Raising secular children

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morriswalters
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Re: Raising secular children

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:02 am UTC

Absolutism is a human characteristic. Religion is an excuse. If it isn't to our liking we create others, politics, skin color, sex. You get good secular children by setting good examples. If you want them to be truthful, then be truthful with them, and so on. This isn't rocket science. And if your parents were Religious and you ended up not so, then ask yourself how that occurred. Because you will have to sit and wait while your children make the same decisions.
EMTP wrote:Where do your ideas of "love" and "compassion" come from?
Where do you think they came from? The only place they could have, from the people and environment you were raised in.

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:05 am UTC

EMTP wrote:Well, I agree with that as far as it goes, and it reflects the way I try to lead my life as well. I do think, however, that one of the better arguments the religious can deploy in response is: Where do your ideas of "love" and "compassion" come from? If these are moral imperatives (and I think they are) where does that imperative come from, and why do we give it credence? It's not as if you can derive moral principles from the observation of the universe. On the other hand, if we say that these are subjective human value systems, then we are saying that, objectively, there is nothing wrong with hatred and cruelty, and when we say that they are wrong we are merely saying we don't like them, and a person who said that cruelty and selfishness were moral imperatives would be just as correct as we are.

But the derivation of moral principles in a rationally satisfying way, in a godless universe, is obviously not very relevant to practical concerns about ethical behavior, being more of a theoretical concern.
I derive my idea of love and compassion from my relationships; a religious person does the same, but may also derive it from a text, a priest, or a spiritual revelation. I give it credence because I have faith in love; a religious person gives it credence because they have faith in God. We both believe in moral absolutes; we just look in different places to find them.

The question -- 'If you don't believe in God, where do you get your morality from?' -- is easily answered. 'The same place as you; from my beliefs'. The only difference is that I don't believe in a God who tells us what justice is; I believe that justice can only be understood by listening to each other and working together to find it.
EMTP wrote:I would just point out that religion doesn't necessarily imply absolutism. Lots of faith traditions approach religious authority as a mixture of texts, oral tradition, the guidance of religious leaders, and your own personal understanding of the faith (the "Holy Ghost" in the Christian parlance.) Nor is absolutism limited to religious traditions; secular beliefs systems are replete with examples of textual absolutism (Marx's writings = truth) and personal absolutism (the Leader's words = truth).

While one can certainly make an argument that religion empowers absolutism, and support that with many graphic examples past and present, it is an uncomfortable fact that a lot of aggressively secular movements (such as the French revolution, Communist revolutions, and even certain strains of identity politics such as certain kinds radical feminism) embrace absolutism. Even that ever-popular secular religion, nationalism, has its absolutist adherents. Maybe it would be more correct to say ideological thinking tends towards absolutism, whether that ideology is religious or secular.
Religion -- Abrahamic ones, at least! -- often presume that God is omnipotent, and absolute; while I've met a lot of secular ideological fanatics, I don't think I've ever met anyone who sincerely believes people like Marx or Ayn Rand are literally infallible.

I agree that ideologies tend toward absolutism, but religious ideologies have absolutism as part of their very fabric. You don't need to believe that The Communist Manifesto is infallible in order to call yourself a communist, but if you believe the Quran isn't the divine word of God, it makes it kind of hard to call yourself a Muslim.

EDIT: (Nationalism sometimes has absolutism as part of its fabric, too -- but note how often nationalism and religion are intertwined!)

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:17 am UTC

Umm... most communists DO tend to believe Marx was infallible. The very idea that his economics is, well, to put it lightly "sophomoric" would be overly generous, is anathema. People voted against communism not because they would rather have social democracy or liberalism, oh no, it's because they have a False Consciousness. Communism didn't fail because it's flawed, no, it's because the countries that tried it were No True Commies.

If the closer we get to doing things "your way" the worse society becomes, going all the way to "your way" is even worse.

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:41 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Umm... most communists DO tend to believe Marx was infallible.
I said 'literally infallible'. I don't think many communists believe that Marx is literally incapable of being wrong. I do believe that the majority of Christians believe that God is, literally, incapable of being wrong. In fact, I'd say that believing in God's infallibility -- and the divinity of the Bible -- are precariously close to being requirements to even qualify as a Christian.

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:00 am UTC

So then that means God can't do something Satan can; Lie.

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby Quercus » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:12 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:So then that means God can't do something Satan can; Lie.


Indeed - the Impeccability of God (i.e the inability to sin) is one of the traditional attributes of God in Christian theology.

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby EMTP » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:17 am UTC

The question -- 'If you don't believe in God, where do you get your morality from?' -- is easily answered. 'The same place as you; from my beliefs'.


