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“Into the millennium” - Pres. Nelson


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22 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Historically, religion in all its forms has encroached on science, and it still does. Religions have claimed to have answers to questions that are within the purview of science.

Could you give some examples of "answers {by religious groups} that are within the purview of science"?  That is, current/ongoing "answers"?

22 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Scientific knowledge advancing provides a scientific test for how reliable religion is at providing answers to questions that are true.

For example, in the 17th century various scholars calculated that according to the Bible, the earth was created around the year 4,000 B.C. In 1832, God confirmed the truth of this to Joseph Smith with the clarification that the earth's "temporal existence" is in fact 7,000 years and began in the year 4,000 B.C. (see D&C 77).

Actually, it says "the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence."

22 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Yes, Mormons generally say that there were seven periods of creation of indeterminate length before the "temporal existence" began in 4,000 B.C., and of course you are free to believe whatever you want on the matter.

Including that there isn't a conflict between D&C 77 and scientific thought about the age of the earth?  Okay.  That's what I believe.

22 minutes ago, Analytics said:

The point is that as scientific knowledge has advanced, religion has either obstinately clung to false beliefs

Could you give some examples of "false beliefs" to which the Latter-day Saints currently cling (and which have been falsified by "science")?

22 minutes ago, Analytics said:

or has backpedaled on its truth claims.

I don't think this has happened much with the Church.  In fact, I'm having a hard time formulating a list of instances where the Church has "backpedaled on its truth claims" in the face of evidence promulgated by "science."  Could you provide some examples?

22 minutes ago, Analytics said:

You may think that the religion of your choice provides satisfying answers to "terrible questions."

I'm not sure what you mean by "terrible questions."

22 minutes ago, Analytics said:

But given its track record on truth claims that have eventually been evaluated by science, there is no reason to believe that it provides any reliable insight into reality. It's the opposite, as a matter of fact.

Science doesn't have all the answers. But religion doesn't have any of them. 

Meh.  This is unserious stuff.

"Science" has precious little to say about ethics, morality, etc.  These are hugely important to our lives.

Consider the following:

Unit 731:

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Unit 731 (Japanese: 731部隊, Hepburn: Nana-san-ichi Butai),[note 1] short for Manshu Detachment 731 and also known as the Kamo Detachment,[3]: 198  and Ishii Unit,[5] was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that engaged in lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes which were committed by the armed forces of Imperial Japan. Unit 731 was based in the Pingfang district of Harbin, the largest city in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (now Northeast China), and had active branch offices throughout China and Southeast Asia.
...
In 2002, Changde, China, site of the plague flea bombing, held an "International Symposium on the Crimes of Bacteriological Warfare" which estimated that the number of people killed by the Imperial Japanese Army germ warfare and other human experiments was around 580,000.[32]: xii, 173  The American historian Sheldon H. Harris states that over 200,000 died.[65][66] In addition to Chinese casualties, 1,700 Japanese troops in Zhejiang during Zhejiang-Jiangxi campaign were killed by their own biological weapons while attempting to unleash the biological agent, indicating serious issues with distribution.[67]

At least 3,000 men, women, and children[3]: 117 [67]—from which at least 600 every year were provided by the Kempeitai[68] were subjected to experimentation conducted by Unit 731 at the camp based in Pingfang alone, which does not include victims from other medical experimentation sites, such as Unit 100.[69] Although 3,000 internal victims is the widely accepted figure in the literature, former Unit member Okawa Fukumatsu refuted it in a video interview. He stated that there were at least over 10,000 victims of internal experiments at the Unit, and that he himself vivisected thousands.[70]

See also Unit 1855Unit 8604Unit Ei 1644Zhongma FortressDachau concentration camp, Ravensbrück concentration campHerero and Namaqua genocideHuman experimentation in North KoreaProject CoastStateville Penitentiary Malaria StudyOperation Top HatHolmesburg PrisonEdgewood Arsenal human experimentsContraceptive trials in Puerto RicoBaltimore Lead Paint StudyGuatemala syphilis experiments, and many, many more.

To be sure, we have medical ethics.  But those ethics arise out of commonly-held notions of right and wrong.  Notions that are heavily influenced and/or based on religious sentiments.  And these ethics necessarily constrain "scientific" inquiry.

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

Could you give some examples of "answers {by religious groups} that are within the purview of science"?  That is, current/ongoing "answers"?

In principle, everything that has to do with physical, observable reality is within the purview of science. 

A big example is that many religious groups believe in some sort of mind/body dualism, a ghost in the machine, life after death, the existence of a spirit, and such. Since these alleged spirits interact or interface with the matter, energy, and fields of the human body, they can be subject to scientific scrutiny. And scientifically, the existence of some sort of spirit has in fact been scientifically proven false.

Really. Spirits do not exist. That is a scientific fact as much as anything is a scientific fact.

For a detailed explanation of how physics has robustly, positively, and confidently proven that what Joseph Smith called "spirit matter" does not exist, see The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Dr. Sean Carroll, especially Chapters 19-27.

Also see Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain by Dr. Michael Gonzaniga. 

 Yes, there are any number of scientists who ignore these facts or otherwise compartmentalize their scientific lives and religious lives. To see why, see: Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Dr. Michael Shermer.

1 hour ago, smac97 said:

Could you give some examples of "false beliefs" to which the Latter-day Saints currently cling (and which have been falsified by "science")?

It's not my place to tell you what Latter-day Saints believe.

1 hour ago, smac97 said:

I don't think this has happened much with the Church.  In fact, I'm having a hard time formulating a list of instances where the Church has "backpedaled on its truth claims" in the face of evidence promulgated by "science."  Could you provide some examples?

