tinkering with the god God’s perfect design
… if there is no belief that people have worth and value beyond the natural world, then there really is no sound moral argument to made for not tinkering with the design. In fact, people who do not accept that we have a spiritual aspect to ourselves, can’t very well claim that we have a design at all. If we just sprouted up out of the universe randomly, than attempting to alter the very nature of ourselves is really no big deal. It’s not like anyone has intellectual property rights to us or anything. (Insanitybytes)
Here we face the typical accusation from religious types that because we don’t have an old book that we believe was written by an invisible god to refer to, those of us without belief in a creator deity can’t make sensible decisions. As I’ve said on countless occasions, this sense of morality isn’t a mysterious and magic, unfathomable feeling beamed down on us from a perfect being, but a mixture of some very obvious circumstances:
1. We live in co-operative societies where treatment is reciprocal. In any given so-called “moral dilemma” we obviously ask, how would I like to be treated, how would I like someone I love to be treated?
2. We look at the evidence available, what history shows us and analyse the potential positive and negative outcomes from as many angles as possible.
What is our dear friend Insanitybytes concerned with?
So, biological tinkering, that design I am compelled to constantly try to advocate for, manifests itself in so many ways, in attempting to rewrite the scripts between men and women, in trying to alter the reproductive rules, in manipulating DNA, in gene splicing and genetically manipulating crops, in biological warfare, in artificial intelligence, in great debates over religion and philosophy and ethics.
And here we get to the nutshell of a problem humanity faces as we try to progress – masses of people of a religious persuasion who can only make their arguments for and against innovation is terms of not ‘tinkering’ with a ‘design’. Let’s be clear, yes, humans often make a mess of things experimenting with change in areas that are only on the fringes of our understanding. These disasters often happen with the best of intentions, for example drugs meant to cure that have horrific, unintentional side effects. Does that mean we should stop using medicine because it’s ‘tinkering’ with your invisible god’s disease-filled creative vision for humanity? Few Christians would argue this is the case.
Perhaps we should stop using machinery, because the god God envisaged humans toiling on the land.
Perhaps women should endure drug-free birthing, because the god God envisaged women suffering for eternity as a punishment for Eve’s actions in the Garden of Eden. I’ve been informed by super-blogger Victoria Neuronotes, that this is indeed a belief held by some Christians.
Perhaps we should abandon all research into artificial intelligence, because the god God designed all the intelligence he desired, in the form of man (in which case why did he give humans the ability to do anything??)
When it comes to negative effects from GM crops, dodgy experiments on humans and animals, biological warfare, and every other questionable technological advance humans make, the objection should never be based on the grounds that an invisible deity would disapprove because he ‘designed’ it differently. Any objections should be based solely on what the balance of both short-term and long-term outcomes are for individuals, for society and for our planet as a whole, with reference to any financial or power motivations driving the decisions. We won’t always have the complete answer, but at least we’ll know our actions are logical and, in the true sense, moral.
These folks are free to go and live a puritan, Luddite existence… Why must they rain on everyone else’s parade to try and make this a better place?
Fear. They’re afraid of certain types of change and innovation so they pretend it’s not in the ‘design’ instead of looking rationally at the potential benefits. Insanity’s Amish, did you not know? Horse and cart, the full works!
No way!? Really? What is she doing on the interwebs, then? Do you think she can make us some furniture? My mum has an Amish built side cabinet and its gorgeous.
She dictates her posts to an Amish blogging facilitator, who writes it down then posts them for her. She’s never seen a computer. I expect she makes smashing book cases.
Oh, you almost had me there.
Imagine if there was no tinkering.
IB and her ilk would still be using a long drop and wiping her bum on a dock leaf.
Anything that makes their own lives easier isn’t tinkering. Anything that improves the lives of others is suspicious …
Pingback: Violet-Envy | See, there's this thing called biology...
Well said, V. God forbid we use good reasons based on reality’s arbitration of them for how we interact with the world. But that requires work and critical thinking – two anti-requisites for religious beliefs.
Hey Tildeb, I’m enjoying your work over on Tom’s latest. I can’t hit Like, but I am following it.
Doncha love apologetics in action? (I still can’t figure out why I haven’t been banned like I have on IB22’s site).
Establish your ontology by belief (usually indoctrinated) and then try to figure out a way to arrive at that belief using a method that has the patina of scholarship (say… historiography… not historical studies, mind you, but the study of history as different methodologies!). Now claim the apologetic method is equivalent to real scholarship because it looks like scholarship (with big words and everything!) and is even taught at some post secondary institutions as if it belongs at the graduate level (’cause it’s just so darn challenging… academically speaking!). Yup, reality be damned… we’re ‘looking’ for The Truth here… a registered product prepackaged and memetically delivered in a timely manner by divine revelation… which just so happens to be the correct one, no less, and by the greatest of coincidences that it would appear at the door just when one was setting out to find The Truth (TM). Now there’s God in action and powerful evidence of his interactive presence!
What is the <matter with people? Did they miss the hints along the way of this ‘scholastic’ journey that when one presupposes a belief to be true, and then rejects reality’s role to judge the claim under the guise of ‘scholarship’, what do people think they’re going to ‘find’? Every time!
The napkin religion is the One True Religion because it says so right here on this napkin. Now I will build an ‘academic’ arena that will support this ‘method’ of discovering the One True Religion.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Damn I like reading your prose 🙂 You’re right, of course, and it was amusing to see Phadde try to complicate something that wasn’t complicated. I even gave them easy-to-understand working examples of “first” or “earliest.” Ooooh no, Sir… that’s just too diabolical.
I’ve been keeping up with Tom’s posts. They’re hilarious! I don’t know if it’s because I’m not all here yet, but I can’t bring myself to say anything. There’s something almost sweet and naive about his belief, and I don’t feel the urge to knock it. It’s like a little child with fairies at the bottom of the garden. And he’s so polite as well.
“When it comes to negative effects from GM crops, dodgy experiments on humans and animals, biological warfare, and every other questionable technological advance humans make, the objection should never be based on the grounds that an invisible deity would disapprove because he ‘designed’ it differently. Any objections should be based solely on what the balance of both short-term and long-term outcomes are for individuals, for society and for our planet as a whole, with reference to any financial or power motivations driving the decisions. We won’t always have the complete answer, but at least we’ll know our actions are logical and, in the true sense, moral.”
I think you’re hitting the crux of the issue right on the head here. Only problem is, the nail isn’t at all piercing the side that you assume it is…
You can throw out a term like “design” if you like, (because “design” infers a designer, usually…) but in the end you’re still appealing to a design of some kind. Some form of objective reference point for things. A “way things are supposed to be”.
Otherwise it would be useless to even talk about the “balance of both short short-term and long-term outcomes” for things. “Balance” infers the balancing of weighing the “good” vs. the “bad”. Does it not? Good how? Good for who? And why? How is what is “good” even known? No matter which semantic road you choose to take, in the end you still wind up appealing to some kind of design eventually, because otherwise you would simply just accept everything that is, everything that happens by man or nature (two terms which together themselves infer an aspect of design, since isn’t man just one piece of nature anyway?), and an oil spill would be no more “wrong” or “right”, natural or unnatural, than a meadow full of wildflowers….
(by the way, my wife did in fact give birth three times without epidural, not because of any weird belief in self-punishment or anything, the labor just came on too fast. But wow, wouldn’t you know it, she was able to give birth without them. Just like the billions of babies that have been born before such medicine was available…)
What a fun little bunch you are. High-fiving each other as you build up all sorts of unrealistic straw-man representations of other people’s beliefs, and then tear into them with glee like a bunch of kiddies wacking the piñata at a birthday party. Must be some cathartic need I guess…
“Good how? Good for who? And why? How is what is “good” even known?”
Oh dear, I’m sorry you feel to can’t answer those questions without reference to invisible deities. At its most basic level, I like it when people are nice to me, so I try to be nice to people because I know that’s nice. See what I mean?? It’s not very complicated. And an oil spill is ugly, I can’t go swimming in the sea, the beach is ruined, I love looking at birds, I hate it when birds suffer in oil spills. Simple enough for you? I don’t need to imagine the world has been designed to make simple connections about preferences.
(“wouldn’t you know it, she was able to give birth without them”
Wouldn’t you know it, I gave birth twice without any form of pain killers, never mind an epidural. Both times the most horrific, excruciatingly painful and traumatic experiences of my life. I wouldn’t wish that level of pain on anyone.)
“What a fun little bunch you are. High-fiving each other as you build up all sorts of unrealistic straw-man representations of other people’s beliefs, and then tear into them with glee like a bunch of kiddies wacking the piñata at a birthday party.”
