The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

Communists Against Religion -- Part 12 May 23, 2005 by RedStar2000

What have we here? Some notes on the "life" of "Jesus", evolution, the selfishness of communism, the social role of religion (a constant theme), romanticism, the "human condition", and the appropriate recipient of respect.

Whenever you speak up against superstition, it's tough to avoid "the whole ball of wax".


There's nothing in the alleged accounts of the life of "Jesus" in the "gospels" that discusses what he did between the time he was 12 and his encounter with "John the Baptist" at age 30 or so.

Jewish tradition has it that he went to Egypt and studied "magic"...that's how he was able to "impress the rubes" with "miracles".

But there's no evidence.

Some have speculated that he spent some time in the Essene community -- a kind of Jewish fundamentalist monastery (those were the folks who wrote the "Dead Sea Scrolls").

But there's no evidence.

And I do recall a speculative work that suggested that "Jesus" went to India and became familiar with the Jainist sect of Hinduism as well as with Buddhism.

But again, there's no evidence.

Given the unsophisticated nature of his "theology" -- Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! -- the most reasonable assumption is that he lived as a carpenter in Nazareth and developed an interest in taking Judaism "back to its roots" (as he understood them).

He was, after all, a country preacher.
First posted at RevLeft on May 16, 2005


Was Jesus around before, during, or after the burning of the Library of Alexandria?

Before (not counting the small fire that took place while Julius Caesar temporarily occupied Alexandria).

But here's the thing: to make use of the great library at Alexandria, one had to be able to read Greek.

And there's no evidence that "Jesus" could read at all. Nowhere in the "gospels" is "Jesus" ever shown or discussed as reading anything...not even in his native language (Aramaic), much less Greek.
First posted at RevLeft on May 17, 2005


I just see too many gaps between what Jesus knew and tried to expound to the people...

Well, I don't know what you could be referring to here. Everything that he is purported to have said has ample precedent in the Jewish theologies of his era.

There were Jews who believed in an afterlife of punishment/reward; there were Jews who believed that the Messiah was about to return; there were Jews who believed in "ethical fairness"; etc., etc.

In other words, his "teachings" are just a "personal mix" of what was floating around in those days in Palestine; he borrowed what he liked and ignored the rest.

He didn't have to "go" anywhere to pick up this stuff.

By the way, this is very common among "new" religions...they steal from older religions whatever they find useful.
First posted at RevLeft on May 18, 2005


Why are you against God RedStar?

I believe in god and I belive I wrote it down in the chit chat section 2 years ago and I still believe in God today.

I am not "against God" -- it would be pointless to be "against" something that doesn't exist.

I am against all forms of belief in the supernatural.

1. Because those beliefs are irrational...and lead to irrational behavior.

2. The most common form of that irrational behavior is the establishment of organized religions.

3. And those religions are 99.999% socially both word and deed.

I am disappointed that you have been here for two years and still have not yet managed to "kick the God habit". At least in your case, we have evidently not been doing a very good job.

So tell us why you still believe...and we'll try (or at least I will try) to help you "kill the priest in your head".
First posted at RevLeft on May 19, 2005


Much of what was said in the Bible has been written into the "King James Bible" which was distorted, and the King signed his approval...I would like to see an end to the King James Bible because it is a false book that has been made for the benefit of the few.

There have been many translations of the "Bible" since the 17th century...but I know of no serious discrepancies between any of them.

Certainly, no one has ever come up with anything that completely reverses the meaning of any passage.

The "Bible" really does say those bad any translation.
First posted at RevLeft on May 19, 2005


But after all this I still believe there is something supernatural that created us; sorry but I don't believe we just came from cells one day, to me that's bullshit!

Why do you consider the idea that modern humans evolved from primitive cells to be "bullshit"?

There's tons of evidence to support the idea...have you actually looked at books that discuss "evolution for beginners"?

I think if you did, you'd gradually realize that the theory makes sense.

On the other hand, there isn't so much as a scrap of evidence that supports "supernatural creation"...or even the existence of the supernatural at all.

What good do you do yourself by believing in things that don't exist...when you could actually learn about things that do exist?

If the books written by Stephen J. Gould have been translated into Spanish, I think they would be a good place to start.


I just can't believe that all these bad guys all thru history that did terrible things are just dead with no punishment.

Yes, I suppose that's a tough one to swallow...the universe is indifferent to our deeds, good or evil.