  • For example, it used to be accepted doctrine that there was no literal physical death among animals or people before the Fall of Adam. I know this isn't emphasized anymore, and I doubt it is being taught much. This was of fundamental importance: one of the three "pillars of eternity."
  • The teachings of Bruce R. McConkie used to be taken seriously. Deseret Book outlets no longer sell his books.
  • In 1998, a BYU professor said the following in the Ensign: Not everyone throughout the modern world, however, accepts the story of Noah and the Flood. Many totally disbelieve the story, seeing it as a simple myth or fiction. Typical of some modern scholars, one author recently discounted the events of the Flood by using such terms as “implausible,” “unacceptable,” and “impossible”; he stated that believers who would hope to provide geologic or other evidence regarding the historicity of the Flood “can be given no assurance that their effort, however sustained, will be successful.”1 Another author titled his book The Noah’s Ark Nonsense,2 revealing his disbelief that the Flood actually took place. Still other people accept parts of the Flood story, acknowledging that there may have been a local, charismatic preacher, such as Noah, and a localized flood that covered only a specific area of the world, such as the region of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers or perhaps even the whole of Mesopotamia. Yet these people do not believe in a worldwide or global flood. Both of these groups—those who totally deny the historicity of Noah and the Flood and those who accept parts of the story—are persuaded in their disbelief by the way they interpret modern science. They rely upon geological considerations and theories that postulate it would be impossible for a flood to cover earth’s highest mountains, that the geologic evidence (primarily in the fields of stratigraphy and sedimentation) does not indicate a worldwide flood occurred any time during the earth’s existence. There is a third group of people—those who accept the literal message of the Bible regarding Noah, the ark, and the Deluge. Latter-day Saints belong to this group. In spite of the world’s arguments against the historicity of the Flood, and despite the supposed lack of geologic evidence, we Latter-day Saints believe that Noah was an actual man, a prophet of God, who preached repentance and raised a voice of warning, built an ark, gathered his family and a host of animals onto the ark, and floated safely away as waters covered the entire earth. We are assured that these events actually occurred by the multiple testimonies of God’s prophets. (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1998/01/the-flood-and-the-tower-of-babel?lang=eng) Teachings like that used to be believed and considered important because of the "multiple testimonies of God's prophets." 
  • As Man Is, God Once Was.
  • See how LDS Church warnings about pornography have evolved in the Salt Lake Tribune
1 hour ago, smac97 said:

"Science" has precious little to say about ethics, morality, etc.  

That is false. See, for example, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Dr. Steven Pinker and The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Dr. Sam Harris.

Ultimately, there must be an axiomatic basis for morality, and in our modern western society, that basis is humanism, not religion. That is why I can point to countless moral atrocities by historical and current religious individuals and groups (not to mention atrocities commanded by God in the Bible) that are all committed in the name of God, and we can agree that they are morally wrong without opening our Bibles and Qurans.

Once our basic values are established by Humanism, science has a lot to say about how to maximize human flourishing. 

Edited by Analytics
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Completely by chance, frankly (I was simply rummaging through some old posts without searching for anything in particular) I ran across this post that I made in another forum a couple of years ago in response to someone who thinks very much as you do with respect to the issues under discussion, Analytics.  It contains queries that I think are relevant to this discussion and to which I would be keenly interested in hearing your responses, if you're so inclined (though it is similar, but not identical, to what I have posted here previously; please pardon any duplication; I don't mean to seem pedantic):

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With due respect, I think you need to exercise a little more caution here. You've already granted the proposition that even non-scientific pursuits can (and often do) have the ability to provide valuable insights into the human condition, on the one hand, yet you dismiss religion, outright and in toto, on the other hand.

Certain kinds of art, of philosophy, of literature, and so on, may not speak to you: fine. (In fact, most kinds might not: fine.) Other kinds might: fine. To each, his own. Vive le difference! Religion, in toto, may not speak to you: fine. However, your approach, taken to its logical conclusion, would also lead to wholesale dismissal of art, of philosophy, of literature, and so on, as having any ability whatsoever to say anything valuable about the human condition.

I think it's better to paint with a finer brush: One lays down far more nuanced strokes that way. Would it not be better to say "That particular religion (or even religion in toto) doesn't speak to me, but I can understand how it might speak to others? Or at least, in an infinite number of possible universes, I can conceive of at least one potential universe in which it might have something valuable to say to someone? If the answer to the foregoing questions is "No" (that is, you cannot conceive how religion could have value to anyone, or you cannot conceive of at least one universe in which it might), why are you willing to grant that leeway to at least certain kinds of art, philosophy, literature, and so on, on the one hand, but unwilling to grant it to religion, on the other?

 

 

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2 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

With all due respect, I think you're engaging in special pleading here, privileging your own brand of certitude over all other [alleged] brands of certitude simply because it is yours.  The best science can do is provide the best explanation possible of any currently available data.  But change the data, change the science. 

A fundamental postulate of science is that the world works according to natural laws. Since those laws are laws, they don't change and their nature can be inferred. It's theoretically possible that God is just running the universe in a way that causes there to appear to be natural laws. Philosophically that can't be ruled out. For example, a lady in my ward had a theory about where the dinosaur bones came from: Satan put them their to deceive us. There is no way to disprove that theory, of course. The data can change. But so far, science has a really good track record of having predictive power.

