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In religion and economics, cause and effect are very hard to prove

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leonmen

"In religion and economics, cause and effect are very hard to prove"

In previous blogs I have stated that economists have found an inverse correlation between religiosity and economics, more religion less economic success. On reflection the main cause of this is also the simplest reason (as it almost always is):
In societies that are more religious more resources are allocated to the teaching and practice of religion than to secular studies. This effect is particularly aggravated in countries where resources are anyway low and loading the country up with religious scholars will not help the economics. So the outcome is that the country becomes poorer still and even more religious - a vicious downward spiral!
This effect will be seen in almost all M

leonmen in reply to leonmen

...............Muslim countries but in particular Egypt. The Muslim scholars say that birth control is a wicked thing so we see population explosions in these countries, less secular learning and even more religion. This means starvation, subsidies and riots and always looking for the next foreign scapegoat. Of course religion is never to blame.

LexHumana in reply to leonmen

You cite to an inverse correlation, but that does not determine the direction of the causation. You are assuming that increased religiosity leads to less economic success; however, it is equally likely (perhaps even more likely) that the causal relationship is reversed -- less economic success leads people to find solace in religion.

LexHumana in reply to R77wYfR8Qw

That is why trying to equate religiosity and economic success is so problematic to begin with. Economic success has many contributing factors, and those factors can be also contributing factors to religiosity. Thus, as I was pointing out, correlation is not the same as causation. For example, the U.S. began an enormous post-war economic expansion in the 1950s, which had nothing to do with religiosity -- the U.S. was one of the few industrialized nations left essentially intact after the war, and became the main engine of growth for the globe. It coincided with a relatively high level of religiosity, but the two were not necessarily causally connected.
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There are many historical examples of religiosity and cultural and economic growth occurring at the same time. The spread of the Islamic world under the Umayyads and Abbasids between 600 and 1200 BCE coincided with the establishment of universities, growth in science and mathematics, and flourishing of architecture and arts. Similarly, between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the rise of what we refer to as the High Middle Ages, the Christian church was the sole consistent repository of libraries and universities, and a patron of art, architecture and music.
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I think it is far to easy for people to jump to simplistic conclusions and try to cover the expanse of human history with broad strokes and stereotypes, and religion (being a polarizing concept in today's world) is an easy scapegoat for a myriad of ills that have nothing to do with religion. It is simpler for people to dismiss world problems as being based on religion rather than have to engage intellectually with the numerous nuances that actually influence human history.

R77wYfR8Qw in reply to LexHumana

You write - It is simpler for people to dismiss world problems as being based on religion rather than have to engage intellectually with the numerous nuances that actually influence human history.
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Exactly. I used the USA example to point out how pointless the paper is.
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Similar story with guns. There is countries with lots of guns and lots of murders, lots of guns and few murders, few guns and any number of murders. Basically no correlation.
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But if some dislikes religion or guns, they always tend to find those skewed examples.

Fabelhaft

Timely study. In considering mans coming choice; if Western societies continue to indebt and degenerate into further dysfunction. Such choices have already been made in much of Asia. Which is void of the Orthodox Christianity focused as a cause in the study. China, now seeing the West -- as is, or more precisely -- as has become; might prefer its homogeneous stability --along with other Asian countries. As it is obvious, the West is going to try and print its way out of past miscalculations. While instituting martial laws in various forms --- to thwart democratic opinion, when it is unfavorable to those with wherewithal. E.g, criminalizing Putin and Trump, feet dragging on Brexit; perversions of justice originating where Orthodox Christianity can not be blamed.
The debate is as simple as 'give me peace' of mind, or 'give me confusion'. Orthodox Christianity, the latest target of Western angst, is without sin in this struggle of good vs. evil.

leonmen

But of course it must be emphasised that the most religious of countries during certain periods of their development also made the greatest suppression of knowledge .Science almost came to a stop both in Spain and the Islamic world from the 1500's up until the 19oo's a blow that the Spanish and Ottoman Empires never recovered. The various Vatican Popes also did everything in their power to murder Italian genius's of science whose discoveries might have undermined the belief in the Lord Almighty and his creation.
There would have been no way that Isaac Newton the greatest scientist of all times could have worked in Spain or the Ottoman Empire and made his discoveries. And of course there were no academic Institutions or academic scientific books either.

