Bill Nye Debates Creationist Ken Ham

February 5th, 2014
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For those who don’t know, science advocate and educator Bill Nye recently debated young earth creationist Ken Ham in a highly publicized internet-broadcast event.

There have been many mixed feelings from the scientific community on the event.  Many of which, I would tend to agree with.  Debating a creationist really won’t do much of anything.  Believers will continue to believe in what they want, regardless of the arguments or evidence.  Those who look at things objectively will have no choice but accept evolution as a well tested and established scientific fact.

Some might say that the debate raises creationism to a level it does not deserve.  It is not a matter of debate for the scientific community; it was closed long ago.  If we were to assume the earth were thousands of years old, biology were the result of a being simply willing it to be so and the bible could guide all scientific thought, we would have to throw away most of the advancements of science.  Evolution is key to our understanding of biology.  We have seen it happen and have fossil evidence of how it has shaped life over the long term.

Some warned that Bill Nye could end up losing the debate, or just come off looking bad, if Ham backed him into a corner using contentions that were too illogical to easily and directly refute or by forcing Nye to waste his time providing a class in biology 101 in order to simply explain where he is coming from.  Given that creationism has no scientific evidence, only religious faith, it seems likely that a creationist would fall back on appealing logical fallacies.   It should be noted that one can be factually correct and still lose a debate if faced with a skilled opponent.

Thankfully, Bill Nye seems to have held his own.  Still, I tend to side with those who think it was unnecessary and generally unproductive to even bother engaging in the debate.   It didn’t change anyone’s mind.

Here’s the video for those interested (Starts at roughly 13:00)




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88 Responses to “Bill Nye Debates Creationist Ken Ham”

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  1. 51
    Finrod Says:

    Wyhy does the modern Green moivement seem so religious?k Because it’s a Phase II ethical system. Let me explain (I’ll need to do this over a few comments because of the word limit):

    Three Phases Of Development In Ethics.

    After giving thought to the subject of ethics, I’ve come up with a preliminary scheme for classifying religious and secular belief systems according to certain characteristics of their implicit or explicit ethical systems. I think this approach has the potential to clear up certain quandaries in classifying and relating various belief systems which might otherwise be inappropriately lumped together or held apart due to superficial characteristics.

    Let me be clear that this is a preliminary exercise in a particular conceptualisation of this topic. I don’t want to pretend that this is the whole story, or exhaustive in its definitions, or that there aren’t many exceptions to be found to the broad strokes I’m about to make. The categories here described are intended as aids to thought, not binding dogma. I feel they will be useful, and I hope that proves to be the case.

    Phase I Ethical Systems:

    Phase I ethical systems are those generated by the needs of tribal or clan-based cultures . They come in many different varieties, and are often highly specific to a particular group. While all humans tend to have broadly similar needs, specifics of environment, technology level, resource base and particular paths of historical development lead to idiosyncratic cultural mores and modes of interaction. Ethics are often seen in terms of duty to the family, clan or tribe. Consideration of humans outside the group is very often non-existent, and interactions with them don’t fall under the field of ethics at all. When outsiders are dealt with fairly or honourably, it’s usually due to a pragmatic calculation rather than a perceived ethical obligation.

    The overarching theme in Phase I ethical systems is the survival of the cultural unit before all other considerations. A set of customs and lore specify how to act under various circumstances. The customs of one cultural unit concerning a particular situation may vary greatly to those of another cultural unit in the same circumstances.


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  2. 52
    Finrod Says:

    Three Phases Of Development In Ethics.

    Phase II Ethical Systems:

    Phase II ethical systems are characterised by the abstraction of the positive and negative facets of experience into archetypal concepts of good and evil, usually personified in particular mythological characters. Survival of the cultural unit continues to be an important theme, but it is now relegated to a subordinate role in the spreading of the ethical system itself. Adherents are expected to govern themselves according to the precepts of the system. One major effect of this change (and probably the main reason it became so successful) is that the details on how to behave in a given situation are delegated out to the individuals at the scene of the action rather than being micromanaged by an extensive body of customary prescriptions. Imposing a smaller set of generalised rules of conduct across extensive regions means that people are able to interact more confidently, knowing more or less what they can reasonably expect from nearly anyone they encounter.