In other words, you still have an arbitrary, faith-based approach to the world, it just happens not to include a deity. Noted.

For many skeptics, however, it is intellectually unsatisfying to replace one faith object ("God") for another ("my beliefs.") The question, rationally speaking, is why you believe what you do, and what is your argument, what is your evidence?

I think (and many philosophers smarter than I am have said this before me) that that question presents a serious challenge to secular accounts of morality. Of course you are welcome to chose not to engage with it.

Quercus wrote:Indeed - the Impeccability of God (i.e the inability to sin) is one of the traditional attributes of God in Christian theology.


Right, but believing in the infallibility of God is not the same as thinking you have direct access to the will of God or the thoughts of God. Many religious traditions espouse a degree of sensible skepticism in the ability of humans to perfectly interpret God's perfect will.
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Re: Raising secular children

Postby Dauric » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:45 am UTC

EMTP wrote:
The question -- 'If you don't believe in God, where do you get your morality from?' -- is easily answered. 'The same place as you; from my beliefs'.


In other words, you still have an arbitrary, faith-based approach to the world, it just happens not to include a deity. Noted.

For many skeptics, however, it is intellectually unsatisfying to replace one faith object ("God") for another ("my beliefs.") The question, rationally speaking, is why you believe what you do, and what is your argument, what is your evidence?

I think (and many philosophers smarter than I am have said this before me) that that question presents a serious challenge to secular accounts of morality. Of course you are welcome to chose not to engage with it.


Actually the basics of Secular morality is pretty simple, it starts with an examination of basic empathy: "How would I feel if I was on the receiving end of my own actions?". It doesn't take a belief in a higher power, just the observation that other entities with similar qualities as oneself exist and a simple thought experiment in role reversal.
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Re: Raising secular children

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:49 am UTC

EMTP wrote:In other words, you still have an arbitrary, faith-based approach to the world, it just happens not to include a deity. Noted.
I don't think it's possible to not have an arbitrary, faith-based approach to the world -- but that might just be a matter of semantics.
EMTP wrote:For many skeptics, however, it is intellectually unsatisfying to replace one faith object ("God") for another ("my beliefs.") The question, rationally speaking, is why you believe what you do, and what is your argument, what is your evidence?

I think (and many philosophers smarter than I am have said this before me) that that question presents a serious challenge to secular accounts of morality. Of course you are welcome to chose not to engage with it.
I don't see it as a serious challenge because it's a fundamentally unanswerable question, and unanswerable questions aren't very interesting to me. I believe in empiricism; I cannot provide you with any evidence that empiricism is objectively correct -- not without resorting to empiricism itself. At some point, you just have to go with what makes sense to you -- and an evidence-based approach is what makes sense to me. So I take it on 'faith'.

If you're asking from whence my moral absolutes come from, my response is that those are things I believe must be discovered by talking to people and figuring out what they want, and how we can work together to best satisfy those wants. I believe we should do this not because I have evidence that this is what should be done, but because it 'feels' right to me. Ultimately, that's all morality ever boils down to -- how you 'feel' about things. Your morality -- my morality -- everyone's morality -- is just as arbitrary and baseless. No amount of chin-stroking or navel-gazing will ever discover an objective source of moral truth, because morality is just something we came up with once we realized it's in our own best interests to work together.

If skeptics find this solution unsatisfying, my only response can be 'tough cookies; that's reality -- Unsatisfying Since 13.8 billion B.C.'.
Dauric wrote:Actually the basics of Secular morality is pretty simple, it starts with an examination of basic empathy: "How would I feel if I was on the receiving end of my own actions?". It doesn't take a belief in a higher power, just the observation that other entities with similar qualities as oneself exist and a simple thought experiment in role reversal.
That doesn't always work, though; there are things that I would enjoy having done to me that you wouldn't enjoy having done to you. Rather, I think the root of secular morality involves listening to people, understanding their experiences, and respecting their wants and wishes (when it is reasonable to do so).

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby WibblyWobbly » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:59 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Dauric wrote:Actually the basics of Secular morality is pretty simple, it starts with an examination of basic empathy: "How would I feel if I was on the receiving end of my own actions?". It doesn't take a belief in a higher power, just the observation that other entities with similar qualities as oneself exist and a simple thought experiment in role reversal.
That doesn't always work, though; there are things that I would enjoy having done to me that you wouldn't enjoy having done to you. Rather, I think the root of secular morality involves listening to people, understanding their experiences, and respecting their wants and wishes (when it is reasonable to do so).

