I read posts here that call different things, "harmful to humanity."  Others call something, "good" or "bad" or "evil."

A very simple question, who gets to decide the definition of  "harmful to humanity" and what is there critieria? The same for "good," "bad," and "evil?" These are not material terms. If everything is material isn't there just "is" and not these moral declarations if one is being thoroughly atheist?

Help me understand your position so I am fair and honest about the views. Thanks.

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Your idea that atheists think the world just "is" would be completely accurate if the world was filled with nothing but rocks and sea sponges. 

This is a common religious argument, the idea that without some spiritual side to the universe morality can't exist. It's a completely ridiculous one, and has no ground to stand on.

Every successful culture on the planet teaches that killing is a bad thing and should be avoided whenever possible. What does this tell you? Because to me it seems like there's an innate human morality, something within us that predisposes us to mutually beneficial conduct. The fact that we're social animals and have the ability to empathize is what makes us such a great species.

Humans are hard-coded (perhaps not the right phrase, as there was no "coder") with a sense of right and wrong, and if you can't see how good and bad can exist in a completely natural universe from the perspective of a sentient life form you're selling human philosophy and intelligence very short.

Because to me it seems like there's an innate human morality, something within us that predisposes us to mutually beneficial conduct. The fact that we're social animals and have the ability to empathize is what makes us such a great species.

I like how atheists use the exact same observations that Christians do and jump wholeheartedly to their own separate conclusion... To me, you are describing God quite well here.

Humans are hard-coded

No, that is the right phrase.

It's not just humans that have codes of behavior. Almost all animals treat each other in ways good for their own species, and pack animals (in particular) follow some kind of hierarchy of power.

What's different about humans is that they evolved a whole lot of extra brain capacity that was at first just simply used for hunting, foraging, and survival of the species a bit more successfully than previous primates. Then over tens of thousands of years, we evolved culturally more than genetically, meaning that suddenly cultural environments exploded with toolmaking, complex social communications, and for the first time starting to talk about and understand concepts like past, future, why things happen, how remembering and documenting the past can help predict the future (as in weather and seasons)... those things that we just take for granted now, without realizing how far we've actually come to attain all those concepts and new, social behaviors, including inventing more complex concepts of morality.

Actually, I think it's quite complicated. There's still a lot to learn about how it all came to happen with just a fairly ordinary set of primate genes. Just because we can feel a spiritual connectedness doesn't mean that it's supernatural. It's supernatural only in the metaphorical sense, in that it takes quite a lot of intelligence, experience, and wisdom to start to understand that those feelings of supernatural spirit are actually just coming from natural feelings of connectedness to our environment and to each other. Embellished with various versions of intellectual conjecture, especially religious.

After hundreds of millions of years of evolution, it's not really as simple as many people wish to believe. Culture, including all the benefits and disadvantages of morality it imposes on itself, is what's made everything modern possible, like xray machines, passenger jets, cures for cancer, nuclear power, cellular tech, internet. And incredible understandings of ourselves and reality are yet to come, only to become taken for granted, as usual, with few people genuinely interested in how human culture made it all happen over several thousands of years.

I think the idea of connectedness, spirituality if you like, is fascinating. I am trying to begin to understand the work of Roger Penrose (colleague of Hawking) and his theories of quantum consciousness. How quantum effects may be present in our brains, perhaps enabling free will and how quantum entanglement may promote a feeling of connection. It sounds a little 'woo woo' but Penrose is not someone to be dismissed without serious consideration. Things could indeed be much more complicated than we suspect.

In A Brief History of Time, Hawking mentioned that he and Penrose once had a bet (which Hawking subsequently lost), in which the payoff was a subscription to Penthouse - good to know those guys are human too --

Quantum events will never salvage free will, because we are bound to do whatever our brains would have us do. Unless there is some dysfunction disconnecting us from our brains. But dysfunction doesn't salvage free will, either, does it?

I agree (but without reading Penrose, yet) that quantum events won't explain free will. Could we have quantum entanglement with souls in a parallel universe, for example? Even if that were possible, how could one prove that souls have free will, or how could one disprove that the other universe of souls isn't just holding our puppet strings?

I don't understand why you chose the word dysfunction. Anyway, I have a different question for you. How would you define free will? Or is it (like "God") up to whoever's postulating it to define it then prove it, otherwise it should just remain unproven and undefined?

NEVER MIND, sorry... your definition is on another page, here.

I learn towards it being undefined, unprovable and undisprovable, but I still like to make believe that I have it, whatever it is!

Speaking of quantum events and parallel universes (where we all know dwells Kirk's evil twin):

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120615104347.htm (http://www.printfriendly.com/print?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sciencedail...)


RE: "I don't understand why you chose the word dysfunction."

Because it's the word he most often hears --

Nice link & short story, thanks.

I'm finally realizing an irony here. I never liked the term "parallel universe", and I've read and watched less Green because of his use of the term. The irony is, perhaps he's just doing the same thing with definitions that I've been doing. That is, utilizing metaphysical concepts like spirituality and parallel universes in order to attract people away from those noncorporeal, imagined worlds.

It just seems that--wrt reaching people who believe in those worlds--I feel I might reach them and invoke conversation with them via empathy, if not logic. I think I can talk about the subject of spirituality (because I've actually felt it before) without invoking the supernatural, and that's the bridge I want to build.

Of course logical conversations are truly the ultimate goal. But with metaphysicallists [yep, another made up word], there should at least be halfway points for them to jump, from metaphysics towards physics. That might not be an ideal way to learn physics, but it might work for some of them.

I hope that doesn't sound like a rant. Maybe tomorrow I'll get better!

(Dear God, I pray that I might someday be given just 5 more minutes to edit my posts. I promise I will work faster, too.)

RE: "Maybe tomorrow I'll get better!"

I've been saying that for years now, so far, it hasn't happened.

Speaking of supernatural, earlier today, I came from a site called, "Supernatural with Sid" - maybe I can find the URL, but I'll be honest, I don't plan to try very hard. Sid had a guest, a former Arab terrorist turned Christian, who claims to have discovered that the "mark of the beast," "666," didn't mean that at all. As I'm sure your Whole-i-ness must surely know, the entire New Testament was written in Greek (yeah, I know, it's all Greek to me, too --) BUT the guy maintained that the phrase, that has been mistaken for "666" is actually NOT Greek, but Arabic, and that it means, not "666," but "Allah/Islam," and he pointed out that the word, "mark" need not have meant an actual mark, but a banner, and took it further to demonstrate that Islamist soldiers wore banners on their arms, touting the same Arabic symbols. So the sign of the anti-Christ is the Islamic banner!

Get the feeling that just maybe they tossed this guy out of the Terrorist Club and revoked his secret handshake and decoder ring privileges, and it's payback time?

Utter the word, "supernatural," and all kinds of whack-jobs wriggle out of the woodwork --

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