ashbird in reply to leonmen

That's right, @leonmen!! Great post! Thanks for noting all that.
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Important history lessons to learn which, needly to say, there are among us who never learned.
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Indeed, the same perpetuate in the circular argument that all knowledge stems from the Bible. The Bible the Bible the Bible, is the only book you ever need to read. From it and it alone, you learn and become "better informed", for the Bible is the most informative thing found anywhere in the world - About science, about medicine, about law (including the US Constitution) , about mathematics, about schizophrenia, about mental retardation, about surgery, about dentistry, about political theories, about economic theories, about climatology, about geology, about geography, about oceanography, about cosmology, about astronomy, about botany, about zoology, about metallurgy..... and about how to make bread, how to brew a decent cup of coffee, how to drive, how to play tennis...... and last but certainly not least, how to read with comprehension. The Bible is the most informative book in the world. All other books should be burnt. And all brains should be bound, until they shrunk into the size of that of a gnat.

leonmen in reply to ashbird

There are many religious Jews that believe that everything you need to know is written in the Talmud.
In fact during my army reserve duty days I would take lots of historical books to read on all sorts of subjects and I was criticized by a fellow reservist, a religious medical orderly that he had no idea why I should read such a diverse number of books , how was it possible to gain in knowledge by reading this eclectic collection.
I answered him that the Greeks believed that the way to heaven is through study whilst the Jew believed the same but only from the Talmud. This is one of the main cultural differences between the two. Unfortunately Christianity then followed the Jewish example.
In fact the Greeks said that from the true rational study of religion and the gods one would became a non believer in the gods (an atheist). This I believe still hold true.

leonmen in reply to leonmen

"the Greeks believed that the way to heaven is through study whilst the Jew believed the same but only from the Talmud."

'the way to heaven' should have been written 'a way to a higher spiritual level'. I don't think Greeks believed in heaven.

ashbird in reply to leonmen

Thanks, leonmen!
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You told me something I hadn't known before about religious Jews. I had no idea! I suppose these would be folks in Hasidism whose men keep their long curly sideburn, women seldom go out, and the community is quite insulated from rest of the larger and diverse community?
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Of course I revere early Greek civilization! The lucky thing is the works of the thinkers in that civilization have survived for us to read about!! Around and about the same period in world history - c. 600+ BC, an Eastern thinker (by "Eastern" I mean in East Asia) arrived at a similar (similar to the Socratic method) principle of Knowledge, which states that learning never ceases for the reason it is a dynamic and never-ending process. The goal of learning is to 明德. We were taught this principle even as we were little kids in grades school. Half a century and many degree- acronyms later, I still am unable to translate 明德 in a manner to my own satisfaction, which is to say without distortion or oversimplification; the difficulty in this translation is the concepts represented by each one of the two characters simply do not exist in another language, say, English.
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Anyway, learning requires first gathering and assembling a body of *information* which coverage must be as wide and accurate as possible. Following information gathering, the next step is *synthesis*. Synthesis is where the making (or breaking) of knowledge happens. Synthesis requires processing by an organ called the 'brain". There are folk who simply fail at the information-intake stage - they can't read, and have not the foggiest idea they can't! "Can't read" is a serious disability. The only disability more disabling is 0-0 vision. Synthesis demands considerable mental vigor and the willingness to exert. The presence or absence of these two requirements readily reveals itself.
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ashbird in reply to leonmen

"the Greeks believed that the way to heaven is through study whilst the Jew believed the same but only from the Talmud."
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'the way to heaven' should have been written 'a way to a higher spiritual level'. I don't think Greeks believed in heaven.
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I understand. Totally.
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Indeed, "a way to a higher spiritual level".
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That level is not approached, achieved, or attained through or by regurgitating a Holy Book (any one, doesn't matter which) backward, frontward, sideward, at the touch of a button and insertion of a coin, like a vending-machine.
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For such vacuous exercise promotes abject ignorance. When ignorance is voluntary (in the case of a brain without any matter in it, grey or white, the ignorance would not be voluntary), willful (as in a couch potato that watches boobs butts and twerks all day drinking Big Gulp and uses a calculator to work out the answer to 10 x 10), there is no redemptive value in that personhood. The irony is such folks truly believe in the sinews of the bones they are smarter and brighter than Newton and Einstein out together, and know more than anyone else in the universe because they talk with a Ghost every day. In our new century and millennia, this ignorance is the most egregious sin against humanity. This is my opinion.

