What Kind Of Evidence?

jeffreyalex
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What Kind Of Evidence?

So, my question is What would you make of it if the following happened to you?

 

I had a roommate a few years ago. He was a rather militant atheist as was I, at the time. He had the following experiences, which I know to be true. 

He was 20 at the time. He had been in a relationship with a boy named James for just over two years. They had met only twice, and he lived in Texas, whereas we lived in NYC. Nonetheless, they spoke everyday, wrote letters, etc. James was a couple years younger and when his parents found out he was a homo they took away his phone, computer, cut his hair, and sent him to a Christian school. Soon, after a short while of communicating with my friend Allen via mutual friends, James called it off, and then had somewhat of a breakdown. Allen was upset, naturally. At this same time I was gifted a CD called Messages From Spirit. It was a guided meditation that leads you in asking "Spirit" for guidance. Then you just have to keep your eyes peeled for 'messages' or symbols, things that stick out in your daily life. It came with a booklet/dictionary of symbols that would help you interpret what they meant. I gave it to Allen and he actually listened to it. His questions were, of course, 'does James still love me' and 'what should I do next' (because from the way the breakup went James gave the impression that he was now going to be straight and said that he hated Allen and wished he'd just disappear). 

I had endless fun making fun of this ridiculousness. The next morning, I dragged moping Allen to jog on the beach with me, something I did most days. After running two sections (sections are what we call the strips separated by jetties) we saw rose petals all over the shore and floating on the water, pink and white, easily thousands. They covered the water from jetty to jetty, about 150 feet wide, and out to about 70 feet off the shore. Allen noted that this must be a sign. I admitted that I at least, in five years of running by every morning and some evenings, had never seen anything like that. We kept going and ran across a big pile of organized shells. Again, Allen noted it must be a sign. I commented, exact words, "And what pray tell dear Allen are scallop shells a sign of, exactly?" He didn't respond except to say that we would consult the booklet upon returning home. On the run back I pointed out a ship offshore, which Allen noted as another sign. Again, I was suspicious that a ship was a sign of anything relevant to the situation. However, it was true that large ships rarely passed where we saw it pass.

Upon getting back to the apartment, we consulted the booklet. White roses are the sign for divine love, pink roses are the sign of romantic love. Okay, iffy, but okay, relevant. Shells were not listed in the booklet, so I googled "scallop shell"... otherwise known, it turns out, as the Shell of Saint James (thank you Wiki). And finally, a ship indicates a trip. I reminded that we were going to take a trip to Florida in two weeks, to stay with my Dad and little brothers. Allen thought it might mean he should go to Texas. 

I said it was interesting and left the room, to go to my own room. Allen came into my room and sat on the bed saying "it's a little weird, huh?" I said, "I guess". He got up to leave and on his way out knocked down three books I had on my shelf by the door, two written be James Merrill and one by James Joyce. 

At this point, I wasn't convinced of anything. But fast-forward two weeks and we're in Florida at my dad's house on Valentines day. 

We were sitting upstairs when Allen got a text from Courtney, a mutual friend of ours and James' saying that he, James, had been really a mess lately. I suggested, half-jokingly, that Allen do the Messages meditation again, which he did. Right after, we went downstairs to the backyard for the BBQ we were having. My brother Daniel who was 7 at the time comes up to Allen and starts singing a song which goes "Fifty, nifty, United States, fromt he thirteen original cooolonieesss...". Allen starts crying and goes inside. James once sang that same song to Allen and then Allen would insist that James sing it on a frequent basis. It was a big point of contention between them whether the song was popular or not. Allen had never heard it, he ran it by me more than a year ago at that point, and I'd never heard it. 

At that point, I heard the doorbell and went to the door. It was UPS with an Amazon delivery. I had ordered a book. I opened the packaged only to find that it was not the book I'd ordered but a book of PostSecret cards. Disappointed, I went to find Allen. I went up to the guest room where he was doing the Message meditation yet again. I asked what the question was. It was 'Does James love me?' Not a minute later does a helium balloon alight on our balcony with the words I Love You written on it. Admittedly, I'd tied the balloon to the chair I was sitting in write beneath those windows, but still. Allen looked at me and said, "Maybe I should go to Texas? What's in your hand?" I told him it was a book but not the one I ordered, and handed it over. Allen said out loud, "Should I go to Texas?" and then, as if he knew it would be there, opened the book I'd just mistakenly received to a random middle page with a facsimile of a PostSecret that read 'Take that trip you're thinking of. It'll be good.' He looked at me and said. "At this point I'm waiting for a burning bush to talk to me or for the clouds to just open up". And I understood what he meant. 

As it turned out, it was good. Allen would go to Texas for four months but he wouldn't see James. However, a long while after he'd returned to New York, James finally came around and told Allen it meant the world to him that he'd gone to be there, and they're still best friends. Happy ending. 

 

 

 


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OK then

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

I'm hearing that you and many members of our species feel outrage at sights of violence and experience feelings of strong attachment to your families, and that this is a result of evolution which favored such behavior for its use to the survival of the species. 

Natural selection randomly selected such behaviors for their value to species survival, therefore they are objective goods morally binding on all members of the species? No. 

 

 

The only objective fact about morality is that those who behave in a way that harms the group are generally cast from society and those who behave in a way that supports the group receive adulation and breed more successfully and their socially 'moral' genes are expressed more often in subsequent generations.

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

If natural selection began to favor aggressiveness violence and sociopathic tendencies and strong in-group favoritism for the survival of our species into the future, then all those would lead to objective moral goods very different than ours. In fact, it would make things we would call moral, immoral. That's exactly because the morals are not objective. 

If you visited this future species and observed a member of it demonstrating compassion, etc., I think you would either admit that it seemed he was behaving objectively right or you would admit that "oh well, for this species this behavior just isn't morally right". In fact, by your reasoning, you would have to admit that the compassionate member of the species is behaving precisely immorally, if what is moral is what evolution selected for species survival. 

 

 

Natural selection has bred us for in-group favouritism and we have expanded to every corner of the globe, we have tried - mostly successfully, sometimes failing - to apply our family values to every human we meet. We have lived in cities for a couple of thousand years. My great, great grandparents on both sides were farm labourers and yet I live in a city of 4.5 million. Returning to my earlier point, murderers, rapists, terrorists end up in gaol. They do not breed, or they do so less successfully. 

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

I, myself, am baffled at the twists and turns and vagueness and appeal to what feels right and waxing eloquent of your 'arguments'. I can see why that's necessary: you need to stir up a sense of meaning and profoundness to work in place of reason. If that's not what you think you're doing, then we'll just have to agree to disagree. 

 

I'm sorry, I do get carried away at times. What I am saying is that you are saying you are applying reason yet you have no functional basis for it. You too are flying by the seat of your pants but you are talking as if you are not. 

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

I'm making one point. Please, make this clear in your mind, and either agree or disagree. I'm saying OBJECTIVE MORALITY DOES NOT EXIST ON ATHEISM. 

 

 

The objective truth of human behaviour is that any behaviour that is rewarded by society leads to greater reproductive success and that any behaviour that is punished leads to a greater chance of reproductive failure. Over time, behaviour that serves the group comes to predominate, culturally and genetically. 

There is no objective rule book outlining right and wrong. But there are groups of human behaviours that better serve the group and these have primary objective outcomes through natural selection. As for as the existence of a moral code the best one I know of is the UN's International Articles of Human Rights. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

I, myself, am baffled at the twists and turns and vagueness and appeal to what feels right and waxing eloquent of your 'arguments'. I can see why that's necessary: you need to stir up a sense of meaning and profoundness to work in place of reason. If that's not what you think you're doing, then we'll just have to agree to disagree. 

I want the rest of this post to be very clear. I want you to clearly understand what I AM saying (and what I am NOT saying).

I'm not bringing up false dichotomies, I'm not saying unless we believe in God we'll all run amok, I'm not saying we can't get along without objective morals, I'm not even saying I know the truth of the matter regarding what's moral, nor am I saying God necessarily means there are objective morals.

I'm making one point. Please, make this clear in your mind, and either agree or disagree. I'm saying OBJECTIVE MORALITY DOES NOT EXIST ON ATHEISM. 

that I am saying objective morality does not exist in theism. That we both base our sense of right and wrong on things that cannot be measured but that in some of your arguments it seems you are saying that you do not.  

Many times you have argued that the existence of morality argues for god. Now you seem to want to move the goalposts. 

