Religion

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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:22 pm UTC

I'm not doing good because God is watching. If God stops watching but still exists, I will still do good. I do good because God creates good and mandates it from me.

But yeah, I'm an evil SOB inside. There are times I read the newspaper and see something some nasty government did, and I can't help but think, "That idiot! I could have exterminated them by now!"
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Re: Religion

Postby Belial » Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:31 pm UTC

We all think nasty things. The question is whether you'd *do* them without a god in place to tell you it's bad.
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Re: Religion

Postby Pai » Thu Nov 08, 2007 9:12 pm UTC

I was always under the impression, that doing good pleases God because it's 'good'.

Even people who don't believe in a God, agree that things like kindness, mercy, love, etc. are valuable, true things. It's not so much of believing in a God and doing good because he's watching you, it's more like, you already value goodness and therefore agree with God's assessment that such acts are valuable, important things.

If that makes sense.
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Re: Religion

Postby VannA » Thu Nov 08, 2007 11:05 pm UTC

Pai wrote:I was always under the impression, that doing good pleases God because it's 'good'.

Even people who don't believe in a God, agree that things like kindness, mercy, love, etc. are valuable, true things. It's not so much of believing in a God and doing good because he's watching you, it's more like, you already value goodness and therefore agree with God's assessment that such acts are valuable, important things.

If that makes sense.


Narnia fan, eh?

If not, you pretty much took CS's stance on God's behaviours.

Personally, I fail to see how a self-conscious and self-aware entity would not develop a moral system that basically boils down to "I'm doing this because I'd like it if somebody did it for me." and "I'm not doing this because I would rather it would not happen to me."

An entity that is self-concious, self-aware, and observant would also be able to draw conclusions about what the other entities around him may or may not like, and act accordingly.
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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Thu Nov 08, 2007 11:14 pm UTC

VannA wrote:Personally, I fail to see how a self-conscious and self-aware entity would not develop a moral system that basically boils down to "I'm doing this because I'd like it if somebody did it for me." and "I'm not doing this because I would rather it would not happen to me."

An entity that is self-concious, self-aware, and observant would also be able to draw conclusions about what the other entities around him may or may not like, and act accordingly.

A conscious entity might be able to draw some conclusions about what other entities may like, but why would they necessarily act accordingly?

In other words, why would self-awareness necessarily imply altruism? If anything, I could argue that things would work the other way around: "I'm helping this other person because I'd like it if somebody did this for me, and also because I don't realize that this other person and I are not the same entity". Conscious altruism might be a result of peoples' failure to completely distinguish themselves from each other. It may a consequence not of self-awareness, but of the fact that self-awareness has limits.

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Re: Religion

Postby VannA » Thu Nov 08, 2007 11:30 pm UTC

Nath wrote:
VannA wrote:Personally, I fail to see how a self-conscious and self-aware entity would not develop a moral system that basically boils down to "I'm doing this because I'd like it if somebody did it for me." and "I'm not doing this because I would rather it would not happen to me."

An entity that is self-concious, self-aware, and observant would also be able to draw conclusions about what the other entities around him may or may not like, and act accordingly.

A conscious entity might be able to draw some conclusions about what other entities may like, but why would they necessarily act accordingly?

In other words, why would self-awareness necessarily imply altruism? If anything, I could argue that things would work the other way around: "I'm helping this other person because I'd like it if somebody did this for me, and also because I don't realize that this other person and I are not the same entity". Conscious altruism might be a result of peoples' failure to completely distinguish themselves from each other. It may a consequence not of self-awareness, but of the fact that self-awareness has limits.



I disagree.

I think self-awareness explicitly involves the understanding that other concious entites *are* like you. They are independant and concious. That you treat them as a *person* and not as an object.

Self-awareness, and what I consider the reasonable belief that other entities are, or have the capability, to be self-aware, is what leads me to treat others as though they had sensitivities similiar to my own. Observation and concsious will allows me to extrapolate they may have differences, and to draw conclusions on their own sensitivies.

