Read the first and second part here:
Immortality, Happiness and Divinity. What’s next? Homo Deus. [part2]
Read the first part here:
In short, now that we don’t need to fight to survive, we will focus on life: living longer, being happy and controlling everything.
A reflection on how we overcame survival
The first religions were Animalist — all belongs to all, be it animal, plant or earth. As such, we assumed what a human may feel, think and do, an animal would too. In fact, Yuval points to evidence that they believed that humans descended from animals and hence are linked.
When farming was invented religions changed. Now humans owned land and any intrusion was stealing. Human’s needed superiority over animals. Hence they tore us from the garden of Eden. Compassion disappears to all things that are not human.
Science has proven that emotion and desires are not a human thing but common to all mammals and many reptiles and fish, yet we still rear millions, steal their children and slaughter with most barely able to move in their crates. Religion has a huge part in human progress as it gave reason to prioritise humans. This scale and savageness will be vilified in the future and that future is coming soon.
New Zealand has already passed a law recognising animals as sentient beings:
Animals are now recognised as ‘sentient’ beings, like humans
The New Zealand Government has formally recognised animals as ‘sentient’ beings by amending animal welfare legislation…
The breakdown of religion
Religion focuses on morals and projects that into actions and rules. Science doesn’t concern itself with morals but does analyse actions and rules.
For example, our society relies on the provenience of the soul: Humans have one, animals do not. Science has nothing to prove this.
This apathy towards the soul by Science is the real cause of people’s rejection of science — it has taken away something we believed in. The individual is divisible by science.
Even consciousness seems to be argued. fMRI tech can anticipate thought and feelings and as such, lays the ground for decoding of thought and consciousness. The mind is being explained more and more.
Skeptics will argue that animals either are working off genetic algorithms which are complicated, or are blind of the situation but simply acting on impulse unaware of the cause of the impulse.
This is difficult to objectively prove but questions of consciousness, conscience and morality have shown the occurrence in animals. See below.
Clearly animals have some amount of emotion, feeling, consciousness, and morality.
Why are humans on top?
Perhaps to understand if our belief “we are better” is well founded we need to know why we have achieved so much. Humanities super power is wide spread collaboration without the need for deep trust. Bees can collaborate but are not the super species. Apes can collaborate but require deep trust. Human social systems require no intimacy.
This widespread collaboration happens simply because of humans ability to comprehend ‘intersubjective meaning’ — Yuval’s term.
Money, religion, the state, society, democracy, human rights: they are all imaginary constructs that have little/no basis in reality but conceptualised, are agreed upon as common to all and accepted by man. They are all imagined.
One of the more fun quotes of this book points to this:
Lions can run, jump, claw and bite. Yet they cannot open a bank account or file a lawsuit.
The new intersubjective dogma
As discussed, the issue with all religions is that they a bridge between ethical judgements and facts, but then either evolve too slowly (typically labelled progressive or liberal), or do not evolve by intention (orthodox types).
Yuval shows religions start with ethics (which are unprovable but mostly accepted as true when defined), but then conflate those ethics into directives or facts which are contestable:
- Ethical statements or values are decreed — “Human life is sacred”, “Obey God’s commands”
- Factual statements are studied and linked to the ethical statement — “Human life begins at conception”, “3,000 years ago God said do not ‘lie with another man’”
- Direction to abide by these values and facts are given — “Abortion is always a sin”, Homosexuality is a sin”
In every case, the fact can be argued with Science.
Sam Harris (Podcast) goes further than Yuval, to say that science can always resolve ethics — surmising that all ethics have some facts to anchor them. He states that humans share a common goal to “minimise suffering and maximise happiness”.
People in ISIS want to change others to reach heaven to be happy and avoid suffering. People in Nazi Germany thought Hitler knew how to make things better. Liberals think more liberty give more happiness. All disagree on the facts of getting there, not the ethics — according to Harris. Science should revel in the possibility to do fact based arguments but the only hitch is measuring happiness which seems incomparable across human beings, let alone other species.
Why is religion useful?
In 1600, Cairo and Istanbul were a melting pot of religion and culture and so was oddly ahead of its time. Europe was full of religious fundamentalism and persecution of others. Yet, the scientific revolution started in Europe so clearly religious devotism was more beneficial?
Religion focuses on order. Many scientists were strongly religious. Science was seen as the pursuit of understanding God’s creation.
Science has now become the pursuit of power. Power to cure, build and improve. Not to ‘understand creation’. As such, religious devotism doesn’t seem to be a driving force like it did before. In short, the conditions for human prosperity seems to change.
Under the umbrella of Humanism, religion provided structured dogma to collaborate, while science and technology could build power.
So religion is declining, what is next?
Quickly replacing religion is societal change. In the 20th century liberalism, communism and fascism were the new religions which people aligned themselves to, hence enabling “large-scale cooperation”.
Yuval argues that a new religion is here and it is growth and improvement. Your denomination of this religion is the culture you use to grow.
“Just as Christians and Muslims all believe in heaven, and disagree only about how to get there, so during the Cold War both capitalists and communists disagreed on how to create heaven on earth through economic growth”
If you can show growth, you improve your life. Each countries leadership will do this differently but, ultimately, if the quality of life lags behind others their strength will falter. Politicians have recognised this and it has given birth to the Japanese Abenomics, China’s not-so-communist growth, India’s and Turkey’s religious economic parties and Singapore GDP-obsessed government. All the leaders pin their success on growth. This is a new political model, whatever is needed to have growth will keep you popular.
Yuval points out that leaders of old would celebrate. Now all leaders must use profits to create more growth.
Capitalism is a never ending spinning wheel. To stay where you are you need to do more. Whatever method works will continue.
What can we use to grow?
Much of 20th century growth has come from finding new resources in new continents and industrialising. The future seems to point to the resources off world in mining planets. But what about now.
Yuval explains there are three types of resources: materials, energy and knowledge. You can deplete materials, you can expend energy, but knowledge ignores use. Knowledge is the resource we can use and use.
Part 4 is here:
Growth can’t stop now. What’s next? Homo Deus. [part4]
We need to keep growing but what resources will we be able to use without destorying ourselves?
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