Many atheists have a view that religions first sprung from collections of popular beliefs which were codified and institutionalized by the changing opinions of the (primitive, native) masses affected in part by their relationship to nature. Some believe that the causes of religions are rooted in our psychology. “Religious” feelings and experiences are sometimes accounted for by modern atheists in the false mental-health quasi-scientific language of the therapeutic state. Mental projections of a life without death are said to be childlike. A desire for an absolute moral standard for human behavior is even called psychotic. The need for hidden wishful-thinking provides solace from our personal demise: the idea of supernaturalism, and especially an after-life is called a necessary comfort. Many mystical “experiences” are explained in the most scientific and critical terms. Some say: Religions are culturally evolved systems of memes that arise automatically and easily . . . that there is internal religious resistance in all of us to looking rationally at how and why it works . . . that it is a spell we need to break, and that indeed, atheism doesn’t  arise naturally. Why we might go into the desert (and walk along the edge of insanity for so many days and nights) to attain the “vision” from, or, to, “speak” with the gods is never adequately explained. How rational understanding and knowledge reforms us over time is swept aside; be that as it may, some of these charges must be partly true; however, leftist atheists like Harris, Onfray, Dawkins and their allies say that adult religious belief is this kind of self-inflicted delusion and that human beings are automatons formed from memes & circumstance, that our freedom is an illusion. They don’t just imply this, they explicitly state it; part of their doctrine is that humans have no real control over themselves. Our choices are the end of a causal chain and stretch back in time to the big bang. No agent is free and has no conceivable responsibility for any action. They are scientists and hold that metaphysical speculation on free will is almost tantamount to theology. To them, reason has abided religion with tolerance and only science can refute it. This is nonsense.
I want to comment on this elitist attitude among scientists, mathematicians, linguists and analysts; in fact, I want to argue like Santayana, that religion and religious belief is directly related to reason (defined roundly below). First reason produced it, then reason (on philosophic grounds), rejected it. It is one of the reasons why almost all modern philosophers are either theists or atheists. Religious impulse is certainly not produced by popular belief or psychological need for certainty. Most markedly, it is not a delusion in the same light, for instance, as the omnipresent belief in Platonism among the educated-class of The New Ancien Régime, the unthinking default moral systems of Neoplatonism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hegelianism, Marxism, Islam, Existentialism, Phenomenologism, Linguisticism, Analysism, Positivism and many other manifestations of Platonic doctrines [especially Bentham and Mills' Utilitarianism, see endnote]. It is the ultimate belief among conformist intellectuals that inductionsensual-comprehensiondemocracy, individual-liberty and self-esteem, are second-rate and that left to our own devices, human beings will go all wrong. Platonism is the covert philosophic and psychologic position of Western Civilization. This dogmatic unquestioned temperament among the established intelligentsia is startling in its singularity. They are, of course, as divided as a Marxist is from a Christian or as a Christian is from a Muslim; however, here, to the extent they are religionists, socialists or elitists, they are default Platonists. They are at any rate, rife inside with similarities in political, religious and ethical beliefs.
