The future

Do you believe that humankind has a future, or will people walk down a path of self-destruction?

Personally, I don’t even know why I even care anymore. I have fallen into the trap of believing that it’s not my problem because I won’t be alive to see it.

This is why I feel that human beings, generally, are immune to wisdom; people only care about the here and now. And in the here and now they are generally only going to do what is most efficient. Only a conscience really holds people back, but how long will that last in a world where having a conscience is inefficient?

The world needs a people of conscience, then history won’t repeat itself.

The problems are the circumstances surrounding our existence. We fear death so we created the concept of God without any scientific evidence. Trying to think logically and explain the truth behind the true nature of the universe creates conflict. Why do such things create conflict? To most people religion is a part of them. So when you challenge that aspect of their persona it’s just like a personal attack against them as a person.

“It is pointless to argue with someone who thinks they’re right” Arguments geared towards a closed mind, always have an undertone of intended violence."

Can people ever let go of their pride and better themselves with knowledge? Can they not except what’s proven to be right in front of their eyes? Nothing is so black and white as a heaven and hell. People use that religion as an excuse to pursue their own puerile desires. Most can’t except the harsh possibility that they wouldn’t ever see their loved ones in some kind of afterlife. It is pretty horrifying to think we die and become nothing. Unless there is some kind of cycle to our consciousness and we are reincarnated, but I digress.

We feel pain and hunger, so we seek out safety and the acquisition of resources. We seek shelter from such horrors. People would do ANYTHING to keep from feeling that pain. The less privileged will fight for that life. Hence one of the reasons why war exists.

Then we come down to greed and the want for material possessions. An aristocratic life will breed arrogance and that arrogance breeds complacency and ignorance. Such ignorance leads to decadence. (I’m sorry all I can think about right here is Justin Bieber.)

Worst of all, we have people with narcissistic tendencies, obsessed with vanity. A perfect cast of how society thinks you need to look, think, and act. People forced to try and fit in with this twisted reality, are forced to hide who they really are for the utter fear of rejection.

So can we ever be in complete safety from the pain of our mortal bodies? Can we ever overcome our primal human nature? Sometimes I wish I was Q from Star Trek. Then all problems would be solved.

I always wondered if it would be possible to make a difference? Then I bring to mind J. F. K.'s assassination, and I think “What’s the point?” People in power will stop at nothing to keep the status quo! Like you said, these people have no conscience…

What’s the point in trying to instil change for the better when you’ll lose your life in the process?

I think we have a future for a while yet, but I can’t say it’s any conviction anymore. A number of the puzzles about human nature and nurture that I have been entertaining for a long time are a little closer to resolving, or at least some major baffles to my own perspective have been recognized, but as much gains in clarity that may have afforded it has also added as much to the cacophony of considerations.

Religion is a very hot topic right now, and I like seeing the superficial momentum away from dogma, of course. But as usual I find myself out of phase with the common fashions of critical analysis, and I hold a more basic view of religion now. I can intensely recommend the book Moses and Monotheism by Sigmund Freud to anyone with a keen interest in the psychology and sociology of religion, all the more since my impression is that it has been largely buried in obscurity, perhaps because it was both ahead of its time and now behind the state of evidence in many ways. But I’m not aware of many significant contradictions to his assessments either, and the specific tangible subject makes it a great place to start with Freud’s sociological essays, as I did.

I cannot articulate any simple connection between that book and this subject, it features prominently in my own recent train of thought though. Since most of us in the “western” world have been conditioned to resonate with a very particular strain of morality whether we maintain a formal allegiance to its literal source or not, tracing the deepest roots of that conditioning has a particular frisson to it, much as I wish it did not at times. So again without trying to pin down any clear connection, beyond the obvious, a more recent contemplation of that same source material caused something to click for me. There is a recent theory about the Israelite “history” holding that it is predominantly a political fabrication composed as a manifesto for imminent action. There are many details surrounding the conclusion, too many to get into, but the main evidence is from a current assertion that no archeological findings corroborate the existence of a coherent Israelite empire during the centuries claimed, believed, or basically ever. The theory holds that the written history of conquest is actually an advance justification and blueprint for an intended conquest. But the king (Josephus iirc?) was killed before he would enact the plan, and ironically the tribe spent millennia lamenting an exalted age that never truly was. The original ancient meaning of “messiah” was something like “annointed one”, or in fact the king, and it was from this circumstance that the connotation changed to one of redemption. Anticipation of the true king who would carry the people to victory and reinstatement of their rightful place.