On the other hand, suppose the universe were not indifferent...and we were punished for every "bad thing" that we did during our lives?

Well...who of us is "without sin"? Who of us has never fucked up and done harm to others?

We'd all go to Hell!

And further, what of all those killed in natural disasters? If the universe is indifferent, then it's just "bad luck".

But if the universe were not indifferent, then what did all those people do to deserve sudden execution?

How come rocks don't fall out of the sky on Bush and his team? They all surely deserve why not them instead of little kids and babies in south Asia?

quote (Fidel Castro):

There is a great concurrence between Christianity's objectives and the ones we communists seek, between the Christian teachings of humility, austerity, selflessness and loving thy neighbor and what we might call the content of a revolutionary's life and behavior.

Yeah, he's really been spewing the crap lately, hasn't he? Did you read his eulogy of the last pope? Disgraceful!

Anyway, I vehemently disagree with his conception of "a revolutionary's life". Communism is not about being a "saint".

Most particularly, it is not about humility!

Communists do not grovel in the muck before the great edifice of social reality; we stand up on our feet, figure it out, and then change it.

We say bluntly, let our will be done on earth!

And we'll see how we do.
First posted at RevLeft on May 19, 2005


I know that Marx had his theory on religion, and I know the basics of that, but right now I've got my religion and I strongly believe in it. Does this mean I cannot be a real communist since I've got religion?

Short answer: yes.
First posted at RevLeft on May 18, 2005

I was really hoping that I would escape the duty of giving the "long answer".

So much for that.

Let's look at these "answers"...


Communism is about love...

If anything, it's much more about hate...the feeling that a slave has for the situation of being a slave as well as for her master.


You can be religious, spiritual and still want rights for the proletariat.

Indeed you can...but that does not make you a communist.

It doesn't even make you "pro-communist".

An ordinary bourgeois liberal can "want rights for the proletariat".


I personally believe that religion is acceptable, but some communists don't.

This suggests that religion is just "a difference of opinion"...completely ignoring the reactionary social history of religion.

How anyone who considered themselves to be a communist could "overlook" something so glaringly obvious is a good indication that there is very little substance to their "communism".


But as long as you leave religious teachings out of your thought pattern, you can still be a good comrade.

Something, of course, that no human can ever do.

The idea that your brain is composed of boxes (or compartments) that have an "independent existence" is simply absurd.

What you think about one thing has a strong influence over what you think about a lot of other things and maybe everything.

Religion is a world-view -- it summarizes the way you look at the whole universe and everything in it.

And, realistically, there's no room for modern communism in that view.


As for being a communist, anyone who advocates a stateless, classless society and the abolition of private property is a "real communist," regardless of their religious beliefs. As a historical movement, communism (small c) existed before Marx/Engels.

Indeed it did...and still does, here and there. Why does it go largely unnoticed/unmentioned? Because it never amounted to never "caught on" in a significant way.

Why not? Because there was no science in existed as a "moral appeal" and even a "religious appeal".

Can you imagine appealing to a feudal lord or a modern capitalist to "give up your power and wealth"?

Because "it's the right thing to do"? *laughs*

Modern communism is based on the historical materialist paradigm first discovered by Marx and Engels -- there's "no room in it" for appeals to the supernatural of any kind.

The supernatural does not exist!

Religion does a social phenomenon. Its social role has been near-universally reactionary.

Accordingly, serious communists reject it totally...and urge everyone who really wants to struggle against capitalism and wage-slavery to scrap it!

And that (whew!) is the "long answer".
First posted at RevLeft on May 18, 2005


Hatred implies self-interest. Self-interest implies the exploitation of man by man (as in capitalism). A stateless society, therefore, motivated by self-interest is an oxymoron. As long as man is interested in helping himself before others, indeed, at all, then it is inevitable for some sort of hierarchy to be produced.

That's pretty have (unknowingly) hit on the precise difference between modern communism (Marxism) and its predecessors.

Instead of a moral appeal or a religious appeal or an appeal to "love" or "selflessness", Marxism is actually grounded on the individual self-interest of the worker.


1. Every worker wants to escape from wage-slavery...having to labor and enrich others simply in order to survive.

2. But individual escape is difficult...not many manage to do it.

3. Worse, even if you do manage to escape, the threat of being re-enslaved is always "in the back of your mind" as long as wage-slavery as a social institution still exists.