The desire the be treated in a way I consider to be good is what leads me to treat others in a similiar desire.
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Re: Religion

Postby Tchebu » Thu Nov 08, 2007 11:34 pm UTC

Evolutionarily speaking, self-awareness and ability to attribute similar psychological traits to others does NOT imply altruism. In fact, one of the main motives for human beings to develop the brains that we have was to actually outsmart those who surround us by doing less for them than we get in return. Of course the others are also developing defences against being outsmarted like that themselves. All of that requires more and more sophisticated brains, and we get a sort of mental race to arms.

Morality, however, is not based on the "outsmart your peer" drive, but on the "help your peer" drive which also exists withing us and also serves an important biological purpose and which can also combine itself with our ability to perceive others as having a similar psychological structure to our own as well as our ability to realize that such behavior if extrapolated beyond the minimal requirements of nature, could theoretically be very beneficial for everyone.
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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Thu Nov 08, 2007 11:59 pm UTC

We all think nasty things. The question is whether you'd *do* them without a god in place to tell you it's bad.

Oh hell yes I would! I could have so much fun and give anyone I happened to like/love a much better life if I didn't have to abide by God-created morality :twisted: . If I had been Hitler, the Final Solution would have gone much more efficiently (mostly because I'm several orders of magnitude more sane and realistic than Hitler was).

Remember, morality has very little to do with how you treat you and yours. You already like/love you and yours, so you already enjoy seeing them happy and treating them well by the nature of those emotions.

But morality has everything to do with how you treat people you hate or people you don't care about. If I don't know somebody and don't like them, why should I bother to treat them well? Morality. If I see some bitchy hot woman I don't know (the kind you have one-night stands with and then LEAVE as fast as you can), why shouldn't I rape her? Morality. If I see a man with lots of cool gadgets and toys I like, why shouldn't I take them by force? Morality.

Some people have a natural inclination to be moral (myself included, actually), but without a real source for morality you have to expect that good impulse, the moral impulse, to disappear.

I predict that everyone will stare at their screen as they read this post, shocked and appalled that any person could be so horrible without religion. Sod you, you're all just like me. Remove good and there is only evil. Remove a supernatural moral authority and there is no good. Hence, remove religion of all kinds and you just get Lord of the Flies, every individual taking what they can with only their tribe to stop them, and every tribe killing whom it pleases with nothing to stop it.

You atheists just keep acting good because moral memes derived from religion have lived on beyond the memes of the religion itself. In a few generations you'll see. Or you won't, because you'll stop having generations and the poor, religious Latin Americans and Middle-Eastern Muslims and North Africans will overrun you.
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Re: Religion

Postby zar » Fri Nov 09, 2007 12:12 am UTC

The feelings you express aren't normal or rational. You sound like a psychopath. Either you truly do need help, or you are purposely building up a terrible view of a world without religion in an attempt to make religion look more palatable. I suspect the latter, and I don't think anyone's buying it either way.

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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Nov 09, 2007 12:15 am UTC

I'm not building up, I'm breaking down -- spending a post's worth of time thinking without an ounce of good.

I don't think like that normally because (GASP!) I have an entire world-view derived from (GASP!) religion.
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Re: Religion

Postby zar » Fri Nov 09, 2007 12:18 am UTC

How the fuck do you know how atheists think about morality?

Either you have felt those feelings yourself as an atheist and something is wrong with you, or you are just bullshitting.

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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Nov 09, 2007 12:25 am UTC

Ask an atheist sometimes. They all say they think plenty about morality. I see no reason to disbelieve them.
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Re: Religion

Postby VannA » Fri Nov 09, 2007 12:40 am UTC

Tchebu wrote:Evolutionarily speaking, self-awareness and ability to attribute similar psychological traits to others does NOT imply altruism. In fact, one of the main motives for human beings to develop the brains that we have was to actually outsmart those who surround us by doing less for them than we get in return. Of course the others are also developing defences against being outsmarted like that themselves. All of that requires more and more sophisticated brains, and we get a sort of mental race to arms.

Morality, however, is not based on the "outsmart your peer" drive, but on the "help your peer" drive which also exists withing us and also serves an important biological purpose and which can also combine itself with our ability to perceive others as having a similar psychological structure to our own as well as our ability to realize that such behavior if extrapolated beyond the minimal requirements of nature, could theoretically be very beneficial for everyone.


