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Switch to Forum Live View Human Dignity, Good and Evil
9 years ago  ::  Oct 06, 2008 - 11:57PM #1
Blü
Posts: 26,191
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Cid

if you are an atheist, there is no such thing as "good" or "evil" [...] Both "good" and "evil" are products of evolution and equally valid.

Evolution has equipped just about all creatures with instincts aiding survival and propagation.  These are the basic definitions of ‘good’ and their antithesis is ‘bad’ (a synonym for ‘evil’ but less colored).

Complex creatures have a large number of such instincts.  Mammal mothers, for example, instinctively nurture their offspring, and mammal offspring instinctively find the teat and suck.  All gregarious creatures need instincts appropriate to group living if they’re to get the advantages of cooperation, and humans, whose societies function by networks of one-to-one relationships to a degree far more complex than for any other animal, have instincts appropriate to this.  ( A little light is thrown on this by these experiments.)

On top of that genetic basis go upbringing, experience, culture and education.

Culture may or may not insert some gods into the system.  It doesn’t matter, because the genetic bases, and parallel cultural bases for ethics, are in place.


Also there is no such thing as human "dignity", we are just another animal that can be treated like any other animal, there is nothing special about humans, if atheism is true.

The basic meaning of 'dignity' is 'worthiness', especially social worthiness. Human dignity is a quality emerging from social relations between humans in a group.  It commonly correlates with the peck order - more peck, more dignity.  Modern western ideas of universal dignity resist that but - as a walk through any city will tell you - don’t dent it all that much.


I am saying that they [atheists] just don't have a rational basis for being moral. Spiritually mature Christians are not moral from fear of punishment but rather because of love for God.

Spiritually mature Christians are moral for pretty much the same reasons others are moral, but they've been trained to attribute the system to supernatural beings.

The ethics of religionists are expounded only by humans.  The claim to be passing on the will of gods is apparently a way of adding heft and threat to the instructions.  (Have you noticed how the first four - out of only ten - of the Commandments are about protecting the religious establishment?)


But if their origin is identical how can one be good and the other evil? How do you determine who are the good people and who are the evil people?

The good people are on your side.  The bad people are against you.  Any tribesman knows that.
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2008 - 8:54AM #2
Blü
Posts: 26,191
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Cid

Thanks Rev. for being honest about there not being anything objectivley being good or evil if there is no God. Many atheists won't admit that. But this view is very problematic. First there is no rationally objective reason to favor the survival of the human species if atheistic evolution is true. Your basis of concern for humans is just sentimentality for your own species. Then also, what if one group of humans that is more geneticaly related wants to wipe out other humans that are not so closely related in order to reduce their competition for resources? On what basis can you condemn them? They are just doing what evolution "wants" them to do.

I went into this in a certain amount of detail back at #16.  Perhaps you missed it?
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 09, 2008 - 4:28AM #3
Blü
Posts: 26,191
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Cid

No, as I stated Christians are moral because of love of God and people because they are made in His image. Non Christians are generally moral because of their conscience, or fear of punishment by either their god or man, peer pressure, love for family and/or friends, or love of self.

You say that the morality of Christians is not the morality of other humans and has a unique unhuman source?  A very strange claim, and not one I’ve seen borne out in experience.  Perhaps you have some evidence for it?


in most manmade religions you can have sex with whomever you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone while Christianity only allows sex with your spouse.

Did you catch that news item that when Roman Catholic World Youth Day was held in Sydney this year, the brothel industry reported much elevated figures for the week’s trading?  Have you checked the divorce stats?  Have you noticed how many gay Christians there are?  Have you seen the US bible belt figures associated with fundamentalism here where they report -

There is evidence that within the U.S. strong disparities in religious belief versus acceptance of evolution are correlated with similarly varying rates of societal dysfunction, the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and mid-west having markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the northeast where societal conditions, secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms


Whatever the rules say, Christians don't behave on average to their own standards, and maybe worse, when it comes to sex.


Also, Christianity teaches that you should love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you. No other religion teaches this. This is evidence it is probably not manmade.

The Jews and the Buddhists and many others were on to that idea long before Jesus.  For example, Proverbs 25 says, [21] If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; - though like its Christian counterpart in Romans 12:20, it smugly adds [22] for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.

Anyway, Christianity doesn’t actually do much loving of its enemies.  The fundies blow up medical clinics and want all the liberals, homosexuals and Catholics to burn forever in hell - let alone the atheists, Muslims and Hindus - while  Robertson wants Chavez assassinated.  The Episcopalian church would rather split than agree on sexual toleration.  Christians dealt out the killing in WW1 and WW2, did the invading of Vietnam and Iraq, blah blah. 


blü: The good people are on your side. The bad people are against you. Any tribesman knows that.

Cid: That was Hitler's philosophy, so you agree with Hitler?

