Category Archives: Nature

Does Good always prevail in the end? The nature and future of Humanism.

A little munchkin
came to his father and asked,
‘What is good and what is bad?’
V. Mayakovsky

I heard on the news recently that American human rights organisations are accusing Donald Trump of inciting racism, xenophobia and discrimination in his speeches, and that Trump is strongly denying these accusations.

Then I began to wonder… why is Trump justifying himself? Why does not he openly declare that he supports such views? For America is a free country, where every individual has the right to hold their own opinion.

  • Why do politicians always defend themselves with claims that they have been misunderstood whenever they begin to reveal their unorthodox beliefs?  Why did Hitler and Stalin initially present themselves as peace lovers? Then, only once they neared the peak of power in their countries, openly declare that certain people have the right to enact violence against others, from Aryan to non-Aryan in the former, and Communist to non-Communist in the latter?
  • When and why did widely (though not universally) accepted notions of Good and Evil emerge on Earth?
  • Why is it good to feed the hungry, save the drowning and protect the downtrodden, but evil to steal, rape and kill?

These are serious questions. It is no secret that members of the criminal world choose the opposite morality. Moreover, a small criminal world is nothing in light of the fact that almost entire nations could easily switch their beliefs to those of a criminal nature and devastate the lives of tens of millions, as we saw in the Communist Soviet Union and China as well as in Nazi Germany.

  • Could we see a repeat of Communism or Nazism in the world?
  • Why is it that people in ancient societies allowed cannibalism and human sacrifice to flourish, yet in today’s society we worry about the imminent disappearance of some rare animal?

In this article, we show that the advancement of human society towards humanism was brought about not by the mysterious forces within us (as Immanuel Kant would have us believe), nor by the influence of some divine being from above (take any religion), but on account of two very clear, simple reasons:

  1. The expectation of an evil response to a show of evil.
  2. In the long term, there is an obvious benefit to humanistic rather than aggressive relationships between individuals and human societies.

Unfortunately, this benefit only becomes obvious to the majority of people after the next man-made humanitarian crisis. In other words, the humanistic ethic always makes a positive step forward a posteriori.

We will also show that the driving force behind both these reasons is the Law of Gene Preservation, Freedom of Choice and Humandynamics (see “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer). We will demonstrate this using numerous examples.


For almost three million years, 99% of the duration of its existence, human life differed little from the life of other living creatures on Earth. That is, just like animals, humans lived motivated only by the Law of Gene Preservation. There is no need to speak of humanity having any kind of morality during this period.

But relatively recently, just a few tens of thousands of years ago, the first signs appeared that humankind had something resembling the expansion of the freedom of choice. Humanity began to domesticate useful wild animals and cultivate nutritional wild plants.

The nature of community life and shared livelihood must have facilitated the origin of the rudiments of morality. Yet it is unlikely that at that time this looked anything like what we call humanist ethics today.

It is hard to imagine a primitive father wearing a mammoth skin instructing his offspring, also in mammoth skins: “Do not hit the boy from the next-door cave. Don’t take his sweet bone from him! It’s bad, it’s not humanist.” Even these words are unlikely to have existed then.

I imagine the lesson of such a father to be more like this: “If you want to take something from another boy, then choose someone weaker than yourself. A stronger one will beat you. And don’t forget to look carefully to check that the boy’s father is not around and won’t come running up to you screaming and rip your head off. “

If this were to happen today, people would accuse the father of providing his son with an immoral upbringing. Yet how else could the father have acted, if for millions of years the human being was just a link in the natural food chain, and not even at the top of the chain? Humans hunted animals weaker than themselves and were in turn hunted by those stronger than themselves.

The father taught his child to behave as adults behaved. And if the father did ever teach his son to restrain his aggression, then it would only be for the purpose of protecting the child from retaliatory aggression. In the end, this would be because he was striving to preserve his genes in the best way possible.

Naturally, tribal chiefs and later czars and kings, along with the aristocracy, enjoyed enormous privileges. This gave them incomparable advantages (material and otherwise) in the task of preserving their own genes in comparison with the rest of the population mass.

It is totally understandable that they should have educated the tribes and peoples subordinate to them in a morality that enshrined those privileges, and that they should create and instil myths about the divine right of kings calling others to serve their interests without a murmur of objection.

This kind of hierarchical community has reached the present day with similar myths enshrined in the constitutions of some countries. Even in the recent past, advantages in the matter of gene preservation existed in the “right of the first night” in feudal societies and may still very likely exist in isolated primitive tribes in the jungles of the Amazon.

The existing right of polygamy among wealthy citizens in Muslim countries also secures this advantage.

It seems to me that if it were not for the problem of the human resource, tribal chiefs in ancient times would have ensured themselves the sole right of reproduction, as dominant males do in the animal world.

  • Why is it that today we increasingly hear calls for tolerance towards all society’s minority groups, at least towards those that are not a threat to others?
  • Why are all these changes taking place in human society moving in one and the same direction? From a racial society to a non-racial society, from a class system to a classless system, from gender inequality to gender equality, from intolerance to tolerance?
  • What mechanism is the driving force behind these changes and where does this mechanism find its energy?

We all know that primitive tribes still exist, which openly profess the ideology of war. But whereas Sparta, the first fascist state known to us in history, did this openly, the Communist Soviet Union led by Stalin, and Nazi Germany led by Hitler, armed with aggressive ideologies, demagogically presented themselves as peace-loving states and sought far-fetched grounds for their aggressive actions.

And whereas until very recently by historical standards, prior to the onset of the twentieth century, women enjoyed a lower social status than men in the US and the majority of developed European countries, today even Islamic countries are, one by one, legally consolidating gender equality in their constitutions. That said, full gender equality has not yet been achieved in any country in the world.

