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When you have 3.6 Billion adherents

Published November 27th, 2010 by Bobby Henderson

When you have 3.6 Billion adherents to your faith, we can start talking about teaching your ideas in school. When you think you’re right or not the decision on whether or not to teach creationism in school should come from the majority and the fact is 82.3% of Americans are christian and therefore believe that the earth was created by God and only 11.6 are unaffiliated with a religion, of which only a fraction are atheist or agnostic. Take out the agnostics because if they’re really agnostic they won’t care what’s being taught in school, and we’re talking about a small number of really loud people that are trying to force their beliefs on the rest of the country. How messed up is that. I’m not going to force my beliefs on you. I think that’s why they did the whole separation of church and state thing, so that a certain belief system, Evolution included, would not be forced upon the population. So teach evolution, go ahead, I know for a fact that Brigham Young University and Brigham Young University Idaho, two christian schools teach evolution in their required classes, but if you’re going to teach one THEORY, and I emphasize theory not fact, then give credence to other theories that bare any social impact on our society. Like how about a theory that more than 50% of the world subscribes to? Anyway, peace be the journey, I give you credit for some funny stuff, like pirates and global warming, but don’t pretend to take nothing seriously if you actually do have very serious agenda.
–Jordan

All religions go through a phase of perceived fakeness. Funny you bring up BYU.  Mormonism got a lot of criticism for years because Joseph Smith used seer stones to find the location of their original scriptures and translate them from unknown languages.  Some might say that sounds like BS.  But with time and pressure it becomes a religion.  Not unlike the formation of rocks.  I am a scientist first, remember.



477 Responses to “When you have 3.6 Billion adherents”

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  1. Noodlenut says:

    Adherent (n): one who adheres, one who follows.
    Pastafarian (n): one who can think for himself (- or herself – yarrrr… no offense all ye wenches)

    • B. says:

      Non taken

  2. Drained and Washed Clean says:

    I must have missed it in science class where they said just because the majority believes it that makes it true. Last I checked the majority thought that the world was flat, earthquakes happened because a god was angry, the sun was the center of the universe, and rainbows were unexplainable miracles. A majority of people on an island think that airplanes are gods.

    But you’re right. We should just stick with the majority.

    Let’s take a look at some other majorities. A majority of scientists (the people who actually know what they are talking about) support evolution. A majority of people on this planet actually know what the definition of a scientific theory is (obviously you are not among them). Shall we go with those majorities?

    • Noodlity says:

      You know what? I say we focus on a different kind of “majority”. One of *stellar* proportions. Let’s give our new friend a sense of perspective, shall we. Like this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJZ9L-WLMJA

      You see, kids, the whole 3.6 billion Jews, Xians, and Muslims are like a dot on a dot on a dot on a dot… to the Nth degree, when compared to the sheer size of a single star, let alone the Universe itself.

      On that scale, all their belief, all their faith, amount to two things – j@ck and $hit. This is the scale science works with. This is where the big boys play. For, while a god’s power is always limited by their adherents’ imagination (so, quite limited indeed) , the Universe, and the scientific principles it is based on, need neither faith in order to exist, nor popular support to work.

      RAmen

      • Pastafarian Leo says:

        Hey, Noodlity. Man, I really loved your post. Keep doing that and helping people to put things in perspective…. Thanks, man

  3. iam terry fc says:

    On one side are those who inquire, examine, experiment, research, propose ideas and subject them to scrutiny,
    change their minds when shown to be wrong and live with uncertainty while placing reliance on the collective,
    self-critical, responsible and rigorous use of reason and observation to further the quest for knowledge.
    On the other side are those who espouse a belief system or ideology which pre-packages all the answers, who have faith in it,
    who trust the authorities, priests and prophets, and who either think that the hows and whys of the universe are explained
    to satisfaction by their faith, or smugly embrace ignorance.they claim ownerships of the Great Truth to which everyone must sign up
    on pain of punishment, and on whose behalf their zealots are prepared to kill and die.