I know, it’s always a disappointment when no Christians pop over to give their alternative point of view. I’m not sure why this particular post only attracted you.
“I like it when people are nice to me, so I try to be nice to people because I know that’s nice.”
“And an oil spill is ugly, I can’t go swimming in the sea, the beach is ruined, I love looking at birds, I hate it when birds suffer in oil spills”
So, are these actually arguments claiming that there is no design, or are you just saying that you think the design is rather self-evident in a lot of ways….?
Deary me. I’m not sure where I can go if that’s your response. Yes, because I like looking at birds and don’t like oil spills, I must concede that the Christian god God MUST have created the world! 😀
Did I make that leap? I don’t believe I did. I was simply focusing on the isolated question of whether or not there is an order to the world which we all consider to be more or less “the way it is supposed to be”. (Don’t call it a design, if you really hate that word, even if it is the most applicable term.)
But anyhow… Is that it? That’s your “simple” explanation? it’s as basic as what you like and don’t like? The morality of the universe essentially is as easy to figure out as tallying the thumbs up on a facebook status?
I’ve written extensively about this concept of ‘morality’. Here’s one I dedicated to Insanity:
“Morality is constantly evolving…” Come up with that all on your own?
Definitely seems like I’ve heard that before. It’s philo-babble. Falls apart as soon as you pick up and try to actually use it.
Okay, I see. So you’re happy with stoning adulterers? Or do you think it’s moral for men to have more than one wife? Is it moral to have slaves? Where do you NOT see morality evolving??
Those are three examples which cannot all be addressed on the same level. The first was a command from God in the Torah, the second an act not commanded but indulged in by men in the O.T., and the third a question which depends on which form of slavery you are referring to.
Nevertheless, in none of your provided examples do I see morality evolving. Whatsover.
“Nevertheless, in none of your provided examples do I see morality evolving. ”
Choke. Okay, happy travelling! 😀
“Choke”? Wow, gonna have to remember that time. I never realized proving your point was as simple as saying the word “choke”…(!)
If you’re going to deny that the human sense of morality has evolved through the years, and you can’t see the obvious changes from culture to culture, I’m not sure how I could prove any point to you. Lost in La-la land.
I certainly don’t deny that the human sense of morality has changed, both gradually and in sudden jumps, in a variety of directions, but to use the term “evolved” implies that is has in general changed for the “better”. I asked you how it is you define things like “better” or “good”. You answer by saying simply whatever seems “right” or “good” to your own perceptions.
This is hardly a new perspective.
Because we have access to a much larger evidence base that can tell us more about how our actions affect everyone and everything. And remember, a happy planet is a better place to live, for us and our offspring. No gods required to work that out.
Nope, no gods required at all. “Happy” is whatever I find to feel good at this particular moment… But what if swimming at oily beaches makes me happy? What if pulling my kids hair makes me feel happy? (you see where this is going…?)
Adultery is adultery, that has never changed….
The manner which God used to first demonstrate how wrong it was, and then later provide an alternative to the prescribed penalty, was something that happened in progressive stages, but this is still quite a bit different than what you’re talking about with “evolving morality”…
If morality is truly evolving, as you claim, and there is no fixed, objective reference point, which you deny, then what this means is that a thousand years from now, if the majority of people are quite pleased by looking upon an oil-filled ocean, or pulling their children’s hair, then this becomes “moral”, because it’s simply what humanity has “evolved” to accept. Nothing more….
None of your examples are logical. Why would filling the ocean with oil benefit anyone, what would be the logical motive for doing it? I do predict that a thousand years from now it will be immoral to eat the flesh of sentient beings, and that humans will be mainly vegetarians or vegans (apart from the ‘sinners’).
Since when is sin “logical”…? Is rape “logical”? Is killing someone and stealing their money “logical”? Yet people do this all the time, because they find such actions to be necessary in their own personal pursuit of happiness….
It’s because they feel the reward for them outweighs any other considerations. There’s a lot required in terms of loving and empathetic upbringing, education, and generally decent opportunities for people to feel like they are valued members of society. Let’s be clear, most people don’t rape, steal and murder. And it’s mindless to label these crimes as ‘sin’. If you don’t look for the real motives and ways to help people avoid them in the future, you’re not helping to steer people away from harmful behaviour, which is why the concept of ‘sin’ is in itself harmful to society.
You still keep just talking past the underlying point, injecting a whole host of assumptions into every response in a way that contradicts your underlying premise. Look, you just said, ” they feel the reward for them outweighs any other considerations”. In other words, you are saying that because such people weren’t loved enough and raised properly etc., this has caused them to FALSELY interpret an action as “right” because it feels good to them in the moment. Their inner compulsions are declared wrong, yet earlier you said this was the “easy, obvious” measure of right and wrong in the world. Let me tell, it’s nowhere near that “easy”, and no, I don’t think it’s at all “mindless” to label such things as sin, as I think any parent who stops and considers that happening to their own child might not think it “mindless” either. Is that what you would tell your child, if they were raped? That the person who did this horrible thing to them, really didn’t do anything “evil”, or any such dogmatic term like that, they were simply confused, and didn’t feel like a valued enough member of society, so it wasn’t really that person’s fault or choice or responsibility….(?) I wouldn’t look my child in the eye and say that….
You’re still skipping over the foundational question. Why is “harmful behavior” (itself a difficult and transient thing to nail down) itself the measure of wrong? You said earlier, that right/wrong is defined by what feels right to YOU. But what happens when YOUR feelings conflict with someone elses? Then you’re stuck with morality defined by majority, in which case anything goes, so long as the majority buys in. It’s a very circular way of defining morals, if you only step back and look at it, and so essentially, a hundred years from now, if the majority approves, people could be doing the exact opposite of what you or I think is “right” in our own eyes today, yet it would still have to be deemed “moral” because hey, it happened later in history and so therefore must be “progress”….
The bottom line is, if we all just evolved out of the ether, all have our origins in the vast randomness of an ever evolving universe, then it’s ALL chaos anyhow, and all these attempts to overlay such concepts as “morality” and “society” and “improvement” are just absolute illusions being projected upon it. There’s no “right” or “wrong” involved when we think about a rock hurling through space until it eventually collides with another rock. No ethical quandaries or moral reflection. It’s simply physics at work. Random projectiles, mass and energy and motion, randomly being flung, randomly coming together. That’s all it is. And in the scope of an Evolutionary universe, that’s all ANYTHING is, if you are truly being honest about it. You, and I, and everyone else, just slightly more complex combinations of matter and energy, haplessly colliding… No right. No wrong. No good. No bad. No meaning to any of it….
” But what happens when YOUR feelings conflict with someone elses? Then you’re stuck with morality defined by majority”
This is ridiculous! Where do you live? Morality is defined by the majority in the form of laws. We vote for the lawmakers and they make the laws. Why do you think there is a such a hoo-ha about the death penalty? Because some people think it’s logical to kill offenders, and some people think it’s inhumane. Where does that lie on your god God-given absolute scale of morality? Why do you think there’s such a problem with euthanasia? Because some people think it’s inhumane to keep suffering humans alive, and other people think the god God is squeezing every last suffering breath out of his cursed creation.
“It’s a very circular way of defining morals, if you only step back and look at it, and so essentially, a hundred years from now, if the majority approves, people could be doing the exact opposite of what you or I think is “right” in our own eyes today, yet it would still have to be deemed “moral” because hey, it happened later in history and so therefore must be “progress”….”
That’s why we don’t approve of slavery today. That’s why we don’t approve of burning witches today. Because our understanding of the world changes. We’re not moving towards some kind of perfect scale sitting out there, we’re making decisions based on the evidence we have at hand. Honestly, I think your understanding of the history of the world, and of other cultures, must be incredibly poor.
“The bottom line is, if we all just evolved out of the ether, all have our origins in the vast randomness of an ever evolving universe, then it’s ALL chaos anyhow, and all these attempts to overlay such concepts as “morality” and “society” and “improvement” are just absolute illusions being projected upon it.”
Why illusions? It’s our attempt to provide labels and concepts for common experiences.
“if you are truly being honest about it. You, and I, and everyone else, just slightly more complex combinations of matter and energy, haplessly colliding… No right. No wrong. No good. No bad. No meaning to any of it….”
What meaning do you want? You clearly need a meaning to feel of value, and that’s the sorry part, because you’re grasping at a clearly nonsensical ancient belief system rooted in nothing more than primitive superstitious to try and give your life meaning. We’re here, we feel, we know others feel. Why would we want to ruin our experience/existence or that of others? And why do you think it would be chaos without a god? No chaos, and no god.