Human beings are not independant. Individual Humans do not survive. There is minimal value in being better than your peers. The competition drive is there to increase the capabilities of a group.
Altruism towards your monkeysphere is an evolutionary trait.

Self-awareness and concsiousness allow us to rationally extend the monkeysphere, without the evolutionary drive.
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Re: Religion

Postby Belial » Fri Nov 09, 2007 12:43 am UTC

You atheists just keep acting good because moral memes derived from religion have lived on beyond the memes of the religion itself.


If you believe, as I do, that God is just a concept we made up to put a face to things we thought were a good idea anyway, then no, the supernatural entity is not necessary for morality: we made up the morality first, and the supernatural entity second. We could easily do without the second.

And yes, you sound like a barely contained psychopath, but I doubt any of it is real. You would be held in check by empathy or by your fellow man if empathy failed. You just want to believe you would be a murderous moron without religion because it makes your religion seem more valid and necessary.
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Re: Religion

Postby VannA » Fri Nov 09, 2007 12:50 am UTC

aleflamedyud;

Your decision to be religious and follow religious princples is still arbitrary.

Its what you were raised in. Why are they any better to any of the other given religions?

It is an arbitrary choice.

And once it is an arbitrary choice, it is no different to the formulation of any other moral system.
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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Nov 09, 2007 12:55 am UTC

Please, scratch the moron bit. I think it's quite apparent that I possess at least average intelligence.

But I am quite willing to admit that I do not understand or approve of a morality based solely on empathy, just as you do not understand or approve of a morality based on seemingly arbitrary rules.

I shall continue with a quote:

George Bernard Shaw wrote:Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.

This is why the Crusaders felt perfectly comfortable forcing conversion or death on their victims -- they would want it done to them if they were heathens, after all. Having experienced this kind of moral corner-case first hand, I see no reason to consider empathy or any other emotion a valid grounds for morality. Only rock-hard rules not based in the malleable sludges of neurochemistry or emotion can lead to a morality that does not eventually contradict itself.

Your decision to be religious and follow religious princples is still arbitrary.

Its what you were raised in. Why are they any better to any of the other given religions?

It is an arbitrary choice.

And once it is an arbitrary choice, it is no different to the formulation of any other moral system.

It is better in one respect: it is logical and has no corner cases. If you admit the premises, you must admit the consequences. Can you say that for empathy or emotional altruism?
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Re: Religion

Postby Tchebu » Fri Nov 09, 2007 12:58 am UTC

You atheists just keep acting good because moral memes derived from religion have lived on beyond the memes of the religion itself


Even if moral memes were exclusively religious in origin, this would still mean that "we atheists" did the smart thing, took the useful, beneficial things from religion and left the superstitious garbage behind...

Some people have a natural inclination to be moral (myself included, actually), but without a real source for morality you have to expect that good impulse, the moral impulse, to disappear.


No, because if they start to disappear, then society will spiral downwards, and people will suddenly become a lot smarter for a while (this tends to happen when people get stuck in shit) and "revive" morality... and that's the worst case. In reality what will probably happen is that people will most likely "wake up" a lot sooner, before they really get into any serious trouble.

Human beings are not independant. Individual Humans do not survive. There is minimal value in being better than your peers. The competition drive is there to increase the capabilities of a group.
Altruism towards your monkeysphere is an evolutionary trait.

Self-awareness and concsiousness allow us to rationally extend the monkeysphere, without the evolutionary drive.


I don't think we disagree... I'm just saying that self-awareness by itself is not sufficient to develop altruism, and that the same self-awareness can and actually is used as a tool for the complete opposite purpose. However you are right in saying that self-awareness when combined with the initial minimal evolutionary drive to help others, does result in the extention of the monkeysphere well beyond the initial "intent of nature" if you will... But you need that minimal drive to be present. You need the monkeysphere to exist initially as well, and only then you can start expanding it using the various mental tools that you have been given.
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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:03 am UTC

VannA wrote:I think self-awareness explicitly involves the understanding that other concious entites *are* like you. They are independant and concious. That you treat them as a *person* and not as an object.

