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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"compassion for others may well be the next step in Human evolution, and the one thing that may ultimately allow us to all live on this one planet together in mutual health and safety"

And here I thought no one ever listened to anything I said --

This is a far too simplistic viewpoint.  You are completely ignoring compassion, sympathy, empathy, and any number of other emotions that come into play.  As a "social animal", as a general rule, we try to help all the members of our social group survive.  After all, the bigger the pack, the easier to defend ourselves.  We only "sacrifice" the weakest when it is in the best interest of the group.  Of course, there are those that either convince themselves that the weak are a "drain on our resources" and there are others that are so self-involved that they don't care if the weak die off because it doesn't actually hurt their chances of survival.

You really need to understand that we have emotional processes through evolution that relate to actual life-or-death survival, even in a world where that is seldom the case anymore.  We don't have to worry about ourselves as a species and seldom have to worry about being eaten by lions as individuals.  There is a great deal of psychology at play here, not just a couple of simple emotions that can easily be boxed in.

@WS - "But isn't love and empathy just a chemical reaction?" Yes, love and empathy are just chemical reactions, just like everything else we feel. 

"whereby love that is sacrificial would be severely curtailed due to its affect on surviving." If you had actually read the post that you are trying to respond to, you would have read the answer to this question. 

Let me reiterate: "Why do you insist on trying to shove everyone into the same mold with the same reaction to the same stimuli? You just don't get it, do you?"

The thing is that we're not just driven to survive.  Procreation and the survival of our young adds additional pressures.  Things like power, prestige, attention, belonging may lead to the greater success from one generation to the next.  In some environments, this may lead to a number of pro-social behaviors.  Mind you, most people aren't sitting there laughing to themselves thinking I'm going to crush everyone and get more power for myself.  They're just doing what they know how to do to get what they want.  Theists and atheists are no different in this way.

This line of questioning frustrates me, because it's obvious that atheists do at times act in the interest of others (and well theists certainly don't always act in ways that are good).  Since there is no cause and effect relationship to be found between good acts and theism, I fail to see why the "moral compass" of theism is the standard by which we should judge whether an act is good or evil.  I get it.  In the light of theism everything seemingly fits into these nice little boxes and it's easier to talk about, but that doesn't make it true.  IMO - The reason why you're getting some backlash from other members here is because your focus on WHY gives the tone that you do not believe "true atheists" could possibly act in ways that help others...AND YET they do.  If you think some disagreement or unknowns on a topic such as this means that there must be something supernatural at play, you might want to look back in history and study all of the other times the supernatural explanation was later found to be incorrect.

I agree they do. I am trying to understand why they think they do. I would personally point to natural law. But i know that would open up a whole 'nother can of worms. Another thread.

If you have read Dawkins, etc as you claim, then all of your questions have been answered. So why are you still on this site still asking your same questions when if you did read Dawkins etc you have all the answers in hand.

Can it be that your proselytization mission has not bore any fruit?

Regardless, here are some questions for you.

1. The inerrancy of the bible.
How can the most revised book in the history of civilization be inerrant. If you doubt a high rate of revision, please read Milt Timmons book “Everything About the Bible That You Never Had Time To Look Up”.

In one now expurgated section, the adventures of a talking jackass active in politics are described. (I guess that some things never change).

2. The specialness of the resurrection of JC.
There are many instances in many of the now expurgated sections of the bible where dead people are brought back to life. In fact animals bring back dead animals and people. So how can the resurrection of JC be so special. Also, If JC is divine what’s the big deal about his suffering and death. Since he is divine he certainly won’t be hurt by a crucifixion and can’t die by definition.

Also, xians wear crosses around their necks. If the preferred method of execution in biblical times was an electric chair, would xians now be wearing tiny electric chairs around their gullible necks.

3. What is the religious answer to a question related to obedience to god which I will shortly pose.
But first let’s set some ground rules.
a. god must be unconditionally obeyed.
b. You, and no one else on this planet, can censure god or get god to change his mind if he doesn’t want to. You of course can ask but god need not comply.

Here’s the question. What would you do if god commanded you not to pray or be religious in any sense of the word. And to show that he really means it, and that this is not some test, god will eternally torture non-compliants.

I can tell you what the response would certainly be. All religious would continue to be religious. The truly religious will not let a little thing like god get between them and their mean-spirited nirvana inducing fairy tales.

You may notice I never capitalize the noun god since this would show a respect that that sadistic blackmailer does not deserve. Personal pronouns be damned. Oh, I made a funny.

Finally, I have a great idea. Why don’t you indicate the location of your building dedicated to the worship of fear, ignorance, and superstition. Let’s pick a time and I will deliver a one hour lecture on why atheism is superior to theism or deism in every respect.

Of course, I will be accompanied by large armed guards so that the more psychotic of your brethren will not be able to shout me down or assault me. Anyone attempting to shout me down will be escorted out of the building. Anyone attempting to assault me will be shot. This way a decent decorum will be maintained. Of course there will be no Q&A during my presentation, but a Q&A session will follow. I believe that 30 seconds will be sufficient. You say that 30 seconds is not enough. I don’t see why not, since that is 30 seconds more than is available after typical sermons.

In a future post I will indicate why that any meaningful debate between religious and secular is an exercise in futility. And, what can be done about it so that meaningful debates will be possible.