    The role of phase II systems in simplifying relations between smaller cultural units to facilitate trade and economic development is most likely responsible for the expansionist nature of most such systems. Phase I cultures might or might not be particularly expansionist, but Phase II cultures almost always are. To a Phase I adherent you are either a member of their cultural unit with a well-defined nature, or you are an outsider to be ignored, disposed of, or exploited. To a Phase II adherent you are a potential member of the system and must be either taken into the fold, or taken right out of the equation. They’re the original Borg. If you remain outside the system, you are a component that doesn’t fit, a potential source of dissension and trouble. Phase II is ultra-inclusive, and it sees nothing as falling outside the purview of its dogma.

    Phase II dawned approximately 3500 years ago with the development of the religious system of the prophet known in the west as Zoroaster. This great man’s insight led to the creation of the first Phase II spiritual and ethical system in history (in my present opinion, at any rate). He managed to create a framework which would lead in the fullness of time to the founding of the great desert monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). In doing so, Zoroaster managed to perform significant feats of cross-cultural unification and even some degree of human liberation, although it often doesn’t seem that way to us today, when the Phase II systems are perceived more as sources of oppression than of liberation. Nonetheless, the introduction of Phase II ethics did have a profound effect on subsequent human cultural evolution which were often positive in ways not easily appreciated today. It was not for no reason that many rulers throughout history were often happy to introduce phase II ethics into the lives of their Phase I subjects.

    The particular manner in which Phase II ethics were first conceived, however, contained certain flaws which have become only too obvious since that time. They’re usually founded on the myth of a supremely powerful creator god who is all good and who is opposed by a separate powerful being of evil who has somehow corrupted the world, or humanity, or both. History is seen as a battle between these two spirits, with humans playing an important role. They are historical rather than cyclical, with a narrative including the creation of the universe, the subsequent unfolding of world history according to a pre-ordained plan, and an end in which judgement takes place, the good are rewarded and the evil are punished, the spirit of evil is defeated, and the universe is made perfect. Messianic saviour figures are usually included as well.

    One problem with all these variants of the Zoroastrian pattern is that only one of them at most can be literally true, so there is a certain element of mutual exclusivity to these systems. This directly contradicts the main function and virtue of them, which is the unification of different cultures under one universally applicable ‘operating system’. This has led to a Highlander-style “There can only be one!” ideological battle between the feuding children of Zoroastrianism down through the centuries, familiar to all students of history. Another major problem has been the misconception of the nature of evil, and its personification as a personal adversary. This has led to a huge focus on ‘Evil’, and many a cultural obsession with its extirpation, usually by identifying some hapless person or group with that enemy, and doing many horrible things to them. So while Phase II has certainly had its successes, it has also had its failings, and the further a society develops under phase II tutelage, the more counter-productive those failings become. Much of the motivation for the modern development of the Phase III ethical systems which have been formulated since the Renaissance has been the direct experience of those Phase II failings. Which brings us to Phase III.


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  3. 53
    Finrod Says:

    Three Phases Of Development In Ethics.

    Phase III Ethical Systems:

    Phase III ethical systems were mainly developed in Europe over the last 400 or so years in response to the restrictions imposed by the dominant Phase II ethical system of the time (Christianity in its various forms). The precepts of phase III systems largely consist of maintaining a stripped-down Phase II framework for ensuring a workable civil society (maintaining prohibitions on such antisocial activities as murder and robbery) while eliminating culture-specific commandments and sanctions on which gods to worship and which cultural institutions to compel adherence to. This evolutionary process is currently ongoing in our society, and the final shape of a mature Phase III ethical system is still a matter of some debate. I have my own ideas on this matter which I shall expound in the future. For the moment, let’s consider what characteristics a belief system or secular ideology should possess in order to be considered a Phase III system.

    I think that a Phase III ethical system should foster the growth of useful organised complexity as much as possible. In order to do this, there needs to be tolerance for different approaches to achieving the overall goals seen as worthwhile, which stands in direct contrast to the ‘One-True-Pathism’ of Phase II systems. It should also be inclusive in its ethical treatment of outsiders, in contrast to Phase I systems. There needs to be active encouragement of that which is seen as positive. Perhaps the prime commandment should be “Foster Complexity!”, or to put it another way, “Do your best to encourage the growth of that which furthers the goals of life”. But there is a lot of debate which can yet occur to determine the make-up of Phase III ethical systems.

