Nihilism as an end to religion and science?

Israel’s attack on Gaza has brought religion back into the political agenda. For modern societies, who increasingly rely on science to overcome vehement social problems, the dualism religion versus science results in a complete paradox, which might find its end in nihilism.

The past few weeks have made me question whether I was getting insane or simply confirmed in a discovering I had made earlier this year. The fact that some seriously ill fanatics can – with the support from “our Russian friend Putin” – shoot down an aeroplane, killing almost two-hundred innocent world citizens while one isn’t even allowed to bring drinking water on a plane, seriously questions the integrity of our society. Probably worse is that whereas sanctions are being considered by certain states, others are only worried about getting the most benefit out of the situation. As such, Switzerland was quick to use its “pseudo-(non)-participation” in the European Union by offering its “neutrality services” in order to boost a suffering banking system. On its 723rd birthday, which was celebrated yesterday, the Heidi-state wasn’t any less opportunistic than in the seven centuries of existence before.

Similar orthodox and immoral in its action is Israel. Attacking one’s neighboring state and killing innocent children simply out of a bad mood is such a barbaric action that one can’t help but think it should have finished hundreds of years ago. The fact that it’s still being done in the 21st century only proves that society doesn’t advance, even if education is meant to be getting better and more accessible year by year. In those regards I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw some TV poll[1] that asked US citizens whether they “believe that Israel was given to the Jewish people by god”. Now, it shouldn’t surprise that this question addressed US citizens[2]. The US is likely the best example of how schizophrenic society has become.

It is the US who has pushed capitalism to its absurdity by constantly claiming how economic theory provides science based evidence that neoliberalism was most efficient and hence the best for societies[3]. It’s the US who believes that genetic manipulation can overcome all deficiencies of mankind, and likely also those apparent in nature. Now, can anyone understand how US citizens can trust so much in science on one hand while on the other the vast majority believes that god effectively gave Israel to the Jewish people? History is also science, only maybe a bit more accessible and anyone not just engaging in Instagram, twitter or a manipulated mass media should know that Israel as a state was created far less than hundred years ago[4]. Has anyone seen god in all this time?

In light of current political paradoxes one might indeed understand that a vast majority of human beings prefers to seek refuge in religion, faith and/or the hope for god. Maybe it is not more absurd than today’s society and the system that we have created. In a world where every week a global trauma vanishes under the burden of a newly emerging one, people can’t rely on reality, because it simply doesn’t exist. However, if reality doesn’t exist, then nihilism might be a better choice than science or religion, because it solves the paradoxes of both.

[1] I believe it was on Fox news. I haven’t had a TV in twenty years and only saw it accidentally while in the gym.

[2] For all those who are as unknowing, you might have a quick look at this link.

[3] Not seeing that it was exactly the perverse accumulation of wealth that created most of today’s problems and that A. Smith’s often cited “invisible hand” was all but a transfer of benefits (or social and environmental externalities that have not been accounted for).

[4] For all US citizens: that is less than your country should you not know for how long the US have existed.

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About blaubear

Born in 1973 in a small village in rural Switzerland and into a society largely dominated by cows (not only was the human population of one-hundred-and-forty outnumbered by them, but politics driven by unreasonable subsidies for diary products) I was connected with nature from early age on. Observing nature on one hand and the deficiencies of a dysfunctional Swiss agricultural policy with farmers that had lost connection to the land that provided their income on the other, I soon started to question society and the meaning of life. Suffering also under a farcical public education I developed curiosity to discover on my own. That was how I soon learned that little of what I had been taught was true. Skepticism and interaction with people from for me new cultures fostered my interest for the world and eagerness to leave a life shaped by federalistic layman-ship. At the age of twenty-three I hit the road for the first time, an event that later translated into passion. Traveling between cultures has since become part of my life. At the age of thirty-three I finally realized my dream and did a degree in Environmental Engineering from which I graduated in 2009, only to leave Switzerland once more for my "real home" Spain. Unfortunately, the stay was a short one: a couple of months later I was offered a job in Southeast Asia, where I worked and also lived (with some interruptions, e.g. I live in Melbourne since late 2012) ever since. Having worked for a Japanese company earlier in my life, I soon felt captured again by Asian culture and thinking which makes a lovely contrast to my European heritage. My journey through different countries and cultures has taught me that regardless of how different our thinking and values are, no matter what approaches we take, we all can learn from each other. And if we are open enough to see the common instead of pointing out the differences, then we have a chance to live in harmony and peace: Life is all about integration, not exclusion! It's an old wisdom that "knowledge is power", as such I never get tired of being around new people, having interesting talks, and reading lots of good books. I hope that my blog can contribute to the conversation.
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4 Responses to Nihilism as an end to religion and science?

  1. blaubear says:

    Earlier today I saw the news in CNN showing an extensive report about ONE Israeli soldier that went missing and has been found to be dead. In terms of balance (see the link [2]), I wonder how CNN dares to be so arbitrary and cover the story of ONE single aggressor (the man was invading foreign territory and carrying weapons!) while at the same time mentioning the nearly TWO-THOUSAND victims, of which most are children and civilian, in one sentence and without even a picture?
    Does the live of people depend on nationality? Or on religion?
    Not that I was ever very much into religion, but I definitely don’t think that there is any word about that in the Bible, the Koran nor the Torah. Nor do I believe that CNN has a company policy that requires employees to value Israeli higher than Palestinians. And if so, they shouldn’t be considered as a media channel any longer. Apparently CNN has become part of a brainwashing, biased regime…..another reason, not to believe in anything we read or see.

  2. Patrick S says:

    Good post Urs.

    I saw a post a while back saying that yes, in our societies that are both secular, and likely heading into very uncertain times that disrupt the consumer capitalist bubble many of us have got used to in the relatively privileged West (*) – then we do need to re-look at earlier sources of practical wisdom and life philosophies – nihilism won’t cut it. He suggested both stoicism and epicureanism have something to offer in this respect.

    (*) – Australia and NZ always defy such Geographic categorisations of the world into developed/colonial and the rest (“Global North” is no better than “The West” from our perspective), but you know what I mean.

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