Self-awareness, and what I consider the reasonable belief that other entities are, or have the capability, to be self-aware, is what leads me to treat others as though they had sensitivities similiar to my own. Observation and concsious will allows me to extrapolate they may have differences, and to draw conclusions on their own sensitivies.

The desire the be treated in a way I consider to be good is what leads me to treat others in a similiar desire.

OK, that's your motivation for treating people well. I still don't see how self-awareness is supposed to imply altruism. Is a self-aware, selfish entity impossible? If so, why?

aleflamedyud wrote:I predict that everyone will stare at their screen as they read this post, shocked and appalled that any person could be so horrible without religion. Sod you, you're all just like me. Remove good and there is only evil. Remove a supernatural moral authority and there is no good. Hence, remove religion of all kinds and you just get Lord of the Flies, every individual taking what they can with only their tribe to stop them, and every tribe killing whom it pleases with nothing to stop it.

First, as various people have asked, what makes your supernatural power good? The fact that he's powerful? Why is your god's morality any less arbitrary than mine? Supernatural authority or not, there's no objective good. Luckily, there is subjective good.

Second, if all morality is derived from religion (rather than evolutionary advantage), why is it that I disagree with some of the moral stances taken by every religion I've been exposed to? Why do religious people disagree with some of the moral stances of their own religions?

aleflamedyud wrote:I don't think like that normally because (GASP!) I have an entire world-view derived from (GASP!) religion.

OK. Plenty of people don't, and seem even less prone to run around killing people. If your god is the source of all moral authority, he doesn't seem very good at his job.

VannA wrote:Human beings are not independant. Individual Humans do not survive. There is minimal value in being better than your peers. The competition drive is there to increase the capabilities of a group.
Altruism towards your monkeysphere is an evolutionary trait.

Altruism and competitiveness both provide evolutionary advantages. Altruism strengthens a group. Competitive advantage helps the individual survive and reproduce.

aleflamedyud wrote:It is better in one respect: it is logical and has no corner cases. If you admit the premises, you must admit the consequences.

Ah, but not all premises are born equal.

The premise for empathy-based moral systems is this:
"I like it when good things happen to other people."

The premise for religion-based moral systems is this:
"There's this invisible dude in the sky who tells me what to do."

Do you see a difference? One is an assertion about your own emotional state -- something that you can observe. The other asserts an objective fact about the universe. As you have pointed out, you are not a moron; I trust you can figure out which is which.

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Re: Religion

Postby Belial » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:07 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:
George Bernard Shaw wrote:Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.


This is one of those quotes that seems really clever and oh-so-witty until you think about it for two seconds.

If someone were doing something to me, and I said "I would prefer you not do that", would I want them to:

A)Keep doing it because they would enjoy it if it were done to them
B) Fucking stop and ask what I'd prefer instead

Call me crazy, but I choose "B". Which is how I'd like to be treated. Therefore, treat others accordingly.

Dilemma circumvented!
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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:11 am UTC

Even if moral memes were exclusively religious in origin, this would still mean that "we atheists" did the smart thing, took the useful, beneficial things from religion and left the superstitious garbage behind...

Not at all. You've taken the conclusion memes and believed in them for no reason at all other than that being your upbringing. Expect future generations raised by atheist parents to have a completely different concept of morality of which neither you nor I will approve.

Hell, you can see it today. Go to a Unitarian Universalist church. Those people officially preach Peace, Love, Empathy-Based Morality, and Happiness (yes, my family actually joined and I went to the meetings to humor my family and saw these things first hand, since the UUs don't endorse any really religious views*), but most of them are douchebags.

That's Peace and Love for you. They might love the people of Darfur but they act disgusting to the people they live with.

And I don't even want to get into empathy-based morality. I've seen evil, evil things because someone with power thought the same shit they did to others should be done to them in the same situation and didn't care about the actual rights of other people. Let's just say that too many people in this world really fail to comprehend the ways in which other people can be truly different from themselves.