There were open outbreaks of racism in the United States right up into the 1960s, and yet today, just half a century later, it is the United States that places such high demands on public observance of racial political correctness.

There are fewer and fewer states in the world remaining where class division is legitimate and where kings and aristocrats are endowed with legal privileges.

  • So what is happening on the planet?  And why is it happening
  • Surely men the world over haven’t suddenly become so wise and mellow that they simply decided to give women equal rights
  • Could it be that the white people of America and South Africa suddenly became so wise and mellow that they decided to give black citizens equal rights?
  • Surely the aristocracy did not voluntarily give up their privileges?

In order to answer these questions, we must return to the example of the stone age father and son mentioned earlier in this article.

In bringing up his son, the father emphasises the fact that any aggression will always be answered by aggression and not only in the case of murder. Any infringement, inflicted pain or insult evoked a thirst for revenge and often turned into a bloody feud that lasted for many generations. All subsequent human history is witness to this fact.

Of course, no one has ever voluntarily renounced their privileges and advantages. And it is only the confidence that resides in every oppressed person that they have been given exactly the same right to Gene Preservation as anyone else, that has lifted up humanity and given the oppressed the strength to engage in the fiercest of  struggles for this right and all the natural rights to life that result from it – their own and that of their children; the right to provide them with housing, food and health, together with all the social rights of today’s world.

Any oppression, any infringement of this most natural human right necessarily evokes a reciprocal reaction.

It was not that men gave women equal rights. It was that women fought a long, hard, exhausting battle to win these rights, subjecting themselves to cruel acts of persecution and even imprisonment. The feminist movements and the suffragettes who have shaken the Western world in recent centuries are a perfect illustration of this.

It was not that the metropolises granted independence to the peoples of their colonies in Asia and Africa. It was the insurgent peoples, who won the right to dignified Gene Preservation in the terrible anti-colonial wars of the 20th century, sacrificing at the altar of freedom millions of lives of their best representatives.

Never have the hereditary, ruling, aristocratic classes voluntarily refused their privileged rights to an unequal portion of income generated from labour in society as a whole. The abolition of privilege has always resulted from bloody revolution. World history is witness to this fact.

The abolition of slavery in the USA and the abolition of apartheid in South Africa were no gift from white citizens to their fellow black citizens. Change would have been impossible without the desperate, ferocious, sacrificial struggle of the black population for equal rights.

At some point, the simple truth dawned on Man, that you cannot safely preserve your genes by means of oppressing others. Human beings began to understand that we must look for other ways to preserve our genes, without forcibly denying this opportunity to others.

In this process, the deciding role was played by Freedom of Choice, something endowed exclusively to human beings. It is specifically Freedom of Choice, the force which enabled ancient man to domesticate animals, master agriculture and exchange goods with neighbours, that brought about the understanding that in the long run, the absence of oppression secures a more reliable means of feeding oneself and preserving one’s genes than denying the same to one’s neighbour, and this means is particularly reliable if one’s neighbour understands this also.


Here we turn again to the ancient world. Time passed. The vital necessity, which today we call globalisation, forced people to unite into ever more sizeable communities, motivated by the need for collective hunting methods and collective protection of land boundaries.

With the shared living space of large communities, strict containment of aggression became a requirement and so now parents began to teach their children the skills necessary for this type of cohabitation without referring to the other party’s possible response.

Gradually, the original reasons for the former style of upbringing were forgotten and the teaching of tolerance, at least in relation to members of one’s own tribe, became mandatory.

This is how the first humanist skills were born. Later, this type of education was called humanistic, and those who professed it unconditionally, humanists.

Today, humanism is consolidated in society in the form of Human Rights and countries with governments built on the priority of human rights, are referred to as human rights states. No-one would argue that these countries primarily include Europe and North America, where not only human rights are respected but animal rights as well.

Has it always been this way? No!

In the fifteenth and sixteenth century, Europeans began a series of colonial acquisitions, which in fact began with the crusades of the eleventh to the fifteenth century. These colonial acquisitions were marked by a particular cruelty formerly unknown to Man, and the mass genocide of native peoples which, according to various estimates, led to the annihilation of hundreds of millions of the indigenous peoples of Asia, Africa and America.

It should be noted that these shocking figures had little impact on European consciousness despite, weak, lonely protests from the voices of European humanists.

Only two world wars later, in which the Europeans themselves lost millions of lives, and after the bloody wars of independence waged by the colonial peoples, that the voice of the humanists sounded loud enough to reach the level of national governments and newly formed international organisations.

But it was neither the losses of the anti-colonial wars, nor the massive anti-war protests which undoubtedly raised the bar of humanism to unprecedented heights, that played the decisive role in metropolitan countries freeing their colonies.

The truly decisive role in this process was played by the unprecedented development of technology and resultant, buoyant economic growth brought about in part by the high levels of Freedom of Choice achieved by this time in Western countries.

Finally, Western rulers realised that it was much more beneficial to develop science, technology and competition, thereby supporting advanced economic development, than to constantly deal with problems of uprisings in the colonies, as well as mass anti-war and anti-colonial protests at home.

They realised that it was much more beneficial to produce high-tech goods that could be sold to third world countries, than to live with the constant risks associated with plundering their resources.

Incidentally, as a point in case, the colonies were freed strictly in the order of the level of Freedom of Choice existing in the corresponding metropoles. The French colonies were the first to be liberated, and the last were the Portuguese.

The level of violence in the world has significantly decreased.

When we say, “more beneficial” here, we should clarify that what we mean by this is “more beneficial for the majority”, but not for everyone.

Historically, the majority has always prevailed because, in the end, it was the stronger and not because someone persuaded us that this was ‘fair’.

In the end, the ‘majority principle’ was consolidated in the notion of democracy. But let’s not forget that for all the democratic reforms, there are still segments of the population who are losing their privileges and are therefore worse off as a result of these reforms. This is the essence of democracy.

