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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First, none of this would mean anything to an animal because they lack a frontal lobe. They cannot reason. Are they stupid? I never said that. I was simply trying to convey that we have a frontal lobe and they do not, therefore we do things like reason and make decisions. This reasoning and decision making is where the concepts of good and evil were born.

Second, how do you presume to know that the cockroach, as a species, is at the end of its evolutionary progress? Everything evolves differently; even human evolution has had stops and starts. There is no one at the controls, so who's to say when/if their evolutionary progress is going to start up again. Sure, they may be at the end of their evolutionary path in the world as it is now, but everything changes - including our environment - so who's to say that one day the world won’t change in some way as to allow the cockroach to evolve once again? Maybe even into reasoning beings? Yes, this sounds like sci-fi, but we really don't know what’s going to happen in the future. That sort of thinking is not usually present in the atheist "world".

I don't really want to argue, but I think you misconstrued what I was trying to say a bit. Perhaps you just like to be contrary, I don't know you, so I won't assume anything. I just didn't see any reason for your obvious negative attitude in what I thought was a rational discussion with intelligent people.

Peace.

 

(H)ow do you presume to know that the cockroach, as a species, is at the end of its evolutionary progress?

"Pinnacle" means the peak not the end. But a pinnacle is a summit, not a limit. Just as a mountain can have a summit and continue to surge upward, a species be at the pinnacle of its existence and have some growth ahead of it. For all I know in a couple billion years there will be an intelligent species which evolved from the cockroach.

However, the current form is so well adapted it probably won't evolve much further. You see, evolution is driven by changes in the environment which eliminate the genes of animals unable to adapt.

One of my favorite movies. Of course, it's impossible in our world. Exoskeletal creatures can't grow that large. The largest insect, a beetle, is still smaller than a chihuahua. I suspect if the planet had far less gravity...

Actually, from what I've read, in my day - i.e., the day of the archaeopteryx - flying insects existed as large as a condor, but fed off of smaller flying insects, but proto-birds evolved and fed off of the smaller insects, thus reducing the available food supply, which in turn, reduced the size of the larger insects. That story has been passed down in my family for countless generations, so it must be true.

If you would research further, you'd find that the air was quite a bit more oxygen rich in past aeons, allowing for giant insects and other giant creatures.

"During the Carboniferous and Permian periods, atmospheric oxygen concentrations were significantly higher than they are today. Prehistoric insects breathed air that was 31-35% oxygen, as compared to just 21% oxygen in the air you're breathing as you read this. Atmospheric oxygen is the single most limiting factor on insect size." (source)

Actually, I've read that same paragraph, but I can't accept that it is the single most limiting factor. I haven't the time, and certainly not the inclination, to re-locate research and bring it to the board, but studies show that an abundance of available food allows for a size increase in all animals, and is the primary reason that humans are no longer limited to being 4-feet tall in heels.

Thank you Unseen, I love to "learn something new every day"!  Or, in this case, something very old.

Thank you archaeopteryx hilarious!

In my experience, good, bad, evil, and "harmful to humanity" - these definitions can be subjective and individual, or the individual may defer to another to decide on the definition for you.

Where there is secular law, we have legal and illegal, and the definitions of good and bad may have been factored into the making of these laws to some extent. In these societies, good and bad are individual, though society will have an impact on the individual's ideas.

Where religious law is in force, such as with sharia law, there may be someone who is called upon to make these judgements for the individual.

So that's the "who".

The criteria? As diverse as the indviduals making the decisions, though their criteria is informed by the society they live in to some extent.

I personally understand "evil" as a religious concept - "against god."

The concepts of good and bad are tricky. In the question of abortion, is it good or bad? Circumstances count for a lot here, but even when you get to the specifics, you'll get differing opinions because people's priorities are different.

I think "good" is "reducing suffering", "bad", "creating suffering", to be very simplistic, as not even that holds in every circumstance. Is it bad to upset someone by telling them the truth? Hard to say without detail.

"Harmful to humanity" - more or less everyone gets to decide, each of us weighing in on the discussion to a greater or lesser degree. There is no one person or group who has the final say, there.

I agree that causing unnecessary suffering is wrong. Causing harm is wrong. On what basis would anyone restrict their ethical considerations of harm and suffering to just their own species? Seems arbitrary to me, speciesist. We can judge what is harmful based on outcomes. Does it promote happiness or misery?


@archaeopterix

Then again, it could be that your definitions of sentience differ - the dictionary defines sentience as being, "able to perceive or feel things," but I've known those who view sentience as possessing self-awareness, such as being able to recognize onesself in a mirror. I've known cats bristle at the "cat" in the mirror, and seen birds (OK, one --) fly into a mirror, thinking they're going to hook up with the one they're flying toward.

A little thought tells one that "sentience" was originally meant to mean "having senses." Well, just about all life has some form of sense. Even jellyfish, who have no brain. Even protozoa, who lack even a nervous system. They can gravitate toward food and light. Yes, and even plants, who react to light and fight wars amongst themselves for space, light, water and other resources in the forest.

Taking a strict definition of sentience, almost nothing edible is left.

Your right to clarify terms. Of course the definition you made up would not lead to almost nothing being edible. I am concerned with harm, pain and suffering. I am not aware of any credible evidence that plants suffer. Even if they did, and they don't, to minimise suffering it would still be better to eat plants rather than animals as to raise animals, they must be fed plants.

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