Basic Orientation
Book1: R-E Living & "Homo Rationalis"
Book2: Humanianity
Acknowledgements
Introduction
Explanation Of Introduction
REUEP: A Closer Look
Name And Identity
Belief And Action
Punishment And Revenge
Sex And Violence
Faith, Honesty, And Advocacy
Religious Education, Indoctrination
Humanian Organization
(More)
Book3: Mind-Body Problem
Book4: (Future Possible Development)
Child Rearing Issues
Philosophico-Religious Issues
Psycho-Socio-Cultural Issues
The Twelve Articles
Relevant Autobiography
 
"HOMO RATIONALIS" AND HUMANIANITY
 
HELPING TO PROMOTE OUR THIRD EXPONENTIAL CHANGE
 

FAITH, HONESTY, AND ADVOCACY



This book, For Everyone: Humanianity: The Most Important Religion, is the second of three books as far as when the writing of the book began. But it is the third one that I have completed, the completion of it being the writing of this chapter. (Hopefully, the book will continue to have chapters added by others of various religious traditions, including those with no religious tradition or orientation.)


It has been a long time since I completed the last chapter of this book, having intended to complete the current chapter later when it seemed to have materialized for me better. But for a long time I found myself unable to decide how to write this chapter, and instead became focused on the completion of my third book, on the mind-body problem. That book is For Everyone: The Mind-Body Problem (And Free Will VS. Determinism): The Most Important Philosophical Problem. Having completed that book, I realized that this current chapter is very much dependent upon what I came to understand and to write about in that book.


The first book was For Everyone: Rational-Ethical Living and the Emergence of "Homo Rationalis": The Most Important Book. I will be referring to this book as the "textbook." All three books should be viewed as an integral whole, an effort to pass along what I have arrived at by a confluence of everything in my life.


Now there is a problem, indeed, in the writing of this current chapter, in that I know that some who read it will not have read the book on the mind-body problem, and therefore cannot have the understanding that would be necessary were I to use the terminology from that book, with its concepts developed in that book. Prior to the writing of that book, I would not have been able to satisfactorily complete this chapter. My wish, therefore, would be that prior to reading this chapter, you would read that book. I know that such a request is unrealistic, especially since the concepts in that book are not easy to understand with superficial reading. Nevertheless, I will try to do as good a job as I can in providing my ideas regarding the problems discussed in this chapter.


And what are those problems?


My whole effort, involved in the writing of my three books, has been to do something about that which has troubled me all my life, namely, the terrible tendency that we, our species, have to cause tremendous amounts of pain, suffering, disability, and early death for ourselves and each other, unnecessarily. We see among ourselves people that we admire, trust, and value because they are really "good people," by which we mean that they really care about other people and about making the world a better place. But right along with them are people that we certainly can regard as highly dangerous "monsters," against whom we have to protect ourselves in some way. But of course, the vast majority of people are somewhere in the middle, between those polar opposites.


And what we are talking about is ethics, by which I mean (in all of my writing) the set of ethical beliefs that each of us has and also the strength of the ethical sense (a motivational state) that often companies the activation of those ethical beliefs.


To elaborate, there are some people who believe that what is the right thing to do is different from what the majority of people believe is the right thing to do. And there are other people who, with regard to many of those ethical beliefs that most of us have, simply do not have such beliefs one way or the other. But, in addition to that, there are many of us who have a fairly well-defined set of ethical beliefs, but who have a relatively weak ethical sense that accompanies those beliefs. The end result is that large numbers of people do large numbers of things that cause pain, suffering, disability, and/or early death, to a lesser or greater extent. Everyone is familiar with this fact, and the examples of this fact are presented daily in the news media.


But as I have written about, especially in the "textbook," it is at least possible, and I consider somewhat probable, that our species can overcome the factors that have led us, always so far, to inflict on ourselves and each other such misery. We are able to do absolutely wonderful things, but we almost ruin that by the terrible things that we also do. We have capabilities that no other species has, and it is my belief that we can use those capabilities to drastically reduce our tendency to do those awful things.


And as you may know from what I have written in my other books and elsewhere, it is my belief that what is partly necessary is to continue the development of more accurate beliefs regarding how to do things, such that we end up being much better people than we currently tend to be. In fact, I believe that at some time in the future, our species will look back upon the way we are now almost like we look back on the Neanderthals. We will be the same species, but we will be so different psychosocially that we will look at ourselves, at this earlier time, as being almost like a different species. I metaphorically named this species (ourselves, in the future) "Homo rationalis."