” Morality is defined by the majority in the form of laws”
Exactly. I believe I’ve been trying to get you to acknowledge this very thing for some time now. Therefore, if the majority writes a law saying, for example, that all Jews must be exterminated, or everyone with black skin is sub-human, then, presto, it is “moral”….
Ah, but you know that this DOESN’T make it moral, because otherwise there would’ve been no need for another, bigger, outside “majority” to step in and rectify said laws, would there? In other words, one set of laws was objectively wrong, and another was objectively right, regardless of when the laws were in effect or not…
The problem is that you assume that humanity as a whole is always going to “opt” for the true good, (the objective morality…)
But it doesn’t…
“Therefore, if the majority writes a law saying, for example, that all Jews must be exterminated, or everyone with black skin is sub-human, then, presto, it is “moral”….”
Well of course. What do you think millions of Germans were doing last century? They were convinced it was moral. What do you think most of the south of the USA was doing for centuries? They were convinced it was moral. As our understanding of the world changes, our sense of what is right and wrong changes. What is your problem with this?
“In other words, one set of laws was objectively wrong, and another was objectively right, regardless of when the laws were in effect or not…”
Your problem is that you’re imagining our understanding is someone ‘objectively’ correct now. Our understanding is simply where it is.
“The problem is that you assume that humanity as a whole is always going to “opt” for the true good, (the objective morality…)”
Did I? We have the ability to make the most so-called moral judgements by using the evidence available to us, and our naturally evolved sense of empathy. The information available to us in terms of potential outcomes is obviously never complete, we can’t see every ripple of every action we make. And as I’ve explained, our empathetic responses can be over-ruled by other considerations and instincts. We can work to improving things, and it seems to me like we are, simply because more information is available to us. Doesn’t mean to say things won’t change. But I think that based on how humans have evolved in terms of co-operation and empathy, it’s unlikely that we could spiral into the chaos you seem to think would reign in the absence of an invisible god’s morality ruler.
Remember (I know this is hard) that we couldn’t have developed the relatively peaceful and stable societies we have, we probably wouldn’t even exist, if we all had completely random urges to kill and destroy. We’re hardwired to have empathy because it’s a trait that has ensured we’ve survived and flourished.
You can throw out a term like “design” if you like, (because “design” infers a designer, usually…) but in the end you’re still appealing to a design of some kind. Some form of objective reference point for things. A “way things are supposed to be”.
Evolution works by scaffolding. There’s your appearance of ‘design’. And, no, it does not require or imply a designer… especially an ‘intelligent’ designer.
So, yes, we can talk about compelling reasons for and against implementing certain ideas without needing some ‘objective’ reference point. This fact is easily shown by you, whether you drive according to a ‘relative’ speed limit or weigh yourself on a ‘relative’ scale , or measure your child’s height on the same door frame… subjectively chosen, I should add. No ‘objective door frame is needed or necessary. What we require are agreed upon reference points against which to compare and contrast differences That’s it. That’s why it doesn’t matter if you are using Imperial, metric, a local rock, the moon, stories from yore, or US standard; as long as you keep the units the same, you may accurately measure at your leisure… and with astounding accuracy.
This irrational insistence believers make about an ‘objective’ standard (and therefore the need for an ‘objective’ god that just so happens to be the very one out of tens of thousands the believer just so happens to believe through ‘revelation’ is real) is really quite stupid and reveals a dullness of mind rivaled only by stumps and door knobs and bags of hammers.
“really quite stupid”, except your own examples only further prove the point you are trying to argue against. A better analogy would be everyone using whatever standard they wish, to measure anything, and somehow expected that to work….
No, ttistf, you’ve got it wrong. All it requires is a common standard. The ‘objective’ part is irrelevant. That’s why when Violet talks about reciprocity, we have a standard that will do the job just fine. We can compare and contrast behaviours and actions using this standard without any need for some agency of Oogity Boogity! to intervene.
And really, how reasonable is it to suggest POOF!ism is evident because we see scaffolding at work? I mean, really? How can anyone in the 21st century still be thinking that these kinds of religious and superstitious nonsense in any way is a rational blueprint to make our world a better place, a means to improve the human condition, address real and ongoing concerns? I mean, really! That’s insane just writing it as if it were a reasonable and coherent alternative. But maybe when speaking to a busy person dancing naked outside and shaking a bone stick to make it rain, it doesn’t sound so…. gobshite crazy.
“The ‘objective’ part is irrelevant. That’s why when Violet talks about reciprocity, we have a standard that will do the job just fine.”
Oh yes, I forgot… It’s proving itself to be quite the case now, isn’t it. I think a true Utopia is right around the corner….
If your moral reference points aren’t really absolute, but perfectly malleable and interchangeable, then who gets to pick? is it just consensus? Morality based on majority rule? Or is it chosen by those wielding the biggest stick? and either way, how could you argue against either, since in the end, if there is no outside, absolutely any-One or any-Thing, then what morality is whatever it is at the time. It’s a meaningless word. “better” is a meaningless word. “improve the human condition” is a meaningless phrase.
You’re cutting out the very legs on which your entire table stands on, yet refusing to admit you’ve got nothing but air underneath you, yet you call me unreasonable and incoherent….
I’m cutting out nothing.
Think, man. Breathe. Engage the mind and see if you can wrap it around the notion of relative standards we can find used in reality. You’re emphasizing the relative part and dismissing it because you cannot conceive of anything other than chaos ensuing. Is that what we find in reality?
Here’s a hint: focus on the idea of a standard and you will get it.
How do you measure anything? Your argument implies that relying on relative standards means we can’t… and insists that without an objective standard we cannot measure accurately (regarding morals, for example).
Is this true and how can we know? These are the right questions to ask any claim about reality.
Let’s see how we do:
Again, think: is Imperial any less accurate a standard because some use the metric standard?
Must everyone use metric?
Are we subjected to one standard only and by the use of a ‘big stick’?
Tell me, who decides what altitude standard planes will use and do they do this by majority? By force? are our skies chaotic?
I know you can. Now use your grey matter before jumping to conclusions that are unwarranted. We use relative standards ALL THE TIME and we seem quite able to compare and contrast just fine.
You’re comparing apples and oranges here, big time. To say that one quart equals .946 liters is not the same as saying as saying one quart = whatever amount seems right in my own eyes. You are still arguing FOR an objective reference, because whether you describe it one way, or another way, in the in you are still talking about the same amount of liquid…. (no?)
You’re still not thinking: where is there an objective standard for distance, weight, volume, height, and so on? Go ahead: show us where this objective standard is.
All you need to compare and contrast differences is a shared standard (keeping the units the same). It doesn’t matter what the relative and subject ‘thing’ is that is selected for the reference point. No objective standard is needed.
You keep focusing on the wrong part – objective versus subjective. You need to focus on the standard and keep your units the same. You argue that subjective and relative mean chaos and individual whereas I point out that as long as two use the same standard and keep their units the same then exacting comparisons can be and are made. You don;t need ‘objective’ anything. The same goes for morals – compare and contrast behaviours and actions – and reciprocity is as good a standard as any and better than most.
“You’re still not thinking” You may find this an ongoing problem in any discussion with strangerthanfiction …
It’s a problem I encounter all the time with many theists who try to respond to criticisms about their theological assumptions and assertions with predigested apologetic crap unrelated to reality that just doesn’t do the job.
How is it that strangerthanfiction can drive relatively safely using one standard of measuring speed and I can do the same using another… even on the same road… and chaos simply does not make its expected appearance?
Well, strangerthanfiction’s assumptions and assertions are factually wrong and he knows it… when it’s put to the test in reality. And after all, why shouldn’t reality have some say in claims made about it?
Pointing to reality that directly and unequivocally supports the justification for religious criticisms I have found often causes a brain worm that slowly and inevitably begins to chew away at the faux-certainty religious faith promotes. Given enough time and a slight opening of someone’s religiously befuddled brain, reality has a way of hastening the crumbling process of a theology built on assumptions and assertions that are demonstrably incompatible with and contrary to how reality operates. And once reality is allowed to arbitrate claims made about it, then theology has nothing left to offer except dishonesty and illusion.
LikeLiked by 1 person
“All you need to compare and contrast differences is a shared standard (keeping the units the same). It doesn’t matter what the relative and subject ‘thing’ is that is selected for the reference point. No objective standard is needed.”
