Philosopher and author John Gray talks about his latest book, Seven Types of Atheism, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Gray argues that progress is an illusion and that most atheisms inherit, unknowingly, a religious belief in progress that is not justified. While Gray concedes that technological know-how and scientific knowledge improve over time, he argues that morality and political systems are cyclical and that there is no reason to be optimistic about the future.
United States


00:00:04welcome to Aecon talk part of a library of economics and liberty I'm your host Russ Roberts at Stanford university's Hoover Institution our website is econ talk dot org for you can subscribe to comment on this podcast and find links and other information related to today's conversation but also
00:00:21find our archives we listen to every episode we've ever done going back to two thousand and six our email addresses male econ talk dot org we'd love to hear from today is September seventeenth twenty eighteen and my guest is philosopher and author John gray his latest book which
00:00:41is the subject of today's episode is the seven types of atheism John welcome econ talk I'm very glad to be talking with you rest your book the seven types of atheism is a fantastic short charring provocative book it's jarring to someone who is religious and I think it's
00:01:01turned to someone is an atheist are at the heart of the book %HESITATION there to central ideas which will be talking about today along with anything else that comes up %HESITATION along the way the religious nature of most types of atheism and the S. and the illusory nature
00:01:17of progress and %HESITATION I found that second seem deeply disturbing I real I came to realize from reading your book that I had imbibed much of thought I was a child of the in like man I had it done opted many of the progressive thought of the view
00:01:34that the world's making progress and dot it might be so many give you a chance to defend that I'll challenge you at some point but you do what make a very strong case %HESITATION that it may not be but I want to start with atheism you're very critical
00:01:48of the new atheists are Sam Harris Richard Dawkins and others they book that you say that they bore you and that their view of morality doesn't really hold up so what's what's wrong with the so called new atheism the thing that's wrong with the so called new atheism
00:02:07is that there is nothing in it which is new %HESITATION most of the criticisms of religion that they advanced nearly all of them in fact made in similar but better forms in the nineteenth century %HESITATION %HESITATION they none of the new age he's know anything much about the
00:02:28history of ideas even if his to Beijing isn't that pretty ignorant on the last twenty years or so and so they make a number of criticisms %HESITATION which fit into the Victorian or mid nineteen to the late nineteenth century dispute about a conflict between religion and science in
00:02:50other words they take for granted that %HESITATION %HESITATION religion is %HESITATION body of propositions or even theories and that the series aimed to explain the world and now that we've caught science we don't need religion it's been superseded or rendered obsolete but that's a very primitive view all
00:03:11of religion which actually not many people who study religion deeply in professionally hardly any of them would take that view denounce apologist or a sociologist or even a cultural historian about religion not one of them nowadays or very few of them would think of religion size %HESITATION body
00:03:34if he reasonable belief soul propositions %HESITATION which kind to explain the world religions all %HESITATION in most parts of the world throughout most parts of human history of being composed of practices %HESITATION to more than of believe most of them haven't had creed written down is propositions ancient
00:03:59%HESITATION paganism made %HESITATION Greece and Rome for example had no creed switch to an advantage which one among many which is out there with any error takes you gonna be heretic if there isn't something to be a heretic against %HESITATION %HESITATION what we now call Hinduism very very
00:04:19old body of %HESITATION %HESITATION believes that the practices associated with %HESITATION very sophisticated philosophies has never been summed up in a single body of believe the same goes from towers on the Dow is seven Confucianism Shinto than most of its history you would know perhaps more about this
00:04:40in the night Judaism hasn't been a bull in body in any single list of propositions %HESITATION retreat so %HESITATION most religions happen being like %HESITATION who don't conform to these new atheist understanding of what religion is and there's a reason for that which is that new atheism is
00:05:01a kind of inversion all performance he isn't particularly Christine melodious and it's it just turned upside down fortieth four by rejecting the key believe that the new atheists think if they reject these beliefs then they projected the whole framework of sport of monotheism but my view is that
00:05:23just turning the beliefs upside down including the more rejecting them most of the rest of the frame with with a warped intact and so that's one reason why although I did only discuss the new ATS quite briefly in fact I seriously considered not discussing the Mottola because I
00:05:41do find them boring and %HESITATION and %HESITATION people in the in their arguments but I did in the end because most readers to discuss them in the end because most readers if we say the word atheism with nowadays will be most familiar with his life come %HESITATION %HESITATION
00:05:59Dawkins and %HESITATION iris and the others that you mentioned %HESITATION I did discuss them quite briefly but only we need to point out that %HESITATION they recapitulate came %HESITATION repeating an argument that went on for several decades couple generations in the nineteenth century in coming up with the
00:06:19same narrow and to my mind all the parochial view engine which is that religion is a an Iranian obsolete kind of theory that we don't need anymore I'm not really doesn't correspond to what religions have being in %HESITATION %HESITATION throughout human history and prehistory and in most of
00:06:38the world it simply because poems to a an upside down picture of Christine Montes what's upside down about it body say upside down %HESITATION well I mean what what what eighties Tuesday treating %HESITATION really religion even in general I have %HESITATION %HESITATION if they say well what do
00:06:56religious people believe in they say if they believe that to %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION Mississippian being that created the called created the world called and created life and humanity and glazed down there is sort of easy for %HESITATION %HESITATION how human beings should live now %HESITATION the way I
00:07:19think of eighties when I say this ride the start of the book is that for me in a she's just anyone who doesn't need the idea of a creator god of that kind you an atheist if you don't need to the negative proposition in other words eighties doesn't
00:07:34have to be organized as a movement atheism doesn't have to be associated with any particular view of the world it's had several views the world many in its in its in its long history even in more time they cases just someone who doesn't need that idea of %HESITATION
00:07:50the critical but one important thing I point out is that if you think of eighties in that way that rather simple negative way and many of the religions of the world have been ages to religions for example there's no credit card in Buddhism division in the mortal soul
00:08:03in Buddhism the burden is very big in over engine %HESITATION %HESITATION he proved he isn't isn't contained in go %HESITATION god it doesn't that most politically ist religions of the kind that flourished in them Roman incredibly Jerome before was taken over by Christianity featured many calls and many
00:08:25of them didn't have any account of the world being created by a guard uncertainty not by one single creator one single call to the idea of UT eighty seven that way %HESITATION then there are many east region so that leads me to one of the major arguments in
00:08:44the book which is at the boundaries between eighteen and religion are much more blurred once you have a better and more complex and more realistic understanding of what religion is we should make it clear you are an atheist I am and I can certainly so the books a
00:09:02little bit there's an irony in the book which is it's it's a savaging in many ways of the allusions that you believe many ACS labor under at the end we'll talk about you know how how you reconcile your own atheism with that but I just want to comment
00:09:17on the the point you made about atheism restrict of religion and especially the new eight is you're actually right about Judaism of course Judaism emphasizes action not sold later they're obviously believes a journalism there's emotional things but Judaism emphasizes a set of obligations a person is supposed to
00:09:35do rather than in other words practise practice and there's even a dispute in Judaism whether believing in god is requirement %HESITATION right some sinker light and Jewish rabbinical sources say it it is one of the commandments other say now you just have to do that do things so
00:09:51well I met one of the last %HESITATION one of the last rob not one of the last one of the few rabbis in Poland %HESITATION way of course most Jewish people were killed it and %HESITATION the **** period %HESITATION and he said he quoted something amiss teacher he
00:10:07said %HESITATION teachers said %HESITATION to worry about belief just practice and then the second point is the the %HESITATION the view that somehow religion is is falsified by say science or history or yes and and you point out as by the way I think %HESITATION rabbi Jonathan Sachs
00:10:29former %HESITATION chief rabbi of the United Kingdom that religion is not created to teach us history it's not graded teaches science it's cool created to give us meaning and science is not good at that despite his hands as a different thing it's to help us improve that's fine
00:10:49it's important it's cool I think glorious it's a wonderful %HESITATION expression human creativity and an insight and inter religious person you believe that that god created the world so that we can understand it that's if you don't doesn't matter you still can understand that a lot of it
00:11:07not all of it %HESITATION but they're two different things I think that's %HESITATION as a very important example I gave in the book is that the %HESITATION biblical genesis the myth of %HESITATION Adam and eve in the garden of Eden and so on we never meant as an
00:11:24early theory of how life came about on this planet and I say that quite dogmatically that it was never meant like that because you can go back and awful long way in the history of Christianity in before Christianity of Jewish thinkers who completely explicitly say that genesis made
00:11:43is not to be red literally Augustine within the Christian tradition says that quite explicitly order is an allegory teaches something sorry it's an allegory to teach us something or to what I called a minute which is that %HESITATION I don't use in about seven to eight eight eight