2 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

And frankly, I find your characterization of faith and devotion as "made up" answers offensive.  They may not be your cup of tea, or they may not be consistent with how you see the world, and that's fine.  But are you absolutely certain that scientists have a corner on the only knowledge with knowing?  Would you, likewise, dismiss the answers provided by philosophers, poets and other writers, musicians, artists, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum, as also "made up," or are you willing to grant, at least, that they have a perspective that you lack?  And if you are willing to grant that much to philosophers, et al (many of whom are religious, by the way, though certainly not all) why are you willing to grant that point to them but not to the religiously devout?

Everybody has their perspectives. Of course. And I'm not making blanket statements about all beliefs and all religious people. If you like going to church then that's real. I'm not saying it isn't. But there is a qualitative difference between having and describing a transcendental experience when you indulge in Häagen-Dazs and making a truth claim about the ultimate nature of reality. In general, I think Catholic's are wonderful people, but that doesn't mean there aren't some elements of their religious beliefs that aren't made up. If you will inidulge me in another quote:

The Catholic Community Forum helpfully lists 5,120 saints,18 together with their areas of expertise, which include abdominal pains, abuse victims, anorexia, arms dealers, blacksmiths, broken bones, bomb technicians and bowel disorders, to venture no further than the Bs. And we mustn’t forget the four Choirs of Angelic Hosts, arrayed in nine orders: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels (heads of all hosts), and just plain old Angels, including our closest friends, the ever-watchful Guardian Angels. What impresses me about Catholic mythology is partly its tasteless kitsch but mostly the airy nonchalance with which these people make up the details as they go along. It is just shamelessly invented.

Pope John Paul II created more saints than all his predecessors of the past several centuries put together, and he had a special affinity with the Virgin Mary. His polytheistic hankerings were dramatically demonstrated in 1981 when he suffered an assassination attempt in Rome, and attributed his survival to intervention by Our Lady of Fatima: ‘A maternal hand guided the bullet.’ One cannot help wondering why she didn’t guide it to miss him altogether. Others might think the team of surgeons who operated on him for six hours deserved at least a share of the credit; but perhaps their hands, too, were maternally guided. The relevant point is that it wasn’t just Our Lady who, in the Pope’s opinion, guided the bullet, but specifically Our Lady of Fatima.

Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion (pp. 55-56)

Maybe you think it really was Our Lady of Fatima who saved the life of the Pope that day, or maybe you reserve judgement on the point. But to me, I can't help agreeing with Richard Dawkins--that seems made up.

2 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

In any event, whatever other benefits I derive from my faith, I assure you that certitude regarding many of the things about which you believe I am certain is not one of them.  There are many, many things I wish I knew that I do not, but I choose, nonetheless, to believe.  (Irrational, I know :crazy:, but, there it is! ;))

For what it's worth, I don't judge you. I have no idea what you believe, know, have faith about, hope for, or fear. It's all good. 

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12 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

Completely by chance, frankly (I was simply rummaging through some old posts without searching for anything in particular) I ran across this post that I made in another forum a couple of years ago in response to someone who thinks very much as you do with respect to the issues under discussion, Analytics.  It contains queries that I think are relevant to this discussion and to which I would be keenly interested in hearing your responses, if you're so inclined (though it is similar, but not identical, to what I have posted here previously; please pardon any duplication; I don't mean to seem pedantic):

 

Thanks for sharing this, Kenngo. I'm not saying religion doesn't speak to people, nor that it has no value. I'm not even saying that religious teachings are necessarily false. I don't look down at people who go to church.

I am saying that science has a demonstrated track record of leading towards truth in a way that religion does not. However, whether understanding the "truth" is a moral imperative is up for debate.  

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1 hour ago, Analytics said:

In principle, everything that has to do with physical, observable reality is within the purview of science. 

But not exclusively, surely?

1 hour ago, Analytics said:

A big example is that many religious groups believe in some sort of mind/body dualism, a ghost in the machine, life after death, the existence of a spirit, and such. Since these alleged spirits interact or interface with the matter, energy, and fields of the human body, they can be subject to scientific scrutiny.

"Can be" being the operative phrase.  Whether such scrutiny yields helpful information is quite a different question.

1 hour ago, Analytics said:

And scientifically, the existence of some sort of spirit has in fact been scientifically proven false.

Piffle.

1 hour ago, Analytics said:

Really. Spirits do not exist. That is a scientific fact as much as anything is a scientific fact.

Meh.  We've been over this.  That's simply not the case:

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Is Carroll "qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education" as to the subject matter at hand?  Namely, the existence of God, spirits, etc.?

Is Carroll's "scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge" something that will help "the trier of fact" (me, or anyone else interesting in the existence of God, spirits, etc.) "understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue?"

Are the "principles or methods that are underlying" in Carroll's book "reliable" in terms of helping someone like me ascertain the existence of God, spirits, etc.?

Are the "principles or methods that are underlying" in Carroll's book "based upon sufficient facts or data" regarding "the existence of God, spirits, etc."?

Has Carroll "reliably applied" the "principles or methods that are underlying" his book "to the facts?"

 

To answer these questions, the answer is no regarding "the existence of God, spirits, etc." The reason for that is that "God, spirits, etc." are undefined.

And yet you have characterized Carroll's theory as  "the strongest, most robust, most well-tested theory of all of science," that it is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla," and that it "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist."

So Carroll has "proven" that these "undefined" things (God and spirits) "don't exist?"  That's what "science" can do?  Disprove the existence of something that isn't even defined?

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However, I would say Carroll is a qualified expert with regards to Effective Quantum Field Theory and the experimental data supporting it, including what it implies about the likelihood of there being unknown energy or particles that can affect our day-to-day reality, including signals to or from the atoms that make up our brains. 

"What it implies about the likelihood?"  

What happened to "the strongest, most robust, most well-tested theory of all of science," that is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla," and "proves that spirits and revelation don't exist"?