The word reason has long had, and still has, a large number and a wide variety of senses and uses, related to one another in ways that are often complicated and often not clear, (Encyclopedia of Philosophy); however, my definition is broad, taken from many sources and very clear: "Reason . . . is an open-ended combinatorial system, an engine for generating an unlimited number of new ideas. Once it is programmed with a basic self-interest and an ability to communicate with others, its own logic will impel it, in the fullness of time, to respect the interests of ever-increasing numbers of others. It is reason too that can always take note of the shortcomings of previous exercises of reasoning, and update and improve itself in response. And if you detect a flaw in this argument, it is reason that allows you to point it out and defend an alternative." Better Angels. Or, From Range: the R3 Initiative for scientific results: Rigor, Responsibility, Reproducibility. Or to quote Dawkins from A Devil's Chaplain: testability, evidential support, precision, quantifiability, consistency, intersubjectivity, repeatability, universality, progressiveness, independence of cultural milieu and so forth. Or to paraphrase Blanshard: reason is sort of a system of checking column A, the humanly observed, with column B, the really-real, and to do so in a clear, consistent and logically coherent way for human-beings even with the codicil, that we are incredibly subjective observers in an evolving organism which is life, and that consequently, absolutism isn’t possible; however, reason is potentially that which grasps necessary connections. Good epistemology searches out the tools of logic, reason and science, but knows, in the modern sense, that any true knowledge needs verification, skepticism (sincere doubt), trial and error, self-criticism, a whole host of critical sources, (induction, deduction, abduction/inference, reduction), self-education,  Affect Theory, Intuition Pumps, inspiration and whatever serves reason to seek objectivity.  Or, to roughly  invoke Popper's version, reason demands, more formally, that any theory, (or hypothesis), put forth by anyone at all, should be formulated as much as possible to be refuted, that is, to have falsifiability, (a perfect example of this, 2018, is the work, The Evolution of Beauty,
What makes homo-sapiens human beings is idea, specifically our advanced and progressive ability to picture another world, especially, an afterworld. Idea is our central characteristic as explained in my many articles on the subject. Large brains allowed us to invent alternative possible outcomes as a means to deception in the social reality; that is, along with the other motivations acting in tandem, such as language and concept development. As social (tribal) creatures, we competed with other members of the tribe for supremacy. With a big brain, social deception became our reality. We are the great deceivers; but, our Machiavellian beginnings don’t negate the power of idea on the mind of humankind and the ultimate outcome of our collective adventure. Our animate nature and the design of our mind may have been helped as well by sexual selection. In tribe or collective, the individual gains access to mates by reason, humor,  inventiveness, artiness and other activities which appeal to people. Singers and actors haven’t done well only recently in getting the mates they favor, but also from time immemorial. Our human brains are predicting and projecting from the incoming sensual data creating and editing the movie, i.e., the simulation that we actually see by "synchronizing sets of neural activity in separate brain regions". We ask ourselves in time (first through religion, then philosophy, and then reason/science) "What is real?" We learn and update on the dark counterintuitive plain through the long years of human self-awareness of the ongoing successive states we find the world, or to quote from Descartes' Error, "Living organisms are changing continuously, assuming a succession of “states,” each defined by varied patterns of ongoing activity in all of its components. You might picture this as a composite of the actions of a slew of people and objects operating within a circumscribed area. Imagine yourself in a large airport terminal, looking around, inside and outside. You see and hear the constant bustle from many different systems: people boarding or leaving aircraft, or just sitting or standing; people strolling or walking by with seeming purpose; planes taxiing, taking off, landing; mechanics and baggage handlers going about their business. Now imagine that you freeze the frame of this ongoing video or that you take a wide-angle snapshot of the entire scene. What you get in the frozen frame or in the still snapshot is the image of a state, an artificial, momentary slice of life, indicating what was going on in the various organs of a vast organism during the time window defined by the camera’s shutter speed. (In reality, things are a bit more complicated than this. Depending on the scale of analysis, the states of organisms may be discrete units or merge continuously.) BODY AND BRAIN INTERACT: THE ORGANISM WITHIN. The brain and the body are indissociably integrated by mutually targeted biochemical and neural circuits. There are two principal routes of interconnection. The route usually thought of first is made of sensory and motor peripheral nerves which carry signals from every part of the body to the brain, and from the brain to every part of the body. The other route, which comes less easily to mind although it is far older in evolution, is the bloodstream; it carries chemical signals such as hormones, neurotransmitters, and modulators." 
