Ferro

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Human Evil and Muddled Thinking

Well, professed beliefs and behavior-motivating beliefs are often integral. However, usually conversion rather than immolation is the goal of a believer who believes that atheists will burn in hell for eternity. Generally, the goal is to get everyone to heaven, and most people realize that by burning an atheist, they are not being rational about their faith, and secondly not making it look good. In fact, rarely in any religious text (perhaps excluding the Koran - correct me if I'm wrong) does one find an instruction to kill atheists.

Human Evil and Muddled Thinking

I assume that what you are referring to are some of the laws encountered in the Old Testament, which were part of a legal structure designed to apply to the Israelite nation (and no one else, point of interest). From a Judaism perspective, the law is supposed to apply only to Jews - those who are part of the religion and the race. Only Jews are affected, unless people attack the Jews and the Jews fight back (see most of the Israeli conflicts). From a Christian perspective, there is an explanation about the relevance of the Law to Christianity, explaining that as Christianity replaced Judaism, for obvious reasons sacrifices did not need to be carried out anymore. For similar reasons, the whole of the Mosaic Law did not need to be adhered to; the important things according to Jesus were to 'love God, and love your neighbour as yourself'. So, those are the operatives on which Christians are supposed to base their behavior. I think you would agree that Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Confucianism, along with most of the minor religions and cults do not pose much of a threat to humanity in terms of the instructions contained within them. Islam, granted, is a whole other story. There are a number of contradictions in the Koran for which complicated rules have been devised to find out the 'correct' interpretation, based on which part was written first and whether the Hadith applies, etcetera. There is particular conflict over whether to act on Surat At-Tabwah 9:5 ('kill the Polytheists wherever you find them... and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush') or Surat Al-Baqarah 2:256 ('Let there be no compulsion in religion'). The Hadith has even more to say on the issue. Most moderate Muslims place the latter Surat over the former, many Shiites however interpret it a different way.
In any case, the number of non-hypocritical people who would be doing massive amounts of good would outweigh the number of non-hypocrites doing evil - although the definitions of 'Good' and 'Evil' have to be looked at in the context of - wait for it! religion. However if, as I assume (please correct me if I'm wrong) you are basically a Utilitarian, it can be deduced that the net amount of human suffering would decrease if people were non-hypocritical about their religion. Of course, interpretation will always play a part. I hope that answers your comment/question.

The Futility of Emergence

True. Higgs Boson anyone?

Human Evil and Muddled Thinking

Most religions do not dictate that heretics be burned at the stake. And if all religious people were non-hypocritical to the basic tenets of a religion (see Ten Commandments, Five Pillars of Islam, etcetera) rather than to specific instructions that are open to interpretation, the world would probably be a much better place.

Human Evil and Muddled Thinking

I find it eerie how intellectually close O'Brien's mindset is to that of the pure Post-Modernist of today (for the purpose of comparison, we will disregard the fact that the word 'pure' in relation to post-modernism is an oxymoron). If a meteor smashed through a roof, someone then cleaned up the mess and patched a hole in the roof, then erased the memories of those in proximity at the time, then the meteor never fell. This is exactly how O'Brien deals with Winston's refusal to depart from the bare physicality of arithmetic on the fingers; the key similarity is that both the State in 1984 and modern philosophers of today deny the existence of an objective truth - even a physical one; this is why not many scientists are prepared to become post-modernists, because the degree of doublethink required is too great. Hawking, one of the greatest contributors to physics in the 20th and 21st century, searches for a 'Theory of Everything'; to have a theory at all, one must believe in some sort of exterior truth, wherever it is from.

Human Evil and Muddled Thinking

One might say that, in a general sense, Stalin and Hitler were in possession of 'cold logic', much like 'cold empathy'. One can know both how to, and how not to, steal the cookie, and the effects that will have, and the moral consequences of that, but in the end, if one's intent is evil, then one's actions will be evil, especially if one knows all the consequences of their actions. Logic is blind; in the end, it is subservient to the will of the wielder, and merely amplifies the actions of the individual, whether good or evil. In the same way, hypocrisy is only a 'good' or 'evil' thing when it contradicts 'evil' or 'good' ideals. One can think one's way into and out of any situation one wishes; who here has read Donne's poetry?

Human Evil and Muddled Thinking

If we are in a situation which necessitates hypocrisy with regard to our current ideals in order to maintain 'social graces', we have to ask ourselves whether the integrity of our ideals is more important than preserving said social graces. Hypocrisy is more often a way for us to evade the more onerous parts of our ideals than it is a way to preserve 'social graces'; in these cases we have no excuse for our hypocrisy, and must see it as negative. If 'preservation of social graces' is the purpose of the said hypocrisy, then 'preservation of social graces' has become an ideal for us, and we must decide whether our former ideological system will throw out this new ideal, or whether we pin our life on our social interactions. If we include the concept of 'ideals', we must see new ideals as ideals and measure them against each other. Of course, this can be a circular process and often relies on a gut feeling, but if something is an 'ideal', we cannot allow hypocrisy, because if we think that the hypocrisy in a situation is a good thing, our ideals have changed without us knowing it and we should revise, and make a conscious decision regarding this.