But how will that change occur? It will have to be because we have learned how to bring it about.


Elsewhere, I have written that we can observe the beginnings of such a change, but it is still very early in that change, the change being an exponential one that is difficult to imagine at the beginning of it because the beginning of such a change is so small. (Our first exponential change was the development of language, and the second exponential change was the development of the rules of logic and rules of evidence that gave us science and technology. The second of those changes is still occurring at a very rapid rate that has been, I think, obviously exponential.)


Such change requires our working together cooperatively. An absolute requirement for such cooperation is some degree of agreement, not agreement with regard to everything, but agreement to certain fundamental beliefs both regarding our existential beliefs, namely, how the world works (how it is, was, and will be), and thus what will happen if we do certain things, and our ethical beliefs, what we should or should not do.


But also, it is absolutely important that our existential beliefs, especially our fundamental ones, be as accurate as possible, because inaccurate beliefs lead to mistakes, some of which can be quite tragic.


Science is our best method for the determination of the most accurate existential beliefs. With science, we become able to do wonderful and terrible things. But whether we should do them or not has to be decided also, and the psychosocial institution most dedicated to that is our set of religions, or Religion.


But Religion has gotten a bad name, because what we have always found has been that there are many of them, with beliefs that have varied markedly, and that have led us to many different conclusions as to what we should do, to ourselves and to other people. I do not need to enumerate the terrible history that we have regarding the bad things that we have done in the name of our religions, supported by those religions.


But I believe that we do not have to consider this to be a strange phenomenon. Our religions are created by us, and therefore reflect who we are. And who we are gets us back to our initial problem that we are discussing. There are things about the way we live our lives that cause us to be the way we are. There are things about the way we rear our children that explain why we are the way we are as adults. And the way we rear our children is dependent upon our beliefs about the way to do it. And there is substantial diversity of belief regarding this issue. So we have much to learn, and if we learn what we need to, I maintain, we can become far better people than has been true so far, and in that context, we should expect our religions to improve also.


And then, those religions in turn help us to become better. It is a bootstrap phenomenon. As we grow, our religions grow, and as our religions grow, they help us to grow. And this growth is in the direction of "improvement."


But, this means that it is to be expected that our religions will improve. As we improve, so will our religions, and as our religions improve, so will we by virtue of their help.


So the basic concept here is that religions can improve.


But if religions are to improve, they must, by definition, change. And so the phenomenon of change occurring in religion is what this chapter is about.


As you know from reading so far, Humanianity is the term for the top of the mountain, if we imagine all the religions moving up the sides of that mountain, each religion being a religious tradition that has within it the old and the new, the conservative and liberal, the back end and the front end, etc., referring to the idea that religions can develop newer and better approaches as we learn new things as a species, and can also give up some of the parts of the religions that have bad effects rather than good ones. So we are talking about change (improvement) of religions.


And according to this way of looking at things, the top of the mountain would be what all the different religions, and even what we would call non-religious belief systems, can come to regard as the right things to do, a pyrammidal hierarchy of ethical beliefs, each belief being legitimated by deduction from higher or more general ethical beliefs, leading to the concept of an ultimate ethical belief that cannot be legitimated but simply has to be accepted arbitrarily.


And what I personally believe to be the best candidate for that ultimate ethical principle is what I have referred to as the rational-ethical ultimate ethical principle (REUEP), namely, that:


We should do that which will promote not only the survival of our species, but also as much joy, contentment, and appreciation as possible, and as little pain, suffering, disability, and early death (PSDED) as possible, for everyone, now and in the future.


So although most of our religions have some existential beliefs in them, and thus run the risk of coming into conflict with the findings of science, what our religions, or Religion in general, should be concerned with is helping everyone to achieve a set of ethical beliefs consistent with that REUEP (or, if a better one can be found, that better, alternative ultimate ethical principle).


So, we are talking about the basic necessity for us all to continuously work on improving our ethical beliefs, such that they are more and more consistent with that ultimate ethical principal. We must be prepared, then, to change our religious beliefs. And that is exactly what this chapter is about, namely, the problems involved in changing our religious beliefs.


And why is that such a difficult problem?


I believe that we all really know, deep down, why it is indeed so difficult to change our religious beliefs. And that is because they are so important with regard to how we feel, and thus, the quality of our lives.


But the impact of such change in our religious beliefs, or even the effort to change them, is not just a general impact that can be described for everyone. It is not just some change in the ability to have "warm and fuzzy feelings," that some depict religions as primarily providing. Such impact is actually highly personal, and unique for each individual. We can look at different kinds of situations to realize this.


