil |

For the re-establishment of the natural law,

I will return in every age ||

A secular interpretation of that verse, without violating the overall meaning is that "when there is an imbalance, the Universe will send out an appropriate mechanism to balance it".
According to vedas (watch Carl Sagan's "cosmos" for a discussion on their validity and authenticity), humanity is meant to go on for a long time (I am skipping the details). One of the things the vedic texts also elaborate is that the age of abundance is definitely not going to be there (I am skipping the details) -- moving forward. Overall, with the onset of peak oil, desertification, deforestation, la ninas and el ninos, AGW (climate change), resource depletion, and all other human generated excesses, I can see that the texts got our future trajectory right a looooooooooooooong time ago.


Maus
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Post by Maus »

In general, the question of saving humanity runs aground on Dunbar's number. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number
Some of those 19,000 followers on Twitter may "friend" you on Facebook, but they probably aren't willing to save you from drowning or share their home and food with you in a post-Katrina scenario.
For myself, I confess that I stopped listening regularly to BBC Radio because I developed compassion fatique over the relentless nightly story about the African tragedy du jour. As a former monk, the urge to head to the desert hermitage [Western tradition c. 4th century A.D.] is always a temptation. My personal Dunbar number is probably much lower than 150 people.


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar »

What do you value? Do you value human things or non-human things? If you value human things, then you should save humanity. If, instead, you value non-human things like forests, etc., and humans will not propagate forests (there's always the chance we will terraform other worlds) then don't save humanity.


Surio
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Post by Surio »

@dragoncar,

What you express is typical, linear, us-vs-them, Western thought. I use that term in the same way as it is used in the book "Geography of thought".
With such framing of the problem, I think Humanity is already lost.


Felix
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Post by Felix »

Following up on Surio, the notion of humanity as independent from the planet it has to live on is a dangerous hallucination. How do you save humanity without saving clear air and water, and the health of the plants and animals we need to eat for survival, the quality of topsoil that requires etc. We are but part of a larger system and cannot be meaningfully understood as something else. Hippie-shit? Yeah, sure, but still true. :-)
Some form of life will remain anyway. We, as a species, however, require certain boundary conditions.
http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2011/ ... 3fh24i.jpg


Surio
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Post by Surio »

^^ that.
And a George Carlin video on what Felix clearly pointed out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&v=eScDfYzMEEw


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar »

Guys, the non-linear thought is in your interpretation of my words. You have to think fourth dimensionally! If, as Felix says, humans are part of the world, and you value the world as a while, then it follows that you do value human things and should save humanity. If you only value the stars and the moon, then there is simply no reason to save humanity.
Or does your non-linear thought lead you to a conclusion that by contemplating the question you create two universes, one in which you save humanity, and one in which you don't? Or perhaps there is a wave superposition werein humanity is simultaneously saved and not saved, and by observing humanity you collapse the waveform? Or maybe humanity doesn't really exist and we are all dreams, which are the children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy, which is as thin of substance as the air, and more inconstant than the wind, who woos even now the frozen bosom of the north, and, being anger'd, puffs away from thence, turning his face to the dew-dropping south.
LOL, butts!


george
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Post by george »

I wonder at the love affair with eastern religon. I have visited a number of monastories.
I learnt
That a number own and visit strip clubs which contain underage girls from foreign countries who want to go home. in fact someone was offered one of the girls.
That people were paying large sums of money for us to have these experiences.
I asked so what happens if a father comes to your monastery because they can't feed their family, the answer was he can come and prey and we will give him a bowl of rice. I asked so what about the wife and children. No response.
I also saw people who were walking the streets trying to look as though they had home, but they obviously didn't. I also witnessed the lower respect for everyday women ad the diassociation of men from their children. The children and mothers who couldn't believe that these western men could actually play and have fun
Although I'm an atheist I am grateful to the christian faith for their charity and I try to follow their example.
Note: I'm not saying every country is like this, just saying a bit of balance is a good thing


Surio
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Post by Surio »

@george,

And I can recount to you a lot of personal stories of predatory Christian missionaries and missions that are highly exploitative in the manner you speak of, out here in India (and other countries of proselytising). In all this thread, there was no reference to all the recent Church scandals in Europe and the States (let alone Church excesses from the Middle ages). We were not discussing all that, were we? So why bring all this up suddenly?
We are simply discussing the scriptures and the philosophies they expound on their own.