But that's exactly what I understand by Dauric's use of "basic empathy": it isn't "how would I react to [X action] if I was on the receiving end", it's "how do I think [Person Y] would react, given my knowledge of them and the outcomes of [X action]?" I may not be explaining it very well, but it then becomes exactly what you are talking about. One of the basic principles of my system of morals is "I do not wish to experience pain, therefore I seek to avoid causing pain to others." What constitutes "causing pain to others"? I don't always know. That's why I listen to them, try to understand them, and try to think of how they might react to the things I do. Then, I act accordingly.

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:16 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Umm... most communists DO tend to believe Marx was infallible.
I said 'literally infallible'. I don't think many communists believe that Marx is literally incapable of being wrong. I do believe that the majority of Christians believe that God is, literally, incapable of being wrong. In fact, I'd say that believing in God's infallibility -- and the divinity of the Bible -- are precariously close to being requirements to even qualify as a Christian.

There's thinking that the Bible is divine, in at least some sense, and then there's thinking that it's infallible. The fact is that I know a lot of Christians who think the Bible is fallible, and Mormons who think the Book of Mormon is fallible, and so on. It's still perfectly sensible to talk about them being Christians, Mormons, etc.: they still have a lot of characteristically Christian beliefs, they are part of the tradition of Christianity (conceived as a historical phenomenon, not just a body of doctrine), they go to church and pray to Jesus, and so on.
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Re: Raising secular children

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:37 am UTC

WibblyWobbly wrote:But that's exactly what I understand by Dauric's use of "basic empathy": it isn't "how would I react to [X action] if I was on the receiving end", it's "how do I think [Person Y] would react, given my knowledge of them and the outcomes of [X action]?" I may not be explaining it very well, but it then becomes exactly what you are talking about. One of the basic principles of my system of morals is "I do not wish to experience pain, therefore I seek to avoid causing pain to others." What constitutes "causing pain to others"? I don't always know. That's why I listen to them, try to understand them, and try to think of how they might react to the things I do. Then, I act accordingly.
If that's the case, then I beg pardon; I misunderstood.
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:There's thinking that the Bible is divine, in at least some sense, and then there's thinking that it's infallible. The fact is that I know a lot of Christians who think the Bible is fallible, and Mormons who think the Book of Mormon is fallible, and so on. It's still perfectly sensible to talk about them being Christians, Mormons, etc.: they still have a lot of characteristically Christian beliefs, they are part of the tradition of Christianity (conceived as a historical phenomenon, not just a body of doctrine), they go to church and pray to Jesus, and so on.
Right, which was why I was careful not to say that the Bible itself is infallible (but is, rather, merely divine). I'm pretty certain that an integral part of these religions rely on the infallibility of God, though -- which is my point. God is absolute; the Bible is His word. Even if it's suffered distortions, it remains, on some level, fundamentally true.

I don't think you see this sort of absolutism as part of the fundamental doctrine of many secular ideologies, and I think this is why, in practice, religious ideology lends itself toward absolutism more swiftly than secular ideologies. That, and the stakes -- the damnation or salvation of our immortal souls -- are much, much higher, which lends itself to a warped sense of proportion.

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby leady » Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:53 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I don't think you see this sort of absolutism as part of the fundamental doctrine of many secular ideologies, and I think this is why, in practice, religious ideology lends itself toward absolutism more swiftly than secular ideologies. That, and the stakes -- the damnation or salvation of our immortal souls -- are much, much higher, which lends itself to a warped sense of proportion.


I must admit I'm not convinced by this. Religous folks are very rarely absolutist except for very small facets of their faith (such as it being hard to be a christian without believing in Christ) - If anything established churches are little more than the arbiters of which parts of a faith to cherry pick in any given century.

The same is absolutely true though of secular folks on both the left and right. To chuck in a couple of examples that I rant at my highly right wing conservative parents about are the old "I deserve my pension I paid in all my life" (you didn't you paid in about 20%) and "violent crime is far worse these days compared to when I was young" (it isn't). But these are held as absolulist positions by them and frankly 90% of old folk, they are impervious to reality.

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:19 pm UTC

leady wrote:"I deserve my pension I paid in all my life" (you didn't you paid in about 20%) and "violent crime is far worse these days compared to when I was young" (it isn't).
The first is true. Literally. They paid in their whole working life. What you seem to be attempting to say is they don't deserve to get more out of it than they put in. The second is a function of fear. You'll figure this out as you get older and weaker. Not really on topic, but I couldn't ignore it.