ashbird in reply to ashbird


To @Peace -
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Below , in 3-parts, is reply to your reply to me @May 6th, 8:39 which starts with "One more observation I want to make regarding the nature of death and suffering connected to this discussion, some of which might not make sense to anyone but I am still formulating...."
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Your entire post makes a lot of sense to me (ah, our respective constructive biases meet smack in alignment! Isn’t that cool!).
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Following are some specific points -
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* Re Self-centeredness as the starting point on the path of that journey we both spoke of - My own observation is it is a very very “Western” and “Christian" thing. Hence historically the Crusaders and the Ultimate Truth they reached as demonstrated by their actions. This propensity in self-centeredness still lingers in many strains of Christian thinking. You see it and sense it all over the place on TE’s very own discussion forums, sometimes their feature articles.
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* Re Fear of death. I myself have never understood why people fear death in the first place. Everybody dies, the fairest and most just thing in life. But if people choose to fear it, that’s their choice. A self-centered individual would (indeed there is no archetype superior to our Mr President at the moment) lives his/her entire life thinking the goal of it is to accumulate goods for a proof positive of life. The price of this accumulation is foregoing the meaning of life. And Yes, serene contemplation is only possible when the self is transcended.
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* “When one has done that, one finds another paradox: For while it may at first seem that death defeats all meaning to living, in fact the meaning of one's life is created only by the inevitably of death and therefore the understanding of one's own impermanence. More specifically, the universal truth of death combined with the freedom to choose one's actions in life allows one's life's meaning to be personal and chosen.” I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks .

ashbird in reply to ashbird

Part 2 -

* "There would be no use to a life that never ends. There would be no sense that one must accomplish anything at all, that one must imprint something good and worthy onto the fabric of existence with one's finite time here.” <<— I refer to Maugham’s various writings, in particular Razor’s Edge. Cynical folks will say Maugham is "mawkish". What do they know, they have never read anything they don't need to. And anything they don't need to is anything they try to read but doesn't understand.
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* “This Universe possesses no inherent meaning to give to you, but it is not devoid of meaning: It is a container to be filled by the meaning we choose by our free will to put into it.” Agree.
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* “Our freedom to choose allows it to be terrible or beautiful.” Agree again. But note a built-in construction bias in that thought. Sometimes what is regarded beautiful by one construction is regarded as ugly by another, I think depending on the quality of the stuff between 2 ears inside the skull.
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* “But this does not mean that anyone really "dies" either. Every moment you live is eternal and infinite the same as the true nature of the space and time you occupy; It is only an illusion we experience as beings occupying the third dimension that time and space are things that "pass". Each moment of space and time we experience has always been and will always be. What Christians and other faiths call heaven and hell exist in each moment of consciousness as an eternity, although this is really a point misunderstood by a lot of Christians and religious people even.” Right and right again!!! They have not the foggiest idea! Drown in self-righteousness and, in truth, self-inferiority, all they want to accomplish is prove they are “better”. I don’t talk to folks like that. They are sick.
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* “And it is in this sense that the ‘afterlife’ exists. That the ‘soul’ exists. Paradoxically, there is no afterlife and yet there also is. There is no soul and yet there is.” Well, for myself, since a child, I think in those very same terms. I don’t know why anyone would think differently. But then it is none of my business how they think, that is to say, none of my business until they transgress on my personal boundaries.
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ashbird in reply to ashbird

Part 3 -
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“The afterlife is not somewhere you go after you die, it is somewhere you never left when you were alive because every moment of your life will always be.” Well, shall we say there are those who call this talk “superstitious”. I also don’t talk with those folks either, not much, though some among them are good at passing the Dawkins Test. For myself, different key, different instrument. One is C-major, the other F-minor. One is a piano, the other is a trombone. No point in trying to make a “duet” of it.
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* ”Heaven is a sublime and unfiltered state of harmony with God/Universe/Whatever you want to call it experienced only through the transcendence of the self in the present moment. It is connection with this that allows one to find and fulfill their purpose”. In this sense, Heaven is right here on Earth. You just have to see it. Again, read Maugham.
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* “Hell is a state of immense suffering from a selfish and hostile stance against the true state of the self, the universe, the Truth, God, whatever you want to call it” . Well said. In this sense, it is the “Empty- vessel- makes-the-most-noise “Heaven-preachers” that has created a veritable Hell right here on Earth.
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Listen, @Peace. Really thank you for all this stuff. For me, it reflects a sincere and strenuous and accountable process in thinking and feeling one’s way through life's persistent Q: What is life what is death?
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I have not expected to encounter this level of sincerity on the pages of TE. You changed the whole mien of this Erasmus forum by the due diligence you exercise, that is to say, diligence of the mind and of the heart. Please continue to keep fit in all ways, and never cease to improve. All best to you. And thank you for your posts.

leonmen in reply to ashbird

"I suppose these would be folks in Hasidism whose men keep their long curly sideburn, women seldom go out, and the community is quite insulated from rest of the larger and diverse community?" your comment.

Well of course they believe this . But also many other very religious people (like the medical orderly , Hasidim don't do the army.) My best friend at work, a religious Jew, would spend hours trying to convince me that evolution is absurd. And he actually had a high I.Q. In the end its all down to indoctrination from the earliest of ages - I think the Jesuits would have agreed with me.

leonmen in reply to ashbird

"Anyway, learning requires first gathering and assembling a body of *information* which coverage must be as wide and accurate as possible." your comment.