But life does not stand still. The rapidly growing economic gap between rich countries and their former colonies on the one hand and the inevitable accelerated process of globalisation on the other, is presenting a new challenge for Western society.

The first signal of this challenge can be seen in the huge streams of refugees coming to Europe, the United States and Canada from the countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

If in the forthcoming decades, the West together with China, Japan, Australia and South Korea do not take urgent measures to reduce the terrible gap between rich and poor countries, we will soon find that there is no-one for the West to sell their goods to, and the stream of refugees, constantly increasing due to both the internet and the modern transport system will lead to a general economic collapse.

Perhaps now we can explain what is humanism as suggested in the title of this article… Let’s break our explanation into three parts:

  • Is there an innate humanistic morality in us?

Sadly, the answer is no! A long history of human beings destroying other human beings is proof enough of this fact. Moreover, as far as modern science can tell, all peoples experienced phases of human sacrifice and even cannibalism in the early stages of development, so what innate humanist ethics can one possibly speak of? In other words, all our humanist traditions are the result of a many-thousand-year long process of evolution, which developed progressively through a process of trial and error.

  • Can we hope that the humanist traditions so hard won have become instilled in us and taken root?

Sadly, the answer is again, no! Any tradition, including humanistic traditions, can disappear in the blink of an eye when external factors are intent on destroying them. In the twentieth century, the peoples of Russia, Germany and China, all with a sufficiently developed history of human civilisation easily accepted the destruction of hundreds of millions of people in the world including their own citizens once they came under the influence of the teachings of Communism and Nazism. In addition, we have seen humanitarian disasters in Cambodia and Rwanda, where these countries destroyed between a quarter and a third of their own population. In other words, humanist ethics, like any other set of ethics, is nothing more than a conditioned reflex to external circumstances.

  • Does all this mean that there is no hope for a humanistic future?

Fortunately, no! We observe a distinct growth in the number of people with humanist principles who govern human and international relations, despite periodic deviations from these principles.

It appears that Humanism actually serves as a beneficial foundation for a society in which the main human instincts: Gene Preservation and Freedom of Choice can be most effectively realised (see “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer“).

A society that values gender equality turns out to be more beneficial than a society that discriminates against women. It is enough to compare these societies to the Islamic countries, and see the huge streams of refugees, ignoring Islamic principles relating to women, fleeing the Muslim countries of Asia and Africa trying to gain entry to the countries of the Western world! Those who have children dream of bringing them up in a safe, free world. And those who don’t already have children dream of the same being possible in the future. Gender equality came to the Western world not only because women struggled to win equal rights, but because men realised that a society built on the principles of equality would be more stable and prosperous.

America abolished slavery not only because the blacks fought for their rights, but also as a result of the fact that the bulk of white Americans came to realise that a society without racism is more productive and safer for everyone, i.e. more beneficial than a society that practices racial segregation. Of course, change was eventually brought about to some degree by the enlightening speeches and demands of the humanists.

Corruption, that has wholly taken over the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, with a few exceptions, serves the interests of an absolute minority, usually a powerful minority, and is witness to the low level of Freedom of Choice existing in these countries. In democracies with a sufficiently high level of Freedom of Choice, thanks to the free press and the control exerted by civil society, it is possible to keep corruption within rigid limits, despite the natural inclination and willingness of most people to take part in corruption, however sad it might be to acknowledge this fact. And again, this serves the interests of the majority.

In the twentieth century, a number of fundamental reforms were carried out in Western capitalist countries, aimed at significantly raising living standards among hired workers. These included the shortening of the working day, minimum wage guarantees, pensions, all sorts of social security, stimulation of employees ‘interest in the growth of their companies’ profits via share sales and numerous other measures. The laws corresponding to these reforms were adopted not as a result of the humanistic mood of the ruling capitalist class, but as a result of strikes by wage workers, fears of bloody Communist revolutions like those that took place in Russia in 1917, fear of the difficulties of raising children in an unstable country, i.e. fear for Gene Preservation.

But very quickly everyone was convinced that humanistically reformed capitalism was more beneficial for almost all members of society and produced an unprecedented increase in labour productivity, general welfare, and therefore the best conditions for the realisation of Gene Preservation.

World society will continue to become more humanistic in nature as a requirement of the most fundamental human instincts: Gene Preservation and Freedom of Choice (see “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer“).

Since humanism is essentially one of the facets of Freedom of Choice, according to the Law of Humandynamics (see “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer“), it will grow along with it.

Our most important conclusion is that a society structured on humanistic principles is more beneficial for the majority than any other type of society model.


The question arises, “Why should we even consider a society built on the principle of the will of the majority to be fair? After all, the minority loses out, doesn’t it?” Indeed it does! Yet in a democratic society, Human Rights remain unshakable and inviolable. This is the guarantee of stability in a democratic state.

In connection to the question posed above: “When does a nation gain immunity from being susceptible to a totalitarian ideology?”, We can now propose the following answer: “Only when that nation has long-term experience of democracy, lasting at least several generations.”

Russia, China and Germany, who became victims of Communist and Nazi ideologies in the first half of the twentieth century, did not have this experience. German democracy which began with the Weimar Republic lasted for less than one generation, while Russia and China to this day have no true experience of a real democracy.  Let’s take Italy as an example of a country that does have this experience. Under Mussolini, fascism became the ruling ideology even earlier than in Germany, although it did not succeed in taking root as a national idea.

There is not a single nation in the world that can guarantee to be exempt from the possibility of a totalitarian ideology being adopted by state power. The possibility of a new communist or fascist regime emerging somewhere in the world still exists and yet the probability of this happening becomes smaller and smaller as time goes by, and the surety of this is the Law of Humandynamics (see “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer“).