Do you see just a wee bit of difference between

(A) a theory that "provisionally" (as Carroll elsewhere put it) "implies" a "likelihood" of the non-existence of spirits

versus

(B) a theory that, as you assert, is "as strong as a child of the Hulk and Godzilla" and "proves" the non-existence of spirits?

I'm getting whiplash reading your posts.  

 

Your excessive devotion to scientism didn't persuade the first time, and it's not improving with age.

1 hour ago, Analytics said:
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"Science" has precious little to say about ethics, morality, etc.  

That is false. See, for example, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Dr. Steven Pinker and The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Dr. Sam Harris.

Ultimately, there must be an axiomatic basis for morality, and in our modern western society, that basis is humanism, not religion.

Meh.  Humanism builds on (or perhaps appropriates/plagiarizes) portions of religious ethics.  

Moreover, humanism carries to moral authority.  It is untethered.  And it has ties to some pretty awful stuff.  Consider this article (emphases added) :

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DOES MODERN SECULARISM HAVE A MEMORY PROBLEM?

THE MODERN SECULARIST HAS TO FACE SOME UNCOMFORTABLE FACTS OF HISTORY.

by Fredric HeidemannNovember 16, 2018
 

After many years of awkward silence, the secular media is finally recognizing some of the most profound social problems facing American society. The widely-acknowledged dangers of the increasing number of children growing up without fathers. The psychological damage caused by the hookup culture. The long-lasting wounds and unintended casualties of divorce. The deleterious effects of pornography. The list could go on.

What strikes me most about these articles, aside from the obvious tragedy, is that they read as though this is somehow breaking news—as though no one had ever considered it before. Yet religious leaders of nearly every stripe decried the same or similar problems for decades, but were either ignored or denounced as out-of-touch, fussy curmudgeons, often by the same publications. It would be all too easy to say “I told you so” and smugly walk away. However, I believe this is part of a much larger phenomenon that I can only describe as the short memory of modern secularism. Whether it’s forgetting the blunders of his predecessors, unconsciously borrowing moral precepts from the religious sphere, or failing to recognize the enormous stabilizing force that religion brings to society, the modern secularist seems to easily forget the readily-available facts that contradict his go-to narrative of blaming religion for society’s ills and dismissing its benefits.

Boy, that fits what you are doing here to a tee.

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How easily we forget that Social Darwinism—the disturbing application of a “survival of the fittest” ethos to human societies—and “scientific racism” were the inventions of nineteenth century atheists and agnostics eager to free society from old-fashioned morals that allowed “inferior” people to survive. Agnostic Herbert Spencer was a leader in this area, and at least he is still mentioned in some history textbooks. But how many people have even heard of Ernst Haeckel, one of the earliest and most vocal proponents of this theory, who ironically founded the Association for the Propagation of Ethical Atheism? Very few, I daresay, since it seems most modern secularists have forgotten what their predecessors were up to.

Selective amnesia going on, I think.

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The memory loss extends to the people who opposed their positions: often overtly religious people articulating overtly religious principles. Take for example the debate between orthodox Christian G.K. Chesterton and agnostic George Bernard Shaw over eugenics. Chesterton was disgusted by eugenics while Shaw saw an opportunity for “extermination…on a scientific basis.” It is worth mentioning that Chesterton’s other major eugenics opponent, Dean Inge, was an Anglican churchman who became the poster boy for Anglican Modernism—a do-it-yourself, secular spirituality devoid of miracles and moral or theological doctrine, a misguided attempt at “Christianity without religion.”

Wilber Wiberforce is another example of religious expression have "answers."  There are many, many others.

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I can’t help but feel like this collective amnesia has crept into other areas, allowing the proliferation of myths and absurd opinions about religion. How else could religion be blamed, in otherwise educated circles, for most of the world’s violence despite being clearly contradicted by historical fact (see The Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod)? The reality is that both secular and religious ideas can be dangerous, but when secularism has turned militant, it has been far deadlier. Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Maoist China are almost singlehandedly responsible for making the twentieth century the bloodiest in human history. It is not by chance that those regimes systematically suppressed religion and saw Christianity as singularly incompatible with their ideologies.

The systematic atrocities committed by authoritarian secular/humanist regimes have been pretty horrible.

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A few points of clarification before proceeding. First, I hope by now it’s clear that by “secular” I’m not referring to the original meaning of that word, which denotes a state that avoids adopting an official religion and intermingling state and religious structures. If the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on establishing a state religion were abolished and replaced with a requirement that the Vice President be a Catholic bishop, I would be the first to object. Rather, by “secular” I’m referring to a more modern bent on the word: an attitude that views religion as unimportant and, in its aggressive form, desires its elimination from the public sphere.

Second, I am not crassly accusing today’s secularists of the sins of their predecessors. The great irony is that most secularists of today would agree with the traditional Christian morality of Chesterton over the modern utilitarianism of Shaw and Inge in the eugenics debates. My point is that such episodes have been largely forgotten, and the secular humanists of today seem to be entirely unaware that they have adopted positions that were seen by their forefathers as hopelessly outdated manifestations of traditional Christian moralizing. And they continue to do so.

Again, this seems to be what you are doing here.

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For the secular humanist, the uncomfortable reality is that the modern notion of human rights is rooted in Christian social morality. Harvard law school and history professor Samuel Moyne recently wrote an excellent book on the development of human rights philosophies in the twentieth century called Christian Human Rights. Moyne traces the development of human rights, in its current expression, to the pre-World War II era, where Christians apprehended the horrors of both left-wing communism and right-wing fascism and marshalled a response condemning the abuses of both.