I could try to remember / find a link to the particular documentary I was waching if anyone cared, but anyway for whatever reason as I was absorbing this material something so obvious and clear finally locked into place for me as well. Religion is politics, plain and simple.

Or a more exacting way to put it: religion is the political expression of superstition. Or perhaps the politicization of spiritualiy. And if one attempts to analyze or interpret religion through anything alien to that definition it must be an innately flawed premise. Which is not even meant as an insult or dismissal of religion any more than politics, they are human instutions that manifest for a reason, but it is a mistake or even a disservice to religion to fail to perceive it clearly. To even initiate a debate over whether a religious doctrine has or had political motivations is oxymoronic, such motives are never not political.

Another recent and amazing subject is Gobekli Tepe, the earliest megalithic site ever found, about 12,000 years old, barely out of the last ice age and pre-agricultural. That has also turned long held assumptions on their head, and the new theory holds that far from belief institutions and monuments being predicated on the stability and surplus of large scale agriculture and cooperation, neither would have been possible without first creating a symbolic mechanism for connecting people beyond their immediate family or close clan units. Convincing people to trust someone they may rarely if ever even see will reciprocate that trust with commodities or assistance is a tall psychological order, and permanent tokens of a shared system of values are even today the ultimate ice breakers.

The recurring gravitation towards paternalistic projections of authority and justice are a conundrum I think we have to make peace with before we can truly claim any fresh paradigm, but again the current fashion of context is profoundly dishonest and superficial on that front. Things change when they must, but not necessarily for a net positive, not at all to go by the lessons of the past…

I don’t care to even consider myself spiritual anymore, I can’t hold a clear enough meaning in the idea. I only know that I have had enough experiences that I can call mystical, and enough moments, if still rare, of serenity and existential insight that I believe there is more to being alive in this world than the most clinical reductionists may accept. So I think divorcing religion entirely from an innate impulse which reflects a source of human vitality must also become a fallacy, and as such attempts starting from such conceit would never be able to contain or reform religion.

Well just some snippets plucked from the swirling mass this question and preceding discussion pertains to in my current awareness, I don’t have any real answer. But I believe there’s something more than we can grasp, and something yet to do, and something innate protecting us from ourselves. I believe, but I have no faith or convictions, only my own perceptions and predilections. We are remarkably young, and if this is close to the end then hot damn we have been a spectacular failure right? :slight_smile:

When something becomes a business, it has a powerful incentive to stay in business. The arms industry, for example, profits from war, so wars will never end.

Unless people become angels.

I’m curious: why are so many people so intent on disproving the best parts of religion? Jesus for example. It’s impossible to follow his ghost to war because he never wanted that in the first place, no matter how much anyone tries to twist the religion into their own vision of it. What good does it do to try to prove that he never existed, especially if he did actually exist? Jesus has become a political enemy who needs to be destroyed even if he was real. I find it disturbing.

In the end, the best parts of religion will be reduced to secular ideas that resonate with people. I believe it’s called confirmation bias. Of course, I believe that ideas can change people for the better or for the worse, but they are often conflated with other factors. Why do people go to hell? Why do we punish criminals? It’s a magnification of the same reasoning. The concept of divine justice is a powerful thing. Even if we can’t prove that such a thing exists, you never know. There’s always a lingering doubt at the back of your mind. Even the merest trace of that idea is enough to serve as a deterrent, or the promise of true justice.

Heretic, did you know that Richard the Lionheart was a man of peace? He turned his army around at the gates of Jerusalem after the Crusaders lost it because he knew that it was a lost cause. He knew that even if he retook the city, he couldn’t hold it, and he was later proven right (after his death).

Now you can imagine how the religious fanatics who were in his army reacted to that at the time. Richard I of England only had a 12th century education, but he was more intelligent than most of our leaders today. He thought the Muslims were monsters until he actually met them.

It seems that peace has to be forced on the world because people profit too much from conflict in many different ways (money isn’t the only way to profit from conflict. It can unify and give people a sense of purpose etc).

I find the situation in the U.S. fascinating. You must be incredibly frustrated with the psychopathic nature of U.S. politics. I can see the future of Israel already, but I don’t want to wander into the realm of the conspiratorial. You will think I’m insane.

Globalization, outsourcing, mechanization, combined with insane costs of higher education etc can only lead to disaster. But I’m sure the monsters will adapt to that hell and call everyone else lazy. Even Nixon believed in Keynesian economics. In the current atmosphere, stimulus will be used to reward allies and punish and weaken political enemies.

The future doesn’t look too bright to me.