00:12:02eight now you're using transmit certain truths in the form of a story if you like which are difficult to transmit or convey in other terms and %HESITATION the point is that this view of that made about that story in the Bible %HESITATION walls %HESITATION affirm not just recently
00:12:21under the attacks of the U. eightieth but more than two thousand years ago hundreds but well over two thousand years ago by tuition then later by AM Christian thinkers so they have always had that happen has be not after the has been a tradition of literalist sure in
00:12:39Weston West relation I don't deny that even the fundamentalism but %HESITATION all along the routine anchors theologians we didn't %HESITATION Christianity and within Judaism and I also think though it's a subject that %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION me with may also be true Islam but certainly within Christianity and %HESITATION
00:13:01anytime there's a long long long tradition of Ford going back almost as far as we can see it which is explicitly denied that these biblical stories on here is to be understood literally you argue that we've replaced the worship of god with the worship of humanity that we've
00:13:19put the god who will transform human beings and and redeem human beings into a different method which is the myth that human beings well through the application of reason and science %HESITATION transform amenity and of course much of human history of the last few hundred years is it
00:13:40is a tragic example of of that practice the **** communists being in the Soviet Union being the most obvious examples but what about science itself a lot of people argue we're doing great look how much we've how how much human suffering and misery have been reduced through the
00:13:58application of of scientific understandings or technology through better economics through %HESITATION better politics we're we're heading toward progress should you you reject that are extremely strongly what I do but I do I reject that because he knew that so many people take that it confuses %HESITATION progress within
00:14:20science and progress in the increase of technological power that occurs as a result tall of progress within science with ethical and political progress for I would called progress in the quality of civilizations and act to quite completely different things repeatedly %HESITATION %HESITATION though it's never by the way
00:14:43sufficient to %HESITATION I think he repeatedly and clearly in the book many times over %HESITATION about to the raise program signs in the sense of accumulating knowledge we know a lot more about many things and we used to do we have a lot better understanding about the %HESITATION
00:15:03world around us and we had in the past and it also progress in technology in the sense that technology has been awesome advancing science %HESITATION become more efficient and more powerful %HESITATION still just facts %HESITATION %HESITATION IT guy so I reject the postmodernist view which says there's no
00:15:24%HESITATION novels you checked at the post modernist few decades ago when I first started writing on these things Oconee which science is just use the pictures of the world which which to %HESITATION but %HESITATION non is truer than the other %HESITATION there is progress in time to move
00:15:40the car Spondon pro the pro %HESITATION progress in nam and technology %HESITATION but %HESITATION human the human animal doesn't change very much however much it might want to %HESITATION like to imagine that it changes and human being used science and the fruits of science resting in an accounting
00:16:01firm to science to serve whatever goals and they have so course they can use program in medical science to %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION improve human health %HESITATION or for example to eliminate hereditary diseases but they also use it for purposes owned %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION which are either oppressive
00:16:25war %HESITATION the destructive for example %HESITATION the potential of genetic signs to improve the human log is great but I'm afraid I regarded as a certainty that if it's not already happening that genetic signs will be used to %HESITATION %HESITATION from frivolous purposes like %HESITATION trying to use
00:16:47children who %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION clever %HESITATION more beautiful smart %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION feeding tube fashionable ideas of what makes a good child I think maybe that's not a terrible vice but I regretted %HESITATION %HESITATION because %HESITATION I don't think the next generation should be genetically modeled on passing
00:17:07notions of what's best but then you get into Dr areas where %HESITATION genetic signs can be used to %HESITATION %HESITATION all could be used in future to %HESITATION %HESITATION four races purposes to edit out to a certain %HESITATION groups human groups %HESITATION for the purpose of genetic %HESITATION
00:17:29weapons %HESITATION or even for purposes of genocide and it'd general future all human knowledge I think this is one of the messages actually of the %HESITATION one of the lessons of the %HESITATION %HESITATION genesis story we talked about it on it's it's it's a general feature all of
00:17:50%HESITATION human knowledge if you would technology but it can almost always be used for bad as well as good purposes now following a %HESITATION a kind of %HESITATION my name of one of the pluses I knew although the irony is to spend the night of your life I
00:18:07only spent one long afternoon talking with them call pop of the famous for signs that you should always trying falsify any %HESITATION conjecture or view you put forward and I don't accept public I think all the simple philosophy of times but I think it's very good very good
00:18:23typically like you if you have a strong view starting good thing she tried falsify time I've always still trying to think all technologies or dances and sign for the being purely %HESITATION %HESITATION good %HESITATION and I come up with a couple a hard to think of a down
00:18:42side to honestly dentistry they also believe that pain %HESITATION got it produces a I challenge that we're supposed to rain during over com but yeah there are people who think that and I would I would put in %HESITATION contraception actually as well because although there are people religious
00:19:04people of various denominations and traditions and I think it's being overwhelming overwhelmingly but nine those two things but %HESITATION yeah your technologies %HESITATION bean %HESITATION deeply ambiguous and their effects on through this I mean I remember a time back in the seventies and eighties I don't regret this
00:19:24I was very active very militant anti communist I believe that I'm not sure I polity or even mainly for that reason I believe that communism could be defeated %HESITATION and that it would not just collapse that it could be %HESITATION %HESITATION overcome why did not believe when I
00:19:42was an active anti communist is that some new technology would destroy communism many people the times said that %HESITATION the photocopy would do it because it would enable anti communist literature to be more easily disseminated later people said that the video camera in the recording would do it
00:20:00and that %HESITATION %HESITATION would do when if we've come in the store at the atrocities committed by prime minister went near communist regimes their communist regimes like that in China were photographed filmed and not would %HESITATION course a collapse in the regime where we had tenement square %HESITATION
00:20:19everybody seeing the that dot footage and it did not %HESITATION %HESITATION any such collapse %HESITATION %HESITATION so technology isn't liberating course it could also be used for atrocious purposes the washable being of course the Holocaust and that colossal genocide would be much harder to %HESITATION commit it hadn't
00:20:41been telegraphs and telephones and filing systems for example Zyklon B. and and on the other %HESITATION killings cleanings fillings devices other devices of industrial killing that I can use that horrible %HESITATION I will be harder to do and %HESITATION be programs throughout history but that kind of last
00:21:02you were white according to being implemented so %HESITATION %HESITATION there is %HESITATION progress in science %HESITATION I think that's just a fact under is corresponding progress in technology in the sense that technologies get more reliable again more powerful they enable human beings to do more things only technologies
00:21:22don't add up to %HESITATION progress in in in civilization in African politics I take the old fashioned view versions of which most people in the entire world took up a two it took until about seventeen twenty or something like that seventeen fifty I think the %HESITATION crashing view
00:21:41that civilizations quiet different tools that say in their lifetimes for that deliberations and %HESITATION run in cycles they they they are born they grew up %HESITATION they reach a peak and then they start dying %HESITATION and as a and at the end they replaced and bye bye periods
00:22:03of barbarism even to barbarism in coming in modern times periods of modern barbarism and %HESITATION when they're at their peak civilizations can be control they can buy a lot of learning even before Martin signs they can be they can be highly let it happen greater libraries and so
00:22:21on %HESITATION they can %HESITATION %HESITATION avoid some of the worst you when you told her that my mother and %HESITATION oppression but then they start to the K. %HESITATION and as they go down hill %HESITATION berries eagles get %HESITATION imbedded in bound up with them become less peacefully
00:22:41become less limited %HESITATION the lobby so destroyed %HESITATION back down or you know and %HESITATION %HESITATION eventually the thing is to the station his attention to barbarism than road of the cycle is repeated not that you need now is considered so intolerably depressing that no one wants to
00:22:59think about it but pretty well everybody in the entire world to patch you can solve it there was even interested in Christianity people really believed in what they called %HESITATION original original sin but many of these people lead so reasonable live so it's it's a Martin weakness to
00:23:17reject the technical queue all this technical issue which I think corresponds better with human experience of very few people until anticipated how bad Nazism would be in the middle of Europe they had %HESITATION how could you up in the greatest world civilization produce something %HESITATION which was this
00:23:40monstrous is not then became and very few people in my view %HESITATION although he didn't commit the very worst crimes %HESITATION appreciated how bad %HESITATION %HESITATION Soviet communism would be %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION yet we see what what actually happened we see the %HESITATION barbarism with a mocking face
00:24:03barbarism with modern technologies %HESITATION enabling %HESITATION the regimes and their supporters of course to commit or support crimes much bigger much greater in some cases more terrible %HESITATION than in any the parts about few which kind of cyclical do you find it in right is like Machiavelli in