I think Christianity also has equally very good philosophy. @Hoplite shared many months ago, some excellent philosophical Christian texts. @Maus also mentions that monastic traditions were part of Christianity too, but unfortunately renunciation is an exclusive thing within Christianity as opposed to the way Eastern religions approach it.
I am positing this, and I think this is probably valid for Christianity too. But, one point that stands in favour is that, most Eastern religions have retained their "continuity" in terms of philosophy -> practice -> applicability in everyday life despite all the turmoil, upheaval and change of pace of life (I am not talking about predatory places set up to fleece weak minded tourists. I am speaking of everyday practitioners of Eastern faith). For how much longer with the present state of affairs? We don't know.
Also charity and family is a huge thing in the East and the Eastern religions as much as the Christian faith, so I am really confused now as to where you want to go with all this.
Anyway, nobody was actually judging anything here, so, please don't get judgemental, confused, defensive or insecure -- and in the process derail or kill the thread.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth »

Warning: Derailed Thread Ahead
It doesn't take much digging to find Christian and Eastern religious figures behaving badly, and anyway such cases are an ad hominem attack on a belief system.
It's better to analyze which belief system has a more pragmatic, productive, beneficial belief system. In my opinion and personal experience, Buddhism is pretty bad on this, and Julia Sweeney gives a great anecdote in her "Giving up God" show. She talks about going to East Asia and meeting a monastery and talking to some monks. She saw a poor, disabled, starving little girl and said that they had to help her. One of the monks waved his hand, saying, "she must have done something bad in a previous life to deserve this."
Karma is a pretty good mechanism to console the powerless when they are attacked--"what goes around comes around"--but it's also a pretty bad mechanism to encourage sympathy, which is why in my experience Buddhist societies tend to be the least sympathetic.
As for the significance of charity in Buddhist societies, it seems to be a more mundane quid pro quo kind of thing--I will give to the temple and in return my business will grow. Of course, Christian charity is quid pro quo too--I'll give to the church and in return I'll get into Heaven--but since the reward is delayed for the next life, it is more easily rationalized as "doing good".
There is also the justifying bad behavior trend throughout Asia, where you have monks taking limos or devout Buddhists regularly going to prostitutes. These could easily be associated with the religion, but have more to do with the lower level of socio-economic development in predominately Buddhist societies. Rome was the hotspot of prostitution in the 1500's, thanks to the customer base of cardinals, bishops, priests, etc.
At the end of the day, human foibles are more consistent than anything else and one of the main reasons why I say humanity doesn't deserve saving, to refer to the point of this thread.


george
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Post by george »

@Surio

I agree re predatory Christians. As I say I'm an athiest
I also agree there will be many Eastern religons with a sense of charity etc, I just experienced the wrong version.
I bring it up because I think we're all making general comments based on experience such as the comment "What you express is typical, linear, us-vs-them, Western thought"
What i witnessed was not a case of individual monks behaving badly But I don't want to continue to offend, and I don't believe your religon is the one I'm speaking of..
The thread is is humanity worth saving? i guess part of the saving grace for humanity is those who look out for each other, for nature etc. Something i used to take for granted.
I enjoy your posts Surio and I'm sorry if I offended you.


Surio
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Post by Surio »

@george:

> experience such as the comment "What you express

> is typical, linear, us-vs-them, Western thought"
Please read my original sentence completely:

What you express is typical, linear, us-vs-them, Western thought. I use that term in the same way as it is used in the book "Geography of thought".

Here is the link, in case you don't still feel like searching for it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Geography_of_Thought
If you had read my sentence in full and searched for that book, we could have avoided all this unfortunate finger pointing that has come to. Now I see that secretwealth has posted a very bad misinterpretation of karma that needs correcting, but I neither have the time, nor can be bothered at this point anymore.


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar »

Reading a sentence in full and searching for terms within is far too linear for my taste. I prefer to recognize the fact that words can have many possible meanings, and interpret each word in the manner that best suits my mood at any particular time.


george
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Post by george »

Reading the link and the full sentence doesn't change my interpretation.
But of course I am western and incredibly linear


Felix
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Post by Felix »

Okay, now that the thread is officially derailed, let me take the opportunity to state that the question "is humanity worth saving" is a highly loaded question. It involves humanity, which, as I pointed out in one of my previous post, none of us can say anything meaningful about. Second, we have the question of worth, raising all the age-old questions of what we value, how we value and why, if there's value out there, if it's objective or subjective, good and evil, etc. - opening yet another Pandora's box.