Fair enough. But what works for measuring morally-inert things like distances doesn’t necessarily translate to the realm of human relationships. At least, it doesn’t if the term “morality” actually means what it has historically meant. Morality is not simply another scientific tool. Perhaps that is where you are going wrong, arguing in circles, one minute treating the entirety of the human race as being absolutely no different than measuring land masses or gravity, the next minute treating people as though they actually are so much more than just another cog in the massive universal machine.
Because if that’s all there is, nothing but the ever-evolving “machine”, then you’re right, there is no objectivity at all, and reciprocity is “as good a standard as any”, because literally, ANY standard is as good as anything else!
If a man goes out and finds some orphaned, homeless child, missed by no one, loved by no one, and takes it to some hideout where he does unspeakable things to this poor child, for years even, before eventually murdering this soul, and in the end no one else on the entire planet even knew the child existed, let alone suffered, then what, where, is anything to say that anything was “wrong”…? You have nothing to stand on, if you’re being honest. It’s just one random “life” colliding with another. The child may have been in misery, but how do you ultimately prove that such “misery” was indeed “bad”, and not someone else’s idea of pleasure? It’s all perception, you say, based on the hope that everybody will just get together and more or less agree on a “shared standard”.
But hey… People like Violet seem to object by saying things like “well, most people in the world aren’t robbing/stealing/raping, etc.”, as though in general the world is full of people simply wanting to help their neighbor and be helped in return. I’d agree with that on a certain level perhaps, but at the same time, I live in a country, today, in the “progressive” year of 2015, where the majority of the population believes in a narrative of perpetual warfare against an ever-changing “terrorist” enemy, assenting to drone-bombings of thousands of people on the other side of the globe, torturing innocents, giving more and more authority and worship to the global military juggernaut, yet I very much do believe all of that is quite “immoral”, yet the majority believes otherwise.
If you are right then I suppose the government of the world can bomb whoever they wish into dust, so long as they get the majority to acquiesce and “use the same moral standard”….
If you submitted such questions in a critical thinking course, you’d fail. And the reason why you’d fail is because these aren’t the right questions. And the reason why they’re not the right questions is because they are not important ones.
Understandably, you may think they are important but, when one looks at what they are based on, then one quickly realizes they are based on your a priori assumptions that they are accurate.
I have repeatedly tried to demonstrate why your assumptions are not accurate. For example (and I always use examples so that you can relate my explanation back to what you said) you continue to suggest that evolution is about random events. I have repeatedly told you that it is based on scaffolding. The events you call ‘random’ are simply some events in a group of many that translate into better fitness. This is the ‘random’ change you don;t understand; it is no more random than you dropping an object and have it ‘randomly’ hit the ground. ‘Random’ is not the right word because it doesn’t contain the right meaning to describe the causal effect.
You hold fast to this notion of ‘random’ and connect it with whatever is left after one eliminates the ‘objective’ notion you relate to the necessity for some god. The speed you drive is not random. You select it. You cause it. The STANDARD you use to measure that speed is not ‘objective’; it is relative. Some standards are, as I’ve ever-so-patiently explained, based on Imperial, some on metric. Neither fits the meaning of the term ‘random’. These are standards are selected out of of many and used to measure time over distance. And here’s my point: both us are on the road and both of us are driving the speed limit. You can use one standard – say American Standard with miles per hour – while I can use another – say, metric with kilometers per hour. You can travel 60 mph while I travel 100 Km/h and we”l both be doing the posted speed limit regardless of which standard we are using. This is not ‘random’ chaos. Your understanding here is the problem.
Violet introduced reciprocity as the baseline. You might call it the Golden Rule. We – meaning all humans born with mirror neurons and a functioning brain – can recognize and experience the meaning of second hand reciprocity. I can relate to you because my brain allows me to do a thought experiment and substitute myself in your position in order for me to predict with a fairly high degree of accuracy how you might be feeling compared to how I might feel in your position. This baseline allows me to then contrast my expectation of what I would feel in your position with how you act. Your actions should fall within my understanding. If it doesn’t, then my limbic system kicks into higher gear and I undergo various chemical changes in my brain (everything from humour to fear and flight). This is a very handy biological tool for social interactions.
Because most humans have a well developed and accurate reciprocity ability, we have available to us a handy standard to use for other considerations… considerations like morality.
When we speak about morality, we have to introduce a standard on which we can compare and contrast ideas for their moral content. This is a measurement equivalent in all ways to any other. We have to bookend our standard just like any other. In most systemswe use positive and negative, greater and lesser, higher and lower, and so on. In moral terms, we use right and wrong, in ethics we use good and evil. There’s no mystery to this, no need for some divine distance giver or supernatural speed giver. If you spoke like this regarding other compare and contrast systems, you quite rightly be considered deranged. But when it comes to morality and ethics, suddenly you insist that we anything other than a supernatural ethical overseer or divine law giver is magically necessary.
But it isn’t.
We can develop laws, thank you very much, that are based on reciprocity. In local legal terms, a crime requires a victim. Without a victim, how can there be crime? And why is this important? Well, because we are talking about some kind of transgression against another person and this implies that the principle of reciprocity has been broken. No god is necessary.
You’d think that secular law must be cause for social chaos because of its ‘random’ basis according to you. That’s easy to check: secular nations that use reciprocity for their common law are in fact the most peaceful, the least chaotic, and have the most stable governance. How can this be if god is not part of the law giving? The answer is not one you’re going to like: it’s by incorporating the principle of reciprocity into the fabric of law. You are free to swing your fist… right up until it threatens another’s nose. See? Reciprocity in action, reciprocity in law, reciprocity in your AND my considerations about when one may and may not swing one’s fist. No chaos, no randomness. The standard really does work rather well without any Divine Dear Leader laying out commandments.
“This is the ‘random’ change you don;t understand; it is no more random than you dropping an object and have it ‘randomly’ hit the ground. ‘Random’ is not the right word because it doesn’t contain the right meaning to describe the causal effect.”
You really didn’t need to write such an exhaustive comment, because you touch the core right here. “causal effect”. You object to my use of the term “randomness”. I suppose, in a sense, you are right that it is not “chaos” or “random” in that I am not trying to describe some katy-wompass universe where anything can happen at any moment, etc.
Your entire comment intricately describes this massive cause and effect chain of events, which I agree, is what everything is, if your premise of scientific materialism is held to with intellectual honesty. Thus, EVERYTHING is mere cause and effect, electrons and particles and chemicals, etc. Like I already tried to analogize, it’s all “rocks colliding in space”. It’s all mechanics, from the movements of the celestial bodies, to every last “decision” we think we are making. It’s all mechanics. There is no “choice”, only interactions so complex we perceive them is choice. There is no “beauty”, or “pleasure” or “pain” or “right” or “wrong”, only, again, various complex combinations of the physical world that would perceive to be one thing or the other….
You keep talking right past what I’m actually driving at.
There is no “choice”, only interactions so complex we perceive them is choice. There is no “beauty”, or “pleasure” or “pain” or “right” or “wrong”, only, again, various complex combinations of the physical world that would perceive to be one thing or the other….
I try to stay away from discussions about free will because if it’s free it’s not will and if it’s will then it’s not free. Using the term ‘choice’ already muddies what is otherwise an opaque subject. And it very much depends on what each of the terms mean. What I will say (excuse the pun) is that the right area to study this is not metaphysics, not philosophy, and certainly not theology. The right subject is biology generally and neuroscience specifically.
Our brains are meaning making machines. We receive input from our environments and we produce output to navigate them. But our brains are much more complex than this. For example what you see is not what your eye sees. What you hear is a filtered version of environmental input. There is a reality that we are constantly trying our best to decipher – not for accuracy but for meaning… meaning to navigate by. And the root mechanism is the use of symbols. The symbols our senses make of our environment are assigned representation value. The symbols, however, are meaningless unless collated into patterns. These are the building blocks of our navigational maps… patterns.
Another way to think of patterns is like a farmer’s field that has been plowed and seeded. Choices/decisions/motivations for action are like water we pour over some portion of the field. Inevitably, the water will flow as determined by the furrows, the pattern laid down. But the pattern is not necessarily permanent… especially if our actions come into conflict with our environment. Something isn’t working if our maps are wrong and so we go back and try to alter our pouring and the furrows we think may have led us astray.
