Subject: Re: Common Lisp, the one true religion!
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Sat, 08 Sep 2001 17:03:59 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Richard Krush <>
> I don't know about you, perhaps it is completely normal and I'm just too
> young to understand it, but to me it really sounds like some slogan of
> christian merceneries.

  I think you mean "missionaries", although historically, I think your
  version sounds a lot more accurate.

> Why do people feel need to convert everyone else to something they found
> useful or feel is right?

  It is part of the human condition.  Stupid people can only deal with
  agreement in concrete terms.  The more intelligent you are, the more
  abstract the agreement can be that you need to feel part of a group.
  E.g., "people should agree with me and use my conditionals" vs "people
  should come to agreement through formalized diplomatic channels in a
  large society and strive to find such compromises that the entire society
  will use the same conditionals".

> It seems very similar to the way religios fanatics think about their
> language, they do not comprehend the fact that it's just their point of
> view.

  Lots of things are similar to religions and most of the evil committed by
  mankind has been committed in the name of some religion or religious
  belief, so religions have so many obvious bad sides that some people feel
  that it is much better to destroy someone's credibility by likening them
  to religious zealots, for instance, than accusing them of being nazists
  or racists, although the latter are slightly more honest and obvious
  cases of rampant idiocy on part of the accuser and therefore less evil.
  However, having something in common with religions is not sufficient to
  make them religions.  There are important aspects of religions that in
  their absence should make such a comparison reflect very poorly on the
  intelligence and intellectual honesty of the accuser.  Instead, many
  people tacitly accept such an accusation because who wants to fight such
  a massively stupid person _or_ tackle the many intricate issues in what
  makes a religion.

  The opposite of "just their point of view" is obviously not "religion".
  For one thing, that is just your stupid point of view and you should be
  among the first to realize that as such it has absolutely no merit.  But
  you, too, want people to agree with your sentiments and convert people to
  your view, right?  How religious is that?  In fact, most of the people
  who see religions where other people see political parties or merely a
  strongly-held belief with no irrational elements at all, are themselves
  rebidly religious people, believing very strongly that other people's
  attitudes are as irrationally and unintelligently held as their view that
  those "other people" are religious.  Witness the tremendous difficulty
  you have getting a person who has decided (how?) that someone else is
  religious that they are not.  Such people are completely unreachable by
  intelligent counter-arguments or counter-information, and hold on to
  their irrational view, often the stronger the more their victims object.

  So instead of being an accusation, "you are religious", _really_ says, "I
  am a religious asshole".  Americans in particular should really figure
  out what the fifth amendment is all about and why it is so important in
  matters of law to protect people who are so stupid they will gladly admit
  to any hideous crime as long as they think they are blaming someone else.

  There is _obviously_ something between "my opinion" and "irrationally
  held view believed absolutely without evidence or substantation".  The
  concept of an objective (or interpersonal, intersubjective, or what have
  you) position that other people can (1) see the validity of, and (2)
  perhaps agree to, _if_ they get (almost) the same information the person
  who holds it has used to arrive at his view, is outside the reach of the
  highly religious people -- their basic assumption is that everybody else
  also arrive at their stupid opinions by a method known best as "guessing
  and making things up".  This is also how they arrive at their conclusion
  that those who disagree with them are religious fanatics.  Lacking the
  intellectual rigor or simply _ability_ to think in terms of "what (kind
  of) information must a person have received and _not_ have received in
  order to arrive at such a conclusion", they view their _own_ conclusions
  as mystically derived out of nowhere, and consequently that must be how
  everybody else derive theirs.  Hence, "you are a religious zealot" means
  "I have lost my ability to think or probably never had any to begin with".

  Even thinking in terms of religiously held beliefs implicates the person
  who does so much more than anyone he might think of.  Therefore, the only
  solution is to completely disregard the nutballs who think in such terms
  -- they have come out openly and argued very strongly that they are free
  of all the responsibilities that come with intelligence and intellectual

  Instead, consider what positions and beliefs are also likely to be held
  if you hold a certain view, like I have argued above against those who
  invoke "religious".  If you hold the belief that political compromise is
  bad for a community and for each person in it, that is contradicting the
  view that people are sufficiently different that the only way we can find
  grounds for cooperation is to subjugate our personal needs to a _higher_
  goal or value.  To some people, the very concept of a "higher value" than
  themselves and their immediate needs is completely alien and invokes the
  "religious" response in them, probably because of an irrational rejection
  because of lots of bad experiences and no willingness to accept good ones
  to counter them, but the concept of a "higher value" is precisely what
  makes it possible for people to form societies and formulate conditions
  necessary to build them.  The amount of compromise and subjugation of
  individual will to collective good this involves is quite impressing,
  actually, and the freedom we seek within such a framework must therefore
  be protected vigorously and fought for diligently, which also means that
  we must also be careful in which freedoms we choose to fight for.  For
  instance, is freedom to express yourself at the expense of readability
  for others in the community worth more than the freedom move without
  impediment and worries in a world of fully conforming implementations of
  community standards such that you do not have to think about a large
  number of issues?  But I sort of digress.

  Just as people who have never seen complex problems they think are not
  solvable be solved easily with tools they do not know, tend not even to
  understand how to appreciate such tools, people who have not been exposed
  to larger issues than their own needs tend to fail to appreciate them and
  only see the oppressive side of any compromise and therefore are likely
  to invoke "religion" because it is one of the most oppressive and least
  understood aspects of human existence, especially among those who have
  rejected the prevailing religions in their society without rejecting the
  religious way of "thinking" they have picked up along the way.

> What I don't understand even more is why I have the same attitude
> sometimes and why I even study Lisp if it does not completely sattisfy
> me.  Perhaps all this is just the way human mind works -- everybody must
> use whatever I find right to use!

  As long as you appreciate that some people's desire to see everybody use
  the same thing as them embace such advanced concepts as whole standards
  and community-building efforts, not just their individual pet operators
  at the cost of whole standards and community-building efforts.