    • proud to be a christian says:

      http://www.livestream.com/elisoriano

      • Gelfling says:

        Sorry, I went to the link above and did not hear anything that hasn’t been said a thousand times before, in a hundred different ways. Sigh. Nothing new here, move on…

      • Drained and Washed Clean says:

        Point being what? Why all the links? Are you too scared to make your own arguments? Oh wait. You don’t have any. You are just regurgitating the BS that has been shoved down your throat and are incapable of thinking for yourself. Nevermind…

  4. Dave says:

    Jordan wrote: “I think that’s why they did the whole separation of church and state thing, so that a certain belief system, Evolution included, would not be forced upon the population.”

    What bothers me about statements like this is this: You assume that evolution is a religion, or, as you call it, a “belief system.” It is not. It is simply a subject of study — one of many — in science curriculum. The only reason you call it a “belief system” is that it contradicts your own belief system. Evolution is no more a “belief system” than Newtonian Physics is. Would you suggest that Newtonian Physics be taught along side Christianity to be given equal opportunity? I think not. Also, you brought up the subject of separation of church and state. That part of the constitution would not exclude Newtonian Physics from science curriculum; why would it exclude Evolution? The answer: It wouldn’t, because like Newtonian Physics, it is not a religion. I therefore make the argument that it is the Christians that make Evolution into a religious argument, not the state, and certainly not science.

    • Atsap Revol says:

      Bravo, Dave, your succinct post is a gem. Christians often have asked me if I “believe” in evolution. I will remember your analogy to Newtonian Physics when I am asked the next time.

      AR

    • theFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

      A few hundred years ago the Church would have protested the current model of the solar system. Is it a “belief system” that the earth orbits the sun? Or is it just something being forced on students?

    • Zoltan says:

      I prefer to use gravity as my counter, seeing as it is still only a theory.

  5. Arkaeon says:

    Here we have another idea-puppet who believes that what the majority believe (or what the majority will not deny when under inquisitional pressure to agree) somehow represents the truth. This is the same argument from tradition that was used to refute Copernicus’ and Galileo’s OBSERVATIONS that the sun was the center of the solar system (although in their time even they still hadn’t grasped the true vastness of the galaxy/universe and the lack of any true “center” for practical purposes). Just as the idea of a heliocentric solar system was “heretical” and “pagan” (Pythagorean) to christian literalists in the middle ages, so now evolution has become equally the object of hatred for their irrational dogma. This “fundamentalist” assertion of literalism has existed within the christian movement practically since its inception, when the more literalist interpreters of the new covenant insisted that being “saved” required men to be circumcised as adults in order to qualify for membership in the religion.

    This faction of christianity / Sol Invictus seems to be a natural function of the religion (and in its half-brother, Islam), in which the less enlightened members insist that the silliest or most casual statements of their scripture be taken out of context as absolute truth for proof of true loyalty. Basically, they have maintained a two-millennia sliding scale retreat in the face of obvious reason and replicable observation, always finding a new issue on which to use their “lie for us or you aren’t really one of us” litmus test of faith, with blades poised.

    The source of this antagonistic dogma is probably similar to the homophobic principle: repression of true personal belief. Just as homophobes have been shown in laboratory experiments to be more turned on by homoerotic imagery than those with no particular care about the subject, I suspect that this faction is populated by individuals who really don’t believe the sunday-school fantasies and lies any more than the average atheist does; but the fundamentalist’s need to seem “normal” and “righteous” gives rise to considerable cognitive dissonance, which they resolve by embracing hatred or denial of their own impulses. Have you not noticed that the same personalities that attack evolution are also overwhelmingly homophobic? It is a coping strategy that is often applied to multiple areas of life. To these folks, seeing someone resolve issues of belief or identity by embracing rational, independent thought just makes them infuriated. Uncertainty frightens them, and being just one voice in a vast and indifferent cosmic chorus offends their narcissism. Essentially, activist fundamentalists are bully cowards (or victims of cultic programming), too dependent on their emotional association with “normal” beliefs to admit their own rational doubts and observations. In some cases, of course, they are simply sociopathic liars using religion for personal gain and political aggrandizement, but that is hardly the statistical norm.