Emotions, instincts and environmental-situations, were our guideposts through the shadows all the long years, but without reason and science, shadow is where we will return. For over 2500 years – much of it from purposefully driven design – Platonism has progressed insidiously to become the backdrop to all matters of metaphysical importance, especially ethics. Plato's perfectionist, mystical vision is the dominant moral spirit of Europe. The multitude Platonic efforts at intuitive, innate truths in which eternal, timeless moral value is to be discovered inside the very marrow of human nature has been philosophy's wilful, wrong and worthless distraction. This phenomena of which I identify has been analysed by many thinkers, but the worldwide intellectual response has been a shrug: “Western Philosophy,” after all, to quote from Process and Reality “Consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”  (Whitehead was the son of a vicar who became a mathematician who became a philosopher who became a supernaturalist. When he was young, he co-authored the momentous Principia Mathematica with Bertrand Russell and was a landmark in modern academic philosophy.) The Platonists bet that any rational antiplatonic sentiment would be ignored as absurd, uncaring and even immoral. They exaggerate the certainty of mathematics, the importance of linguistics, the ignorance of humankind and our dependence on the specialized knower. They are everywhere, and unfortunately for humankind, have produced the context for all the important moral issues of the last two thousand years.
How Could There be a Default Setting to Western Civilization?
To quote Whitehead further, “So far as concerns philosophy only a selected group can be explicitly mentioned. There is no point in endeavoring to force the interpretations of divergent philosophers into a vague agreement. What is important is that the scheme of interpretation here adopted can claim for each of its main positions the express authority of one, or the other, of some supreme master of thought - Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant. But ultimately nothing rests on authority; the final court of appeal is intrinsic reasonableness.  The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them. His personal endowments, his wide opportunities for experience at a great period of civilization, his inheritance of an intellectual tradition not yet stiffened by excessive systematization, have made his writing an inexhaustible mine of suggestion.”
But what if?
What if instead of Plato being the default philosophy of the West, (in as much as I am correct in this regard), it had been Democritus, a philosopher Plato hated so much he wanted to burn his books. He was infinitely superior to Plato on so many counts: he was a superb and venerated thinker, a giant among the ancients, the leading thinker of his time but we know too little about him. Just our luck, (or maybe not), that his writing was lost and Plato’s saved. A mere accident of coincidence you think? Philosophy is not just an objective referee. Ideas have consequences and those of Platonism have been devastating for human kind. Academic  philosophy did not have a free democratic debate about Plato's fascist architecture. From the beginning, under the auspices of theology, especially after the Jesus Christ myth bloomed, (see here,  here,  here, and here) it bore deep roots and it took sides in a civil war of ideas. The revolutionary results are what academic philosophy looks like today: the internal rot is everywhere. “The ruler,” Plato stated in the Republic, “must wipe the slate clean: the philosopher king must perforce expel from society all over age ten so that he may begin with fresh young minds.” That’s how ferocious philosophy can be and how vicious Plato was.
Democritus and Plato had two diametrically opposed ways of understanding: one produced philosophical materialism, and the other, philosophical idealism; that is, the dirty sensualist up against the benevolent Catholic otherworlder; the atheist up against the elitist-mystic; the realist opposed to the subjectivist; the atomist versus the creator of the obnoxious ‘Theory of Forms’; and the rational mind up against the wishful thinker. After Plato, philosophy took a wild turn for the worst. He conveyed it from a search for truth based on facts to mystical speculation and it has never recovered. [I understand that in many quarters, Plato is called a realist. He believed in the world outside of mind. This doesn't change the fact that like Marx, Jesus and Muhammad, his focus was that the "real" reality was hidden from humankind and available only to the initiated.]
We know now that Democritus came closer to the truth than anyone else from Roman Greco times.  He (with his mentor Leucippus) developed an excellent mechanistic view of nature in which every material phenomenon is seen a product of atomic structure. Democritus is sometimes called ‘The Laughing Philosopher’. He  taught that the true end of life is happiness to be accomplished through self regulation. He held that the earth was round. The universe is comprised of nothing but tiny invisible parts – atoms – churning in chaos, until they collided or are attracted together to form larger units, including the earth and everything on it. Many worlds exist, some growing, some decaying, some with no sun or moon, some with several suns. Every world has a beginning and an end, some can even be destroyed by collision with another world. Reports suggest that Democritus was committed to a kind of rational hedonism in which the good was held to be an internal state rather than something external or that the good  was cheerfulness and the lack of fear; of moderation and mindfulness in one’s pursuit of the pleasures in life; that it was necessary to free oneself from dependence on fate or fortune by moderating desires. The human ability to act on nature by means of teaching and art (i.e., by creating ideas) suggests that he preached that managing our morals was like taking care for our physical health.