4. Your only real hope, therefore, is the abolition of wage-slavery. You cannot be re-enslaved if slavery no longer exists.

5. Therefore, it is in your own best (most rational) self-interest to abolish wage-slavery!
First posted at RevLeft on May 19, 2005


I feel religion can be phased out naturally on its own accord, not according to militant atheism which celebrates bigotry for no good reason.

What it might mean to "phase out" religion "naturally on its own accord" is too vague to merit a response.

But when you say that "militant atheism celebrates bigotry", what is that supposed to mean?

Is it "celebrating bigotry" to oppose wage-slavery, imperialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.?

Should we content ourselves with "phasing them out naturally"?

Is it a "bad thing" to be bigoted against bigots?

First posted at RevLeft on May 19, 2005


Well, I do feel that political expedience should be considered when forming party lines. For example, Catholicism recognizes "social justice" in a way that is consistent with Marxist sympathies and the fact that Catholicism is simply the largest faith in the world should not be taken lightly. I believe that religion can be a distraction from proletarian concerns, but it is not the largest distraction...

No, I think the Catholic idea of "social justice" is limited to advising rich Catholics to "be nicer" and poor Catholics to "obey your masters".

A Catholic can't really grasp the idea of class struggle because "we are all brothers in Christ". Naturally, that "trumps" all "earthly concerns".

More interesting is your point about the extent to which religion is a distraction from proletarian (revolutionary) concerns.

I lack the resources to do a serious sociological study of this question, but I would offer a working hypothesis:

In any large population sample, religious belief is positively correlated with reactionary political opinion and negatively correlated with radical or revolutionary opinion.

The more religious a population is, the more opposed it is to any kind of revolutionary change of a radical nature and the more supportive it is of conservatism or reaction.

The less religious a population is, the more supportive it is of such revolutionary change and the more opposed it is to reaction.

We've all been taught that "correlation doesn't mean cause" -- but I am prepared to go "out on that limb".

I think Marx, Engels, and all the later "big names" in communism have drastically underestimated the effects of religion on the working surprisingly and devastatingly effective it has been in keeping our class enchained!

I think it is the vital sub-text of all religious ideologies that is the "causal link" in this process: obedience to authority.

Of course, class society has many mechanisms for delivering that message -- parents, schools, the media, etc.

But those are all obviously human mechanisms; only religion can drag in the "cosmological justification" for obedience to authority.

Consider the "Book of Job". Job has no problem with dismissing his human critics and even employs some sarcastic wit in the process. But when he has a personal encounter with the storm-god himself, he ends up prostrate in the muck swearing unconditional obedience.

If you are, beginning in childhood, subjected to this conditioning -- this sense that the whole universe is ultimately the "Will" of a "Divine Führer" -- then how will you ever develop the self-confidence to rebel even against the most oppressive conditions?

Obviously, it can be done and has been done to a limited extent...but nearly always by those who had already overthrown the "Divine Führer" in their own minds.

In other words, by atheists.

And I'm even willing to go a little further out on that limb. If you actually studied the history of past revolutionaries, I'm willing to wager that nearly all of them were atheists first...and then became communists.

Starting with Karl Marx himself.

And including me.


... for purely political purposes, we should not demean the philosophy of a potential ally.

I don't think they are or will ever be our "ally". They may pretend such a role on occasion...but they will stab us in the back at the first opportunity.

What religions really want is some form of clerical fascism with themselves in the driver's seat.


Yet, at the same time, the atheist Marxist should realize the inherent value of the religious.

They have none. They are "on the side" of reaction and will stay there "to the bitter end".


I feel that if, for example, Catholics can make common cause with us, then we should align ourselves with them for as long as it is politically expedient for us to do so.

That would be plain common sense if there was ever any likelihood of that happening. If Catholics "do something progressive" (a very rare occurrence), fine. But their overall goals are reactionary...and there's no practical reason to spread any illusions about that or to pretend that they've "changed their spots".

They haven't.
First posted at RevLeft on May 19, 2005

I couldn't help but notice how you sub-titled your thread...


Please don't be narrow-minded.

Why not?

That is, what is it about "narrow-mindedness" in and of itself that makes it, in your view, a "bad thing to be"?

Aren't there ideas that we should be "narrow-minded" or even "closed-minded" about?

Things like wage-slavery, imperialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

Do those ideas have "a good side" that we are ignoring in our "narrow-mindedness"?

