Blog

Religion, sense and meaning

As an atheist I never understood why people keep believing in various religions when there is so much scientific evidence against it or at least not enough evidence for it. Now I do:

1:23 “I think people are longing for sense”

That is something many people, at least on the “progressive”, more atheistic side, don’t understand. You can’t just tell someone to stop believing in an entire belief system which guides you. It’s like pulling the rug away under someone’s feet. I really had to lay down much arrogance in regard to religion as I started to see the exact same patterns in socialist-atheist societies, which showed the exact same totalitarian behavior I was blaming religion for.

I still don’t think believing in arbitrary concepts like a supernatural spirit named “god” is a good solution (though thanks to Dr. Peterson I now have a better understanding of some biblical metaphors and their psychological or philosophical meaning), but it has to be recognized that religious beliefs do not only exist to give people explanations for natural phenomena or other things they don’t understand (like many atheists believe), but because it offers a sense of meaning and direction. You cannot expect people to throw away a system which has guided them their entire lifes, because this is what you do when you tell religious people to stop believing in god. What should they do then with their ethics which comes from “god”? How should they interpret the world? No wonder atheism looks like nihilism to many religious folks (“without god, anything goes”). I think it’s possible to create a coherent naturalistic, atheistic philosophical view of the world (Ayn Rands approach looks plausible to me for example), but you have to articulate and offer it to people as an alternative.

Maybe these aren’t big news to some, but this was something that bugged me for years and I’m excited to finally understand it.

A genealogical Christmas present for my grandma

I borrowed these two old books from my grandma and had them restored at a local bookbindery (Buchbinderei Petersen, Bonn), so this will be kind of her christmas present. The red book on the left is the family register of my paternal grandmother‘s grandparents: Anton Bauer (1877 – 1933) and Charlotte Wolinski (1872 – 1918). It is over 120 years old.

The black one on the right is Anton Bauer’s notebook or diary (approx. 90-100 years old). It’s hard to tell since the handwriting is nearly impossible for me to read, but the things I could make out are interesting: What you see in the picture below for example is one of his poems titled „Arbeitshände“ (Work hands). Too socialist for me, but normal for its time (1926).

Arbeitshände

Die Hand, die alle Werte schafft
Und kunstvoll Werk um Werk vollendet,
Hat ihre Fertigkeit und Kraft
Für Groschen dem Profit verpfändet.

Die Arbeitshand ist rau und hart,
Ist knochig, rissig und zerschunden.
In ihren Linien offenbart
Sich alles Leid, das sie empfunden.

Die Schwielen zeugen von der Fron
Von Wunden zeugt das Netz der Narben
Die oft in frühen Jahren schon
Die schöne Form der Hand verdarben

Ins Zahnrad des Profits gehezt,
Muss manche Arbeitshand verbluten
Und manches Fingerglied zerfetzt
Die Hast der jagenden Minuten.

Das Schlachtgefild der Arbeit ist
Besät mit Fingern und mit Händen
Und immer wieder schnappt und stißt
Sie der Moloch der Dividenden.

“Arbeitshände” from Anton Bauer, 1926

Maybe I’ll give it to a transcriptionist some day, then I can publish all of his work.

Jordan Peterson on free-will

What Dr. Peterson is saying about free-will is what I observed myself and that’s also what I use as proof of free-will: if there wasn’t one and determinism was true, then there would be no difference between us and animals. Or machines for that matter. Therapy would be very easy in this case, since everything would be working according to certain rules which you just have to figure out. But that is not the case.

I did go to various therapists for years but it never felt like it was helping. Though as I started reading Ayn Rand, who taught me that free-will is real and you have to take responsibility for yourself, I started realizing that it wasn’t the therapists who didn’t understand me or who were incompetent or something, but it was me because I wasn’t willing.

That’s why I haven’t been in therapy for years, even though I needed it and still do, because I’m still struggling with taking on the effort of actually working on myself, to get out of my comfort zone.

So yeah, unless the person is willing there’s only so much you can do.

I also want to say how very important people like Dr. Peterson are. Not just for me, but for the whole society, especially in our time. And that is for two reasons:

1. The way he explains things.

He is able to convey complex and highly abstract topics for laymen to understand. It can be very hard to verbalize insights and knowledge you gathered consciously or unconsciously, so you go looking for answers and find people like him, who are able to pull it out of the depths of your mind, so to speak.

And you are excited because they help you to understand things, improve your concepts, your thoughts, your worldview. Plus he is so energetic, eloquent and genuinely honest, but you can also sometimes see that he has the same problem as the rest of us, namely that he has so much more to say than he can put into words, because he doesn’t only want to convey factual knowledge but philosophical insights.

2. The way he engages with critics.

He is one of the few people who really try to find the truth, so while he is clearly articulating his views of certain topics, he never demonizes his opponents. And shows that violence, even if it is just verbal, makes things worse. The fact that he stays absolutely calm while SJW-students yell „transphobic piece of shit“ at him, is deeply impressive. When you think of people with different opinions as a potential danger and engage with them in anger or even hatred, be it in real life or hypothetically, than you are less likely to really understand their arguments or where they might be right. You then tend to ignore or overlook things you might want to analyze.

This leads to philosophical and cultural stagnation and divides a society, this is why all the talk about „male privilege“ or „white privilege“ and so on is the actual „hate-speech“, because it is so divisive. Or the whole class-warfare-rhetoric of the radical left for that matter: Opressor vs oppressed, Men vs women, rich vs poor, white vs every other ethnicity etc. The phrase „Violence causes violence“ is true on a fundamental philosophical level. So that is the reason why I admire him so much: he shows us how to get out of this viscous circle of collectivism, by being an example and fighting for unrestricted free-speech.

A link between videogame-violence and real world? No.

Even if this sounds ignorant: I don’t care what scientists say to this, there is no link.

How dumb do these people think gamers are? If a fictional work of art would influence people in such a simplistic and linear way, we would’ve gone extinct thousands of years ago after the first theatrical play depicting the war against another tribe or something, because everyone would’ve gone on a killing spree. Even little children aren’t that dumb.

The only thing that influences people in a certain way are the emotions or thoughts provoked trough the story or the presentation. It are ideas that lead people to certain actions, the mere explosion of a head does fucking nothing.

For example: I can have fun all day long with gutting stinking demons in Doom with the chainsaw or tearing their limbs of and beating them to death with it and not waste a single more thought on it when I go to bed. What really sticks in my mind are certain scenes (like the prologue or the ending) in The Last of Us. This is the kind of brutality and cruelty that leaves an impression in the players’ mind. It depicts far less blood and dismemberment than Doom, yet I would deem it to be far more brutal than the afore mentioned.

And let us not forget how twisted and disturbing the original grim tales were. So much for videogame violence being such a new and different thing. And let us also not forget that these tales were actually written for children, whereas shooters or horror-games were not (another thing anti-videogame advocates like to forget).

Btw.: this dude on the left was allegedly in the military and thinks you can train shooting with games?! I never touched a gun in my life and even I have enough common sense to know the huge difference between moving a mouse/clicking a button and pulling the trigger of an actual gun.

Edit: Rewatching this, I noticed that he didn’t actually say that, but he is clearly insinuating it in my opinion (at 1:33).