Martin Luther’s Burning Questions

NY Review

I wasn’t interested in this article at first – but after retrieving it from the trash, and reading it more carefully – I did become interested in it.

I probably would not have liked the man, if I had known him. But he would not have cared in the least – he was only interested in righteousness – something I have to admire. Although he was also interested in the beer and pigs that his wife furnished him (along with six children of his own, and four orphans).

One thing I miss, living in Costa Rica, is its lack of Art exhibitions. Ticos have embraced American popular culture enthusiastically. But Art exhibitions, such as the ones reviewed here, never make it this far south.

I have to be contented with reading the Review – that is flown to me from Miami.

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The Good and Bad of Religion

Wikipedia has an excellent article about this, listing Religion as part of Spirituality.

This will not satisfy the religious themselves, however – who will continue to insist that they are right, and everyone else is wrong!

The question I want to answer this morning is not new, and has been answered before – what advantage did religion have for the human race? The answer has been – it made civilization (large societies, or empires) possible! Because it made everyone in a society feel they were united, in a common religion.

It became important to have the right kind of religion – because almost anything can become a religion. In our time, Business has become a religion – and a very powerful one. It made our Economy possible – the most important thing imaginable!

To deal with this problem, we have to first realize that Business is a religion – and deal with it that way.

But this is impossible.

To Be Close to God

For some people, this is a very powerful need – the religious impulse. Many others do not feel this need at all.

In my own family, my parent’s generation were ardent RLDS – my generation less so – and the next generation (the children of my siblings) feel the need for it very little.

I have written about this, in this blog – and to my surprise, found other people were interested in it also.

There is a large group of people – the Evangelicals – who are still very much religious. And another large group of people – Islam – who are also religious. A huge clash is going on between these groups.

The non-religious (the secular) can see this happening easily. But the religious cannot.

It is unusual for the radically religious to be tolerant.

The RLDS and the Evangelicals

Wikipedia – Evangelicalism

I grew up on the RLDS church, that gradually faded, late in the 20th Century. One of the reasons for this, was the much larger Evangelical movement – that had much more power – and religious zeal.

Originally, they were all the same – products of the Second Great Awakening, in the early 19th Century, that produced Evangelicalism, Mormonism (LDS and RLDS) and Christian Science.

The LDS church was successful, and was not threatened by Evangelicalism – but the RLDS had weak leadership – and went nowhere.

Understanding the Impact of Software

The World is now run by Software, and it has changed us entirely – but we believe it has not changed us at all!

Probably this was due to the Christian belief in the soul. This is what people really were – the rest of them was unimportant. Technologies (such as the Computer and its Software) could not change the soul – and therefore could not change who we were! This belief is also shared with Islam – with the most radical elements of Islam – having the most radical beliefs. We cannot defeat these beliefs – because we have them also.

Let me return to my first statement – that software has changed us entirely. This has to be changed – Software had changed our Economy entirely. And this has changed us, in subtle ways, that we do not want to think about.

To be blunt, it has made us stupid!

Software has made Business all-powerful.  And to be all-powerful – Business has to know everything, and control everything.

This does not bother us much, because we have always believed that other forces ruled the world – religious forces. And Business is our new religion.

The Discovery of the World Outside Us

This was also the discovery of the world inside us. The world that made us, and everything else.

Previously, we thought in religious terms – which was only natural, since we are religious beings. The discovery of something else, not religious at all – and much larger (and smaller) than us, that operated by its own laws – was quite a discovery!

This was usually attributed to Newton, and his laws of gravity. That were a sensation at the time. And spurred a search for other universal laws. The realization that there were such laws had a huge effect on the economy of Northern, Protestant Europe. It made them rich!

Living, as I do, in Latin America – I can see this difference every day. They do not have the analytic skills necessary for them plan their world. They cannot conceive of unlimited (but well-organized) time and space – that the North takes for granted.

I will get more specific. In the developed world, every building can be specified with two coordinates – street name and building number. But in Latin America, the address for any building is a long description of how to get there, starting from a reference location, everyone is supposed to know about. This description can occupy several lines of text.

The Post Office in Costa Rica tried to simplify this – but Ticos will have none of it – they want the old way, because it feels better to them! If this is not efficient, to hell with efficiency!

Society and Religion

We social, and we are religious. And the two interact vigorously – we cannot consider one, without considering the other.

We can also think, and we thought, at one time – we could use this ability to create better societies for ourselves. But these better societies have not been much better, despite some strenuous efforts to make them that way.

Why?

To answer this question we have to go back to our ancient history of tribal units, of no more than 100 individuals each. These societies worked, because making them work was easy. Everyone knew everyone else, and conflicts could easily be worked out.

But they also worked for another reason – they saw themselves as being ruled by divine beings – an amazing variety of gods. Who these gods were, did not seem to matter much – as long as the people believed in them – and believed they were in control.

Any attempt to put themselves in control was sternly rejected – by the gods themselves! And this divine order persisted as we became civilized – a huge change that changed nearly everything else.


How does this apply to the 21st Century? That is largely a secular society.

This is a question so easy to answer, it hardly needs answering. Our gods still exist, and are as strong as ever – but they have become the gods of Business – that has become our new religion. And the same prohibition still applies – any challenge to the gods is forbidden!

Our Economy depends on belief (in itself, as a god) and if this belief disappears – the Economy disappears also!


I hope this stimulates your thinking. Your comments are welcome.