    Annex Concerning Phase III Characteristics:
     
    The biggest hole (in my opinion, anyway) in my essay on the three ethical phases was the description for phase III. I spent quite some time wondering what the anchor for that phase was (Phase I is anchored in the need to preserve the culture, Phase II in the ethical system itself). I considered features such as liberty, individual rights, scientific enquiry, material production, political inclusiveness and so on. But really, these aren’t the heart of Phase III, they’re its consequences. As far as I can currently see, the heart, foundation and anchor of Phase III is the elevation of freely contending ongoing discourse, with conclusions always tested against reality and always subject to change if new results warrant it, to the pinnacle of regard as the method by which both individuals and groups should govern themselves.
     
    This development has consequences right across the board. When you apply it to ‘natural philosophy’, you get the scientific method. Applied to politics, inclusive democratic and parliamentary systems result, which have critical discourse at the heart of their operations. Applied to economics and material production, various forms of competitive capitalism result. All these systems have critical discourse resulting in a self-correcting mental model of reality which is continually checked against external reality at the very core of their operation (or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work ideally…).


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  4. 54
    DV82XL Says:

    FINROD! Great to see you back Craig!

    EVERYONE: Read what he posted, he has some good ideas fermenting here.


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  5. 55
    Finrod Says:

    I really need to pay some more attention to this theme. I’ve had it fermenting for some time now. I’ve found it quite useful both as a classification scheme and as a predictor of likely characteristics of a given doctrine. I think there also may be some evidence of how things have evolved in the historical record, such as the logic of adoption of a (relatively) stable form of Phase II ethics during the later history of the Roman Empire, and why that logic did not apply in the Far East.


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  6. 56
    DV82XL Says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but your description of Phase III ethical systems seems to be the result of what is generally referred to as The Enlightenment.


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  7. 57
    Finrod Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but your description of Phase III ethical systems seems to be the result of what is generally referred to as The Enlightenment.

    True, but I believe the roots of its development extend back some centuries prior to the Enlightenment period. Human cultures don’t spontaneously evolve beyond their comfort zones without serious external stimulus, so the prod for developing Phase III would not have been apparent until the failures of Phase II became so obvious that conciousness of them could not be entirely supressed by the formidable defences the architects of the Christian variant had put in place to protect it.

    Some insight into the nature of each phase can be gathered from the nature of the people upheld as archetypal heroes by the cultures of that phase. These are:

    Phase I: The warrior.
    Phase II: The martyr.
    Phase III: The scientist.


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  8. 58
    Finrod Says:

    I suspect that if the story of the shift from Phase II to Phase III is ever properly recounted, the intellectual developments of the victims of Phase II orthodoxy, such as the Jewish exiles from Spain, will feature prominently.


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  9. 59
    Anon Says:

            Finrod said:

    I really need to pay some more attention to this theme. I’ve had it fermenting for some time now. I’ve found it quite useful both as a classification scheme and as a predictor of likely characteristics of a given doctrine. I think there also may be some evidence of how things have evolved in the historical record, such as the logic of adoption of a (relatively) stable form of Phase II ethics during the later history of the Roman Empire, and why that logic did not apply in the Far East.

    China became very homogeneous rather early on and developed a value system valuing conforming to the group.

            Finrod said:

    True, but I believe the roots of its development extend back some centuries prior to the Enlightenment period. Human cultures don’t spontaneously evolve beyond their comfort zones without serious external stimulus, so the prod for developing Phase III would not have been apparent until the failures of Phase II became so obvious that conciousness of them could not be entirely supressed by the formidable defences the architects of the Christian variant had put in place to protect it.

    The enlightenment took place after the Reformation when European Christianity split with the attendant religious wars that involved (which is also largely what led to secularism).


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  10. 60
    Finrod Says:

            Anon said:

    China became very homogeneous rather early on and developed a value system valuing conforming to the group.

