A New Era for Atheism: Moral Realism

One of the main charges against atheists is that we have no basis for morality. Many early atheists like Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus echoed the same thought. But we are now entering a new era. Sam Harris is a moral realist. So also is Richard Carrier, Link. Michael Shermer seems to be one as well who argues: "Moral principles are provisionally true—that is, they apply to most people in most cultures in most circumstances most of the time." These moral principles are based in the universality of human nature; who we are and what we want. We want to be happy, holistically happy. This is an end in and of itself that needs no further justification. As we figure out what makes us happy we should do it. It can be expressed like this: "Since humans want to be happy we should therefore do X." Here is a follow-up post on this same subject.

63 comments:

christophermencken said...

"One of the main charges against atheists is that we have no basis for morality"

But John, you left out how this accusation essentially starts when we hear it from our Christian friends: "I get my morals from the Invisible Sky Fairy and the Holy Anonymous Authorship Book---but on the other hand you atheists have no firm basis for morality!"

The conversation on morality is usually only interesting when it's among us atheists.

josef said...

I think statements like Shermers unnecessarily sew doubt, kind of like when we see the IPCC report saying it is "very likely" that global warming is caused in part by humans.

One good thing to do is show that the different statements that seem irreducibly contingent hold over a wide range of states of affairs. Any particular prescription which seems uniquely true to you can also be shown to hold identically for anyone in a sufficiently similar circumstance. And you can carve away more and more of the accidental facts within a state of affairs to find what the essential ones are. And then you can see that even supremely complicated contextualized decisions (I have an itch in my shoe and its raining and there happens to be a tree to my right and I happen to be just a little tired from walking, so I'll stop and tie my shoe), actually follow from underlying univeral rights and wrongs. So something that appears specific to me becomes universalizeable.

I think, for far too long people have confused context-dependence with non-reality of moral truths (as though context itself was not given by an objective, external world). For so long we have been naiively demanding simple universal rules that apply without distinction over a variety of contexts, concluding that reality is "too complicated" for there to be any real moral truth. Or as Dennett says, we've been mistaking a failure of imagination for an insight into necessity.

Ginx said...

The problem is... morality is relative, and maybe it needs to be.

I prefer to point to lower representative incarceration rates among atheists when illustrating that religion does not mystically bestow morals upon the believer.

oldfuzz said...

Most Christians, so called, have a narrow view of atheism. Vice versa as well.

Consider Lloyd Geering, a progressive Christian minister and scholar who wrote "religion is a meaning system" in his book, Tomorrow's God.

With that as a working definition of religion as opposed to Religion, theist, atheist, agnostic, non-theist, untheist, you name the flavors, all live a moral life by haveing a meaning system.

Ironically--and this is a point too many Christians don't understand--Jesus taught with parables which forced the hearer to choose what is right behavior.

Atheists are in the same situation, "What is right behavior/"

Mark Plus said...

Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist who studies atheists, points to the empirical evidence (PDF) that atheists tend to gravitate towards benevolent moral positions which distinguish them from theists' beliefs about morality. Scroll down to p. 5 in Zuckerman's paper:

It is often assumed that someone who doesn’t believe in God doesn’t believe in anything,
or that a person who has no religion must have no values. These assumptions are simply
untrue. People can reject religion and still maintain strong beliefs. Being godless does not
mean being without values. Numerous studies reveal that atheists and secular people most
certainly maintain strong values, beliefs, and opinions. But more significantly, when we
actually compare the values and beliefs of atheists and secular people to those of religious
people, the former are markedly less nationalistic, less prejudiced, less anti-Semitic, less racist, less dogmatic, less ethnocentric, less close-minded, and less authoritarian.


By contrast, when Nietzsche, Sartre and other long dead intellectuals thought that the "death of god" would lead to nihilism, they just pulled that conclusion out of their asses because they lacked the evidence to see how real atheists at plurality levels in society would behave. In fact, their arguments sound like the complement of christian presuppositionalist ones, which shows that they hadn't rid themselves of christian thinking as much as they believed.

Mark Plus said...

BTW, Zuckerman's paper cites research which shows that the level of nonbelief in Israel falls into the Western European range. Kind of ironic, given what American dispensationalists want to believe about Israel's prophetic significance in the end times. The atheizing pattern we see in most developed democratic societies happened organically, without any deliberate plan to bring it about (unlike the case in communist countries which went out of their way to discourage religiosity). This throws doubt on the idea that humans have "god genes" and the like which doom them to religious belief. It also vindicates the speculations of certain Enlightenment thinkers who thought that education, prosperity and democracy would eventually make toxic religion go away.

Lee said...

Yep, this is one of the most widely held assumptions among christians...that people w/o god have no basis for morality and thus are inclined to be "evil". Honestly, one of my biggest fears when I really began to question my faith was that if I let go of it, that I would no longer desire to be a "good" person. That has not turned out to be true (according to me of course! ;-) ). Granted I now question a lot of the "christian" morals I once ascribed to, but in the end, I still desire to be good to others. I still love my wife and children and friends and desire good things for them. To me the basis of morality is our natural abhorrence for pain. If you do something to me that causes me pain, whether physical or emotional or whatever, I will see that as "immoral". From that basis comes the idea of the golden rule: do unto others as you would like done unto you. This is the basis for the successful continuance of a social species like ourselves imo. We don't need god before we can see the benefit of that.

Mark Plus said...

Lee writes:

From that basis comes the idea of the golden rule: do unto others as you would like done unto you.

Suppose I tend to leave other people alone because I would like others not to initiate too much social interaction with me. What happens if I encounter a golden rule follower who talks all the time because he would like excessive social interaction "done unto him" by others?

In other words, the golden rule doesn't work when people have conflicting preference about what they want "done unto them" by others.

Tom said...

Actually, one of the disturbing things about Christianity is that it is completely amoral--all the behaviors it prescribes are based on utilitarian considerations: "if you follow these rules, or if you don't follow these rules but you repent later, then you go to heaven". That isn't morality, it is utilitarianism. And the rotten history of Christianity in terms of respecting human rights and dignity is a consequence of this utilitarian attitude towards behavior.

Humanity will never be moral until we abandon the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish utilitarian approach to morality.

Rob R said...

who we are and what we want. We want to be happy, holistically happy. This is an end in and of itself that needs no further justification.

It makes me happy to worship God and promote the truth of the gospel. This is an end in itself, it needs no justification.

You sure you don't want to bring more of an examination of the content of happiness into consideration?

I agree that atheists can be moral and can be moral realists. They are created in the image of God after all. Many of them do have some awareness of the sacredness, value and divine worth of humans, even if they wouldn't articulate it that way.

FYI Josef is also right about moral realism and context relevent considerations on morality.

Froggie said...

Human morality came about more like this.

Rob R said...

If I might just highlight one more shortcoming of this happiness=morality idea, here it would not be moral to empathize with the grieving or to grieve terribly when one goes through a horrific tragedy such as losing a child.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

This was quoted, ""Moral principles are provisionally true"

And then, this: "These moral principles are based in the universality of human nature"

Wait a minute - you are suggesting provisional truths for "most" ppl and then saying they are based on a universal standard?? Which is it -- morals for "most" ppl or "universal" morals for all ppl?????

Rob R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob R said...

Just another thought:

I applaud John Loftus for making an emotion an indicator of truth and an epistemic path (when it comes to morality... moral realism, ie something we claim to be an aspect of reality). Take that PZ Meyers who thinks want we want to be the truth is irrelevant to what truth is!

Of course my counterexamples were meant to demonstrate that happiness isn't in and of itself enough... not that it isn't a valid consideration.

Rob R said...

Actually, one of the disturbing things about Christianity is that it is completely amoral--all the behaviors it prescribes are based on utilitarian considerations

Utilitarianism IS a moral system.

Though I find it inadequate, that doesn't mean that utilitarian considerations shouldn't be irrelevant to moral questions.

"if you follow these rules, or if you don't follow these rules but you repent later, then you go to heaven".

consequences are a part of moral considerations. Of coure again, they aren't everything. But why shouldn't they play some role?

And the rotten history of Christianity...

Can very well be chalked up to distortions of Christianity.

ismellarat said...

I've always thought atheists miss the point when they say people don't need a god to be good.

Whether it's considered a rational one or not, religion is for many people a motivating force (among many others) - but why is it only recognized as one when it comes to evil actions?

The expectation of punishment in some other life can also restrain people from doing evil, in precisely the same way the expectation of facing legal consequences in this life can. And it doesn't have to be a rational or true belief that can have this effect.