This is probably the first problem. What percentage of the population read non fiction history BOOKS. Newspapers, weeklies like TE , Internet don't count. I mean non fiction books written by accredited academics. This is the start in the process of acquiring information. Without this reading one can hardly form a balanced and deep view on world affairs.
People that read quality newspapers and TE of course are still better informed than those that read only internet sites, but not by much, especially on more problematic subjects - bias is still huge. Of course each historian also has his own bias this is why one should try to read more than one book on the subject.
Today propaganda, misinformation, fake news and just simple crass bias can distort what is transmitted and the social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.) will only amplify this noise. The problem in todays society is not 'information' but disinformation - Goebbels would have loved it!

guest-amjjeamj

I read propositions that Russians are strongly genetically predisposed to be obedient, passive, disorganized and tolerant to abuse, because of natural selection. Many generations of Tzarist and Soviet terror system, which killed tens of millions of people for a smallest disobedience, would create natural selection sufficient to create a biologically different population. Earlier was a feudal system, which was particulary brutal in Russia. Obedience to the authority would spread in Russia like resistance to sleeping sickness spread in tropical Africa. Those independent Russians who emigrated abroad or fought and died would actually contribute to the effect, by removing their genes from the gene pool remaining in Russia. I personally don't think it is the case.

guest-amjjeamj

This is result of decades of intense propaganda in Russia and Soviet Union. Propaganda was always telling people they are helpless and should accept what the good dictator gives. Once there was a good Tzar, then a good Communist Prime Secretary, now it is good Putin. It is often difficult to distinguish what is the folk mentality, and what is a new generation of propagandists sneaking a new dictator into a belief system formed by the previous dictatorship. Something tells me that the authors did not evaluate the propaganda effect.

leonmen

Most certainly there are connections between types of religious faith and economic success but these connections are not simple and require far more variables than any simplistic models.
It has been proven many time from many different economists that countries that are more religious tend to be less successful economically .This might be because very religious people are more fatalistic so they feel ambition is pointless . Or maybe religious people do not believe that material wealth is so important therefore they work less. Or maybe religious people spend so much time in prayer during working hours that their productivity is lower.
It could be a religious country has less sceptical people therefore there is less innovation. Or that religious people are more likely to accept the status quo and not seek out change.
The list goes on and on depending also on historical time, geography and climate.

leonmen in reply to leonmen

......... Historians are in agreement that the Islamic faith held back the development of the Ottoman Empire . It has also been agreed that Catholicism and Inquisition kept back Spain from developing and between the end of the Middle ages and the modern period Protestant countries did better economically than Catholic ones.
It has been noted too that minority groups (n0 matter what faith) do better than the rest - the Jews are the most well known example in the West for this but we also have the Chinese and Indians in Africa, so faith is not always the most important variable.
In the case of the Russian Orthodox Church we have a church that was ravaged by the Communist state but was certainly in the times of the Czar the most authoritarian and anti Semitic group amongst all the religions - probably a legacy that it inherited from the Byzantium Empire. They are therefore most reactionary (and nationalistic of all the Christian religions ). The fact that they have great influence on Putin does not bode well for the future.

LexHumana in reply to leonmen

"Historians are in agreement"??
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I am unaware of any modern mainstream historians or historical thought/theory that has actually espouse this. Perhaps if you go back several centuries, you can find mainstream "historians" that had "scientific" explanations for why Protestants were superior to Catholics, or why Christians were superior to Jews. For that matter, you don't have to go back very far to find out why whites were superior to their "little brown brothers" (a quote of Taft about Filipinos), or why they must shoulder the "white man's burden" (quote from Kipling), or why it was perfectly natural that the United State's Manifest Destiny required them to expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific on the corpses of Native Americans. Just because you might find some people that hold that opinion, does not make it correct.

Peace Love and Understanding

This is because at the heart of both religion and economics lies a paradox incomprehensible to basic cause and effect, and once this paradox is conquered man's fate in both the spirit and what he makes of life ultimately is determined by a free will that is not measurable or predictable.

In religion, that paradox is that one must surrender one's self-will to God in order to win. One must lower ones self before others and before God to become great and to achieve one's destiny. One must be honest when all he wants to do is lie, humble where all he wants is acclaim, validation, and a sense of false pride. He must be courageous when his fear tells him to flee, he must be accepting of the things he cannot control which he despises most. He must die in order to be reborn.

And it is largely this same paradox that governs productivity. The one who seeks ever greater control and power over the world annihilates himself and others, who seeks to become God to take over the Universe and shape it to his will, eventually becomes utterly incapable of being of any productive use to anyone.