Our brains are not only plastic (meaning malleable) but bicameral (meaning that we have two distinct hemispheres that communicate with each other). Both are subject to change. (Both take leads depending on the consideration, and both ‘hear’ or ‘see’ or ‘feel’ the other – note the sensory similarities of these symbols’ input… sometimes with distinct and distinctly different voices symbolically delivered to us… sometimes even in voice (that we give various names to… like our conscience, our invisible partner, even god). Changing which furrows we use is what we call ‘learning’, which results in new patterns laid down… usually incorporated into the existing pattern. Your brain automatically does all the maintenance of this field and will dismantle areas of field not particularly used (chemically enhanced when we sleep) and reinforce and specialize areas under constant use. The more specialized, the less change it will be susceptible to. That’s why learning is hard… and gets harder the older we get… and why practice increases expertise… (through neural efficiency) and why leaving a faith, for example, and deconverting is not only extraordinarily difficult but is often fraught with all kinds of other upheavals in regular brain activity (such as identity crises and depressions).
So, yes, we fool ourselves all the time about the singularity of our identity, our willingness to be ‘one’ thing when, in fact, even our brains are like flocks of birds or schools of fish…. local units obeying local rules yet producing spectacular complex emergent properties and behaviours.
The words we use in our brains are symbols. The words you include up there are terms we use to try to describe something with meaning. They are not real in and of themselves (they don’t represent objects or things we have access to) but do describe relationships/patterns/causal links detected between things.
If we want to understand what’s really going on in our brains, we have to put aside explanatory models that don’t work to accurately describe reality. Religious and philosophical belief about hidden agencies and things possessing ‘natures’ are not helpful. Ideas like dualism – the mind/body split are demonstrably false. We are the sum of our biology and we need to start respecting this area of expertise more than older models that give the appearance of explanations but which produce no knowledge. And this fits religion to a ‘tee’. We need to put it aside if we want to find real answers to these kinds of questions.
You sure are prone to long verbose comments when in the end all you seem to is assert the assumptive negative towards the very matter in question. You speak at length about the mechanics of the brain (much of which is interesting enough), but then conclude with “the mind body dualism has been proven false”.. Wow, it’s that easy is it? Simply lull me to sleep and then you can flatly state “there is no spiritual aspect to reality” and hopefully I’ll be too worn down too realize this is not at all proven, merely a restatement of your original theory.
I find many atheists using this sort of defense of “no, you can’t bring philosophy into this, all that is permitted in this discussion is biology”. I get it. It’s not surprising that one has to compartmentalize the conversation, when in order to live life in general under Evolutionary allegiance one has to compartmentalize their entire thought processes in order to not trip over the cognitive dissonance.
You’re STILL avoiding the elephant in the room, staring you in the face. If there is no objective truth, no objective morality, then something is only “wrong” as long as there is some over-arching social majority willing to come along and play judge. Yet, actions go unseen, unpunished, unnoticed all the time. Therefore, according to your premise, all such actions are “moral”. Majorities can change. flip flop even. So what is considered wrong today could very well be commended tomorrow, and you are left with no ground under your feet to opine one way or the other against it than simply the tides of mob rule….
“If there is no objective truth, no objective morality, then something is only “wrong” as long as there is some over-arching social majority willing to come along and play judge.”
So what? Why’s that an elephant in the room? There are no moral absolutes. Morality a concept we’ve invented to encapsulate our instincts towards acceptable and unacceptable actions. There’s only our analysis of the situation – either as individuals or groups. We can still think something is ‘wrong’ as individuals when the social majority judge it to be ‘right’ and we can present our arguments. I just don’t see what your problem with that is, and why you think it has anything to do with the the non-existence of invisible creator deities.
(I realise this wasn’t to me. Tildeb may think differently.)
“There’s only our analysis of the situation – either as individuals or groups. We can still think something is ‘wrong’ as individuals when the social majority judge it to be ‘right’ and we can present our arguments.”
Yes. Exactly! I totally agree! Don’t you see the problem here, arising within the very words you are putting forward???
If the majority already believes something to be “right”, and you, (the minority) are believing that it is wrong, you are going to “present your arguments” to the majority, why……….????
Because obviously (in this hypothetical scenario) you believe that even though the analysis of the scenario by the majority judges one way, they are in fact in contradiction, to a perpetual, underlying, objective moral truth. In short, they are wrong… The logic is really so rudimentary all you have to do is think about it for a few seconds Violet!
OTHERWISE… If you’re going to continue insisting, “No, there IS no objective morality”, then you’re really only faced with one alternative. Whatever the majority believes at any given time, that is “morally right”. Period. If the majority changes it’s “analysis” to conclude the opposite is “right”, then boom, the opposite is suddenly “moral”. No one was “morally wrong”, the day before, when everyone was doing the inverse of today, they were every bit as much “morally right”!
Do you honestly not see the problem there….?
In truth, “morality” under such terms is in fact utterly meaningless. True, society doesn’t just instantly collapse into anarchy because people tout beliefs in “subjective morality”, but this is because as a whole, people still do not LIVE in full accordance with the flawed reasoning of subjective morality, but deep in their hearts still operate according to an innate, intuitive sense that there are things that are indeed truly, objectively right and wrong…
You keep jumping towards connecting this whole discussion with the issue of the “invisible creator deities”, yet I haven’t been taking it to that step, because I’ve simply been trying to show you that not only are there indeed moral absolutes, but I am convinced that everyone involved in this conversation actually believes in them, even if some of us may have employed immensely convoluted arguments in order to convince ourselves that we do not…. 😉
The bible has no problem with slavery. Jesus has no problem with slavery. Yet it’s hard to find a Christian today who has no problem with slavery.
How can this be is there is an unchanging objective morality?
Yes, my comments are long-winded when I’m trying to explain something important and complex. You mentioned free will and you then seem surprised that when I explain in less than a book why if it’s free it isn’t will and if its will it isn’t free, you seem startled at the conclusion that dualism (what you quickly make synonymous with “no spiritual aspect to reality”… something I never said nor would ever say) is demonstrably false. It is false because of the way the brain works. There is no separation between brain and mind and this can be demonstrated in a variety of ways now that we know mind is what the brain does: local units obeying local rules. This is a matter of biology and not theology, philosophy, or metaphysics.
If you want to understand how planes fly, turning to ancient scripture isn’t very clever or revealing. If you want to clear your plumbing of a blockage, turning to supernatural ‘specialists’ with advance theological degrees who do exorcisms of evil spirits interfering with drainage isn’t very clever or effective. If you want to learn about how something works in reality, then turning to sources that presume supernatural causal agencies outside or beyond reality that supposedly cause little hidden drivers to direct the use of your brain has not, does not, and will not produce knowledge about how reality works. You’re looking in the wrong place and asking the wrong questions because your religious beliefs misguide you by exempting them from testing in the very reality they supposedly ‘explain’. This is not due to any presumed bias on my part; it falls entirely on your own that presupposes that your religious beliefs can in any way accurately reflect and then explain how reality works. If this presupposition were true, then religious belief would have at some historical point come up with one piece of new knowledge applicable to the world. No other human endeavor has ever achieved such a spectacular rate of failure as religion that keeps churning out models about reality that don’t work, that don’t offer us any useful or practical or applicable insights into how reality operates. Not once. Not ever. This is a clue about its truth value as a guide to its ‘special’ insight.
When we talk about morality, we know ahead of time that any contribution by religion should be held with the highest possible level of skepticism because we have a long historical track record of it being not only useless in producing knowledge but is always wrong in its explanatory models about how reality operates. Neuroscience, in contrast, has, does, and shall continue to produce insights into how our brains produce emergent properties… like moral considerations. Other species demonstrate moral considerations, exhibiting the same behaviours we do when the sense of reciprocity has broken. Your model offers us no clue why this is so and no means to test claims about some divine causal agency regarding morality. As my spouse likes to say, religious, philosophical, and metaphysical contributions about causal effects and the mechanisms that link them as about as useful as “tits in a bowl.”