 

Okay, now I think we're getting somewhere. 

I claim there is no objective morality on atheism and you agree. You also claim that there is no objective morality on theism.

 

You say that I've argued that morality argues for God. That's not exactly true. I should clarify what I mean on this point:

1) 

P1- If objective morality exists, then God exists.

P2- Objective morality exists.

C:   Therefore, God exists. 

That is a valid argument. You can, of course, deny a premise. Now I will offer an argument for P1: 

(1) Either God exists or God does not exist. (2) If God does not exist, there is no objective morality. (3) If there IS objective morality, God cannot NOT exist. (C) If there IS objective morality, then God exists.

That's valid and sound. (1) is straightforward. Your position that there is not objective morality on either atheism OR theism entails that there is no objective morality on atheism, so you'd agree with (2). (3) follows, and (C) is really just a paraphrase of (3).

What about P2? You can and do dispute P2. 

 

2)

Regardless of whether morals are objectively true, we do seem to experience them as objectively true. And because of that, I have said that God explains our apprehension of moral truths. 

 

Finally, I don't agree that objective morality does not exist on theism, though it's possible that it doesn't. First, note that there is a difference between moral ontology and moral epistemology. I think that objective morality is possible on d/theism, even if it's not discoverable exactly what that objective morality entails. 


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The appeal to consequence

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

In the end, if you watch a man torture a young child to death, you're left with no way to say there's anything wrong with it. You can say your neurons are ablaze with anger, or sadness, or disgust. But who cares? You can say people are not wired for killing kids. So what? Apparently this guy is. You can say that the behavior is not adaptive for the species, as if the survival of the species is some kind of moral good. It's not. You can tell this guy life is all intertwined. He might remind you that the kid he's killing is exactly equivalent to a 35 kg bag of water with 15 bucks worth of chemicals added in, maybe with a spark of electricity. Finally you might say 'but he's alive, he feels things, he has rights'. But, really, what rights? What difference does it make that he feels things? None. The kid matters to nothing and ultimately no one. Do you want to say we ought to value him for the sheer fact that he is a living being? We don't get 'oughts' from 'is'. 

 

You seem to me to posit is this. You argue on the basis of no objective morality of your own that without objective morality human life is meaningless. That feelings like love are meaningless. That people's children are meaningless, that all human feelings are meaningless under a world view that concedes there is relativity to morality. It was this original point that drove me to argue with strong feeling, that human feelings have meaning. The suggestion my sense of the nature of the world makes me impervious to infanticide is likely to see me argue with feeling. 

In any case, your position leads me to conclude that certain moral relativism is considered by you to be a bad thing because you argue feelings are meaningless (despite the fact human feelings do have meaning to humans), so it would be more rational if there was a god to bring everything into a state of 'meaning' from your own perspective. 

Hmmm. Look - I can see how you want some objective moral standard. And I can imagine that you might argue human feelings are irrational and not objective in their own way. But they do have a uniformity that can be objectively observed. We could go to a number of different countries of the world and threaten some newborn children and see if their fathers and mothers risk their lives to stop us. Will they consult their moral code before they react or just uniformly lash out like animals? You can't argue that the total control over some 'moral' behaviours that human feelings exert cannot be objectively proven.  

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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jeffreyalex wrote: Okay,

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

Okay, now I think we're getting somewhere. 

I claim there is no objective morality on atheism and you agree. You also claim that there is no objective morality on theism.

 

You say that I've argued that morality argues for God. That's not exactly true. I should clarify what I mean on this point:

1) 

P1- If objective morality exists, then God exists.

P2- Objective morality exists.

C:   Therefore, God exists. 

That is a valid argument. You can, of course, deny a premise. Now I will offer an argument for P1: 

(1) Either God exists or God does not exist. (2) If God does not exist, there is no objective morality. (3) If there IS objective morality, God cannot NOT exist. (C) If there IS objective morality, then God exists.

That's valid and sound. (1) is straightforward. Your position that there is not objective morality on either atheism OR theism entails that there is no objective morality on atheism, so you'd agree with (2). (3) follows, and (C) is really just a paraphrase of (3).

What about P2? You can and do dispute P2. 

2) Regardless of whether morals are objectively true, we do seem to experience them as objectively true. And because of that, I have said that God explains our apprehension of moral truths. 

 

Finally, I don't agree that objective morality does not exist on theism, though it's possible that it doesn't. First, note that there is a difference between moral ontology and moral epistemology. I think that objective morality is possible on d/theism, even if it's not discoverable exactly what that objective morality entails. 

 

I'm fairly sure you have said a number of times that morality argues for god. This suggests you believe there is objective morality but you cannot know the nature of this objective morality nor are you possessed of the context to comprehend the motivations that drive human behaviours others might arbitrarily judge as being right or wrong. I say this last accepting that most well-adjusted humans do not take pleasure in the suffering of others for cultural and physiological reasons. 

I note you broadly accept the non-existence of objective morality as a possibility but given your past arguments, I don't think you really believe morality is entirely relative. I don't think I would argue morality is entirely relative, either. I would argue that it matters in the human context, which is a one-line summation of a bunch of 'emotional' arguments I've made earlier. Humans give morality meaning. Humans give their lives meaning. We make our world significant. 

In any case, objective morality, in my opinion, mirrors Kohlberg's ideas about post conventional morality. It is universal altruism that can be loosely and arbitrarily conceived as a momentary and partly subjective mental experience but never conceived as a coherent universal law. If you don't agree morality does not exist in theism explain to me how and where you see proof of objective morality in a god-centred world view. Given it's an objective truth claim, can you support your argument with objective proof of real behaviour, not simply assertions about conceptual behaviour that cannot actually exist?  

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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To me this assertion

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

Regardless of whether morals are objectively true, we do seem to experience them as objectively true. And because of that, I have said that God explains our apprehension of moral truths. 

 

Is frail. A well balanced adult will generally see many sides of a dispute and may change position multiple times on the way to a more fixed but still fluid position. There is also ambiguity in morality. If my friend rudely pushes a chap's girlfriend and the fellow pushes him back, that is acceptable. If they get into a boxing match, then fine up to the point of black eye or blood nose. But if one of them falls to the ground and the other kicks him to death, then that's not fine. The more violent aggressor is in the wrong. In addition, depending on which side of the debate I am, my shifting moral code is going to interpret things in entirely different ways. 

My mother was a missionary in Lebanon for 10 years after world war 2 and was in a Lebanese village that was partitioned by the IDF and despite loving Jesus and the chosen people, she believes what was done was deeply wrong. She'll cry if she talks about the children separated from grandparents and all the rest of it. This is her personal interpretation. If we were there, we might agree with her. I was not there but was once punched in the face by a powerful Lebanese man in front of his laughing gang. Generally, I think the Lebanese can go fuck themselves. 

In addition, if my little brother died and his wife and 4 children needed to live with me for the rest of their young lives, I would consider it the right thing to do. I would welcome them into my house that day. But I don't want any homeless people living with me and I will probably pass 4 homeless people on the walk home. The business of which I am a director donates to a range of local and international charities, including Sydney's MissionBeat which looks after the homeless in my town. It seems there are levels to my sense of morality. 

So - what is objective morality? From what perspective could it possibly apply? Personally, I would argue morality is far more complicated than a list of commandments. It's often intuitive, even instinctive. Sometimes it requires agonising debate. Other times we will go against our moral code to support a friend or a family member, our feelings for that person cancelling out the lecturing of our prefrontal cortex. 

Consider the wife who calls the police after a domestic violence incident and then furiously attacks police when they forcefully drag the man away. I have a friend who is a police inspector and he says these days they take a female officer to domestic violence disputes specifically to keep the wife occupied while her husband is arrested. Then there's the family that continues to support the convicted murderer, insisting innocence when all evidence suggests they did the deed, both sides of the court sobbing bitterly at their personal sense of universal injustice. 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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jeffreyalex

jeffreyalex wrote:

                    

 

 

Okay. I'll take that as an admission that you had absolutely no point when you said that it makes no sense for an agnostic to pray, and therefore I must be a theist. I have shown, and you have agreed, that given agnostic belief, it is reasonable to pray. 

So, there is no inconsistency between my being an agnostic and me praying. 

 

   There's only consistency in praying to a God that you believe actually exists.  If you believe this God exists ( as your praying behavior suggests ) then you are not an agnostic but a theist.  I don't know about you but the only time I engage in dialog is when I expect to receive a reply.  

