Life is a continuous learning process. We strive for continuous improvements when making decisions, and we usually find from experience that we have blind spots. Moral Innovators make decisions based on what we think is the right thing to do to make the world a better place. While we can believe that we never make mistakes because we decide based on the best available information at the time we make decisions, the shortcoming of this view is the fact that often we make assumptions (based on our beliefs) when we make decisions. It is these assumptions that can either be validated or wrong.
All humans were born on earth without knowledge. For about the first 20 years of life, we develop “beliefs” that hopefully we can reinforce/validate through our experiences. When we go to schools, workplaces, places of worship, and other places to make friends, we gain experiences and learn different perspectives of the “truths” as we know them. Since each one of us has difference experiences, we are exposed to different “truths.” When we validate our beliefs with our experiences (or truths), that is when we gain knowledge. It is important that we understand this (see the Venn Diagram below):
KEY POINT: We try our best to make decisions based on knowledge, but many decisions must be made with assumptions. We buy name brands because we assume they have higher value (last longer, look prettier, comes with a warranty, etc). We buy a home because we assume the house will appreciate and the interest expense and taxes can be deducted from income taxes, lowering the total cost of ownership. We pay taxes and expect services from our government. We donate time/money to religious institutions to reinforce our moral standards and faith.
Remember there is one Golden Rule endorsed by most religions, agnostics and atheists:
Do unto others what you want others to do unto you
Each of us may elect to have our own personal relationship with God, and that cannot be questioned. However, religious institutions (Churches, Synagogues, Temples, Mosques, etc.) that help us define our relationships with our faith have additional motives to strengthen our beliefs sufficiently to receive our donations of our time or money to support their cause(s). Moral Innovators do not blindly follow what we are told in religious institutions which often confuse beliefs with knowledge.
We know that Christianity did not start in English. Professor Bart Ehrman found verses in English that were never in the best known original language of the bible. So, if we read only English, and English has these verses that were not in the best known original version, we have been reading something that should not be in the bible.
The next question is: How important are these missed verses and/or mis-translated verses? We know that Mormons believe the Garden of Eden is in St. Louis, Missouri. Professor Ehrman shares that King James Bible was translated from poorly copied manuscripts to provide more leniency to adultery for the Anglicans in Britain. We know that Protestants excluded the Septuagint in the Old Testament compared to the Catholics. We know that Syria, Ethiopia and other countries have different books for the bible. We know that there is no archaeological evidence to support the stories in the Exodus which is a central theme of the bible. We know that Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh predates the bible. We know that a story similar to Noah’s flood is in the Epic of Gilgamesh. We know that a place like the Garden of Eden is in the Epic of Gilgamesh. We know that there were millions of humans on earth when both the Jews (through their calendar) and genealogy calculations (by Irish Archbishop Ussher (1581-1656)) based on the bible point to the first human Adam was on earth 6,000 years ago. We know the original Sumerian cuneiform writing was not Semitic, and Sargon I was the Semitic Akkadian Conqueror who changed the writing that evolved to eventually English.
If we focus only on beliefs instead of knowledge, the most obvious issue is the fact that both Muslims and Christians want to convert all humans on earth to their faith. It is not possible to believe in both Islam and Christianity at the same time. Since Muslims condemn non-Muslims to go to hell, and Christians condemn non-Christians to go to hell, it is logical to conclude that all humans would be condemned to go to hell, a lose-lose proposition.
Comparing Abrahamic religions to others: We know that Hindu (Sanskrit) writing is older than the first known (Hebrew) writing of the Bible. We know that Chinese writing (i.e. not cave paintings) started close to 10,000 years ago with symbols (the most well-known is the Tai Chi symbol in South Korea’s flag today), and counting with strings and knots (that the South Americans called the Quipu about 5,000 years ago) before the Chinese started writing as we know their writing today. The Chinese also wrote the first known controlled use of fire by hominids was 1.8 million years ago in Shanxi Province, China, in a November 1998 article of Acta Athropologica Sinica.
Current illustrations: Our definition of human rights and our desire to apply this definition worldwide within our democratic government is an assumption. We need facts from our data base to convert this assumption into common knowledge. Hedrick Smith’s book “Who Stole the American Dream” claims we are losing
1) our democracy as our government listens more and more to the wealthiest 1% of Americans who captured 93% of our gains in 2010, the first year of the current economic recovery , and
2) the breadth of our wealth as our middle class has suffered through the widening wealth gap.
While the USA sponsored the Marshall Plan after World War II, we can no longer afford to spend trillions of dollars on ill-defined missions. USA chose to support Yassar Arafat to represent the Palestinians, ignoring the democratic majority elected representatives from the more radical Hamas in certain regions. USA supported Nationalist China, South Vietnam, Philippines’ Marcos and Iran’s Shah that did not have the majority support of the Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipinos and Iranians, respectively. USA has very bad intelligence to pursue terrorists with ill-defined missions in Iraq and Afghanistan when Osama bin Laden lived for years in Pakistan and Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. USA lost credibility and wasted trillions of dollars without winning the support of the local people. We should demand clear mandates from Syrians and Ukrainians to define the objectives of interest with majority support of the local people as we discuss involvement from USA and our allies.
If we estimate we spent US$5 trillion in these ill-defined wars in today’s dollars, each of the 300 million Americans (including every infant) would get $17,000, and our deficit would be that much lower. Using Hedrick Smith’s wealth allocation, the 1% of Americans who commanded 93% of gains in 2010 surely did not pay for 93% of the US$5 trillion to finance our wars. That, in a nutshell, is not reflective of a democracy where the voter turnout is more typically 50% in recent elections. The Tea Party, with a minority of the Republican Party, shut down our government in 2013. This is Minority Tyranny.
Let us take a step back and expand our search for knowledge, instead of relying on beliefs and assumptions which will lead to conflicts instead of harmony.