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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Thank you Karen.

I would suggest that the term harmful to humanity is self evident. Things that cause more people to suffer, be it emotionally or physically. For example, assisting the spread of aids by condemning the use of condoms because it is murder, it harmful to humanity. Even in the animal kingdom, you see that they don't go out and murder their own (except in cases of bonding) because if they killed except to survive and reproduce, there would be not much left for them on the world, so in that respect, it is highly logical to not murder. Furthermore, the idea that you only try to help others because you're afraid of the consequences, is less good than someone who does so out of compassion pure and simple. If you want a good summary of atheist morality, watch a Sam Harris lecture :-)

A lot depends upon how far down the road one looks. Preventing people from starving today simply increases the population. Obviously, continuing down this road results in constantly having to prevent the suffering of ever more people. It may in the end cause less suffering to let nature take its course.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people who kind of embrace the "back to nature through more natural foods and more natural living" philosophy nevertheless think that intervening to prevent nature from taking its natural course is the way to go. If the deer population becomes overpopulated (too many mouths, insufficient food) nature knows how to fix that.

We are probably in dire need of a world war or plague to get things back into balance.

How about a global flood? Oh, that's right, it's been done --

Yes, I suppose we could stop vaccinating our children against serious disease and let nature take its course. If anyone gets seriously ill, let's forget doctors and let nature take its course.

@Wretched Saint - RE: "who gets to decide the definition of 'harmful to humanity'" --

That would be me, Wretch, the Big Cheese, the Great Kahuna, the Final Frontier - me.

I decide it for everybody, everywhere, any time, any place. The buck stops here. And that goes for good, bad, evil, and my special favorite, naughty-but-nice. I do it all, the whole schmear, the big enchilada, todos, help me out here, I'm running out of metaphors.

And in my spare time, usually after supper, I write the songs that make the whole world sing. I put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop-shoo-bop. I put the ram in the ramma-lamma-ding-dong. I do all that - one-stop shopping, that's me.

As for my criteria? I work in mysterious ways, my wonders to perform. Don't ask, and I won't tell.

Well, that's that - now that you have all of the information you came for, have a nice trip back to the home, take care, and don't call us, we'll call you - don't think it hasn't been fun, just because it hasn't, and come back when you can't stay so long. Toodles --

pox upon you,

Who gets to decide? You do, I do, everyone does. People get too wrapped up in the origin or the nature of right and wrong, good or bad (evil). We are all born with an natural sense of what is right and wrong. I can look at things like female castration and rape victims being forced to marry the rapist and know these are bad things, indeed evil things. I don't need a book to tell me, neither do you my friend.

You can dive into things like a species developing over time what is "good", what allows the species to progress and what is "bad", what causes the species not to move forward or what retards a species progress. That is all well and interesting and is worth the read. A simple search on the internet will net you nearly countless articles on the matter. 

For me it just seems to make sense. Hope you find the answers you are looking for!

Wretched's purpose in being here is to subtly lead us to the conclusion that without a religion to guide us, we atheists have no compass. He thinks he's ever so clever, but he neglects to take (at least) two things into consideration: 1), the Bible is most likely the worst example of a "moral compass" one could ever hope to find, and 2), you simply can't lump all atheists into a group and expect a homogenous mixture.

We differ, probably far more greatly than do Christians, Jews, or Muslims, as we don't follow a "shepherd," but rather seek answers on our own, but that makes us no less "moral" than anyone else, it just means we're not afraid to question conclusions and explore possibilities. We have no "Instruction Manual" that we've likely never read through nor studied, yet pull passages from, to justify our already-formed beliefs, prejudices, and opinions. We're seekers, and the answers we find may differ radically from each other, but our shared realization that this is all there is, makes how we treat others in this life (I would certainly hope) far more relevant to us, than if we believed we had multiple chances to get it right, or that some homeless, itinerant preacher deliberately got himself executed so that whatever we chose to do to each other would be OK.

pax vobiscum,

Fascinating article, in case anyone's interested --

Church Sues Woman for $500K After Negative Google Review


"Take some sparsely-populated Northern African country. It can't become a wealthy country with a vibrant economy without growing its population."

That would be incorrect. One of the major problems with these sparsely populated countries is than any economic growth is/was killed off by a quickly growing population (pop growth rates have plummeted many places as of late). There are many ways to spur growth - labor participation rates, technological progression, education, infrastructure investments, urbanization, etc - increasing population is not one of them. It's actually the anathema to growth on a per capita basis.

You took that quote out of the context it was in, which assumed adequate nutrition and education. I was saying that even with those, it can't really become a significant economic entity without growing its population.

My apologies if it was not in context, but the context doesn't really matter when the conclusion is incorrect.

Most Northern African countries have had massive population growth rates over the last 50 years, generally tripling their populations or more, while being left behind economically. Especially compared to other countries with small populations, fairly hostile climates, and large land areas. Singapore, Luxembourg, and Hong Kong are not very populous either, yet they are still considered economic powerhouses.

Or is your argument that Canada or Australia needs more people to be economically significant?

Oh, so Singapore, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Canada, and Australia would be even more prosperous and powerful if only they had half the population? Half the scientists, half the workers, half the economic resources, etc.?



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