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Hebrew Bible Myth #2 : Abraham, the Man of Reason

No other story in the Hebrew Bible teaches us about the kind of relationship we should have with God like the story of Abraham.

We’re all familiar with the story, correct? Abraham, the paragon of blind faith in God, the man who was willing to sacrifice his own child in blind obedience to the Lord. Isn’t that the story? Isn’t that what the Hebrew Bible tells us about the kind of relationship we should have with God?

Well, not quite. What if we got it all wrong? What if Abraham’s story is not what we were led to believe, and the man we consider as a paragon of blind faith was nothing of that sort?

What if Abraham’s relationship with God was not based on faith at all, but instead was based on reason? Sounds implausible, right? After all, would a Man of Reason be willing to obey God’s command to sacrifice his child? A Man of Reason would never willingly put his child in harms way, let alone in a situation where death is a possibility. A Man of Reason would only be willing to obey God’s command if he knew with certainty that no harm could come to the child. Yet, that is precisely what Abraham knew! The Binding of Isaac was not at all a test of faithit was a test of reason! In fact, as you’re about to see, Abraham was motivated by reason – not faith – every step of the way. So let us look at what the text of the Hebrew Bible actually says. Before we do so, however, let’s clarify what it means to be a Man of Faith and what it means to be a Man of Reason:

A Man of Reason is someone who bases his beliefs (ie. what he accepts as true) on knowledge, evidence and logic.
A Man of Faith is someone who bases his beliefs on hope and conviction. Such person necessarily holds these beliefs with lack of, in spite of, or against reason and evidence.

Since you cannot base your belief on evidence and on lack of evidence at the same time, faith and reason are not only mutually exclusive but are also in direct opposition to each other.

Now that we’ve defined the terms, let’s examine the text of the Hebrew Bible and see if Abraham was a Man of Faith or a Man of Reason.

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Hebrew Bible Myth #1 : Miracles Don’t Violate the Laws of Nature

In the previous post in this series we have conclusively proven that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and benevolent God exists, and that God and Nature are one and the same. In this series will demonstrate why the God we presented in our proof is precisely the God the Hebrew Bible speaks of.

Now, in our proof of God’s omnipotence we stated that nothing can violate the Laws of Nature. You may ask then, don’t miracles violate the Laws of Nature? How can we reconcile the idea that nothing can violate the Laws of Nature with God’s miracles in the Hebrew Bible?

The answer is actually rather straightforward, but before we get to it let us consider the following thought experiment:

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Hebrew Bible Myths : Proving God Exists

In this series we will definitively prove that God – an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and benevolent Beingexists. We will demonstrate why that is precisely the God the Hebrew Bible speaks of. And we will refute some of the most pervasive misconceptions about the Hebrew Bible: (1) that miracles violate the laws of nature, (2) that there can be belief without evidence (3) that eternal life, heaven, hell, or the resurrection of the dead are real. In the process we will also answer one of the most important questions of philosophy: if an omnipotent and benevolent God exists, why is there evil in the world?

So let’s dive right into it!

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Flow Revolution #8 : Truly Enlightened Self-Interest

So far we’ve seen how the flow economy eliminates the clashes of interest inherent in capitalism. We’ve seen how it allows the individual to realize her full creative potential as a living being. And we’ve seen how it opens the door for individuals to prosper by making meaningful contributions to the world in art, culture, science, medicine, technology, ecology, social justice, and so on.

Now we will see how the flow economy exposes the fallacy of the selfishness/altruism dichotomy, and paves the way for a truly rational and enlightened self-interest.

So what is in our self-interest? In the broadest sense, we can say that it is in our self-interest to have as much freedom as possible. In economic terms, this translates to having as much access to resources as possible.

Because access to resources in the market economy depends on accumulation of wealth, it is in our self-interest in such a system to pursue activities that are profitable to us. The only way to do that under capitalism is by selling products and services to other individuals in the marketplace. This means that our wealth under capitalism depends on providing value to others.

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We Told You So! #4 : 47% of Jobs Could be Automated in Two Decades

This is the 4th installment in our series: We Told You So! where we show prominent individuals, institutions, and media sources just now noticing what we’ve been saying all along.