What about the person who may lose his or her job if he or she is discovered to have changed his or her beliefs in a certain direction? What about the person who will be ostracized by his or her family because of such change, or even killed? What about the individual who is in a marriage or other significant-other relationship that is built around a common set of religious beliefs? What about the individual whose children have been raised to have a particular set of religious beliefs that are now different for that individual? What about the individual who is the leader of his or her religious organization, and whose livelihood depends upon continuing to be in good standing within that organization? What about the individual who is seeking to find a significant other, but has a set of religious beliefs that are very atypical within his or her culture? What about the individual who is in a close, possibly family, relationship with someone who is in a tragic situation, possibly dying, and is achieving substantial comfort by virtue of his or her religious beliefs that are now different for that individual?


So when we talk about religions changing, we are talking about individuals accomplishing perhaps extremely difficult and painful personal changes, and even ones that could be viewed as being ethically wrong simply because of the anticipated effects of such change.


As you probably realize, this book, and the other two books, are not written as entertainment or as an effort to provide interesting observations, but instead are written for you, to help you in your individual life, as well as to help as many people as possible, now and into the future. The books are about what you, yourself, can do to improve your own life, the lives around you, and the lives of people in your future upon whom you have some impact, even though you cannot know who those individuals are and what that impact might be. But how the recommendations that I am advocating for would be implemented in your own life and situation would be something that I could not know. So all I can talk about is what I believe to be the general principles that may be of help, if indeed you believe that the changes that I am referring to are indeed the ones that our species should put forth the effort to achieve. So what are these general principles? That is what the rest of this chapter is about. (And you may of course add to them or modify them as seems appropriate to you.)


If we do indeed accept the REUEP upon which Humanianity is based, then whatever one does, one should try to anticipate all the possible outcomes and make his or her decision as to what to do such as to avoid producing unnecessary PSDED. The reason that this principle is important, I believe, is because I have observed a tendency on the part of some to consider that the answer to the problems that we have by virtue of our having of different belief systems is to solve them according to the paradigm that involves conflict between competing belief systems, with the goal of defeating the enemy. The epitome of such conflict, of course, is religious war. However, the other end of the spectrum involves something like the feeling of necessity to challenge the religious beliefs of another person simply because the other person has revealed having those beliefs, in some other context than one in which the goal of the conversation is to explore differences of religious opinion. An obvious example would be the challenging of the religious beliefs of a person who expressed how the person was deriving comfort in the face of tragedy by virtue of the activation of such beliefs. My observation has been that most people do indeed follow this principle (of being non-confrontational), if for no other reason than to avoid social disapproval, but also simply because of not wanting to cause distress in people whom one has concern for. The important exception would be the case that an individual, by virtue of his or her religious beliefs, was likely to make mistakes thereby and thus cause PSDED. Another example might be that of examining the religious beliefs of a politician who seemed to be making his or her judgments regarding what should be done on the basis of beliefs held primarily in his or her own religion. But such examination should not be hostile, but rational and exploratory.


The next most important principle that I can think of is that which is referred to in the chapter on Rational-Ethical Anger Prevention in the "textbook," namely, the second principle of problem-solving behavior, that one should maintain within oneself, and reassure the other that one has, the open listening attitude. In that "textbook," it is clarified that this in no way is our "natural attitude," which is also described, which is, essentially, "Well, I know I am right, so you are either lying, dumb, crazy, or just plain bad." (The natural attitude is very often accompanied by assertive, and even hostile, communicative behavior.) The "open" part of the open, listening attitude is the recognition that no matter how certain one is that one is correct, one could still be wrong. The "listening" part of the open, listening attitude is the feeling of importance in understanding the viewpoint of the other (rather than just trying to induce in the other one's own viewpoint, through either logic or intimidation). In that "textbook," there is substantial elaboration and clarification of this principle.


And there is probably no situation in which it is more important to manifest this attitude than the situation in which it is most conspicuously absent, namely, in child rearing. In order to understand adequately what I am referring to, I would recommend reading and understanding the chapter, also in the "textbook," on Rational-Ethical Child Rearing. If we do believe that the open, listening attitude is extremely important for the development of our species and for the avoidance of much PSDED, then modeling such an attitude in our relationships with our children would seem to be exceedingly important. And, if this is true, then much consideration should be given to what is currently considered the religious indoctrination of children. If Religion is indeed of major importance to our species, then religious education of our children would be extremely important. But if that religious education involves attempting to make it difficult for children to contemplate studying and understanding, and rationally evaluating, all current ways of looking at things, in order to make it unlikely that the child will contemplate attitudes and beliefs that may be somewhat different from those maintained by the individuals who are educating them, then such religious education is also of the very nature that is so criticized by those who currently are turned against all Religion. Division and conflict are thus maintained by such religious education, and are the antithesis to what Humanianity is all about.