I'm not, say, a Mormon, or a Muslim, but I'd expect that adherents of these worldviews conform themselves at least to some extent to the good elements of what they're being taught, and, to this extent, I'd say it's a good thing.

So when atheists put down the whole package, they understandably are seen by many followers as being against good themselves.

And, about those prison statistics on inmates' religious beliefs, The Unmentionable from Tektonics once told me they are bogus because every idiot is told to check a box upon being admitted, in case they die and have to be buried. I agree with him that this doesn't mean a thing. Many hope that they might effect good consequences in any afterlife with no work, so of course few uncontemplative types will call themselves atheists. They may as well check the box.

But I'd be surprised to find large numbers who make any actual sacrifices for their religions, in the form of regular church attendance, tithing, keeping of commandments, Bible studies, etc., to simultaneously go against what they're taught.

I'd love to see how well these "Christian" prisoners would do in exams on Bible knowledge.

This of course isn't saying that it's therefore all true, it's only that it makes no sense to say that people work against their own sincerely held beliefs.

Atheists don't generally do this, either.

Gandolf said...

Rob R said... "If I might just highlight one more shortcoming of this happiness=morality idea, here it would not be moral to empathize with the grieving or to grieve terribly when one goes through a horrific tragedy such as losing a child."

If we grieve with the grieving they dont feel so alone,then feel better which makes us feel better.
If people grieve for lost children, it helps them get through the grieving process rather than trying to unsucessfully bury the feelings.

Have i misunderstood your theory somewhere Rob ?

Rob R said...

Have i misunderstood your theory somewhere Rob ?

No, that's a good point, that sharing grief is at least on a trajectory towards happiness and decreasing sorrow.

Still, I think making the emotion here the end all be all of morality is short sighted (as my other example stands).

And this concern articulated here leaves open an interesting possibility. Suppose we could make a drug to deal with sadness that's way more powerful than current anti-depressants that could make our emotional state as if the tragedy, say the death of a loved one never happen. It misses the point of the grief. The pain and sorrow felt is a testament to how important that person was and to how much their life was worth while. In other words, the grief itself is not just something to be reduced but has a very important instrumental value that a Happiness=morality perspective cannot reflect. And I don't know that those who comfort the grieving actually reduce the grief as it is that they make it more bearable. Is that the same as decreasing grief? I don't know.

Besides that and besides what an atheist can appreciate, the pain and sorrow of such tragedies can have another benefit.

Christian Philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff lost his son to a mountain climbing accident. Later down the road, while he found it repugnant to think that God caused this specifically (an idea promoted by another grieving father). I agree with him and I don't believe that God determines every tragedy like this. And yet Wolterstorff further down the road would not have traded the closeness with God that he gained through this ordeal for anything.

Rob R said...

The Unmentionable from Tektonics...

LOL, I'm not sure the atheist community wants him compared to Voldemort.

Scott said...

Rob wrote: It makes me happy to worship God and promote the truth of the gospel. This is an end in itself, it needs no justification.

Rob, what part of holistically happy do you not understand? Happiness at the expense of others has consequences for everyone, including those who "think" they have maximized their happiness. I'd suggest this sort of happiness is, instead, minimized due to ignorance.

For example, there are many people who are happy to promote whatever revelation their all knowing, all seeing, morality forming God supposedly divinely revealed. But without any way to quantify revelation outside of itself, we suffer moral chaos. And this chaos effects everyone at some level.

If I might just highlight one more shortcoming of this happiness=morality idea, here it would not be moral to empathize with the grieving or to grieve terribly when one goes through a horrific tragedy such as losing a child.

Rob. Really?

Let me highlight the shortcoming in your understanding. (Or should I say straw man as I don't think you're really that ignorant)

Happiness is result of well-being, not the other way around. Grief is part of a process that is necessary for well-being and it's repression often hinders achieving it. This is suffering. We know this though study of how the mind works. Faith is not required.

Just as you need to know how a car works to keep it in top working order and you to know how the human body works to stay heathy, you need to know how the human brain works to promote well-being. This provides a means to qualify our ideas about well-being and morality.

Rob R said...

Rob, what part of holistically happy do you not understand?

what part of question begging do you not understand? What consitutes wholeness is not a question that can be determined apart from the basic question about who is right.

Actually, let me pause a moment to say that there is no reason to think that there is a human "wholeness" in a species that developed purely according to survival needs. We are lucky if such a thing is even possible, or unlucky that even if it is possible, there's no reason to think that anyone has found the path. Course you could point to exceedingly happy people, but the judgment their is subjective and you would be pointing to a great number of religious people.

Happiness at the expense of others has consequences for everyone, including those who "think"

Of course scott, and promoting the gospel doesn't qualify. That's just an unsubstantiated assertion.

But without any way to quantify revelation outside of itself, we suffer moral chaos. And this chaos effects everyone at some level.

Scott, you write your post as if you were just articulating the obvious truth (ex:"really?", "what part of wholeness don't you understand") then you wright something rather odd and inscrutable like this.

Grief is part of a process that is necessary for well-being and it's repression often hinders achieving it. This is suffering. We know this though study of how the mind works.

Grief is about the one lost. You can have faith in that "it's all about me" if you want, but I think it's far more humanistic (and hence more moral) to recognize that grief for a lost one that appears to be about some else really is for and about that someone else because they had intrinsic worth and were very special and precious.

Faith is not required.

i didn't say it was (unless if we are speaking about epistemic risk, it's everywhere and cannot be rejected, but I don't think we are talking about that). But no, atheists are created in the image of God and thus they are capable of recognizing the intrinsic worth of others (an excellent foundation for morality) regardless of their lack of religion. I just think there lack of religion is a poor companion to that recognition of intrinsic individual worth.

Scott said...

The expectation of punishment in some other life can also restrain people from doing evil, in precisely the same way the expectation of facing legal consequences in this life can. And it doesn't have to be a rational or true belief that can have this effect.

While this is true, the same can be said to the threat of cutting off the hands of thieves to prevent theft.

However, I think there are better ways to restrain people. And I think one of these ways is to better understand how our actions effects ourselves and others. To quote the Buddha, "You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger." And when people see how their actions cause suffering, they will be motivated to prevent it.

Yes, it can be difficult to gain this kind of perspective. But I think it's something we need to foster though education and observation. I think it's time we took the training wheels off as they have out served their usefulness.

Merely following a set of divine rules without understanding how they actually promote well-being (should this actually be the case) leaves people unequipped for the complex situations we find ourselves in. Again, this leads to moral chaos.

The Buddhas suggests...

Believe nothing on the faith of traditions, even though they have been held in honor for many generations and in many places. Do not believe a thing because many people speak of it. Do not believe on the faith of the sages of the past. Do not believe what you yourself have imagined, persuading yourself that a God inspires you. Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests. After examination, believe what you yourself have tested and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto.

The key here is examination, which includes the impact our actions has on others, as well as ourselves.

When people see how their well-being can be maximized by promoting the well-being of others, it's likely they will respond in kind. And when they see how their well-being ultimately suffers when the well-being of others suffer, they refrain.

As such, I think much of what we see as evil behavior is based on ignorance in one form or another.

Rob R said...

Buddhas epistemology is too individualistic and would invalidate much modern scientific knowledge and historical knowledge.

Rob R said...

oh and scroll up scott. I answered you while you posted.

Gandolf said...

Rob R --"It makes me happy to worship God and promote the truth of the gospel. This is an end in itself, it needs no justification."

Rob i didnt see were these short details John Loftus posted about moral realism was making any suggestions of a need for any human anarchy?.The post even refers to the "universality of human nature"

What makes us happy is still mattering in relation to the human group as a whole also.

That one person might in fact even be happy murdering people.Is absolutely no trump card that i can see.

And does not need have to mean the whole group will likely also be so happy with folks getting murdered.Sane educated humans in this world in general, are still not seen to like murder.

Personally i feel this idea being spread around that folks without gods are supposedly somehow connected to anarchy, is just pure propaganda based on pride bigotry and bias of faith and delusion.There is not anywhere near enough evidence or proof!, to suggest non believers are recieving justice in this (false judgment) faithful folk willingly make against non believers in general.

Many non believers are very concerned about much more than matters that only effect themselves and just their own interests.For instance i myself make it part of my duty to be interested in the plight of African children far far away from me.Kids who sadly even in the year "2009" still suffer under the abusive ignorance and tyranny of parents, family, community and countrys continued idiotic superstition and faithful nature.Where they are attacked and even killed,having their right to life robbed from them and treated like a currency thats moral to use as some kind of wager on faith in salvation.Addicted superstitious/faith believers waste these children lives on this earth,in the same selfish uncaring nature that we often see in those who willingly gamble.