First, as various people have asked, what makes your supernatural power good? The fact that he's powerful? Why is your god's morality any less arbitrary than mine? Supernatural authority or not, there's no objective good. Luckily, there is subjective good.

Of course it's arbitrary, but that's better than capricious. My God tells me that I don't get to go around making other people worship Him, unlike your "subjective good".

This is one of those quotes that seems really clever and oh-so-witty until you think about it for two seconds.

If someone were doing something to me, and I said "I would prefer you not do that", would I want them to:

A)Keep doing it because they would enjoy it if it were done to them
B) Fucking stop and ask what I'd prefer instead

Call me crazy, but I choose "B". Which is how I'd like to be treated. Therefore, treat others accordingly.

Dilemma circumvented!

Funny how people who live on subjective good never actually manage to think like that.

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Re: Religion

Postby Belial » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:15 am UTC

Funny how people who live on subjective good never actually manage to think like that.


Really? Because the only example you've given was religious people fucking over others in the name of their religion, with a vague "do unto others" justification tacked onto it. It's not even clear that this was even *their* justification. It looks more like something you tacked on.
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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:16 am UTC

I'm not going to tell you the secular example. I really don't want to go through those memories again.
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Re: Religion

Postby Belial » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:18 am UTC

Then I'm going to go ahead and call bullshit on your claim that secular morality breaks down more often than religious.
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Re: Religion

Postby zar » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:22 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:Ask an atheist sometimes. They all say they think plenty about morality. I see no reason to disbelieve them.

The only people I have ever seen arguing that such immorality follows from there being no god are religious. They can be an extremely nihilistic lot, it seems.

And while they rant and rave about the horrors that would follow from people losing faith in god, atheists go about their business just as well as anyone else would-- minus talking snakes, the horrors of hell, and genital mutilation. Your claims about atheists are false. To continue to force your false point only shows your dishonestly or wilful ignorance.
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Re: Religion

Postby Tchebu » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:26 am UTC

Expect future generations raised by atheist parents to have a completely different concept of morality of which neither you nor I will approve.


So far, Communist countries, which are atheistic by definition, have failed to produce a generation of immoral dickheads... They may have done other stuff that is easily criticized, but the people living in those countries are by no means immoral. And the Soviet Union has existed for more than 3 generations...
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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:30 am UTC

Funny, I thought you were the one claiming that atheists didn't think about morality. I told you that they do.

I just don't think they can think logically about morality, since they have no solid premises to reason from. It's like going from a moral gold-standard (religion: completely arbitrary but an iron-clad store of value) to a moral fiat currency (it's moral as long as everyone says it is, but not as arbitrary as the gold standard).

So far, Communist countries, which are atheistic by definition, have failed to produce a generation of immoral dickheads... They may have done other stuff that is easily criticized, but the people living in those countries are by no means immoral. And the Soviet Union has existed for more than 3 generations...

1. How well did those governments actually manage to do at eliminating religion?
2. I don't know any second or third generation atheist Russians, so I can't really say. I don't think they can have anything other than left-over memes, but I can't claim to have absolute data.
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Re: Religion

Postby Tchebu » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:39 am UTC

since they have no solid premises to reason from


... "Magic man said so"... how very solid...

Edit: your point on my Communist comment was taken... I guess we should leave that line of discussion though, since I have no accurate data on that either.
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Re: Religion

Postby zar » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:40 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:Funny, I thought you were the one claiming that atheists didn't think about morality. I told you that they do.

Read the post again. It was about as simple as one can be. I said that you wouldn't fucking know how they think about morality, not that they don't think about it. Can you go a single post without building up a straw-man?

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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:42 am UTC

Tchebu wrote:
since they have no solid premises to reason from


... "Magic man said so"... how very solid...

Damn more solid than "because I feel like it".
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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:43 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:Not at all. You've taken the conclusion memes and believed in them for no reason at all other than that being your upbringing. Expect future generations raised by atheist parents to have a completely different concept of morality of which neither you nor I will approve.

Maybe. Then again, present generations raised by religion parents have a completely different concept of morality which I do not approve of.

aleflamedyud wrote:Funny how people who live on subjective good never actually manage to think like that.