Perhaps the third most important principle is one that emerges from the discussion in the book on the mind-body problem, namely, the recognition that "spirituality" is a way of personally organizing one's subjective experience, and has nothing to do with the development of the Objective Model, the effort to attain as accurate a model as possible (the sciences being the epitome) of the way the world is, was, and will be, with which to make predictions about what will happen, especially what will happen in response to the things we contemplate doing. I consider the reading of that book to be of extreme importance if one is indeed becoming identified with the acceptance of and advocacy for Humanianity. The way that "spirituality" is being used here is such that even those most opposed to Religion should feel completely comfortable with the term.


And it is my belief that the currently highly ambiguous and controversial term, "faith," is probably actually a helpful linguistic entity, in that it can help in the transition to the open, listening attitude and the general project of the improvement of spirituality, specifically by a gradual transition of its meaning. Many terms in the languages tend to take on new meaning as time goes on, the term within my culture perhaps most exemplary being "gay." "Faith" may no longer have to have the anti-scientific connotation that is so prevalent currently.


Another important principle, I believe, has to do with a basic way of looking at our various religions. Just as each of us should consider self-improvement to be of primary importance, so should the leaders and members of religious organizations consider their specific religions to have as an inherent aspect of its defining attributes the attribute of the effort toward improvement of the religion itself. Metaphorically, each religion could be looked at as a "person," with a strong desire for continuous personal growth. Even children can understand that there is always potential for growth and self-improvement, and that working on that project is, or at least should be, what life is all about. This is especially true because what happens to each of us as an individual is extremely dependent upon what all of us do as a species. It is an important aspect of child-rearing that the child maintain and increasingly develop an awareness of the importance of doing one's part to make the world a better place within one's sphere of influence. And doing one's part involves learning how to do it, and the development of those skills is what self-improvement is all about. So it would seem that every religion should view itself as somewhere in the process of a lifetime of self-mprovement. With that kind of orientation, then it becomes quite apparent that one of the least optimal components of a religion would be the acceptance of its religious literature as being the unalterable source of any and all ethical principles. Instead, religious literature, I believe, should be looked at as the diary of our species, containing the epic journey of our species so far in its efforts to improve itself and learn how to live life optimally. We certainly would not look to children for guidance as to what we should or should not do, not because any ideas that they have would obviously be wrong, but because we know that an important task of childhood, and of life in general, is overcoming the tendency to make mistakes, especially by virtue of not having given our decision-making adequate thought. Helping children to think before they act, especially in certain kinds of situations, is a major part of what child-rearing is about. So we should be able to look into our religious literature and find examples of terrible mistakes right along with examples of wonderful and valuable concepts. From within that viewpoint, we can see ourselves as continuing to make entries into our diary, and what you are reading right now would, of course, be one of those entries. That is a reason why a tenet of Humanianity is that all aspects of Humanianity should always be looked at critically, to see if there could be still further improvement.


So, for example, within Christianity, we should no longer have to struggle to avoid recognition of the contradictions found in the Bible, and of the awful things that a relatively primitive God urged us to do. We can see in that same Bible, with the increasing awareness of the possibility of improvement, the transition to a God that is far more understanding, benevolent, and "loving." And it is to that advocacy by Jesus that I refer when I see him as an important prophet and leader within emerging Humanianity. Others, in other traditions than mine, should, I believe, be able to see similar developmental processes within their own traditional religious traditions. We can all join hands as we go up the mountain together, and learn from each other as we read each others' diaries.