  Has your God answered back yet ?

I'm a right wing atheist because I enjoy being hated by everyone.


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

Regardless of whether morals are objectively true, we do seem to experience them as objectively true. And because of that, I have said that God explains our apprehension of moral truths. 

 

Is frail. A well balanced adult will generally see many sides of a dispute and may change position multiple times on the way to a more fixed but still fluid position. There is also ambiguity in morality. If my friend rudely pushes a chap's girlfriend and the fellow pushes him back, that is acceptable. If they get into a boxing match, then fine up to the point of black eye or blood nose. But if one of them falls to the ground and the other kicks him to death, then that's not fine. The more violent aggressor is in the wrong. In addition, depending on which side of the debate I am, my shifting moral code is going to interpret things in entirely different ways. 

My mother was a missionary in Lebanon for 10 years after world war 2 and was in a Lebanese village that was partitioned by the IDF and despite loving Jesus and the chosen people, she believes what was done was deeply wrong. She'll cry if she talks about the children separated from grandparents and all the rest of it. This is her personal interpretation. If we were there, we might agree with her. I was not there but was once punched in the face by a powerful Lebanese man in front of his laughing gang. Generally, I think the Lebanese can go fuck themselves. 

In addition, if my little brother died and his wife and 4 children needed to live with me for the rest of their young lives, I would consider it the right thing to do. I would welcome them into my house that day. But I don't want any homeless people living with me and I will probably pass 4 homeless people on the walk home. The business of which I am a director donates to a range of local and international charities, including Sydney's MissionBeat which looks after the homeless in my town. It seems there are levels to my sense of morality. 

So - what is objective morality? From what perspective could it possibly apply? Personally, I would argue morality is far more complicated than a list of commandments. It's often intuitive, even instinctive. Sometimes it requires agonising debate. Other times we will go against our moral code to support a friend or a family member, our feelings for that person cancelling out the lecturing of our prefrontal cortex. 

Consider the wife who calls the police after a domestic violence incident and then furiously attacks police when they forcefully drag the man away. I have a friend who is a police inspector and he says these days they take a female officer to domestic violence disputes specifically to keep the wife occupied while her husband is arrested. Then there's the family that continues to support the convicted murderer, insisting innocence when all evidence suggests they did the deed, both sides of the court sobbing bitterly at their personal sense of universal injustice. 

 

To your post before this one: no, I have never argued that morality means there is a God. I would argue objective morality means God, and I would argue that God explains the existence of a moral sense. And I would insist that if you're talking about right and wrong, as an atheist, that you should at least be aware that you're using 'moral' language ('right' and 'wrong') to merely describe preferences or likes/dislikes. 

 

Now, I don't have a problem saying there are black and white situations AND grey ones. That we don't have a clear moral position on every experience we come across, doesn't mean we simply don't experience morality as objective. As an example, slavery: we don't want to weigh the pros and cons, consider both sides—we apprehend it as an objective wrong. 

 

Let me clarify my thought on morality given theism. Here on this forum I only care to make the argument that objective morality does not exist on atheism. That does not commit me to defending any other position. And to be honest, this argument about morality is not one I would have brought up myself. It was a response to someone else's post. 

I do think God can 'ground' objective morality. However, I have no interest in defending that position here. I don't think it's possible in the context of a forum, in general, and especially not in this forum. While you, AE, Ktulu, and one or two others (as against only one me), might have interesting and reasonable things to say on the topic; the tidal wave of nonsense I'll have to reply to from others is more than I want to handle. 


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jeffreyalex wrote: To your

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

To your post before this one: no, I have never argued that morality means there is a God. I would argue objective morality means God, and I would argue that God explains the existence of a moral sense. And I would insist that if you're talking about right and wrong, as an atheist, that you should at least be aware that you're using 'moral' language ('right' and 'wrong') to merely describe preferences or likes/dislikes. 

Let me clarify my thought on morality given theism. Here on this forum I only care to make the argument that objective morality does not exist on atheism. That does not commit me to defending any other position. And to be honest, this argument about morality is not one I would have brought up myself. It was a response to someone else's post. 

 

 

If Atheism somehow negates the usage of the word morality in a sense other than preferences what does theistic morality imply ? 

I know that you already stated that you are not going to defend any other position, but to make the assertion that objective morality has no place in Atheism without some sort of counterpoint from the other side that would prove otherwise, seems to lack the full argument, IMO. 

In other words, if I said that (insert any label or term that you wish here) has no true definition of a term morality and was only using words, I would think that part of the formulation to back such a declaration up would be to support how other systems do not use the term morality for the same purpose. 

Westboro Baptists seem to take great delight in their hatred of gays for example. Are they doing so because they TRULY believe that it is moral ? Or are they doing so because " it feels nice" as you put it, to spread vitriolic hatred ? 

Let's take out the fringe side of theism for a moment and use a normal theist for an example. 

A normal theist may go to church on Sundays, help out and volunteer with others at the parish, say a prayer in the morning and does the right thing in situations because god may be watching. Could I not use the same logic that you are using here to say that the theist is only doing this because it "feels nice" to think they have somehow pleased their god ? 

Whether or not this argument is one that you brought up or not is irrelevant to the point at hand. You state that Atheism can not have a basis for morality as a human construct other than what feels good and is merely words. 

I would say that if that is the position you wish to take and that is the opinion that you have formed, then you would have to cite some sort of proof that theists are not guilty of the same thing. Otherwise, I really do not see where this is going. 

Let me draw this simple analogy : If I say that Republicans are making baseless claims when they use terms like morality and morality has no place in the Republican Party and someone countered or disputed that by pointing out an inconsistency in the Democratic Party and my reply was " Well, I am not here to argue on behalf of the Democratic Party" The person may wish to ask the question : Then where are you basing this argument about Republicans on ? 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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harleysportster

harleysportster wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

To your post before this one: no, I have never argued that morality means there is a God. I would argue objective morality means God, and I would argue that God explains the existence of a moral sense. And I would insist that if you're talking about right and wrong, as an atheist, that you should at least be aware that you're using 'moral' language ('right' and 'wrong') to merely describe preferences or likes/dislikes. 

Let me clarify my thought on morality given theism. Here on this forum I only care to make the argument that objective morality does not exist on atheism. That does not commit me to defending any other position. And to be honest, this argument about morality is not one I would have brought up myself. It was a response to someone else's post. 

 

 

If Atheism somehow negates the usage of the word morality in a sense other than preferences what does theistic morality imply ? 

I know that you already stated that you are not going to defend any other position, but to make the assertion that objective morality has no place in Atheism without some sort of counterpoint from the other side that would prove otherwise, seems to lack the full argument, IMO. 

In other words, if I said that (insert any label or term that you wish here) has no true definition of a term morality and was only using words, I would think that part of the formulation to back such a declaration up would be to support how other systems do not use the term morality for the same purpose. 

Westboro Baptists seem to take great delight in their hatred of gays for example. Are they doing so because they TRULY believe that it is moral ? Or are they doing so because " it feels nice" as you put it, to spread vitriolic hatred ? 

Let's take out the fringe side of theism for a moment and use a normal theist for an example. 

A normal theist may go to church on Sundays, help out and volunteer with others at the parish, say a prayer in the morning and does the right thing in situations because god may be watching. Could I not use the same logic that you are using here to say that the theist is only doing this because it "feels nice" to think they have somehow pleased their god ? 

Whether or not this argument is one that you brought up or not is irrelevant to the point at hand. You state that Atheism can not have a basis for morality as a human construct other than what feels good and is merely words. 

I would say that if that is the position you wish to take and that is the opinion that you have formed, then you would have to cite some sort of proof that theists are not guilty of the same thing. Otherwise, I really do not see where this is going. 

Let me draw this simple analogy : If I say that Republicans are making baseless claims when they use terms like morality and morality has no place in the Republican Party and someone countered or disputed that by pointing out an inconsistency in the Democratic Party and my reply was " Well, I am not here to argue on behalf of the Democratic Party" The person may wish to ask the question : Then where are you basing this argument about Republicans on ? 

 

Let me take up your analogy. Imagine I allege that a large fraction of the Republican party's politicians is corrupt. To make the point I might display some emails I uncovered or some compromising recordings or photos, and other incriminating details. I do not need to show that the Democratic party is perfect. 