In this installment, The Economist warns us that disruptive technologies are going to wreck havoc on the global economy, as nearly half of our jobs will be lost over the next two decades to automation:

…it seems likely that this wave of technological disruption to the job market has only just started. From driverless cars to clever household gadgets (see article), innovations that already exist could destroy swathes of jobs that have hitherto been untouched. The public sector is one obvious target: it has proved singularly resistant to tech-driven reinvention. But the step change in what computers can do will have a powerful effect on middle-class jobs in the private sector too.

Until now the jobs most vulnerable to machines were those that involved routine, repetitive tasks. But thanks to the exponential rise in processing power and the ubiquity of digitised information (“big data”), computers are increasingly able to perform complicated tasks more cheaply and effectively than people. Clever industrial robots can quickly “learn” a set of human actions. Services may be even more vulnerable. Computers can already detect intruders in a closed-circuit camera picture more reliably than a human can. By comparing reams of financial or biometric data, they can often diagnose fraud or illness more accurately than any number of accountants or doctors. One recent study by academics at Oxford University suggests that 47% of today’s jobs could be automated in the next two decades.

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Flow Revolution #7 : Thinking Beyond Jobs

As we’ve already seen, the flow economy eliminates the clashes of interest inherent in capitalism. It allows the individual to look beyond her narrow self-interest and realize her full creative potential as a living being. What contributes to the flourishing of the flow economy, by necessity, also contributes to the flourishing of life. Thus the flow economy can be fully integrated into our life.

This is radically different from how the market economy works. In the market economy access to resources depends on income from selling commodities in the marketplace. The problem here is that an individual’s income is only tangentially related to the intrinsic value of her labor, which means that there is no direct relation between the individual’s contribution and her access to resources.

A much bigger problem however is that in the market economy an individual’s contribution to life outside of the marketplace has no economic value. In other words, it makes no difference if an individual makes a substantial contribution to humanity in art, medicine or science – as long as the individual did not sell anything in the marketplace her contribution does not give her access to any resources. In such a system people have little incentive to contribute anything outside of the market, and as a result civil society suffers.

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Flow Revolution #6 : A Fully Integrated Economy

Let’s start with a simple question: when you think of what is necessary for the flourishing of the market economy and what is necessary for the flourishing of life, how closely do these coincide?

Certainly there are things that contribute both to the market economy and to lifefreedom, ambition, creativity, reciprocity and productivity, to name a few. The problem with the market economy however is that, because it is structured around the accumulation of wealth, many of the things that are necessary for the market economy to flourish – consumerism, greed, materialism, the profit motive and so on – essentially have no value in our life and our relationships, and may even come at their expense. Similarly, many of the things that are necessary in our life and in our relationships, and indeed indispensable for the flourishing of humanitylove, trust, care, forgiveness, the raising of children, and so on – essentially have no value in the marketplace.

If we were to make a diagram to illustrate this difference it would look something like this:

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3 Perspectives on Inequality

We’ve already discussed at some length the issue of inequality under capitalism, and explained why the situation is bound to get much worse as automation replaces more and more segments of the labor force at an ever increasing rate. But how unequal is our society now? Perhaps this video may shed some light on the question:

And that is just in the United States. Here is how inequality looks on the global scale:

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We Told You So! #3 : Falling Behind on Education

This is the 3rd installment in our series: We Told You So! where we show prominent individuals, institutions, and media sources just now noticing what we’ve been saying all along.

In this installment we bring more evidence from the New York Times for why a revolution in education is desperately needed:

  • On the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment test, the most recent, 34 of 65 countries and school systems had a higher percentage of 15-year-olds scoring at the advanced levels in mathematics than the United States did.

  • The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland all had at least twice the proportion of mathematically advanced students as the United States, and many Asian countries had far more than that.

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Flow Revolution #5 : Solving Big Problems

The market economy is structured in such a way that access to resources depends on accumulation of wealth. When individuals and firms pursue the profit-motive the result is an abundance of consumer products, economic prosperity, an industrious and productive labor force, and great technological innovation.

The other side of this coin however is that the market economy performs poorly when it comes to addressing the big problems affecting society and the world – war, inequality, disease, human traffickingcrime, racial discrimination, oppression, exploitationclimate change and so on.

The reasons for this are evident. When individuals are preoccupied with promoting their narrow self-interest, what is happening in effect is that you have countless forces in society where each is pulling in its own direction. This alone makes it difficult to address big problems, since people are less willing to invest their time, money and energy into projects that do not yield them direct economic benefits.

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