John_David_Galt

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Whither Moral Progress?

Whether you agree with it or not, Obama's "moral progress" means a change in US law to comport more closely to (his present view of) morality, not a change in the moral views of Americans. It is quite possible to view oneself as the apex of possible morality and still believe in the possibility of moral progress on other people's part.

I disagree with Obama because I disagree with some of the goals of his morality, but I don't see that as any reason to attack his semantics.

A Failed Just-So Story

Leaders (and wannabe leaders) invented religion for selfish reasons. They make the people simple enough to believe in literal God(s) afraid of death and hellfire, while as Barkley pointed out, they make the rest of us fear ostracism. But even if you are both smart and know plenty of other freethinkers, religion forces you to waste time and mental energy paying lip service to it, thus (the leader hopes) keeping everyone too busy to plot any kind of rebellion. This idea was already thousands of years old when Hobbes wrote about it in Leviathan.

Religion that is not part and parcel of government is a very new idea historically, and I doubt it will survive much longer, except perhaps as part of some new entity that replaces some of the traditional functions of government (I'm thinking the "phyles" in Stephenson's The Diamond Age).

Two Cult Koans

It seems to me that some people take the notion "Never accept anything uncritically!" (or equivalently, "There are no certainties in science!") too far.

The core tenets of logic as set out by Mill, at least, must be accepted uncritically and never doubted, or the whole conversation in which they are doubted disintegrates into fallacy and nonsense, and thus becomes useless (except to a dishonest speaker who might use it to manipulate irrational people). There are other beliefs which are similarly necessary (for instance, mathematics) if the discussion extends to topics where they apply.