 

 


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I think

 

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

I have never argued that morality means there is a God. I would argue objective morality means God, and I would argue that God explains the existence of a moral sense. And I would insist that if you're talking about right and wrong, as an atheist, that you should at least be aware that you're using 'moral' language ('right' and 'wrong') to merely describe preferences or likes/dislikes. 

 

we are talking about the same thing even if my language was skewed - your position as I see it is objective morality argues in a number of ways for god. I disagree with your assertions that discussing right and wrong as an atheist is somehow flawed and should be redrawn and devalued to terms such as 'likes and dislikes'. Morality, as I've said, is a system of abstract labeling used to express social rules. It is unmeasurable, it depends on personal context, it depends on shared social rules. In short, it is a combination of factors, not a single concrete scale. I would argue that the informers of moral systems are empathy, projection of suffering, adherence to common rules and an expression of what is socially 'good' - the whole underpinned by the elevation of one's own and the in-group's reproductive success. 

When you argue for objective morality, I think you are arguing for the existence of moral truth when universal moral truth does not exist. I think your repeated assertion that atheists are operating solely on likes and dislikes to the exclusion of all other senses, all other subsets of human behaviours that can be demonstrated to contribute to the group of behaviours we call 'morality' is unsupported. You have a number of times argued that one either accepts objective morality (and its various supporting positions for a god) or one is condemned not to be entitled to apply the notion of morality at all. It's this repeated argument that I have suggested is a false dichotomy - either accept objective morality or you have no basis for your morality.

Again, I think morality is a far more complex human behaviour than this. It is nuanced. But this argument for a nuanced morality should be considered as relative to a group of variable contributing factors, rather than being written off as utterly arbitrary, as I think you attempt to argue. I think that what I see as being the generalized nature of morality is in fact a key feature of morality. It cannot be a single set of rules. It needs to change its shape to function at all levels in a living, breathing society. We are more complicated than your version of morality could possibly allow us to be. 

I would argue there's a biology of morality. And when I use the term biology I mean as applying to a human society and to all its characteristics and habits, just as this term applies to any other group of living organisms. I could enjoy delving deeper into this area. I've always resented the christian attempt to own the best of human behaviour, to seize control of human goodness and empathy as its own private province, leaving only 'sin' and general vileness as the natural expressions of human beings. Monotheism is a morality cult in my opinion - just as stoicism and cynicism were before it. 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Nuanced and even clouded in the human mind ..

jeffreys wrote:
.. God explains the existence of a moral sense .. /quotes for your morality.
   
AE wrote:
Again, I think morality is a far more complex human behaviour than this. It is nuanced.

    One thing to factor in,  Man has shown a unparalleled ability to justify almost anything he or even she does. One of the more shocking and frightening aspects of the human (and human mind).

 I dont know if you ever saw re-runs of the footage of the crowds of the infamous American John Wayne Gacy (multiple murderer) being brought in. The crowds werent calling for his execution they wanted him in hell. I d be wrong not to tell you this is more to draw out information than to express my opinion.

 

     If you want to excuse yourself from having to hold a position, it's a forum.  Everyone is guilty of being vague. However, don't waste a second dancing around like grease on a hot skillet.  This will undermine any-thing you are setting out to achieve in this. Thanks for a moment of your time, Jeff Smiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sagan once said: "I have some discomfort with both believers and with nonbelievers when their opinions are not based on facts ... If we don't know the answer, why are we under so much pressure to make up our minds, to declare our allegiance to one hypothesis or the other?"


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

I have never argued that morality means there is a God. I would argue objective morality means God, and I would argue that God explains the existence of a moral sense. And I would insist that if you're talking about right and wrong, as an atheist, that you should at least be aware that you're using 'moral' language ('right' and 'wrong') to merely describe preferences or likes/dislikes. 

 

we are talking about the same thing even if my language was skewed - your position as I see it is objective morality argues in a number of ways for god. I disagree with your assertions that discussing right and wrong as an atheist is somehow flawed and should be redrawn and devalued to terms such as 'likes and dislikes'. Morality, as I've said, is a system of abstract labeling used to express social rules. It is unmeasurable, it depends on personal context, it depends on shared social rules. In short, it is a combination of factors, not a single concrete scale. I would argue that the informers of moral systems are empathy, projection of suffering, adherence to common rules and an expression of what is socially 'good' - the whole underpinned by the elevation of one's own and the in-group's reproductive success. 

When you argue for objective morality, I think you are arguing for the existence of moral truth when universal moral truth does not exist. I think your repeated assertion that atheists are operating solely on likes and dislikes to the exclusion of all other senses, all other subsets of human behaviours that can be demonstrated to contribute to the group of behaviours we call 'morality' is unsupported. You have a number of times argued that one either accepts objective morality (and its various supporting positions for a god) or one is condemned not to be entitled to apply the notion of morality at all. It's this repeated argument that I have suggested is a false dichotomy - either accept objective morality or you have no basis for your morality.

Again, I think morality is a far more complex human behaviour than this. It is nuanced. But this argument for a nuanced morality should be considered as relative to a group of variable contributing factors, rather than being written off as utterly arbitrary, as I think you attempt to argue. I think that what I see as being the generalized nature of morality is in fact a key feature of morality. It cannot be a single set of rules. It needs to change its shape to function at all levels in a living, breathing society. We are more complicated than your version of morality could possibly allow us to be. 

I would argue there's a biology of morality. And when I use the term biology I mean as applying to a human society and to all its characteristics and habits, just as this term applies to any other group of living organisms. I could enjoy delving deeper into this area. I've always resented the christian attempt to own the best of human behaviour, to seize control of human goodness and empathy as its own private province, leaving only 'sin' and general vileness as the natural expressions of human beings. Monotheism is a morality cult in my opinion - just as stoicism and cynicism were before it.  

 

I really don't even know what you're talking about or trying to say, at this point. I'm hearing 'morality is labels... it's a complex behavior... it's our evolutionary heritage... and so on' and some sentimental nuggets of gold from Sagan. 

 

But, if I held slaves in the harshest conditions, mistreated them, made them work 18-hour days, you'd have nothing to tell me about right or wrong. There isn't anything special about these "accidental collocations of atoms" (Russell). I can own them like I own anything else.

Here, you may want to say "but people are not like 'anything else'". And, of course, bring on the sentimental quotations and romanticized narrative of our species deep history and noble fight for survival.

People are like 'anything else', on atheism. Now, I don't suppose you want to tell me it's immoral for me to own a blanket or a log of firewood. "But firewood doesn't have feelings and hopes and dreams, it doesn't have a mind". But "mind" is nothing more than matter. A falling tree isn't immoral to fall down, crushing to death a person with a "mind", with feelings and such. Neither is it immoral for me to shoot that person in the head after I find him dead in the forest an hour after being crushed. As far as this completely godless soulless cold entirely material universe is concerned, he's no different dead than alive, and it would have been no less immoral had I shot him the day before. 

 

Anyway, I'm starting to see this is going nowhere. As long as you can convince yourself, believe what you will, I suppose. Heck, go ahead and have the last word on this. I'll read your response, if you think there is a response to make, but I'll try to resist the temptation to answer. 

 

 

I think it's for real for real time for me to leave the forum. Thanks for the discussions AE. They've given me things to think about and an opportunity to sharpen some views and ask new questions. 

 

 


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Jeffrey

 

 

give me your objective moral framework right now and reference me the studies you have proving morality is objective. I can do this in support of a biological basis for morality right now. Again, all you are doing is insisting there is or must be some objective basis for morality with your unsupported claims of moral truth. And again with the appeal to consequence. Accept my unsupported assertions there is objective morality or there is no possible morality. If you want to argue purely from the research I can. You cannot. Sure, I'm generalizing but I'm doing so from last night's reading. The science supports my case, not yours. 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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You deny

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

But, if I held slaves in the harshest conditions, mistreated them, made them work 18-hour days, you'd have nothing to tell me about right or wrong. There isn't anything special about these "accidental collocations of atoms" (Russell). I can own them like I own anything else.

 

the moral value of human context from the point of view of the dubious bedrock of your own human context but pretend or delude yourself this is not what you are doing. 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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jeffreyalex

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

 

Anyway, I'm starting to see this is going nowhere. As long as you can convince yourself, believe what you will, I suppose. Heck, go ahead and have the last word on this. I'll read your response, if you think there is a response to make, but I'll try to resist the temptation to answer. 

I think it's for real for real time for me to leave the forum. Thanks for the discussions AE. They've given me things to think about and an opportunity to sharpen some views and ask new questions. 

