Tuesday, August 31, 2010

But I don't wanna be an Atheist

Here's something I wrote in Sept. 2009. I'm re-posting it now because of TVick and Tink's conversation. Also I'd like to know if you'd discourage "little Suzie" from going if she really liked it?


A Small Glitch in the Perfect Atheist Life?
Just imagine it's a beautiful winter morning, nearing Christmas in your lovely Communist community. And as you and your sexy wife (Madalyn Murray O'Hare maybe) are sitting at your kitchen table reading Sagan watching snowflakes gently fall to the ground you realize just how good life is. Hell, there isn't even a Nativity Scene with in a hundred miles of your commune err I mean neighborhood. You and Madalyn are wearing your matching WWMSTD bracelets, (what would mao tse tung do) anyways life just couldn't be better.... but then little Suzie your only daughter and one of your 1.5 kids and the cutest little Atheist in pig tales that you've ever seen, comes in and asks "Mommy, Daddy my friend from school (Karl Marx elementary school) wants to know if I can go to Sunday School with her, can I go please"?

What do you tell little Suzie?

78 comments:

  1. Oh, Imaginary Characters in Imaginary Settings Facing Loaded, Convoluted and Rhetorical Ethical Dilemmas; can you actually teach us anything?

    Of course she can go.

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  2. No.... When you are 18, you are more than welcome to attend any church like structure that you happened to be interested in. The only way that you can go to Sunday School, the synagogue, or the Mosque now is with me. But, not with anyone else.

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  3. I second Tinks motion. I'd say the same, alone not until she's mature enough mentally, but if she really insisted then I'd accompany her and afterward we'd have a family discussion back at home of what we heard there.

    This actually got me to thinking about reasons to explain why I think this and I wrote a big essay. I'm currently editing it, but I'll have it up by the end of the week.

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  4. I actually think that "baptizing" babies should be made illegal. There is no way I would give any type of consent for my child to be exposed to religious doctrine without proper education to contextualize the material. No way, no how.

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  5. You're going after baptizing babies? Seriously? I mean... you do realize they're not actually doing anything, right? It's not like baptizing a person actually makes someone Christian. There's nothing that's changed.

    If you're going to go after an initiation rite, start with circumcision. And so help me if we get into a discussion about AIDS transmission... those studies were culturally biased. Circumcision is not disease prevention, the "c" word you're looking for is "condom."

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  6. Oh, and what happens at 18? You can kick them out of the house if they turn Christian on you? You're kind of proving that atheists are as overbearing with their children as Christians.

    Frankly, if you think you can tell a "kid" who is 15 or 16 what to do, you're naive beyond help.

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  7. Yeah I wrote a longer reply to this, and it didn't take me a month to revise it. I guess I didn't need that much time in order to choreograph any rhetorical gymnastics to defend intolerance.

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  8. LOL...

    I would not enforce something on a kid that I would not do myself. For example, I would not smoke, so I would not teach my kid to smoke. If they leave my home and decide to take up smoking- that is their choice. At least they did it as critically thinking adults and not impressionable kids mimicking me. I would fully respect any choice that they made when they are 18... And, no, would not kick them out for being Christian.

    I would not say that I am going after the babies. Anything that is willing to accept a newborn and erase the sin of its parents is kinda wrong anyways. I think that baptism needs to be the act of a fully consenting, fully informed adult.

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  9. There are plenty of Christians sects who believe that... and they indoctrinate their kids so that they "want" to get baptised at the ripe old age of 8, 9, or whatever the parents deems to be the arbitrary "age of reason" (never near 18).

    If I was going to make a list of grievances I have with Christians, baptizing their babies is so low on the list...

    I think you'd be kidding yourself if you think you can, or should, shield your children from religion. You'd be much better off explaining it to them and letting them do whatever they want. But I guess you can do whatever you want with your kids (except bapitize them, apparently).

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  10. Just wondering what gives yoo, me or any of us the right to tell our kids what to do. We are, after all, mere cosmic accidents, highly evolved biochemical material that will one day die and turn to fertilizer. What gives you or me the right to tell our fellow biological specimens what they can and cannot do in this otherwise meaningless world?

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  11. Well technically it has nothing to do with rights. If anything, your offspring is forever indebted to you for their life and livelihood through childhood, and at the very least you deserve to be taken care of in your old age.