As to the rest of this discussion, there is what people believe, and what they think they believe, and what they tell everyone else about it. The biological side probably has to do with the ability to see others as having minds. So for instance I feel pain of a sort when I see pain in anything my mind decides is alive. We attribute minds to everything. Something like this could be the basis of morality.

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby leady » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:50 pm UTC

and I thought I'd be balanced for once and bash the right a bit with a couple of annecdotes :)

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby Mokele » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:00 pm UTC

leady wrote:"I deserve my pension I paid in all my life" (you didn't you paid in about 20%)


Strawman.

The accurate phrasing is "I entered into a contract concerning the pension as a condition of my employment. I fulfilled my end of the deal, and yet management wants to unilaterally retroactively alter or completely default on this deal?"

If you think that's unreasonable, I've got a proposal for you: You give me $50 a week for the next 40 years, I'll match it, then when you come to collect it, I'll bail under some flimsy legal pretext and spend all your money to build a third beach house in Cancun. Do we have a deal, or are you one of those entitled whiners?
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Re: Raising secular children

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:50 pm UTC

Mokele wrote:
leady wrote:"I deserve my pension I paid in all my life" (you didn't you paid in about 20%)


Strawman.

The accurate phrasing is "I entered into a contract concerning the pension as a condition of my employment. I fulfilled my end of the deal, and yet management wants to unilaterally retroactively alter or completely default on this deal?"

If you think that's unreasonable, I've got a proposal for you: You give me $50 a week for the next 40 years, I'll match it, then when you come to collect it, I'll bail under some flimsy legal pretext and spend all your money to build a third beach house in Cancun. Do we have a deal, or are you one of those entitled whiners?

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Re: Raising secular children

Postby EMTP » Sun Feb 01, 2015 10:47 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I don't see it as a serious challenge because it's a fundamentally unanswerable question, and unanswerable questions aren't very interesting to me.


You are welcome not to take an interest in the question, as I said. Where your case falls apart, I think, is when you make the unjustified (and unnecessary) leap from "I'm not interested in this problem" to "This problem's not interesting."
I believe in empiricism; I cannot provide you with any evidence that empiricism is objectively correct -- not without resorting to empiricism itself. At some point, you just have to go with what makes sense to you -- and an evidence-based approach is what makes sense to me. So I take it on 'faith'.


But you are not providing any evidence-based approach to morality. What would that even look like? Evidence of what is is not evidence for what ought to be. You seem to be missing the point.
If you're asking from whence my moral absolutes come from, my response is that those are things I believe must be discovered by talking to people and figuring out what they want, and how we can work together to best satisfy those wants. I believe we should do this not because I have evidence that this is what should be done, but because it 'feels' right to me.


Fine. And to other people, stoning heretics feels right, and by your logic, you are both equally justified. But of course that implies that you don't believe in moral rules, unless you think that a) The same thing "feels right" to everybody, in which case the question then becomes why, or b) You think you are uniquely the center of the universe, and your feelings, but no one elses, correspond to the moral truth.

Ultimately, that's all morality ever boils down to -- how you 'feel' about things. Your morality -- my morality -- everyone's morality -- is just as arbitrary and baseless. No amount of chin-stroking or navel-gazing will ever discover an objective source of moral truth, because morality is just something we came up with once we realized it's in our own best interests to work together.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

If skeptics find this solution unsatisfying, my only response can be 'tough cookies; that's reality -- Unsatisfying Since 13.8 billion B.C.'.


Uh, no. If you ignore the problems of an empirical worldview with an airy "Them's my beliefs" you are doing the opposite of coming to grips with reality. So you're not really in a position to dismiss the people trying to take the consequences of an evidence-based philosophy seriously, since you've more or less immediately retreated to a faith-based solution.
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Re: Raising secular children

Postby morriswalters » Mon Feb 02, 2015 2:28 am UTC

The herd tells me what's right. The herd is a rolling gestalt, where good and bad or moral or immoral are put together on an ad hoc basis according to what the gestalt has decided in the past plus what is happening today. Or if you wish it clearer, morality is whatever the people around you think it is. And that changes over time. There is probably biology involved, as I posted earlier. Throw in a dash of economics, the wealthier the society, the more expansive we can afford to be with what behavior we consider moral.(decadence in wealthy societies?) And you have a model for how people behave morally. Or not.

The thing you can be surest of if you are raising secular children is if you put in garbage, you will likely get garbage back. On the other hand they will learn from watching how you live, which is not the same thing as you telling them how they should live. So if you are a thief and go to Church every Sunday, the chances are somewhat good your children might also be thieves, and they might continue your Church going tradition. The rest is inputs over which you have little control. Which is why they also might grow up and not be thieves.


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