It does not effect me directly,yet still does in a way because it seems totally sickening and abhorrent and just downright disgustingly selfish and thoughtless, that some how peoples rights to their superstition/faith seems is deemed to somehow be thought far more worthy precious and important than these childrens right to live out their lives in some happiness.

And in my opinion i dont see how suggested answers such as superstition/faith produces some charity, proves superstition/faith is good or even needed for our human happiness.Because i dont see that it has actually been proven? that the superststion/faith is a factor actually needed for the charity to happen.Its more only a added coincidence.

Rob would you mind explaining how you and many other intelligent christians often seem to quickly conclude, non believers and moral realists must only have interest in humanity in the sense of the singular?.

Scott said...

Rob wrote: what part of question begging do you not understand? What consitutes wholeness is not a question that can be determined apart from the basic question about who is right.

We know that a majority of "divinely revealed" absolute moral codes are false because they present different conflicting "absolute" moralities. Not all of them can be correct. So why should we accept yours? Why should I accept any of them?

Actually, let me pause a moment to say that there is no reason to think that there is a human "wholeness" in a species that developed purely according to survival needs.

And I'm suggesting we have evolved secondary traits that, in combination, have allowed us to expand beyond mere survival via consciousness. That we have identified how we evolved from less complex organisms is just such an indication. This would be quite unnecessary from the perspective of pure survival. As such, we're no longer limited to genetics alone.

Course you could point to exceedingly happy people, but the judgment their is subjective and you would be pointing to a great number of religious people.

And I'm suggesting the way you're using the term "happiness" is a straw man of the argument that individuals like Sam Harris are making. For example, we could find great variation between the well-being of these exceedingly happy people. And we could quantify this based on a number of concrete facts about how most human beings respond to situations.

One of the most likely improvements would be the kinds of food they eat and their knowledge of how it effects their heath. Eating better could make them significantly "happier" then they probably know. The same could be said of exercise. These are just two examples of how these "exceedingly" happy people could be even happier.

Soon, we'll have studies that show the benefits of meditation are just as concrete as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Faith will not be required.

Of course scott, and promoting the gospel doesn't qualify. That's just an unsubstantiated assertion.

Qualify? Do you not think Christianity is above Humanism or even other religions? If so, It would seem we both agree that not all moral systems are equal. It's our criteria that is different. While there are aspects of Christianity which does promote well-being, I think it also contains unnecessary baggage that can be discarded. Just as you think there are aspects of humanism that are sorely lacking.

Grief is about the one lost. You can have faith in that "it's all about me" if you want, but I think it's far more humanistic (and hence more moral) to recognize that grief for a lost one that appears to be about some else really is for and about that someone else because they had intrinsic worth and were very special and precious.

People experience Grief. Repressed grief can be harmful and reduce well-being. We know this to be a fact. Beyond this, no moral implications about the value of those lost was implied. However, that an individual experiences grief implies that which was lost had value in their eyes.

But no, atheists are created in the image of God and thus they are capable of recognizing the intrinsic worth of others (an excellent foundation for morality) regardless of their lack of religion. I just think there lack of religion is a poor companion to that recognition of intrinsic individual worth.

Rob, you seem to claim the only reason people can recognize the value of others is because God created us with the same ability he possess. If this is the case, then where did God obtain his ability to recognize value?

Did God create us so we value the things he created (which he values)? Or do both human beings and God share the ability to recognize some kind of cosmic value when they see it?

Scott said...

Rob wrote: Buddhas epistemology is too individualistic and would invalidate much modern scientific knowledge and historical knowledge.

Much of the supernatural aspects of Buddhism existed in Hinduism, which was a remnant of even earlier beliefs. But, unlike theism, we can easily drop these aspects of Buddhism without it becoming incoherent.

As such, concepts such as rebirth and karma (cause and effect) can still retain meaning inside the framework of historical and scientific knowledge.

The idea that we die and are reborn moment by moment represents the impermanence and constant change in everything. That we are no longer "living" doesn't mean we are not reborn into something else. After all, three other stars had to be born and die for our solar system to form. Every atom in our bodies came from the death of a star.

Rob R said...

Gandy,


Rob i didnt see were these short details John Loftus posted about moral realism was making any suggestions of a need for any human anarchy?

you didn't? me neither. That wasn't my point. My point was that his articulation of the heart of morality could lead in directions he might not agree with. Should anarchy follow? Not necessarily.

Kids who sadly even in the year "2009" still suffer under the abusive ignorance and tyranny of parents, family, community and countrys continued idiotic superstition and faithful nature.

it chills me to think you might be supporting groups that favor religious suppression. Otherwise, I don't know what you are talking about. Many African charities are either religious or they are not at war with religion. Of course if you are reffering to some initiatives against religious oppression by muslims or the pagans who might be murdering albinos, well that's too specific to be against religion in general.

And in my opinion i dont see how suggested answers such as superstition/faith produces some charity, proves superstition/faith is good or even needed for our human happiness.

You have quite the habit of seeing arguments that weren't made. Religion makes people happy, extremely happy. That doesn't imply you need religion to be happy but it is at odds with John's suggestion that atheistic morality can be grounded in happiness.

that the superststion/faith is a factor actually needed for the charity to happen.

REally? Not only have I never said this, I claimed quite the opposite in this thread and elsewhere recently.

Rob would you mind explaining how you and many other intelligent christians often seem to quickly conclude, non believers and moral realists must only have interest in humanity in the sense of the singular?

huh? Do you mind explaining what an interest in humanity in the singular means?

Rob R said...

post 2 of 3

Scott,

We know that a majority of "divinely revealed" absolute moral codes are false because they present different conflicting "absolute" moralities.

Then we know that about Buddhism too. Scott, that's just screwy and illogical. That they all disagree doesn't imply that they are all wrong. And quite frankly, the differences doesn't mean that they are all wrong because religions aren't all completely different and contradictory. Religions say lots of things including lots of similar things. Clearly many of them can be right on many of the agreements. And it's perfectly reasonable that one of them is completely right or more right than any of the others.

So why should we accept yours? Why should I accept any of them?

Not by observing that they can't all be completely right. That's just a starter. However, you can get into the specifics. That's certainly more fruitful. But it's not completely up to you anyhow. Christianity isn't there for you to perfectly objectively observe. it is best to consider it prayerfully and openly. (and as an inclusivist, I say that all claims of other religions may be approached in the same way even though Christian teachings is part of my lense and from my perspective, a reasonable limit to openness).

And I'm suggesting we have evolved secondary traits that, in combination, have allowed us to expand beyond mere survival via consciousness.

granting this and what followed, it does not contradict what I said to which this was a response.

And I'm suggesting the way you're using the term "happiness" is a straw man of the argument that individuals like Sam Harris are making.

it certainly isn't a strawman and I wasn't addressing sam harris but what John Loftus said. If it wasn't defined, it is not my fault for operating with a common sense notion of happiness of which people of many religious persuasions excell.

One of the most likely improvements would be the kinds of food they eat

Interestingly, people who visit developing contries where such quantifiables are in low demand have said that they have found some of them to be happier than people back in the west.

As another counter example, if you read Richard Wurmbrand's tortured for Christ, Westerners secured the release of Wurmbrand after 14 years of imprisonment and suffering under the Nazi's and then under the communists in Romania expected him to be a broken sad man. They were surprised at his joy he had and displayed even in the west where he claims he suffered even more at the spiritual poverty of the west (including the western church).

Soon, we'll have studies that show the benefits of meditation are just as concrete as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Faith will not be required.

LOL Scott, your claim is precisely what a faith statement is.

Rob R said...

post 3 of 3

Qualify? Do you not think Christianity is above Humanism or even other religions? If so, It would seem we both agree that not all moral systems are equal.

It does not qualify as happiness at the expense of others. That is an unsubstantiated assertion which relies on the falsity of Christianity which is beyond the scope of this discussion.

Of course I think the teachings of Christianity are above the others, including secular humanism. On the side though, I don't think Christianity is above humanism without the secularism. It is the root of the most robust and realistic version of humanism, the kind of humanism that recognizes the divinine pattern and sacredness of humans, a tremendous valuation and dignity that secularism cannot articulate.

People experience Grief. Repressed grief can be harmful and reduce well-being. We know this to be a fact.

doesn't contradict my richer view of grief.

Beyond this, no moral implications about the value of those lost was implied.

right, it was just lost in the wrong empahsis of the value of grief by yourself.

However, that an individual experiences grief implies that which was lost had value in their eyes.

and they are right. The person had intrinsic worth. And that is the point.