Sometimes, we are not narrow-minded enough.
First posted at RevLeft on May 19, 2005


There's a difference between being close-minded or narrow-minded, and enforcing your narrow-mindedness on other people. That where you Leninists get it all fucking wrong.

You should really be a bit more careful; suggesting that I am a "Leninist" may sharply increase the risk of heart attack and stroke for the real Leninists on this board. *laughs*

Meanwhile, you think it's "a bad thing" for revolutionaries to "enforce our narrow-mindedness on other people".

Ok...what do you propose? Should we go ahead and "let people be capitalists", or imperialists, racists, sexists, homophobes, etc.? Or at least, let them advocate that shit?

What would we gain by that...aside from your approval, of course?

If we want to really smash all this old crap, what do we stand to lose by trying as hard as we can to actually "do it"?

After all, if you want to accomplish something, how is that going to happen if you don't try? And is it not the case that the harder you try (all other things being equal), the more likely you are to succeed?


Just because in your viewpoint something is wrong, does NOT make it wrong. There IS NO right and wrong, it is all one's perception.

Well, we simply disagree about that. I think Marxism is right and the capitalists, etc. are all wrong...and no-good rotten bastards to boot!


To enforce YOUR "right" over everyone makes your views have the same worth of those of a fascist.

I suggest that you do some reading on fascism -- it's not just a "cuss word" to throw at someone you disagree with.


And what the hell does this have to do with religion anyways? Some of these things are found in some religions, true, but not all religions and you cannot just make general statements of such.

No, actually all of those things are found, in varying forms and degrees, in all of the major religions and most of the minor ones. There may be trivial exceptions here and there...but generally you can locate religious "justification" for pretty much any really rotten thing that you might want to do.

Sorry about that.
First posted at RevLeft on May 19, 2005


The point is that irrational thought - that is, thought that does not necessarily follow the materialist view of the world, and that embraces beauty, emotion, and a consciousness beyond that of the intellective - offers the greatest insight into the human condition...and so should not be dismissed as nonsense.

I question, first of all, whether "irrational thought" can, properly speaking, be considered thought at all.

Isn't rationality strongly implied when we use the word "thought"?

What's the difference between "irrational thought" and just simple delusions?

And moreover, how can delusions offer us "insight" into "the human condition"?

What does a phrase like "the human condition" actually mean?


Also, on a specific note, the entire basis for the romantic movement was to escape the rationalization, documentation, calculation of the human soul, and to, instead, glorify nature and the impulses of man.

Yes, that's a reasonable summary. You neglected to mention how a lot of their ideas were borrowed by the early developers of fascist ideology.


Irrational thought is based on the premise that the obsession with logic, rationality, and science neglects and, indeed, attempts to downplay, the significance of human emotion in its most personal sense. The objectification and routinization of life, even in the name of ideals so great as those of communism, is, ironically, a freedom-destroying process. It implies the unequivocal authority of some certain established institution (say, science, for example), and subtly imposes a regimented lifestyle on the people. Technocracy is technocracy, whether communist or capitalist.

Even if your caricature of rational thought -- "Technocracy" -- were accurate, your alternative is clearly worse.

The 19th century romanticist/neo-romanticist "movement" was fundamentally reactionary -- it arose as a reaction to the disintegration of feudalism and against the idea that ordinary people had entered upon the stage of history. Its motive was to "repeal 1789".

And, as I noted, it ended up in fascism.
First posted at RevLeft on May 19, 2005


"Simple delusion" could surely be a pejorative substitute term for "irrational thought," and, in fact, such careless belittlement was just the subject of discussion...

What is "careless" about it?

I'm asking a simple question: what is the difference between "irrational thought" and a delusion?

How do you tell the difference?

Is, for example, the Nazi concept of "blood and soil" an illustration of the "wisdom" of "irrational thought"...or is it just a simple delusion with no real world counterpart?


First, when I say "human condition" I refer to that infinite scope of human existence not fitted for any certain argument, but in its natural form, inclusive of any and all sentiments ever experienced by mankind.

This sounds rational...though not very useful. The "human condition" is discovered by adding up everything that humans have ever experienced and getting a sub-total...because we also have to allow for everything all future humans will experience as well.

The total would not be infinite, obviously, but certainly very large.

What's difficult for me to grasp is what would we do with this sprawling incoherent mass of experiences?

Well, I suppose we'd start looking for patterns, similarities and differences, changes over time fact, we'd turn to science to "make sense" of it all.

