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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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.?


So they would be more significant if they had double or triple? It goes both ways

The answer is perhaps, perhaps not. The economic output of countries is decoupled from population - adding more people will not (necessarily) lead to a stronger economic position. Usually it is the opposite, populous countries tend to be poorer. Some countries manage to get the pieces right and have a high GDP per capita, and those with highest GDP per capita tend to have small populations - of the 20 most populous countries only 3 (US, Japan, Germany) are among those with the 20 highest GDP per capita. Of the remaining 17, 15 have less than 10m inhabitants.

If Japan had a population of only 1000, where would it be as an economic power today?

You mean 25% higher than the Holy See? Probably not, but it's a bit outside of the normal scope of any argument that can be made. It probably wouldn't be one if it had 1000m either, at least not on a per capita basis.

My sole point is that if you turn out to have the wherewithal to be prosperous, having a higher population than a competitor county is an actual advantage.

First, you have a very Buddhist or Existentialist view of the world.

Second, the old saying "everything is relative" is pretty accurate, actually. When it comes to good and evil - and this subject has been covered ad-nauseum here, so please take a moment to do some searching and reading - there are really two versions. There are the societal definitions of Good and Evil, such as don't steal, don't kill each other, don't speed, etc. And of course there are some of those that most of us agree with, such as the don't kill and don't steal ones; and there are those that a subset of society doesn't agree with, such as legalized abortion, states that don't allow GBLT to marry, and so on.

Then there are the personal definitions of Good and Evil. For instance I am very much against proselytizing to others who don't want to hear it. I don't think the Freedom of Press should extend to the Paparazzi who completely invade the privacy of public figures, to the point of almost assaulting them and their families - and their children should be completely off-limits, period. To me, that is most evil. I find it evil that parents are allowed to deny medical treatment for their children based on their religious beliefs, even if it isn't life-threatening (at first). You get the idea.

I hope this explains my stance on this subject. As I said earlier, I know that I and others have expounded on this topic much more thoroughly in previous discussions, so you might want to find and read those previous entries.

And if you're trying to infer that the nonreligious have no leg to stand on when it comes to morality since it comes from within with us, of course you're absolutely wrong. If you look at the sense of morality that comes from religion, you'll find that it actually is a personal choice for them as well - they chose to be religious, therefore they chose the morality to which they adhere, thereby making it a personal set of morals that also come from within.

So, what it really boils down to is that this is a moot point, and we all approach morality in the same way - it's just that some people feel they have the right to impose their brand of morality on the rest of us, while we feel that is deeply evil and wrong.

"Why, then, 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison." -Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act II Scene II

IMO, this quote says it all.

Humans are the only species on our planet that have the concept of good and evil, and that is only because we are more highly evolved than any other creature (i.e.: we have developed a frontal lobe). There is no such thing as theft, murder, rape, incest, embezzlement, drug abuse, etc., in the animal kingdom. While they may commit these "crimes", they have no names for them and do not consider them anything more than a part of their lives. There is no "High Court of the Lions" where animals can go to prosecute each other, nor do you see them (animals) spending any time worrying about whether or not they should kill each other or take each other's stuff. To them it is just a matter of survival.

Even us humans have found ways to justify murder (war, religion, religious war), so where is the line between good and evil there? Both sides of a war consider themselves "right" no matter how skewed their logic may be, so how can we justify killing each other? Who gets to decide which side is more "right"? Certainly not any GOD, or at least I have never seen or heard about a time in history where God himself has come down from the heavens and made a judgement call on any war. This just never happens. Sure, you could conclude that the winner of any given war had God on their side, but where's the proof of that?

I think that morality is man-made and that we need to spend a lot less time worrying about right and wrong, as each individual is going to have a different interpretation and/or definition of good and evil. There is no perfect way to define either term and no way to make everyone happy in that respect. We just need to let it go.

Unfortunately, we have all these religious groups running around trying to force people to subscribe to their values and morals, and threatening fiery death to those who don't. This just adds to the problem because now you have large clumps of people pitted against each other because of minute details in their definitions of what is right and wrong. SO-NOT-HELPING, PEOPLE! If everyone could just relax a bit and realize that everyone is different, most of our glaring social problems would go away or at least fade significantly. Especially for the gay community, but that's a whole separate issue.

It is, in fact, this dividing of people that initially turned me off of religion.

I am not sure if I have explained this very well, as it is a complex issue with many different aspects and opinions, but I hope I have helped!



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