You aren't acknowledging this, and are instead globally denying it.

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But the story goes back further. The eighteenth-century predecessor to human rights—natural rights—was similarly Christian in origin. As Bishop Barron has eloquently pointed out, the assertion in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” flatly contradicts all honest observations of humanity unless people are “endowed by their Creator” with such inherent dignity. Though the document’s author, Thomas Jefferson, was probably a deist with only weak pseudo-Christian tendencies, he acknowledges the Christian origins of his ideas of liberty, calling emancipation “a doctrine truly Christian.” Other Founders like John Adams even more clearly credit Christianity with influencing their ideas of human liberty, and anyone who has read Bartolome de las Casas, Thomas Aquinas, or Augustine will notice that Christian ideas of human dignity prefigure similar eighteenth-century ideas.

Your historical amnesia/revisionism does not hold up well.

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However, the modern secularist faces perhaps an even more uncomfortable reality: the modern concept of human rights, being so inextricably linked to religious principles, may need religion in order to survive. Contemporary secular ethics may be running on the warped residue of Judeo-Christian morality, but that residue is thinning. Will it be enough to stop the “will to power” that so thoroughly infected secular ideologies in the last century but has so far been avoided in this one?

It’s too early to ring alarm bells, at least as far as outright tyranny is concerned, but the coinciding rise of secularism, polarization, political violence, “polite persecutions,” and flirtations with speech suppression warrant a red flag. Again, the deleterious effect of secularism on the American political climate was predicted for some time by the religious segments of society, but the secular side has been slow to catch up. The Atlantic woke up to smell the coffee earlier this year, running an article arguing that America’s secularization has made the political climate less tolerant and more antagonistic.

Yep.

Here's the kicker, IMO:

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The American media’s current fascination with the Alt-Right and Antifa movements is a case in point. Both movements resort to violence and intimidation against their opponents. But there is one interesting fact that gets little attention. The Alt-Right demographic tends to be atheist or agnostic, as do the Antifa supporters. I submit that it’s no coincidence both groups are distinctly, even aggressively, secular. In a world where people lack a generally accepted understanding of basic metaphysical truths, moral precepts, and first principles, each person invents his own version of truth. There are no absolutes with which to appeal. There is no room for civil argument and honest debate because there is no fixed goal for an argument to move toward. There are only psychological categories, which invariably break down to “us versus them” thinking and only power to determine who prevails.

I think this is quite correct.  Broadly speaking, secular humanism - particularly when infused in government actions (though mobocratic thugs also like to make use of it) - is making society markedly worse, not better.

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To publications that often criticize religion, like The Atlantic, rising secularism breeding unrest is counterintuitive. But it makes perfect sense. Sociologists have long known about the link between religious observance and social stability. A devout person is more likely to be financially stable, avoid addiction, maintain a marriage, and generally healthier than a less observant person in the same socioeconomic profile. In other words, religious people perform better in key categories of social stability than their less religious peers living under the same conditions. That stability (or lack thereof) has serious political implications, and we see it playing out now with certain grassroots political organizations showing flashes of violence and demagoguery.

Daniel Peterson made similar observations in his excellent article: The Reasonable Leap into Light: A Barebones Secular Argument for the Gospel 

I hope you give it a read.

Back to the above article:

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Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to pin all the nonreligious onto the same list of horribles. That would be as stupid as blaming “religion”—as many secular thinkers do—for the abuses committed by people who happen to have certain distorted religious views. In the words of fellow Word on Fire blogger Joe Heschmeyer, that way of thinking is akin to blaming the Holocaust on “politics.” Such inane generalizations are unfair and absurd no matter who the target is. That said, I think there is one generalization about modern secularism that is fair, and therein lies the purpose of this post. Because the secular media loves to exaggerate, simplify, and mythologize the darker episodes of Christian history and beams at the faintest whiff of religious scandal, we never forget the dangers of religion turned sour. Can modern secularists admit the same thing about secularism run amok? Can they even identify it? Certainly not well enough, for they have forgotten when it has happened and what it looks like. And we have let them forget. It’s time we reminded them, for everyone’s sake.

Yep.

1 hour ago, Analytics said:

That is why I can point to countless moral atrocities by historical and current religious individuals and groups (not to mention atrocities commanded by God in the Bible) that are all committed in the name of God, and we can agree that they are morally wrong without opening our Bibles and Qurans.

Once our basic values are established by Humanism, science has a lot to say about how to maximize human flourishing. 

And yet, in practice, it does a pretty horrible job at "maximiz{ing} human flourishing."  Over and over and over again.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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25 minutes ago, smac97 said:

But not exclusively, surely?

"Can be" being the operative phrase.  Whether such scrutiny yields helpful information is quite a different question.

Piffle.

Meh.  We've been over this.  That's simply not the case:

Your excessive devotion to scientism didn't persuade the first time, and it's not improving with age.

You asked. The fact that you choose your religious dogma and reject science on the matter proves my point.

25 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Meh.  Humanism builds on (or perhaps appropriates/plagiarizes) portions of religious ethics.  

Who said otherwise? 

The key word which I thank you for including is "portions." Humanists don't instigate wars to free the Holy Land. They don't burn witches at the stake. They don't follow the Bible's teachings about slavery.

25 minutes ago, smac97 said:

The systematic atrocities committed by authoritarian secular/humanist regimes have been pretty horrible.

Clearly you don't know what humanism is. You really ought to read Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Dr. Steven Pinker.

 

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14 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Thanks for sharing this, Kenngo. I'm not saying religion doesn't speak to people, nor that it has no value. I'm not even saying that religious teachings are necessarily false. I don't look down at people who go to church.