If this is the case, then where did God obtain his ability to recognize value?

God recieved nothing. He always was, is and is to come.

Did God create us so we value the things he created (which he values)? Or do both human beings and God share the ability to recognize some kind of cosmic value when they see it?

I can't say I know the relevance of this, but I don't believe God created logic or math but knowledge and understanding of the two is a divine feature that we share with God. To marvel at the infinite complexity of the Mandelbrot set fractal image is a case in point.

Much of the supernatural aspects of Buddhism existed in Hinduism, which was a remnant of even earlier beliefs. But, unlike theism, we can easily drop these aspects of Buddhism without it becoming incoherent.

right, sounds like the western order of Buddhists. course my observation remains though about the problem of an individualistic epistemology.

Gandolf said...

Rob R.

Rob R -->"My point was that his articulation of the heart of morality could lead in directions he might not agree with"

Do you feel you had good reason and evidence as proof? ..Im just finding it difficult to see where you actually gave any real theory evidence or really proved it.

You did mention "It makes me happy to worship God ",but hopefully i pointed out moral realism doesnt simply always equate to what happens to suit you or me personally.It not just a matter of what he or her or you or me personally happen to think about things.

R -->"it chills me to think you might be supporting groups that favor religious suppression."

Oh really that whats "most" chilling to you personally? ...Yet dont find it chilling that people still support ignorant superstitions to freely believe and have faith in what they wish,even at the cost of if it happens to be that superstitions and faith are keeping superstition alive on this planet leading to possibilities of it causing harm to people?.
Does it chill you the same that some folks wish to suppress abortion and gay marriage etc by any chance to Rob?.Does it chill you the same that superstition beliefs with little evidence like the god and the bible,happens to cause many kids psychological pain through the ignorance of the followers their own parents who often DO psychologically harm and abuse them with ignorant threats of some stupid totally unproven place called hell?.

Or is suppression of superstition/faith simply the most chilling thing possible by your books.

But no i dont think my interest is so much in suppressing,at present atleast im far more interested in debate and discussion and talking sense.And keeping hope that someday the superstitious ignorance will some day be disproved of by many many folks.

Here is a type of the incident i spoke of that i suggest folks continued interest in keeping these superstition alive in this world, has also helped lead to and cause pain and suffering to spread and even help effect kids in Africa also.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/18/
african-children-denounce_n_324943.html

R -->" but it is at odds with John's suggestion that atheistic morality can be grounded in happiness."

Can you point me to where you explain this.

R -->"huh? Do you mind explaining what an interest in humanity in the singular means?"

I mean singular in the sense of meaning one single human.Id like to try to better understand how many faithful have simply seemed to have decided,somehow humanity could never be served just as well if not better by ideas such as moral realism.

I realize many theists tend to like to dream their faith morals have some how been built of some type of supernaturally devined moral absolutes.But in my opinion i dont think we even see how the evidence we have proves this dream.The fact that we can even see a number of faith moral thoughts seem to have changed by accounts we read in their books,in my opinion suggests and maybe even goes a very very long way to proving. Even faith morals have little to do with any supernaturally divined absolutes.

Cheers

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Gandolf,
Nice Job,
I'd like to add the following to your list of harm
- Genital mutilation,
- priest molesters,
- exorcism,
- religious exemption for childrens vaccinations,
- religious exemption for fair work practices with respect to homosexuals and non-christians,
- religious exemptions for civil rights violations with regard to homosexual civil unions, and
- religious exemption for taxes

you can find recent data to back all that up at QuIRP.

ismellarat said...

I agree with the last 4 points - it's not fair that only the religious are exempted from being forced to do what should remain everyone's own personal business. :)

Rob R said...

1 of 2



Gandolf

Rob R -->"My point was that his articulation of the heart of morality could lead in directions he might not agree with"

Do you feel you had good reason and evidence as proof?


I felt I made a good point. you can either respond to it in the context of the discussion in which it was given or you aren't advancing the discussion.

You did mention "It makes me happy to worship God ",but hopefully i pointed out moral realism doesnt simply always equate to what happens to suit you or me personally.

It's not about you. It's not about moral realism in general (I'm a moral realist after all). It's about John's attempt to support of moral realism which was too sparse to be useful and is vulnerable to my objection without further explanation.

It not just a matter of what he or her or you or me personally happen to think about things.

It most certainly does matter what people say when what is said belongs to a context. John set the specific context. Not you, not a general issue. You can take it off topic if you want, but don't complain about my comments by also taking them out of context. You have little sense of the conversation. Sometimes, when I read what you write, it seems that it all boils down to Christianity bad, atheism good, details be damned.

But no i dont think my interest is so much in suppressing,at present atleast im far more interested in debate and discussion and talking sense.

Reviewing that exchange, I think my comment was made carelessly and I retract it. But here's why i made that connection. If you paint religion with broad brushstrokes and see what I believe as equivelent to these other horrors which you do give the impression, then it's not hard to see why one would think that you'd advocate the suppression of any religious freedom in the same way some of these brutal religious practices ought to be restrained and even suppressed.

Does it chill you the same that some folks wish to suppress abortion and gay marriage etc by any chance to Rob?

by any means? Of course I find that repugnant. By peaceable and reasonable civil means? Nothing wrong with that.

Does it chill you the same that superstition beliefs with little evidence like the god and the bible,happens to cause many kids psychological pain through the ignorance of the followers their own parents who often DO psychologically harm and abuse them with ignorant threats of some stupid totally unproven place called hell?.

Distortions of truth whether religious or otherwise can potentially be dangerous. That includes not only distortions by religious people, but also distortions such as your own.

Rob R said...

post 2 of 2

R -->" but it is at odds with John's suggestion that atheistic morality can be grounded in happiness."

Can you point me to where you explain this.


I didn't explain this but thought it was self evident. John makes happiness the indicator of morality. I note that promoting a world view that John finds immoral makes me happy. Thus John has not provided a consistent means of determining morality. Scott advanced the discussion by suggesting that it was the qualification of holistic happiness that made the difference. I noted though that such a qualifier would 1) presume the truth of atheism but 2) is not clearly obtainable even if atheism is true since natural selection is geared toward survival and not making holistic happiness possible. After all, happiness can sometimes decrease survival and misery can increase those chances in some contexts.

I mean singular in the sense of meaning one single human.

Then you need to recognize that my comments to that effect depended upon what scott said and was not an unqualified criticism of just any atheistic attempt at moral realism. The issue was grief and scott said that the value of grief could still be justified on the grounds that John gave. I'll let you read that exchange yourself rather than reinvent the wheel here.

I realize many theists tend to like to dream their faith morals have some how been built of some type of supernaturally devined moral absolutes.But in my opinion i dont think we even see how the evidence we have proves this dream.

That's not the approach I take. I don't see the question as to whether or not we have evidence that our morals can only be had when derived from supernatural absolutes. No, I go the other direction. I take it as basic that we humans are moral creatures. It is part of what makes us human. The question is what is the best framework that is at home with that moral sense. Is it materialism or is it transcendence. My activity here in this thread though has been primarily critical. I am suggesting that John and Scott's developement of John's view against my criticism has not demonstrated sufficiency for the purposes of atheistic materialistic humanism.

The fact that we can even see a number of faith moral thoughts seem to have changed by accounts we read in their books,

which is why I am not an absolutist about all morals. I agree there has been change, but that change has been according to a developement in which consistency may be found even within the change.

Even faith morals have little to do with any supernaturally divined absolutes.

On the contrary, morals are perhaps primarily derived from the sacredness of personhood and aspects of that personhood, that personhood which is modelled after God's personhood.

Gandolf said...

Rob R -->"If you paint religion with broad brushstrokes"

I understand it is your opinion i pain religion with broad brushtrokes as if doing this has been proven as some injustice,you are forever telling me this.

However i feel there is good reason a wide brush is very worthy of use.

Using a analogy of cancer from smoking,you would like me to only blame the smoker with the cancer and make him bear all the burden.Where as yes i tend to use a wider brush! and feel its only fair and just the tobacco companys who are the ones actually pushing the product should face taking ownership of a large part of the burden also.For being (responsible) for FIRST making the addiction possible.

In that sense yes my brush is wide,and justly so too i suggest.For from within many of these less abusive faiths you suggest maybe i shouldnt be painting,comes forth the newer and often more nasty abusive sub cults.

Ive not yet been convinced total harm and blame rests solely on the shoulders of only the nasty abusive sub cults.And neither have you come close to providing any decent evidence yet to prove why i should be convinced so.