One of the earliest discoveries would undoubtedly be that it doesn't make sense to speak of "the human condition" at all. There are a multitude of "human conditions" that are historically specific.

Only in a very crude sense are we today anything like a medieval serf, a Roman tribune, an Egyptian priest. Their "human conditions" were very different from ours and from each other's as well.

And things appear to be speeding up...for example, I find most literature from the 19th and early 20th century to be nearly as unreadable as an old Greek or Roman manuscript. People don't think like that any more...or at least I don't.


That said, I think it is obvious how thought not constrained by the rigidity that science and materialism demand of "acceptable," "rational" thought, would contribute to our understanding of humanity. That is, materialism confines the scope of human experience to measurable, calculable terms, when, clearly, the very existence of emotion (how else can emotion be "measured" but by the degree of "irrationality" it imposes on thought and action?), argues otherwise.

No, I think materialism and science can incorporate an understanding of emotion as fact, better than any possible form of "irrational thought".

We know that emotions are generated by a particular part of the brain and are the product of some complex chemical interactions.

Even today, we can reproduce -- at least in a crude sense -- emotions completely divorced from external situations. If you have ever ingested a small dose of sodium penathol, then you know what true happiness "feels like"...the blissful sensation of floating in space utterly without cares or worries.

Or consider the family of amphetamine drugs, some of which increase mental acuity to the point where you feel "like a genius"...that there is no problem too complicated for you to solve quickly and accurately and no field of study that you could not master if there were need to do so.

Of course, more complex emotions are still beyond our understanding at this time, but I see no reason why that should always be so. Perhaps before the end of this century, we should be able to "summon up" any emotion on demand.

Want to spend a few hours "feeling like a god"? Take 5 mg. of "God To Go" with a glass of water.


The romantic movement in its pristine form was hardly reactionary.

Well, its contemporaries did not see it that way, I'll grant you.


I understand that you may have misinterpreted the romanticist nostalgia for the past as a literal yearning for the good old days of feudalism and complete aristocratic tyranny.

Yeah...if that truly is a "misinterpretation", then it's "on me".

What is Nietzsche's celebration of the "overman" if not a yearning to see the emergence of a new and vigorous aristocracy?


Blaming the romantic movement for the rise of fascism is much like blaming marxism for the rise of stalinism.

Yes, I must concede that I overstated matters when I said that "romanticism leads to fascism".

And certainly it would be even more erroneous to suggest that romanticism "caused" fascism.

Fascism "borrowed" some important elements from romanticism but borrowed other elements from the technophiliac "futurists"...and, if you like, "perverted" everything it borrowed.

But fascism did not just borrow nationalism from the romantics. It also borrowed all that "nature sentiment" as well -- the Nazis passed the first laws in modern history to conserve "old-growth forests" in Germany.

Perhaps it would be most fair to say that romanticism was full of internal contradictions and inconsistencies, some of which pointed in the direction of fascism.


I do not subscribe to the claim that Hitler and his Nazi friends were fundamentally anti-science and anti-technology.

Well, they certainly had an odd view of science -- that it "springs from the race" and exists only "to serve the race". This meant that they could embrace some scientific discoveries and continue to develop some kinds of technology...but in the long run, I think they would have had to reject science altogether. Modern biology, for example, has discarded "race" as a meaningful concept altogether. If the Third Reich existed today, their "German biology" would be regarded as junk science.

Before the Nazis, German science was widely regarded as "world class" and even "the best in the world", it barely gets mentioned at all. I think that says something about the "hit" that science took under the Nazis.
First posted at RevLeft on May 20, 2005


You should be respectful to their beliefs not because it is said somewhere that you have to but because it is the right thing to do. All some people have to live for is the hope of an afterlife, it is sad I know, but you shouldn't disrespect them because they don't agree with you.

I strongly disagree; I think it is the wrong thing to do.

Why? Because when you respect superstitious beliefs, you disrespect the person who suffers from those beliefs.

What you're really saying is I have to respect that person's beliefs because he's a "barbarian" and maybe even a "savage" -- "incapable" of rational thought.

When I say to a believer, "how can you stand to eat that shit?", I'm saying at the same moment that "you are a civilized human with intelligence comparable to mine -- you don't need to believe nonsense".

I will grant that this is not always immediately apparent to the person so addressed. *laughs*

And sometimes, I'm just plain wrong...they really are barbarians/savages.

