Big Dummies Guide to Theology, Philosophy, and Ethics

A Starter Kit for Technoids

By Orrin R. Onken, aka "Simon"
Copyright 1995 - Orrin R. Onken

Introduction

This book is not really for Big Dummies. If you were a dummy you wouldn't have it in your hands at all. Whether you are big or not is actually of no consequence. Rather, this is a book for people who are reasonably intelligent when it comes to computers, DOS, UNIX, the internet and the other playthings in our technoculture, but have had little time, or maybe inclination, to stay up on the religious, philosophical and ethical issues that even the most dedicated technoid eventually bumps into in day to day life.


By necessity, this book will deal with subjects that some people feel strongly about. Where I work, my boss forbids conversation about all three topics mentioned in the title of this book. He forbids discussion of religion to prevent hard feelings between people who feel strongly about the issue. He forbids philosophical discussions because they can be construed as anti-Republican, and he forbids discussion of ethics because the firm I work for is in business to make money. Nevertheless, all three subjects affect everyone at one time or another, and it is useful to know enough about each to realize how much you don't know. That is about as far as this book will take you, but in many a discussion concerning one of these subjects that knowledge alone will make you the brightest guy at the table.


When it comes to computer software and hardware, most everyone accepts that fact that people are not born with an innate knowledge of how these things work, and the school of hard knocks is really not the best place to pick up the proper use of batch files. Even my father, with his years of fix-it experience and a super dose of common sense, doesn't tear down his PC without a good manual or the help of a pro. However, in the areas of religion, philosophy and ethics, it is commonly held that a good dose of life will make you an expert. Professionals are often actually avoided, on the grounds that they have been corrupted by too much knowledge. This in not an intelligent approach. If you feel that you know all there is to know about these subjects because you are over twenty-three years old and thought about them once, then I have to take back what I said about not being a big dummy. I rely on computer experts when I have a computer problem, and in discussing religious and philosophical ideas I rely on the manuals and the experts. On occasions I will refer to them, but this in not a college course. There is a bibliography in the back of the book. Should you want to become an expert, start there or go back to college.


This book will probably offend nearly everyone. People with strong religious views will object if my discussion varies from a particular point of view. Philosophers will complain that I oversimplify to the point of misrepresentation. Ethicists will probably declare the whole project immoral. My boss will be distressed to learn that I even think about such things. That is the nature of the beast. I welcome criticism and encourage anyone who finds errors in this text to contact me. All mail should be sent to me care of my ex-wife. Please address it as follows:



		HILDA THE HORRIBLE

		P.O. Box 555

		Ely, Nevada

I do not intend to convince anyone of the correctness of a particular religion or philosophical system. Deeply held convictions seldom change, so people who like Macs will continue to use Macs, and people who like IBM will still like IBM. Although this book may bring peace to the Middle East, I doubt it can ever change anyone's view on the important issues. Dos users will still hate Windows, and Windows users will still consider Dos a form of technoid torture.


The other thing this book will not do is list and rate the numerous religions and schools of philosophy. Consequently, you will learn nothing about rat worshippers of Eastern Malaysia, Mongolian shamans who believe that the life is really a cosmic game of Jeapordy, or American political talk show hosts who believe that ethics are character defects. Instead, you will get an intoduction to the concepts which, in one form or another, are of concern to all religions and the structures that form philosophy.


This book has three basic sections. The first concerns religion. Religion comes first for historical reasons. Religious movements built the largest buildings the earliest. Philosophy is next. Once the buildings got built, the philosophers moved in. Ethics is the final section, because, since the beginning, ethics has ridden the coat tail of both philosophy and religion. It is like a little dog that tags along, so I let it tag along at the end.


Ready for More?

Next is The Vocabulary of Deep Thought

However, if your vocabulary is already pretty good you might want to jump directly to

The Seven Deadly Arguments

If it all seems too much right now, you might