Constructions of identifiable groupings of beings in the social sciences typically fail because they are attempting to quantify (and therefore limit) what is by its essence limitless in possible definition. Beings of free will are able to change their definition at will through the actions an individual takes under exercise of free will.
We project our own biases onto our constructions of others and are surprised when these constructions fail us. For you see to understand ourselves or another we think we must put them in this little understandable box or range of behavior to expect from someone of that construction.
And we find ourselves quite surprised when they choose to do something totally contrary to our expectation :)

Good post again, @Peace, IMHO. Very good indeed if I may offer my opinion.
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True all that you said.
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With one Caveat: Some constructions are information-based and information-grounded and thus lends itself to malleability as new information comes in and the ground is updated.
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Some are whipped up from nothing except pre-existing dogma that allows nothing "in" as to new information, and nothing "out" as to dated, rotting, decaying misinformation and disinformation.
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There is quite a bit of difference between the two sorts in terms of real life consequences to real people.
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Of course, the blithely irresponsible will always remain blithe to the distinction. There is nothing you can do regarding voluntary and willfull ignorance of this magnitude, except be glad you (we) are not one of that uniquely blessed group.

"With one Caveat: Some constructions are information-based and information-grounded and thus lends itself to malleability as new information comes in and the ground is updated."

I think all constructions are information-based. Some are based on poorer information than others, but all are based on imperfect information. The problem is that the information doesn't follow a locked-in pattern because of what I mentioned above and therefore predictive analysis fails much more often when it comes to studying choices made by autonomous beings.

What is information if not an observation of the Universe which we have necessarily projected our own sensory and constructive biases onto simply through being the one who observed?

".....and therefore predictive analysis fails much more often when it comes to studying choices made by autonomous beings."
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Sure. No question about that. Indeed, that is the meaning of "No man is perfect". "No man" means anyone, anywhere, any faith, any religion, any color, any gender, any political party, any height, any weight, any bra size, any jock size, etc.
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"What is information if not an observation of the Universe which we have necessarily projected our own sensory and constructive biases onto simply through being the one who observed?"
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Again, sure. We all carry our constructive biases. No one is "clean" of that.
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Nonetheless, a FlatEarther's constructive bias cannot be said to pose or present the same margin of error as a RoundEarther's constructive bias. I think certain things are securely established. Unless that is so, the conclusion reached using the logic of "relative bias" would be any condemnation of the Holocaust is the product of constructive bias.
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Anyway, I don' think we have any material disagreement on this point.

I like your question "What is information if not an observation of the Universe which we have necessarily projected our own sensory and constructive biases onto simply through being the one who observed?"
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Here is a quote of Werner Karl Heisenberg "We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning." That quote has been very close to me at work for many many years...

Just to clarify, I'm not saying all constructions are equally flawed.

Transcendence of the self allows for more pure observation and therefore more pure information to form constructions around. Again, the paradox is at the heart of how this works. Allow me to explain although this one is a bit more difficult:

Transcendence of the self exists on a spectrum of human development and involves learning to cease trying to define one's self as separate and opposed from the world and others (and therefore believing it is necessary to be self-seeking). These selfish motives are largely what introduce biases into our observations and therefore give us flawed and incomplete information from which to form our beliefs about the Universe.

It is nothing to be ashamed of, we are all born selfish. We came by it honestly. The true evolution of humankind is to overcome this because it is adaptive to do so to fit into the true realities of the Universe. From an evolutionary perspective, call it a more effective survival niche. Contrary to the popular evolutionary belief that the most self-interested creature is the survivor, the opposite is true: Social creatures are the current peak of evolutionary development and the most pro-social behavior is to transcend the self and serve others in a sort of common good.

This transcendence of the self, through its elimination of self-centered biases projected onto our observations, allows for the purest information to be obtained from which we form more accurate beliefs about how the Universe and other people actually are.

@Peace, Thanks for all 3 subsequent posts @ May 5th, 18:45, 18:48, 18:50. All thoughtful and great stuff.
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".... This transcendence of the self, through its elimination of self-centered biases projected onto our observations, allows for the purest information to be obtained from which we form more accurate beliefs about how the Universe and other people actually are." Of course!!!!
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Many have made that observation, from Somerset Maugham, to Victor Hugo, to Goethe, to Rousseau, to Mandela, to Gandhi, to Buddha, to a host of Eastern philosophers and thinkers - I shan't name their names, for in our presence are strange folks who fake claims they know anything whatsoever about these thinkers. Many try to follow the same path but spottily and give up. Some persevere. Quite a nice choice for a lifelong project. And, let it be noted, the path has got exactly zilch to do with "Christendom". Indeed, as history has shown, "Christendom" sh** on it, since many of its followers can't read, can't think, and don't feel. Period. These are the same folks who want to save your soul and tell you they have both feet in this place called "Heaven".
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"And many of today's scientists are a rough equivalent to these figures to the extent that they are able to impartially examine evidence to draw conclusions. The quality of a scientist is equally due to his/her stage of self-transcendence and therefore ability to more conclusively identify true observation."
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Bravo! Couldn't be better said. Thanks for an edifying chat.