Don’t crap around with the Hitler card - the Nazis were all Christians, Adolf included, and the Vatican backed the Fascist regimes of Mussolini, Hitler, Franco (‘our war’), Pavelic and others.

EVERYBODY knows the good people are on your side and the bad people are against you.

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9 years ago  ::  Oct 12, 2008 - 10:24PM #4
Blü
Posts: 26,191
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Cid

Surely morality arising from a genetic basis has an objective basis?

Not a universal basis.  Not an absolute basis - indeed an evolution-tailored species-serving basis.

But an objective basis.
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 14, 2008 - 8:53PM #5
Blü
Posts: 26,191
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Cid

there is no objective rational basis to treat humans as anything special other than just sentimentality for your own species.

The objective rational basis used by each species - and it’s not necessary for them to use it consciously - is personal survival / offspring’s survival / group survival.  The cockroach hides in your cupboard to survive.  You invoke your own hygiene to rationalize your destruction of it.


Evolutionarily speaking we are no more special than cockroaches.

Each species is genetically equipped to think its survival is more important than the survival of others.

You seem quite evasive in responding to the moral implications of this fact.


Morality needs to be OBJECTIVELY TRUE and applicable to all of humanity.

Some morality has a genetic basis - and I already referred you to a link setting out research on the matter. Even here the moral responses are genetic tendencies, not absolutes - some people suicide, some refuse to have children - Heaven's Gate's Applewhite had himself castrated - some are active masochists &c. 

And some morality has a cultural basis - do you arrange your children’s marriages, for example?  What dowry did you negotiate from your wife’s parents?

Indeed, do you eat with your fingers, or with a spoon, or with knife and fork?  What in your view is the proper way to hold a table knife?  A fork?  How often do you shower or bathe? Do you hand people things with your left hand?  Are your male children circumcised?  Your female children?  People make moral judgments about other people over these things every day.

Which is to say, morality does NOT need to be objectively true, nor applicable to all humanity.  It simply happens that genetically we have a lot of the basics in common.
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 20, 2008 - 8:11AM #6
Blü
Posts: 26,191
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Cid

Did you ever offer a reasoned reply to the points I made that human morality rests on a genetic foundation?  And has cultural overlays?

If so, I missed it.  Grateful if you could point it out.

If not, then your claims for the moral supremacy for people who believe in supernatural beings are baseless special pleading, no?
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 22, 2008 - 2:39AM #7
Blü
Posts: 26,191
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Cid

Morality does not arise from your genes, certain behaviors arise from your genes that you can call morality.

You see no moral element between, say, mammal breast-feeding and patterns of human nurturing?

Between the production of vasopressin and the intensity of sensations of loving?

Between the production of oxytocin and human (&c) pair-bonding?

Between the human (&c) instinct to live in groups and the capacity for cooperative behavior?

You say those studies of moral situations I gave you the link to reflect nothing genetic?

You surprise me.  Are you sure you thought carefully about the evidence?


But you cannot produce an ought from an is.

No, but you can start with a genetic ought - such as I ought to see how the children are, and so on and so on and so on.


Just because some humans behave a certain way that you call moral, does not mean we all OUGHT to behave the way they do.

Just because some of them assert (without any evidence whatsoever) that human morality comes from supernatural beings doesn't mean the rest of us ought to think that's true; or indeed that it makes any sense.
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 23, 2008 - 6:15AM #8
Blü
Posts: 26,191
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Cid

Ok, at least you admit it is based on emotion and not reason.

You keep declining to face up to the fact that a lot of it is based on genetics - is built into our emotions, our priorities, our imperatives.

And if you've told us where it comes from instead, I've missed your reply.
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 24, 2008 - 2:19AM #9
Blü
Posts: 26,191
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Godman

So the Bible has made many prophecies and when Let there be light finally becomes confirmed by scientific theories and speculation, the atheists cannot admit the prediction is evidence of the Bible's truthfulness.

In the story, Let there be light! is a command, like Harry Potter's Lumos! without the wand.  It's not a prophecy.

Please present us with a biblical prophecy so clear in its terms, so remote in time, so improbable, so accurate and so well authenticated that it raises the possibility of supernatural foreknowledge.

I'm sure you'll agree that there's no reason for other people to think anything unusual has happened until you've done that.   


This duplicity so ironically on display in this very thread is evidence you cannot persuade these atheists because reason is not at play here.

Really?  I didn't see any reason on your side, and I didn't see any duplicity on other sides.  Grateful if you'd point very specifically to what you're talking about.  And if it's not there, then it's reasonable to expect you to apologize, no?
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9 years ago  ::  Oct 26, 2008 - 11:43PM #10
Blü
Posts: 26,191
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Cid

While Jefferson was not a Christian but rather a Deist, he did not get the idea of equality from deism. On what basis would equality of humans be based, if the Christian God was not the source?

From the democracy of Athens, 500 years before the Common Era, of course. Jefferson, like his peers, was thoroughly grounded in the Classics.
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