    Beyond that, socializing your child promotes genetic success, as just letting your kids do whatever they want is a good way to never have grandkids. You have the right to be a horrible parent, but you certainly aren't doing yourself or your child a service by infringing on the greater scope of their life choices.

    TMC, the ennui which you attribute to atheists is amusing. It's seeing people say things like that which makes life worth living. Honestly, how do you feed yourself?

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  12. Just trying to bring atheism and all its implications to their logical conclusion.

    On what basis are my offspring "indebeted" to me? Morally? Oops, can't be that. Why should I "deserve" to be taken care of in my old age? It would seem to me that the only thing that matters is survival of the fittest. Any talk about rights, indebetedness, obligation or any moral imperative whatsover is utterly meaningless.

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  13. Well thanks for not taking care of the Earth or the people in it because you're just waiting for Jesus to descend from the clouds, so who cares anyway.

    I guess there's nothing wrong with being a total jackass when you can just ask for forgiveness.

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  14. [And that ain't my logical conclusion, it's the observed reality of Christianity.]

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  15. I uploaded my post if you're interested in an expanded discussion on this.

    http://advocatusatheist.blogspot.com/2010/09/born-atheist.html

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  16. I put a reply on your blog... Interesting how MCT suggests that we have no right to talk about directing our cosmic accidents.... But, the hypocrisy. Let me guess, opposed to abortion? No shock there.

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Well thank God TMC found Christ, otherwise he'd be too dumb to figure out something legitimate to live for. I know if my IQ hovered around room temperature, I too would need the loving light of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a helmet to wear everywhere so I didn't hurt myself.

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  19. Oh, for the benefit of tink and other Canadians: that's like 70-75 degrees F. Sorry America hasn't gotten on board the whole metric system thing, we're just collectively pretty dumb and afraid of change. We wouldn't touch the metric system with a 10 foot (or 3 meter) pole.

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  20. Lol I love it when religious people try to tell atheists what the conclusions of their own beliefs are. I'm sure there are atheists that are as pessimistic as what TMC describes, but I've never met one or seen any on the Internet. If they're out there, they're hiding pretty well. But I sure have met plenty of Christians who seem to believe that atheists should think this way.

    The problem is, of course, that TMC thinks "survival of the fittest" is a sort of prescriptive claim - that we all should act this way - rather than simply a descriptive claim of how nature acts. (Although I should also point out that "survival of the fittest" does not always mean competition - I'm sure people are aware that there are often mutual benefits to cooperation.)

    So in order to stay away from giving a whole lesson on existentialism, let me say that many atheists a) still believe in some form of morality that can provide meaning, b) still believe in personal and cultural meaning in life, and c) don't seem to be any worse off for it. The idea that we should all be pessimistic nihilists without God is, well...a poor philosophical argument.

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  21. I always feel bad when I am being argumentative, but we are on the internet and most of us here have broad enough shoulders to handle it. So, here goes: If there is no God, then our final destination is death. If were lucky enough we might live to be a hundred years old or so. Instantly upon death our bodies will start to rot and decay. And as the Krusty Terp says we become fertilizer, if we aren't eaten by some other animal then crapped out to become better fertilizer. so how is he wrong?

    Jeff, You used the term "existentialism" to maybe describe how your life can have meaning. What you make of your life is important to you. That is a good thing. Nobody can tell you or anyone else what is important for your life. So if your happy doing what makes you happy, then good for you or whomever. But how does that make Krusty's argument not valid? (or a "poor philosophical" argument) Even in that scenario I'd like to know who gets to tell others how to live and why?

    Whenever this argument comes up the Atheists reply is always "our lives can have meaning without god" or "You Christians need a God not to torture or rape someone". That is not the argument. The argument is who gets to decide what is "morale" or "just" and why?

    I keep reading this back to myself and thinking it sure sounds pissy. Sorry if you read it that way too? I don't mean it to.

    late, feeno

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  22. So as not to further tire my weary fingers or over-work my wee little brain, I will keep this brief.

    Hierarchy of Moral Reasoning. Look into it.

    SteveO

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  23. Or Not.

    Don't want to sound too Bossy.

    SteveO

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  24. Feeno, you're such a nice guy, and a gentleman debater. Love it.

    And as the Krusty Terp says we become fertilizer, if we aren't eaten by some other animal then crapped out to become better fertilizer. so how is he wrong?