ashbird in reply to ashbird

Incidentally, @Peace, it is for the reason you articulated -->> "And many of today's scientists are a rough equivalent to these figures to the extent that they are able to impartially examine evidence to draw conclusions. The quality of a scientist is equally due to his/her stage of self-transcendence and therefore ability to more conclusively identify true observation." that, even though the guy argues a strong case for it, I do not agree with Richard Dawkins. From his vantage point, he is 100% correct. But get out of that vantage point, he is as bad as the folks he argues against.
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BTW, what is covered in your thought is an area of dissension lightyears away from the sanctimonious guff and piffle of godders and christers who would, because they appear to nurture the delusion that nobody else knows but they alone, tell a native Greek speaker the meanings of Greek words and a physicist about a monk also knew about the Black Hole, or a quantum mechanics physicist about things every physicist knows in physics 101. Cringeing is not even the word.

It is a popular misconception that any of the process that I have described above is conditioned on identification with any particular organized religion, or even any religion at all.

There are multiple paths to the end goal of self-transcendence, and each of the world's major faiths has a slightly different method to follow which all ultimately are aimed towards the same goal in their ideal adoption. The problem is very few people adopt them ideally even those claiming to be great adherents to the faith. In fact the people who protest the loudest of their care for God are often the least connected because for them it is a prideful thing rather than coming from a place of true humility before God.

There are also plenty of secular paths to what I describe, including for atheists. It is not about the label of God at all but living by the most adaptive principles such as honesty and humility. But all of the adherents to those religions or to atheism/agnosticism/general spirituality still project their human flaws onto their labels and constructions of themselves or others or of God.

There are many people who identify as Godly who are not nearly as close to God as they think. There are many people who identify as atheists who are far closer to God than they imagine. Again, these are just labels, constructions based on our imperfect understanding which we apply to ourselves and others imperfectly. When the word God is bandied about for self-serving purposes this is not connection to God, for a real connection to God is necessarily NOT self-serving.

Take Einstein for instance.

What was the core breakthrough of his Theories of Relativity? That a perception of reality is necessarily relative to the observer in space/time, and that those in different positions resting on the fabric of space/time experience the flow of time differently.

How could he have seen that perception is relative to the observer without first seeing that his own perceptions were relative to him in order to know to test that hypothesis? Without transcending the self how could he have done so?

@Peace,
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Re your post roughly 3 hours ago beginning with "It is a popular misconception..." -
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Sure! Every word, comma and period. That's it!! I couldn't have said it any better. Good for you!!! And thanks!!
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It is not necessary at this point for me to quote any further from your writing. ALL of what you wrote is BRAVO as far as I am concerned.
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People are stuck up with theirso-called "God" for the simple reason there have nothing - absolutely nothing - to show for their claim of "superiority" over others, in anything, including the capacity to love another human being. That's why they constantly have to cloak their muddleness with respect to any self-knowledge and knowledge of others. They are perpetually looking for someone they want to prove is lesser than they, whose fulfillment is lesser than theirs, whose knowledge is "less informative" than theirs, etc. etc. etc. I must say a certain brand of "Christians" are the most adept in this game. Most of other world religions DO NOT engage in this infantile exercise. And of course when they know they have nothing to show for their "superiority", they pretend they can't read, or worse, total imbecility, followed by tossing a verse from the Bible, and exit their own game, until the next time.

Of course.

One more observation I want to make regarding the nature of death and suffering connected to this discussion. Some of this may not make sense I'm still formulating it myself:

It is also self-centeredness that leads one to fear death, to misunderstand life and death, and to suffer from the thought of death.

For it is only from a position of self-centeredness where one can think that they are composed of only this separate body in a world hostile to that body's very existence. And they live their life thinking the only goal of it is to struggle against death to protect this body's life, to reproduce one's body's genes, all the while knowing ultimately in the end death will defeat them and everything they love regardless. And this thought of life's ultimate futility creates great suffering in the self-centered individual.

Perhaps one lives under an illusion that there is something that can be done to never die, or one never confronts the question of death at all to avoid their fear of life's scarcity. But in doing so, they sacrifice an understanding of the meaning of their existence that comes only with the sentient and serene contemplation of the impermanence of their existence and the nature of impermanence of all things in their existence. This serene contemplation is only possible when the self is transcended.

When one has done that, one finds another paradox: For while it may at first seem that death defeats all meaning to living, in fact the meaning of one's life is created only by the inevitably of death and therefore the understanding of one's own impermanence.

