Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A disorienting combination of nuance and error (historical, metaphysical, etc.)

For example

The former:
Science doesn't know how to answer such a question.  Only religions provide us with the necessary guidance [(189; but Harari's understanding of 'religion' is constructivistically non-cognitive (179 ff.)].

The latter:
Why, then, are not all humans Catholic?  Because when you read the fine print, you discover that Catholicism also demands blind obedience to a pope 'who never makes mistakes' even when he orders his followers to go on crusades and burn heretics at the stake [(191)]. 
Scientists have subjected Homo sapiens to tens of thousands of bizarre experiments, and looked into every nook in our hearts and every cranny in our brains.  But they have so far discovered no magical spark.  There is zero scientific evidence that, in contrast to pigs, Sapiens have souls [(102; but reread this in the light of his argument that 'the very idea of soul contradicts the most fundamental principles of evolution' (103)]. 
We can now use an entire arsenal of scientific methods to determine who composed the Bible, and when.  Scientists have been doing exactly that for more than a century, and if you are interested, you can read whole books about their findings.  To cut a long story short, most peer-reviewed scientific studies agree that the Bible is a collection of numerous different texts composed by different human authors, . . . that these texts were not assembled into a single holy book until long after biblical times[, and that therefore God did not write the Bible (194-195)].

     Yuval Noah Harari, Homo deus:  a brief history of tomorrow, trans. Yuval Noah Harari (New York:  Harper, 2017).  Statements like these could be multiplied in both "columns".

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