    I think what may have happened is that the great civilisations of India, China and Egypt were based in highly fertile river valleys capable of supporting many millions of people within a particular region by basically resting on one particular mode of economic activity. Europe doesn’t enjoy the same geographical advantage, and is characterised by many different environments within close proximity to each other, each demanding a different kind of economic activity. The eastern Phase I cultures were able to achieve a level of comfort and sophistication which must have been the envy of European observers. Phase II was a real need for Europe, something that the rulers of the Roman Empire picked up on eventually.


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  11. 61
    DV82XL Says:

            Finrod said:

    True, but I believe the roots of its development extend back some centuries prior to the Enlightenment period.

    True the roots of the Enlightenment are seen clearly in the Protestant Reformation and the the Renaissance itself which depended to some extent on knowledge becoming more disseminated across Europe. But then again one cannot discount the impact of the Great Plague which had the effect of increasing the general standard of living for the survivors and the discovery of the New World the very fact of which had deep albeit subtle influence on the way people thought. The point here is that some cultures had the necessary impetus to shift imposed by circumstances as much as by developmental growth,


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  12. 62
    Anon Says:

    The great plague also made church corruption rather more obvious than it was previously.


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  13. 63
    DV82XL Says:

            Anon said:

    The great plague also made church corruption rather more obvious than it was previously.

    \

    I would argue it made the Church more vulnerable. There is plenty of evidence than many saw problems long before, and considering that articulating these was likely to have you smelling burning fagots, the fact that any of these criticisms survived indicates it must have been a common concern.


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  14. 64
    Finrod Says:

    There are presentiments of Phase III in things such as the writings of William of Occam, the pragmatism of Machiavelli, and the promise of Elizabeth I that “I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls”, surely a distinct break with typical Phase II thinking.


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  15. 65
    DV82XL Says:

            Finrod said:

    I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls”…

    Knowing full well she wouldn’t like what she would see in there if she did…

    All kidding aside, you are saying that this is a continuous process rather than something that could be tied to some revolutionary event, and I would have to agree. However that makes it difficult to properly slot complex cultures like ours into your system and kind of begs the question as to whether the transition to the last stage is complete and indeed if it is the last stage.


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  16. 66
    Anon Says:

            Finrod said:

    Some insight into the nature of each phase can be gathered from the nature of the people upheld as archetypal heroes by the cultures of that phase. These are:

    Phase I: The warrior.
    Phase II: The martyr.
    Phase III: The scientist.

    Adding to my earlier replies, I can indeed see longing for martyrdom in the Green movement, though of course they try as hard as they can to look oppressed without actually being oppressed or even while being the oppressor (much like the Christian right in western countries).


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  17. 67
    Finrod Says:

            DV82XL said:

    All kidding aside, you are saying that this is a continuous process rather than something that could be tied to some revolutionary event, and I would have to agree. However that makes it difficult to properly slot complex cultures like ours into your system and kind of begs the question as to whether the transition to the last stage is complete and indeed if it is the last stage.

    I’d say that the process is certainly not complete, and failure of the Phase III project is still a possiblity. Nonetheless, it is now the case that challenges to Phase III paradigms come mainly from outside the establishment rather than Phase III ideas being fringe concepts attempting to infiltrate a Phase I or II establishment. Our culture appears to have turned that corner around the time of the Enlightenment.

    If you wish to place a culture within the framework, focus on how that culture would answer certain fundamental questions. For instance, a practitioner of the modern revivalist Norse spiritual path once contended that the ancient Noirse folkways held certain features which might place it in Phase II. I asked him whether or not, were he presented with the opportunity, he would willingly consign the entire ethnic group which developed Norse culture to death if that sacrifice would guarantee that the Norse ethical system would then become the sole one governing the entire human race (the rest of it, that is). He responded that he most certainly would not take that opportunity. I’d say that pretty much undercuts any claim that it’s a Phase II system.


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  18. 68
    Finrod Says:

    If anyone thinks the example I’ve given above concerning the bloodthirstiness of Phase II systems is a bit harsh, I invite them to reflect on the moral lesson of the story of Abraham and Isaac.


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  19. 69
    DV82XL Says:

            Finrod said:

    If you wish to place a culture within the framework, focus on how that culture would answer certain fundamental questions.

    This seems again to suggest we are currently in a transitional stage, because I can think of several questions of that nature that there would be no broad agreement or consensus on what the right answer would be while each side simultaneously asserts theirs is the cultural imperative. This is not a general criticism of your thesis beyond still leaving the question open as to Phase III being the top. Right now I’d say on your continuum we would be Phase IIi.