More specifically, the universal truth of death combined with the freedom to choose one's actions in life allows one's life's meaning to be personal and chosen. There would be no use to a life that never ends. There would be no sense that one must accomplish anything at all, that one must imprint something good and worthy onto the fabric of existence with one's finite time here.

We would be static objects like the non-living matter that surrounds us if we could not die, just as it cannot die, rather than free and autonomous beings who can thrive and create meaning. Why move at all when the movement takes you truly nowhere?

This Universe possesses no inherent meaning to give to you, but it is not devoid of meaning: It is a container to be filled by the meaning we choose by our free will to put into it. It is shaped by those who borrow time here into whatever we make of it. The meaning to this Universe is created by the mortal life that sprung from its eternal matter for the very purpose of choosing its meaning. And it is only death that allows this function to be fulfilled. Our freedom to choose allows it to be terrible or beautiful. Our shortcomings and our virtues are both imprinted.

But this does not mean that anyone really "dies" either. Every moment you live is eternal and infinite the same as the true nature of the space and time you occupy; It is only an illusion we experience as beings occupying the third dimension that time and space are things that "pass". Each moment of space and time we experience has always been and will always be. What Christians and other faiths call heaven and hell exist in each moment of consciousness as an eternity, although this is really a point misunderstood by a lot of Christians and religious people even.

And it is in this sense that the "afterlife" exists. That the "soul" exists. Paradoxically, there is no afterlife and yet there also is. There is no soul and yet there is. The afterlife is not somewhere you go after you die, it is somewhere you never left when you were alive because every moment of your life will always be. There is an afterlife because life doesn't really have a beginning and an end as birth and death may at first suggest this is an illusion of our constructed meaning. If every moment it was lived was in fact eternally imprinted onto the fabric of existence, how can one ever truly be gone from it? Perhaps one has returned to a state of static again having fulfilled their chosen function, but this is not a bad place to be after having fulfilled one's purpose.

Heaven is a sublime and unfiltered state of harmony with God/Universe/Whatever you want to call it experienced only through the transcendence of the self in the present moment. It is connection with this that allows one to find and fulfill their purpose . Hell is a state of immense suffering from a selfish and hostile stance against the true state of the self, the universe, the Truth, God, whatever you want to call it, also experienced in the present moment of existence. It is this state in which one's life passes one by, and one passes through it hollow and devoid of meaning, robbed of it by one's obsession with the self.

Hi, @Peace,
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I wrote a 2-part reply to @leonman's great post above. Some of what I wrote pertains to your reply to me @May 6th, 08:39.
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Appreciate your exhaustive exploration. I shall continue to reply to the substance of your reply above. Down here, we have an idiot who talks to himself and disrupts the continuity of our thoughts - His classic MO, a "Christian" one. Not all Christians are like this. He is a TROLL. A real sick one at that. Thanks.

Mmmmmmmmmmm......... :-) :-) :-) so amazing & very very timely, God surely speaks to us through the whole of the Scripture. This was the Gospel Reading for this past Saturday… :-) :-) :-)
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John 15:18-21
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Jesus said to his disciples:
"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you,
'No slave is greater than his master.'
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me."

Mmmmmmmmmmm......... Also, this was the 1st Reading for 16th March this year… Amazing… :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
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Wisdom2:1A, 12-22
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The wicked said among themselves,
thinking not aright:
"Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.
To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
merely to see him is a hardship for us,
Because his life is not like that of others,
and different are his ways.
He judges us debased;
he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
He calls blest the destiny of the just
and boasts that God is his Father.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put him to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him."
These were their thoughts, but they erred;
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they knew not the hidden counsels of God;
neither did they count on a recompense of holiness
nor discern the innocent souls' reward.
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:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

ashbird

Great subject! Thanks, Erasmus.
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The material introduced attests to the breadth and depth of the inquiry involved in attempts to arrive at tentative conclusory impressions.
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I include a link to joint work done by Gani Aldasheva University of Namur, Belgium, and and Jean-Philippe Platteaua, University of Oxford, UK, followed by a cut-and-paste content page highlighting some issues previously studied. The pdf file in the link allows for detailed reading.
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http://perso.fundp.ac.be/~galdashe/rcd.pdf
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21.1. Introduction
21.2. The Effect of Religion on Individual Behavior
21.2.1 Evidence from the United States and Western Europe
21.2.2 International Evidence
21.2.3 Evidence from Developing Countries and History
21.2.4 The Effect of Religion-Driven Institutions and Laws on Economic
and Political Performances
21.2.4.1 Kuran’s Thesis – the Institutional Trap Inherited by the Middle East from the Islamic Law
21.2.4.2 Goody’s Thesis – the Critical Role of Family Reforms in Western Europe
21.3. The Role of Religion as a Response to Market or State Imperfections
21.3.1 Adoption of an Established Universal Religion as an Escape Strategy
21.3.2 Religious Conversion as an Adaptive Strategy
21.3.3 The Strategic Use of Religious Symbols: The Wearing of the Veil
21.4. Market Structure Models: The Effect of Competition on Religion
21.4.1 Spatial Competition Models
21.4.2 Empirical Evidence
21.5. The State as a Strategic Actor: A Political Economics Approach
21.5.1 Religion as a Supporting Ideology for Nation-Building
21.5.1.1 In the Christian World
21.5.1.2 In the Muslim World
21.5.2 Instrumentalization of Religion by Authoritarian Rulers
21.5.3 Islamic Law and Autocratic Rulers 21.6. Conclusion.
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Hope this contributes to the discussion.