I am saying that science has a demonstrated track record of leading towards truth in a way that religion does not. However, whether understanding the "truth" is a moral imperative is up for debate.  

Fair enough.  Thanks for your response.  I can see, easily, how scientific truths benefit folks, and how a skewed understanding of religion might not.  If, believing that God will protect me, I attempt to step out into open space from a sixth-story window in defiance of the law of gravity, I would expect, fully, that science would win the "debate" between the two. 

I don't spend a lot of time perusing religion-related social science research, and I don't rub elbows frequently with those who do, so I would be hard-pressed to find citations, but there is more than a scant amount of social science research tending to show the benefits of religion in general, that people who are devout practitioners and adherents of their faith, overall, tend to be happier than those who are nominal members, to have better overall physical and mental health, and so on.

I guess my question for you, though, returning to my previous post and your response to it, is, while (as the example in the foregoing paragraph illustrates, even though it is a really basic example) I don't doubt the utility of scientific truths and how, under certain circumstances, scientific truths should trump any purported religious truths, in general, is science really a better tool for ferreting out transcendent truths than religion (or philosophy, or literature, or other, similar pursuits) is?  Yes, science (and/or the truths it illustrates) can be a valuable, and often even a beautiful and elegant, thing, but how many of the truths to which it leads, notwithstanding their undeniable beauty and elegance, truly are transcendent?

As far as moral atrocities committed in the name of religion, I think (though I would be hard-pressed to come up with hard numbers) that when comparing the numbers of victims of moral atrocities committed in the name of religion with those of moral atrocities committed in the name of irreligion or of atheism, that the worst thing that could be said for religion is that, roughly, the balance sheet is equal.  (I don't believe that, though.  I think the numbers of victims of moral atrocities committed in the name of irreligion or of atheism are far, far greater than the number of victims of such atrocities committed in the name of religion.)

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8 minutes ago, Analytics said:

You asked. The fact that you choose your religious dogma and reject science on the matter proves my point.

Nope.  I reject scientism, particularly when taken to absurd levels by enthusiastic neophytes.

8 minutes ago, Analytics said:

The key word which I thank you for including is "portions." Humanists don't instigate wars to free the Holy Land. They don't burn witches at the stake. They don't follow the Bible's teachings about slavery.

But humanists have committed plenty of other atrocities.  From the article I quoted: "The reality is that both secular and religious ideas can be dangerous, but when secularism has turned militant, it has been far deadlier. Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Maoist China are almost singlehandedly responsible for making the twentieth century the bloodiest in human history. It is not by chance that those regimes systematically suppressed religion and saw Christianity as singularly incompatible with their ideologies."

And here: "I am not trying to pin all the nonreligious onto the same list of horribles. That would be as stupid as blaming 'religion'—as many secular thinkers do—for the abuses committed by people who happen to have certain distorted religious views."

You, however, are resorting to tribalistic, black-and-white thinking.  All religion is uniformly and irredeemably awful and terrible.  All secular humanism is uniformly bright and sunny and perfect.

8 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Clearly you don't know what humanism is. You really ought to read Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Dr. Steven Pinker.

Thanks for giving me today's dose of the No True Scotsman fallacy.  It perks me up in the afternoons.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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4 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Nope.  I reject scientism, particularly when grossly exaggerated and distorted by enthusiastic neophytes.

Saying that doesn't change the scientific facts you ignore because they clash with your religious convictions.

4 minutes ago, smac97 said:

You, however, are resorting to tribalistic, black-and-white thinking.  All religion is uniformly and irredeemably awful and terrible.  All secular humanism is uniformly bright and sunny and perfect.

CFR. When did I say or imply anything like that?

4 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Thanks for giving me today's dose of the No True Scotsman fallacy.  It perks me up in the afternoons.

You don't know what humanism is. You really don't.

Communism and Nazism are two different things. That is why they were on opposite side in WWII. Likewise, communism and humanism are different things. Nazism and humanism are different things. Friedrich Nietzsche was an atheist, but he was bitterly opposed to humanism. 

Humanism is a specific philosophy, not a catch-all phrase for people who reject ancient superstitions. 

You really ought to read Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Dr. Steven Pinker. You really should.

 

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2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Saying that doesn't change the scientific facts you ignore because they clash with your religious convictions.

I'm not ignoring scientific facts.  I am not accepting your literally incredible distortions and scientism.

2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

CFR. When did I say or imply anything like that?

"Religion in all its forms has encroached on science, and it still does."
"{S}cientific knowledge has advanced, religion has either obstinately clung to false beliefs."

(This is one's a *real* doozy) : "Science doesn't have all the answers. But religion doesn't have any of them."

I find huge value in both science and religion.  You don't. 

I cherish scientific inquiry and progress, but I reject the scientism you keep espousing.

I also cherish religious instruction and ethics, which you categorically reject in every respect ("religion doesn't have any {answers to anything}").

2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

You don't know what humanism is. You really don't.

Well, it's a fairly nebulous term, but its general contours are not difficult to grasp.

Simply repeating the No True Scotsman fallacy doesn't work.  "No, not that humanism, the other one."  Uh huh.

2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Communism and Nazism are two different things.

Yes, like Granny Smith and Red Delicious are "two different" apples.  Different in degree, but pretty much the same in kind.

And both were imbued with humanism.

Quoth Mr. Marx:

Quote

"Just as atheism, as transcendence of God, is the becoming of theoretical humanism, and communism, as transcendence of private property, is the vindication of actual human living as its own property, which is the becoming of practical humanism, so atheism is humanism mediated by transcendence of religion, and communism is humanism mediated by the transcendence of private property. Only by the transcendence of this mediation, which is nevertheless a necessary presupposition, does there arise positive Humanism, beginning from itself."