00:24:24ancient Greek and Roman historians some idealistic approach my committee nearly Martin peers and it kind of died out more that that's what nearly all human beings need into a few hundred years ago when I think of the many cases I'm not a postmodernist but sometimes I think I'm
00:24:37a pretty mild list %HESITATION I think the ancient writers the ancient think is religious or not we're in many ways more realistic and more accurate than later once everyone believed and that's what I believe so I'm gonna say something nice about your book and then I'm gonna say
00:24:55something %HESITATION well it's challenging not critical challenging so yeah right when he said that the book was jarring and and very %HESITATION %HESITATION powerful to read for me it forcibly due to realize that my view of human progress was dogmatic did it we had a religious nature it
00:25:14came perhaps for my religious my actual religious beliefs or my study of economics idea that economists through the right policies can transform society and it came from my view of the twentieth century where I think the human stand a living increase probably something on the order of twenty
00:25:36five to thirty times with the corresponding map of the same magnitude but an increase in longevity in the quality of life %HESITATION through the incentives of of of free market capitalism %HESITATION in in a course we don't have literally free market capitalism but through market forces that there'd
00:25:54been an enormous improvement in in human well being over the twentieth century and of course when you if you said to me well what about the **** or what about the gulag I would have said all of that that that's that's the bad kind that that that's the
00:26:09kind of human activity and and of course and we had Chuck Klosterman on this program talking about %HESITATION but what if we're wrong and and he asked the question in that book it's very provocative and sought suffer bookie says how many of the things that we end quote
00:26:25know our true today will turn out not to be true in we yeah we realize that many things that people in the past out richer weren't so so so things are going to come along that we're going to reverse what we think are true once is not only
00:26:41not to us it's not only that I mean I ask a different question how many evils which we think of being a freeze on soon will in fact come back %HESITATION and %HESITATION is to %HESITATION I think you'd agree with both %HESITATION %HESITATION gonna say go ahead but
00:26:58to %HESITATION with the %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION return of the practice of torture yep %HESITATION all a in the Iraq war and later was something unexpected by everyone although I have to say I have to blow my own trumpet I published a spoof article in the London %HESITATION New
00:27:26Statesman %HESITATION cold a modest proposal on torture the great the world in which human rights this is before the invasion actually happened but when it was clear that would be offered to appear in February two thousand and three the invasion started in March I think %HESITATION his we're
00:27:46going to liberate the world in may in the mall and the lead to more democracy we should probably use modern techniques and that would include modernizing torture so I predicted that it would be used in that war %HESITATION %HESITATION now at the time people pulled out was the
00:27:59darkest possible pessimism Milan trippy nihilism that was just a mistake on my part but %HESITATION %HESITATION if you %HESITATION most it of course upgrade burst into the news and I'm not convinced to this day that to torture has beens erotic Kate from from the system I can bring
00:28:19it back especially by the world's greatest liberal democracy how long term damaging effect the second of course is the second example which I've also written about more recent times is returning your abound in Britain at the highest levels of politics anti semitism how many people predicted that what's
00:28:38that you're gonna say slavery which you talk about your book which I think is what in it that much on the %HESITATION %HESITATION well I think the role disturbing but %HESITATION %HESITATION slavery in the %HESITATION lag and of course in China %HESITATION did not to Germany on absolutely
00:28:52colossal scale %HESITATION %HESITATION for the twentieth century phenomenon and %HESITATION in the form in other forums %HESITATION %HESITATION a %HESITATION continues to resell of human trafficking problem beyond human yeah it's not true it's horrible and it's not it's not on the scale of **** Germany and %HESITATION the
00:29:16former Soviet Union but it's still a problem so animal come what I've what I've said all along the V. deals %HESITATION come back but they're normally cold that is slightly different full but they normally called something else so torture was cold and hands interrogation slave he's cold human
00:29:34trafficking %HESITATION about them of slavery is called socialist construction workers labor force play but it but it's a very old right and %HESITATION this leads me to again one of my observations which %HESITATION is simply that bot ideas and bad practices don't slowly disappear in a process of
00:29:56gradual evolution over a form to do we get any credit for being ashamed of the fact that many many Americans were very upset about Abu Grabe en and spoke out about it they get credit but on the other hand there %HESITATION %HESITATION quite a few people now who
00:30:13in Britain and I think in America as well are beginning to turn back at night long expected as a strong anti communist mean when I when I supported the defeat of communism I was very pleased that it happened in the Soviet Union I still am but from nineteen
00:30:27eighty nine onwards hi attacked the food Yala view and the view of many %HESITATION from actually October nineteen eighty nine architect if we all agree that this is a victory in it's a permanent patriot are no permanent victories in ethics and politics norm ritually known and what's happening
00:30:44now which I must say I find bitterly amusing in the most horrible way in Britain I knew about it better if people are %HESITATION beginning returning to the illusions of the nineteen twenties and nineteen thirties about communism that being a recent claims that we have yeah the good
00:31:00I was a very compassionate institution is reset %HESITATION %HESITATION pretty student groups yes I'm sorry compassion that was that was lost yeah that was rather world those who do not read history are condemned to keep embracing the worst parts of it for sure well or in a repeating
00:31:15it to the rest of us I mean if the order vehicle themselves that look out I don't care what they do with it but if they do allow one coverage will permit a reintroduction of the horrible systems which have particularly by the fact that something we've learned from
00:31:30history and it's not just out there even if history it is a medievalism medial invincible ignorance they don't want to know about history because it would destroy the help solutions %HESITATION the way it is so %HESITATION you calm to give them any evidence that will ever persuade them
00:31:48that what they believe about this fourth let me give you the simplest example I don't I mean I've rarely right on this is that he limps now though I casually mentioned a reason I don't write them this waste of time %HESITATION progressive think as in not just the
00:32:04present generation previous ones will tell you confidently that large scale C. use repression begun in the Soviet Union only under Stalin nine now they didn't they began to become the moment the Bolsheviks to power under Lenin and that can be extensively documented and being so there's no room
00:32:24there's no sort of %HESITATION it was easy to document after the Soviet Union fell because lots of documents template %HESITATION %HESITATION which should be locked up before became available to actually was known all along from emigre report to know the status is of the western left the Westin
00:32:40progressive that just didn't want to know and they don't want to know now and they'll never want to know so the rooms be I mean this is a bit depressing for someone who is a %HESITATION you know from from most people and he's just a fact you've got
00:32:51to get used to that %HESITATION the fantasies and illusions all of western leftism about communism would you for revival %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION became more didn't do that period capitalism got into a bit of trouble so yeah I began to expect that this would happen and it happened
00:33:15in a really %HESITATION %HESITATION grotesquely comical though also tragically in human form because after all not only one million to two million people die in these collections comes but far more people have their lives irreparably broken hi that even got back into society but they help %HESITATION shattered
00:33:36their loved ones died or disappeared in some sort of way even though they lived on for a few more years or decades to live to be broken so this was a class human crime which is now being celebrated by the Janice to rate the glittering young radicals %HESITATION
00:33:53of New York and London and %HESITATION %HESITATION powers %HESITATION dead yes what do you mean just the golden use %HESITATION array okay and do a %HESITATION %HESITATION alright door a lot from gold to deal calibrating this name they've started to celebrate it again as a as a great
00:34:16%HESITATION a landmark and %HESITATION in human progress in human progress so the so the %HESITATION aside I anticipated that and I expected I'm not surprised by it I'm I'm I'm still %HESITATION disgusted by it because it %HESITATION but I'm not I'm not at all surprised that that this
00:34:34is happened in Morris will be yet to come %HESITATION say that again not a pencil that this is what always happens because the the people who depend on the national capital I'm not that you have a large even though I supported high we never kind of radical free
00:34:49market here but I think the point is to have some intelligent for more forms of capitalism %HESITATION and that central planning for reasons that high explained %HESITATION doesn't the never never will would not even when aided by computers also has many costs in in in %HESITATION in in
00:35:07in %HESITATION human freedom but if capitalism western capitalism in its present form go into deeper difficulties and these views will get a lot more life support even though they demonstrably false %HESITATION and %HESITATION we can even have %HESITATION with government even in Britain in Britain the something like
00:35:27a third to a half times the thirty percent to a fifty percent chance that we have a call with the government in the next few years another way to thirty to fifty percent chance of absolute catastrophe in value %HESITATION despite everything that is being proved all %HESITATION about
00:35:43the workings of communist governments in communist %HESITATION societies and of course not illustrates my point knowledge grows human they the same knowledge grows but humans do not become more reasonable that's the confusion in %HESITATION western nobody communist but liberal thinking that knowledge grows humans become more reasonable more