So for now i use a wide brush.

R -->"Distortions of truth whether religious or otherwise can potentially be dangerous"

See above.I dont agree that ive been distorting anything.There is a very big difference between distortions and non distortions,and it takes decent honest evidence to prove the difference.Which i dont see you have yet been really able to supply.

If you suggest i distort the truth.Show me some decent evidence to disprove my theory,that lessor abusive faith also (all to often) produces far to many extra abusive faiths.

In my opinion it seems to me that any/all faiths/superstitions that are even (prone) to producing (sub cults and devisions shunnings and devides etc),could in all decent honesty very justly deserve to be considdered as just as nasty and abusive also.Hence the wide brush is rightiously used for decent justice!.Justice that seeks to deal with the (root of the problem!),not lame injustice which you suggest maybe i use with a skinny brush which only ever picks at the real bad eggs on the fringe.

What endless battle that idea is.Why choose to only pick at the fringe?,when its really the root thats the real problem!.

R -->"2) is not clearly obtainable even if atheism is true since natural selection is geared toward survival and not making holistic happiness possible."

Why not?.Holistic happiness plays a big part in survival.If the whole groups happy! morales in general are higher which produces better proformance,hence everyone benefits.Its possible part of survival is also the fact that the groups that are better adapted holistically, will naturally be more likely to survive better.

Rob i still dont see were you have proved that much wrong with Johns post.Sure maybe some information was a bit sparce,but i cant see it was ever meant as a complete explanation.

Ohh and Rob how much does it say about the original "transendance" of morals,if you agree the supposed transendental morals can be seen to have actually had to have to change.Really kinda proves they obviously cant really have ever been that supernaturally transendental at all anyway can they.

Sorry i repent i didnt reply to all you wrote Rob.Tired as, and lacking in interest a little tonight.

Rob R said...

post 1 of 2


I understand it is your opinion i pain religion with broad brushtrokes as if doing this has been proven as some injustice,you are forever telling me this.

it's not an injustice. it's irrational. It's rationally equivalent to racism, that because some people of some race are a certain way, they all are that way. It's irrational because it has been objectively observed as false. We have observed that some religion has been positive in the world and has even opposed the negative effects of other religious perspectives.


Using a analogy of cancer from smoking,

The analogy is only as good as it's reflection of reality and this isn't it. Sorry but what abominable practices of Islam or nationalistic Hindus reflects nothing on Christianity. You analogy doesn't fit since what Christians say doesn't provide the ultimate source for the brutality of the others. As for corrupt behavior by Christians themselves, there is free will and understanding. Your analogy doesn't fit since neither comes into practice with those who smoke. It may be a matter of free will that someone smokes, but it is not a matter of free will and understadning that the smoking would have harmful effects. The analogy further fails because the effect of smoking is only unhealthy. It is an undeniable historical fact that Christianity has brought about positive social change from the improvements in England in the time of Wesley, the opposition of communism in the east (it was a Christian prayer vigil in Germany that instigated the toppling of the Berlin Wall) to the opposition of slavery and overthrow of apartheid. It's a selective history that refuses to acknowledge the positive changes from religion.

In that sense yes my brush is wide,and justly so too i suggest.

And the metaphor of painting with broad brushstrokes is about the reckless thinking of someone who applies generalities that were not well thought out and in fact contradicts the facts as you do.


See above.I dont agree that ive been distorting anything.There is a very big difference between distortions and non distortions,and it takes decent honest evidence to prove the difference.Which i dont see you have yet been really able to supply.


the negative examples you cite like killing witches just has no place in Christianity as described by the new testament. Jesus and apostles showed us how to oppose evil in the world and promote good and the things you describe just can't be located anywhere in that picture. And we aren't under the old testament which made witchcraft a capital offense, though it is a valuable teaching to us to realize the serious gravity and evil that is involved in real witchcraft. But we are under a stronger covenant where even witches may be redeemed.

course it's strange for you to insist that I have to give evidence to prove our evidence. It doesn't work that way Gandolf. You tell me why these things are necessary to Christianity. You bring the accusation, ergo you bring the evidence.

Rob R said...

post 2 of 2



In my opinion it seems to me that any/all faiths/superstitions that are even (prone) to producing (sub cults and devisions shunnings and devides etc),could in all decent honesty very justly deserve to be considdered as just as nasty and abusive also.

Any one can take any view and distort it into something with horrible consequences and if that reflects back on the original view, then there is no truth we can trust since people have done horrible things with atheism and naturalistic evolution. Jeffrey Dommer (sp?) credited his view of evolution for his moral anti-realism that allowed him to do the horrible things that he did.

Why not?.Holistic happiness plays a big part in survival.

okay, what biological journal, textbook or researcher says this?

If the whole groups happy!

If the whole groups happy! morales in general are higher which produces better proformance,hence everyone benefits.

Well then, we shouldn't have any misery because it should've been deselected. But the fact is fear and misery and dissatisfaction can play a survival role as well. All of these motivate us against dangerous or sub par survival situations. And too much happiness can lead to complacency.

Its possible part of survival is also the fact that the groups that are better adapted holistically, will naturally be more likely to survive better.

it's possible and it's possibly not true. This is a faith claim which I doubt has been scientifically substantiated. This is not a good position for one who wants morality in a world view that puts a premium on eliminating the need for faith.

Ohh and Rob how much does it say about the original "transendance" of morals,if you agree the supposed transendental morals can be seen to have actually had to have to change.Really kinda proves they obviously cant really have ever been that supernaturally transendental at all anyway can they.

Why's that. i don't see why this is true at all. There is no contradiction between change and transcendence. But as I said, it doesn't all change anyway. there is a consistent core of which the old law teaches. It teaches us the value of innocent human life, our responsibility for the lives of those under our care, sexuality, community, worship and so on. This has not changed, but how we promote those values has in an age of greater grace.

Gandolf said...

Post 1.

Rob -->"it's not an injustice. it's irrational. It's rationally equivalent to racism"

No what irrational is you suggesting, faith can be equal to race.Thats fucking irrational,and downright moronic.

When folks suggest tobacco shouldnt be promoted,do you bleat and cry.."oh but thats simply racism"

Rob -->"The analogy is only as good as it's reflection of reality and this isn't it. Sorry but what abominable practices of Islam or nationalistic Hindus reflects nothing on Christianity. You analogy doesn't fit since what Christians say doesn't provide the ultimate source for the brutality of the others"

Yeah well so far personally i think you have failed to prove its not quite a decent analogy.The abominable practices of Islam etc,are connected to christianity by the fact all are connected to being faiths/myths, that taught as reality and truth do often cause many of much the same problems.

Rob -->"As for corrupt behavior by Christians themselves, there is free will and understanding."

No i disagree.Im my opinion your conclusion is only a biased bigoted false conclusion as per usual from you.You simply foolishly over look the fact its not all about free will at all Rob.Quite conveniantly you simply over look the barbaric ignorant bullshit teachings within these abusivly written faiths,that being so fucking confusing and devoid of educated intelligence ...Often LEADS PEOPLE up the fucking gum tree...causing all manner of nasty idiotic foolishness and abuse in the process.

Rob -->"The analogy further fails because the effect of smoking is only unhealthy"

No once again you are not quite correct.Smoking can actually produce a calming effect for some folks.Smoking tobacco i was told by one dentist,can actually slow down tooth decay.Smoking can actually help some folks put on less weight.etc.

Rob -->"It is an undeniable historical fact that Christianity has brought about positive social change from the improvements in England in the time of Wesley, the opposition of communism in the east (it was a Christian prayer vigil in Germany that instigated the toppling of the Berlin Wall) to the opposition of slavery and overthrow of apartheid. It's a selective history that refuses to acknowledge the positive changes from religion."

I do not discount that christianity has been involved in much change that happened.How could it not be a factor, when it liturally near took over our societies.And by shear force of numbers,naturally shows up in statistics.However that doesnt prove that humans (undivided by very many devisive worldwide faith beliefs),wouldnt have been able to maybe have obtained many of the same things without experiencing the devise nature of superstitious faiths.

Rob -->"And the metaphor of painting with broad brushstrokes is about the reckless thinking of someone who applies generalities that were not well thought out and in fact contradicts the facts as you do."

And your skinny bigoted biased selective brush strokes you prefer using, are about as smart as some hairy ased school child, trying to put the blame on everything else but the root of the actual problem.. Where with use of any decent honesty and justice ...The blame might truthfully actually belong.

Still gamblers are known to often be thoughtless selfish pricks...Why should i expect those who gamble on salvation to be any different ?.

