Monthly Archives: April 2015

The most dangerous idea in history

Ideas have consequences. It’s a concept that not everyone understands. But little things, ideas you just take for granted without a second thought are often the kind of things that can make or break lives, nations, whole civilizations. Get a math historian to explain to you the importance of zero, or the significance of treating an unknown as a variable instead of a constant (it’s called Algebra) and you’ll see the difference between the Ancient world and the modern. Is this world something solid and independent of our minds or an illusion and outgrowth of our minds, probably something you seldom think about and most people probably couldn’t care about, and you’ll see the difference between Western and Eastern history.  While best known as a throwaway line in a less than spectacular movie the difference between “the United States are” and “the United States is” marks one of the most important turning points in American culture.   Little ideas, things that probably don’t occupy the most minuscule moment of the average person’s thoughts can change everything.  Or look at how a line in the Bhagavad Gita saying that every life has a purpose and everyone should strive to fulfill that purpose because of a misunderstanding of its true purpose is turned into the justification of the abhorrent caste system. Little things, like the use of the Greek word for reason to describe God are the things that allow a society to survive.

Why do I bring this up?  Because while some small ideas may vastly improve our lives and other small ideas may radically change them (maybe not for good or bad), some ideas are very, very dangerous because without exception–no matter the time, or place, or circumstances–they always lead to murder, tyranny, suffering, decay, and destruction.

And if you start from this premise that ideas do have this kind of power, what is the most important idea, the one that can mean the survival or death to a civilization?

Well you could look at politics, but politics is a two part situation: one is the people involved–and we have to ignore people because we can’t forget that while ideas have power to shape people and their actions, people are more than just the sum of the ideas of their culture.  There are people who live in cultures with abhorrent ideas who can rise above them, and people who could live in a society that embraced every truth in existence and still fail to live up to them–so when looking for the all-important ideas, we have to take human individuality out of the equation and realize that even the most abhorrent ideas will not corrupt everyone and the greatest ideas will not redeem everyone.

The other part to politics is the ideas of ethics which it is based on as a political system is nothing but seeking to create a structure where everyone can live what the root philosophy of that society sees as the good and ethical life.   Which means we have to look to ethics…but the values and rule of ethics themselves are based on basic metaphysical principles.  The “ought” of ethics comes from what “is” in metaphysics.  If you are a being that needs food to live, then you ought to eat something.  If what you are is a creature based in original sin, then you have a need to remove that sin from your being, then what you ought to do is whatever requirements the God you have sinned against requires of you.  If however you are a being trapped in a nightmare of delusion then you have a need to escape the nightmare, and you ought to meditate on a way to see past the delusion.  Now my examples here are a little simplistic, and the reality of how metaphysics transfers values to ethics is far more complicated in most cases.

However there is one idea that rises above all others and we don’t have to delve too deeply into complex philosophy to see how it has a very, very real effect on ethics, politics, and the real world.

This basic idea is that your soul has value.

Your soul, the thing that is you, has some value.  We don’t have to worry about the conflict of Eastern vs. Western civilization, or contemplate the Classical vs. Enlightenment vision of these ideas because these ideas have been there pretty much in the vast majority of cultures throughout history as a basic building block of civilization.

“It is God, and God alone, who has encased Himself as the soul in the many human beings He has created.”—Paramahansa Yogananda, God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita

“My mind is part of God’s.  I am very holy. “—Lesson 35 from the Workbook for Student of A Course in Miracles

If you haven't read it, you should.

If you haven’t read it, you should.

Every other belief system has some connection between God and the soul. For Judaism, man is created in the image of God (usually interpreted that our soul is like God’s in its intellect and free will differing in degree not kind),

“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him” Gen 1:27 (New American Bible)

In Christianity the Holy Spirit (as part of God) is within each of us,

In Greek Paganism you will see the Greek philosophers talk about that portion of our soul that is like a God,

In Eastern religions you have the statement Namaste (the god within me recognizes and honors the god within you),

“An eternal part of Myself [God], manifesting as a living soul in the world of being”  Bhagavad Gita 15:7

Even Buddhism which technically is agnostic in its beliefs on an all-powerful God, holds that the soul is something divine and the only thing that is real,