00:36:08civilized they don't they remain exactly the same and in fact %HESITATION and that includes two remaining the same needing counselling stories all of which %HESITATION I keep meaning to their lives so I just say something important about miss %HESITATION miss sought indispensable in human life or I cold
00:36:27myths and what I think you are your own called Ali Greece %HESITATION all indispensable human life %HESITATION the idea that we can do without them is itself a man on the people want away a little bit a leading by tell you not miss can be abolished but they
00:36:43can be %HESITATION %HESITATION goodness and badness misfits and become better and worse mislead the shallow missing the myth that even without a positively poisonous at home because they depend upon demonizing some section of the human %HESITATION species and %HESITATION the myth of the but nine character %HESITATION communism
00:37:06%HESITATION %HESITATION that it had a beginning somehow %HESITATION went away from them to to to any end to under Lenin in your world seem to be %HESITATION %HESITATION the one you wanted good for for humanity in blocking the door Rufus and so on and and then was taken
00:37:24over by the evil Stalin's so they were very home from the Alan silliness and they contain empirical propositions which are falls but even still misses stories absolutely silly because they don't correspond with the repeated in deep human experience in which large scale radical human pop project of reconstructing
00:37:47idea according to an IDC better model %HESITATION normally I would say always lead to %HESITATION gradual results well it was a cheerful thought %HESITATION correct I I just remind listeners of the conversation I had with Milton Friedman shortly before his death sunny come talk when I asked him
00:38:08about isn't it at least sharing that make doesn't make you feel good that despite high prices of soil whatever was the time I said there's no demand for price controls and I maybe people have my we've had some impact as economists we've talked people they don't work very
00:38:23well and he said now I don't think so I think it's because too many people alive in the seventies when we have price controls are bad they were when those people die in war if human memory anymore they'll be a clamor for the more once again and the
00:38:36order I agree with him completely cycle I agree with that and I agree unfortunately or I'm sympathetic to it but I want you to answer a tougher challenge which is %HESITATION the extraordinary transformation of of human material well being honestly it's only material well being it's not spiritual
00:38:58well being as a goal well being but we do have I think %HESITATION when you said that you're a man of the seventeen twenties out the reason I think that the view of progress became so called is because there was material progress to the industrial pollution auto aim
00:39:14full and and and and create a lot of suffering eventually for the next generations that came after led to a a very strong reduction in in economic and security and at least in the material and starvation and we live in a world today where hundreds of millions of
00:39:32people have escaped the worst kinds of power but it is still somewhat poor but many of us I would include you in this group and I would click myself live index but an immensely more pleasant life both in the work day and the and the league %HESITATION leisure
00:39:49time we live longer the quality that longer life is often more pleasant now I concede that I still suffer even with my high income I still have a motional challenges I still have %HESITATION the imperfection of human consciousness that you talk about quite eloquently that I'm aware of
00:40:12my own it was it was Schopenhauer was or spin as I can remember he right about obviously we we struggle to deal with the fact that we are animals living in a very material world and yet strive sometimes to be something greater than that and often fail so
00:40:29that's all true but you do agree that there's been progress on material grounds any huge increases what could broadly be cold material well %HESITATION over the last few hundred years and I don't deny that either because that's part of the all from science and from technology %HESITATION these
00:40:51new %HESITATION this huge increase in option under the level of %HESITATION daily %HESITATION %HESITATION today yeah compass of daily existence and so on I don't have to worry I close I don't have to haul water from the an all new technologies which in turn on spin offs from
00:41:11the Gulf knowledge so that %HESITATION programs but I think you have to be fair there also spin offs of the economic and political systems that are put in place and yeah this is what I was doing so well because that have become much more skeptical using I think
00:41:26you should you should be too strong that he %HESITATION stronger than my my belief in the %HESITATION %HESITATION but nine consequences of economics and then your strong belief in pre market I just take a couple of things about it I just genocide to make it clear I'm I
00:41:44really don't have a strong belief in the benign nature accounts increasingly concerned about the aspects of of our economic series and how they damages yeah go ahead what's also died I'm glad that's the case %HESITATION but even to the extent that %HESITATION that was that he'd let me
00:42:00get my motivation to where the title I think the last two or three hundred years is a very short time span if you look out to the longer %HESITATION %HESITATION perspective of human history find many examples all %HESITATION civilizations grew up in achieved higher levels all %HESITATION %HESITATION
00:42:25progress in that in the past in the room with its peak was much more highly developed and a pause by the six hundred years before each to speak they had what we call central heating bad public policy had to %HESITATION large libraries they had by muddy conditions but
00:42:46by comparison with what to %HESITATION they've had a few hundred years before they were on a much higher level and then of course room collapsed and so %HESITATION in the city of Bob's where I live a great Roman %HESITATION outpost with %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION involves which
00:43:05by the way still work and like many more recent box to be in later times you can still go down there based on them tourist attraction but %HESITATION %HESITATION and were replaced by much lower levels of %HESITATION when grown class much lower levels of everyday comfort and technology
00:43:23and of course come to consequently in many parts of Europe or what %HESITATION and other places in the world where the Romans had ruled by low levels of human population to %HESITATION so that helps not have maybe ask you some attribute that to the Spanish conquistadors for there
00:43:40are many media American civilization's collapse in the longer run if you in history %HESITATION there be many periods of technological advance right remarkable technological about to be very different living in Rome at its peak at least if you were for Roman citizen and not a slave %HESITATION today
00:44:00I'm living in a %HESITATION %HESITATION will be cold barbarism %HESITATION which preceded it and which still existed %HESITATION in part to the Roman Empire on the edges of the road and be a very different experience %HESITATION on a much better XP but is tops twenty even sort of
00:44:15blind sided by looking back only two or three hundred years and if one doesn't think that what is being achieved on a more global level the last and then do a %HESITATION %HESITATION then you can see that this could be due to be major setbacks and across the
00:44:29world in the twentieth century the step back which followed the first World War and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia was colossal they didn't get back I'm anything sorry so I'm a Republic into the post and the viral Republic but in the case of Russia they didn't get back
00:44:48to %HESITATION late Taris levels of production and consumption till about the nineteen sixties LA that may be true I I would push I mean I think it's an open question I think it's good to think about it's good to be agnostic about the potential for future technology be
00:45:08passed on and how important that is I I would have thought you to push harder on the idea that technology is distancing ourselves from each other from human connection that we don't have any more happiness we just have a I don't I don't sort of push that block
00:45:25called %HESITATION on that it may very well be true and of course when the internet became which started as we both know is a Cold War military tool but when it became started entering into everyday life I had things which were considered very pessimistic I said to one
00:45:44of the things that this might do %HESITATION talk about ten to fifteen years ago is abolish privacy %HESITATION make it much more difficult to achieve privacy will be key become a luxury good of the rich if anybody can have it which is doubtful %HESITATION it will encourage living
00:45:57in a virtual world and caring about the human while I did not anticipate I did not anticipate the the ruins and rank all tweeted debate for example it can be cold debate I did not anticipate that but that's what has %HESITATION leave negative %HESITATION %HESITATION sides to it
00:46:17%HESITATION the only negative %HESITATION %HESITATION which is associated with the heroes but I'm I'm not as it were pushing so much on that I mean I would I would grind to in the sense of the purpose of our interesting discussion that the the overall effect of material well
00:46:31being is being %HESITATION very high even those who say the industry revolutions very painful and so on and so forth for large numbers of people that later on it increased the standard of living of %HESITATION practically everyone everyone but you see I think in the learning consistency Ortiz
00:46:48tension in your view because while allowing that body human ideas come back %HESITATION in history which you have done about human practices even apply this to economics and human sort a moralist predict that I can that %HESITATION policies which in economic terms are based on sheer policies cherub
00:47:06would be re it opted %HESITATION so again I'm not if you're on the last section well yeah if you're on the last %HESITATION yeah it's it's easy to find a policy just a garbled that have been come back I've there's all books written about them I'm not going
00:47:21to advertise them yet but I right in saying the same thing the right says all we just talked about it out of the deal central planning Keynesianism %HESITATION it isn't some people would disagree they say that those are I'm not able to gain you then you are but
00:47:35about protectionism is the best they can know for sure %HESITATION protectionism is one of the %HESITATION the ideas that you most comprehensively %HESITATION the medical foundations of which of the most comprehensive be destroyed and by economic by communists and others and %HESITATION but it's it's it's it's it's
00:47:54back at least as a set of proposals which whether or not they eventuate in a full scale trade war and the breakdown of world trade whether or not that happens to me already had some damaging effect so %HESITATION so %HESITATION that's on the course one other big thing