Gandolf said...

post 2

Rob -->"the negative examples you cite like killing witches just has no place in Christianity as described by the new testament"

Oh more of the stupid no true Scotsman ,christian faithful bullshit.Not true christian says guru christian Rob,just like some other bullshitting christian is likely saying in return about old Rob .. Not that a slow christian like Rob will understand the problem in any real hurry....Its a matter of faith over matter for cherry picking Rob..

The utter git cannot see that it dont matter so much whether the translations were right or wrong rah rah rah ...The fact remain either way ...These faith books still ARE far to often full of myths and confusion and nasty violent divisive suggestive material...And right or wrong translations of such false fictional material being taught as truth, STILL DOES cause much harm.

Rob -->" And we aren't under the old testament which made witchcraft a capital offense, though it is a valuable teaching to us to realize the serious gravity and evil that is involved in real witchcraft."

Still that doesnt change the danger aspect of these books.While you translate the idiotic confusion one way,others disagree with you ..And happen to translate it to still include witch killings.

Now open your eyes Rob ...Children blood killed as witches in the year fucking 2009/2010 ...lays on your hands too Rob ...You cannot simply totally separate the harm caused ...by simple use of your selfish pitiful excuses of translation etc...It still the book you promote as truth, causing part of the problem.

Rob -->"You bring the accusation, ergo you bring the evidence."

Oh and you think i still allow christian fuckwhits to have dominion over me Rob ?..Get real mate im here and i still will be here saying it like i see it ...Whether dick heads like you happen to like it or not.

Rob -->"Any one can take any view and distort it into something with horrible consequences and if that reflects back on the original view, then there is no truth we can trust since people have done horrible things with atheism and naturalistic evolution."

Nice try but no thats just an excuse...You still havent change the fact that (harmfully suggestive material) contained withing the actual faith beliefs,is what is the actual cause of whats (helping folks) to do what they do...Its the faith that still has (suggestive material) in its WRITTEN TEACHINGS ,of NASTY ABUSIVE witch killing and shunning and excommunications etc etc etc.

What does "Jeffrey Dommer (sp?)" have to do with it .You convieniantly forget! he was also a fucking mentally retarded psychopathic madman.

Gandolf said...

post 3

Rob -->"okay, what biological journal, textbook or researcher says this?"

Do you think it unlikely?..If so prove it....Im not bothering with playing your special "rule" games Rob...Im pretty sure my opinion is a pretty safe opinion...Im happy to leave it up to the common sense of other folks reading to decide.And whats more im sure if you had reason or proof to prove me wrong ..you would likely have used it double quick ....I read faithful folks like a book Rob ...i know inside out their bullshit games they often try playing.

Which is why discussing matters with people like Grace that posts on this forum,is like a breath of fresh air ..She dont try playing manipulative bullshit word/rule games

Rob -->"can play a survival role as well"

Yes im fully aware of that.

Rob -->"Well then, we shouldn't have any misery because it should've been deselected"

No not nessarily...One thing being helpful factor, doesnt stop other stuff such as superstition/faith also playing a part in the factor of the overall mix.

Rob -->"There is no contradiction between change and transcendence"

No maybe not..But explain change in supposed (supernatural) trancendence .Do the gods get it wrong?.

Rob -->" But as I said, it doesn't all change anyway. there is a consistent core of which the old law teaches."

Oh yes lets remember the "core" ...What a bloody lame excuse

The only thing i see that seems very consistant core, Rob. Is uneducated ignorance pride manipulation superstition and fucking blatent bullshit

Rob R said...

No what irrational is you suggesting, faith can be equal to race.Thats fucking irrational,and downright moronic.

Well Gandolf, I see no reason to continue this further. I didn't even bother to read this further because at a glance, it's more of the same. again, go get a text book on logic and philosophy and get some idea of how these things are done. You won't take lessons in reasoning from me and brother, you need them badly. Without some skill you just have no capability here.

There is especially little fruit in this when you decide to take your fundamentalist upbringing out on me.

Seriously Gandolf, I know the yes men here pat you on the back, but it is more worthy of my time to discuss these things with others. I have had many worth while discussions here. Scott above has provided a better discussion than you are capable of. But when the discussion quality with a particular person persists who isn't able to adapt to the discussion, advance the discussion and take things in context, it's time to shake the dust off my feet and move on.

I know you are impressed with your ranting and insulting skills, but reasoning is serious business and it doesn't help you at all here.

Gandolf said...

Oh what ever Rob R mr answer man with fucking useless answers.

Your fucking education dont impress me...Many folks with educations (do impress me) a whole lot...But seems some folks can still have a education and yet in many ways can still be fucking real ignorant ... You prove that point!, that common sense is also very important too and sadly seems you just aint got fuck all of it!.

I`ll be around next time Rob R. And didnt you hear me (i dont allow you any dominion) over me i dont recognize your supposed athourity that you try tactics of imposing your supposed rules of the game on me.And thats really what you just cant handle hmmm?,you just not used to it.You can say, Scott this ,that,blah blah or whatever you like...But i`ll still be here ready for you each time Rob R ...And if i see you elswhere i wont be shying away with any fear of your supposed hob nob snob education.....I ll be comming right at you with logic and common sense if i feel you aint really using much of it ...whether you fucking like it or not

I dont mind if each time you gotta run away like a baby,bleating about it or whatever.Thats your problem.

Because of fucking the bullshit of religion yeah i got a hard time in school the whole way through it,i was persecuted because i was unluckily to "born" to a bunch of fucking dick head christians folks of faith and their silly moronic superstitions and ignorance and bigotry.The selfrightious law of their christian cult made us kids have to act bigoted at school,and so other folks were right in dislikeing us because it was ignorant self rightous and bigoted to have such moronic faith laws.It was hard to concentrate at school the other kids hated us,and then i also had my family splitting apart at the seams all around me through separation and excommunication issues to think endlessly about and worry like fuck about as well.

Incidently they held me back even early on in my schooling at the primary level.This further compounded the abuse i recieved all the way further along the line in school from there on.

I had family around me disappearing through excommunication etc,left right and centre.I had all sorts of crazy shit lunatic religious christian cult shit happening that i experienced, like for instance finding my own brother in the process of trying to join many others in the group, who commit suicide.

No i simply admit i didnt get the education of a scholar Rob,and i left the cult (aged 15) which meant needing to (leave home) find a (job a place to live) simply so i could (look after myself).

There was no mummy and daddy or even sister or bro in my life,nobody washing my wee undies for me Rob sending me off to some university or what ever.

Yes my education is basically the school of hard knocks.Make your mistakes.Get experience. Learn to use logic and common sense or dont survive.

So fucking what.

I will still be around Rob R,and your snobbery of education dont scare me off AT ALL my friend....Ive needed to learn to deal with way more scary folk than you in my life Rob ...That i can promise you

Merry Christmas sunshine

Rob R said...

The chains of that cult grip you to this day coloring your world and all your skepticism makes no difference as it offers no healing. You could claim otherwise, but what I read speaks the truth of it.

You can follow me around Gandolf. I am happy for you to read what I write even if you must follow it with a rant.

May you find healing, and merry Christmas to you.

ismellarat said...

Now, now, Rob R and Gandolf, it's Christmas, so let's rejoice in the common ground we have. It's so much larger than you may think it is.

All three of us have problems with at least parts of the Bible. Rob R has the fewest, although he won't admit to having any yet, I have a few more, and Gandolf a few more than me.

We're just different shades of gray, and I'm sure any omnipotent god will know that none of us really accepts the whole package. He also would know that practically the entire congregation at the church I went to yesterday will only publicly proclaim the "good parts," much as many may still enjoy hearing themselves say they believe it all.

If there's any truth to this, either most of the church and virtually all of the rest of us are going to Hell, or our differences just won't matter so much and we'll be judged mostly on how we treated our fellow human beings. I've often thought what I discovered Ed Babinski also has been pointing out - that "Christians" these days would have been considered to be liberals in earlier times.

Rob R said...

Well bless you Ismellarat. Blessed are the peacemakers after all.

I won't hold a grudge at Gandolf but I just don't see fruit in continueing discussion with him for several reasons having to do with how he decides to treat someone when he is frustrated (last couple of posts a case in point), continuing down a fruitless path of treating all religion as equal, and again, a general skill in how to think about these things. Even there, I'm not going to insist that I'm perfect model in that regard, but it has become a fairly substantial problematic issue between us. Of course other Christians will continue to discuss the issues with him and may do better and offend him less than I have.

Merry Christmas.

ismellarat said...

Well, God bless you, Rob R.
And God bless you too, Gandolf.
God bless us, everyone.

