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A Crucial Historic Survey
#1

A Crucial Historic Survey
Fire up your closet time machine and zoom it backward to, I dunno, 1235 AD.  Grab a fellow who appears more or less intellectually aware and bring him back with you to the present day.  After all the gee whiz show and tell, and he begins to realize nothing he's seeing is a miracle, point out that the era he's from, 1235 AD, could have been just as advanced as today, or perhaps even more advanced, except that mankind labors under a gigantic brake:  religion.

In the year 3250 AD the anthropologic and archeologic and psychologic and sociologic sciences will have determined with micrometer precision just how massive that brake was, even as far along as 2020 AD.  They'll have plotted out when all the milestones of enlightenment, technological and sociological, took hold, and how many years they were held back by religious forces.  The retardation is cumulative, of course, probably exponential.  Every delay cascades and multiplies through the entire future.

Were it not for religion we might have attained where we'll be in 3250 by 3000 BC, a 6000 year drag on what Ghandi said was "a good idea": civilization.

But why wait for 3250 to make that study?  It's a study that could be commenced right now.  We have all the necessary forensic faculty, and lots of historic evidence to evaluate.  Nothing religion could proffer could possibly refute it.  After thousands of years of religious influence, what has been its signal, and sole, accomplishment? - only the delay by centuries of the alleviation of human misery.  Setting that forth in an ironclad study might actually dislodge some of the fossilized religious concrete still standing as barrier to human advance.

Without religion we might have had remedy to Covid-19, and any contagion, by the year 33 AD.  In case you were wondering what brought this up.
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#2

A Crucial Historic Survey
My time machine is not in the closet. It is out, and proud! I respect it all the more.

Sure, its wardrobe draws a lot of attention. But you have to be you.
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#3

A Crucial Historic Survey
We'll be lucky to make it to 2050 AD the way we are going.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#4

A Crucial Historic Survey
The argument that humanity would have been better off without religion draws upon some powerful intuitions, but for all that, is primarily an argument made ex culo.
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#5

A Crucial Historic Survey
Make it 1225 and I will transport Genghis Khan to the Oval Office. No tour of the future. Just drop him off with a sword and dagger.
Trump is so convinced that everything is about him he has convinced his followers that everything is about him.
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#6

A Crucial Historic Survey
(04-14-2020, 01:49 AM)Chimp3 Wrote: Make it 1225 and I will transport Genghis Khan to the Oval Office. No tour of the future. Just drop him off with a sword and dagger.

Couldn't be worse, there's that.
Freedom isn't free.
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#7

A Crucial Historic Survey
(04-14-2020, 12:26 AM)Dānu Wrote: The argument that humanity would have been better off without religion draws upon some powerful intuitions, but for all that, is primarily an argument made ex culo.

Hence do a study.  The study could find that for the most part religion accelerated civilization, against all intuition.  If it DID find that, then it would behoove science to identify what elements of religion fostered benefits not matched by non-religious elements, make 'em public, and develop a synthesis of religion & science to augment advance.

But first do the study. Either outcome would furnish powerful visibility to escape a lot of milieus of misery.
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#8

A Crucial Historic Survey
What sort of methodology would this study entail?  When various elements of historical culture entangled religion and science (such as, say, many early scientists having been religious and/or received religious education, or many early universities having been religious institutions), how would these variables be isolated?
"To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today." - Isaac Asimov
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#9

A Crucial Historic Survey
In the West, optics as a science was fruitful, it invented reading glasses. And clear glass making, and grinding equipment for lenses.
This was later used to invent the telescope, and then the microscope. Entire worlds not dreamed of in Greek science or the Bible were discovered and revealed. Science was discovered to be something we cannot rely on our naked senses to discover facts about the world. Then the West invented thermometers, and used the tools of alchemy to investigate chemistry. The old ways of doing physics by sitting in an armchair and thinking died a quick death. Thus started the march to advanced sciences and knowledge. To a scientist of the 1200 era, all of this hidden world revealed by scientific instruments would have been a real eye opener.
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#10

A Crucial Historic Survey
(04-14-2020, 03:55 AM)airportkid Wrote:
(04-14-2020, 12:26 AM)Dānu Wrote: The argument that humanity would have been better off without religion draws upon some powerful intuitions, but for all that, is primarily an argument made ex culo.

Hence do a study.  The study could find that for the most part religion accelerated civilization, against all intuition.  If it DID find that, then it would behoove science to identify what elements of religion fostered benefits not matched by non-religious elements, make 'em public, and develop a synthesis of religion & science to augment advance.

But first do the study. Either outcome would furnish powerful visibility to escape a lot of milieus of misery.

My point is there is no way to determine empirically what the results of the counter-factual you are proposing would be. It wouldn't be a study so much as a projection of the biases of those doing the work. There's no way to objectively determine what would happen if things would be different. We don't fully understand why things occurred as they had. We would be even less equipped to understand how things that didn't occur would have happened. It would be nice to know such things, but lacking any kind of objective methodology, it's just a playground for prejudices.

CC's post offers a potent example. It has been observed that most of the great tides of scientific discovery resulted from an improvement in instruments. Galileo was a result of the telescope, and so forth. But these inventions do not occur with any regularity and are exceptions to the norm. We can't predict how often such inventions would be made now. How would you determine the appropriate average number of such world changinjg inventions are likely to occur in a given century and how or why would you predict a change in them because of a cultural change regarding religion?

Exercises such as you suggest have been carried out informally in the past. The effect of various areas of human culture on various areas of human endeavor have been examined and opinions given. The benefit of hindsight on most of those opinions has been that they were wrong. It is still a common belief that the so-called dark ages were a time of uniform lack of intellectual progress, an opinion which has largely been abandoned.
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#11

A Crucial Historic Survey
(04-14-2020, 01:49 AM)Chimp3 Wrote: Make it 1225 and I will transport Genghis Khan to the Oval Office. No tour of the future. Just drop him off with a sword and dagger.

It's interesting to note that any time machine would also have to be a transporter, which might be more useful in many ways.
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#12

A Crucial Historic Survey
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_Calculators

...
The Oxford Calculators were a group of 14th-century thinkers, almost all associated with Merton College, Oxford; for this reason they were dubbed "The Merton School". These men took a strikingly logico-mathematical approach to philosophical problems. The key "calculators", writing in the second quarter of the 14th century,
..
The advances these men made were initially purely mathematical but later became relevant to mechanics. They used Aristotelian logic and physics. They also studied and attempted to quantify every physical and observable characteristic, like heat, force, color, density, and light. Aristotle believed that only length and motion were able to be quantified. But they used his philosophy and proved it untrue by being able to calculate things such as temperature and power.[1] They developed Al-Battani's work on trigonometry and their most famous work was the development of the mean speed theorem, (though it was later credited to Galileo) which is known as "The Law of Falling Bodies".[2] Although they attempted to quantify these observable characteristics, their interests lay more in the philosophical and logical aspects than in natural world. They used numbers to philosophically disagree and prove the reasoning of "why" something worked the way it did and not only "how" something functioned the way that it did.[3]
...

Mathematics enters the Western world of science.
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