a. To what extent can you consider popular religion to have originated from a desire to propitiate what were perceived to be hostile elemental powers?
b. How may the appearance of the "Abrahamic" Faiths be interpreted as an evolutionary psychological advance from polytheism to monotheism?
c. How would you account for the continuing prevalence of dogmatism in religion?
d. How would you account for the apparent tendency for dogmatic religion to be associated with cruelty and terrorism?
e. What light, if any, do the Old Testament scriptures cast on the policies of the current State of Israel?
2. Read the Section headed Evil and Freedom, paying particular attention to the following quotation:
"Man becomes morally free only when both notions, that of Chance and that of incomprehensible Necessity, are displaced by that of Law. Law, as applied to the Universe, means that universal providential pre-arrangement whose conditions can be discerned and discretionally acted on by human intelligence. The sense of freedom arises when the individual independence develops itself according to its own laws, without external collision or hindrance [or] constraint, where it is thwarted or confined by other Natures; or where, by a combination of external forces, the individual force is compelled into a new direction. Moral choice would not exist safely, or even at all, unless it were bound by conditions determining its preferences. Duty supposes a rule both intelligible and certain, since an uncertain rule would be unintelligible, and if unintelligible, there could be no responsibility. No law that is unknown can be obligatory; and that Roman Emperor was justly execrated who pretended to promulgate his penal laws by putting them up at such a height that none could read them."
a. Are pain and suffering necessarily "evil"?
b. How do you account for the pain and suffering in the world?
c. How free do you feel?
d. Have you acquired the self-discipline of will that makes you "fit to be free"?
e. Do you have a sense of "duty"?
f. If so, what does it mean for you?
g. What are the implications for human laws and justice?
3. In the section headed Law and Responsibility, we read: "Self-restraint is found not to imply self-sacrifice"..
Does your personal experience support this assertion?