Whether you choose to admit it or not, your sense of morality is every bit as subjective as mine. You choose to follow the religious teachings of a god you believe in.

Besides, this Unitarian Universalist church of yours does not speak for all atheists. Nobody speaks for all atheists. The only thing they agree about is that they aren't certain that god exists.

aleflamedyud wrote:I just don't think they can think logically about morality, since they have no solid premises to reason from. It's like going from a moral gold-standard (religion: completely arbitrary but an iron-clad store of value) to a moral fiat currency (it's moral as long as everyone says it is, but not as arbitrary as the gold standard).

What do you mean by 'solid'? Do you mean 'universally agreed upon'? If so, nobody -- religious or not -- has solid premises to reason from. People pick their own premises.

The difference is that the common religious premises for morality are illogical (as described above). Therefore, all conclusions from such premises are at risk of being illogical, even if the inference was done correctly.

Atheist premises for morality may or may not be logical. It depends on the atheist; there's no standard set of premises. Being atheist doesn't make morality any less arbitrary.

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Re: Religion

Postby Maurog » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:43 am UTC

I'm a third generation atheist, and I hail from Russia. What did you want to know, aleflamedyud?
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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:45 am UTC

From whence do you derive your moral sense, and how do you make moral decisions?
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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:45 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:
Tchebu wrote:
since they have no solid premises to reason from


... "Magic man said so"... how very solid...

Damn more solid than "because I feel like it".

Not really. It's the same thing, but with one additional assertion.

Atheist morality: "It's moral because I feel like it."
Religious morality: "Magic man said so, and I obey him because I feel like it."

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Re: Religion

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:47 am UTC

Religious morality: "Magic man said so, and I obey him because he is the very definition of what is right."
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Re: Religion

Postby Tchebu » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:48 am UTC

At least "because I feel like it" is true... which is highly questionable in the case of "magic man said so"
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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Fri Nov 09, 2007 1:50 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:Religious morality: "Magic man said so, and I obey him because he is the very definition of what is right."

"He is the very definition of what is right, because I feel like it."

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Re: Religion

Postby Maurog » Fri Nov 09, 2007 2:01 am UTC

From whence do you derive your moral sense, and how do you make moral decisions?

My moral sense is basically "what I feel is right" with the addition of a certain form of "dont do unto others" which emphasises not becoming a hypocrite. Basically, I don't go around murdering people because I wouldn't want people to go around murdering me. This also covers the "dilemma" discussed previously. Despite (say) loving it when someone throws a cat at me, I don't randomly throw cats at people, because I am aware they won't like it (and I wouldn't want people doing something to me that they like but I don't).

Where is it all coming from? Certainly not God, which is an amusing concept to toy with, but holds no authority upon nonbelievers like myself. Observation of society's behavior mostly. Seeing what's wrong with people, and deducing what "right" must be. To some extent, accepting that you are a flawed human in a world of flawed humans, while on the other hand embracing yourself as the most important being in the whole universe.

Hope it helps.
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Re: Religion

Postby jmce » Fri Nov 09, 2007 11:24 am UTC

I would like to put forth a new argument: that having "rules", whomever they are set by, leads to a weakening of morality.

There is a study in Freakonomics* in it about a childcare that imposed fines to deter parents from coming late to pick up their children. The number of tardy parents increased: now that they had clearly defined rules they felt more comfortable about breaking them and accepting the punishment.

They were no longer going by what they thought was the "right" thing to do; rather, they were examining the consequences of doing the wrong thing, and deeming them acceptable. While in the context of religion the end result is usually different (the consequences of sin are enough to make sinning not an option, though the concept of grace and forniveness blurs even this in some religions) it is an example of the same kind of thinking: rule- and consequence-based, not founded on fundamental concepts of right and wrong.

Is it better to have a loosely-defined set of values by which you judge your every action, than just a list of forbidden things on which to check it? I think so.

--

Of course, some people seem to have no natural morality; these are usually the people who argue that without religion society would fall apart. Perhaps we are getting the cause and effect the wrong way round here: perhaps it is not that being religious causes people to think this way, but that the this type of person is more likely to turn to (or stand by) the pseudo-morality imposed upon them by religion as a substitute for the real thing.