Nonetheless, the ‘good’ has to be continually instilled in us as a cultural value and we must recognise that ‘evil’ can spread of its own accord like a garden weed.

As the reality of history shows, humanist ethics can never prevent the occurrence of a social catastrophe. As we have said before, the awareness of these ethics always develops a posteriori.

If this is the case, do we, in fact, need a humanist ethic at all?

Yes! Without a shadow of a doubt!

Humanist ethics save us from repeating the same catastrophes again and again and in this way, we acquire experience. Humanity is, in fact, becoming more humanistic. “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer” cites numerous examples, which we won’t repeat here, of unprecedented expansion of Freedom of Choice particularly around the middle of the previous century, and by connection, a growth in humanism.

Here, in short, we will simply answer the question as to why the public rhetoric of politicians has changed over time. The culture of war, through which all nations have passed from antiquity (remember Sparta!) up until the middle of the last century, is today considered taboo among politicians. At least, they will not admit to supporting the culture of war openly. We no longer hear delusional ideas from the mouths of politicians concerning the superiority of one race over another, or of one class over another, as was the case in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, relatively recently in South Africa, and even earlier in the US before the adoption of desegregation laws. No less delirious ideas that used to divide society on the principle of “blue blood” into patricians and plebeians have long sunk into oblivion. We no longer hear politicians openly expressing sexist views.

Just because we don’t hear them, does not mean that they do not exist. They do still exist and always will do!


We conclude this article with a very recent example of how a new element of humanistic ethics is being created before our very eyes in the form of condemning sexual harassment.

So far, only the USA has been prepared to condemn this phenomenon openly and categorically. In France, a group of actresses led by Catherine Deneuve have expressed their concern that the fight against harassment has been excessive, although from the very beginning it has been quite obvious that what is being addressed is the unacceptable harassment of women by men. Almost immediately after the confident statement of the famous director Andrei Konchalovsky that one would never see a similar reaction to harassment in Russia, three brave Russian journalists began an uncompromising struggle against the harassment of a State Duma deputy.

Given that everything in the twenty-first century is happening at such huge speed, we can confidently say that within just a few years, the Western world will have done with the problem of harassment.


P.S. Those interested in a proof of the conclusions above can refer to an enlightening lecture by Professor Steven Pinker who presents various statistics showing a constant decline in violence and rise in tolerance since the ancient times despite the wide-spread myth that “the world used to be a better place”.


Karmak Bagisbayev, professor of mathematics, author of “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer”

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Great video clip illustrating an example of the Law of Gene Preservation

Recently,  while surfing the Internet, I came across a video clip illustrating the Law of Gene Preservation, which is described in the first conversation of The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer.

The clip captures a father and his teenage daughter as they fall through the ice when crossing a large river in winter. Without a moment’s hesitation, the father wrests his daughter from the water and throws her to the side in one swift movement. When the daughter turns to her father to give him her hand, he pushes her away with a harsh voice and tries to climb out of the ice himself without risking harm to his daughter.

Without even realising, the father fulfilled the Law of Gene Preservation twice – he saved his daughter and never allowed her to risk her life by helping him out of the water.

The Law of Gene Preservation is what unites us humans with the rest of the living world, right up to bacteria and plants.

The Law of Freedom of Choice is what distinguishes us humans from the rest of the living world.


Karmak Bagisbayev, professor of mathematics, author of “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer”

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Is the phrase “atheist believer” an oxymoron, a metaphor or just a bit of silliness? What is the difference between faith and knowledge?

These two questions, which I have been asked by many readers continually, clearly require a detailed answer, the nature of which had initially seemed to me to be obvious.

Let’s start with the first question: is the phrase “atheist believer” an oxymoron, a metaphor or just a bit of silliness?

Can a person who believes, that all the events occurring in the universe since the Big Bang can be explained on the basis of the laws of Galileo, Newton and Einstein, and that all the events occurring in the living world can be explained by the laws of Darwin and genetics, without involving the concept of God, be conclusively called an atheist?

If such a person does not know what existed before the Big Bang, why the laws of nature exist or why they work so coherently, and if such a person understands that it is impossible to either prove or disprove the existence of God in an attempt to answer these questions, then can such a person be called a believer?

There is a philosophical view referred to as agnosticism, which relates to all this, but that isn’t our main concern here.

The first question, “is the phrase ‘atheist believer’ an oxymoron, a metaphor or just a bit of silliness?”, is best answered when considered in the light of the second, “what is the difference between faith and knowledge?”

Following the examples in the famous Feynman Lectures on Physics on the law of the conservation of energy I would like to offer an analogy in the style of a “child’s example”.

Imagine a child, perhaps “Dennis the Menace,” who has not yet begun to study physics, and who from early days of childhood has observed how objects carelessly dropped always fall downwards. At first it is a cup of tea, a bowl of porridge, a buttered piece of bread that falls on the carpet, seemingly, always butter side down and which leads to a telling off from his mother; then it is his father’s dumbbell, which has to land on his foot, and later, well, an iPhone that just had to fall on the tiled floor. In addition, Dennis notes that all these objects appear to fall at the same rate of acceleration.

Dennis, who has not yet learned Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, independently makes a brilliant, scientific discovery: “any” body released from the hands falls downwards with an equal acceleration.

Is this discovery a matter of scientific knowledge or faith? We will show, that to all intents and purposes it is a matter of faith.

Indeed, Dennis drops a cup, a bowl, a piece of bread, a dumbbell or an iPhone, i.e. the objects of which he has specific knowledge but he hasn’t dropped “any” or “every” object!