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  20. 70
    Finrod Says:

    At the moment, ideologues of both the left and right (most of them, anyway) still pay lip service to the need for evidence and proper scientific proof. They mostly immediatly turn around and violate every principle thereof, but the fact that they see the need to claim they’re doing otherwise is telling.


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  21. 71
    Finrod Says:

    So far, the elites of our emergent Phase III culture have been happy to utilise tactics and strategies from both prior phases to implement policy. This has led to a certain degree of insincerity in our culture, and may yet prove to be the agency of its demise. Too often it is the door through which a fully formed Phase I or Phase II ethical system, adapted to the modern world yet basically antipathetic to it (Nazism, Marxism) has emerged.


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  22. 72
    George Carty Says:

            Finrod said:

    I suspect that if the story of the shift from Phase II to Phase III is ever properly recounted, the intellectual developments of the victims of Phase II orthodoxy, such as the Jewish exiles from Spain, will feature prominently.

    I don’t think Jews fleeing the Inquisition were an especially significant factor in the West’s shift towards Phase III — many of them after all fled to Muslim countries, not to other parts of Christian Europe. Why did the West take off while the Muslim world stagnated? (I think the printing press may have been important here — Latin script was far easier to print than the cursive-only Arabic script.)

    How do you think Western civilization would be different if the late Roman Empire had adopted an indigenously European Phase II ethical system, rather than a Semitic import? One of the main reasons for the decline of Christianity in the West is due to Christianity’s own internal contradictions, many of which resulted from the way in which Paul of Tarsus deliberately de-Semitized Christianity in order to make it easier to sell to pagan Greeks and Romans.


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  23. 73
    Anon Says:

            George Carty said:

    I don’t think Jews fleeing the Inquisition were an especially significant factor in the West’s shift towards Phase III — many of them after all fled to Muslim countries, not to other parts of Christian Europe. Why did the West take off while the Muslim world stagnated?

    The places in Europe they did tend to flee to (e.g. Amsterdam) did benefit from them.

            George Carty said:

    (I think the printing press may have been important here — Latin script was far easier to print than the cursive-only Arabic script.)

    The printing press was actually invented in Arabia but Arabic isn’t well suited to it (even today computers have trouble with it), China also figured it out but Chinese isn’t well suited to printing presses either.

            George Carty said:

    How do you think Western civilization would be different if the late Roman Empire had adopted an indigenously European Phase II ethical system, rather than a Semitic import?

    We might be at α Centauri by now.

            George Carty said:

    One of the main reasons for the decline of Christianity in the West is due to Christianity’s own internal contradictions, many of which resulted from the way in which Paul of Tarsus deliberately de-Semitized Christianity in order to make it easier to sell to pagan Greeks and Romans.

    But Judaism is declining pretty rapidly as well despite not having as many contradictions.

    The research on the subject appears to indicate that it’s standard of living that causes religions to die out.


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  24. 74
    George Carty Says:

            Anon said:

    But Judaism is declining pretty rapidly as well despite not having as many contradictions.

    Perhaps that’s because political Zionism now fulfills a similar function of binding the (ethnic) Jewish community together, but at a lower cost to the individual.


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  25. 75
    Anon Says:

            George Carty said:

    Perhaps that’s because political Zionism now fulfills a similar function of binding the (ethnic) Jewish community together, but at a lower cost to the individual.

    Maybe so, though the diaspora (especially the secularised parts of it) doesn’t appear to reflexively defend Israel or to have a very strong Zionist streak (but then again, those who did consider Zionism important are probably in Israel).


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  26. 76
    George Carty Says:

            Finrod said:

    I think what may have happened is that the great civilisations of India, China and Egypt were based in highly fertile river valleys capable of supporting many millions of people within a particular region by basically resting on one particular mode of economic activity. Europe doesn’t enjoy the same geographical advantage, and is characterised by many different environments within close proximity to each other, each demanding a different kind of economic activity. The eastern Phase I cultures were able to achieve a level of comfort and sophistication which must have been the envy of European observers. Phase II was a real need for Europe, something that the rulers of the Roman Empire picked up on eventually.