“There is no separation between brain and mind and this can be demonstrated in a variety of ways now that we know mind is what the brain does: local units obeying local rules. This is a matter of biology and not theology, philosophy, or metaphysics. ”
“Neuroscience, in contrast, has, does, and shall continue to produce insights into how our brains produce emergent properties… like moral considerations”
You can emphatically declare such things to be the facts all day long, but this still doesn’t make it so. I think Deepak Chopra (not a Christian of course, but he does believe in a spiritual reality) actually does a really good job defrocking the arrogance of such unsubstantiated claims in this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/getting-real-about-brain-_b_5745968.html
” Other species demonstrate moral considerations, exhibiting the same behaviours we do when the sense of reciprocity has broken. Your model offers us no clue why this is so and no means to test claims about some divine causal agency regarding morality”… Are you serious? Do other ‘species’ incarcerate one another? Hold court hearings? Have detectives to solve crimes? Make laws? they fight for survival. it’s the animal kingdom, and you would be getting much closer to being in actual accordance with your own belief system if this was the kind of existence you were proposing for humanity as well. Your own arguments about “if it was free it wouldn’t be will, if it was will it wouldn’t be free” are plenty philosophical in their own way, yet you use this as a cop-out towards other points which turn your own arguments inside out. Tell you spouse, I agree! If you’re going to TRULY limit yourself to only living in a universe of materialistic cause and effects, then start LIVING that way yourselves! Why are you spending time in the first place, arguing and debating with these “foolish”, aggravating religious people, if in reality you don’t believe any of us actually “choose” our beliefs, or our actions, or anything else? You rail against the idea of sin, but then treat those people who don’t believe in Evolution as though there were indeed guilty of some preventable, avoidable error…
You’re arguing out of both sides of your mouth, in the end. Denying free will when it comes to your own stance on morality, yet appealing to it when it comes to pointing the finger at your detractors. Same thing with morality actually. You swear you don’t believe in objective morality, but you really do! You all do, otherwise you would live, and speak, and behave much differently…
You say: “You’re looking in the wrong place and asking the wrong questions because your religious beliefs misguide you by exempting them from testing in the very reality they supposedly ‘explain’.” Yet you have no idea what you’re talking. None. I “test” my beliefs all the time pal, let me tell you! But of course, they aren’t being tested by running congruent tests in a lab or anything like that, because God is rather stubborn about not being crammed into a test tube or put under a microscope. The evidence is all around us. Everywhere you look. You look at something as staggeringly complex as the brain, or a single cell, or the intricately balanced ecosystems of the planet, and you go, “Gee, these all just came about due to cause and effect, over billions of years…” You keep telling yourself that this is “scientific”, or logical, or even testable. It’s not. You don’t believe the knowledge found in the Bible is “applicable”, because you have already chosen, under your presuppositions, that there is nothing but the physical realm. You’re assuming the answer and then using to reframe the question. Every. Single. Time…
(and by the way… slavery in the Bible? Actually a very different thing that what we’re talking about in the 19th Century during Abolition, etc. It was in fact much more in line with what we would call “indentured servants” today.)
Why are you spending time in the first place, arguing and debating with these “foolish”, aggravating religious people, if in reality you don’t believe any of us actually “choose” our beliefs, or our actions, or anything else?
See? You demonstrate time and again that don’t understand but substitute your own beliefs in its place and then act (or in this case opine) as if they were true rather than questioning and checking and testing to see if your understanding is accurate.
Nowhere do I suggest what you presume I suggest, namely, that I think none of us chooses his or her beliefs and none of us choose our actions. Au contraire, mon ami. You have done what I warned against – not getting an agreement about definitions first (This is why I usually avoid these kinds of discussions). Free will does mean the same thing as choice.
What I do recognize is that what may appear to be a freedom to choose a thought or an action or behaviour does not mean any of these are free from any and all mechanical and chemical causal effects. You can test this yourself on yourself:
What freedom do you exhibit in your thoughts when I write that term?
What happens in your brain? And exactly what ‘choice’ did you exercise?
See what I mean? The terms ‘free’ and ‘will’ and ‘choice’ have little to do with what you experienced when you read the word ‘elephant’. There was no secondary little driver redirecting and/or guiding your thought processes; your brain dealt with the input in the way it did. Suggesting that you could have done otherwise after the fact doesn;t help us clarify what’s going on.
The reason why I spend time and effort getting other people to consider issues with their opinions and read criticisms about what they believe is true is because we do act on our beliefs and cause real effect. Because there is overwhelming evidence that religious beliefs when acted upon produce pernicious effects on others without their consent means someone has to challenge those who presume they have every right to swing their (theological) fist regardless of whose nose might be in the way. But it’s a process to first understand why your religious beliefs hold no truth value for me while demonstrating to other readers how they are reliant more by ignorance and bias and prejudice founded on a rejection of reality to arbitrate and mitigate their claims than any supposed avenue to wisdom.
You’re actually suggesting one gain insight into reality by reading Deepak Chopra? That’s like talking about the proper uses of birth control and referring them to a Catholic priest.
That’s not a source worthy of anything but woo. I don’t think you could have found a more anti-science spokesman.
It actually wasn’t an endorsement of the man overall, or his work overall. I suppose I was being way too optimistic to think you would be willing to simply weigh the merits of the points made in the article on their own, instead of instantly resorting to more of the typical ad hominem fair. As it is, I disagree with a great deal of his arguments in general, I simply liked what he said in that particular instance…
You can emphatically declare such things to be the facts all day long, but this still doesn’t make it so.
You’re right. It’s not my saying it – emphatically or not – that makes it so. The scientific papers peer reviewed and published make it so. Duh.
Chopra is a woo-meister and relies on very nebulous phrases that seem sciencey to make impressions on the weaker intellects so raptly enamored with his glamor. He doesn’t know shit about science but draws on quantum references to obfuscate his factually incorrect claims. He is a laughing stock of the scientific community because of his repeatedly ignorant claims made about reality and how it operates but makes tons of money from the credulous and gullible.And that’s a very large audience… including you.
I “test” my beliefs all the time pal, let me tell you!
No you don’t. You already attribute the answer to supporting your contrary beliefs before any testing by reality is allowed. Just look at the basic tenets of your faith that you hold not with well deserved uncertainty and skepticism but with faith that they are true in fact and in history. That’s not testing. that’s confirmation bias hard at work. A case in point: there is exactly zero evidence that dead cells degraded over three days do not reanimate. Ever. And for very good reasons that even you can understand. That is one such test of your beliefs you can do repeatedly and arrive at this conclusion, the same conclusion, every single time. But do you allow this result to affect your fundamental beliefs? Not one bit. Your actually presume that your contrary beliefs allow you reasons to change this fact. That’s not rational. That’s what following the method of religion produces: undeserved confidence and a lack of respect for what reality has to say in the matter.
But of course, they aren’t being tested by running congruent tests in a lab or anything like that, because God is rather stubborn about not being crammed into a test tube or put under a microscope.
And you know this how? Well, because you believe this accurately describes your god. Not a shred of evidence from reality for it. Alkl the evidence is in your imagination expressed through your religious beliefs. Reality is granted no say in the matter.
The evidence is all around us. Everywhere you look. You look at something as staggeringly complex as the brain, or a single cell, or the intricately balanced ecosystems of the planet, and you go, “Gee, these all just came about due to cause and effect, over billions of years…” You keep telling yourself that this is “scientific”, or logical, or even testable. It’s not.
Umm… yes it is. You simply attribute what’s all around us as evidence for your beliefs. Is this true and how do you know? Again, this reality has no evidence of any interventionist tampering at any point. It should be there if your beliefs were true. Of course, you seem incapable of understand the ‘if’ part of that sentence and go straight to the assertion that your beliefs ARE true and then try to make reality fit it. That’s the religious method hard at work. And it produces no knowledge about reality. Never has. But you don;t allow that failure to have any impact on your certainty that your beliefs are true. None. That’s an example of a lack of critical thinking which directly produces your credulity and gullibility.
You don’t believe the knowledge found in the Bible is “applicable”, because you have already chosen, under your presuppositions, that there is nothing but the physical realm.
Again, not true. Imagine if prayers to your god actually produced irrefutable evidence of causal agency! That might help your case, don’t you think? So why doesn’t prayer to your god and your god alone work to causal effect? Oh, right…. here comes the litany of excuses and apologies and hand waving and blaming others… anything but face the fact of reality’s arbitration of your religious claims.
You’re assuming the answer and then using to reframe the question. Every. Single. Time…
No, I’m not. I’m wide open to learning about how reality operates… by allowing reality to indicate which claims about it are in fact and demonstrably true. You’re willing to be satisfied that an agency of Oogity Boogity causes effects by the mechanism of POOF!ism and think you have an explanation worthy of intellectual respect.
Sorry. I’m sticking with reality, thank you very much.
(And your ‘indentured servitude’ excuse is standard apologetic nonsense when one considers that Jesus Himself didn’t condemn the practice outright when he had the chance, does it? Or suggest that maybe hand washing might alleviate a very great deal of suffering. No. Don’t consider anything outside of the narrative of faux-certainty you present as your religious faith in action. Time for more excuses, apologies, hand waving, blaming others, yada, yada, yada.)
