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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Steven dog fighting vs. murder?  why did you say such a thing?  And u know what, Zimmerman may not be convicted..this is the United States of America..

I think he shouldn't have done what he did, but the punishment was too harsh.  Maybe a stiff fine and threat of disbarrment from the nfl..

@ Shabaka - I cannot understand how people can systematically torture dogs for any reason. I feel dogs are  more beautiful and noble than humans. He should have been put in a mental institution for intense treatment. So should people in Asia or wherever it is socially accepted for dogs to be baked alive and cats to be boiled cats alive!

dog get abused..abuser gets 2 years in prison and millions in lost revenue..

Human teens gets killed and "killer" takes a nation to even get arrested and when he does he gets 15 thousand dollars bail.. which of the two has more privileges (rights) the dog or the human teen?

@ Shabaka - They both have been afforded certain rights by law. Affording rights to animals is something civilized societies do and is a sign of moral progress. Dogs have a legal right not to be abused when the abuse is being perpetrated by individuals that are involved in dog fighting organizations. Human teens have a right not to be murdered.

You seem to be saying the authorities that be, and perhaps society at large, are more interested in dogs' rights not to be abused than black human teens' rights not to be murdered because of racism; as if society is losing perspective. That may be the case sometimes (and may or may not be the case in your Vick/Zimmerman comparison), but to stay on topic, I don't believe allowing gays to marry and having society accept homosexuality is going to be a bad thing.

If you are concerned allowing gay marriage will be a detriment to society, trying to support your view with comparing Michael Vick to Zimmerman is not the way to do it. It is a stretch so far as to be in another dimension.

When Vick was convicted and sentenced to 23 months in federal prison, dog-fighting was not a felony in all 50 states.. Just thought I"d throw this in the ring.

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Also Mabel I think a lot of Koreans would find your civilized society comment a little offensive.  To keep the argument to a low level, I don't care one way or the other about dogs..I don't think they should be made to fight.

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Only partly because of racism as I think played a part in the Vick case..but that as it may, the bigger reason I believe is that this culture's essence or energy needs dogs for various reasons to relieve some of the stress.

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again i could have used greed..it's how the culture sees the world that I think affects gay marrige and a lot of other things. Do you believe gay marriage would be even a serious thought in African cultures, First People's culture or maybe Asian cultures if the European culture had spearheaded it?  Truthfully if you can..

Sorry to interrupt - don't mind me, just wanted to interrupt  your argument briefly to make a statement that is actually on point with the purpose of this thread, then you can go back to whatever it is you think you're accomplishing.

RE: "Koreans eat dogs"

I don't know that's true, I had always heard it was Vietnamese, but it could well be both or neither. Point is, that there ARE some societies that eat dogs, others that eat cats, and some that eat horses, although Americans, as far as I know, don't.

Which brings me to my point, one that so far hasn't been mentioned on this thread - mores. There is nothing essentially wrong with eating a dog, cat or horse, but we Americans have chosen these animals as pets, and would find it personally offensive - as long as other choices were available - to eat them. A more (mo-ray) is something that a society finds unacceptable. In general, it is not considered immoral, but against our personal, societal mores.

In any discussion of morals, it's important to separate morals from mores.

That's all - as you were --

(It's probably too late to say pax vobiscum --)

archaeopteryx
www.in-His-own-image.com

I have been to Vietnam. They have dog meat on skewers like gyros meat. Tit cho.

@Shabaka,

You're impervious to reason. You exhibit all the traits of true believers. You may never be capable of rational discourse.

The one good thing about banging your head against the wall is that it feels so good when you stop.

Whose reason, your reason or people who share your world view?  Because we learn to "reason" from experiences. Such arrogance...it's what keeps white cultural supremacy alive and well..as an atheist I would expect more from other atheist because at least the have the common sense to question b.s., but I've been disappointed in life many times before.

I'm a Black man looking at the Black community and see the destruction. I offer my views on the cause and effect.  I express my concern that this is a societal problem and what elements of the society affect it, and how we may help to prevent it and you say I'm not a "humanist" (ie:) because I don't appreciate our young men acting like women seeking other men openly and with the approval of the larger community.  If you approved of Black genocide, then I could understand YOUR reasoning. 

In this case you are correct, there's no 'reasoning" with me.

I really like the tactic of implying I'm a theist on an atheist site to discredit me..typical..let people make up their own minds....

The sociological and evolutionary arguments for why morality is good do not demonstrate that morality is better than immorality.  What they demonstrate is only that there are good reasons why most humans value morality. It doesn't say why it is right.  