In the evening, when Dennis’ father, who is an engineer, returns home from work, Dennis recounts the discovery he has made during the day. The father praises Dennis but then asks if he is confident in using the word “any” in his law. Dennis responds that he believes that to be true. Then the father blows up a balloon and lets it go. The balloon falls to the floor but slowly, at the “wrong” acceleration, or rather, without any acceleration at all. Then the father takes a second balloon, fills it with helium and releases it. Instead of falling downwards, the balloon contradicts the law Dennis has discovered and travels upwards. The third time, the father drops a piece of paper, holding the sheet parallel to the floor and the sheet of paper also turns at the “wrong” acceleration and slowly falls downwards.

Dennis is dismayed to find his law disproved, but the father comforts him, explaining that his initial law has not been completely disproved. Together they have simply revealed the limits of its applicability.

The father tells Dennis about the air that surrounds us, the story of Archimedes buoyancy, the force of air resistance and that in junior school he will study Newton’s Second Law of Motion, which, taking into account all the forces: the force of gravity, Archimedes force and the force of air resistance, will generate a more general law correctly describing how different bodies fall to the ground.

The law you have discovered and assumed to apply to “any” body, the father says, is underpinned by faith, not knowledge. But it remains true, the father clarifies his point further, for relatively small, heavy, streamlined objects.

Once Dennis reaches junior school and has studied the Newton’s laws of motion, he believes that what he knows, finally, is not just based on faith but real knowledge.

Imagine the disappointment when in high school, on studying Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, Dennis realises that his law which ended with the words “equal acceleration” has turned out once again to be based on faith, not knowledge, and that these words have to be discarded or clarified by adding the words “near the surface of the Earth.”

Perhaps now, Dennis can consider that his knowledge is comprehensive and impeccably scientific.

Enrolling at the University’s Physics Department, Dennis discovers something that even their engineer-father does not know. In the proximity of massive stars, Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation does not work, and instead, Einstein’s law of gravity should be applied, derived as a more exact law from Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

Does Einstein’s law of gravity constitute the last and final knowledge?

I would like to believe that it is, but recently, several voices have resounded in the world of astrophysics, asserting that this law cannot be taken as the last word and that discrepancies have been observed which pose the need for a new theory.

So, as I conclude this article, I would like to invite my readers to answer for themselves the two questions with which we began.


Written by Karmak Bagisbayev, an author of “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer”

Translated from the Russian original by Joanna Dobson.

 

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Freedom of Choice and Morality as a Conditioned Reflex (Part 1)

Rarely does a question succeed in evoking so much debate as the question concerning the nature and origin of human morality. Immanuel Kant called the moral energy that resides in the human soul an impenetrable mystery.

Those of religious faith believe that our morality is given to us from above, from God. If this is the case, why didn’t God give morality to all people in equal measure so that we could live a peaceable life without being continually plagued by the complex problems of coexistence? Why do the type of people we consider immoral exist? Would these individuals also consider themselves to be immoral and where is the proof that we are right and they not?

Some people believe that the moral principles to which the majority adheres can be instilled in a child via their upbringing. If that is so, why is it that brother and sister who receive the same upbringing and love from their parents often end up supporting completely different moral values in their adult life?

Each one of us can no doubt cite hundreds of examples of this tendency among their friends and relatives. Research shows that upbringing can only assure the passing on of etiquette (how to sit properly at the table and hold one’s knife and fork etc), but not ethics or morals. Naturally, one’s upbringing and education have some effect on the formation of a person’s sense of morality but to a lesser degree than we might think. More often than not, our upbringing teaches us to hide where our morality is lacking.

Totalitarian systems believe that even if the morality they choose to cultivate cannot be instilled naturally, it can be forcefully driven into the minds of the adult population through propaganda and repression. So why is it then, that time passes and the population inevitably rises up in protest against the morality that has been enforced upon them?

Genetics fans who like to explain everything in terms of the gene would say that human morality is unequivocally determined by a person’s genetic makeup. If this the case then why do identical twins experience a different sense of morality?

What ultimately defines our morality as human beings and where does it originate?

In the 17th conversation of The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer” which focuses on the topic of Freedom of Choice, we identified the human soul as the ability to choose to act in accordance with or against one’s natural instincts, the most fundamental of which is the gene preservation instinct. The morality of every human being represents the result of how they choose to behave and treat others. This is what accounts for the diversity in our sense of morality as human beings, the difference between one person and another, one group and another.

Let’s take the example of a small group of 2-year-olds playing in a sandpit, who as yet have developed no sense of their own morality. It is not unusual to observe one child, attracted to one of the other children’s brightly-coloured toys, trying to take it from them. At this point, the unfolding scenario becomes potentially diverse and unpredictable because, at this age, children are still unfamiliar with the rules of conduct established by a conventional sense of morality. It would be correct to say, the morality developed and accepted by the majority in society. Here follows one possible scenario for how the children behave next:

  • Day one: The ‘child-aggressor’ (more often than not a boy) takes the other child’s toy and walks way happily. The “child-victim” stays put and lets out a loud howl.
  • Day two: The ‘child-aggressor’ tries to take the other child’s toy again but the “child-victim” having learned from the experience of the previous day, shows a strong response and fights to stand their ground. The ‘child-aggressor’ is left with a few bruises but no toy.
  • Day three: The ‘child-aggressor’ having learned from the previous negative experience, approaches the ‘child-victim’ and offers one of their own toys in exchange for the other child’s toy, thereby initiating a possible satisfactory outcome for both parties and laying the foundation for a more civilised relationship in the future.

There are endless scenarios for the possible outcome of this type of interaction and I am certain that morality among primitive peoples developed in this manner, through trial and error in relationships with others. As a child grows and develops from the moment of birth to adolescence, they walk the path of acquiring a personal sense of morality, just like all humanity has done over the ages, from primitive societies to modern day society.

Of course, for every child, the path is an individual one and its shape will depend on a whole range of conditions: the influence of older siblings, parents, school environment, etc. In the same way, the path is different for each individual nation which explains why their moral codes differ to some extent, albeit not fatally! The difference between nations is often defined by where each nation is positioned on the arrow of time. In society, just as with children and even adults, the development of morality is connected not only to individuality but also to age.