“Chopra is a woo-meister and relies on very nebulous phrases that seem sciencey to make impressions on the weaker intellects so raptly enamored with his glamor. He doesn’t know shit about science but draws on quantum references to obfuscate his factually incorrect claims. He is a laughing stock of the scientific community because of his repeatedly ignorant claims made about reality and how it operates but makes tons of money from the credulous and gullible”
Funny, I’d say the same thing applies to guys like Richard Dawkins….. 🙂
Then your comparison standard is quite faulty: Dawkins is a highly respected geneticist and widely held in professional and collegiate esteem for his science (especially regarding his groundbreaking work in The Selfish Gene and the person who introduced us to the idea of memetics, which is now a department of anthropology in various international universities). He is also a tireless promoter of respecting reality and known as one of Four Horsemen of New Atheism. More than 50 copycat books have been written by faitheists trying to criticize his thesis in The God Delusion. He has a rather large footprint in the history of the late twentieth early twenty-first century.
Chopra, in comparison, sells woo any way he can and leaves nothing of knowledge value in his wake. His ‘contribution’ is to promote anti-scientific ideas for his own profit and refuses all attempts by the scientific community to correct his use of borrowed and redefined scientific terms… especially in the field of quantum physics.
Yes, I am becoming more and familar with Dawkin’s brand of “New Atheism” lately, and plan to write more specific posts of my own in the near future highlighting the profound illogic of atheism which viewd “religion”, (primarily Christianity) as not only untrue, but the veritable seed from which all social ills grow out of, making it the ceaseless target of aggression, ridicule, and intellectual persecution. Whatever belief systems you may disagree with, I will argue a thousand ways from Sunday that true faith in Christ is honestly the LAST thing anyone should feel personally or collectively threatened by. In the end, despising a Being who is believed to not exist in the first place in fact serves as a powerful, powerful apologetic for the truthfulnesd of the Bible….
How reassuring that your going to “plan to write more specific posts” about New Atheism without any preconceived notions. I am confident you will do so with an open mind and will arrive at your conclusions honestly without regurgitating other twits bile such as the assumption that assumes “the profound illogic of atheism which viewd “religion”, (primarily Christianity) as not only untrue, but the veritable seed from which all social ills grow out of, making it the ceaseless target of aggression, ridicule, and intellectual persecution.” You wouldn’t be just another such twit, would you?
New Atheism – if you wanted to actually know anything about it from a practicing New Atheist such as I – makes no such charges as you presume. The core of New Atheism is the call for more people to publicly challenge and criticize religious privilege in the public domain for its pernicious effects. The impetus for this movement – which is different than the quiet, respectful, and all too often absent voice of agnostic atheism of old in public matters involving religion – really began with Harris (2004) in his critique in response to 9/11 of giving voice to why we as a species need to bring an end to respecting faith-based beliefs if we want our civilization to survive. Dawkins as Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science and mandated by that position to teach scientific outreach followed up with why belief in divine causal agencies is equivalent in all ways with delusion (2206), defined as “a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.” In order to do this, Dennett explained (2006) why we had to stop treating religion and religious belief with deference and break the spell that kept it exempt from scientific study. Hitchens then joined the fray with his explanation of why religious belief poisoned everything (2007). These are the Four Horsemen of what has been called New Atheism, all of whom are in full agreement that religion is not to be coddled and protected from criticism but laid bare through public discourse of why it needs to be removed from the public domain. Many other people of great expertise and some public renown in their fields have joined this movement and have added a terrific impetus aimed at convincing the next generation to treat religion as they would any other subject and to question why granting privilege in the public domain is a good idea.
Whatever else you may believe about New Atheism in general, and these atheists in particular, are not from these primary sources. They are almost entirely fictions of faitheists (apologetic believers and non believers alike) and projected in as negative light as possible on to them. Your assumptions laid out in that first paragraph are a perfect example of the kind of gross and intentional misrepresentation used to try to smear the characters of those who dare to champion the criticizing of religion in the public domain for its evidential harm. This method of attacking the messenger with lies and distortions is standard operating procedure for deniers everywhere – from tobacco companies trying to cause doubt about the harmful effects of its product to oil companies regarding climate change. Casting aspersions upon those involved with presenting legitimate and scientific reasons for their criticisms is the way to fool many credulous and gullible people into either prevaricating and refusing to take a stand or supporting exactly that which isn’t true. Either way, these merchants of creating faux-doubt use the less critical among us – those most willing to believe – to empower and enable support for that which is against our best interests. You seem headed for the same fate in these as yet unwritten posts.
You floor me… You really do! First you scold for me describing “New Atheism” as basically believing that religion is “the veritable seed from which all social ills grow out of”, and then, what do you do? You roll out a litany of exemplary bytes such as “we as a species need to bring an end to respecting faith-based beliefs if we want our civilization to survive”, and “religious belief poisoned everything”, and “belief in divine causal agencies is equivalent in all ways with delusion” and don’t forget, religion needs to be criticized ” in the public domain for its evidential harm”…
Amazing how you could be so offended by my simplistic characterization of “treating religion as the source of society’s ills”, and then you turn around and articulate a characterization far more scathing and demonizing towards religion than the broad generalization I first put forward.
Because although religion itself causes pernicious effects, it does not call religion as source of ALL social ills. But the central point raised throughout works by New Atheists is that the method of granting confidence to faith is a method that doesn’t do or provide what it advertizes itself to do and provide: explanations that reflect reality. Religion is the mother ship in that many teach that faith is a virtue when in all other areas of human endeavor it is a vice but it the identical method used to empower woo, to empower prejudice, to empower apartheid and bigotry and totalitarianism. Its use reliably and consistently produces ignorance disguised as knowledge and delusion disguised as insight. Faith-based methodology divides people into sects and tribes and promotes and justifies support for authoritarian systems This is deeply anti-American because it’s contrary to the enlightenment value of individual autonomy and responsibility, whose consent is what grants authority to a representative body rather than a bequeath of power from some Dear Leader to us little minions below awaiting the table scraps of our betters. The perniciousness of utilizing the faith-based methodology is what causes measles outbreaks, delays climate change action, threatens access to maternal healthcare, undermines women’s equal rights in law, pollutes science and education and foreign policy, and so on. The list is depressingly long.
To address and correct inequalities, shared threats to our environment, and loss of dignity of personhood to archaic and biased ideas demanding privilege, requires us to first identify its root causes. But because so many people don’t want to hear or see or speak about anything that threatens their little bubble worlds of imposed beliefs, faith-based methodology continues to cause harm not just to a few real people in real life but to all of us.
Speaking truth to power is a burden New Atheists are willing to do and receive the vilification and misrepresentation and character attacks that come from those who have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear. We give voice to what all believers need to hear and, hopefully, change.
I would then challenge you to point out how a person like myself is an advocate for “religious privilege”, because I for one do not believe in trying to “exert societal influence” by means of political action or legislation etc. whatsoever. If simply believing what I believe, regardless of whether or not I actually do the things you claim, makes me “dangerous”, then I’d say that goes to show that Humanism/Atheism itself can just as easily fall into being another one of those religions which winds up being responsible for the justification of bigotry, prejudice, “division”, etc.! The irony abounds. Are you really unaware of the political agendas pursued by people relying on a foundation of Evolution as the rationale for things such as white supremacy, Eugenics, colonization, etc.? Does that mean that all Evolutionists are Eungenicists…? No, of course not. It requires but little critical examination to conclude that this is not a characterization that can be universally applied. So then, why do you turn around and do that very thing to others? You are not being “persecuted” by someone of Faith simply by the fact of them presenting an apologetic for their own Beliefs. You can’t just assume that their end goal is to make you pledge allegiance to “One nation under God” or drag you off to Sunday School or anything else. True open-mindedness allows for the possibility of much more NUANCE overall than simply shoving everyone into pre-determined, pre-labeled little boxes….
Again, you could ask if any of your assertions were true and save yourself the time and effort believing stuff that isn’t.
Clearly, I have stated repeatedly that the concern of New Atheism as a movement is about fighting against the privileging of religion in the PUBLIC domain. The public domain is made up of all the institutions and agencies that work on behalf of or are granted authority by the public. Our government, for example, is a public domain institution. Law, education, police, fire, economics, environment, defense, science, public policy, foreign aid, medicine, and of course governance are all branches of the public domain. This is where religious beliefs have no justification to be because its involvement is not backed by compelling evidence from reality to be privileged in any way.
Then there’s the private domain where you and I are allowed to believe whatever we want and privilege our preferred beliefs as much or little as we choose. Our tin foil hats are our own business and not the business of the public.
Sure, I think private religious beliefs are a bad idea because empowering the method always produces pernicious effects.. on ourselves and our families. But I understand that we have the right to do this and no government can remove this right without removing all rights. That’s why atheists as a group will be the staunchest supporters of freedom of religion .. your right to be free to believe whatever you want no matter how critical they might be condemning faith-based methods of justification. But this is a bordered right, meaning when the border is crossed between private and public, then it is the believer who has caused the infraction (no doubt with the best of intentions) and not those who point out that an infraction has occurred and must be repelled.