 

 

 

Getting the last answer in is not pertinent to a debate. Nor is a debate about winning or losing, IMO. 

Simple fact of the matter is that this is going in circles. 

Objective morality exists and Atheism is merely using words and have no basis for saying their is anything as a moral or not. 

That is ultimately the crux of your argument and you seem upset that you can not substantiate that argument with anything other than " in other words, if human beings commit rape and murder, that is ok in your view because it does not feel nice" 

To make that assertion, you need something other than just an assertion. Otherwise, it boils down to mere speculation that can not be proven. 

I agree, the discussion is going nowhere. The same thing keeps getting reiterated over and over. So, I personally think that it may be time for me to throw in the towel on this discussion and move on. Unless some new type of concept is introduced. 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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jeffreyalex wrote: What

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

What question is it begging? What question are atheism, theism, and agnosticism about? The existence of God. 

The three have different views about whether there is evidence for and reason to believe that there is a God. We are asking if it makes sense for an agnostic to pray. Given that an agnostic may hold that there are reasons to suspect a God, it makes sense that an agnostic would pray.

You're saying "there's no reason, there's no evidence". You're saying that it makes no sense to be an agnostic, assuming the position you already hold to be true. You're not saying that it makes no sense for an agnostic, as an agnostic, to pray.

 

 

What I'm saying is that your original analogy is not analogous. For anyone to call out to a god is not analogous to someone calling out to a human as they know humans exist. We have no knowledge of the existence of a god. An agnostic would ESPECIALLY agree to this. That's what the position is all about. My reworking of your analogy comes much closer to actually being analogous.

 

I've begged no question. I never said that no gods exist. I also didn't say no humans exist in the analogy. All I said was that there was no evidence. I also never said that the person in the analogy didn't have a reason to believe in other people. But reasons aren't evidence. Fear of hell is a reason to believe in a god, but it certainly isn't evidence. Let's not conflate the two. They are completely different.

 

And I never addressed whether it makes sense for an agnostic to pray. All I said was it was more of a leap for someone to expect a response from a god than to expect a response from a person if they find themselves stuck under a rock. I'm sure agnostic theists pray all the time. But your original analogy is still a bad one. 

Rill


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jeffreyalex wrote:Juvenile

jeffreyalex wrote:

Juvenile Narcissist wrote:

I'd like to address your original question as well. I wouldn't make much of your little story about your friend if it happened to me. For a couple reasons.

One, you build up to the this epic trip to Texas where...nothing happens. You've argued that the trip is what convinced James to contact your friend again, but I doubt that's the case (especially since you said it was a long time after his trip that James finally contacted him again). Seems he just needed a bit of time to get over himself. Kind of thing happens all the time. So if it happened to me, I'd feel like I wasted my time and money bumming around Texas (gag) for 4 months.

Two, I just don't have the narcissism (funny enough considering my handle) to believe that some supernatural force is gonna take time out of its busy schedule of deforming babies, starving people and murdering them by acts of itself to bother strewing some flower petals around and stacking shells, because it's taken some inexplicable interest in my quasi love life. If it cared that much, it would cut back on the baby deforming.

A lot happened (besides the reconciliation, which is really the least of it). In every way possible, the trip, and where the trip lead, was extremely unusual and life-changing. I went along, and I have to admit it was life-changing for me, as well. 

My initial response to the situation was similar to your second reason: "There are deformed innocent children and nuclear accidents, and your getting signs about love and trips?" However, that something seems incoherent or inconsistent does not mean it's actually so. 

 

I've had trips like that. Lived in NZ for a year. Fantastic. And it was all a string of coincidences and mistakes that got me there. But even in my own life I'm not convinced it was anything more than that.

 

And it may not be incoherent or inconsistent, but it sure looks that way. And I've got no reason to believe (and certainly no evidence) there's anything behind it. Anything that isn't an asshole anyway (or an idiot). If it wants to come and explain things to me, great. But if it's gonna keep up with this cryptic, coincidental bullshit, then I'm going to remain unconvinced.

Rill


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Atheistextremist wrote:give

Atheistextremist wrote:

give me your objective moral framework right now and reference me the studies you have proving morality is objective. I can do this in support of a biological basis for morality right now. Again, all you are doing is insisting there is or must be some objective basis for morality with your unsupported claims of moral truth. And again with the appeal to consequence. Accept my unsupported assertions there is objective morality or there is no possible morality. If you want to argue purely from the research I can. You cannot. Sure, I'm generalizing but I'm doing so from last night's reading. The science supports my case, not yours.  

 

You can cite studies in support of the claim that the moral sense is biologically grounded—I understand that. It does not follow that I have any duty or obligation to behave in any way whatsoever. I am an animal that's evolved some feelings which help our species survive. Our species' survival matters absolutely nothing and is not in any way a good. So, if I can feel okay about doing what I want to others, there's no reason I shouldn't, especially if I can get away with it.

My grandmother used to tell me stories about growing up in the U.S.S.R.. Although she wasn't particularly a religious woman by a long shot, there was one point that came up a number of times: there was a crystal clear divide between the Russian people. It was between those that held on to the forbidden belief that maybe just maybe (yes, 'just maybe' was enough) a human being is not just flesh, but soul, and those that accepted fully the atheist ideology of the state. For those who discarded God and those who were born and taught anything immaterial, like God or a holy human soul, was a delusion from the start, anything became possible. The division between the two was clearer than day and night.

Regardless of what you may think, science does not convince people that murder is wrong. It might tell us why we feel that way. You live in a society, a civilization, built on faith. You live in a society built over thousands of years by people who did not believe they were accidents of the universe, and that's in you almost irrevocably. I remember all the stories from my grandparents and other family that illustrate clearly what happens when that background is torn down, and people can take the purely material view of life and the universe to it's logical end.

 

We have senses, seeing, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. The senses apprehend things in the world, objects that can be measured that we don't question the existence of. We accept the objective existence of lamps, dogs, and fried chicken. We have a moral sense, as well. We are born with the sense that we are not just objects. With our moral sense and our spiritual, for lack of a better word, sense, we apprehend moral truths. Hundreds of generations have looked inward and sensed something as clearly as an apple appears to the eye.

But we cannot grab a moral or a soul and put it on a scale, measure it from top to bottom. Therefore, it must be a delusion. If it is a delusion, it's the delusion that's built the world. One which on an atheist view has been evolutionarily selected in us, sure.

My grandma knew what happens when you convince people that the only things that are real are sights and sounds, physical objects, that there isn't anything special about the human 'spirit'. You can't even avoid using the term "spirit" in your own flowery oration on Man's perceived nobility of Man. That's not a coincidence. The usual line that "oh, it's just a manner of speech, for lack of a better word" is a joke, though I remember using it myself, countless times. 

 

None of this is an argument for God. My point is only that this world is the product of an inward sense that apprehends things beyond blue or hard or salty. Genuinely believing that all that is a convenient evolutionary illusion and convincing the world to believe the same, I think and I think the world has seen, leads nowhere good.  


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Jeffrey

Jeffrey wrote:

But I grew up without a religion, without religious friends or family, no religious education. I didn't grow up praying or reading religious texts or surrounded by people at home, in school, or in the community who were religious. 

And I don't pray for anything, I don't ask for anything, I don't make promises. I don't need the conversation, I have friends. I don't need encouragement, I have a good life. I'm not scared to be out of control, I know I can take care of myself no matter what. 

You describe getting rid of religious indoctrination as a recovery from alcoholism or something and you're giving me advice on how to make the same recovery. But I never had the disease. I've been exactly where you are now. I've been exactly the atheist you are; and I've never been the religiously indoctrinated person you were. 

I was a kid, I had a few thoughts a year about Is there a God, and then, by my mid-teens I became an atheist. I made every single point you've made and every single point I've seen on this forum, and many points I'm surprised no one here makes. However, my own journey of reason has led me to hold that there are reasons to believe God exists. 

 

As far as how I address whatever I'm praying to, it's just a convention of language. I tried to sort of convey some of my thoughts in prayer to you, using language, but I don't really speak in my head and I don't pray out loud. I don't know if God exists, but I'm inclined to think so. I sure as heck have no idea what to call it but I know I can't call it "I" and I know it's not an object, which leaves "you". It's a convenient word. 