00:48:11that's sort of a missing one thing which I think is missing is the way in which all it takes %HESITATION ideas that have been %HESITATION I'm not talking about religious ideas but he %HESITATION ideas and so to speak secular sciences such as economics which had long been discredited
00:48:27long be described come back %HESITATION ideas very often do and make the world worse than it's been that actually happening now in the case of %HESITATION is happening with the world's biggest %HESITATION %HESITATION trading it would all need not be with the world's biggest economy %HESITATION the one
00:48:47on which the global trading order depended yep since the second World War until the outcome is very uncertain see it so although I I'm far from thinking that way on an actual slope to the nineteen thirties I don't think that yet if we get a second trump term
00:49:04if things go wrong in the %HESITATION bickering and conflict with China over the huge demi crude but we're not quite there yet but where to point of considerable risk and that illustrates the general point that when bot ideas come back the cycle of a rising prosperity can be
00:49:21disrupted and of course %HESITATION and we can go to much lower levels of perspective when you get revolution regimes hill example as well Venezuela went from being one of the %HESITATION Bridgette countries in Latin America huge oil which is to be one of the most devastated destroyed countries
00:49:41in the world not because of any natural disaster or catastrophe disastrously bad regimes not happen in a bigger and more strategically important country I think it absolutely clear that would just be a repetition of what happened in Russia Russia was a growing economy as you would know from
00:49:58about from the eighty eighty eighty ninety on with up to about ninety ten growing economy %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION and %HESITATION that was %HESITATION %HESITATION have anything wrong with it of course but it was a fast %HESITATION that'll stopped and it stopped for a two human generations roughly
00:50:17speaking %HESITATION took a hell of a long time to recover we sold is still stopped in a way because %HESITATION money they destroyed the cultural norms sat across that are necessary to make a market happy to retreat to be destroyed in not part of the world so that
00:50:37can that can give a little and the other thing we missed out his role and of course even when the war was on county justified and necessary nobles even and because I think the second World War laws %HESITATION got more doubts about the first World War World War
00:50:54laws %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION both of those wars actually %HESITATION %HESITATION produced an enormous loss of material well being and throughout Europe and even the world and so are we assuming with %HESITATION because I the world be major roles %HESITATION in future well alone Borsod apple will be
00:51:14exactly the same as those or even closely similar to the big world the wars of the twentieth century because we'll have new dimensions of conflict the conflict possibly genetic weapons and other dimensions of contact that didn't exist and possibly also because nuclear weapons made prevent some of the
00:51:34full scale collisions between major powers that happened in the twentieth century so that the rules will be forty mostly twentieth entitled late twentieth century with a soldier constructed Sarah gets here so it might be sorry gets into a %HESITATION also get the net and other parts of the
00:51:49but they could still be enormously costly in %HESITATION well being and even in material %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION human well being I mean at the end of the one of the best parts of payments by the way you mentioned came to writing this account when he went to the
00:52:04site conference in %HESITATION nineteen nineteen following the first World War and he said he expected everybody to be worried about the fact that large parts of Europe on the brink of starvation large parts where not time in nineteen ninety eight and %HESITATION they want but they were concerned
00:52:20to score points with each other and %HESITATION %HESITATION against each other and to %HESITATION get to only a small reparations against the Germans which he sold pops rightly factor leading eventually to what was not coming to power %HESITATION he also by the way of course believed inexorably and
00:52:40an economic material progress and it's an interesting question we're not gonna talk about it here I'm just gonna raise it again I your book challenges me to to reconsider but I assume that in the next two or three or four generations of people being extravagantly enormously more material
00:53:00we better off than I am then it may not be true it's good to think about whether that's a view that side and if so why not we would be because it's been a really unprecedentedly unprecedentedly catastrophic war we so many possibilities when you think about switch is
00:53:16not about economic doctrines would take over and get a store you'd have lock %HESITATION daily I me over on the right we came himself as you know is the name of the yeah but he also the I am that I'm drawing on his %HESITATION his %HESITATION he has
00:53:34explicitly says will be noe continues that the wealth of the growing wealth who because of the limited and perhaps even maybe have fifty different I don't know if that's true if the email said that before at some point he also in no not the for today towards the
00:53:50end of its life Melanie lessons for his grandchildren think that's the title might have it wrong but he's very item that was but I yeah but is that whether it's optimism or pessimism is less important adding them whether it's true but anyway %HESITATION there is reasons why for
00:54:04generations from now %HESITATION the level of the two well being of the human species may not be much higher may may be significantly lower and what I'm saying is that if you take the long run the long run of the last three thousand years today and that's to
00:54:20me is that that's good I like that yeah yeah yeah yeah %HESITATION if you look at all the civilizations out of growing up and and gotten richer didn't remain I can't we tend to think that only west and that's that's he had been born yet once Adam Smith
00:54:38was born in a course he didn't create all the edges or maybe even at hardly any of them but once they are well to Dacians became the dominant %HESITATION view of the world for a few hundred years at that did have an impact well here we did have
00:54:53a but %HESITATION let's not get it %HESITATION I I don't think that the %HESITATION %HESITATION I don't think that the growth of capitalism is dependent on %HESITATION those ideas that's why I joked and said some of them aren't yeah isn't yet but certainly the gross of of trade
00:55:11exchange mediated by prices %HESITATION and property rights had a positive impact on human well being you could you know you might or might not agree with I think it's actually a fact though it's a fact that for example that with the growth of %HESITATION contradiction in Britain and
00:55:30%HESITATION but I'm not a I'm not a personal thing is left but I think this is just true %HESITATION it's not just among their own marketing taxonomic inside his track the fact that %HESITATION %HESITATION before British colonialism in India %HESITATION the level of production and %HESITATION %HESITATION level
00:55:49of production consumption India with incomparably higher than it was a hundred years later change it was kind of one of the two great centers of world %HESITATION of the world economy although the world economy of course didn't exist in the global sense at that time I'm not trying
00:56:05so actually although I don't take the view that a toll that way prosperity depended on colonialism %HESITATION some liberals did towards the end of the twentieth at the other end of the nineteenth century I don't take that for you I do think about on spots of the west
00:56:23coast high levels of of election consumption parts of the colonial world to British another life very worst were parts of the world like for example the Belgian Congo where about a fifth of the population perished so that's a pretty dramatic drop in human well being %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION
00:56:42%HESITATION %HESITATION the part we went down to part with it on to the go on nor the part we agree on and I and I we recently talked about this with Paul bloom the L. psychologist is that I am very %HESITATION hi much in agreement that the darkness
00:56:59of the human heart is unchanged and intentional for %HESITATION destruction the human potential for destruction I do agree with that forty but I put it in a slightly different way %HESITATION more amenable to %HESITATION may be secular rationalists the credibility of the human animal doesn't change to which
00:57:18all the creature that crude unity as an animal well doesn't change it's not my thing of just how much incentive to care about what's true so usually in especially when the truth is difficult or painful yep not a toll and I'm gonna take isn't let me take this
00:57:34to a direction on on morality this is this is related to this point I want to let you talk about what you say in your book about eight you yeah at one point %HESITATION you paraphrase or quote %HESITATION Ivan Karamazov from justice yes %HESITATION the pros grass off
00:57:50in you say %HESITATION he says up without god everything is permitted and the I think a lot of secular humanists and the new atheists especially believe that a morality can be fashioned without god can also argue I'm not going to ma'am I'm a religious person be obvious you
00:58:11could argue that the religious morality has many flaws are not going to combat this summer I'm sorry I didn't catch that has many flaws you can argue about how many floors religious morality so yes yes so yeah that that obviously there's much to talk about their but I
00:58:26think most I think most people who reject religion believe earnestly them there that a morality can be fashioned without a lawgiver without the divine creator and you're extremely dismissive despite your atheism you're just you're extremely dismisses a dismissive of that why not not dismissive of the view that
00:58:50%HESITATION they can be morality all I would say moralities without to define it'll give the whole without %HESITATION god I'm not dismissive of glad because that is the most %HESITATION religions are actually %HESITATION without religion but the Browns he's without religion because most religions are atheist in the
00:59:11sense that we discussed with the beginning of our conversation I don't have to create a college %HESITATION they don't have a divine you'll give a hassle monotheism he %HESITATION this is old parochialism essentially on the part of a he is that when atheism is a continuation of monotheism
00:59:29by other means but %HESITATION %HESITATION what I focus on in the book more is the fact again it's just the fact that %HESITATION ages to say that well we can have a he would have been the issue the morality of liberalism broadly liberal morality which in many ways