ProgsCon

I think you can make these same kind of religion versus economic system comparisons across all of the major religions worldwide - not just with Russia.
Confucianism in China, Shintoism in Japan, Hinduism in India, general Christianity in the US and Northern Europe. They all have their inconsistencies, drivers and interesting relationships to the systems prevalent in that particular country.

Sense Seeker

I find it much more plausible that economic factors cause changes in religious beliefs and practices than the other way around. But causality probably goes both ways, and in any case, cross-sectional studies are a poor basis for causal inference.
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Randomised controlled trials are difficult in this field, but the least I'd expect would be longitudinal studies.

guest-ajonslso in reply to Sense Seeker

The fact that religion influences economic factors is easily provable - I don’t think the same for the opposite, in particular considering not the influence from society tout court, but from economic parameters. It’s a genuine question, do you know any example?

Sense Seeker in reply to guest-ajonslso

Not my area and I don't know of a formal study, but in his book 'Talking to my daughter about the economy' Yanis Varoufakis gives the example of attitudes towards rent on borrowed money. In Biblical and Medieval times, this was 'usury' and considered taboo (as it still is in much of the Islamic world). As market economics rose in importance, this became a hindrance. Capitalism requires lending and borrowing; it greatly enhances economic activity. Protestantism did away with the whole usury thing and now, major streams of Christianity and capitalism go together just fine. Think Mormons or other US Christian groups.
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Whereas Jesus reportedly said that 'it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God', many present-day US Christians consider money and rent to be an expression of God's blessing. There was a tension between religion and economics. Economics won out.

ashbird in reply to guest-ajonslso

Certainly a great Q. Not only genuine, but has bearing to the article, not a million miles off tangent presented in one-color crayon, said to be "better". What else is new, the more lacking, the better.
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The following chapters in link provided above, I think, help shed some light, though, obviously no all black v. all white answer, the answers of fools.
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21.2.4 The Effect of Religion-Driven Institutions and Laws on Economic
and Political Performances.
.
21.2.4.1 Kuran’s Thesis – the Institutional Trap Inherited by the Middle East from the Islamic Law
.
21.3. The Role of Religion as a Response to Market or State Imperfections
.
21.3.1 Adoption of an Established Universal Religion as an Escape Strategy
.
21.3.2 Religious Conversion as an Adaptive Strategy
.
21.4. Market Structure Models: The Effect of Competition on Religion
.
21.4.2 Empirical Evidence
.
21.5. The State as a Strategic Actor: A Political Economics Approach
.
21.5.1 Religion as a Supporting Ideology for Nation-Building
.
21.5.2 Instrumentalization of Religion by Authoritarian Rulers.
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Thanks for the Q.
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ashbird in reply to Sense Seeker

@Sense, Lovely answer. I thought not one iota of misrepresentation.
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"There was a tension between religion and economics. Economics won out." Yes!
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There is a human reason why economics won out.
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The reason is Jesus' one fish can no longer feed crowds of thousands ( that's a metaphor, for the reading-comprehension- challenged).
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Further more, other than administering to the spiritual needs of people, a perfectly legitimate line of work [spiritual needs is the top rung on Maslow's ladder], clerics are rent-seekers just like everybody else is a rent-seeker as rent-seeking is broadly defined. The worse or worst among them, especially if all they ever do, or could do, or capable of doing, is pray, the rest of the time being in a deep fog about things they absolutely cannot wrap their minds around, being of one-track mind and mal-informed, dis-informed, un-informed about anything else outside the track, are the worst rent-seekers. Unless one believes in the merit of soul-saving as a paid vocation, clerics are in fact the worst parasites of society. Why? Ans: Somebody pays for their room and board and doctors' bill when they are sick, and if they have family, their families'. The somebody is not they, but the rest of society - that is to say, the one we all live in before transit Heaven or Hell. And don't forget churches enjoy many tax exemptions as religious organizations. They pay mighty little taxes. The mind-numbing ignorance and hypocrisy of such folks is positively sickening.