    That’s an interesting point, because it seems to me that most Phase II ethical systems actually originated with Irano-Semitic peoples.

    Zoroastrianism was founded by Iranians, Christianity by Hellenized Hebrews and Islam by Arabs. Even the West’s home-grown Phase II ethical systems (Marxism and Objectivism) were also heavily influenced by ethnic Jews.


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  27. 77
    Shafe Says:

            George Carty said:

    That’s an interesting point, because it seems to me that most Phase II ethical systems actually originated with Irano-Semitic peoples.

    Zoroastrianism was founded by Iranians, Christianity by Hellenized Hebrews and Islam by Arabs. Even the West’s home-grown Phase II ethical systems (Marxism and Objectivism) were also heavily influenced by ethnic Jews.

    It’s nice when good material spontaneously re-ignites for a change. Re-reading Finrod’s 3-Phase mini-treatise, and the subsequent discussion, I notice multiple mentions of Judaism and how Jews fit in.

    It seems to me that Jewish culture confounds the system. Judaism has, since at least the Babylonian exile, been a highly internalized religion. Faced with cultural extinction through assimilation into Babylon, they codified cultural norms that would necessarily exclude the adherents from Babylonian culture. Since that time, adhering to those codes has effectively maintained that exclusion, even while they engage effectively in the commerce and institutions of the Phase II cultures among which they live. Those Jews who continually exclude themselves from their host cultures engage in Phase I-style clan preservation (e.g. through matrilineal standards of inclusion) and suspicion of outsiders. (Suspicion of outsiders can be seen as quite necessary. Jews have been tended to be highly successful in commerce, and persecuting them as thieving, non-conforming outsiders is sometimes easier than paying back large bank loans to them.)

    At the same, some of the West’s brightest minds have been ethnic and religious Jews. Do they go to work champions of Phase III, and return home to the comforts of Phase I with no apparent contradiction in the duality?

    It’s interesting to me that a Phase I/Phase III mix tends to produce some of the most highly effective people, at least in the US. It’s not just Jews, but other groups, as well, who (1) don’t easily assimilate into American life, (2) regard themselves as exceptional by virtue of group identity, (3) maintain an ethic of self-control, possibly austerity, that shields them from the trappings of excess in American life, and (4) are grounded in a personal or cultural memory of life in a culture that did not foster opportunity the way the US does. Numerous immigrant groups have and continue to be highly successful within our ranks, but the effect often seems to wear off after a few generations of assimilation. Is their success owed to a Phase I personal/family/community ethic with a Phase III commercial ethic? Or is that even a Phase III ethic at all, but possibly a mix of I and II?

    Somehow, the cultural and religious Jews in the West have maintained a form of Phase I culture that appears to produce a disproportionate number of highly effective people in our fledgling Phase III society.

    (Obviously, there are different brands of Judaism, and there are highly effective ethnic Jews who don’t practice religious or cultural Judaism at all, but in a discussion where we’re dividing the world’s cultures into 3 phases, I’m comfortable make a few generalizations.)


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  28. 78
    DV82XL Says:

            Shafe said:

    It seems to me that Jewish culture confounds the system.

    I’m not sure that this is the case. My reading of the three phases hypothesis does not suggest that each higher phase cannot at some level subsume the lower especially as it pertains to family ties. In other words tribal or clan-based cultures are essentially extended families anyway and nothing about phase II & III systems necessary excludes or demands the abandonment of family connections, and by extension, family values.

    To those in the Anglosphere it may seem (and I admit I may rightly be accused of a racial profiling here) that Jews take this Them vs. Us perspective to an extreme, but there are several similarities that can be seen in other otherwise Western ethnic groups that present as phase II moving to phase III cultures. The axises of this residual tribalism may somewhat different than practiced by Jews, but it is very much there.

    In other words how the larger culture develops is not necessary manifested at the family level, or at the very least, this is the last aspect to be influenced by this type of cultural succession.


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  29. 79
    Shafe Says:

            DV82XL said:

    My reading of the three phases hypothesis does not suggest that each higher phase cannot at some level subsume the lower especially as it pertains to family ties.