00:59:51in order to for all aspects all Jewish and Christian monotheism %HESITATION that's what atheists today issue %HESITATION but that's because they're extremely parochial and know nothing about the history of the eighteenth more generally went back to nineteen hundred in London or Berlin Prague %HESITATION or %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION
01:00:15%HESITATION any other big European city or for that matter New York you'd find most atheists at that time held to a version of morality in which white people were superior to black people %HESITATION it in other words they held divisions on %HESITATION a racist morality closer to what
01:00:33time you'll find that some atheists think that who think that the morality is so many atheists maybe most status to pick that morality can exist and thrive without religion your allergy in terms of sympathy and altruism but the most influential atheist writer of the late twentieth and early
01:00:55twenty first century who is Ayn Rand I mean she's dot sneered at by right yeah I think by philosophers which is by far the button sold more copies of books have sold more copies than any of the %HESITATION by a many many factors and also she continues to
01:01:13have a right to continue to have an impact in politics which none of these other issues did in the nineteenth century that was marked back %HESITATION in and so on but in the twentieth may twentieth may twentieth century understood when she sold the idea of a good round
01:01:27he was angry with him and she detested altruism %HESITATION %HESITATION the turmoil truism was invented by the word ultra some %HESITATION or the French version of it was invented by the nineteenth century French positive %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION boost calmed who invented what he called I didn't
01:01:47core this religion economic he said explicitly we need a new religion which we were shipping Mountie not the supreme being or he then went on to say humanity becomes the supreme being and he pulled out the morality that went with that laws all tourism authority invented %HESITATION but
01:02:05it's okay what you find if you just look at the history of %HESITATION atheism in different countries even over the just the last few decades but certainly over the last hundred or two hundred yeah you find that there are many many different varieties all atheists morality there AT
01:02:24and eighteen politics as well they're atheists who ran to like capitalism the rations like marks that made it they're atheists who on %HESITATION believing human equality %HESITATION like %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION John Stuart Mill under atheists many many of them until the second World War who %HESITATION believe in
01:02:48human equality and who were counting out races including some of the well known figures in British ATS and like to learn how to sleep nearly thirty zero that negroes echo as he called them well %HESITATION cold %HESITATION young people of different ethnic backgrounds in Africa and elsewhere cold
01:03:08had inferior inferior specimens in terms of possible development intellect and as we get closer to the wall you find in saying about nineteen thirty six or seven that we actually in the scientific concept now what happened in the intervening three or four years nothing scientific what happened is
01:03:29that some of the terrible consequences even before the war all these dreadful theories being implemented were becoming %HESITATION more evidence so my point is that my point is this when people say they can beat morality without god on my repeated over and I found this a completely boring
01:03:49crash pointless discussion because it's all based on the idea that the more I which is the bounty that talking about is the liberal morality the right one the right one the one the good one though it will have the good morality the kind that I but the morality
01:04:06that they take for granted justice thirty years ago %HESITATION just as a hundred years ago maybe would have taken not granted to %HESITATION some of them would have been Bolshevik some of that would be neat shins and Prada not see %HESITATION key point historically speaking most atheists in
01:04:22the history of Martin west atheism have not been liberals and to liberals most not another word I don't give them any credit for picking it good good not to because the sim either one they grew up with in the metal about it they think that morality and immorality
01:04:38of the same things but being skeptical as I think we all should be I can easily imagine thirty or forty years hence I can imagine the worst kind of racism coming back but I imagine the brightest eighties of the time being being racist just as they were a
01:04:53hundred years ago so it's chance he each other all the good %HESITATION observation of Christianity Cristian Cristino was believe all the rest of the world police at the time and ethics and politics but with the kind of inflection of each section eighty three exactly the same they always
01:05:11believe %HESITATION what is the conventional view of that time %HESITATION with a few sort of %HESITATION %HESITATION yeah I mean most it is the only piece of the %HESITATION believe believe that so nowadays %HESITATION a form of %HESITATION Monty or maybe several forms of it all predominant low
01:05:30cost more recently these this development of liberality has included imposing censorship at universities and %HESITATION attacking people for having parking in attacking people for having a politically incorrect views as a kind of qualia called unusual %HESITATION %HESITATION we droll %HESITATION the purpose transformation and the variety %HESITATION but
01:05:54they simply replicate into when for example Harris says we can get morality from science twenty means is %HESITATION the morality that most Americans %HESITATION movement many Europeans %HESITATION except at the start of the twenty first century %HESITATION towards the end of the last century why it produces that
01:06:15particular morality is requesting you to parochial to ask but if you're not just an everyday person living their life as best they can buy the best small light so that the religion that may have I think it's an obligation to be less parochial until I asked if I
01:06:32was around in a hundred years ago be around well you know what would I have sold and I might taking this morality is given not just the prodigal everyday purposes might be legitimate normally Jim and %HESITATION by my taking this meeting morality itself because clearly everybody is bounty
01:06:51itself it's a particular kind of version of it in itself can have many different versions as well now discovering insulin could be quite importantly different one topic we didn't get into today which %HESITATION we don't have time for now but %HESITATION like theme of the book is that
01:07:09%HESITATION Judeo Christian values and %HESITATION metal philosophies have infected %HESITATION inspected illustrate under kind a little cynical yeah yeah some would say enhanced %HESITATION but but have shaped ACS philosophies in ways that atheists are unaware of it it's a very somewhat condescending argument but it may be true
01:07:34nevertheless %HESITATION I think the deeper point you're making right now which is profound is that %HESITATION %HESITATION it's very hard to be free of your time and you think you are you are there's a there's a wonderful story in the Thomas where %HESITATION is through a a dream
01:07:55a rabbi encounters a wicked man from the past my friend forget who it is that's not important but he says is that how could any finds out is actually pretty decent guy in the dream any says well how could you be so wicked in the past how can
01:08:09you be such an idol worshipper such a cruel person he said said if you'd lived when I've lived you would've you would've lifted up your robe to run more fat quickly toward toward swear the idols work meaning you sink all walk wouldn't of been fill in the blank
01:08:25but of course when your party time stroke rather deposit let's let's close on this question which is related I just say one thing yeah slightly worse than not in regard to the case or not because we're talking about because %HESITATION in when in the eighteenth century and later
01:08:43in the %HESITATION late nineteenth century %HESITATION and the gnostic and another in line thing because today she is and they gave it an intellectual prestige that it didn't have a military people most ordinary people is just ahead of active prejudices and bigotry but when Paul had developed and
01:09:04when %HESITATION matching given his anti semitism when high kill the Germany Lucien rethink %HESITATION claim that races were based in science they gave it %HESITATION they gave it an intellectual standing it didn't happen to lie down for the moment and they wouldn't just be able to say well
01:09:20I was like your delightful sort of in the Thomas I was that was the way things were that they claimed to be the intellectual leaders of age and of humanity and I could not just not just a concession versions of taxi drivers or %HESITATION %HESITATION guy in the
01:09:37street women invoicing conventional prejudices these are great minds sometimes Jan Jan genuinely great minds and they giving dignity they giving rationality they giving authority two pages %HESITATION and arrows that %HESITATION %HESITATION where strong at the time and that cleaning to be as the only for the well %HESITATION
01:09:59Bolton certainly did a high a high school certainly did they they all claiming to be the leader intellectual and moral leaders all humanity so I think that they're larger responsibility than not that two Eiffel story suggests welfare now tonight I I I think it's important this seems like
01:10:16a trivial thing perhaps but I think there are a lot of folks who thinks atheism is a new idea yeah Zaki element that that a bunch of intellectuals have finally realize because of the advance of science that religion is wrong when I mention this before I get listers
01:10:31you tell me your smart why do you wear your religious person and and yeah I did that in the past of course people were religious only because they didn't understand everything and now that we understand everything will of course religion will wither and die way but is as
01:10:45you point out the former could you that he I think I think religion to use from now on he does to gratuity yeah well it's gonna emerge involved in interesting ways our thoughts on these things I work I want to close with two questions first question is are
01:11:04you argue that that much of human history not much all of human history is cyclical that the progress there appeared historical there appears of drift and cynical and there's progress and then shifts back downward what about my life what do I do I have the potential for personal
01:11:23transformation do I have if I wish many of course don't wish but if I wish to quote improve myself to know myself to grapple with my %HESITATION Floyd nature and try to be a better person even though I may be wrong about what is a better person but
01:11:40if I have an urge to do that do you think I'm capable of that what is capable of the now precede granted by the following observation which I'm sure you'll agree with both you and I are lucky %HESITATION absolutely yeah I read a long answer on M. publish