    Governments take advantage of this tendency as a means of stabilizing their regime. In the absence of external war, having emotionally repressed, hateful extremists attacking each other or (ideally) attacking rational individualists means that none of those people are free to turn their attention against the government itself, and the tax money continues to flow. Bokonon had it right. See the cat? See the cradle? Most people are content with their foma, but some insist on subjugating others.

    This post went on waaaaay too long, sorry. Hail Eris and FSM! Cthulu for president!

    PS: THIS post is by no means a condemnation of religious practice at large. Most people are basically aware of their rational and ideological limitations, derive what comfort they can from their cultural/religious practices (foma), and are simply trying to make a living and get along with their family/tribe without getting punished for their temptations.

    • Zorak says:

      While I appreciate the lucid prose and cogentthought processes that your post reflects, I can’t endorse your “cthulhu for president” position. Leaving out the part where he would drive everyone insane with his tentacly visage (unlike our beloved FSM), he’s still asleep.

  6. Fluke says:

    True, they are not all devout, but if you casually ask people if they believe in God, most will say yes. And true, the majority is not always right, but the minority is less often so. Besides that, that’s not the point. The point is you can’t very well talk about this like you’re better than everyone because you’re in the minority, whether or not you’re right.

    The first and foremost of all philosophical problems is suicide. Before the number of dimensions in the universe, or how big stars are, is the worth of life. What is the point in knowing these things if we are unhappy? If your life isn’t worth living, then what is the point of knowing where all life originated? Why would you care? Before the pursuit of knowledge, the pursuit of happiness should come. Agree or disagree as you will, but a depressed man who knows everything is not satisfied.

    • Rev Toni Rigatoni says:

      Why, may I ask do you think that happiness can only come from the self deluding belief in a non existent concept? Where is your evidence that suicide is more prevelent among atheists or that they are more susceptable to depression than a theist as your post seems to imply? My thoughts are that the figures might well show no difference in numbers between atheists and theists, indeed, if there is a difference it is more likely to show a tendency towards theists as they have, in addition to the usual pressures of life, the pressure of the burden of guilt that religion places upon those that believe. One does not need god or faith or any other superstitious nonsense to be happy and fulfiled, it may work for you but that doesn’t mean it is any more nessesary to one’s happiness than reading one’s horoscope each morning. I am very happy and fulfiled thanks to my family-my wife and daughters and my wonderful grandchildren, a fulfilling job and the wonderful world in which we are fortunate to live, surrounded by the beauty and majesty of the natural world the true magnificence of which is revealed to us through science and observation. How much more poetic and beautiful is the Darwinian process of evolution in all its diversity compared to the thought that were created as we are now 10,000 years ago. If life has not changed in the last 10,000 years it seems fair to say it will not in the next 10,000; where is the wonder in that I ask? No, you are completely wrong, the knowledge that you decry in your post is the very thing that brings happiness and fulfilment, it is in fact the thought that nothing is happening in our world, that mankind will not progress beyond its present state, that would leave me feeling that we are here only to bide our time until we get to the next life. I urge you to read Dawkins’ ‘Unweaving The Rainbow’ and you might just see that there is beauty and happiness in the extreme in the knowledge that science reveals to those who will see it.

      • Atsap Revol says:

        Reverend Rigatoni,

        Well said. There is, indeed, happiness and beauty in the natural world and in the revelations provided by science. At 78 years of age, I still look with wonder on the mountains and seas and the creatures of the earth. I am fortunate to have been given the spectacles of science which allow me to see and appreciate our world and life even more.