But I am convinced that this "confrontational" approach really is "the best way to go"...because it respects the person and not their mistaken view of things.

It assumes that people can learn.


Most blacks in America are religious also; does that mean that you don't respect blacks?

But some blacks are atheists...which means that blacks are modern humans and can learn anything that modern humans can learn -- including how to get along without superstition.

Most whites in America are religious...but some are not, which means they can also learn.

And will.
First posted at RevLeft on May 20, 2005


Well...we're discussing the nature of irrational thought, so I don't think I can give an objective distinction between irrationality and delusion. Much like the distinction between "good" and "bad" is subjective, so is the distinction between irrational thought and delusion. That is, if what you mean by "delusion" is a somehow harmful form of irrational thought. So, the Nazi "blood and soil" is but the irrational thought of a perverted mind. To the Nazi, it is a perfectly legitimate concept.

It is up to the morality of the individual to distinguish right from wrong.

But it's also up to other individuals to decide whether his individual concept of "right and wrong" is acceptable, is it not?

If someone suffers from the delusion that witches "exist" and "it's a good thing to find them and burn them", are we obligated to accept that?

I quite agree that there is no such thing as an "absolute morality"...but there are certainly social "moralities", the advocates of which compete for real-world influence.

And perforce, we must decide which ones are rational and which ones are irrational -- delusional.


The extremity that the embracing of the irrational mind not in itself harmful...only that mankind has not yet reached moral perfection persuades many so.

Because it's a very persuasive argument! Particularly since no one knows what "moral perfection" means or if it can ever be "reached".


Rational thought, scientific as it may be, is impersonal and can hardly relate to the individual. I think a man would do better to read one time Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov than a million times Einstein's theories of relativity.

Well, I did read it "one time"...but I'd have to say that unless you have a particular interest in Russian mysticism c.1850, it's probably a waste of time. Dostoevsky's characters act on assumptions that are now known to be false (and were under strong suspicion of falsehood even in his own time).

On the other hand, Einstein's special and general theories of relativity will tell you something true about the universe that we live in. It may not be immediately applicable to your individual life...but I do think it's better for people to know true stuff than to "know" stuff that really "ain't so".

The more "true stuff" that we know, the better equipped we are to detect the lie.


The significant aspects of human existence, that is, the emotional, subjective aspects, remain relatable between any periods in history.

Have you ever read any of the English "murder mysteries" from the interwar (1919-1939) period? One of the common themes is an act of murder committed in order to protect the murderer from public exposure as a "bastard" -- someone who was born as a consequence of sex between unmarried partners.

Does that sound "human" to you? Would you or any sensible person give a rat's ass about the marital status of your biological parents? Would you evaluate someone on the basis of their "bastardy"?

Would you murder someone to protect the secret of your own "bastardy"?

The real meaning of the word has entirely changed; when we call someone a "bastard", we mean that he is a malicious and hateful person that should be removed from civilized company.

Donald Trump is a bastard...regardless of the marital status of his parents.

Now, can you really imagine yourself acting like the humans of previous eras? Do their motivations make any kind of sense to you?

If our contemporaries acted on such motives, would we not regard them as insane?


...there are critical elements (concepts such as love) that remain consistent throughout mankind's evolution (though, they too, may have evolved into more outwardly sophisticated forms).

The fact that you suggest that "forms of love" may have "evolved" reveals that even you have some residual skepticism about the "constancy" of such emotions.

The urge to mate is certainly a near-universal "constant"...but what people meant when they used a word that we translate as "love" is pretty speculative. It's easy to assume that when people in the past used a certain word, they meant the same thing as we would in using that word.

Good historians consider that a gross error and do their best to avoid it.


You can't at all see yourself in Achilles? Macbeth? Alyosha Karamazov?

Nope...they might as well be "from Mars" for all that I have in common with them.

Achilles? What do you make of a guy who goes to war, risking his life, because some girl runs off with another guy?

Helen wasn't even his girl!

I have no desire to be King of Scotland or any other place -- I think wanting to be a king is insane. But even if I did (and was next in line behind an old man), would it not be more rational to simply wait for the old king to die?

And get a divorce from that nagging bitch of a wife?

And what could I possibly have in common with the mystical Aloysha? He had the mind of a serf!

Now that I think about it, it occurs to me that Dostoevsky was one of those Russians who believed that Russian Orthodoxy was destined to "save the West" from its sinful, materialistic proclivities.

