The arguments put forward in this book do not flow logically. The author does a decent job of poking the proper holes in the atheistic views on religion, but does not touch on the more pertinent views of humanism. The author also goes off the deep end in the assumptions about Christian faithfuls. I could more easily draw the conclusion that Christians should be the least desirable people, because their faith says they don’t need to be good or nice to their fellow man, even if they should. They don’t need to make anything right if they hurt others, instead all that is required is that they ask forgiveness. They don’t have to ask the person they hurt, only an unknowable being that will then forgive them of everything that they repent. There are some good points in the book, but they are drowned out by the satisficing and logical hoops that the author jumps through.
This was an interesting overview of Buddhist practices and their spread to the West, specifically the US. The way things changed were to open more to everyone and less focused on the teaching and efforts. This was great to look at how some Buddhist practices were getting really cult like, and some had died from these practices. The teachers teaching that there don’t need to be teachers kind of got me. I thought that part was pretty funny.
This book was very interesting, as it really dived into what we know about the lives of these great people. Besides the religions they started, and the traditions surrounding that, there isn’t much in the way of written records of their lives. The written records also tended to be written years to centuries after their lives. The similarities in their teachings was also interesting, with the Buddha being the most different. All the others were dealing with how to live well with others and how to have good lives. The Buddha taught about how to let go of life, and not worry about earthly things anymore. The others taught variations and specific instances of the golden rule.
This was an interesting book. The focus is on the history of the texts and not as much on the content of those texts. The history of thought on all of these texts seems to be a movement from infallible single source, to a scientific view of being an amalgamation. This is especially true of the old testament. The most interesting part was the section on the Koran. The source is the most infallible, but it is still slightly questioned by recent findings of the oldest known versions that have slight changes. It is only a few words, but it would make the complete infallibility of the text questionable. There is also an interesting part in this section about the views of the Koran on Jesus and other prophets. With the way the texts have been shown to be amalgamations the view of the other prophets is very appropriate. I also really enjoyed the section on Baha’i. My personal world view is still most closely related to this religion, but there are too many fundamental differences for me to claim to be Baha’i.
I need to start reading the descriptions before deciding to try some of these books. This one was a lot more fundamentalist and fringe that I was expecting. The ideas espoused in this book were along the lines of ‘find God on your own, and continue to develop a relationship with God.’ I like that it is anti-religious-hierarchy, but the way in which they dismiss the structure for a personal relationship with God isn’t the direction I would go. I lean much more towards the reasoning reflection on what God could be and want with the world, instead of the vague notion of a relationship. There must be some sort of structure to the beliefs.
This is a very interesting take on the question of god and done in a unique way. There is a great story set around aliens making contact, and their beliefs in god. The style of belief seems very strongly correlated to Isaac Asimov’s The Last Question. The god here follows a strange belief that I already held, that god can collapses the wave-function; meaning that god chooses the outcome of uncertain events. I had previously held that this was on an event by event basis, but the belief put forward in this book is that it is done on a ‘frame’ by ‘frame’ basis. These ‘frames’ consist of a single instance in the entire universe. It is a different take on why bad things happen to good people in that the god entity can’t make everything good, but can only choose the next frame of the universe to have the best possible outcome.
I hadn’t realized how much of a study this was until I listened to this lecture series. I’m surprised and impressed that so many devout people would get together to discuss and debate their religions and how they evolved over time. The evolution in many cases seems to dismiss the legitimacy of the current incarnation. The changes over time were really cool to listen to, especially when it came to the Americanization of many of the religions.
This was a very nice listen, but I had to take it in chunks. The fiction books that I listened too at the same time were very nice breaks from the depth and density of this lecture series. The evolution of philosophy as described by this book seems to be full of reactionary thought, with the swings getting wider and wider. I can identify most with the Aristotelian thought with everything being in the pursuit of Eudaimonia, which can be roughly thought of as happiness or well-being in a totally non-hedonistic sense. I would put this as the basis of my thoughts in a utilitarian framework with a hierarchical anthropomorphic view of all life based on level of consciousness and sense. I fully reject some of the later discussed views like reality being perception. These views are wholly unusable for working life, and aren’t even practiced by the people that support them. I very much hold that a philosophical position should be practiced by those that hold it and not just held in theory. There is a funny story of an ancient Greek person (reality unknown) who believed and practiced in the thought being reality school, and his friends would have to constantly save him from being injured by these notions. He would do things like believe that fire wasn’t hot and try to walk through it. Even he didn’t fully follow this thought as he blamed his cook for making a bad meal; wouldn’t it only be bad because he thought it was so in his own philosophy? I liked the thoughts presented here and can use the language to flush out my own ideas further, and discover what great people have thought before on the subjects.
This book was very interesting. It naturally didn’t solve what the meaning of life was, but instead it laid down a number of views based on world traditions. Many of these views overlap in many ways, but there is a defining characteristic about each of them that makes it incompatible with some of the others. I can see my world view a little bit in almost all of the traditions. Some of them choose to focus on one thing and then follow that to it’s final conclusions, like the value of life in Jainism. Some focus on a very broad aspect of if we can even say that reality is real. All of them were nice to learn about, and the arguments for each position were good ones.