The main conclusion I would like to draw here is that whereas a common morality can be adopted by a majority, there is no such thing as a common morality per se. There is no absolute or universal morality. The commandment “Thou shalt not murder” for example doesn’t work when it comes to street gangs and is quite inappropriate in the context of an army at war.

Moreover, a person’s sense of morality can change not only from one person to another and from one group to another. We all know of examples where the moral principles of an individual or even a whole nation change with changing circumstances. People will very quickly drop a moral code they held previously and just as easily take up a new one if the circumstances call them to do so.

For example, the moral principles that underpin the interaction between a man and a woman can change when circumstances so require. In the 1970s, I ended up at a Soviet youth camp on the Volga River near the city of Kazan, which took up to five hundred young people at any one time from all over the Soviet Union. On the very first evening, there was a disco attended by 500 young people, all furiously driven by the Law of Gene Preservation. The group was made up of young Soviet women; majestic, formidable and all dressed up and very timid-looking, young Soviet mathematics students (mainly men), who were participating in a scientific conference that was being held over a few days at the youth camp.  What a shock it was to discover, after no more than half an hour had passed, that the ratio of young men to women in the room, far from being the normal 1:1, turned out to be less than 1:10 i.e. one young man to every 10-11 young women.

So what happened next? I won’t go into details, but a couple of hours later, half the lovely ladies who recognised that their chances were slim and didn’t want to negate the normal model of behaviour, saw no point in staying and left the disco hall. The other half, on the contrary, turned a blind eye to the convention, took the initiative and vied for the attention of the men they invited to dance. The young men, despite their initial shyness, suddenly adopted the role of the “lady” and were blatantly fickle in choosing whose invitation to accept.

The disco continued like any other, the only difference being, that the role of suitor was played by the women and the role of the lady, by the men respectively. I remember this occasion so vividly because it was the first time I had seen so clearly how moral conduct in relations between a man and a woman, which have developed over centuries, if not millennia, can transform in the blink of an eye if the situation requires it.

In conclusion, morality is nothing more than a ‘Pavlov’ conditioned reflex, which is evoked in response to external conditions and stimuli and which disappears the moment those conditions are removed.

If morality is nothing more than a conditioned reflex, why do we attribute such great importance to the teaching and promotion of morality? What is this ‘natural’ morality that society is constantly seeking from its members, and the family from its children?

It’s not actually a difficult question. Compassion or empathy, which lies at the core of the concept of morality, exists to one degree or another only in gregarious, herd-like species, including human beings. Understandably, solitary animals have no need of compassion. Compassion and mutual assistance within the herd are of direct benefit not only to every member of the herd in its task of Gene Preservation but also to the herd as a whole.

In my research, more than anything else, I was astounded by the behaviour of wolves, who brought back food from the hunt for a wolf-invalid. One may confidently claim, that herds of animals which are incapable of empathy are equally incapable of survival.

Recently, scientists discovered the altruism gene, which we more popularly refer to as compassion. So far, the altruism gene has only been found in microbes living in colonies but it is very likely that it will also be located in all gregarious living beings.

The taboo on murder within a herd is dictated by the Gene Preservation Law and again, this law explains the moral of encouraging the murder and destruction of other hostile herds. However, in specific circumstances, the same law may engender the opposite behaviour even within the herd, as for example in the case of lions where the new head of a pride will kill the cubs of the defeated male.

Among our human ancestors, the prohibition of murder was also applied solely within the tribe, although with the development of globalisation, the extent of the prohibition’s reach has expanded its boundaries. The universal prohibition on murder, to which Jesus Christ called man, will clearly only be implemented after the complete globalisation of the planet.

Morality which calls us to respect the Freedom of Choice of others, as a way of guaranteeing respect for our own Freedom of Choice, emerged in human society quite recently and only exists in democratic countries, where human rights as a priority are officially proclaimed. This complex form of morality, which exists only among human beings and which remains a constant focus of both the arts and the sciences, is, of course, a product of Freedom to Choice, which likewise exists solely among the human race.

Recently, a rumour was circulated in the global press that a freedom gene had been discovered, or to put it more clearly, a Free Will gene. Later they started to refute the rumour which may well have been fake news. Other ‘unscientific’ considerations, however, have been raised related to the topic of Freedom of Choice and so we shall comment on them here.

According to science, humankind’s ancestors (Homo habilis) have existed on the planet for about 3-4 million years. Ninety-nine percent of that time, if our ancestors did evolve, then they evolved in the same way as their primate relatives in accordance with Darwin’s theory. If our ancestors used sticks and stones during this time, then it should be pointed out that many other primate species used and use to this day these same implements for hunting and gathering.

And when less than one percent of this time was left i.e. 30-40 thousand years ago, the first signs of human evolution appeared i.e. signs of human activity significantly differentiating the species from other primates. Even in this period, for 30-35 thousand years, humankind was just ‘building up’ to the process, preparing for the great, real, human evolution.

The human evolution of the past 5-10 thousand years has taken place with exponential acceleration leading to what we see of the modern-day world with all its aeroplanes, ships, missiles and preparation for a flight to the planet Mars.

Suspicious? In my opinion, it is more than suspicious.

Perhaps, 30-40 thousand years ago (give or take a few) a Freedom of Choice gene appeared among mankind’s ancestor’s for the first time as a result of a process of natural mutation. This moment can be called the birth of the first Homo sapiens, or Homo eligenti as suggested in The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer”. Some might call it the reason genome, but that’s irrelevant and doesn’t change the essence here.