Karl Marx. Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic, 1844.

I get that communism and socialisim are sociopolitical concepts, and humanism is a broader philosophy.  But I submit that communist/socialist regimes are examples of your vaunted humanism in practice, as opposed to the abstract idealisms that you keep spouting.

2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

That is why they were on opposite side in WWII. Likewise, communism and humanism are different things. Nazism and humanism are different things. Friedrich Nietzsche was an atheist, but he was bitterly opposed to humanism. 

Humanism is a specific philosophy, not a catch-all phrase for people who reject ancient superstitions. 

Right.  Again from the article I quoted: "Alt-Right demographic tends to be atheist or agnostic, as do the Antifa supporters. I submit that it’s no coincidence both groups are distinctly, even aggressively, secular."

Humanism can be utilized in tandem with a variety of sociopolitical philosophies.  Nazism.  Communism.  Socialism.  Antifa.  Alt-Right.  All different nasty peas in the same humanistic pod.

The No True Scotsman fallacy just keeps coming up. 

Thanks,

-Smac

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45 minutes ago, pogi said:

Mormonism, on the other hand, has a greater track record of happiness/well-being power.  It is predictable according to science.    

It does?  How so.  What evidence do you base this on?  The links you provided?  I wonder if they only asked active Mormons. What about inactive or disaffected which are a far greater % than active.

Edited by Teancum
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21 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Sorry I missed those initially and edited my remark. I would want to know the sample pool.  Were just active Mormons asked?

I assume it is active Mormons.  You can't really reap the happiness benefits of religion without participating in it.  You have to work it for it to work.  I wonder how well therapy or meditation, or fill in the ____ works for those who are "inactive" in it, or "disaffected"?

Edited by pogi
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5 minutes ago, pogi said:

I assume it is active Mormons.  You can't really reap the happiness benefits of religion without participating in it.  You have to work it for it to work.  I wonder how well therapy or meditation, or fill in the ____ works for those who are "inactive" in it, or "disaffected"?

Well would expect positive comments from those solidly in.  I would guess you would get similar results from participants in other high demand religions.  

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15 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Well would expect positive comments from those solidly in.  I would guess you would get similar results from participants in other high demand religions.  

Mormonism tops the list when compared with other religions and atheism/secularism.  

Like I said, what can be greater than happiness in this life?

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11 minutes ago, pogi said:

Mormonism tops the list when compared with other religions and atheism/secularism.  

Like I said, what can be greater than happiness in this life?

happiness is is a wonderful thing.  It can be found many ways. Just because Mormonism makes someone happy however, that does not make it true.  Falsehoods can create happiness as well I guess.

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

I'm not ignoring scientific facts.  I am not accepting your literally incredible distortions and scientism.

I find huge value in both science and religion.  You don't. 

I cherish scientific inquiry and progress, but I reject the scientism you keep espousing.

You keep saying that, yet when I present several specific chapters of a book by a preeminent scientist and educator about some conclusive implications of science that happen to contradict your religion, you reject it out of hand. Rather than studying it and thinking about it, you stick your fingers in your ears and screech "Scientism!" You doing that proves my point. And I'll stop repeating myself on the topic.

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

I also cherish religious instruction and ethics....

That's an awfully broad thing to cherish. You cherish human sacrifice? Jihadism? Female genital mutilation? Self-flagellation?

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

Well, it's a fairly nebulous term, but its general contours are not difficult to grasp.

To review how we got here, you made the claim that "'Science' has precious little to say about ethics, morality, etc." I responded that it does have a lot to say on those topics and recommended you read Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Dr. Steven Pinker and The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Dr. Sam Harris.

I also said, "Ultimately, there must be an axiomatic basis for morality, and in our modern western society, that basis is humanism, not religion. That is why I can point to countless moral atrocities by historical and current religious individuals and groups (not to mention atrocities commanded by God in the Bible) that are all committed in the name of God, and we can agree that they are morally wrong without opening our Bibles and Qurans."

Everything you've said since then has proved my point. Your arguments have implied, for example, that the 20th century being bloody was a bad thing. You didn't whip out your Bible to prove to me that genocide is bad (one of the reasons you didn't do that is because the Bible has multiple stories of God commanding His people to commit genocide). Despite what your scriptures say about the topic, you think genocide is morally wrong and you thought I'd agree with you about that. Why?

The answer is that you know we both have a common foundation of morality that is based on Humanism. Humanism is what informs us what lessons in the scriptures to embrace and which ones to ignore. In our culture, humanistic morality is more fundamental than religious morality. Your own words demonstrate you unwittingly agree with me on the point.

If you'd like to understand more about why mainstream ethicists reject the proposition that ethics is based on religion, one of the best thinkers and writers of our time is a full-professor at Harvard University by the name of Steven Pinker. Enlightenment Now makes a strong case for Humanism. Dismissing it with "the contours [of humanism] are not difficult to grasp" says more about your myopic perspective than it does about the strength of Pinker's arguments.

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

Simply repeating the No True Scotsman fallacy doesn't work.  "No, not that humanism, the other one."  Uh huh.

My point all along has been that humanism, as defined by Steve Pinker in  Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, provides a basis for morality without God. You equivocating on what Steve Pinker means by the word humanism isn't a rebuttal to that point. Nor is you listing the moral failings of various non-theists over history.

The argument is in that book. To understand the arguments, you have to use his definition of the word humanism. Without doing that, you can't engage the actual arguments. This has nothing to do with the No True Scotsman fallacy.