“Imagine a wide ocean with a golden yoke adrift upon it. In the depths of the ocean swims a single blind turtle, who surfaces for air once every hundred years. How rare would it be for the turtle to surface with its head through the hole in the yoke? The Buddha said that attaining a precious human rebirth is rarer than that.”—The Dalai Lama The Way to Freedom

I could start getting into other religions, but in every case you will see the human soul placed on a pedestal and often tied directly to the divine. It is the basis of all ethics as this is what gives human life intrinsic value above and beyond simple matter (if you track it back this is the basis of all “secular” Western philosophy and ethics, that human existence has intrinsic value).

And at its root this is why ethics works.  Because all of ethics rests upon the fact that the soul has value.  As it is connected to God, then intrinsically it is self-evident that the soul has value and if the soul has value then a human life has value. And this is why religion and spirituality is so important to ethics, not because we can’t be good unless God gives us a set of rules, but because without a connection between God and the soul, ethics has no grounding in metaphysics.

Without the value of the soul, then there is no reason why one life cannot be sacrificed so long as it makes two lives better.  There is no rational argument against slavery, because if there is not intrinsic infinite value to the soul then the worst form of utilitarianism comes to play and the rights and lives of any smaller group can be destroyed, sacrificed or exploited for the “greater good.”  (Certainly violence isn’t completely forbidden when you do believe in the value of the soul…but only in using it against greater evil).

Yeah that’s all well and good on paper, you say, but that’s not what happens in real life. Okay let’s put my theory to the test.

Are there any belief systems out there that deny the connection of the soul to God?  There are two.

The first is atheism. This isn’t hard to prove when you deny God and the soul, the value of the soul at 0 is a fairly natural extension.
The second is Islam.  But isn’t that a religion?  Well, yes, but only by the loosest definition (much in the same way Charles Mason is a human-being). Islam however has no scene in the Koran or the Haddith that states that man was created in the image of God. None. And whereas many prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus speak of the relationship between man and God, calling us his children, that he lives within us, etc…you find nothing even remotely comparable in the Koran or the Haddith. All you find is comments like 42:11 “there is nothing like unto Him [God].” This idea is repeated over and over in Islam. Every other religion at some level or another stresses the connection to God, that he is a part of us. Islam stresses that we are not like God in any way, completely disconnected from him in all ways. In this respect they are like atheism in disconnecting man from the divine.

And, low and behold if you compare the deaths caused by ALL other religions combined against those caused by Islam it a lot lower (which given that Islam is the newest one on the scene.*
Now as we have gone over previously deaths in war and conquest by all religions excluding Islam and atheists.  The low end for all religions save Islam for the last 2000 years has a high end estimate of about 96 million deaths.  Compared to a LOW END death count of 100 million for Atheism for the last hundred years (sorry atheists, but you have Communism and Nazism—two forms of government that sought to destroy religion in all its forms.  And don’t tell me that they shouldn’t count because they weren’t following what you think atheism should represent…if you want that argument, then Christianity isn’t responsible for a single death in the Inquisition because they weren’t following what Christianity should be.) Ideas have consequences.  The consequences of atheism happens to be killing more people than all religions in one-twentieth the time.  (Higher end estimates would put the atheist number near 150 million)

And let’s add Islam in there. The conquest of Persia (1 million), the conquest of India (80 million), the conquest of Africa (110 million), the Armenian Genocide (1 million), Iran-Iraq War (2 million)…we’re at 194 million and we haven’t even touched anything to do with terrorism.  Sorry atheists you may be butchers but you’re pikers compared to Islam’s history.

Now, we could haggle about including this or that but the fact of the matter is that by a large margin the two belief systems that don’t believe in the value of the soul seem to have a much greater ease at killing in massively high numbers.

Why? Because ideas have consequences.