01:11:57the I'm not sure I can handle publish incredibly lucky absolutely yeah I mean we weren't born in %HESITATION Ukraine in the nineteen thirties yeah sure %HESITATION we weren't born in %HESITATION the Belgian Congo in the eighteen nineties %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION the many of the ways we're both lucky
01:12:14so %HESITATION I mean the very loving Aaron said you cation %HESITATION I'm lucky in having been born after the second World War because although the second World War course you %HESITATION in all this is a just and to my mind even dole %HESITATION involved a little plot of
01:12:31human suffering and destruction in Britain I had too many blind effects including %HESITATION much higher levels of nutrition for people from in poor at ball to society that is not a high it can point to the fact almost why don't you know the high whole rationing during that
01:12:51war we cannot organize all the calling me forever is a war on the basis of a wartime that that's true but not time rationing which works to improve blood at the edges of the will of course black market %HESITATION at the role was all but it worked and
01:13:04so he is deficiency that nutrition nutrition disease like crickets which should be up to the widespread throughout %HESITATION beforehand pretty well disappeared as a consequence of the war so I was I'm I'm lucky and you were looking to the very question can I improve myself do I have
01:13:20the personal capacity of the pre will or whatever it is to improve my writing presupposes maybe not for %HESITATION maybe three will if there is such thing as possible opal reality always but they the idea of personal self improvement presupposes that you're living with one of the in
01:13:39one of those to my mind comparatively rare periods of human history when self improvement is possible because of self improvement going to be suddenly interrupted by you being arbitrarily arrested murdered starting in some gigantic family or consumed in some terrible war you won't come in and be able
01:13:59to improve itself a long haul you %HESITATION excel sheets and we're talking about solutions from this program lately %HESITATION Victor Frankel I think they would say those are the great moments when actual transformations most possible that many in the west to lead last four material lives %HESITATION or
01:14:19no better than a than a sheep when we get to look who gets to look at a cellphone and play video games on there yeah the latter may be true but it you know the four point about %HESITATION camps may also be false maybe one a different view
01:14:31of this you %HESITATION or your listeners wanted different views they can %HESITATION read which recently renewed published a wonderful musician by your career Presley and read the stories of the %HESITATION %HESITATION like survive %HESITATION von I'm shallow mauled by Refugio new book in the London you said just
01:14:52a couple of weeks ago and the issue is %HESITATION me was offered by the way %HESITATION by socialists who knew and admired him and said because he had to show them off Shalamar tasted deeper in the Cup of despair and degradation that we old trunk in the %HESITATION
01:15:10in in the %HESITATION like you said I bow my head to show him all the offered cooperation with shama Patel amount projected for one of the reasons and charm of description is of life in the camps and wholly without redemption but not even though I read you can
01:15:25judge that I don't think %HESITATION %HESITATION just being %HESITATION it could be broken if it could be a could know what it could be possible in some conditions kind of some kind of caught off the consummation impossible about us might be the case %HESITATION it could be not
01:15:40even something as simple as the extreme cold of the gold mining com which in which Charlotte spent fifteen years the average lifespan seems to have been in those comes about three years by fifteen by a %HESITATION %HESITATION being in B. being no hospital orderly for %HESITATION most of
01:15:59the time I would be a place where that was reliable food and consent decree medicine and so but anyway we want to be don't necessarily %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION I need to go where were we in the conversation before we go to I was asking about personal transformation I
01:16:16don't yeah about I'm not reply was personal in personal self improvement is only possible Eiffel I think %HESITATION I may be wrong about this is a is a sign to another so right I think it to which we perform a large scale I'm sure I'm right about this
01:16:32as usual people heroic people people of extraordinary qualities and perhaps %HESITATION undergo remarkable poster transformations in terrible conditions that may well be true maybe a universal human truth but large numbers of people com to improve themselves %HESITATION in unless they live in those relatively rare %HESITATION part of
01:16:56history which have enough stability in enough basic decency only however kind of minimal to allow them to live lives in which %HESITATION %HESITATION what they do affect sales wrong account of the life it is a part of your life is holy determined by forces you call and controlled
01:17:13by the state by on some of the action I went I went and I miss him masking %HESITATION psychological question by the way not a material question not a lot of medical question him laughing about free will I am I am not trying to look to I think
01:17:28it's medicine that's what I meant sorry I meant it can I be calm I didn't buy I wanna make it clear I'm not asking can I improve my lot in life by studying and becoming a better traits person or whatever I'm asking the question through religion or meditation
01:17:46or for so well do you think I can become a better husband a kinder colleague a better friend I think all of those means all the means that people that human beings have invented in the course of that history which might include not only religions and therapies or
01:18:07will come together because I but also arts yeah fiction novels music %HESITATION %HESITATION trying to social another practices can enable people to %HESITATION improve themselves %HESITATION and become more if they would want to be I think that's just a fact because I think one of the reasons human
01:18:27beings have gone maybe not the only reason you know you know not even knows the most important reason the reason human being how they ought to have religions have %HESITATION music have is it to do that and to some extent they can work %HESITATION but actually you see
01:18:46is where I might differ with many the reason I don't think I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing %HESITATION people con turned themselves into the person they want to be it may be a bad thing of what they're trying to eradicate in themselves his cruelty or some
01:19:04trade to that is definitely malignant or malevolent but actually the conception of Wallace largest on the of what would be the best kind of person to be is very very limited %HESITATION %HESITATION issues is kind of it writing which I just because we're coming to attend now %HESITATION
01:19:21ideas credible people say terribly pessimistic %HESITATION usually we can never keep on noble goals %HESITATION actually I'm more optimistic than that I think the golden Ariel was internally for somehow %HESITATION however he can play post Soviet Russia Wallace it wasn't as bad as the polls as as a
01:19:42as a Russian which you chief communism would be yeah I agree with the concept of Russia which is the chief communism would have no religion bottom call me this debate religion Rubino families as we passed already understood them would be no national local cultures %HESITATION the deep baby
01:20:00a kind of a quality but it would to me be a cult of a culture so emptied all %HESITATION what makes life meaningful and valuable that it would be intolerable now actually I'm a an optimist in the sense that %HESITATION I believe that %HESITATION does not humans the
01:20:19contradictions of human nature will always destroy the personal level under the collective level divisions all a much better world or Patrick well thought that people have the deepest truth in all this is not a country to want the truth in the best forms of Christianity and Judaism and
01:20:39the breast forms of religion is recognized in all of them yeah we humans don't have a clear conception of what it means to be perfect we do it will be like and we can come up with some kind of rather banal description operetta but once you actually dig
01:20:58deeper into it to find that actually could have it's not like you much on a world you might do you might you might want to live in such a world so you might you might you might hear such a well you might dread situation my trying get out
01:21:12of such work tells you that the something in the something lacking in that world %HESITATION that you've you've not %HESITATION identified timed although I believe that human beings can and to improve themselves when they're in fortune circumstances a long enough %HESITATION many do and they become kind or
01:21:31to become a more reasonable that date to conquer negative %HESITATION character traits in themselves that's the purpose of meditation Buddhism it's one of the purposes of prayer in the religions and it's one of the purposes of therapy that secular people take up I can do all those things
01:21:48I'm glad not human beings cannot turn themselves into the type of human beings that they think they want to be because they did they would very often if no rules impoverish themselves and that's because I think they kind of the one of the big illusions about time is
01:22:06that human beings we understand that so many of us understands what leads us to do and not do a certain thing and that again is a good thing %HESITATION very often maybe a bad thing if you're driven to some repeatedly in what Freud called repetition compulsion to do
01:22:23painful thing had hobby another thing you have to he can kind of therapy or some kind of help but more generally %HESITATION the fact that we don't give our lives according to a rational life plan which is what the American plus such John rolls talked about thank god
01:22:38we don't live all what John similarly British utilitarian he wanted us to create our life he said we should not experiment to living and we can try different lives and find out the one that works best an adult that I'm I'm I'm I think that's a very bad
01:22:51idea actually because we if we treat or our lives as an experiment which does seem to work out the way we want we describe it to get rid of it became %HESITATION how to work for me or pretend as I'm giving it up instead of becoming a drug
01:23:04taker on becoming a becoming %HESITATION right at %HESITATION followed %HESITATION the mind I think that's a kind of a way of life which will continue to feel I can do sixty years of not very interesting short stories rather than being a deep %HESITATION human life which can only
01:23:21come from committing itself all the deeply in in daily practice to certain things which might be a religion or might be %HESITATION learning and also we're proud of our craft to some kind of might be some human relationships the relationship pliable so you've got you've cultivated but it
01:23:38has to be deep and abiding in continuing account just be %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION experimental so although %HESITATION I mean Monday I am very critical of Mister Martin and I read about this in them is and what not DO self realization because him on the idea of self realization