It seems the more forward thinking and learned individuals are just attempting to correct the flaws in religion. I mean when you hear things like Jesus walked on water, you know such an act defies the laws of physics and is scientifically impossible. And in your logical mind, you know it’s just not true (hence the need to disprove). And even if he did such things it was all just a deception or trick. Ahem, he was a carpenter! Do you think he couldn’t have put a couple planks under the water which reached the surface and walked onto them?! Things people didn’t understand thousands of years ago had to be explained through primitive thought.

The teachings of the Bible and other religious works were written in a book by “human hands” not some divine presence. That doesn’t make it fact! But the fear it instils does! If you don’t believe in Jesus you can’t get into Heaven! Even though I was a saint among saints, oops guess I’m going down!

And if people say such ridiculous things like, “God spoke through me, I wrote his divine teachings.” , that’s just plain delusional. People can use whatever means necessary to shape and manipulate the truth they want to enact. Be it for their own personal desires or be it to attain some kind of respect.

I just love the episode in the show Firefly where Summer was reading the Bible and in a lunatic daze, frantically started to correct everything.

The point I’m trying to make is we can take the positives out of everything.

I’m open to the idea that disproving the existence of Jesus would discredit or stop giving credibility to the worst parts of religion, but from my experience, people generally aren’t that noble.

If you create the idea that no one is above the law, then it becomes a stabilizing force. There are people who simply want to be the law for their own benefit.

Take these forums for example. If you went to a popular forum somewhere, it would be almost impossible to have a civil discussion. I’ve tried. What I discovered is that it’s easier to simply fight fire with fire. That always leads to “might makes right” because people seem to instinctively respect strength.

You’re right, people do instinctively respect strength. I’ve seen this with my own eyes. There was a place I used to work at where there was a person who looked like my double (customers mistook us for the other person all the time). Now let my say this: I usually get berated for being skinny; not having the epitome of the male body. Someone always eventually brings it up and it infuriates me to no end. And so was this person.

Now, my double was incredibly smart and could literally run the store by himself. He had quick wit was very knowledgeable and an all around good person. When I first started working there I let people know I used to take martial arts and had a black belt.

During the course of the year I worked there, I was always shown respect for that quality. My double on the other hand, was constantly disrespected and treated like a verbal punching bag, (There are times when playful insults go too far and become disrespectful) not to mention promotions went completely over his head . We were instantly separated and judged. I defended him many times and he respected that. Situations like this just make me sick.

It is my assumption that everyone is born with certain genetics which determine the frame, shape and form of their appearance. There are things some people just can’t change about their body and when we don’t fit into that optimal physiological genetic mold, we are seen as “weak”. And it just takes one concept, one idea of strength that temporarily flips the switch the other way…

This is why I feel that policies cannot be decided by popular vote; people are too easily misled whether due to ignorance or stupidity.

Perhaps the most salient theme I have been wrestling with for a while now is the practical understanding of authority. We have thus far been unable to clearly resolve the impulse to conflate strength or power with authority, or in more essential terms the impulse to promote once tested and proven authority to a static truth.

The clearest expression I have found: the value in the understanding and practice of an idea always seems to get replaced and displaced by valuing the act of allegiance to the ideal. Science is an ironic illustration of that, people have said it is the new religion, and I think that is more true than most people even realize, because the majority of people who now trust and believe in science as an absolute have no meaningful understanding of it.

About Jesus, it has always been clear enough to me that the legend is a composite, but I find the search for historical truth engaging for the same reasons as any other search. I believe there must have been a man as well as myth, I don’t see it as an either or proposition at this stage. But where I may disagree with you Geoffrey is the relevance of disengaging those positives with the politics, Christianity as such is an explicitly imperial doctrine, and valuing those positives in the message without being absolutely clear about the packaging they come in will always compromise the understanding of them.

Another problem is: most people aren’t getting a meaningful education. Our true history is being covered up with lies. Oh, but it would challenge peoples religion and there would be massive panic! People can’t swallow their pride.

When they try to speak the truth they’re utterly discredited and their careers are destroyed. We can’t grow as a civilization with views like that. All this, to keep society locked in the views the ones in power deem necessary to keep them in power.

Also most people would have a higher education if it wasn’t so costly an endeavor. Most people would chose to try and educate themselves rather than bury themselves in debt.

The future - that is a broad topic. Humans will very likely have some kind of future, but I think the question could be reframed as whether humans have a future that will last longer than the next few hundred years.

Two great threats await us: nuclear armageddon and environmental destruction. In either case, I think it unlikely that the entire human species would be wiped out. Rather, the population would be radically reduced and humans would struggle to survive in a much harsher reality. Hmm, that sounds familiar.