    I’ll agree with that, otherwise the Phase III society would require cultural homogeneity of a sort that would completely contradict any semblance of a liberal society. So, correctly implemented, public policy and broad societal norms would conform to Phase III ethics, while individuals order their own lives according to their code of choice: humanistic, religious, or whatever. But it must be difficult to conform to Phase III societal norms when your personal ethics are Phase I.

    What I find interesting about the example of Jews, is their long-standing history as what appears to be a Phase I tribe moving throughout the Middle East, Europe, Africa, the Americas, or wherever, while maintaining their tribal identity and a kinship with foreign Jews that can be stronger than the brotherhood they share with their adopted countrymen. This is not just at the family level, but extends to strangers and foreigners, the tribal connection being key. So how does a tribe of Phase I adherents perform so well in a Phase III society? Wouldn’t conservative religious and tribal ethics put you at odds with Phase III ethics? Perhaps it’s because Jews tend to not be extremely fundamentalist in their interpretation of their scriptures, and from what I’ve seen, Rabbinical scholars tend to approach scripture from a very rationalistic standpoint.

    At any rate, I guess that’s why Finrod included this bit about the Phase III ethic:

    I think that a Phase III ethical system should foster the growth of useful organised complexity as much as possible. In order to do this, there needs to be tolerance for different approaches to achieving the overall goals seen as worthwhile, which stands in direct contrast to the ‘One-True-Pathism’ of Phase II systems.


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  30. 80
    DV82XL Says:

            Shafe said:

    What I find interesting about the example of Jews, is their long-standing history as what appears to be a Phase I tribe…

    As I wrote above, they are not that unique as other ethnic groups do more-or-less the same thing; the Romani people (Gypsies) spring to mind, as an example. Jews tend to stick out in many people’s minds because they are Jews, and much attention has been focused on that group for various socio-political reasons historically. There are other examples if one looks closely enough.


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  31. 81
    George Carty Says:

            Shafe said:

    It’s nice when good material spontaneously re-ignites for a change. Re-reading Finrod’s 3-Phase mini-treatise, and the subsequent discussion, I notice multiple mentions of Judaism and how Jews fit in.

    Judaism is a weird beast — a Phase I monotheism. Almost all other monotheistic religions are Phase II, except for the Baha’i faith which is Phase III. Perhaps the Baha’is (originating in 19th century Iran) were a religious response to modernity, of a kind which never really happened in the West because the West was already too far on the road to secularism when the Industrial Revolution hit?

    Perhaps the fact of being a Phase I monotheism is the contradiction which has caused Judaism to decline as a religion, much like the tension between Greco-Roman and Semitic values which pervades Christianity.

            Shafe said:

    I’ll agree with that, otherwise the Phase III society would require cultural homogeneity of a sort that would completely contradict any semblance of a liberal society. So, correctly implemented, public policy and broad societal norms would conform to Phase III ethics, while individuals order their own lives according to their code of choice: humanistic, religious, or whatever. But it must be difficult to conform to Phase III societal norms when your personal ethics are Phase I.

    I would argue that Western society has been largely immunized against Phase I ethics by World War II (where the Phase I Axis powers demonstrated where such thinking could lead), with the (understandable) exception of Judaism/Zionism. Serious future threats to Phase III society are far more likely to come from Phase II systems (like Communism during the Cold War or political Islam today).


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  32. 82
    Shafe Says:

            DV82XL said:

    As I wrote above, they are not that unique as other ethnic groups do more-or-less the same thing; the Romani people (Gypsies) spring to mind, as an example. Jews tend to stick out in many people’s minds because they are Jews, and much attention has been focused on that group for various socio-political reasons historically.

    The Romani are exactly what I would expect a very Phase I group to look like in a Phase III society, reclusive and insular both publicly and privately. That contrasts starkly against the Jews. I don’t know of great figures in science, law, politics, economics, commerce, entertainment, or other arenas being Romani, but those fields have at times been completely dominated by Jews. And more to the point, Jewish figures have greatly advanced Phase III society seemingly while maintaining their tribal ethics.

    Now, it’s very possible that by over-generalizing, I’ve attributed the accomplishments of some secular Jews to all of Judaism.