01:23:53implies that there is within each of us to sort of %HESITATION and I. D. L. E. is that we can do that we can sort of extract %HESITATION but the remote but that's just the kind of elusive image because if you do succeed in extra extracting something again
01:24:11you'll probably find the something missing in it I mean people many people who have long been poor and suddenly become rich do not flourish in the new life that they have now you can say well that's because they don't know how to live near the tool to two
01:24:24people come from families and groups that have long been rich %HESITATION anything no simple there's no simple form I'm a human life which can be imagined to which could possibly exist which %HESITATION protection and that means you caught approach protection because there's no such thing you can improve
01:24:44on the way you all can improve on the on the way they on have beat the count approach protection it's not that they get a better and better understanding about a perfect life is we never heard about understanding and that's why although I am myself an atheist I
01:25:00think the idea of a although I am myself an atheist the idea of a gold but can be perfect in ways that we cannot ever understand is actually a very useful and valuable I want to I want to close away over time but I want to close by
01:25:20letting you defend the kind of atheist you think one should be you spend most of the book talking about the bad kinds of atheists those who were who were channeling their inner Christian more energy day %HESITATION Christian %HESITATION inner messianic themes of progress or or worshiping of something
01:25:37else what's the right kind well %HESITATION awesomeness ever examples in the book I think maybe we have time I can look at one now in in brief detail %HESITATION but %HESITATION I discuss in the book which is the %HESITATION a Polish British writer Joseph Conrad now he was
01:25:55an atheist a strong atheist in the sense that %HESITATION %HESITATION I am and %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION but he didn't worship or even revere humanity %HESITATION he didn't want to replace what looking for a surrogate for %HESITATION religious atheistic meeting for life you accepted that the last note
01:26:16targeted eventually I think even please that religion was falls %HESITATION %HESITATION he had very few expectations all %HESITATION human progress if you read his letters with %HESITATION with better Russell the British atheist philosopher %HESITATION Russell looking forward to a world governed by international socialism and peace and %HESITATION
01:26:38getting better and better and so on %HESITATION %HESITATION Conrad to just sort of laughed at these ideas ridicule them and mock them %HESITATION I never subscribed to %HESITATION to any of them %HESITATION %HESITATION but he lived a very creative and productive and adventurous life unlike most people who
01:26:59even most novelists I think even most writers of fiction he couldn't read most of his life in the study and over twenty years Dana even at a very adventurous time and all the world was nearly killed two a two or three times a year in the %HESITATION %HESITATION
01:27:17drownings and %HESITATION maritime accident he got involved in %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION attempted coup when he was young against the Spanish government %HESITATION you became part of you you have a gun runner for a period of interest like the dangerous life risky die %HESITATION and he %HESITATION
01:27:40an extraordinary demanding life in the sense that the language in which he wrote his %HESITATION %HESITATION novels and short stories was not his first language or even a second language services pollution second was French to English which was lying which is one of the very few world class
01:27:57writers who wrote in a language could think of to twice removed from his first %HESITATION because we listed right as native language so that does the note are those but he didn't he amenable court didn't write in %HESITATION take Chinese or a %HESITATION yeah you don't forget that
01:28:14%HESITATION the bulk of grub time when the Russians it is generational spoke French in many school English PLB demanding an obvious life he was also constantly in involved in speculative investments he cried every we had to you know Peruvian ten lines and %HESITATION silver mines and Friday everything
01:28:32of the day right away so all users losing money was always %HESITATION hot up even when he was running a fortune is as a writer very adventurous character enjoy now what was distinctive of his he wasn't really what you want to read a privileged life give you got
01:28:48rich eventually but through his own %HESITATION make suggestions as a writer %HESITATION %HESITATION but he didn't have a privileged life in his study sheltered from the horrors Ole miss chances of everyday life only country is life with those %HESITATION %HESITATION as a moral dangerous and risky %HESITATION than
01:29:08many human lives were at that time and he also I missed out he visited the Belgian Congo during its worst period and witnessed it and he said it changed him forever because into the phone that he had some trades or vestiges of the European facing progress that was
01:29:28dominant in his time in the pre post World War period he when he got that he sold out %HESITATION about minority not %HESITATION he saw that it was is the Belgian king of who owned the private property you own to convert them to that part of the Congo
01:29:44at the time called his %HESITATION %HESITATION admission fertilization programs so you know he saw that amounted to then the changed forever that when he went to Chicago he was a a Jimmy anomala money left he was a human being and it's a very nice paradox that he arrived
01:30:03with all your lives with all the illusions of civilized human beings they were destroyed and it became a real human being when he left %HESITATION without those solutions so %HESITATION %HESITATION but if you see what I like about his atheism is a particular type of vacant %HESITATION comrades
01:30:18lack of belief in program control Tuesday isn't because it's connected with life as a C. fighter a scene in which is that he sold that human beings were admirable wasn't a misanthrope even at my most human beings very much he wasn't a business without human beings with it
01:30:32the most admirable when they confronted rations fat no solution I mean %HESITATION if your %HESITATION in a ship that could go under everything depends on your %HESITATION %HESITATION skill and courage that you don't lose your nose or the knowledge you accumulated from other other %HESITATION %HESITATION status is
01:30:54nothing you can do to overcome the powers he many many thousands of times millions of time more powerful than you how you live or die how you %HESITATION %HESITATION save yourself from being drowning or failed to save yourself with Johnny we'll ship mates save them or help them
01:31:16is up to you and so he he he for the the the the the the type of behavior type of life in which human beings show the true metal there and showed real Grayson real real integrity show the saddle qualities was was when they were up against these
01:31:36kinds of also in Asia so we can see the storm it's no good thinking well two hundred years from now they'll be shipped I don't think in conditions like that you and the people you care for gonna drown anyway %HESITATION for the may be something you can do
01:31:51to stop from drowning %HESITATION there may be some %HESITATION measure some brave measure that you couldn't try some some human ingenuity that he can put to work %HESITATION without you can save them that's what matters not how people may or may not be to agree as time went
01:32:06technologies but you should I don't think in that kind of condition so %HESITATION he's one I'd do it all in the book there are others to the Spanish American philosopher George Santayana %HESITATION high and %HESITATION several others I I I talk about in the %HESITATION who who embody
01:32:23the types of atheism %HESITATION wanted to the topic types of atheism in contrast Katie Katie is and without you progress that I that I admire them then now I'm sort of minority they would be now about ten if you look at atheism as you mentioned %HESITATION area Russ
01:32:40%HESITATION in ages and didn't suddenly pop up in the last hundred years with science you can you can find versions of atheism in eight increases ancient Greek Grecian Roman also types that you can find in India and and %HESITATION Chinese philosophy as well you can find it even
01:32:57importance in the history can so far although these are all different atheism different types of eighties American around for an awful long time almost into being stopped thinking actually so %HESITATION but in the marking period which in the modern period %HESITATION %HESITATION %HESITATION Conrad is is is bond
01:33:18%HESITATION is this one I had my %HESITATION and this one I think even though one called right as well as he does I certainly conned and hardly any of us could set you know another language %HESITATION we can learn from how he he dealt %HESITATION dealt with this
01:33:34with this like he had a kind of combination all %HESITATION extreme baldness %HESITATION with %HESITATION forty QT in Iraq the eighty eight imported union address another person he got a little is that he %HESITATION he found writing terribly difficult %HESITATION %HESITATION it was an enormous struggle for him
01:33:55to write what he what he did not only a linguistic stress stress struggle but a conceptual struggle he had periods following his twenty struggled to recover from the exertion of riding them and turned to spike that he kind of he he he he went on to me is
01:34:10a kind of nothing was perfect the last victims personality which no doubt %HESITATION winter %HESITATION but %HESITATION %HESITATION it embodies a kind word atheism might mean %HESITATION did meet his case %HESITATION in a live life he lived a very %HESITATION productive creative in most ways herbal life %HESITATION
01:34:32%HESITATION without having any big hopes of the human species now or in the future and %HESITATION I think that's that's honorable my guest today is been John gray his book is the seven types of atheism I also enjoyed his book the silence of animals which I read in
01:34:50advance of this interview and I'm about to read straw dogs chip which earlier still and he's written a book on high we might wanna look at John thanks for being part of a counter thank you for a very stimulating and interesting %HESITATION conversation and one which shows you
01:35:09read my books very carefully and imaginatively and you thought about them a lot and I'm I'm I'm pretty not only is not to read but it's also produced a very a very %HESITATION interesting and %HESITATION I think it points %HESITATION deep and %HESITATION sports during conversation this is
01:35:36econ talk part of the library economics and liberty for Marty contacted econ talk dot org or you can also comment on today's podcast and find links in readings related to today's conversation sound engineer free Cantacuzino yet I'm your host Russ Roberts thanks for listening talk to you on

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