Saturday, April 19, 2008

God and Religion

(Continuing Bertrand Russell's "God and Religion")

Chapter 19 "Ideas that Have Helped Mankind". I figured Russell would take considerable pride in how much smarter "modern" humans are than ancients. I was glad to see him take a more cynical (I prefer the term "realistic" :) view.

Page 306 "we have certainly become progressively less like animals". My presuppositions hold that we never were, so no progress there...

"As to happiness, ... I am not convinced that there has been any progress at all." I'm glad to hear Russell fess up to that fact. Now, let's see if he can use induction properly.

Sadly, on page 320, Russell presents his vision of a rationalistic future: "all the great achievements of mankind will quickly lead to an era of happiness and well-being, [etc.]". Russell was writing in 1946, and his projections are not out of line with the Utopian thinking of that era. You'd find similar projections in science fiction.

And our technology has made impressive improvements, but has this brought about utopia? One roll-up of statistics shows that use of anti-depressants has tripled in the twelve years from 1988 to 2000 (10% of women and 4% of men). Our governments declare "never again" will they allow genocide, which apparently means "every ten years or so". Productivity is up, but people are working just as long (if not longer).

Chapter 20, "Mahatma Gandhi".
Chapter 21, "The Theologians Nightmare". Meh.

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