thread: 2006-08-31 : I think my expectations are screwed

On 2006-09-06, Gordon wrote:

While I fear this could be seen as ganging-up on Sydney (which I do NOT want to do), I too have a point I'd like to press a bit on: the idea that certain, uh, culture's/civilization's have survived and/or thrived BECAUSE of, say, Christianity or Islam (or monogamy, and etc.)  I'd say the evidence is pretty much against that notion (just as it is against what most people mean when they say Social Darwinism).  While Jared Diamond may have gone a bit far in ???Guns, Germs and Steel???, I'd say the geographical and resource issues faced by a society are certainly CRUCIAL determinants, more fundamental than cultural phenomena.  In saying that I wouldn't want to reduce the role of such things to an absolute minimum (clearly, if nothing else, opportunity has to be seized to have an impact, and whether or not that happens might well be traceable to aspects of a culture), but to my marginally educated eye I see a significant overstatement of their impact, especially in terms of contributing to simple survival/success.

I was going to say, perhaps not as much in terms of human happiness, but then I remembered some recent research into the nature of "happiness" ("The Futility of Happiness"?) which might well argue the case that it's even more true there.  But my core point to press on is simply the exaltation of particular social constructs as key causes of success.  Not so, it seems to me; at the very least "key" needs to removed, and probably replaced with "at best secondary or even tertiary."

On the issue of church politics, let me offer a bit of ???politics is always local??? perspective.  Looking back on my childhood through mid 20???s church-going experience, I was lucky - our little Episcopalian congregation was the *little* Episcopalian church.  Politics was what happened at the *big* church.  Those who wanted that - went there.  Those who got sick of it there ??? had somewhere else to go.  And there were enough generous, wealthy folks in the community as a whole that political (or other) competition over money was never a real issue.

All that going for me, and still I have little use for organized religion.  The rabid church-hating beast I might have become if I???d been raised certain flavors of, say, Catholic . . . shudder.


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