    He's wrong because he draws a dark and unnecessary conclusion from a rational observation. Being fully and truly dead when you die is not sufficient reason for hopelessness and nihilism, unless you feel you've been promised life eternal. If anything, it's reason to celebrate and embrace the time you have.

    And really: how is an eternal life more inherently meaningful than a non-eternal one?

    I think where we get hung up is on the word "meaning." For non-believers, our lives only need to have meaning to us. It seems like believers, having become convinced that human life actually has meaning to God, assume that if there is no God, then there can be no meaning.

    It's hard for me to look at the scale of our lives, our planet, our problems, in relation to the cosmos, and conclude that we must "mean something" to it, that we are actually vital and essential prayer-warriors or whatever in some cosmic battle whose conclusion has already been written, and we're just doing our part while waiting around for it. So we can all go to heaven and sing forever.

    I think the question is: to whom does your life have meaning? If it has meaning to you and those who love you, that seems to me to be sufficient and lovely. If you insist that it must have meaning to the greatest power imaginable… well, that just seems… unfounded. (And a little bit selfish/arrogant, although I'm really not trying to call you, or TMC, selfish and arrogant: just sayin'.)

    Heaven is the desire of the ego to extend itself, indefinitely, under optimal circumstances. And it is almost certainly a false promise.

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  25. Feeno say.."The argument is who gets to decide what is "morale" or "just" and why?"

    Howdy Feen..Would you please answer this question this time, if you really feel you can point out moral thought is not only thought of mere man.

    And please no dont point back to any bible or holy book.Because you then just pointing straight back to "moral thought of Man" just the same ,be it a religious man.

    Notice Crusty dont provide any proof, he just spouts old tired worn out theist propaganda.IE Atheist = immoral

    And forgets there be lots of evidence even within religious books to suggest moral thought is completely human.Hense why the moral of stoning people to death was even seen to "evolve" ,a process of what is even recorded within "your very own faith books".

    Everytime i bring this matter up, you theists go all quiet about it all of a sudden .And wriggle out of replying!...Cause in all honesty you cant actually show that moral thought is anything other than mere human,so you go quiet and wait until another day and then throw out the same rubbish our way once again.

    It gets tiring.Plus ! i even suggest its "imoral" if its not honestly true.

    Crustys suggestions that atheists cannot be moral.Is a utter joke.Its "atheist moral thought" that often at the forefront of leading the way today for change .We atheists are the ones pushing for theists to start sorting out the abuse among Christianity.Theists lulled into blissful thoughts of salavation ,often dont really care less! who gets abused by their christian beliefs.No they dont,thats why its the year 2010 and some kids in the U.S.A still die through their religious parents abuse of not allowing blood transfusions etc.

    Had theists honestly been so extra moral...We might have had all this type stuff sorted many years ago.

    So much for the idea of theism and Gods being whats connected to our morality.Pffftt what a utter joke!

    Just take a look back over the history of "theism", and see that barbaric imorality abounds all around them.It theist morality that ushered in racism and seregation when scripture talks about the hatred and demise of whole groups of people,and its theism that see animals being sacrificed in bloodletting.

    Crusty can use his bigotry to suggest atheist cannot be moral without God ...But the man is only managing to prove theist ignorance ..nothing more

    Theists claim objective morals ,and then point straight back towards their faith books written by mere men, "which contain moral thought of theist men"."Moral thought of theist men" which also once also included stoning people to slow deaths which was blatant torture.As if pointing to a holy book = objective pffftt !

    So much for morality being delived by Gods...L.o.L ..What happened did the Gods go to sleep! the day when they were supposed to be telling theists ,stoning people was actually immoral?.

    No morality has evolved.

    Im sick to death of these bullshite suggestions that without God atheists cannot be moral.Suggestion of which i have yet to see actually proved.

    So if you theists want to keep throwing this rubbish at atheists.I suggest its about time you atleast have the "decency" to prove it.


    And explain... if morality comes from god like you like to try to suggest ,then why did all your theist faith books contain so very much that was barbaric and obviously so very imoral.

    Blurting things while wearing fancy faith blinkers ,dont cut the mustard to help prove the truth of matters.

    Its this type of carry on what makes some people passionately dislike theists.These very false! long standing! nasty! thoughtless! acusations of theist bigots

    Even if some theists may like to wallow in devoted deluded feelings that maybe they are only being "persecuted" and its only prophesy being forfilled.