@Jack - That would be the one time that I WOULD go to church for a "sermon"!  And I'd like to volunteer to be one of your man-at-arms.  :)

First, let me apologize for not replying sooner to your kind offer. Second, here is my belated reply.

Excellent, you are now the head of security. Please bring your UZI when I get the chance to deliver my secular sermon.

1. Who said I am a complete inerrancy proponent in how you and others here most likely mean it? I don't spend my time in harmonization attempts and am open to reading in genre types. I do think the core message and apex of its revelation is true.

2. When I personally examine the post-crucifixion happenings in the early Christian movement (conversion of Jesus 1/2 brother James who was in radical denial of the Messiahship of Jesus right up to the crucifixion, the Gospel and Paul's presentation of eyewitnesses put forward who were able to be queried, etc. I don't have to suspend all rationality to say something happened which allowed this Messianic movement to continue when many crucified before failed to carry on after the figurehead's death. I am left with "visions" etc that Crossan and others propose, but then I have to think someone would have quickly called B.S. on that.

One thing I AM noticing in my interactions. There are peeps on this site I would definitely buy a pint of Guinness for and chat--I am friends with the theist and author Os Guinness whose ancestory were its creators, haha--and others here I'd make sure I managed to miss..haha.

@WS - I will only address number 2, and I think the answer is pretty simple. 

First, there was very little scientific scrutiny of religions back then.  You have noticed, or at least been informed of the fact, that this religion started in the most oppressed society of the world, right?  It could have started in the Americas, or in the Far East, or even in the West where culture was substantially more advanced, but it's a strange coincidence (not) that it started in an impoverished, illiterate community of nomads.

Second, all the books of the NT were written decades if not centuries after the fact, so your supposition that there were "eye witnesses" is fallacious.  It's no more truth than any other fictional book written in a past setting.

Third, if jesus is supposed to be the sole source of knowledge, where is his book?  Why would we need multiple people with contradictory accounts paraphrasing him?

Fourth, there is no complimentary accounts of jesus outside of the bible.  Especially of the "fantastic" (read: fantasy-based) events.  Thousands of dead people dig their way out of their graves and walk the streets and the only people who "witness" this event just happen to be the writers of the bible?  I mean, this guy was THE SON OF GOD and yet there are no records of him anyplace.  You have to consider that very suspicious.

Fifth, even the stories in the bible are contradictory.  So, how can any of them be believed?  In order to believe the bible over all other evidence, the bible *must* be inerrant beyond any scrutiny.  If even a single fact can be proved invalid from that source, that source is questionable.  Especially because a lot of the claims are unprovable. 

Sixth, you mention "Paul's presentation of eyewitnesses put forward who were able to be queried" - There are a couple of problems with this.  First, there are no eye witnesses that can be validated.  Grabbing some random person off the street and saying "did you see that?" and having them answer yes is not a valid test of truth or even proof that this happened.  Second, who wrote the book of Paul?  It sure wasn't Paul.  After all, how many people back then would have written about themselves in third person?  I don't write "And Keith tried to explain concepts to Wretched Saint that he just couldn't understand".  I write "*** I *** tried to explain...".  Who, except a total dick writes about themselves in the third person?  And we also know *for a fact* that John's book was written by several authors, as do we know that the books of Moses weren't written by Moses.

All the "evidence" that has ever been exposed about the validity of the jesus story is, at best, speculation and suppositions.  When you find one little piece of evidence that could be construed to support the bible stories, that really doesn't give those stories weight.  I've argued with xians who claim that there IS proof of jesus outside of the bible.  A couple of minor mentions in a jewish philosopher's writings isn't "proof".  It's actually more evidence to the contrary, since it is such a minor mention and not a "HOLY CRAP, IT'S THE SON OF GOD!  LET'S DROP EVERYTHING ELSE AND JUST WRITE ABOUT THIS" reaction.  I mean, if you were a writer and all of a sudden Thor showed up and started slinging real lightning bolt around and we had real, verifiable accounts with eye witnesses and cameras rolling and you actually saw this with your own eyes, would you just write "So, we're having a bake sale on Wednesday for our church.  Oh, ya, and by the way, Thor showed up today and wiped out 1/2 of our entire armed forces.  But anyway, there will be cupcakes at the bake sale, so don't miss it"?  Somehow I don't think so.

All of this pretty much makes your second statement completely moot.  You can research all you want, but you will never gather enough evidence to convince anyone who isn't a "believer" to believe.  And you will never get anyone who knows the bible is nothing but a bunch of fairy tales to convert without using a purely emotional argument.  Logic and reason will just get in the way.

Excellent post Keith! I can only add that in the years following the assassination of JFK, there were dozens of books written about the event, as well as about Kennedy's life, yet it was nearly fifty years after the cruci-fiction (pun intended) of Yeshua (if he ever existed), before anyone wrote a book about him and claimed it was authored by Mark, who, even if he were the author, has never been established as having been a witness to the events, much like Luke - the other three gospels were written even later, some even in the second century. One would have thought he would have made a bigger splash.

Which reminds me, I could sure go for one of those cupcakes about now --

The usual dates I see for the gospels are 65-70 for Mark, 80-90 for luke and matthew, and 90-105 for John.  A little earlier than you say, Archae, but not early enough to really negate the thrust of your argument.

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