I guess that didn't work out so hot, did it? *laughs*


If you measure emotion by the objective change it produces in the brain, you miss completely its real significance. Emotion is a completely subjective experience.

Well, you assert that this is true...but I think science will eventually discover otherwise.

At least, that's the road we're on now, like it or not.


On a superficial note, scientists still cannot explain truly how human thought functions on the most fundamental level.

True. The more we investigate, the more we learn what we don't know.

But the road of science, however torturous its course, ultimately leads to real understanding and genuine knowledge that we can count on to be true.

That just beats the living crap out of any form of subjectivity!


If a man could enjoy the mental and physical gratification of sex by popping a pill, then why should he actually do it?

To make a baby, of course. It might well be, someday, that conception will be entirely which case, people lacking access to desirable sexual partners will, instead, "take a pill". Or, more likely, take a pill and then hook themselves up to a computer and enjoy a "virtual sexual experience" that's actually better than "the real thing".

This may sound "creepy" to you; changes in "the human condition" often elicit that reaction.

But that's how it goes. Some cling to "the old ways" (which once were new) and others eagerly embrace the new ways that an innovative species like ours constantly generates.

And things change.


Freedom of thought is only possible should every individual be allowed to believe in a reality as it occurs to him, and pursue his natural inclinations unrestricted by any institution.

Well, you're "out of luck" on that one. No matter how fervently you believe that the sun god requires a daily human sacrifice, you are not going to be allowed to do that...even under communism.

The first time you try it, your neighbors will show up and hang you for being a barbarian.

And quite rightly so!
First posted at RevLeft on May 23, 2005


The masses needs something to fulfill their spiritual void...It can be an political ideology OR a religion and it can also be a combination of both to fulfill it.

Is it what the masses "need"?

Or is it just the endless parade of con-men who are responsible?
First posted at RevLeft on May 24, 2005


If the masses do not have the demand for that kind of things the con-men wouldn't be able to pull it off, now, would they?

We know when people are disillusioned in things they tend to become religious or join cults (not that theres much difference between the two options). They have to have something to take their minds off of the materialistic world.

Not necessarily.

Look at all the people who buy SUVs for the "image" (I read once that less than 2% of all SUV owners ever use their vehicle to tow anything or drive it on unpaved roads or trails).

People can often be convinced that they "need" what the con-man is selling...without regard to objective utility.

Being gullible is not the same thing as having a "spiritual need".
First posted at RevLeft on May 24, 2005


Many capitalists in their advertisement try to exploit people's sub-conscious.

I don't see anything "sub-conscious" about the appeal of SUVs...or religion.

They say (or imply strongly) that you as an SUV owner will be a "different person" than you are without one. Other people will "respect" you as a "master of the road" and even a "dominator of difficult terrain". Their commercials don't show SUV drivers in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway or parked along side thousands of similar vehicles in some massive mall parking lot. Instead, they show a good-looking guy driving over rocks that appear almost as large as the SUV itself. He's "in charge" in his SUV.

The same is true with religion when it seeks converts from those not raised in their particular brand of hokum. The appeal is to "sign up" with the "cosmological winner"..."the real God" that can actually make a "difference" in your life.

"Get (the real) God on your side" and you can be a winner "in life".

These appeals are perfectly "coherent" and seemingly even "rational" -- no "sub-conscious" is required. What makes them irrational in our eyes is that they are based on false statements about reality.

SUVs will not climb over huge rocks without turning over...nor does owning one enhance your status. There are no gods that will "back you up" or "change your life".

I'm not convinced that there even "is" such a thing as a "sub-conscious"...but if there is, it's certainly not needed to explain the appeal of SUVs or superstition.
First posted at RevLeft on May 24, 2005


I think what motivates most people to religion or spirituality is fear.


They were afraid of death, of the finality of the end of life. After years of studying under some of the brightest theologians in the US, I concluded all religious beliefs are based on the fear of the "unknown". Faith gives people hope and comfort.


There is only one basic cause, sure there might be other layers to it, but the foundation for all religious belief is fear. Fear stemming from weakness. Religion preys on human weakness and fear. If religion offered no promise of eternity, no one would be religious.

While many and perhaps even most religions have some sort of afterlife on tap (at least for the faithful or especially pious), I have to question this motive as the "source" of religion's endurance.

For example, it's well known that young people are often "risk-takers"...the saying is that "they act as if they were immortal".