Edited by Analytics
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49 minutes ago, Teancum said:

happiness is is a wonderful thing.  It can be found many ways. Just because Mormonism makes someone happy however, that does not make it true.  Falsehoods can create happiness as well I guess.

Mormonism cerates the most happiness when compared to other religions and atheism/secularism.  

If predictive power is of greater value to you than happiness, by all means have at it.  I for one choose to benefit by both.  I can choose science and religion. 

Quote

Just because Mormonism makes someone happy however, that does not make it true. 

Science can't say that my religion is false. 

Quote

Falsehoods can create happiness as well I guess.

By all means, I follow scientific evidence which can speak of scientific truths and is very useful, but when it comes to spiritual truths, science has nothing to say and I follow my heart.  

Happiness is more tangible and certain for me than truth is anyway.  As a subscriber of the holism philosophy of truth, I don't think that I will ever fully approach, understand, or appreciate "truth" in this life.  Though I seek after truth and believe that truth surrounds me, my interpretation of it will always fall short until I can see the big picture.  What I have is an incomplete/inaccurate approximation.  The only thing that is certain to me is what I feel.  Nothing is greater or more certain than happiness in mortality, and I have apparently found the source of the greatest happiness in mortality, according to science. 

Edited by pogi
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14 minutes ago, pogi said:

Mormonism cerates the most happiness when compared to other religions and atheism/secularism.  

 

Ok. I am not sure i garnered that it is the ultimate source of happiness based on your links though I did read them fast.

14 minutes ago, pogi said:

If predictive power is of greater value to you than happiness, by all means have at it.  I for one choose to benefit by both.  I can choose science and religion. 

I choose to live my life based on rational critical thinking. Most days I feel happier about that than when I was an active Latter-day Saint. But that is just me personally.  I do not think Mormonism is true.  I guess I would rather have found Mormonism is not true than to stay allegedly happy in a false belief system. 

 

14 minutes ago, pogi said:

Science can't say that my religion is false. 

Science can't say that there is not a tea pot revolving around Venus or that leprechauns are not real.  It is up to your religion to prove the positive affirmations it makes about things not the other way around.

14 minutes ago, pogi said:

By all means, I follow scientific evidence which can speak of scientific truths and is very useful, but when it comes to spiritual truths, science has nothing to say and I follow my heart. 

Happiness is more tangible and certain for me than truth is anyway.  As a subscriber of the holism philosophy of truth, I don't think that I will ever fully approach, understand, or appreciate "truth" in this life.  Though I seek after truth and believe that truth surrounds me, my interpretation of it will always fall short until I can see the big picture.  What I have is an incomplete/inaccurate approximation.  The only thing that is certain to me is what I feel.  Nothing is greater or more certain than happiness in mortality, and I have apparently found the source of the greatest happiness in mortality, according to science. 

Spiritual truths is a subjective term and can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.  Again as noted there are a lot of ways to happiness and happiness may mean different things to different people. And not all ways to happiness are necessarily good or even moral.  

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3 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

Fair enough.  Thanks for your response.  I can see, easily, how scientific truths benefit folks, and how a skewed understanding of religion might not.  If, believing that God will protect me, I attempt to step out into open space from a sixth-story window in defiance of the law of gravity, I would expect, fully, that science would win the "debate" between the two. 

I don't spend a lot of time perusing religion-related social science research, and I don't rub elbows frequently with those who do, so I would be hard-pressed to find citations, but there is more than a scant amount of social science research tending to show the benefits of religion in general, that people who are devout practitioners and adherents of their faith, overall, tend to be happier than those who are nominal members, to have better overall physical and mental health, and so on.

I guess my question for you, though, returning to my previous post and your response to it, is, while (as the example in the foregoing paragraph illustrates, even though it is a really basic example) I don't doubt the utility of scientific truths and how, under certain circumstances, scientific truths should trump any purported religious truths, in general, is science really a better tool for ferreting out transcendent truths than religion (or philosophy, or literature, or other, similar pursuits) is?  Yes, science (and/or the truths it illustrates) can be a valuable, and often even a beautiful and elegant, thing, but how many of the truths to which it leads, notwithstanding their undeniable beauty and elegance, truly are transcendent?

For me, "transcendent truth" is a somewhat ill-defined term. If you access transcendent truths and it adds meaning and depth to your life, more power to you. For me, this is true whether you access these transcendent truth through LDS or through LSD. I'm in favor of having a rich experience in life. When a transcendent truth actually contradicts a mundane truth, I think the mundane truth is the truth that's much more likely to actually true in a literal sense, and that is the kind of truth I try to stay grounded in. But with that as a guardrail, find transcendent meaning anyway you can. Your mileage may vary...

3 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

As far as moral atrocities committed in the name of religion, I think (though I would be hard-pressed to come up with hard numbers) that when comparing the numbers of victims of moral atrocities committed in the name of religion with those of moral atrocities committed in the name of irreligion or of atheism, that the worst thing that could be said for religion is that, roughly, the balance sheet is equal.  (I don't believe that, though.  I think the numbers of victims of moral atrocities committed in the name of irreligion or of atheism are far, far greater than the number of victims of such atrocities committed in the name of religion.)

Maybe. Maybe not. It's important to keep in mind, though, that many of the moral atrocities done in the name of communism were in direct response to the moral atrocities being perpetuated by corrupt czars and the corrupt Russian Orthodox Church that supported them. Just as the best parts of irreligion (i.e. humanistic values) didn't rise out of a vacuum, the worst parts of irreligion (e.g. the gulag) didn't either. 

 Enlightenment Now paints a compelling picture that reason, science, and humanism are making the world a better place. 

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