by Robert Brown
An engineer considers some of the big questions facing the conscious humans mind. The evolution of the earth as a good place for humans to live. Have we developed an appropriate global society? Why do people develop certain personalities and live as they do?
The philosophy of living , developing a purpose and the apparent inbuilt need to embrace something greater than ourselves; how this has led to creativity and a variety of religious beliefs.
A review of how the brain operates to retain memories, establish personality, belief systems, analytical thought and behavior.
An outline of techniques used for mind control by people from educators, advertisers, politicians through to terrorists and methods to guard against and reverse malicious techniques.
Discussion of some paranormal and spiritual beliefs from early times till to day.
The imagination and understanding that has enabled human beings in 2018 to be most knowledgeable, best fed and healthiest people ever; yet still demonstrate real stupidity in management of global affairs, ignoring the immense physical and sociological risks of the anthropomorphic age.
REVIEWER FROM AUSTRALIA I give it 5 stars, HN
Reason versus belief
The title of this book presents a rhetorical question, and we know there is no answer to it. It is there to stimulate thought, and thought requires reasoning. The book does in fact pit belief against reason and presents the case for the latter. In this case the book addresses religious belief and in particular that of so-called fringe groups of believers who, almost always, are “led up the garden path” by one mesmerising, eloquent person who has assumed control over the others. Their object and foundation for their existence is usually a weird, religious story, and – though this is universally denied – making money out of all this is their leader’s aim.
As it starts out, the book addresses the rise of humanity via biological evolution and the resulting intelligence which allows the human to enjoy his high standard of living. It also explains the evolutionary processes of the brain which, after all, represents the “control centre” of the person.
All this is admirable, in fact more than that – it is wonderful, a consequence of the application of reason which is the privilege of the human animal. Not only that, the privilege extends to what we call “belief”, a more elusive concept which is harder to deal with. It is the world outside reason and knowledge. It includes the world of religion as we understand it and invokes inter alia the unanswerable question of whether there is such a thing as afterlife. (More generally life before and after your current life on earth.) Though no rational evidence exists of such afterlife, it seems more people believe (or want to believe) that afterlife exists than people who don’t. Brown warns the reader that such mental predilection is subject to abuse by religious charlatans and shammers who start with promises, then follow warnings and threats and finally the journey ends in disaster.
The writer presents his referenced case convincingly, but the reader can be distracted by the too ambitious an attempt to include too much evolutionary and historical information. Being an engineer, the writer chooses his words and sentences precisely and without waste which is a welcome change from too many prolix, abstruse or tedious accounts existing on the market. At the same time, could I suggest here a little bit of Bill Bryson, as in A Short History of Nearly Everything, who is never short of a narration but who slides down like a vanilla soufflÃ©, light and sweet. Brown’s course has meat and calories and provides much food for thought.
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