The mutation which allowed people to start choosing their behaviour freely, rather than acting as a response to blind instinct turned out to be extraordinarily helpful and from this point onwards, the carriers of the freedom gene acquired a huge advantage over other humans around them in the struggle for survival.

Over a period of 30-35 thousand years, the gene victoriously expanded across the breadth of the earth and finally, 5-10 thousand years ago, only the descendants of the new gene carriers remained. This most certainly explains the disappearance of the Neanderthals. Those primates who were genetically very similar but didn’t carry the new gene remained primates stuck with their sticks and stones.

(Part 2 of this article which explains why humanity naturally tends to become more tolerant and less violent over time is available here)


Translated from Russian original by Joanna Dobson

This article isn’t intended to give a comprehensive overview of the topic. It is simply an addition to the book’s contribution to the theme of morality already considered at length in “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer”.

 

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On the meaning of life

I am certain that there is no singular meaning of life that applies equally to everyone. There is a great parable of the six great Jewish prophets which supports my view:

  • In answer to the question: ‘where is truth?’, the meaning of life, the first Prophet, Moses, ‘who had revealed’ the one God to the people, pointed a finger up towards the sky;
  • the second prophet, Solomon, who was known for his great wisdom, pointed a finger to his head;
  • the third prophet, Jesus Christ, who had called the world to compassion placed his hand on his heart;
  • the fourth prophet, Karl Marx, who led the class struggle and the battle for survival, stroked his stomach;
  • the fifth prophet, Sigmund Freud, with his basic instinct pointed, naturally, a little lower.
  • Then came the sixth prophet, Albert Einstein, who declared that the answer to the question was relative and depended on a system of coordinates specific to the person concerned.

The parable above (author remains unknown) was quoted in the third part of “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer”.

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Why “The Last Faith”?

Readers often ask me, “Why The Last Faith?” and I reply, it’s “The Last” because you can’t develop new theories in old age… I’m joking of course. It’s “The Last” because, in accordance with the principle of Occam’s Razor, the behaviour of all living matter can be reduced to two fundamental ‘laws’ of nature beyond which, no further reduction is possible. By “Faith” I mean faith in science based on experiments and the process of extrapolating observable patterns, not religious faith based on dogma.

Why faith and not knowledge? Let me explain: When Newton wrote his second law equation, he started with the experimental data available to him. Neither he nor anyone else checked the truth of F=ma across an infinite variety of experiments and phenomena. Nonetheless, we apply this equation in all areas of our life because we believe it to be valid. It’s a matter of faith, rather than knowledge.

That is probably why the equation was shown to fail at near-light speeds and in microcosms. When this was discovered, our faith was shaken and new knowledge became necessary, specifically, the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. We have faith in this new knowledge and will work with it until the discovery of exceptions to the rule once again dictates the need for developing new theories.

The Galilean principle is another example. Where and when in life have you seen a free body immune to the impact of other forces, moving endlessly at a constant speed and direction?

The answer is, nowhere, because it would be impossible to remove all surrounding disturbances or influences. Yet, still, we believe in the Galilean principle because we get ever closer to it the more we separate ourselves from external influences. So, in this instance, we are even willing to believe in something no-one has ever seen! We don’t worry about it too much though because all our experiments do in fact reflect the principle very nicely.

Even Darwin created his great theory of evolution by natural selection based on a small collection of experimental data relating to turtles and a few bird species inhabiting the Galapagos Islands. And we place our faith in his theory as a universal law because it provides a perfect explanation for the evolution of all living beings, whether Darwin observed their evolution or not.

All theories of natural science are created in the same way: observation, experimentation, regularity and generalisation, and every time an experiment throws up a discrepancy the theory is changed in part or totally re-written.

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Is it reasonable to appeal to the conscience of corrupt officials and to dream of having honest political leaders?

In robbing their own people, corrupt presidents, ministers and officials are fulfilling the instinct of gene preservation which is inherent in human nature, i.e. they are taking care of their own children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. It is reasonable to appeal to the conscience of corrupt officials and to dream of having honest political leaders?

I would answer directly and without hesitation: No! It is not reasonable!

In developing countries there exists the widespread misconception that the low levels of corruption that exist in highly developed democratic countries is down to the greater honesty of the ruling elite. I am sorry to have to disappoint you but even in countries with a developed democracy, the gene preservation instinct functions in just the same way as it does in more backward countries. You only have to look at some of the most recent examples:

  • As soon as sales dropped in the business belonging to the daughter of America’s newly elected president Donald Trump, the President used his official account to protect her business, and his official Counsellor Kellyanne Conway in an attempt to gain the favour of her boss, openly advertised Trump’s daughter’s company products on national television.
  • French presidential candidate Francois Fillon is accused of embezzling public funds during his time as member of parliament and minister ‘illegally’ paying large sums of money to his wife and children;
  • Vice-president of Samsung, Lee Jae-Yong, was arrested on charges of corruption.

Anyone who comes to power and is faced with the opportunity of providing a secure future for their offspring even if it means doing so in a dishonest manner at the cost of robbing the offspring of ordinary people, will almost always succumb to committing this kind of crime. However, it is true that there are countries in the world where corruption exists at a very low level whilst in other countries, the power vertical is clearly corrupt through and through.

Evidently, it’s not all down to the gene preservation which works in the same manner the world over. So is it down to people’s freedom of choice? That is exactly it!

The percentage of the population that actively manifests freedom of choice, otherwise called ‘civil society’ defines the position of a country on the time axis; it defines the country’s level of democratic development, and finally, it defines the intensity of the nation’s struggle against corruption.

Based on Freedom House estimates the percentage of ‘civil society’ fluctuating between 25-35% in the developed countries of the West thanks to the free press and independent justice system, between 2-5% in the majority of post-Soviet countries, and being almost equal to zero in totalitarian states.