Instead it says why most humans believe immorality is wrong.  Just because you believe something is good doesn't make it true. Just because all humanity believes something doesn't make it true.  And history has taught us through religion that philosophy trumps morality.  This is why religion causes problems.  This is why Hitchens said religion is dangerous, because it makes people ignore morality or consider their system moral.  Philosophy is stronger than innate moral urges, and can bend them to it's whim, so philosophical justification is required for morality.

True enough.  I don't think the sociological and evolutionary arguments have ever tried to justify morality, have they?  I don't think I have ever seen anyone try to argue that point, except xians who use it as a straw man argument when trying to debate why morals must come from god. 

By saying that philosophy is "stronger" than moral urges, I'm assuming you mean that it is more valid in evaluating whether a particular action would be deemed "moral" by your current society, yes?  I'm sure we agree that moral urges unfortunately tend to be stronger to those that don't learn to stop and think before acting.

I know a lot of people are pretty moral without the thinking about it or understanding why they just gravitate to what most people would consider the "morally correct" choice, so I would re-word that last sentence to "philosophy is required to justify morality" rather than morality itself having the requirement of philosophy.  Does that make sense?  Maybe we are both saying the same thing, just in different ways.  LOL

Not quite.  The point I am making is that philosophy overrides morality on a regular basis.  Because philosophy does override morality, we need a philosophical justification for morality in order to keep it from being consistently overridden.  

This is even moreso the case when morality can not be justified.  I contend, however, that it can be justified without religious meaning attached.  I think many atheists oppose the necessity of justification due to the appearance that it is futile to try to justify morality.  I find this intellectually dishonest, and I know the same people would adopt the justification once they encountered it, but only deny the vital nature of justification due to not wanting to concede anything to the religious. 

As for people being pretty moral without ideology, I disagree.  There has been little evolution of the brain for thousands of years, so studying human nature ought to be done from more primitive situations such as the neolithic era, chalcholithic, ect, especially when considering human behavior sans ideology.  It was not pretty.

Also, if you look at the entire world, instead of just the west, you see a different situation in areas of the globe that have harsh living conditions. But even more important is that in the west, in areas of low socio-economic status crime rates are higher, and violent conflict with other humans is considered much more normative.  We are seeing a global trend of less conflict and suffering, but the recent global situations are lowering the stats on that as well.  It is western ideology that is causing those stats to be lowered. 

Interesting.  I would say that philosophy influences morality rather than overriding it.  I do, however, agree that morality can be without a religious meaning attached.  It happens all the time, so it is obviously possible.  I've read (both here and other blogs) many atheists applying philosophical justification to morality.  I don't think it's all that uncommon.

I definitely understand the comment about not wanting to concede anything to the religious.  I think that comes from them jumping into any "gap" they can find to try to create arguments and it's easier to not allow them a toehold than fight them back out.  Especially for those people who aren't really super-fast at thinking on their feet.  I had a couple of baptists show up at my door day before yesterday and we had a fairly lengthy discussion on my front porch.  In retrospect, I kick myself for a couple of comments that I allowed them to get past me.  I good example was Pascal's Wager.  I did get a good response in that if I have to answer to god, what if you have to answer to Oden?  But I was a little rattled because I couldn't think of the term ("Pascal's Wager"), so I didn't fight that point as well as I should have been able to.  So I can understand the desire to not allow something in that you know will cause them to think they might see a "crack in the armor" as it were, as invalid as that concept is in a purely intellectual debate.

As for people being moral without ideology, that isn't what I said. I think this goes back to my first point in that philosophy (or ideology) has the potential to influence morality.  True, if a person is never exposed to an ideology their morals might be pretty "harsh" by our modern standards, but if exposed to ideology, moral urges can be modified.  But I do concede that this is not always (or even mostly) the case.  After all the LA riots very much prove that high emotions can cause people to fly completely off the handle. 

I don't know how much "western ideology" has to do with it, though.  We have recently seen societies that devolve into chaos that have western ideology, for sure, but they were able to fall only because that same "western ideology" had raised them to the point where they could noticeably fall.  If you look at non-western ideological countries (like many in Africa), there isn't much farther they can devolve.  Many of those country have unstable or completely ineffective governments and are rules by warring warlords that keep the nation in perpetual poverty and chaos, so the economical devastation that has caused places like Greece to noticeably devolve doesn't effect them.  The other option is repressive governments like North Korea where the citizens can't devolve anyway, because they have no freedom to do so and, besides that, living conditions can't get much worse for the average citizen.  I'm not saying that "western ideology" is perfect, by any means.  It does have it's hazards.  I'm just saying that, in my opinion, it is the best we've come up with so far for the average person.

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