What is clear is that civilisation will have to change one way or another. Otherwise nature will force it’s hand.

There are some good points in this topic. I cannot address them all, but I would like to focus on the fatalist objection to change. I’ve considered a fatalist stance myself at times, but have always concluded that that line of thinking acts as a self fulfilling prophecy. We’ve made improvements in the past such as the rights revolutions, which were at least in part due to a non-fatalist attitude of the people involved.

It is easy believe that world is going to hell and that there’s nothing that we can do about it. In response, I recommend reading this article:

It’s a long article, but the tl;dr version is that violence has been declining. 2014 was no exception. If the author is right, as the numbers suggest, we’re doing something right (even if it not always clear exactly what). Of course, the tread may not continue, especially with the looming threats such as peak oil, peak water, the global temperature rising, etc. My point is just that large scale positive change is possible.

My own view is that depending on the political process for change is not enough. Depending on the market is definitely not enough, and similarly, depending on particular individuals is also problematic. Cultural movements on the other hand are much harder to kill because there is no centralised leader. Rather, they are made up of lots of small actions of individuals that are linked together in an uncoordinated way. This is not to make away the importance of social organisation, the point is rather than social movements need to be robust enough to continue when a particular organisation breaks down.

As one person I can’t change the entire future direction of humanity, but I can think about how my actions slot into a larger picture. When I’m thinking about how my actions might influence the world, I try to consider how effective they are. Since many people do not respond to negativity, I find that it better to focus on positive alternatives. “Here’s a great alternative to X”, rather than “here’s all the reasons why X is bad and why it needs to be stopped.” The same goes for the self - for your own psychological well being, focusing on the negatives cannot be healthy or good for motivation. That’s one reason why I don’t watch the news - I’d much rather watch a good documentary on a particular issue, especially if it offers positive solutions that can be acted upon.

People and ideas can have a ripple effect. There’s no denying it.

Personally, I think that if people didn’t believe that we could make a better world then we’d still be living in the Dark Ages. However, people tend to want what is best for them in the here and now. This should be self-evident.

Also, I don’t believe that the oligarchs who own the U.S. are going to let capitalism work for everyone. The economy there works great… for them, but not for the majority. This is easy to prove if you look at the stats on income inequality. It’s almost as if the top 1% are asking for a French Revolution. Of course, I don’t believe that’s the solution but history repeats itself for a reason.

The reason I bring that up is because it effects everyone.

Hey Solo, are you familiar with this concept:

Imagine if the world was on the verge of a nuclear war, and some unknown invisible outside force disabled all of the world’s nuclear weapons at the same time in order to save the planet. It would be hard for a sane person to disagree.

A benevolent dictator is functionally the same as a good king isn’t it?

To whatever degree it is real, I think it may only exist in a constrained context, whether externally or artificially, where ambition is limited to the maintenance of a status quo. And so it may not have definite limits, but it may not last indefinitely. If there is an ambition to increase stature, or wealth, it can only be benevolent to those who benefit according to that goal. Conquest was once the common measure of expansion, now it is apparently called “progress”, but the essence of the ambition is the same. It is not so simple as this expression, but I think part of the ultimate question may essentially be reduced to a choice between stasis and change, and I believe much of the answer may be obscured by not seeing that choice clearly, or seeing it as more of an absolute than it actually is.

In that respect what I remain attached to about democracy and even capitalism is not so much that they promote change, but that they do not promote stasis; or in effect promote stagnation, as is the essential flaw in it seems every totalitarian paradigm. But even real reform typically plays out as rejection without respect, so we end up adding more ideological blinders to the very realities of our motivations, often giving them more insidious power. And we find ourselves following the same old dictators in ever more refined disguises.

You make a good point. Nevertheless, the current world may demand a benevolent dictatorship in extreme situations when compared to the alternatives. Unless of course, we somehow have no right to stop people who have a deathwish for the world.

I suppose someone somewhere could actually make that argument. But I receive the distinct impression that the consequences wouldn’t effect them.

Since evil is a point of view, evil may see itself as benevolent too.

I see ethical capitalism as a stepping stone towards a utopian future. It’s chaotic and incentivizes people to not stand still.

I have to admit: I don’t like constant change for the sake of change. I think it’s better to conserve what’s tried and true while upgrading it. There’s no point surviving if our values don’t survive with us. In that respect, I see nothing necessarily harmful about preserving our inherited or chosen identities. As long as it’s a choice and not hurting anyone. But liberty versus determinism is another topic. Obviously for many, some things aren’t a choice, either due to biology or the suffocation of free will.