Plato has been elevated while Democritus has been disregarded. The rulers of society have very good reason for wanting us to revere Plato and to be ignorant of Democritus. Plato through Christianity, Marxism, socialism and other collective belief systems, would lead us eventually into where today we stand: we live throughout the world in a reactionist statism with modern handmaiden governments. With Platonism, freedom is always diminished and personal liberty abhorred. Never mind John Lennon’s Platonic lament, “Imagine no possessions.” Envision no Plato; no platonic love, no ‘Republic’, no ‘Theory of Forms, no possibility of unearned knowledge usurping hard-won created ideas with mental labour, no Neo-Platonistic mysticism and no viral infection of what might have been a simple harmless sun religion (turned instead) into an imperialistic world-conquering force. Picture no Platonic altruism put to the governed from the philosopher-rulers, no elitist autocrats such as the Marxists produced and no dumb-downs tolerated from inside the cave; (“O Plato! You have done more harm than you know." - Voltaire), but instead, see them replaced with reason, science, democracy, sensual perception, discovering ideas from reality as apposed to uncovering them from inside the mind, or at least realizing that innate knowledge assists us in discovery of the world but doesn't supply the answers for which we search. There would evolve realism over idealism. And from the time of Plato's era, the growth of civilization instead of the actual 1000 year devolution of the Dark Ages. This might have developed into sympathetic pro-libertarian ideological dispositions, and therefore, sacrificing the individual to the herd would be as morally repugnant as it should be. Rather, a romantic view of humankind might have come about: a belief that we can escape our ignorance (and get out of the cave) by using our mind, that we can reason and manage our lives without gods, religions, philosopher-kings or governments.
Maybe this is too much to ask of ourselves but we should at least try. Leucippus was the earliest philosopher to develop “The Theory of Atomism”. His pupil, Democritus was the hypothesis’ best proponent. “Excelsior,” we might say, and maybe Leucippus in fact did not even exist. The evidence is scant. As Democritus well knew, there was likely no god or gods. But much of what the atomic philosophers stood for, despite how much they produced on papyrus, is unknown. So, it’s uncertain, and I’ll tell you why. Atomic philosophers  were for this life: pleasure/pain as the standard of goodness, sensualism versus mysticism, science versus supernatural-speculation, moderation, toleration of each and everyone’s views, and in general, living a life of reason. Here’s the point: it’s exceedingly important; Democritus, Leucippus, Epicurus, Lucretius and other’s plentiful works were all lost. However, the Platonists, (Plato, Plotinus, Augustine, Boethius and the many others), their works were kept (mostly) intact. The Christians destroyed the Atomic philosophers’ works through neglect or on purpose. There’s no smoking pistol. No absolute proof. Just the results of this bleak history since the Christians took over in the Dark Ages. All the antiplatonists works were lost. Period. You decide for yourself, and you folks who think human sacrifice is worth the gain; you who wish for egalitarianism and all the vampires of human nature, you choose as well. The Platonists certainly weren’t democrats.
Wherein, it is often their accusation that freedom carries with it the seed of its own destruction either through misery, poverty and revolution or conversely through greed, success and apathy. Oh that they were completely wrong on all points, but still, the sensual atomic life is not the world of the perfect; it’s good and evil living side by side. When homo sapiens ascended into the stratospheres of the human brain, it was the advance of idea, the becoming of the human mind as, essentially, a frontal-lobe projector, imagining different futures, and especially an afterlife. It was created in Africa with a group of archaic homo sapiens on the edge of life 30 to 40,000 years ago (or longer), when we became self-aware. Perhaps in a time of necessity – a crisis of life or death in a hot desert climate – a group of humanoids survived by planning for the future.
