Friday, November 06, 2015

Ben Carson's pyramids

Prof. Paul Krugman has a post on his blog about Ben Carson's idea that the ancient Egyptian pyramids were built to store grain.

My couple of comments:
In this era, as a practical matter, no one can be elected to President of the United States without giving public allegiance to some of these ideas: that the Red Sea parted to let people through, that a virgin birth occurred, that a dead man was resurrected - none of these events comply with the laws of nature as we understand them.

Yet, only the idea that may violate engineering sense, architectural sense, even common sense, but NOT the laws of nature, that the pyramids might have been used for grain storage, is held up for criticism and ridicule.

That is the true absurdity.
Someone asked:
One day we'll elect a fundamentalist atheist to office. Will you be happy then?
My reply:
Well, when does a belief go from being religious, and so beyond most criticism, and into being absurd or superstitious?

Ms Sonia Faleiro, who writes columns for the New York Times, on twitter was ridiculing an Indian leader who believes that the ancients had high technology, since lost, and rediscovered only in modern times. I agree that such a belief is not supportable by any evidence, and is thus rendered absurd; but I wondered what the basis for ridiculing this religious belief was. I realized, the only reason was that it is not a Christian belief.
When I pointed out to Ms Faleiro: "Tho ancients having technology lost till modern times is a bit more rational than parting of Red Sea or man rising from dead", she promptly blocked me from following her tweets.

Why is Christian or Jewish superstition privileged over every other superstition? I have a much higher regard for Professor Krugman and want to alert him to the absurdity that he is participating in.
 You see, there is this touchstone (perhaps it is - is it mentioned in the Bible?) that makes an idea "religious" and so beyond scrutiny in a political campaign, or else something that deals with reality, and so it is supposed to be handled with normal logic, science and commonsense.   So, for example, that old Hindu stories mention flying machines and weapons that seem like nuclear weapons cannot be the basis for someone's religious belief that these things existed - it is not mentioned in the Bible, and so it must be deemed absurd.  Likewise with Ben Carson's theory about the pyramids. 

This is what "secularism" means in practice, whatever the pious words are about separation of Church and State and so on.  The underlying social contract in America is that certain beliefs are not to be held up to scrutiny.  The conflict with Islam is because Islam has a different set of beliefs that are not be held up to scrutiny, and there is no agreement on that.  Hindus are a dismissable minority in the US; and the secularization project proceeds apace in India, courtesy the Cambridge-Oxford set, the Marxists and the other Leftists, and the worldwide evangelist movements.