Yeah. In general I’m skeptical of dictators, benevolent or not. Marx’s temporary “dictatorship of the proletariat” was no doubt intended to be benevolent, but we all know how that turned out in practice.

That said, dictatorships can work if they’re transparent, voluntary, and offer an exit strategy. In the open source community, for example, we have what’s called a benevolent dictator for life or BDFL. The idea is that there’s a individual who has the final say on a project (often because they founded it), but contributions may come from anyone. If the BDFL wishes to retain control of the project, it is in their interest to be benevolent, and be open to community feedback - otherwise, contributors will fork the project. This works quite well in practice because the BDFL is usually much more invested than individuals, and decisions tend to take into consideration the project as a whole. Whereas democratic decisions are often less informed or may come from individuals who have not made significant contributions to the project.

IMO, this approach only works because the labour is voluntary, if the BDFL doesn’t coerce anyone (through payment or otherwise) into doing work that the individual doesn’t want to. Work is done because the contributor agrees with the project’s goals. This an altogether different relationship from that of a boss/employee where the relationship is grounded in extrinsic reward.

Regarding change, I think it depends on the particulars. One problem with change is that can be needlessly destructive, whereas maintaining the status quo may provide stability. The opposite is true of course - in the case of continuing the fossil fuel industry, for example. So I’m definitely a particularist when it comes to change.

It makes me wish that libertarianism was a viable ideology, but alas it only helps the corporate establishment in this context by cutting all safety nets for the poor and completely deregulating self-destructive psychopathic greed. The end result is only the productive are helped (because the establishment needs them). If that ideology were consistent and didn’t believe in welfare for anyone, great or small, then it would be far more digestible.

The anti-authoritarian in me loves the idea of voluntary association and personal liberty. I think, however, we often vastly underestimate how stupid people can be. People will choose leaders who don’t care about the people’s best interests, and in the case of the U.S., politicians are mostly corrupted by money and power no matter who they are and no matter how noble their intentions are.

It’s a sad state of affairs; I wish people could be properly educated so they could make truly informed choices. The corporate media doesn’t help either which is why I am so averse to the idea of internet censorship. It needs to remain chaotic so more ideas can roam free. Unfortunately, that comes with a price. We won’t all like all free speech.

It reminds me of the D&D Avatar trilogy. People were free to choose their own gods, and many people chose to worship evil gods even when there were good ones. Of course, there are always forces beyond people’s control that shape people which need to be considered.

Like I said, I believe that ethical capitalism is the way forward. It’s possible to make money and progress without hurting anyone. I know that some people would prefer other solutions but we will have to agree to disagree. An informed democratic process would be great.

If people aren’t rewarded for having a conscience then they will “evolve” to not have one.

Any theory would need to take into account that people may act stupidly. People as less likely to act stupidly if they are directly involved in a project though, because the consequences will be evident to them personally. One thing I like about the benelovent dictator approach (limited to a project) is that the dictatorship is only held up by the people doing the work. Leaders aren’t chosen, rather a project is chosen because the workers agree with the project’s goals. A leader’s power is limited by the constraints of interest in the leader’s approach to the project; if a rival project produces a better approach, the leader loses their power.

Once money is introduced, that relationship changes because the motivations of those involved change.

One problem with capitalism is that is not have any built in mechanism for limiting power. Rather, in actively encourages the growth of power in the most psychopathic way possible. Ethical captialism may only be possible to a limited degree because participants must compete with unethical captialism which the system rewards by design.

This is true. However, in the long run, monopolies do more harm than good unless people suddenly become angels, and even then it might not be an ideal situation because you live in the shadow of a monopoly that shuts down the competition because it is incentivized by self-preservation.

Nevertheless, the concept of having an anti-authoritarian hierarchy is fascinating due to its voluntary nature.

Ideally, governments should break up monopolies, but they have no real incentive to do it if they profit from the status quo.

In a chaotic world all ideas are free to exist. But that comes with a price, like I said. If order can become totalitarian then it stands to reason that chaos can be benevolent.

If you look at capitalism for example, it’s easy to see that money is a powerful incentive.

I recommend a book, Geoffrey. It’s called Binding Chaos by Heather Marsh. Basically she talks about what I just described, but applied to a whole society. It would be more sceptical had I not seen the same process working in the open source and creative commons communities.

Money certainly works to incentivise the individual. For the social good (and the future), money tends not work as an insentive because it must compete with the near-term goal of profit. When companies do plan for the long term, it’s for the long term health of the company rather for the social or environmental good. I also wonder how well money would work if it people already had the resources to live without it (so it was actually a choice, rather than coercion).