        AR

    • Thomas L. Nielsen says:

      “Just as Christianity must destroy reason before it can introduce faith, so it must destroy happiness before it can introduce salvation.” — George H. Smith

      Hits the nail on the head, if you ask me. Mr. Smith (anyone know if he’s related to J. Hannibal, BTW?) has obviously been touched by His Noodly Appendages.

      Kind regards, and RAmen,

      Thomas L. Nielsen
      Luxembourg

    • Drained and Washed Clean says:

      Before the number of dimensions in the universe, or how big stars are, is the worth of life.
      ** Life is precious because it is rare. There are not many places in this universe that are able to support life. Of course life has more worth.

      What is the point in knowing these things if we are unhappy?
      ** Why would I be unhappy? You are assuming I am unhappy because I am not subjugated to some invisible sky zombie which stalks me and enjoys killing things? I think you have little understanding of the meaning of happiness.

      If your life isn’t worth living, then what is the point of knowing where all life originated?
      ** So not only am I unhappy, but my life has no value? Now you are just contradicting yourself. Up there you said that the worth of life is before knowledge. But now you have “knowledge” (I use that term extremely loosely) that we “don’t have” (i.e. don’t think is knowledge) and now our lives have no worth? This confuses me.

      Why would you care?
      ** I am still unclear on this connection. I am interested in these things because I like learning about things. If you aren’t learning new things and expanding your mind then what is the point?

      Before the pursuit of knowledge, the pursuit of happiness should come.
      ** What if the pursuit of knowledge is a part of my pursuit of happiness? I am happy learning.

      Agree or disagree as you will, but a depressed man who knows everything is not satisfied.
      ** Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It has nothing to do with the knowledge of your god. Christians get depression too. So, obviously a god does not single out those who do not believe in it to give depression to. So a depressed Christian who thinks they know everything is not satisfied either. So what is the difference?

      • Fluke says:

        Good job. You can really overanalyze things. I am not really talking about depression and being suicidal so much as I am unhappiness in general. I’ll see people miserable and irritable because it’s Monday morning and they’re tired. I don’t get that. Recently, I have been doing a lot of meditation. It has helped me a lot. I enjoy life more, I feel much less stressed, and I’ve accomplished a lot more than before. And I’ve found that after I’ve meditated and I feel calm and happy, things like arguing with someone angrily seem ridiculous and stupid. If I did that, it seems that my chest would feel closed and trapped. I can’t describe it very well. It would just feel bad. Thus I have found with many immoral choices. Such things will only bring you unhappiness. But if you want that, then go ahead. Be miserable. Wallow in your ignorance and die a worthless waste of human life who’s never done anything worthwile in life. Or be happy.

        • Drained and Washed Clean says:

          See, when you chose words to explain something, you chose the ones that you want to use. The ones that state what you mean. Not ones that mean something else. Even though this does make a convenient argument when someone calls you on your nonsense… And this still doesn’t explain your contradiction.

          And still confused as to how not being subjugated to an invisible sky zombie makes me immoral or unhappy. I am neither. I don’t have to convince you of my happiness. You are arrogant and assumptive. I could say it till I am blue in the face, but you wouldn’t believe me because for some reason you think my life requires the same things yours does. We are not drones. So, just because you are afraid to die and need the idea of an afterlife to make yourself feel better doesn’t mean the rest of us need the same.

        • Fluke says:

          The human mind is a wonderful thing. It’s also quite predictable. As a general rule of thumb, anything that will never occur in nature, the brain does not “care” about. Happiness is probably a good thing for the human mind, but immoral choices will never, ever happen in nature, because people will have no conception of good or bad because they don’t live in a society that teaches them the difference. Thus, in society, the brain is unprepared for such things, and you become unhappy. But if you don’t believe me, then believe Michael Steger, a psychologist: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18488538/ns/health-livescience/
          If you don’t believe him, then meditate like I did and believe yourself. Or not, but there are so many sources that this is true in nearly all cases, the exception being the insane psychopathic killers who have no emotions. Unless that’s you, which may be the case, then I believe this is true for you too. But maybe not. Drones are male bees.

