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Arab culture, from its ancient beginnings to the present, has given us three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. When scientists attribute all �beliefs� in the �supernatural� to superstition, wishful thinking, reaching a delusionary �high� by stressing the body to exhaustion, like a substance-induced state, and other human foibles, they err.� Instead of considering that accomplished mystics can visit other dimensions or gain perspectives regarding this one that could be called �magical,� scientists tend to see those �primitive� states that may provide windows to other dimensions as nothing more than �a distorting mirror.� [645] � There is something real at the root of religious behavior and belief, but just as with everything else in a world of scarcity, people corrupted it into a way of getting fed, men used it to gain sexual access to women, and the like.� The same scandalous behaviors haunt today's New Age community .� No worthy mystic is going to ask people to �believe,� have �faith,� memorize �sacred� texts, and the like.� Those are the tools of religious racketeers.� People can seek their own experiences, and there is a mountain of scientific data that supports the reality of �paranormal� phenomena.� Even calling it �paranormal� is misleading. �Those abilities of consciousness are normal, if only underdeveloped in the West and abused by charlatans and other opportunists.� Many �mystics� have faked such abilities, but relatively few in the milieu do.� For all the many failings of organized religion and the rampant mystical hucksterism that abounds, materialism is a religion and not much different from the world�s religions, but its founding articles of faith are called �assumptions.�� I understand and can even appreciate the seductions of the rationalist-materialist paradigm, but it rests on a false foundation.� There are some highly sophisticated ways of viewing the cosmos and the human role in it that have little to do with dogma and the usual trappings of organized religion; a lot of it can be tested, even scientifically. [646] One en during question about civilization is �Why?�� Why would somebody leave a village for a shortened life expectancy in a city?� Ever since the ancient Greeks and Confucius, that question has been asked.� There are two basic theoretical camps: one is integration theory, and the other is conflict theory.� Integration theories have people moving to civilization because of the attendant benefits, which are obviously many.� Conflict theories, of which Karl Marx was a proponent, have elites exploiting civilizations in service of greedy and vain motivations.� Academics have written that integration theories account best for providing life�s necessities for the masses, which is why they migrate to civilizations, and conflict theories best explain elite appropriation of economic surpluses. [647] In Sumer in the third millennium BCE, about 80% of the population lived in cities so that they could sleep behind fortifications to protect against attack. [648] �However, about 80-90% of the population was engaged in agriculture.� Before industrialization, the vast majority of civilized populations were involved in agriculture, as the surplus could only support a small non-agricultural population, which was comprised of professionals and the elite.� All elites for all time have engaged in conspicuous economic consumption as the mark of their status, as a form of display .� Until the Industrial Revolution, except for the brief Golden Age of the Hunter-Gatherer, the primary preoccupation of all people for all time has been food security, as hunger was a constant specter. [649] � Just as the energy surplus defines the fortunes of individuals and species, it also defines the fortunes of civilizations.

Pages: 312

Publisher: Princeton University Press (November 21, 1988)

ISBN: 0691055319


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