Finally, saving. Saving from what? Starvation, advertising, Obamacare? The Illuminati? Peak Oil? Materialism? The end of growth? Too much growth? World War III? Capitalism? Socialism? Christianity? Atheism? Leaving away the specifier here lets everyone fill the empty space with whatever he has in mind. Besides, do we even need saving from (...)? And do we save our souls or just our asses? Can we even be saved?
And as a first word of the question "Is". The word demanding a definite, almost metaphysical answer of absolute certainty, always dangerous in moral contexts.
So here we are, in the Tower of Babel, talking past one another on an epic scale. In some sense, it's not surprising, as it can be seen as a natural result of asking such a loaded question in such a diverse forum.
The thing is that the answers to these questions say way more about us (including the predominant mode of thought we are in ;-) - that's probably a whole new thread all by itself) than they do about the question, which is - in the open way it is stated - pretty much meaningless.
TLDR: This may be an epic troll-thread. :-)


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth »

@Surio: The interpretation of karma I gave isn't really an interpretation at all. I'm trying to describe how practicing Buddhists have explained the idea of karma to me, and how they conduct their lives in light of the idea.
I'm not really concerned about the "right" interpretation of karma--I'm concerned about how belief systems as social constructs determine tendencies in society. I don't think Buddhism has been all that productive, although I'd say Hinduism and Confucianism have had worse repercussions.


Surio
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Post by Surio »

@secretwealth,
> I'm not really concerned about the "right" interpretation of karma--I'm concerned

> about how belief systems as social constructs determine tendencies in society
Unfortunately, interpretation taints the perception of the belief system and the tendencies of the societies also.

Let me try:
"Iha samsare bahu dukhare" -- from Bhaja Govindam.

Meaning:

"All life is misery and suffering. What we perceive as joyous within life, is really fleeting and ephemeral"
Both Buddhism and Hinduism use this point as a primary tenet of their teachings. So, effectively, the teachings prepare us to confront and live within the midst of death, disease and misery, so, the advice is to treat your present life at any given point as a gift.
Also, karma is a cautionary tale, and a *call for action*, it is not, I repeat, not to be interpreted as lack of action. Quick Explanation: Since you are told that karmic actions determines the consequences (in the upcoming births), it is only logical for a smart man, to ensure that every moment of your life is to be lived as a life of temperance, moderation and loving, compassionate service -- therefore, no karma, therefore no more births, hence moksha (eternal salvation)! However, a monk/sanyasi is a "renunciate" -- meant to lead a life of humilty (seeking alms), solitude and contemplation -- definitely not to rush into action and be superman, unless compassion overwhelms him and compels him to (The Shaolin monks in China and Swami Vivekananda come to mind). They are to be introverted in all their acts and their approach to the World, , not extroverted. A stand-up comic asking a monk to save the diseased displays an ignorance of many fundamental ideas of the underlying religion. It does make for great stand-up comedy though -- but not any form of enlightenment!
> I don't think Buddhism has been all that productive, although I'd say Hinduism

> and Confucianism have had worse repercussions.

Very sorry. I just don't agree at all. But you are allowed your opinion.
As a sidenote: From the commercisalisation thread (@Felix):

My understanding of marketing has boiled down to this: Marketing is selling unhappiness, basically trying to make people unhappy in the state they currently are. Their goal is to induce the maximum unhappiness in the people they target, maximizing misery/dollar spent. The more misery you spread, the better a marketer you are.

ETA: The above point also flows into the argument of calling other ways of life to question.
Until the age of (European) empires came about, all of Asia ran life as per their own schedules, as per their own ways and customs. Anyway, what has happened is that there has been a lot of negative interpretations of existing ways of life, from the viewpoint of outsiders who don't understand any of these in the first place. Small example: the ant and grasshopper story might be good parable for a temperate zone, but for a tropical country with all round planting and growing season, it is a useless parable. But, what happened was, any native that was living in the present moment was termed "like a grasshopper, not an ant". These POVs are still being used for learning and teaching.
In one word, there has been wholesale meddling with other cultures, other ways of life and other civilisations in the misguided times of ,the age of empires ("Manifest Destiny").

And to top it all, while the European powers were meddling with Asia, they were also shipping their own to "penal colonies" all over the World. ...................,
Just forget about it. This is not going anywhere. I am done.
ETA: Enjoy this book:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1491:_New_ ... e_Columbus


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar »

"Also, karma is a cautionary tale, and a *call for action*, it is not, I repeat, not to be interpreted as lack of action."
I read about an interesting book recently, that presented the idea that "there is no necessary incompatibility between the belief that A is the case and the belief that not-A is the case. On the contrary, in the spirit of the Tao or yin-yang principle, A can actually imply that not-A is also the case"
Check it out sometime: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Geography_of_Thought
P.S. All in good fun - remember the highest compliment an INTJ can give is to give enough credence to an idea to pick it apart.


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