          Also, you assume that I’m assuming that you’re unhappy. I’m not. I’m merely saying what can be. Honestly, I’m sorry, I tried, but I couldn’t understand what you claimed I contradicted, if you could please give me an explanation?

          I find it funny how you think a previous reality causing our own reality to exist so much more ridiculous than our reality being self-existent. I think no one described it better than Arthur C. Clarke.

          And I am done. I hope you see my point. But if you don’t, whatever. Religion doesn’t need defending. I can only hope.

        • Drained and Washed Clean says:

          “Happiness is probably a good thing for the human mind, but immoral choices will never, ever happen in nature, because people will have no conception of good or bad because they don’t live in a society that teaches them the difference.”
          ** I am in a classroom everyday teaching children how to behave morally. There is a definition of good and bad in our society. It is called the law. We all know the law. There are things we don’t agree with, but the law expresses what a certain societies find to be right and wrong.

          Thus, in society, the brain is unprepared for such things, and you become unhappy.
          ** Huh? So if you are claiming the brain doesn’t understand moral or immoral then how can it be unhappy if it makes an “immoral” choice? It doesn’t know the difference…

          But if you don’t believe me, then believe Michael Steger, a psychologist: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18488538/ns/health-livescience/
          ** His study says that a person who seeks to do good feels good. I am not understanding how that has to do with your argument. You are arguing that our brain doesn’t know the difference between good and bad. So, are you implying that one cannot seek to do good unless we believe in an invisible sky zombie?

          If you don’t believe him, then meditate like I did and believe yourself. Or not, but there are so many sources that this is true in nearly all cases, the exception being the insane psychopathic killers who have no emotions.
          ** One can meditate and still not believe in a deity. And I am still not sure how this is linked to happiness. Technically killing makes a psychopathic killer “happy”. They find enjoyment in it. That is why we consider them psychopathic. Definition being one with an anti-social personality that can be manifested in criminal behavior. Nothing said about emotions. And people who have suffered great tragedy of loss can also show a lack of emotion. That does not make them a sociopath. There are also mental disorders not related to being a sociopath that have symptoms including lack of emotion.
          .
          Unless that’s you, which may be the case, then I believe this is true for you too. But maybe not. Drones are male bees.
          ** I must admit you have confused me here… What are you talking about?

          Also, you assume that I’m assuming that you’re unhappy. I’m not. I’m merely saying what can be. Honestly,
          ** Quote “What is the point in knowing these things if we are unhappy?” You do not believe that one can be happy without your invisible sky monster. You stated that again here somehow (but not really) arguing that because we don’t teach morals (assuming this is because of us atheists), that the brain is naturally unhappy. Oh, and you said this “then go ahead. Be miserable.”

          I’m sorry, I tried, but I couldn’t understand what you claimed I contradicted, if you could please give me an explanation?
          ** Very simple. You only find what YOU perceive as intelligence and knowledge to be worthwhile. Those of us that do not believe or care about your knowledge (because it is nonsense) are unhappy because we don’t value your knowledge, then we are unhappy. So you are claiming that one can only be happy with your knowledge, which is a contradiction because your original claim stated that knowledge cannot make one happy.

          I find it funny how you think a previous reality causing our own reality to exist so much more ridiculous than our reality being self-existent. I think no one described it better than Arthur C. Clarke.
          ** Where did I say that? I never claimed to know where existence came from. Though your god friends do. So how am I more ridiculous?