 

As far as what my prayer amounts to, I think it would be something of an acknowledgment, a 'message in a bottle'. Why do people write those? Not because they're certain anyone will ever read them, that's for sure—but possibly someone will. The question remains, What is the content of my message? It's something like "I don't know what to say, but if you're reading this... Hi, thanks".

You think, for some reason, that you know the explanation and psychology of my agnostic's prayer. I actually think you're very wrong

 

First let me clarify something and it is not just concerning this or any one post of yours. - Not everything is an analogy to you or the WHOLE post I am replying to or quoting. I get confused myself sometimes as some meanings are just lost in text.

I am telling you this because you continually seem to imply that someone's whole argument or reasoning fails just because part of an analogy or an aside that follows it does not apply directly to your philosophy or experience. Sometimes we are just making another point or sharing a personal experience.

However, prayer is prayer no matter how many ways you shake a stick at it. no matter if you were once a christian, never a muslim, whatever.

The only alternative to speaking in your head to god would be attempting to "tune in" to god's frequency by perhaps "drawing a blank", but your message in a bottle is not a blank piece of paper.

You are attempting telepathic communication to someone or something you say you are unsure of existing. And that's your business what you do in your spare time.

SETI conducts their search for ET but with more practical methods,expectations, and probabilities. They can also reasonably define who or what they are attempting to communicate with.

 

 

 

 

"...but truth is a point of view, and so it is changeable. And to rule by fettering the mind through fear of punishment in another world is just as base as to use force." -Hypatia


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Well I'm tired of waiting

Well I'm tired of waiting for a response, so I'll rub in the fact that I won, as a lack of response implies inability to respond, by quoting my victory post.

Vastet wrote:
jeffreyalex wrote:
I don't recall saying that miracles occur. I recall saying X, Y, and Z happened.

Implying miracles. Don't back-step too quickly, there's a cliff behind you.

Quote:
And if miracles have been happening for thousands of years it seems thousands of years of history aren't on your side,

Except it is, because none of them have been proven or substantiated in any way.

Quote:
My example doesn't equal option 1.

Yes, it does. And as noones parents are gods, your second example also fails.

If there's a god, and it demands anything at all, but doesn't show itself, then it is a dick. Period.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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Vastet wrote:Well I'm tired

Vastet wrote:
Well I'm tired of waiting for a response, so I'll rub in the fact that I won, as a lack of response implies inability to respond, by quoting my victory post.

 

   No, Vastet remember that we atheists could never win a debate with Jeffreyalex.   Why ?  Because he has God on his side and that obviously trumps all atheist counter-arguments. 

I'm a right wing atheist because I enjoy being hated by everyone.


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ProzacDeathWish wrote:Vastet

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

Vastet wrote:
Well I'm tired of waiting for a response, so I'll rub in the fact that I won, as a lack of response implies inability to respond, by quoting my victory post.

 

   No, Vastet remember that we atheists could never win a debate with Jeffreyalex.   Why ?  Because he has God on his side and that obviously trumps all atheist counter-arguments. 

It sometimes sound like he is arguing for god, then he backs up and says he is not, then he switches back and postulates something from a theist standpoint. First atheism is irrational, then it is not irrational except it is a non-existent position, first he is a deist and then he implies that god intervenes. First it's this way and then it is not. Then it is that way and then it is not. Then it was ORIGINALLY this way and then it was NOT. 

George Orwell would have loved a thread like this. It aptly described Big Brother's double-speak and double-think. Freedom is slavery, war is peace, ignorance is strength. 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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jeffreyalex wrote:My grandma

jeffreyalex wrote:

My grandma knew what happens when you convince people that the only things that are real are sights and sounds, physical objects, that there isn't anything special about the human 'spirit'.

There's a big difference between thinking only sights, sounds and physical objects are real and thinking that people have the same value as rocks. Even if people are "only" matter, how does that make them any less important? Even if we are all here by accident, how does that make us any less important?

 


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Yeah, Jeff

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

I think it's for real for real time for me to leave the forum. Thanks for the discussions AE. They've given me things to think about and an opportunity to sharpen some views and ask new questions. 

 

 

I've enjoyed them, too. I think the issue of morality deserves a long argument. Is morality arbitrary, is it objective, is it biological but innate? There's no question our baseline views are going to be at variance. I think this idea you have that humans, in the atheist world view, are no different from chairs or blankets or blocks of wood, is a primary point of contention. Clearly, most humans do not think of each other in this way, atheist or otherwise. But suggesting this general sense people have of moral behaviour indicates the existence of objective morality is a claim not supported by the findings of current research. 

Then there's the fact you at some level insist that unless it's objective morality, it's not morality at all, denying us the right to comment coherently on our definition of morality and putting a broomstick through the spokes of any research into what is apparently the relative nature of 'our' version of morality. Current research suggests morality depends heavily on social context for its meaning. For instance, what moral dilemma could one person face, living alone on a desert island?  

All the research I have read suggests that behaviours we call morality are based on a wide range of factors - oxytocin for pair bonding, parent/child bonding and friendship bonding; mirror neurons for personal empathy; culture for social rules and concepts of reward and punishment. Other research suggests morality is a strategy used to negotiate contention without physical confrontation. Whatever is true, it's more complex than theistic assertion. Recognising this complexity is not a failure of my proto-arguments but it will ensure I keep asking questions. 

Having gone through Kohlberg again, I'm in the process of reading Richard Alexander's The Biology of Moral Systems to be followed by Richard Joyce's The Evolution of Morality. Joyce is a philosopher, so that should be interesting. Even just a third of the way into Alexander it's overwhelmingly clear that behaviours we label morality are not universal constants and could not be universal constants and function in the lives of actual human beings. Certain points I outlined in my third last post were a summation of Alexander, not Sagan. 

Anyway, if we don't talk again, take care of yourself. 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Look

jeffreyalex wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

give me your objective moral framework right now and reference me the studies you have proving morality is objective. I can do this in support of a biological basis for morality right now. Again, all you are doing is insisting there is or must be some objective basis for morality with your unsupported claims of moral truth. And again with the appeal to consequence. Accept my unsupported assertions there is objective morality or there is no possible morality. If you want to argue purely from the research I can. You cannot. Sure, I'm generalizing but I'm doing so from last night's reading. The science supports my case, not yours.  

 

You can cite studies in support of the claim that the moral sense is biologically grounded—I understand that. It does not follow that I have any duty or obligation to behave in any way whatsoever. I am an animal that's evolved some feelings which help our species survive. Our species' survival matters absolutely nothing and is not in any way a good. So, if I can feel okay about doing what I want to others, there's no reason I shouldn't, especially if I can get away with it.

My grandmother used to tell me stories about growing up in the U.S.S.R.. Although she wasn't particularly a religious woman by a long shot, there was one point that came up a number of times: there was a crystal clear divide between the Russian people. It was between those that held on to the forbidden belief that maybe just maybe (yes, 'just maybe' was enough) a human being is not just flesh, but soul, and those that accepted fully the atheist ideology of the state. For those who discarded God and those who were born and taught anything immaterial, like God or a holy human soul, was a delusion from the start, anything became possible. The division between the two was clearer than day and night.

Regardless of what you may think, science does not convince people that murder is wrong. It might tell us why we feel that way. You live in a society, a civilization, built on faith. You live in a society built over thousands of years by people who did not believe they were accidents of the universe, and that's in you almost irrevocably. I remember all the stories from my grandparents and other family that illustrate clearly what happens when that background is torn down, and people can take the purely material view of life and the universe to it's logical end.

 

We have senses, seeing, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. The senses apprehend things in the world, objects that can be measured that we don't question the existence of. We accept the objective existence of lamps, dogs, and fried chicken. We have a moral sense, as well. We are born with the sense that we are not just objects. With our moral sense and our spiritual, for lack of a better word, sense, we apprehend moral truths. Hundreds of generations have looked inward and sensed something as clearly as an apple appears to the eye.

But we cannot grab a moral or a soul and put it on a scale, measure it from top to bottom. Therefore, it must be a delusion. If it is a delusion, it's the delusion that's built the world. One which on an atheist view has been evolutionarily selected in us, sure.

My grandma knew what happens when you convince people that the only things that are real are sights and sounds, physical objects, that there isn't anything special about the human 'spirit'. You can't even avoid using the term "spirit" in your own flowery oration on Man's perceived nobility of Man. That's not a coincidence. The usual line that "oh, it's just a manner of speech, for lack of a better word" is a joke, though I remember using it myself, countless times. 