It certainly is well-accepted that our religions are there for the purpose of achieving self-improvement. So of course those specifically involved in religious professions and leadership hopefully will always be asking the question as to how to go about providing avenues for the members of their organizations to engage in self improvement. Self-improvement means learning to do the best things, and such learning involves understanding (believing accurately) what the outcomes of alternatively considered behaviors are likely to be. Thus, we are talking about predicting the outcomes of our behavior. This, in turn, means having accurate beliefs about the way the world is, was, and will be, and what will happen if we do certain things. The ultimate source of accuracy of beliefs is the sciences, that are specifically based intensively on the rules of logic and rules of evidence. Therefore, it would seem that all religions should regard themselves as in partnership with the sciences, just as the reverse would also be true. (The sciences give us technology that enables us to do amazing things, both wonderful and terrible. Science without Religion is just as dangerous as Religion without Science. But also, both bad Science and bad Religion are dangerous.) I think it is apparent in the current time that there is an uncomfortable relationship between Science and Religion. To some extent, each avoids mention of the other, perhaps as being irrelevant. On the other hand, within Science there is a growing effort to engage in self-monitoring by efforts to study and develop ethical considerations in all that Science has to do with. Similarly, Religion is fully aware of how Science can make Religion more effective, for example, through improved communication technology and improved understanding of "human psychology," manifested more concretely in the area of "marketing," but also through really understanding the findings of Science that indicate the likely outcomes of whatever Religion advocates. So what obviously should happen, in the long run, is that Science and Religion should embrace each other warmly, recognizing how essential both are to the survival and welfare of our species.


And finally, since we are talking about what each and every one of us can do, in behalf of promoting our REUEP (upon which Humanianity is based), we come to the extreme importance of advocacy. But what is it that we should advocate for? Obviously, there are many, many individual, specific improvements that we can advocate for in all of our separate areas of concern and activity. But what this chapter, and this book, and the other two books are about is what is fundamentally important to every last member of our species, at all times.


It is easy, during the course of one's day-to-day existence, to contemplate advocating for the more specific, important improvements that we believe can be made by virtue of cooperative effort among those who become aware of the importance of and benefits of that which is being advocated. But it is somewhat more difficult to think about advocating for that which would be beneficial for everyone, now and in the future, especially because the answer to a general question like that is a relatively general answer. But that is what this chapter, and this book, and the other two books are about, and there are indeed specific things that any individual, including you, can do.


There is one specific area that desperately needs attention, and that is evident everywhere. Perhaps the best single word would be "pessimism." I know from personal experience that the most frequent response to any effort on my part to advocate for our moving ahead in our development as a species toward a far better way of living life is that of regarding such effort as worthy of being labeled by various pejorative labels, such as "idealistic," "Utopian," "unrealistic," "Pollyanna-ish," etc. The belief is expressed that our becoming better than we have ever been is obviously impossible because we have not done so yet, and history is given as evidence. Although I can point to various accomplishments that have been made so far, that is, relatively new improvements over what we have always been in the past, such examples are met with by examples of how we have similarly accomplished being able to do horrible things that we had never been able to do before, such as the killing of more people in a shorter period of time than had ever been possible in the past.


Yes, we are indeed able to do much worse things than ever before. However, we also have developed and begun to implement newer concepts that had never been contemplated before. For a long time, we had talked about the "rights of citizenship," but now we have even started talking about "human rights." And we have made some movement along a line of development with regard to child rearing that has progressed from the acceptance of the very severe punishment of, and even the killing of, our children, toward an increasingly non-punitive, understanding approach to child-rearing that is becoming assisted by help from the sciences. And we are gradually moving away from government by the most powerful toward government of the people, for the people, and by the people.


In no way do I believe that these developmental lines have arrived at their ultimate ends. But they are at least evidence that our species can change, and is indeed changing, with regard to its third exponential change (according to my way of seeing things), the first exponential change having been the development of the infinite ability to use symbols and the rules of syntax (language), and the second exponential change being the development of the rules of logic and rules of evidence (science and technology). The third exponential change is and will be the change in the nature of our ethics, from the ethics of the chimp (obedience to the most powerful) to the ethics of "Homo rationalis" (commitment to the REUEP, the ultimate ethical principle of Humanianity).


So there is a kind of advocacy that I so much hope you will join me in, namely, the advocacy for not only optimism, but also commitment and dedication to the cause that all of this is about, namely, the continuous commitment to trying to make the world a better place for everyone, now and in the future. From within my perspective and knowledge, the currently most effective way of doing this is to advocate for the reading of, studying, and advocacy of these three books that I have written, and from there, the effort to pursue such lines of thought wherever they seem to lead.


And I wish to clarify that I am committed to making no money from these books, or the website (HomoRationalis.com) upon which they can be found and from which they can be downloaded free. I am trying to "pay forward" for all that I have received from so many people who have come before me that are responsible, by virtue of their optimistic efforts, for making the world a so much better place for me and those that I personally care about. And all of this that I have proposed has nothing to do with me or who I am. The ideas expressed should stand or fall on their own, under the appropriate, critical scrutiny of everyone.


This book is about you, not me.