From this small group of planners and managers, evolved the human beings that we are today. The advancement of our imagination grew in tandem with reason. Primitive speech led reason to explain the general situation with its limited resources. It projected the story of the gods (verbally at first) to account for answers for the mysterious matters it didn’t understand. While this animated thoughtful activity was not irrational, today with hindsight and science, it looks ridiculous; however, it was not. It was purposeful, deliberative and pointed to some explanation as opposed to absolute ignorance. It developed reason, offered order to the crazy world  through the stories of its anthropothiestic deities.
Through these remote thousands of years, human reason led to farming, animal domestication, collecting and storing seeds, counting possessions, and eventually, to forming primitive civilizations, all autocratic and inefficient (and brought about with violence), but nonetheless, offering order. The written word caused another revolution in our being as an accumulative factor in single generations. The dissident rational individual came into being, a phenomena that would lead to progress about what arrangement in civil order would better suit human beings. The claim was made that we were special in every sense. Nearly all regular people felt that their humanity was attached to value, that value was fact and facts percieved outside the brain/mind held value for us.
No autocracy followed the advice of its dissidents, but the Ionian philosophers came into being and gave a viable alternative to autocratic order, and for the most part, held an intellectual regimen that value was indeed fact and facts certainly had value. We see these phenomena in many civilizations throughout the world, but in Greece, there was, by purpose or accident, a revolution of individualism and primitive democracy (for some of its inhabitants). Why Plato is one of the most important evil geniuses of history is because he betrayed this promising development and his malevolent philosophy was absorbed by an ambitious sun religion which, via Platonism and Neo-Platonism, filtered through Saul of Tarsus (Paul the Apostle) and Saint Augustine, then went viral and attacked sensualism, democracy, freedom, personal liberty, materialism, and especially, reason.
Uninterrupted through the centuries, it became aggressive, intolerant, blood-thirsty and saturated everything in the Western world'  --  "The Dark Ages ensued, an era of widespread barbarity during which almost all the best values, technologies, knowledge, and achievements of the Greco-Roman era were forgotten or abandoned and had to be relearned and reinvented all over again many centuries later. In this period Christianity neither corrected what had gone wrong nor reintroduced any striving for the dreams and aspirations of earlier Greek and Roman idealists, but to the contrary, Christianity embraced a partial and sometimes full retreat from them. Christianity did not decisively kill science or the last glimmer of hope for democracy. But it made no effort to rescue and revive their ideals, either, and instead let them drown, with little sign of regret, and in some cases even to praises of their demise" (Richard Carrier).
Until Christianity ran into thier bastard son, Marxism.  Here in 2024 we argue with Platonism, a covert hateful philosophy of human sacrifice which is always present at the execution of individual human liberty and laughs at any attempt of a human being to stand by their own reckoning. How can we recognize and rid ourselves of the pernicious vestiges of Platonism if we are so inclined? There are six philosophers of reason who can help, (see Six Reasonable Men): they are, Blanshard, Hayek, Mises, Popper, Santayana, and Szasz. As well as being the world’s most important modern philosophers, they are all moderate in their views, atheists, democrats, and have for the most part, cast off the puerile and insulting shackles of   **Platonism. Having to be the Marcus Brutus who stabbed Caesar in the Senate or Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ to the Romans should be no thrill for any atheist, nonetheless; the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett and others profess with a bit of delight, that there is little upside to the downside, (i.e., organized religion). If someone says to me, “Bless you” or “I’ll pray for you and your family”, I sincerely thank them for their kindness and I mean it. There is no Platonism in the gesture. They’re not throwing virgins into the volcanoes or sacrificing the Cossacks for paradise, they’re just saying thank you for being nice. The Blue Zones which produce an abundance of centenarians like Nicoya, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; and the Seventh-Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, all live healthy lifestyles. These lifestyle choices are further explained in my health and wellness articles; however, what they also have in common, besides being long-lived, is a strong purposeful life because of a spiritual order, a religion, a belief in a higher power and a prime mover. They totally lack modern nihilism, the atheist-scientist’s view that we are a chance event lost in space and passing into nothingness when we die. Now this isn’t a view that either scientists or philosophers can endorse, I totally understand that; but, as George Santayana and Freeman Dyson have shown, atheists are a pain in the ass and get a lot of things wrong about purpose, community and life in general. I sometimes think that you are better to be a happy believer than a suicidal atheist. If you have the strength of character, (and I do), to find purpose in your life using reason and science to accomplish this fundamental task without faith, (i.e., humanity illuminates the void), then there is no prescription and adjuncts (i.e. downsides), just go do it and do it right without practicing human sacrifice, (i.e., don't become a socialist). For many people this isn’t just a challenge, it is an impossible chore. So for those who need to hold on to this spiritual aspect, I say, “Knock yourself out” and try to remain rational throughout your lives, i.e., don't lose your self to the mystic or your soul to the Platonists.