 

 

I think all this is just your sort of oration, none of which can be supported.

You claim we live in a society built on faith when it's clear we live in a society built by the enlightement - by a vital step away from the violent expression of dogmatic 'morality' enshrined by fundamentalist monotheism. We have reached our greatest heights with freedom from this religion you seek to reify. Further, you do not take into account the undeniable truth that religion is an expression of humanity, not the other way around. Morality is part of religion because we put it there. In the deep beginning there was mankind, not religious faith. 

In any case, for you morality is a central plank of your 'faith' and given what we don't know about moral behaviour you are free to reify human concepts, to give them a separate 'live' existence. If we are now using homespun homily to forward our cases, I can say that my experience is that losing my faith empowered my personal sense of right and wrong and unleashed a conscience that could no longer be reined in by divine forgiveness. My conscience controls me with fierce intensity. Further, my grandparents and great grandparents were avowed rationalists. They generally believed religion was a human device that worshipped mysteries. 

Jumping about through your points, I think science could tell me murder was wrong, from its perspective, but personally I learned it through discovering death as a child when my little cat was run over. That really hurt. Additionally, the ability to project one's internal world and one's myriad relationships onto another human allows a person to understand what a human life means as part of an interconnected society. Nor do any of us want to die and it's not hard to imagine others loving their lives as hard as we do. 

And could you lay off my florid oration. There I was, trying to evoke the sense that life means something to atheists, that people mean something to atheists. That we do not see people as 'things' and that this is a legitimate and meaningful position simply from a human perspective. I couldn't very well make bald assertions about proofless Platonic levels, could I? In the absence of assertion, I was obliged to try to express what I see as part of life's meaning from my human perspective. 

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

None of this is an argument for God. My point is only that this world is the product of an inward sense that apprehends things beyond blue or hard or salty. Genuinely believing that all that is a convenient evolutionary illusion and convincing the world to believe the same, I think and I think the world has seen, leads nowhere good.  

 

The whole point of many of my posts has been to try and express my sense that being a molecular system as we demonstrably are, does not suddenly mean you no longer have any sense of value, no ability to feel things about people that influence your behaviour. Perhaps there is something personal behind your fundamental insistence that atheist world views "lead nowhere good". That there was a gulf that divided 'atheists' from believers in Russia in those days. If this is true, I can empathise with you and better understand your sense of caution.

My own experience is that atheism is not a position you come to without significant and ongoing thought. Nor is it a position devoid of moral direction. I would argue, appeal to the future though it is, that we will continue to improve our understanding of the neurology of moral behaviour. If there was something we could agree on here Jeff, it's that the sense of what we call morality might be an innate element of sentient social creatures taken to greater heights. I don't think we are the only creatures to have that sense, however. 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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ProzacDeathWish

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:
Okay. I'll take that as an admission that you had absolutely no point when you said that it makes no sense for an agnostic to pray, and therefore I must be a theist. I have shown, and you have agreed, that given agnostic belief, it is reasonable to pray. 

So, there is no inconsistency between my being an agnostic and me praying. 

There's only consistency in praying to a God that you believe actually exists.  If you believe this God exists ( as your praying behavior suggests ) then you are not an agnostic but a theist.  I don't know about you but the only time I engage in dialog is when I expect to receive a reply.  

  Has your God answered back yet ?

That assumes the purpose of prayer is either getting goodies or getting answers.

What if the purpose of prayer is completely different?

I pray to focus my mind on what G-d created, not on free goodies or fixing my aching back.  Since it's very successful at doing that, I'd have to say that yes, G-d answers my prayers.

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."


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jeffreyalex wrote: Moral

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

Moral goodness may (and I think obviously does) require a choice. To illustrate the point, if someone is forced at gunpoint to give ten dollars to charity that person has not made any noble moral choice—he's made a necessary (if he doesn't want to get popped) choice. Given the ability to choose, man has many times chosen to do bad. 

 

Yes this bit is true. I agree. 

 

If a god intervened in cases where man has done bad then man would never see and understand the consequences of actions. Do you know children's cartoons where the bad guy can try to kill the protagonist all he wants, but he always fails in some comedic way? In that cartoon universe, without real suffering and without death or the possibility of real horror, the villains immoral choices mean nothing, and we manage to find the villain just another fun and lovable character in the show. 

 

Actually, I think man would QUICKLY learn if god were to intervene. If god were to intervene specifically, and even punish on the spot for immoral actions, the world wouldn't have much choice but to turn itself the hell around really quickly. I used specific cases above, and you made a general statement. I shall re-iterate. You have avoided describing in detail a god who would align events to help your friend's love life, but allow mine to die young and in pain. The reason is simple. You would have to postulate a god who either plays favourites, or is lazy. That is disrespectful to everybody, including this hypothetical god character. To credit an intervening god for the good things around you, would also HAVE to involve accusing him of being cruel, or lazy, elsewhere. There is no other way. Perhaps your free will argument has some legs, but vestigial at best. Explanation to follow under the next quote...

So, it seems plausible and likely that a moral world is necessarily one where immorality is possible. And if man is to be genuinely responsible for his actions then his actions must lead to their consequences. 

 

*sigh* ok, so your god can't stop people from doing things, because that would take away their free will.

You cite, in your original post, your brother singing a song which happened to seem meaningful at that time and place. For god to have planned that, it would be NECESSARY for him to suspend your brother's free will. Also, don't try to back-pedal by saying that perhaps god gave your brother a strong urge to sing it, or engineered your friend being nearby at the time. All of those situations involve a suspension of free will. If god had the ability to modify our urges, he could easily eradicate the violent ones of our species, but so far I haven't seen that (of course, you could suggest a god that is fine with allowing horrible violence, but just couldn't handle your friend having trouble with his personal life, but I don't think you want to say that!). If he engineered the proximity of your brother to your friend when your brother was to sing the song, he would have needed to somehow force them to be close, which, once again, requires a suspension of at least one person's free will. 

I simply want you to answer this one question. Did your brother simply decide to sing that song (meaning that particular part of your story WAS mere coincidence)? Or did god suspend his free will and make him sing it?

Theists - If your god is omnipotent, remember the following: He (or she) has the cure for cancer, but won't tell us what it is.


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ProzacDeathWish wrote:Vastet

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

Vastet wrote:
Well I'm tired of waiting for a response, so I'll rub in the fact that I won, as a lack of response implies inability to respond, by quoting my victory post.

 

   No, Vastet remember that we atheists could never win a debate with Jeffreyalex.   Why ?  Because he has God on his side and that obviously trumps all atheist counter-arguments. 

Unfortunately for him, god hasn't deemed him worth supporting, and isn't rushing to his defence. I think we're good. Eye-wink

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jeffreyalex wrote:In your

jeffreyalex wrote:

In your reply to my post you asked how it makes us "less important" if we are nothing but matter. My point was not that you matter less, if you are nothing it a material being—it was that you don't matter at all.

Could you please elaborate on how you arrived at this conclusion?  I just don't see how it's logical...

 


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Man, what did I miss?And now

Man, what did I miss?

And now jeffreylex will no longer grace us with his detached fence sitting wit?

Here's my take on his argument so far in very plain English.

- Crazy shit happened, Oh Em Gee, it was like, totally weird, I'm no longer an atheist (defined as a non theist, which in turn is defined as  believing in at least one deity), but I'm now an agnostic, cuz theists are totally uncool, but agnostics can be snobs to both theists and atheists. WIN!

-I'm such a hardcore agnostic, I will totally pown any atheist argument.  Take morality for example, ha, I laugh at silly arguments like that.  Morality is like totally objective, cuz if you see little children get tortured, you'd be like Oh Em Gee, that's so totally uncool.  So that proves it, from our completely subjective moral paradigm, we have defined a rudimentary consensually agreed evil deed as a evil, therefore morality is objective... wait, no... I mean, ya ok... sure wtf, why not?  And now that we have established that morality is objective (or not, but we'll let that slide).  God cannot NOT exist, cuz a poorly defined concept is the only potential source of an objective morality... or something I read on a shampoo bottle when I was on in the bathroom taking a dump...

-Oh ya, and I'm totally agnostic, even though I'm convinced that morality is objective, and this logically implies god, and I pray... but I'm agnostic cuz theists are totally uncool... on that note I also go to church every Sunday, you know, just like any good agnostic would, and I join my agnostic brothers in doing agnostic stuff, like spread the agnostic word...