And may the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future be kind to us all. Sniff, sniff...

Logan said...

Hi Rob,
There is a difference being able to store information and being able to reason functionally.
some people call dysrationalia "lack of common sense" but basically its the inability to recognize when to apply and use logical reasoning schemes across domains.

Some people, no matter how educated they are, just stay idiots, don't you think?

Some people can't seem to see that religion is incoherent in its own domain, demonstrated by the fundamental differences in fundamental tenets between denominations, (and not just christianity).

You all anchor your believes in 2000 year old texts that are supposed to be originated by god, but when it comes right down to it, you all minimize the role god played in it because it is so obviously morally corrupt. You blame people for the problems in DIVINELY INSPIRED text.

See at that point, it can't really be called divinely inspired or trustworthy.

God? Which God? You wouldn't know which god if someone you trusted didn't tell you.

Rob R said...

There is a difference being able to store information and being able to reason functionally.
some people call dysrationalia "lack of common sense" but basically its the inability to recognize when to apply and use logical reasoning schemes across domains.


Isn't it? It's part of the post modern situation. If I suffer it, you cannot demonstrate it to me and if you suffer it, you cannot demonstrate it. And the fact is, there are no doubt degrees.

Some people can't seem to see that religion is incoherent in its own domain, demonstrated by the fundamental differences in fundamental tenets between denominations, (and not just christianity).

Some people can't seem to understand that differences in denominations only reflect not a complete lack of truth but is perfectly coherent with the idea that central truths may indeed be understood and others represent that which we must progress towards.

And for an epistemically finite people such as us, diversity even on these grounds is not a bad thing but contributes to the possibility that some solutions may more redily occur to some and not others and yet all may advance in that direction. And we certainly see this in Christianity. In some ways for example, Catholicism moved towards the thinking of many protestants in Vatican II.

you all minimize the role god played in it because it is so obviously morally corrupt.

Or either scripture or morality has not been properly and fully understood. After all, there is a failure to understand the moral developement in the scripture that becomes a bit more individualistic (not completely) and becomes more grace oriented while the old still teaches moral truths though we are no longer under it. An example is of course the death penalty for adultry which is no longer called for in the New Testament with the opportunity of grace and redemption and yet, it teaches that the value of sexuality and marital relationships goes to the heart of the the value of life itself. You may disagree, but you'd be begging the question to insist scripture is immoral without realizing that what is moral is itself a topic of disagreement.

See at that point, it can't really be called divinely inspired or trustworthy.

that scripture is trustworthy is not something that is always obvious and explicit but for Christians functions as a trajectory for studying.

God? Which God? You wouldn't know which god if someone you trusted didn't tell you.

The God of Abraham, Moses, David Jesus. the one about which disagreements arise which doesn't mean we have a different God. That's just a mistake about how identity works.

Rob R said...

God bless us, everyone.

And a Christmas goose for everyone!

Gandolf said...

Rob R -->"continuing down a fruitless path of treating all religion as equal, and again, a general skill in how to think about these things. "

No there you go again twisting matters.I did NOT say i treat all religion as equal in the sense you are trying to depict i said it, at all.

Im just not interested in bullshitting around squabbling over what religion might be worse than the other etc .You Christian get into that silly biggoted childish shit! of trying to claim high ground over Islam or whoever etc,and its bloody childish and achieves little in my thinking.If any thing it causes some faiths to feel picked on!,in turn only making matters worse!.

Yes i do use a wide brush because my opinion is its the adult thing to do as its the "universal" ignorance of mere "superstitious faith" thats the real problem,and for that part! it dont matter who i paint as all faith no matter what should be held partly responsible for some of the (presense) of such stupid ignorant "superstitious faith" in our world.Witch burnings alone prove the stupidy and danger of superstitions,and superstitions have caused many more problems than just witch burnings over the many years on our planet.All faithful have played a part in promotion of superstition even in the sense it was passed on by their forefathers,therefore i use a wide brush .

Rob R -->"for several reasons having to do with how he decides to treat someone when he is frustrated "

I will not simply sit back peacefully forever, while some poncy snobby git who cant deal with my arguments, and even twists what i say! because it happens to be "him" that cant really even understand logic and reasoning,starts feeling the need to bitch and pick at "my" education.

However my anger hasnt got anything at all to do with any grudge.Its got everything to do with knowing i dont need to simply take shit from some poncing bigoted fool,who bitches about peoples education!.Fair enough?

Logan -->"Some people, no matter how educated they are, just stay idiots, don't you think?"

Damm right Logan...I have met many educated idiots and even have a brother whos a lawyer and would argue black was white all day until the cows come home.He is educated for sure and has been able to become a lawyer.

But when it comes to using common sense and reasoning he`s a fucking idiot,and has proved it so! many times over.For instance he dont even know when to simply stop being a argumentive dick head, and finds it hard to ever admit actually being wrong.

Gandolf said...

ismellarat said... "Well, God bless you, Rob R.
And God bless you too, Gandolf.
God bless us, everyone.

And may the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future be kind to us all. Sniff, sniff..."

My friend Smelly Rat ...Im sorry the clash of words is upsetting.I dont like it either really,but like many things it has its good reasons as well as bad reasons.

The thing is the way i see it is we can either sweet talk on an on forever and still get no where! and still be left dealing with the many problems! faith causes,or we can simply get right down to it! and start really fucking sorting it out once and for all.

May the fairy god mother bless you to ismellarat ..Oh and may your table be laid full by the works of the FSM

Hope you are having great end of year celebrations.

Logan said...

hi rob,
Hi Rob,
what does
It's part of the post modern situation.
mean?

And the fact is, there are no doubt degrees.
maybe to you, but the to the rest of us there is.
it even turns up in our language
"gaining trust"
There is even a mechanism for using it in justice systems,
we have to convince a judge or jury to come to a conclusion based on how their belief has changed with regard to evidence.

but I suspect that your are just argumentative. However, if you're going to be argumentative you might as well try to avoid non-sense. Unless you don't realize non-sense when you see it, as you seem to have asserted here
If I suffer it, you cannot demonstrate it to me

Some people can't seem to understand that differences in denominations only reflect not a complete lack of truth but is perfectly coherent with the idea that central truths may indeed be understood and others represent that which we must progress towards.
Okay, so you admit that religion, and I suppose in your case that christianity is fundamentally incoherent right now and you need to work to make sense of it.

But when are you going to realize that you can't do it with the bible and interpreting scripture? You can never get the "truth" out of ambiguous information, that's why it is a poor practice to use ambiguous information when doing anything important, such as diagnosing disease, or assessing guilt, or doing taxes.

Just imagine if the tax laws were as ambiguous as the bible. You wouldn't want to tolerate it for a minute, i'm sure, and you wouldn't defend it so forcefully.

You are not applying principles of trustworthy information across domains buddy.

And for an epistemically finite people such as us, diversity even on these grounds is not a bad thing but contributes to the possibility that some solutions may more redily occur to some and not others and yet all may advance in that direction.
what you are defending is a situation where it is not possible to come up with any baseline set of knowledge to ever start to make progress. As evidenced by the fact that christianity still can't figure out if you are saved before you are born, saved by grace or works, or all three after 2000 years.

you kneed a baseline to start with. each denomination has a baseline? then each denominations is a different religion, with the same idol. A little dead guy on a stick.

Logan said...

hi rob part 2,
Or either scripture or morality has not been properly and fully understood.
you come closer to making predictions and understanding morality by using the model of iterative games in game theory.

You may disagree, but you'd be begging the question to insist scripture is immoral without realizing that what is moral is itself a topic of disagreement.
There you go saying blatently stupid things again.
Just because it a topic of disagreement doesnt' mean you can't use it. But I'm sure you know this but are just too stubborn to admit when you are wrong, or that you are not up to the caliber of debate that you expect of others.

There are moral principles that span domains, most cultures of the world have similar moral standards INDEPENDENT of Gods. Therefore, god is not required except as a sort of "big brother" video surveillance when the person doesn't understand the logic behind minimizing harm, especially in a group.

that scripture is trustworthy is not something that is always obvious and explicit but for Christians functions as a trajectory for studying.,
There is no question in your mind that scripture is not trustworthy. There is no, "hmmmm, god telling people to rip the babies out of mothers tummies doesn't sound like something i'd expect god to say. Maybe I should look into where that came from before I put all my eggs in that basket".

like I said, i'm sure you'd scoff at hindu vedas and upanishad, the quran and LDS scriptures for the same resons you should be scoffing at the bible.

look the NT is not independent of the OT. Its the same god, just a reinterpretation, and 'recycling' for use in another culture.

