What? A Two Thousand Year Warning From Epicurus Isn't Long Enough For You To Be Prepared?

  • My experience talking with people close to me tells me that they ARE prepared. They are prepared to believe the inviolate truth of their Authorized King James Version even if it means denying the evidence of their own lyin' eyes. This they already do, denying even the age and shape of the world; the foundation is laid well, and will not be uprooted by any passage of years. Only, perhaps, by passage of generations.

  • Exactly and I totally agree! That's my experience too. They will reconcile ANYTHING contradictory in order to maintain their prior worldview.

  • Until an intelligent, humanoid extraterrestrial breaks bread with a fundamentalist, their crowd will deny the tools that we will use to verify any extraterrestrial existence – they will do so in the same way that the Inquisition refused to look through Galileo's telescope, and justified it by suggesting that the new tool was fallacious, and contained witchcraft.

    Even then, even if they were abducted, or had a full conversation with an extraterrestrial in their own language, they would still only choose to understand them within the context of religious mythology. They might say that the creature is one of God's righteous angels, or they may identify them as fallen angels (I think the latter, most likely).

    The tendency of a fundamentalist is to reject the vocabulary of the contemporary era to digest new discoveries. They will always reduce their understanding to one that must, necessarily be compatible with an inerrant, religious framework.

  • Some number of them are exactly like that -- we'll never make any progress with them. But most of us here were probably raised with some variation of that point of view, and yet here we are! ;)

    I guess the practical test is how do we separate those with whom discussion is possible from those who are just so closed-minded that it makes no sense even to engage them.

  • I'd say it's about the willingness they show to learn new things, and the enthusiasm they demonstrate through a conversation. If they've already decided what Epicurean philosophy is, and who we are, and they are unwilling to learn about the principle doctrines, then we'll have better luck communicating with our beloved pets.

    If they are unwilling, I think an appropriate response is to share Principle Doctrine 39, which demonstrates that Epicureans have no desire to instigate a fight for the sake of winning a fight. Unlike many religious traditions, our understanding is independent of the faiths of idealists. Nature is the greatest teacher, and God is an absent teacher.

    Another helpful point for detractors and antagonists to learn is that Epicurean physics functionally explains the world for all perspectives. You don't have to believe in Epicurean philosophy for physics to be universally applicable. Rejecting gravity doesn't nullify it; but God doesn't work unless you join his fan club. Atomism works, no matter who you are.

    The same can be said of our ethics. God doesn't tell you to go to the bathroom, your bowels do. God doesn't tell you to eat, your stomach does. The Bible doesn't tell you when to sleep, your body does. No idealists out there claim to rely on Divine Reminders to satisfy their natural needs and cravings. Unilateral faith does not change one's needs.

  • I agree with what Nate said about willingness to learn, and not instigating fights, and I'd like to add to that.

    It's a rare person who will be argued into changing their beliefs. The best you can probably hope for is to plant a seed that may or may not bear fruit in the future.

    Our approach needs to be more like an invitation to dinner than a challenge to battle. The ones who are willing to learn will come to us if they know we're here.