Again, if you understood evolution, you’d understand why examples of eugenics are demonstrations of ignorance about it. Eugenics is guided changes – like animal husbandry and crop sciences – which are NOT examples of evolution but examples of interventions by a designing agency. People who understand evolution simply do not use it as a ‘rationale’ to justify guided interventions. Apples and oranges. A good way to remember the more accurate term is to always replace the term ‘evolutionists’ with ‘scientists’. And evolution is not a belief but a necessary fact upon which all of our understanding of biology stands.
” Eugenics is guided changes – like animal husbandry and crop sciences – which are NOT examples of evolution but examples of interventions by a designing agency.”
Absolutely agree. (as I do with a good amount of your points, actually) The problem is in the stepping back and seeing it all in cohesion with itself. You hit the nail on the head. “Guided changes”. But then, if EVERYTHING is equally a part of the evolving universe, then if we’re being honest in adhering to that explanation, then EVERYTHING should be allowed to just happen however it happens, because that’s how it has evolved to occur. People believe in “imaginary fairy Beings in the sky”, because that’s how they evolved. Period. If you’re trying to “correct” this, you are indeed acting as a “design agency”, trying to bring about “guided changes”, are you not? All of the public domain examples you cited as well, “Law, education, police, fire, economics, environment, defense, science, public policy, foreign aid, medicine, and of course governance”, they ALL too would represent methods of “guided interventions”. So either things like eugenics were every bit as justifiable as any other form of “interference” in the Evolutionary process, or none of it is. As it is however, you pick and choose, contradicting your presuppositions when they hit a dead end, or defend something intrinsically abhorrent to your sensibilities.
Bottom line: If “survival of the fittest” is the “rule”, is the underlying principle which truly governs all life, all that exists in the universe, then that is what you must elevate as the paramount virtue, in every instance. Fluffy notions like “equality” and “freedom of the individual” have no true place in the cold, evolving Universe. I’m not saying I doubt your genuine belief in such invaluable principles (beliefs I would obviously share) I’m simply saying that they are in fact in total contradiction to your proposal of “evolution as necessary fact”.
No, you’re missing the point and shifting the goal posts. Unless you equate the ultimate cause you call god with gravity, you’re not using the same standard (you can measure at your leisure if the units stay the same) that evolution does: scaffolding and not simply ‘random’ so that anything goes. Anything does not go.
For example, I have said unequivocally that evolution occurs by scaffolding and gives the appearance of design. The mechanisms for these changes is, ultimately, a property of gravity when the causal chain is followed to its source. You say The problem is in the stepping back and seeing it all in cohesion with itself. That ‘stepping back’ eliminates any standard for comparison and open the door to you simply asserting whatever you want. I think of this tactic as the puddle analogy. You’ve skewed your perspective right off the bat. By all means step back and see for yourself how changes occur in the same scaffolding way on macro and micro scales. But you are simply ignoring this aspect of how things change over time and substituting your imposed idea of ‘random’ once again and then going on about that. That’s the moving of the goal posts.
Fitness has to do with reproductive success. Haven’t we covered this already? Why should I elevate this to be a paramount virtue?
Why do you continue to assign to other things and ideas and people elements that are not contained by them? Your imposition of your beliefs on these other things and ideas and people continues to lead you astray and ever deeper into misunderstandings.
“I have said unequivocally that evolution occurs by scaffolding and gives the appearance of design. The mechanisms for these changes is, ultimately, a property of gravity when the causal chain is followed to its source.”
Ok, but we can, and should, continue stepping back even further than that? If things like the law of gravity can replace a personal God, you’re still stuck having to explain why such laws govern the physical world in the first. Why should there be a “scaffolding” at all? You have no answer. It just is. You see, in Evolution, even these basic and underlying principles and universal laws had to themselves evolve, come into being when at one point they did not exist, yet today they are accepted as being the “unchanging rules” which guide everything… This is contradictory. Either they are truly fixed, and unchanging, or the “scaffolding” itself is subject to change, to flux, and then you’re really left without a leg to stand on.
Yes, “changes” occur on both a micro and macro scale. I never denied this. The question is, what types of changes have actually been scientifically observed, and which kinds have only been viewed in our theoretical “scientific” models. There is a huge difference between the two.
And once again, by “random”, I am not inferring that the world and universe at a whole is not operating under a set of cosmic laws, I am simply speaking from the premise of Evolution itself, which claims that WITHIN this framework of natural laws, everything that has changed and evolved has done so do to random, undirected changes on a molecular or genetic level. We’re talking “random” in the context of probability here. Evolution claims that organisms of one kind can eventually transform into organisms which are quite different, because of random accidental changes in the DNA strand, from creature to creature. The flaws in this portion of evolutionary theory alone could be expounded upon for days… It’s essentially the same as suggesting that given enough time, a computer program could experience enough glitches and errors and miscopied bits of code that would eventually lead to it turning into an entirely new, even MORE complex, fully functioning piece of software.
The probabilities of this happening not just once, but in thousands if not millions of different species and “evolutionary branches” are so ridiculous that it baffles me how anyone adhering to this could honestly ridicule anyone else for their alleged “blind faith”….
If things like the law of gravity can replace a personal God, you’re still stuck having to explain why such laws govern the physical world in the first.
No I’m not. I’m not ‘stuck’ at all. I’m just unwilling to substitute the causal agency of Oogity Boogity using the mechanism of POOF!ism and pat myself on my back thinking I now have the answer. You are simply unconstrained by any intellectual honesty. I am. I am perfectly willing and able to be honest and say “I don’t know.” Why theists see this kind of answer as being “stuck” is a rather remarkable feature of those who use faith-based belief to impose their nonsense on reality and assume they are not just correct but certain that they are!
Yes, TISTF, you are the smartest guy in the wired world. You know because of your faith-based beliefs that all of science is wrong (because all use the identical methodology that you insist must be wrong when it comes to evolution… while you read these words transmitted to you by the identical method applied to electronics as it is biology that reveals why evolution is true). You are saying – whether you understand why or not – that science’s method does not produce knowledge worthy of the same certainty you bring to your own incredible insights into causal agencies and effects through the awesome power of your belief in Oogity Boogity and it’s special revelation to you. Yes, you are indeed special.
All those biologists, all those applications, therapies, and technologies based on its central pillar of evolution that work for everyone everywhere all the time are just… well, wrong. This is what you are saying when you go on and on and on about why your religious beliefs that do not, have not, and can reasonably be predicted to never, ever, produce any knowledge at all about anything deserve not just respect but certainty in comparison to the ridiculous explanation known as evolution.
You’re a lunatic. And even that would be okay if you had any honest desire to learn about reality. But you don’t. You have all the answers through your belief in Oogity Boogity – the Grand Poo Bah of the universe who just by coincidence whispers in your ear. See? You’re very special. Now you run down the street and let everyone know the answer to all questions: “Godidit! Godidit! Godidit!”
How can you not be considered a raving lunatic?
Violet, the Apostles didn’t believe that God gave man free will, they believed that God makes everything happen for His purpose, therefore a Christian doesn’t get involved in what others do, a Christian is someone who is led by the Holy Spirit, no one led by the Holy Spirit would ever say that man is tinkering with God’s design, because God makes everything happen. Eph 1:11 In whom also we [who are born of the Spirit] have obtained an inheritance being predestinated according to God’s purpose who works all things after the counsel of His own will.
So a Christian can’t tinker, but presumably someone your god predestined to sin could?
No, No one can change what God has predestined to happen, that’s why someone led by the Spirit does not concern himself or herself with anything that the world does, God is the one that gives everyone the drive to do what they do
Many people have been deceived into believing things that aren’t true about Christianity & the Bible, a Christian is someone who is led by the Holy Spirit, no one led by the Holy Spirit will preach to you, will knock on your door to talk about Christ, will invade your personal space to talk about Christ, or will force their beliefs on you, a Christian is humble & will wait for God to bring people to the Christian to ask questions, & then the Christian will speak about Christ, no one led by the Holy Spirit will tell you what to do, remember that the next time someone who claims to be Christian preaches to you
Acts 4:27-28 shows that God predestined Herod to do what he did, & God predestined man to murder Yeshua
4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Yeshua whom thou [God] hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles [non-Jews], and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
4:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel predestined before to be done.
Pingback: what’s the problem with objective morality? | violetwisp