That last is just a thought; but if holds a grain of truth I certainly wouldn't advocate taking (or talking) these people off religion. It would be very like depriving an institutionalised person (with, in alef's case, psychopathic tendencies) his medication. Who knows what might happen?

--

* paraphrased from my memory of the book; mistakes possible but probably not important in terms of my argument
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Re: Religion

Postby zenten » Fri Nov 09, 2007 3:14 pm UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:I'm not doing good because God is watching. If God stops watching but still exists, I will still do good. I do good because God creates good and mandates it from me.

But yeah, I'm an evil SOB inside. There are times I read the newspaper and see something some nasty government did, and I can't help but think, "That idiot! I could have exterminated them by now!"


So God is required for there to be "good" in the same way that God is required for there to be "fish" or "the Moon"?

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Re: Religion

Postby Robin S » Fri Nov 09, 2007 5:00 pm UTC

VannA wrote:Human beings are not independant. Individual Humans do not survive. There is minimal value in being better than your peers. The competition drive is there to increase the capabilities of a group.
Altruism towards your monkeysphere is an evolutionary trait.
This sounds like a group-survival theory of natural selection. However, a major driving force of natural selection is competition within "the group". What happened to the selfish gene? I thought altruism occurred because genes encouraging altruism benefited from it.

Belial wrote:we made up the morality first, and the supernatural entity second.
Saying "made up" sounds like it was done with intent. I think it might be more accurate to say that our ancestors developed belief in the supernatural, that certain aspects of morality arose as a consequence of that belief (for fear of retribution, for example), and that this expanded morality gave our ancestors a selective advantage.

aleflamedyud wrote:It is better in one respect: it is logical and has no corner cases.
However, what do you do in a situation not explicitly covered by that which is dictated by moral rules? For example, what if you do not know what you would want if you were in someone else's position? Or, for that matter, if you know what you would want, but also know what the other person wants, and know that the two are different?

Tchebu wrote:if they start to disappear, then society will spiral downwards, and people will suddenly become a lot smarter for a while (this tends to happen when people get stuck in shit) and "revive" morality
This is questionable. It seems to me that humans react the most to fast-moving situations. For example, I have heard it said that is why there is not more concern and activism about global warming. If society declined gradually enough, there would be little motivation for most individuals to try to do anything about it.

Belial wrote:If someone were doing something to me, and I said "I would prefer you not do that", would I want them to:

A)Keep doing it because they would enjoy it if it were done to them
B) Fucking stop and ask what I'd prefer instead

Call me crazy, but I choose "B". Which is how I'd like to be treated. Therefore, treat others accordingly.

Dilemma circumvented!
I think the point aleflamedyud was making about the Crusaders was that they assumed the persecuted "heathens" would be grateful once they had converted to Christianity. This may or may not be historically accurate, but either way it affects how his point is interpreted. If you try to do something "for" someone else under the assumption that they will thank you in the long term, even if they don't want you to do it now, does that make doing said thing bad? Most parents do things "for" their children under the assumption that they will thank them in later life.

zar wrote:genital mutilation
I'm a bit annoyed by the way you've put that. The vast majority of religions of which I am aware, especially the widespread ones, do not practice "genital mutiliation". A few of them practice circumcision, which is very different. In fact, plenty of non-religious people are circumcised. There exist studies claiming health benefits for circumcision. I am not really sure what you have against it.

Nath wrote:Whether you choose to admit it or not, your sense of morality is every bit as subjective as mine. You choose to follow the religious teachings of a god you believe in.
That depends on your definition of choice. It seems to me that anyone who was brought up to believe in absolute morality deriving from God would not see there as being much choice as to whether or not to follow those morals, in the same way that most people would not see there as being much choice as to whether or not, upon being handed a gun, to go on a shooting spree. Yes, technically you could make the decision to do it, but in practice the decision has already been made for you by the system of morals ingrained in you. The only thing which could make you go against that would be an emotional "anomaly" (for want of a better word).

To people on both sides of the debate: please stop using insulting or potentially insulting terms. It's not helping anyone.
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