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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@Shabaka - "I think he was self-less as religion tends to make one.." You're kidding, right? 

Where is there any evidence that religion in general or xianity specifically "makes one selfless"?  I have never seen that and I can tell you from personal experience that I am much more selfless since I abandoned my delusion that the xian superstition had any validity at all.

The only "religion" that I have ever come across that teaches selflessness is Zazen Buddhism, which is obviously more of a philosophy to attain enlightenment, since it doesn't include any form of supernatural belief.

nope not kidding.. I think religion replaces "self" with god..

My meaning of selfless is without self..

self·less

having little or no concern for oneself

Because survival is not the "highest value".  You are completely discounting all the other human driving emotions like empathy, love, caring, nurturing.  You can't rationally expect a single driving factor to over-ride everyone's actions all the time.  Many people wouldn't run into a burning building, even to save a loved one.  Many people wouldn't run into a burning building to save their pregnant wife, even though survival of, and passing on of your genetics is actually the "highest value" of pretty much any species.  Then there are many with the courage to run into a burning building to save the life of a anonymous old person that is 90% likely to die from the incident anyway.  Everyone has different motivations, just as they have different morals.

Why do you insist on trying to shove everyone into the same mold? You just don't get it, do you?

But isn't love and empathy just a chemical reaction? Why would those not ultimately come under the evolutionary progression whereby love that is sacrificial would be severely curtailed due to its affect on surviving.

Actually, I've often asked myself the same question. There are many out there who are disabled in one way or another, then of course there are the poor and the homeless, and we might well argue that these would be better off dead, or that we would be better off if they were, yet we expend money as well as physical labor to help these people as best we can.

Then it occurred to me, that just possibly that 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.

pax vobiscum,
archaeopteryx
www.in-His-own-image.com

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

I've been thinking about this recently, and agree. Some people have suggested an atheist's bible, but which of course ironically could become its own, unreasonable dogma.

Perhaps it wouldn't be unreasonable to collect an array of generalizations to live by? After all, we already are living by mostly reasonable, generalized codes of conduct, right?

E.g., I think one of the most important generalizations might be something like:

  • You have the right to express your personal values without penalty, as long as you do not penalize others who disagree.


That could probably be worded better, and there would be other corollaries with the theme that we should all have as much freedom as possible without impinging on others' freedom.

I'm sure this has already been done somewhere, or is in dynamic discussion. I haven't taken time to look for it, yet...

Btw, a lot of this kind of discussion is already written in fiction. Star Trek comes to mind.

RE:

"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.

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