Friday, 24 July 2015

False Religions

I believe that:

human beings were naturally selected to help others either because they bear the same genes or because they might help us in return;

we experience this motivation as moral obligation, not as calculating self-interest;

extraterrestrials cannot bear the same genes but might help us in return and, in any case, as conscious beings should be protected from harm;

therefore, our morality should apply to them;

religions tell stories that are good if they express universal morality and bad if they do not;

thus, "Thou shalt not kill" is good whereas "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" is bad and the stoning of an adulteress is abominable.

"'By adversity, the God tempers the steel of the Race.'"
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), p. 447.

This is a racial, not a universal, religion. The God wants his Race to enslave or exterminate others. Fortunately, not all Merseians are in the Roidhunate.

"I thank thee, Tchernobog, for the gift of my enemy's pain. I feel their pain, finer than the sweetest of wine on the tongue!'"
-SM Stirling, The Peshawar Lancers (New York, 2003), p. 425.

Good God! If I had to fight and even kill Ignatieff, I would neither cause him unnecessary pain nor enjoy whatever pain he did experience.

Anderson and Stirling show us two bad religions. But how should we assess the New Faith of Anderson's Ythrians?

5 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    What a coincidence! In your "Princess Sita" piece, I actually commented on ideas related to what you discussed here.

    I am not convinced we are genetically predisposed to doing either good or evil. I see too much evil of all kinds to believe in such an idea. I say mankind is a FALLEN race and that we need to be taught how to know good from evil. And I believe this will apply as well to non human races whom we may discover to be as prone as ours to sin, evil, error, and death.

    Yes, the dominant religion of Merseia in the Technic History stories taught the racial supremacy of Merseians, because they were superior to all other beings. And, if that was true, they could indeed "rightly" enslave and/or exterminate all other races which resisted them.

    Count Ignatieff's prayer to Satan/Tchernobog is indeed chilling! He WANTED to be damned! And to inflict pain and agony on others was, to Satanists, pleasing and holy.

    As for the New Religion of the Ythrians, I would classify it as being true in some ways and erroneous in others. For instance, I would not agree with its followers that it pleases God to suffer as much pain as possible while dying, because to fight against God the Hunter as hard as possible pleases Him (which is what we see in "The Problem of Pain").

    Sean

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  2. BTW, the Bible doesn't actually say "Thou Shalt Not Kill". Hebrew makes exactly the same distinction between "kill" and "murder" that English does. The word used -- "rasah" -- is never used as a general term for killing human beings, but only for killing of a type forbidden by law. It's never used for killing in war, for example, or for execution ("putting to death").

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  3. BTW, the Bible doesn't actually say "Thou Shalt Not Kill". Hebrew makes exactly the same distinction between "kill" and "murder" that English does. The word used -- "rasah" -- is never used as a general term for killing human beings, but only for killing of a type forbidden by law. It's never used for killing in war, for example, or for execution ("putting to death").

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  4. Mr Stirling,
    Good God! I have misunderstood this commandment all my life, i.e., for 66 years! Why are we not taught religion properly?
    Paul.

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    1. Dear Mr. Stirling and Paul,

      I had known for a long time that the Hebrew "rasah" is best translated as "murdered," not "kill." It does make me wonder why so many translations of that commandment into English have used "kill" instead of the more accurate word. Perhaps translators were trying to stress that both deliberate and accidental killing were bad? But, if the Hebrew word meant "murder" then that should have been what translators used.

      Sean

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