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The Talmud (Eruvin 13b) similarly recounts how for three years the sages debated whether humanity would have been better off had the world not been created. The Sanhedrin (the Jewish Supreme Court of antiquity) "ruled" that humanity would have been better off had the universe not been created, but now that we do exist, we should at least "examine our behavior" (i.e., now that we’re here, we might as well try to make the best of things). Updike’s Bech seems to reach a similar conclusion, absent the moralistic caveat: "the void should have been left unvexed, should have been spared this trouble of matter, of life, and worst, of consciousness." The entire universe, Bech believes, is merely a "blot on nothingness."If all anti-natalism did was complain that we exist, that would be pretty pointless, but it does bear on ongoing decisions (i.e., don't reproduce). I find it interesting that the Talmud agrees broudly with anti-natalism! But the key is always what knowing the truth should make you do. Beliefs are arrangements of neurons, the purpose of which is to make muscles contract.
New York Times bestselling author Richard Dawkins will tour the United States in April to screen his new film, "The Unbelievers", and answer audience questions. The evolutionary biologist will be joined by internationally known physicist Lawrence Krauss, and at one stop by magician Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller. Filmmakers Gus Holwerda and Luke Holwerda of Black Chalk Productions will also appear and take questions.
The film is a road trip documentary that follows Dawkins and Krauss as they make stops around the world, from Australia to New York, to speak out for reason and science. "One of the most remarkable things about making The Unbelievers," said Gus Holwerda, "was to reveal the Richard Dawkins that you don't see in public life. He can be a bulldog at the podium when it comes to defending science and reason, but in the film we see him for the person he is, extremely warm and personable."
Several celebrities appear in the film to support Dawkins and Krauss on their journey to promote reason and science, including Stephen Hawking, Stephen Colbert, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Werner Herzog, and Bill Maher. The movie ends with The Reason Rally, an Washington DC event in 2012 that was the largest atheist rally in history.
The media was hyping prayer studies intensely by the late 1990s, but the article in Archives was the high water mark. The journal article caught the attention of skeptical scientists, who decried the absurdity of its methodology. The families and friends of patients in the nonprayer groups probably prayed for them, too, making it impossible to separate the control group from the test group. Does it matter how much time a patient is prayed for or to which God his prayers are directed? How do we know people were really praying? (A cheeky Dutch physician even claimed that he was telepathically influencing the results from across the Atlantic, thereby nullifying the research.)Full article here, h/t Niveque on fb.
Jules Verne said that reality provides us with facts so romantic that imagination itself could add nothing to them. Think about this: Over aeons, inert matter blindly assembled itself into things which can suffer and love, which can help each other, which can write haiku and taste wine. The same stuff makes up the sun and the rocks and forests and our minds. Continents slid apart, mountains grew and crumbled, dinosaurs turned into hummingbirds, a whale died and settled into the seabottom sand, only to be uncovered under the San Diego Zoo. All these things are like waves traveling down through time until enough converged that pieces of the universe awakened. And through those pieces the universe is experiencing itself, in this room, right now.
Now think about this: the world will keep spinning and the sun will keep burning and eventually, each of us will have a last sunset, and a last kiss, and we'll exit the stage one last time. So too, in some unimaginably distant future, will the set pieces themselves disappear - first the Sun, then even matter itself. If in five billion years the ground beneath us is intact and above water, if there is anything sitting on it watching the last of the sun's glow, we'll have the same luck imagining it as bacteria have of imagining us. If in 10^10^70th years there is still some medium floating in space somehow storing haiku and the taste of wine, it too will disappear forever as black holes swallow the last matter and protons themselves decay.
But finally think about this: the more we learn about this play, the less it seems to be about us. The more we learn about it the more it seems the actors are a tiny afterthought on a stage so huge that we're beneath notice. Yes, that is true, but it's also irrelevant. Because in this precious fleeting moment when some genes and memories have bound themselves together as YOU, YOU are here. You can suffer and love, and help others to suffer or love. You can write haiku and taste wine. That is all that can ever matter. In this moment you are part of the ongoing story of creation, making new waves to travel down through time, deciding what lines to deliver. It's an enormous responsibility but it's also a gift we have: it's the superpower of being alive. Let's use it well.
...in both international and cross-state U.S. data, there is a signi cant negative relationship between religiosity and innovativeness...DAYUM, they're not screwing around. And a word for non-economics junkies: this is an even stronger statement than it may seem. Innovativeness is crucially important to economic growth, because without new technology, the economy really does reduce to people just passing the same already-extant wealth back and forth to each other. Which tends to stay within families and ethnic power blocs, which explains the traps that a lot of developing countries get into. (And which many of them are finally getting out of.)
the paper develops a model with three key features: (i) the recurrent arrival of scienti c discoveries which, if widely diffused and implemented, generate productivity gains but sometimes also erode existing religious beliefs (a source of utility for some agents) by contradicting important aspects of the doctrine; (ii) a government that can allow such ideas and innovations to spread, or spend resources to censor them and impede their di¤usion; (iii) a religious organization or sector (Church or churches) that can, at a cost, undertake an adaptation of the doctrine that renders it more compatible with the new knowledge.
"We use all our time for work and to improve our village," he says.Christians and Muslims in neighboring towns have reacted with anger and sometimes violence (throwing a grenade at one point.) Why? There's only one thing worse than when you ignore religious authority; it's when you ignore religious authority and you're obviously flourishing as a result. We can anticipate the reaction: "Well money isn't everything. Or sanitation. Or literacy. Or our kids getting an education." But that's obvious sour grapes when the world isn't turning out the way certain people insist it should. And it seems like a lot of their neighbors are in fact "getting it".
One reason the people of Awra Amba are able to work so hard is that they do not follow organized religion.
In neighboring Christian and Muslim villages, residents respect the Sabbath and holidays. "They have quite frequent religious days, so on those days, they don't go to [do] farming work," says sociologist Ashenafi Alemu of Ethiopia's University of Gondar. "But for Awra Amba, this is not the case. They work every day."
The lack of religion is not the only competitive advantage for Awra Amba. The village invests a lot of energy in educating its children and diversifying its economy. It also embraces gender equality. You will see women here doing what is traditionally considered "men's work," like plowing, which effectively doubles the workforce.
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