The God of Abraham, Moses, David Jesus. the one about which disagreements arise which doesn't mean we have a different God.
silly boy,
I'm talking about Vishnu.
you have no idea do you.
There's a world out there on the other side of the ocean that contain billions of people, that is very different from you, and doesn't give a flip about "the god of abraham", yet they are as convinced as you that they are on the right track.

your ignorance and arrogance is laughable.
;-)
no offense intended.

ever wonder why people here call you 'the answer man'? It because you just pull crap out of your a$$ smear it on the screen and think its a coherent answer.

Logan said...

Hi rob,
your ignorance and arrogance is laughable.
Especially when we consider you're defending a single set of accumulated data that stopped being updated 2000 years ago instead of taking on newer data sets that are actively being updated and are more efficiently minimizing harm in the world.

When the newer data disconfirms the older data, you have more successful outcomes by going with the newer data.

No adam? No atonement? Paul had a neurological pathology that gave him typical symptoms of a neurological pathology but he misinterpreted it using his 2000 year old knowledge base?

No problem, I can still see why it is not in my best interest to murder people, steal from them, have sex outside of marriage, yada, yada, yada.
namely because of the naturally occurring consequences here and now. The same "sacred" logic that underlies hindu and buddhist beliefs.

Logan said...

2000?
it should have been ~1650 years ago, but you get my point.

Logan said...

I'll let you have the last word Rob.
Just letting you know that I'm moving on to other things so you don't feel like you've accomplished something when i don't respond.

Rob R said...

Logan, if you are only interested in your half of the discussion and have already decided that I couldn't possibly advance the discussion and offer legitimate counterpoints, then I have much better conversations where I will focus my energy with more interested parties.

So in light of your lack of interest in what I have to say, I'm not even bothering to read your two part response beyond the last posts that I just glimpsed.

You can do things that way if you want, but it only highlights your own insulation against possible challenges.

I value my time and won't waste it.

Dumb_Hound said...

Hi, I am an atheist, I know beyond every possible doubt that there is neither God nor afterlife.
I think that belief in God can not provide us with an objective morality, as clearly shown by the Euthyphro dilemma : is something good just because God stipulated it is (in which case it is arbitrary, for God could state one ought to love ones foes as well as ordering the slaughter of the folks of Canaan. ) or did God ordered it because it is good (in which case there exists an objective standard of goodness independent of God) ?
However, I believe that the same challenge could be posed to any form of atheistic moral realism.
Over the past decades, numerous discoveries in neurology and evolutionary psychology have shown beyond any reasonable doubt that our moral intuitions ultimately stem from the shaping of our brain by evolution and that WITHOUT any such emotional intuition, no moral system can be built from reason alone.
This is well illustrated by the study of the brains of psychopaths: since they lack the moral emotions, they don’t consider as true most fundamental moral principles (like avoiding to create suffering, trying to promote the happiness of others) although they are quite able to reason well.
This shows the truth of David Hume’s famous principle that moral truths are the projection of our gut’s feelings on an indifferent and cruel reality : since one can not derive an “ought” from an “is”, moral truths are the expression of our emotions which we mistakenly consider as features of the objective reality.
No moral system can be created without the appeal to at least one kind of intuitions, the brute facts of nature never lead to moral duties and obligations.
Now, I want to state a version of the Euthyphro dilemma which shows the impossibility of defining an objective atheistic morality: is something good just because Evolution hardwired this conviction into us (in which case it is arbitrary, for Evolution could have lead us to believe that murder and torture are right ) or did Evolution produce our current beliefs because they are good (in which case there exists an objective standard of goodness independent of Evolution) ?

Dumb_Hound said...

Let me now develop the first point: there is an extremely great number (perhaps even an infinity) of planets where intelligent beings like us could have evolved. Given the huge dimension of the sample, it is more than likely that many such intelligent beings have evolved conceptions of morality which would appear completely disgusting to us.
Imagine for example a species of giant lizards ( or whatever else if you’ve more imagination than I :) who were shaped by natural selection to value power, violence , selfishness in so far that it remains compatible with the interests of the group. When invading a city and killing or enslaving all its inhabitants, their brain generate a warm feeling of happiness, satisfaction.
When however confronted with weakness among their own folk, they feel an overwhelming indignation, anger, rage which lead them to kill the individual guilty of failure , and after having done that, their brain awards them with an intense feeling of pleasure.
Now imagine such beings arrive at our earth and conclude based on their evolutionary intuitions that it would be moral and perfectly good to enslave all human beings capable of working and to kill all others.
What would an human atheist and moral realist say to these lizards? Do they ought to behave in a way coherent with the moral intuitions they have and slaughter or enslave all humans ?
My contention is that it would be completely impossible to show to these creatures that killing innocent beings is wrong: all moral systems developed by humans which would justify this conclusion can not be deduced from the mere consideration of natural facts , they all crucially depend on one or several moral intuitions , which are not shared by the intelligent lizards, so there would be no common ground upon which one could argue that something is right or wrong.
Now, a defender of godless moral realism could agree with me it is fallacious to rely on evolution to define an objective morality in the same way it would be fallacious to rely on the commandments of a deity. But he could then argue that there exists a moral standard independent of Evolution upon which moral realism would be based.

Dumb_Hound said...

The problem of this argument is the following:
As I have said, no moral system can be grounded by mere logic or factual analysis alone, at some point moral intuitions (due to Evolution) are always going to come into play.
Take for example the possibility of torturing a baby just for fun: almost every human being would react with disgust and say it is wrong. Neuroscience has proven that such reaction does not stem from a rational consideration of all facts but rather from instinctive gut feelings.
Afterwards, people try to rationalize their belief by backing them up with arguments and mistakenly think they feel this disgust because of their reasoning although it is the other way around.
Based on rigorous experiments in the field of neuroscience, Jonathan Haidt shows that in the case of moral reasoning, people always begin by getting a strong emotional reaction, and only seek a posteriori to justify this reaction. He has named this phenomenon ‘the emotional dog and its rational tail’: http://faculty.virginia.edu/haidtlab/articles/haidt.emotionaldog.manuscript.pdf
And since one can not derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’, there is no way to prove that ‘one ought to not torture a baby for the fun’ by a reasoning based on fact alone, at one moment or an other , one is forced to appeal to emotions.
For example, saying to a intelligent lizard they ought no to do that because the baby is cute, because he is innocent, because he has an entire life before him would completely beg the question for our intelligent alien, which would then ask: “why does the baby’s beauty, innocence, or the fact he has still many years to live implies one ought not to kill the baby ?”. After one or two hours of circular reasoning, the honest human would be coerced to recognize it is so because these things sounds intuitively bad for him.

Dumb_Hound said...

Concerning the objectivity of morality, I am neither a moral relativist nor a moral subjectivist but a proponent of an error theory: moral statements and truths are in fact nothing more than the products of our emotional intuitions , but because of the hard-wiring of our brain, we erroneously believe they correspond to some external facts of the objective reality and try to derive them from pure natural facts, committing the is/ought fallacy.
For those interested in the line of thinking presented here, I highly recommend you to read Joshua Greene’s dissertation, where he clearly demonstrates the true nature of morality and develops a coherent error-theory.
http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~jgreene/GreeneWJH/Greene-Dissertation.pdf
To conclude, although I am not a moral realist, I do think there is a place for ethic in each human life.
But instead of using moral absolutes such as “good”, “evil”, “right”, “wrong”, “ought”, “ought not”, referring to spooky concepts whose existence is as likely as the presence of an invisible yellow unicorn on the surface of Mars, I prefer to employ the language of desires, which correspond to indisputable facts:
We, as human being, love infant life and desire baby to growth and become happy, therefore if we want our desires to be fulfilled, then we ought not to torture babies for the fun. Contrarily to moral realism, the ‘ought’ I have used here is hypothetical and not categorical.
In the same way, I can not say the atrocities we find in the Old Testament are objectively wrong, because I don’t believe in the existence of such moral absolutes, but I can express my convictions in the following manner: if we want our intuitive feelings of love, justice and charity to be respected, then we ought to reject many books of the Old Testament as being pieces of barbaric non-senses.
The traditional moral discourse “The God of the Bible is morally wrong, we ought to fight Christianity, we are morally good whereas religious people are wicked and so on and so forth” seems to me to be completely flawed because it involves the existence of spooky moral absolutes which have no place in a scientific view of the world.
I really appreciate the critical thinking of my fellow atheists when applied to religion but I am really sad to remark they fail to apply it to their own cherished beliefs like the existence of an objective morality.