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.
No offense, I have read Dawkins, HItchens, and Harris extensively. Dawkins is a good scientist but a sloppy philosopher, sorry. Hitchens is not a philospher in the classical sense. I much prefer Bertrand Russell and Hume as I feel they are thoroughly honest about the deep challenges that come with their belief/anti-belief system. I am wondering who are the modern Russell, Hume's (and dare I mention Flew's name here?)?
I think that morality is purely a human construct ( What else could it be ). It is not absolute in a Universal non living matter sense, so what is it based on? Most cultures seem to have a fairly similar morality. I believe that it is based on the desire to procreate which is a one of, if not the most basic instinct. No species would survive long without it. So living/procreating = good, death/not procreating = bad. This seems to me to explain most "good" human behavior. Of course our ability to believe in false ideas combined with our ability to justify these beliefs does tend to distort our morality on occasion.
Now THAT is a good answer. So if the desire to survive is the highest value, why does someone give their life to say serve people with mentally retarded that will not reproduce and if they do, surely won't strengthen the species? Why would a death of self = bad person lay down their life for someone else (in a house on fire, etc.)? Would they be running contrary to their primary value?
It's interesting Wretch, that you pose all of the questions and expect us to supply all of the answers. Why should any of us want to continue to play your game?
I am seeking truth and exploring atheism to the margin. I feel the way to get to truth is to ask a full bevy of questions. Sorry if my methodology offends you.
why make life so complicated, god is not real just like talking snakes and donkeys.
I believe that what offends us the most is that you choose not to answer ours. That, and the fact that you are not "exploring atheism," as there are a multitude of books on the subject you could well be reading - you're exploring our convictions.
why does someone give their life to say serve people with mentally retarded that will not reproduce and if they do, surely won't strengthen the species?
The reason why some people follow that path is not 100% selfless, most of them search for recognition, admiration and/or material gain. Is not long before they gain a status in their community, state or country and get involved some way or the other in politics and goverment "causes". Think for example mother Theresa, you can also watch Hitchens documentary about her and how from being a poor albanian woman with no conventional sense of morality she became the face of goodness, sacrificing for the poor when in reality she was marketing herself.
The average folks that are ridicously involved in charity work usually do it: to feel good about themselves, because their friends do it, to make their families proud,to socialize, to keep busy, to add it in their CV and land a good job, and lets face it this puts them in a better possition to get a disearable mate (nothing wrong with that but is not totally selfess).
Why would a death of self = bad person lay down their life for someone else (in a house on fire, etc.)? Would they be running contrary to their primary value?
Statiscally speaking most of the people won't get involved in any situation that puts them into high risk to save a stranger. It happens, but is not the norm, and when it happens the "hero" had the resources to save the stranger and themselves (or thought they did). But most people won't even get involved in an argument to deffend a stranger thats being humilliated.
This varies when is your relative the one in trouble. There we see a shift in human behavior.
The primacy keeps being true "It's all about me and my selfish genes".
Years ago I saw an interview with a policeman who had saved a suicidal teen boy.
He had been called to a scene where a boy was perched on the railing of a high bridge, obviously working up to jumping. The cop tried to talk the kid down but without success. The boy made to jump and the cop, who had been straddling the railing grabbed his wrist. As the boy fell, he pulled the cop over with him. So there is the policeman hanging onto the boy with one hand and onto one of the railing's vertical supports, both of them dangling over a drop which meant certain death.
Backup arrived after about three minutes to find him still there hanging to the boy and the railing. They pulled him and the boy up.
The interviewer asked him, "Didn't it hurt to hang on for that long?" "Yes," he replied. "I've never felt such pain in my life, before or since." "Did you ever think that you might have to let go of the boy?" "No," he replied. "If I had let him die, I could not live."
Maybe the cop was thinking of himself (pride, self respect) in not letting the boy go to save his own life, but I hesitate to call it selfish. If that's selfishness, we need more of it.
Hi Unseen, nice to read you again, the cop words say it all "If I had let him die, I could not live." And there's nothing wrong with that. That's part of the reason we became so successful as species. Our brain has the capability to go into survival mode and bring out super human powers. But lets face it he got involved in the whole situation because he was a cop and was his duty. His motivations were different than those of regular citizens. Still a hero because at the end he did an amazing thing.
I can tell you the story of one guy that jumped into a river but at the bottom there was a tornado type of thing and he began drowning, then his friend jumped to save him, and also began drowning, later his cousin jumped also unaware of the tornado below the surface, and began to drown and finally his brother jumped too and the 4 of them drowned that day. If they had known what was under the water probably they wouldn't have jumped, and would have tried another approach, but their brains processed only what could be seen and did the math that they could save the other, while the cop's brain calculated that he could resist for a couple of minutes while help arrived, he had a full view of the situation and knew the boys weight plus his own was standable.
i think the cop brought into the rhetoric of the theist (brother's keeper, etc)...I think he was self-less as religion tends to make one.. He too is Nature and to destroy himself or others is "sinful"...(lol)
@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.