-Oh and like you are all inferior (except for AE, which writes eloquently but has no point apparently) so like TTFN. 

 

Am I summing this up correctly so far?

 

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


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Ktulu wrote:Am I summing

Ktulu wrote:

Am I summing this up correctly so far?

Yup, I think you've covered pretty much everything.

But this part is definitely my favorite:      

Ktulu wrote:

Morality is like totally objective, cuz if you see little children get tortured, you'd be like Oh Em Gee, that's so totally uncool.  So that proves it, from our completely subjective moral paradigm, we have defined a rudimentary consensually agreed evil deed as a evil, therefore morality is objective... wait, no... I mean, ya ok... sure wtf, why not? And now that we have established that morality is objective (or not, but we'll let that slide).  God cannot NOT exist, cuz a poorly defined concept is the only potential source of an objective morality...

He also seems to enjoy telling atheists that the only logical point of view for them is that everyone is worthless and you can do whatever you want to whomever you want. I'm hoping he will explain how he came to that conclusion, because I don't see how it logically follows...

 


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Ktulu wrote:Man, what did I

Ktulu wrote:

Man, what did I miss?

And now jeffreylex will no longer grace us with his detached fence sitting wit?

Here's my take on his argument so far in very plain English.

- Crazy shit happened, Oh Em Gee, it was like, totally weird, I'm no longer an atheist (defined as a non theist, which in turn is defined as  believing in at least one deity), but I'm now an agnostic, cuz theists are totally uncool, but agnostics can be snobs to both theists and atheists. WIN!

-I'm such a hardcore agnostic, I will totally pown any atheist argument.  Take morality for example, ha, I laugh at silly arguments like that.  Morality is like totally objective, cuz if you see little children get tortured, you'd be like Oh Em Gee, that's so totally uncool.  So that proves it, from our completely subjective moral paradigm, we have defined a rudimentary consensually agreed evil deed as a evil, therefore morality is objective... wait, no... I mean, ya ok... sure wtf, why not?  And now that we have established that morality is objective (or not, but we'll let that slide).  God cannot NOT exist, cuz a poorly defined concept is the only potential source of an objective morality... or something I read on a shampoo bottle when I was on in the bathroom taking a dump...

-Oh ya, and I'm totally agnostic, even though I'm convinced that morality is objective, and this logically implies god, and I pray... but I'm agnostic cuz theists are totally uncool... on that note I also go to church every Sunday, you know, just like any good agnostic would, and I join my agnostic brothers in doing agnostic stuff, like spread the agnostic word...

-Oh and like you are all inferior (except for AE, which writes eloquently but has no point apparently) so like TTFN. 

 

Am I summing this up correctly so far?

 

I would say that correctly sums the whole thing up. Looks like he rang away when he couldn't refute the arguments presented to him.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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Ktulu wrote:Man, what did I

Ktulu wrote:

Man, what did I miss?

And now jeffreylex will no longer grace us with his detached fence sitting wit?

Here's my take on his argument so far in very plain English.

- Crazy shit happened, Oh Em Gee, it was like, totally weird, I'm no longer an atheist (defined as a non theist, which in turn is defined as  believing in at least one deity), but I'm now an agnostic, cuz theists are totally uncool, but agnostics can be snobs to both theists and atheists. WIN!

-I'm such a hardcore agnostic, I will totally pown any atheist argument.  Take morality for example, ha, I laugh at silly arguments like that.  Morality is like totally objective, cuz if you see little children get tortured, you'd be like Oh Em Gee, that's so totally uncool.  So that proves it, from our completely subjective moral paradigm, we have defined a rudimentary consensually agreed evil deed as a evil, therefore morality is objective... wait, no... I mean, ya ok... sure wtf, why not?  And now that we have established that morality is objective (or not, but we'll let that slide).  God cannot NOT exist, cuz a poorly defined concept is the only potential source of an objective morality... or something I read on a shampoo bottle when I was on in the bathroom taking a dump...

-Oh ya, and I'm totally agnostic, even though I'm convinced that morality is objective, and this logically implies god, and I pray... but I'm agnostic cuz theists are totally uncool... on that note I also go to church every Sunday, you know, just like any good agnostic would, and I join my agnostic brothers in doing agnostic stuff, like spread the agnostic word...

-Oh and like you are all inferior (except for AE, which writes eloquently but has no point apparently) so like TTFN. 

 

Am I summing this up correctly so far?

 

 

  

Ktulu, your description of Jefferyalex's  a priori reasoning processes is priceless with his constant flip-flopping wrapped up in smug condescension.  Awesome. 

 

Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert etc, couldn't have done better.  

 

 

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ProzacDeathWish wrote:Ktulu

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

Ktulu wrote:

Man, what did I miss?

And now jeffreylex will no longer grace us with his detached fence sitting wit?

Here's my take on his argument so far in very plain English.

- Crazy shit happened, Oh Em Gee, it was like, totally weird, I'm no longer an atheist (defined as a non theist, which in turn is defined as  believing in at least one deity), but I'm now an agnostic, cuz theists are totally uncool, but agnostics can be snobs to both theists and atheists. WIN!

-I'm such a hardcore agnostic, I will totally pown any atheist argument.  Take morality for example, ha, I laugh at silly arguments like that.  Morality is like totally objective, cuz if you see little children get tortured, you'd be like Oh Em Gee, that's so totally uncool.  So that proves it, from our completely subjective moral paradigm, we have defined a rudimentary consensually agreed evil deed as a evil, therefore morality is objective... wait, no... I mean, ya ok... sure wtf, why not?  And now that we have established that morality is objective (or not, but we'll let that slide).  God cannot NOT exist, cuz a poorly defined concept is the only potential source of an objective morality... or something I read on a shampoo bottle when I was on in the bathroom taking a dump...

-Oh ya, and I'm totally agnostic, even though I'm convinced that morality is objective, and this logically implies god, and I pray... but I'm agnostic cuz theists are totally uncool... on that note I also go to church every Sunday, you know, just like any good agnostic would, and I join my agnostic brothers in doing agnostic stuff, like spread the agnostic word...

-Oh and like you are all inferior (except for AE, which writes eloquently but has no point apparently) so like TTFN. 

 

Am I summing this up correctly so far?

 

 

  

Ktulu, your description of Jefferyalex's  a priori reasoning processes is priceless with his constant flip-flopping wrapped up in smug condescension.  Awesome. 

 

Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert etc, couldn't have done better.  

 

 

 

Agreed. I thought this thread met a good end when Jeffreyalex seemingly conceded defeat by disappearing...but it's much funnier this way! Smiling

Theists - If your god is omnipotent, remember the following: He (or she) has the cure for cancer, but won't tell us what it is.


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Jabberwocky wrote: Agreed.

Jabberwocky wrote:

 

Agreed. I thought this thread met a good end when Jeffreyalex seemingly conceded defeat by disappearing...but it's much funnier this way! Smiling

 

      Oh, and jefferyalex with his Justin Bieber hair cut and his alpha male shirtless image in his avatar.  Narcissist much ? 

  I wonder when he's my age ( 53 ) if he'll still pose shirtless for avatars to show off his man boobs and pot belly ?    Ooo la la!  So fine !!!

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     Uh oh, he's logged

 

 

                              Uh oh, jeffreyalex has logged back on.  I guess we're gonna get a whippin !

 

                                  

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 I am looking this thread

 I am looking this thread for few weeks. I am not theist but I think Jeffrey right here. All you say is you have feelings so is there bad and good. He responding so what? Thats not obligate anyone to any moral rule. Then he going away and everybody celebrate and make fun. Im not philosopher or know about this very much but from outsider viewing its like very strange. From outsider viewing I see he made points and no one gives good response but anyway you make fun and claim victory when you dont win. He saying we have experience like morality "objective". It is true. He saying atheism there is no objective morality and it is true. Why we experience moraqlity objective? One answer because it is maybe objective and if objective then God exists. But he not saying it IS ABSOLUTELY case that it is objective, he saying it strongly appearing that way and if there God then it explains why appearing that way. Now he leaving and you making fun and think you one. Prozac making fun of avatar, Ktulu paraphrising his argument to sound silly. From my view, he not the one who sounding silly. You cant give answer and have not given good answer so after he leaves instead of coming up with good reply you all join and make fun and make one the other to feel like you had the victory. It reminds me of group of kids when adult making a point and then he leaves they all join and make fun of it. But adult was right. You guys losing this debate.