And it's not the "most pious" who act in such a fashion, but rather the least pious.

Another example: if the "fear of death" were really uppermost in people's minds, why would people take "physical risks" at all? Or at least any physical risks outside of the bounds of compelling necessity?

Why would anyone ever volunteer to be a soldier...or even get into a fist-fight?

In my observation, sensible people are not, in normal circumstances, motivated by the fear of death at all. The possibility of one's own death in the immediate future is not something one normally pays any attention to...or at least very little attention to.

It's different when one gets old, of course. The looming inevitability of one's own demise is undeniable. But even then, fear plays a very small role; a common reaction among the old is "I've lived a full life...and I'm weary unto death." Death is our final friend...come to put an end to the painful disabilities of old age.

To be sure, religious propaganda plays the "fear of death" card early and often. They would very much like it if people went around with their eternal fate uppermost in their minds -- the way people functioned, to some extent, in the Middle Ages.

It makes their product "easier to sell". It's "good marketing".

But it doesn't really explain why there's a market in the first place.

Religion began, I think, as an effort to explain and control natural was the first product of our attempt to think critically about the material world and how to change it.

Inventing a pantheon and the appropriate rituals to entreat/compel it to act for our earthly benefit was the beginning of science.

The reason that religion has declined in importance over the last three centuries is that we have real explanations now that actually allow us to control what happens in the material world...though, so far, only to a limited extent.

But those limits continue to expand!

In the face of successful performance by science, religious rituals must perforce works better.

Why then does religion still exist?

1. Our science is still primitive...there is still a lot of material reality we cannot control, and religion can step in and claim to control it through "right beliefs" and "correct rituals". Their claims are obviously false...but "better than nothing".

2. Religious beliefs continue to be reproduced by the parental indoctrination of children -- who have no critical intelligence to defend themselves.

3. Religious beliefs are universally seen by ruling classes as useful in pacifying what might otherwise be a restive or even rebellious subservient class or classes. Even in countries that have nominal "separation of church and state", the government will do its best to "play up" religion as a "positive factor" in life.

4. And one cannot leave out the earthly ambitions of the clergy themselves...they are running an enormous con and they gain real material benefits from maintaining and expanding it. At the very least, they want their own educational system in order to reinforce parental indoctrination. And if all goes well, they'd like to promote themselves into the role of ruling class...or as close as they can get to that.

5. What's in it for the sucker? The one who believes the con and does what the clergy tells it to do? I think it gives him/her a sense of living in an "orderly universe" -- where virtue is rewarded and vice is punished. Imagining themselves to have a "real" understanding of "reality", they can act without "guilt" or "doubt" -- without uncertainty.

And humans hate uncertainty.
First posted at RevLeft on May 25, 2005


You woulda been eligible for membership in Marx's First International; in Lenin's Bolshevik Party; in the Cuban Communist Party today.


The fact that a believer in one or another form of superstition may be formally eligible for membership in a group with the name "communist" does not answer the thread-starter's question -- can you be a communist and also a Christian?

Those are two incompatible ways of looking at the cannot do both unless you are schizoid.


You can - and many people do - be religious and agree with the political program of communism. And act on it.

There is no "the" political program of communism. A particular group can have a program that it calls "communist" with which a Christian might agree -- but all that does, in my view, is raise the question of how "communist" could that program actually be if even Christians agree with it.

quote (Lenin):

We socialists must lend this movement our support, carrying the demands of honest and sincere members of the clergy to their conclusion, making them stick to their words about freedom, demanding that they should resolutely break all ties between religion and the police.


While we're at it, let's "demand" that cockroaches stay out of our garbage!

quote (Lenin):

Unity in this really revolutionary struggle of the oppressed class for the creation of a paradise on earth is more important to us than unity of proletarian opinion on paradise in heaven.

This is the same Lenin who said after the revolution that the working class was "too backward and corrupt" to govern itself...he had to do it for them.

Better that the superstitious Russians should just paste a photo of Lenin over the picture of Jesus or the Virgin Mary on their icons.

What Lenin and even Marx did not realize was how enormous an obstacle superstition is to "a paradise on earth".

If you fundamentally misunderstand material reality, then no matter how "glorious" your revolution, you will end up with some new form of despotism.

Religion teaches obedience to authority -- and until we get rid of that whole attitude, we won't accomplish anything.
First posted at RevLeft on May 26, 2005
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