There's a site out there, "Why Stephen Greenblatt is Wrong," and they take exception to the science behind The Swerve. I posted the following response: 'Here's a quote from The Swerve: "At the end of the fifth century CE an ambitious literary editor known as Stobaeus compiled an anthology of prose and poetry by the ancient world’s best authors: out of 1,430 quotations, 1,115 are from works that are now lost. In this general vanishing, all the works of the brilliant founders of atomism,Leucippus and Democritus, and most of the works of their intellectual heir Epicurus, disappeared. Epicurus had been extraordinarily prolific. He and his principal philosophical opponent, the Stoic Chrysippus, wrote between them, it was said, more than a thousand books. Even if this figure is exaggerated or if it counts as books what we would regard as essays and letters, the written record was clearly massive. That record no longer exists. Apart from three letters quoted by an ancient historian of philosophy, Diogenes Laertius, along with a list of forty maxims, almost nothing by Epicurus has survived."
I'm an unbeliever, and I think that anyone who thinks this was an accident of circumstance is a capital 'B' believer. Moreover, anyone who thinks the Middle Ages weren't the Dark Ages but rather a reset where we gathered our moral fortitude, carefully hid all the books from the idiot-wind-invaders and courageously kept in tact the intellectual heritage of Greek Atomists and Roman Epicureans and Stoics are to put it bluntly, also 'Believers'. Articles like the one above [Why Stephen Greenblatt is Wrong] always try to get to a point on a technicality, but the authors never let you know where they stand. It's like a closet Marxist criticizing the free market but pretending he's objective (and seldom ever publicly admitting his bias). I wonder where the author stands on this matter? His criticism of The Swerve seems a bit too emotional. As someone who thinks Christianity had much to do with the fall of the Roman Empire and the incremental descent into darkness, I have taken the time to read many historians who vehemently dispute this very conclusion. I don't think for a minute this matter is anywhere settled and perhaps never will be.' Be sure you read this delicious book filled with so much verifiable data and controversial, yet defensible, conclusions.
Endnote: If you take the stages of hatha yoga from a religious or ethical code to a secular scheme to help all humankind live joyful and significant lives, (yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi), i.e., use restraint, practice obedience to good habits or routines, sit in earnest to calmly reflect on inner consciousness, learn to control your breathing, withdraw from anxiety and day to day concerns, concentrate on the task at hand, mediate on the greater objects like beauty, and develop self-collectedness through all these practices without the supernatural effrontery of giving up the self entirely to the mystic universal force, then you can see at once what I mean in saying, “Religions were our first efforts at reasoning.” It was our first attempt collectively at understanding the chaos and finding ways, (many of them still very useful), of finding happy, out of self or beyond self, involvement through focused awareness, even on mundane tasks.