          And I am done. I hope you see my point. But if you don’t, whatever. Religion doesn’t need defending. I can only hope.
          ** Actually if you think you are right, then you have to be able to defend it. That is how science works. You make a claim, you provide evidence of said claim (that is testable and repeatable), and then others inspect your claim and run experiments to confirm your claim. You are the one saying I need this invisible cheesus in order to be happy. You cannot even prove that the original argument (a god) exists, much less prove historically that ANY of the things in the bible that happened with regards to jesus. The timeline isn’t even correct, and the 4 apostles can’t even get their stories straight. It is ridiculous to think that a person would believe such contradictory and false information, especially without question. There is no point to see. You have yet to make an intelligible one.

        • Drained and Washed Clean says:

          I found the drone reference. I was not specifically referring to a male bee. I was referring to the characteristic. All existing for the same purpose with the same need.

          Proving yet again that you have no idea how to use the English language. They never taught you the writing crafts in school did they? Or how to write a persuasive essay. See, those require facts, and you don’t have any.

        • theFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

          I agree totally with your post here, Fluke. But what does it have to do with relgion? Meditation is for stress relief and refocusing. My life is not worthless, mainly because I do things for others. Is a life worthwhile just because you spend your life on your knees parying “Give me eternal life”?

        • Rev Toni Rigatoni says:

          Fluke, you still seem to be obsessed with unhappiness and, presumably it’s relationship to lack of faith. Unhappiness is not the exclusive province of the unfaithful. I get miserable because it’s monday, as you say -simply because it’s monday not because I don’t have god in me! I too can meditate and feel better for it, it doesn’t need god to enable one to meditate; in fact I have occassionally meditated as have many of my friends and family but there is absolutely no need to invoke a power outside of ourselves to make it work. I am happy being a freethinker, I am not ignorant, ignorance means lack of knowledge and by that definition you reveal yourself as the ignorant one here by assuming that the faith you have is the only answer to the problem of unhappiness. If I make an immoral choice in life I take restitutional action to ease my unhappiness, not bury my head in the imaginary lap of a father figure that will forgive me and make me feel better about myslf. The way to make yourself feel better is to put right the wrong, not to run away and seek forgiveness or consolation in your faith; that will only leave any aggreaved party to the indescretion angry and unappeased, and that will serve only to propogate the feeling that many people have that the majority of christians are self-righteous prigs. The self-righteousness you display continues in your post with the unfounded assumption that all that is needed to live a worthwhile life is to believe in a god or follow one or other messiah. That, quite frankly is bull shit, as I said in my previous post, I am happy, very happy, I have a family that I love dearly and that loves me, I have job that I love, that serves my fellow man, and leaves me fullfilled in the extreme. I don’t need your beliefs to make me happy or the cathartic feeling that you may get from going to church once a week to make me feel I have led a worthwhile life. I am happy, I have a fantastic life that I lead, by and large for the benefit of others, and I most definitely have not led a worthless life. I truely feel sorry for you Fluke, truely – as it is you that has wasted your life, I am saddened that your horizons are so limited that you can’t see the big picture, the world beyond your superstitions. I ask just one thing of you, just for a month, try to live your life with your fellow man as the driving force rather than your religious beliefs; ask yourself; ‘how do my actions affect my neighbour’ rather than ‘will this get me any brownie points with god’, I guarantee the rewards you get from that will blow your mind. Life is short, life is precious, it comes our way but once, I beg you, please don’t waste it.

    • TheFewTheProudTheMarinara says:

      Speaking of my own immediate family, the Christians are far more unhappy than those of us who do not believe. Coincidence? Maybe not, but I’ll state “Marinara’s Wager” and say why chance it?

    • Blackbeard says:

      come back when you know everything and tell me if you’re depressed. In the meantime, there’s beer and strippers.

      peace.

      • theFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

        I’m back, and I know it all. Pass me a beer and bring on the strippers!