            George Carty said:

    I would argue that Western society has been largely immunized against Phase I ethics by World War II (where the Phase I Axis powers demonstrated where such thinking could lead), with the (understandable) exception of Judaism/Zionism. Serious future threats to Phase III society are far more likely to come from Phase II systems (like Communism during the Cold War or political Islam today).

    Would that it were so. But tribalism and groupthink quite often overpower rational discourse in policy-making. Exhibit A: the Congressional Black Caucus. For additional examples, look to any political or activist group that includes their race or ethnicity in their title.


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  33. 83
    DV82XL Says:

            Shafe said:

    Now, it’s very possible that by over-generalizing, I’ve attributed the accomplishments of some secular Jews to all of Judaism.

    Indeed, I think you are treading on thin ground here. That some ethnic groups place a greater emphasis on things like education and material success seems to be a separate issue, and I would think that one would have to be careful not to see those traits as necessarily more ethically advanced just because they are perceived as positive. In fact, these manifest in some of the most insular and reclusive ultra-conservative elements of Jewish culture who can, in fact, dominate certain economic sectors (depending on location) thus these are not valid indica of lack of tribal thinking per se.

    In fact the sort of general descriptions applied to Jewish culture could have been applied to, as an example, the minority Protestant Anglophone population here in my home Province of Quebec prior to the Silent Revolution by the Catholic Francophone majority, yet the former saw themselves as members of a broader cultural norm, and from a global perspective, were.


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  34. 84
    Finrod Says:

    Judaism was always going to be the odd man out in the scheme. I don’t know what actually happened, but I have a scenario in mind which I cannot prove but which is consistent, I think, with what is presently known about the ancient history of the middle-east.

    Zoroastrianism probably arose around the seventh or eighth century BCE in Persia There is no evidence that Jewish culture was monotheistic prior to the Babylonian Captivity. They may have been monolatrous, but there is evidence for the recognition of Asherah as the spouse of YHVH at that time. Israel and Judea were also considered client states of the Egyptian empire. Egypt was a great rival to the Persians when they first won their empire and defeated Babylon. The Persians also sent a bunch of Israeli intellectuals home from Babylon with a new message, which seems to have involved some rewriting of the relationship between Egypt and Israel, as well as a new spirit of monotheism much more in harmony with Zoroastrian doctrine. There’s quite a bit of written material found from the post-Babylonian Exile era which is in as much harmony as you could wish with the modern understanding of the Jews and their history, but nothing similar from pre-exile times. Jewish writings have been found from those times, but they don’t include anything which would contradict the scenario I’m outlaying, that Judaism as it is currently understood is likely to have been the result of a Persian propaganda war against Egypt. I think this accounts for the peculiar hybrid which Judaism represents in my scheme.


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  35. 85
    Shafe Says:

            Finrod said:

    The Persians also sent a bunch of Israeli intellectuals home from Babylon with a new message, which seems to have involved some rewriting of the relationship between Egypt and Israel, as well as a new spirit of monotheism much more in harmony with Zoroastrian doctrine.

    Okay, now that’s fascinating. Can you point to some reading material that examines that? I’m definitely interested in further reading.


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  36. 86
    DV82XL Says:

    Judaism did indeed used to be henotheistic and the last vestiges of this were not excised until the very beginning of the Christian age. One must be very careful when looking at the historical record in this case because the emphasis on monotheism went hand in hand with the development of a theocracy and revisionism was rampant. It is this revisionism (and lack of secondary sources) that muddies the waters when trying to fit the development of Judaism within any historical context.


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  37. 87
    Finrod Says:

            Shafe said:

    Can you point to some reading material that examines that? I’m definitely interested in further reading.

    The Book Of Ezra is a good place to start, I guess.

    I can’t give you proof that this is what happened. I don’t have any. Let me make it clear that my interpretation is just my particular reading of the situation. I think it is the likeliest fit for the verifiable facts.

    Indeed, given the apparent huge amount of editing the texts have undergone, it’s possible that the original Persian influence was a lot more obvious, and that the texts were revised in favour of Israel as a stand-alone monotheism following the fall of Persia. I’m not sure if there are any acrheological discoveries yet which would rule such a scenario out.


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  38. 88
    DV82XL Says:

    The book of Job and the bulk of Proverbs doubtless belong to the Persian period although final additions were made as late as the Hellenistic period if you are looking for influences on later Jewish theology.


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