* I want to say on Utilitarianism that I am tired of the ridiculous arguments based on human sacrifice masked as philosophy and science; you see them in popular works such as The Wisdom of Psychopaths and keyed-up, first, (of course), by academic philospers such a J. J. Thompson, Philippa Foot and many others. They don't seem to understand natural selection and its play on human morality through the two to three million years on the grassy African plain as Homo erectus, as though not having read,  BoehmDawkinsDiamondGouldKeeganMcNeil, de WaalRiddley, Sapolsky, Judith Harris, and so many others. Tribal and primative morality allowed this kind of murder as a matter of thoughtless collectivism. Modern ethics now forbids it: I won’t keep you in suspense about the famous Trolley Problem; here’s the moral rule: Throw yourself off the bridge to save the five people. That is all you are morally allowed to do, even if you are the skinniest person on the planet and your suicide won't divert the streetcar. You cannot kill a fellow human being or beings, (either directly or remotely), for your own benefit, even if you tell yourself, or you are assured by authority, that it is, "really", for others' assistance. You do not get to be a sadistic altruistic hero by murdering someone's sister, brother, mother, father, friend, child or a complete stranger, even if we are all going to die because they caught the 'Super COVID bug'. This extreme human sacrifice is always immoral, whatever its reason, but especially to play a hypothetically numbers game, kill one to save ten. Nasty. “Kill the rich so the poor can eat!” The sacrifice of the virgin into the volcano, the decapitation of slaves to the depraved god, the starvation of masses of the peasants to the future utopia or the rich, middleclass peoples, (middleman traders), to modern wicked egalitarianism. The other "forced" political penalties inflicted on unwilling participants as for example in the ;almost' COVID panic, is, in numerous ways, equally wrong. It is all drivel, repeated so often that it feels like commonsense, but is not. It is derived from the irrational ideology of Christian Platonism, which we absorb by social osmosis, first through Utilitarianism, which, via John Rawls, Thomas Nagel, and many other versions from the elitist philosophers of the ruling class, has morphed into the current modern myth. Human sacrifice is morality gone irrational, (i.e, intuitive or emotional), and is not allowed for the benefit of humankind, is indeed of no benefit wharsoever, no matter what the excuse.
** About my anti-platonic theory, one could plausibly charge that “my” Plato is a straw-man, in that I've emptied nearly the whole of my intellectual enmity into the concept; however, in my defense, I wanted a modern counter-distinction that was concise and easily apparent to anyone. Plato of course was a multifaceted thinker, and came like Marx or other Platonists with both the love of man and animosity toward ‘sensual life’ and ‘human nature’ in some more or less equal mix. I sometimes feel like a samizdat rodent—pen in hand—stuck in a scientist’s cage with only a tax bill, a Solzhenitsyn-like tendency to make-believe Platonic ideology is the prison guard and a seminal, yet sardonic, rage to stop the ‘unthinking’ ‘state-levied’ human sacrifice in the democracies against the individual for the benefit of all. It is a utilitarian nightmare!
From Plato's Republic: "The just man would be a simple and noble man, who -- does not wish to seem but actually be good. So we must deprive him of the seeming. For if he is going to be thought just he will have honors and gifts because of that esteem. We cannot be sure in that case whether he is just for justice’s sake or for the sake of the gifts and honors. So we must strip him bare of everything but justice and make his state the opposite of his imagined counterpart. Though doing no wrong, he must have the repute of the greatest injustice, so that he may be put to the test as regards justice, by not softening because of this ill repute and the consequences thereof. But let him hold on his course unchangeable even unto death, seeming all his life to be unjust though being just, that so, both men having reached the limit, the one of injustice, the other of justice, we may pass judgement which of the two is the happier. [And then]. What they will say is this: that such being his disposition, the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, the branding-iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be crucified, and so will learn his lesson that not to be but to seem just is what we ought to desire." How absurd.
To quote S J Gould from The Mismeasure of Man: "The spirit of Plato dies hard. We have been unable to escape the philosophical tradition that what we can see and measure in the world is merely the superficial and imperfect representation of an underlying reality. Much of the fascination of statistics lies embedded in our gut feeling—and never trust a gut feeling—that abstract measures summarizing large tables of data must express something more real and fundamental than the data themselves. (Much professional training in statistics involves a conscious effort to counteract this gut feeling.) The technique of correlation has been particularly subject to such misuse because it seems to provide a path for inferences about causality (and indeed it does, sometimes—but only sometimes)".
This is one of the best descriptions ever of the monotheistic intolerance: (American novelist Gore Vidal): "The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three antihuman religions have evolved – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal – God is the Omnipotent Father – hence the loathing of women for 2000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is not just in place for one tribe, but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good."