    • Lalala says:

      I never really understood the whole “if the majority believes it, it must be true” argument? Lets ignore the very basic problem that just because people believe it, doesnt make it true….But why is the geography always limited, and the breadth of the religion inflated? People are always quoting 3.5 Billion Christians, or 80% of America is Christian, but why are (all of a sudden) all Christians one cohesive group? Anglicans don’t believe the same thing as Protestants, or Baptists, or Mormons. But when the “majority rules” argument comes up, all of a sudden they’re all the same.

      Same thing for geography. So because 80% of the US is Christian (which I would debate), whatever they think must be true? How retarded. 80% of India is Hindu (made up that stat by the way), so cows must be sacred.

      The purpose of religion is to circumvent thought and logic. That’s why arguments like this actually seem to hold water with religious people, even though they can be torn apart with a first year logic textbook.

      Last rant is simply about worth of life. Seems to be a common subject amongst religious people. Sorry the burst your bubble, but my life is full of worth. The only difference, is that I consciously sought to create and develop a life worth living. I actually think it’s important to define happiness, meaning, and worth for yourself – not outsource it to imaginary entities. I actually think the latter is just being lazy.

      • Spammyboy says:

        Interestingly, some of the best evolutionary scientists in the world are religious, and there are many religious people on this site. Does that mean they agree with us while at the same time agreeing with this fundie?

  7. CopacerticMan says:

    I find it funny how people criticize us for, one, showing this idiocricies within their beliefs.
    A zombie-god, talking animals, logical contradictions in the god descibed in the Bible, etc.
    Two, attempting to force thought into the thoughtless. So many Americans (just assuming his numbers are correct, not actually checking) believe in the nonsense of the Christian Bible. While I support their right to believe it, that has nothing to do with the truth value of the statements that they make. As well, I can respect the thoughts of such people, but only so much of it, and only to the extent of respecting the neo-nazi’s beliefs on race.

    Why should I respect those deserving of ridicule?

  8. Arkaeon says:

    I think Fluke has opened a couple interesting ideas for discussion (Dec 11 11:04pm), although I was unable to find a referent for the first paragraph of his reply (were you actually responding to someone?). While his points are fairly unrelated to this thread, it seems that the thread has wound itself down to redundancy pretty completely, including my own contribution.

    In the beginning of your second paragraph, you would seem to stand with both Hamlet (“To be, or not to be… that is the question”) and Solomon (“There is nothing new under the sun,” and “All is vanity… all knowledge does not satisfy”). The suicidal impulse, outside of literature, can mostly be traced to a few sources: 1 – fanatical indoctrination by the socio-religious establishment, which usually only works well on young people (i.e. “madrassa”-trained “martyrs”); 2 – severe/acute emotional loss or shock (someone suddenly loses a beloved spouse or their samurai honor); 3 – chronic severe pain in old age; 4 – brain tumors or biochemical imbalances that compromise normal thinking (which could be argued to be typical of adolescents at any time). Of these, only #1 is a process done on purpose to another person, and I can’t think of any example of non-religious programming of this kind at the moment. Even special forces military are only extraordinarily brave and enduring, not actually suicidal. Everyone else pretty much wants to live either as comfortably or as gloriously as possible. Discussion?

    The latter part of your second paragraph would seem to suggest that the search for knowledge and the pursuit of happiness are mutually exclusive. I think a whole lot of people have found the two to be mutually reinforcing, in fact, so I would disagree with that position. Personally, I think “happiness” (in the emotional sense, not the Declaration of Independence sense) is an overrated and inherently fleeting endocrine function, a response to the chocolate alkaloids, the peak moment of affection, the laughter for a clever joke. It’s a quick jolt that motivates us to continue in the face of life’s many hardships. Satisfaction in attaining a personal goal/achievement (the Declaration of Independence kind of “pursuit of happiness”) is far more enduring and strengthening than any temporary emotional high, and increasing one’s knowledge and skill set are crucial to this process.

    I would love to hear from Fluke where he stands on these variations and comments on his thoughtful post.

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