Because murder is only wrong if you are doing harm to something of value…and rationally we can dismiss about the value of the body, or the impact one person can make.  We can rationalize a lot…but if the soul has value because it is part of the divine you can never fully rationalize it away, you can ignore it, you can come up with excuses, but that idea will more often than not prevent you from doing something contrary to that idea.  But if you don’t hold that the soul has value, then every other rationalization becomes relatively easy.  Excuses become numerous.  Utilitarian murder becomes justified because you have high ideals. The glory of God must be extended at any cost, because the glory of that message is clearly more important than a soul without divinity.  And the society, the good of the whole, the mother land, the father land, the collective is obviously more important.  Enemies can be slaughtered wholesale because their lives have no intrinsic value.  Obstacles can just be eliminated without remorse because of the state or prophet or whatever other bullshit you want to follow, because anything can be made to sound more valuable and important than an individual life (or a lot of them) when there is no inherent value placed on life.

Certainly there are people in religions that value the soul who reject this idea in thought and deed, and there are people within belief systems that deny its value that still intrinsically understand the truth that the soul does have value…but it cannot be denied that this simple idea is what builds civilization or the lack of it becomes the foundation of waves of conquest, genocide, and holocaust.

Ideas have consequences.  And all of civilization is based on this one simple point; the soul has value because it is connected to the divine.  And the denial of it opens the door for almost any evil.

*okay to be fair Scientology is the newest on the scene…but I haven’t seen much genocide from them, and if we’re going to be really honest, Muhammad was little more than just the L. Ron Hubbard of the sixth century.

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A look at Rand’s wacky announcement

Elementary Politics

So Rand Paul announced he was running for President today.   The intellectually shallow demagogue who can endlessly spin off platitudes and meaningless statements whose deepest statements are in favor of isolationism and letting tyranny run amok the world is running!  How will I ever contain my excitement?yay_xander

Rand Paul You have to love that “not quite stable” look in his eye.

Now some may claim that Rand’s speech was pretty much the exact same speech Ted Cruz gave.  You know a long stream of hollow populist statements with no substance and no thought for the people on the right who like leftist voters are looking to blindly follow a Obama-like demagogue, but who mouths right wing talking points instead of leftist ones.
But in reality they are different.  For instance Teddy repeated the baseless lie that conservative Christians have been staying home in droves and not voting…despite the complete lack of…

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April Fools Day Post: In praise of the BUREAUCRAT

bureaucracybrazil
This April the First I thought we should give praise to that wonderful civil servant who thanklessly makes our lives better: The Bureaucrat.  The Bureaucrat is the most wonderful being in our government, a gift from God I am sure.  Effective, caring, beneficial and needed.  Never could any sane soul say that these are people who deserve to have their heads bashed in with a crowbar or that they ruin ever aspect our lives.   We need bureaucrats, and we need them in every aspect of our lives.  So I come not today to revile bureaucrats, but to praise them.

What would our lives be without the Bureaucrat?  It would certainly be far more expensive.  I mean it’s not like bureaucrats cost us billions upon billions of dollars in red tape.  No, because of bureaucracy every single aspect of our lives is almost certainly cheaper.  I mean can you imagine how much more expensive it would be if you did not have to seek permission from three different state agencies (at best) just to set up a small business.  How much more expensive would it be if you didn’t have to go back and forth from one government office to another, as you always get clear concise, non-contradictory answers from all the branches.  I can’t imagine how much more expensive things would be—they are so helpful giving concise directions/instruction and guiding you to the next step.

And without the bureaucrat, who would protect us.  I mean there are literally small children out there looking to sell lemonade without a business license, without filing the proper tax paperwork, without letting the health department inspect their kitchen, without filing with the labor board, and without making sure they are working in an area zoned for commerce. Without bureaucrats who would be there to fine these little wannabe anarchists and murderers.  I mean honestly can you think of anything more sociopathic and devoid of all ethics than a small child attempting to sell lemonade. Thank god we have bureaucrats to stop the madness and end the sociopathic behavior almost indicative of Nazism.  I mean think about it, if you were looking for how someone who would have been in the Gestapo during the Nazi regime and transplanted them into modern America, what would they be doing to still get their jollies off, hurting others without reason, gains glee from acting as inhuman as possible…they’d be selling lemonade without a permit.    And don’t get me started on those psychopaths who think that they don’t need a license to braid hair or teach yoga.  If it weren’t for bureaucrats what would we do in the face of such evil?