However, the scenario isn’t as gloomy as it first appears. As explained in “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer”, the freedom of choice, and consequently the percentage of ‘civil society’, will steadily increase on a global scale, as indeed we see happening from a historical perspective. Such tendency towards ‘civil society’ is also accelerated by an increasing access to internet throughout the world and easier access to knowledge and education for both men and women.

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The emergence of Freedom of Choice among Humans

Reader: “Here you write that God gave man Freedom of Choice. Can God not be excluded from the equation in this instance?”

Author: “Of course! Whereas the most developed human-like primates have existed for 2-3 million years, the very first signs of Freedom of Choice appeared just 20-30 thousand years ago. Evidently, at this time, the gene responsible for Freedom of Choice developed in a group of primates as a result of natural mutation. Those who carried the gene, homo eligenti, became stronger than the primates overcoming them in the competition for food, territory and reproduction. Most importantly, this primate group initiated a process of rapid evolution which eventually led to the creation of contemporary civilisation. Other primate groups were unsuccessful in the battle for food and territory and remained at a more primitive level of evolution.”

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Racism, Nationalism, Patriotism as the consequences of Xenophobia. Why and how did they arise and how long will they continue to exist?

Xenophobia, as a primordial instinct, arose with the appearance of living beings on Earth as a natural response to the threat posed by other species, and even members of the same species who belonged to external groups. We have all witnessed one to three years old children crying when they are approached by a stranger.

The phenomena of racism, nationalism and patriotism exist among humans as a result of the kind of xenophobia that existed when primitive humans, gregarious by nature, could only survive and Preserve their Gene with members of their own tribe existing on the same habitat, considered the homeland.

Exactly the same phenomenon can be observed in the animal kingdom only then we use different terms to describe it. This same behaviour can be clearly observed in a pack of wolves for example, who will fight other wolf packs as ferociously as other species of animal such as bear.  

Unlike xenophobia, neither racism, nationalism nor patriotism can be said to be biologically inherent in human beings. Take children’s pre-school groups for example. Children of different races will play together without it ever occurring to them that they are in some way different from their play-pals. All racial prejudices are adopted from by the child from their parents as they get older, who in turn adopted the prejudices from their own parents etc, going back to the era of race wars.

Aside from ethnic racism, other forms of discrimination exist in the world against religion, gender and class. Why do these forms of discrimination continue to existence in modern society?

The answer is simple – apartheid. Wherever schools exist in which children are separated into groups on account of race, religion, sex or class, discrimination in all its forms will continue to exist. The adoption of desegregation laws in the USA more than half a century ago represented a significant step forward in achieving the eradication of ethnic racism in America. On the territory of the former Soviet Union class racism, proclaimed by Marxism-Leninism that asserted the superiority of the proletarian class, receded into oblivion together with the Communist regime that fostered the ideology.

Whereas racism born of xenophobia is condemned throughout the world and nationalism disapproved of, patriotism is universally encouraged. 

Yet even this tendency is changing. In united Europe attempts are clearly being made to foster in children a feeling of pan-European patriotism in place of an ethnic, state-based patriotism.

There is every reason to suppose that the consequences of xenophobia will be mitigated by examples of rapprochement between nations and increasing globalisation as all these developments are accompanied by an increase in global Freedom of Choice driven by the Law of Humandynamics.

And yet, it is still very early days.


Translated from Russian original by Joanna Dobson.

Karmak Bagisbayev is an author of “The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer”, an Amazon bestseller in Russian Literature, Atheism and Agnosticism.

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The Myth of Male Polygamy and Female Monogamy

We often hear natural male polygamy and female monogamy being referred to in the context of scientific fact. This myth, which has no biological foundation at all, was thought up by men back in the day of patriarchy and continues to be supported by men for obvious reasons. No species whose breeding strategy differs among its male and female representatives can ever survive! Nature has no examples of a species in which the males are polygamous and the females monogamous or vice verse. Either both sexes are polygamous or both are monogamous. Contrary to widespread assumptions, all ‘harem-forming’ species are totally polygamous i.e. polygamy is evident in both the males and the females. When a lioness is on heat, she will mate with any other male in the absence of the harem leader. The opposite example can be seen among wolves, swans and some other animals, where both male and female are monogamous.

The human species is decidedly polygamous. In modern society, both men and women tend to have more than 5 sexual partners throughout their lifetime and more than 40% have children with different sexual partners. Biologically speaking, men and women are completely equal and have similar rights to gene preservation.

Throughout the history of humankind, we as a species have adopted various types of mating systems depending on environmental and demographic circumstances: polygyny, polyandry, polyamory, monogamy. It should be noted that in every circumstance both men and women stuck to the same mating system and were equally maximising their chances of gene preservation.

The immediate question that comes to mind is how we ended up with a prevalence of monogamous marriage? The answer is simple. Monogamous marriage maximises the chances of gene preservation for both men and women in civilised society.

Humans are the most advanced social animals with the largest brain size in relation to the body. Our babies are born relatively undeveloped and weak compared to other mammals and require the longest fostering period (among all animals) before they are mature enough to take care of themselves and pass on their own genes.

With the development of civilisation and the increasing complexity of society, the fostering period we give our children has also grown. If previously 12-14 year-olds were working or protecting their tribe on an equal footing with their parents, nowadays maturity and independence come in a young person’s early 20s upon graduation from university.

Monogamous marriage maximises a child’s chances to successfully reach the necessary maturity and level of social development required to find a partner and pass on their genes to the next generation.

It should, however, be noted, that monogamous marriage in its strictest sense is a very rare occasion among both humans and animals. In reality, the majority of partners stick to social monogamy while remaining sexually polygamous, both in males and females equally.

Some may claim that men are more prone to adultery than women, but every sexual relationship a man develops outside of marriage usually involves an equally ‘adulterous’ woman.


Translated from Russian original by Joanna Dobson

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