And let’s be honest, there is not a smarter bunch of people. One might worry that a job known for hiring felons; that you only need a high school diploma for and from which it is a labor of Hercules to fire for gross incompetence might attract the kind of people who would get fired from McDonald’s…but no there is no brighter group than the bureaucrat.  I mean who else could have been bright enough to hire so noble a patriot as Snowden, who had made it clear on several public internet sites that he had the intention of committing treason, to have full access to all of our secrets.  Only the bureaucrat my friends.  Only the kind of intelligence that would leave us mere mortals with a sense of dread and awe to behold it.  Faced next to the bureaucrat our minds pale in comparison.  Just look at their superior logic; that is beyond our feeble brains.  Only a bureaucrat has the prowess to understand that a city ordinance requiring you to cut down a tree and a county ordinance threatening you with a fine if you cut down said tree is perfectly fine.  Your petty mind may recoil at such things, but not the superior mind of the bureaucrat.  And this is why they are entitled to life-long jobs with little supervision, they are just better than us. Remember that the normal subtleties of life are beyond the masses comprehension

And speaking of them being better than us.  Do not forget that they are above suspicion.  And if the feeble minded dare question them then the feeble minded should be shamed and possibly fined.  These are the most honest people which is why so many are not required to pay taxes.

And let us not forget that they protect us in other ways.  For instance there are people with terminal diseases out there who think that just because they’re guaranteed to die long and painful deaths they have nothing to risk by taking experimental drugs that could cure them.  Silly people.  Were it not for bureaucrats these people with fatal diseases could take something that might kill them.

And have you ever seen a more honest group of people.  I mean when the hard-drives at the IRS all crashed at the same time, it was the noble bureaucrats at the IRS who told the American public that they were having technical problems.  They could have tried to hide it for months on end, but did they?  Did they?  I think we all know the answer when dealing with this group of moral pillars.

And there are things out there that could hurt you, like dating services and guns and travel clubs and pornography and buying coins…but thankfully through the brave efforts of bureaucrats in Operation Choke Point bureaucrats have done what they knew to be right and used pressure to tell banks to close bank accounts for people who have these kinds of business so they could not possibly do business.  Did bureaucrats wait for laws to be passed to give them the power to do these things? No.  Did they care that doing so was a major violation of the law?  Not in the least.  Why?  Because they care about you and they know far better than you what is good for you.  They alone know that you aren’t mature enough to handle guns…unlike our fast and furious friends to the South, who bureaucrats know are such wonderful people they need more guns.

Did I mention humble?  Oh what a humble bunch.  For people who know that not only is their word law, but that they are above the law.  But do they lord it over people by declaring that ugly fish are more important than people?  Do they act like they’re superiors by coming up with fake lists of patients seen while people die?  Do they treat Native Americans like children for over a century creating a culture of dependency?  Do they treat your time dismissively by spending hours looking at porn in the office?  Do they make you wait in endless lines, show no sympathy for your plight and reject paper for even the slightest flaw which common sense could clearly correct on the spot…I think we all know that answer of how these humble warriors are always looking out for us.

And let’s be honest we’re never safer than in the hands of the bureaucracy. I mean it’s not like there is actually a word for government employees looking to shoot up innocent people, I mean you’d have to go completely postal to believe that.

No, let us get down on our knees and thank our wonderful bureaucrats (really we have to, they’re cracking the whip right now) and dismiss those who say that more than term limits on politicians there needs to be term limits for bureaucrats, let us reject the foolish call for more oversight and harsher punishment for bureaucrats who break the law (as if such a thing would ever happen), let us perish the thought of hiring freeze and attrition, and certainly diminish the idea of firing them wholesale.  I mean it’s not like their unions paid politicians off to give them pensions so outrageous they will bankrupt every state, county and city in America given enough time.
bureaucracy
Let us remember that without bureaucrats Congress, the president, state legislatures, the attorney general, none of them could get done what they do without bureaucrats carrying out their every order.  Their noble work would never be accomplished without bureaucrats following and doing as they were told without question and with the patriotic zeal that never seeks to stop the free-market, or just human interaction— without them we would be nothing.

I dream of the day when all children desire and strive to be part of that holiest of holy groups – the BUREAUCRAT!

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