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  26. tinkbell13 said... "No.... When you are 18, you are more than welcome to attend any church like structure that you happened to be interested in. The only way that you can go to Sunday School, the synagogue, or the Mosque now is with me. But, not with anyone else."

    Yeah ...I preferred to keep my kids away from influences of the local nasty gangs and P addicts too.

    In those places some of those people have really bad addictions i personally think its not really in the "best interest of society" for our young children to get involved with in youth.Its far to easy to make long lasting impression on our youth ,they are easily led astray specially with use of nasty fear tatics like suggestions of hell and damnation or peer pressure threat of being ostricised for daring not conforming to demands.


    Specially when the adults in those places often spout off worn out! tired ancient propaganda complete lies!, that supposedly atheism simply equals human inability to have moral.

    Why should we parents go out of your way to keep letting our young kids, be indoctrinated with such evil nasty thoughtless ignorant lies ?.

    Lies that wrongfully still see atheists still become the most disliked people within the U.S.A even today.

    When its theism that has long been majority in control, and brought on the dire possibility of ongoing wars and even the modern day threat of atomic bombing.Theism at the base that pushes such a nasty thoughtless ugly devide between Muslim and American.Theism at the base of devides and abuse of Gay folk,that riddle our society with such hatered which then helps see Gay folk often bashed and beaten and even murdered

    What modern kind thoughtful parent would really want their "young" children to also be exposed to this ugliness of theism?.

    Its bad enough that such nasty cursed ideas have already infiltrated our schools and infected all our societys at large.

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  27. G$

    Nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody said atheists can't be morale.

    And nobody around here thinks that Christians are more moral or have a monopoly on morality.

    And nobody brought up the Bible or any other Holy book.

    We simply are saying without a supreme morale lawgiver who gets to decide what is morale and why?

    DISCLAIMER: Ladies and gentlemen, the story which you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

    Here's a story about Fred and Joe. (They are both Christians or if you prefer they are both Atheists). Fred is honest and truthful and fair and just and treats everyone he meets with respect and dignity. Joe is a class A jerk. He lies, cheats on his wife and his taxes, he is rude and obnoxious and could care less about your feelings. Everyone likes Fred and would rather be around him than to be around that jerk off Joe. But what gives you the right to say Joe is wrong or immoral? As a matter of fact what gives you the right to say Fred is good? What are you measuring these things by?

    Should we all be like Fred? If so why? And if you think Joe is wrong than it's you who are being judgmental. Maybe Joe's "existentialism" (what gives his life meaning) doesn't meet your qualifications. Too bad, it's his life.


    late, feeno

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  28. Jeff say.."The idea that we should all be pessimistic nihilists without God is, well...a poor philosophical argument."

    Yeah Jeff.So very true

    And sadly its these stupid bloody ideas of Gods that made "life on earth" seem pretty nihilist and often even quite meaningless for very many.

    Ask a 24 year old female excommunicated and completely ostracized from all her westboro family, if her earthly life sometimes seems kinda nihilist and without much meaning.

    And then come back and blurt out its actually atheism that helps creates this nihilism and lack of meaning in peoples lives.

    And please please,dont try telling me again the new liberal churches are different.

    That they may very well be.

    But still just because we starting to have some more liberal churches around these days.Doesnt do anything at all to desolve the WIDESPREAD damage already caused in theisms past.Damage which Westboro is but one group! that inherited! such nastiness! and still retained it.

    Adult Theists spent that much time thinking about "themselves" and "their" future eternal salvation.

    Now many folks in THIS LIFE have to pay for it.

    Who then is honestly guilty of bringing about this nihilism and lack of meaning in our lives?

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  29. Instead of accusing theists of nihilism, why don't you answer the question? No one is accusing atheists of nihilism. Quite the contrary, I am acknowledging that you have a well defined sense of morality. But the question is, from where did you get that morality and what is it based on?

    You condemn past practices of societies stoning people to death, and I agree with you, but what gives you or me the right to say that was wrong? We look in horror at commonly accepted practices in other societies and eras, because we consider them barbaric, but don't you think that they might look in horror at some of our practices? Who is right?

    There is no biochemical basis or explanation for morality. At least Friedrich Nietzsche, the notorious atheist of the nineteenth century, had the intellectual honesty and courage to confront the true implications of atheism. Knowing full well that if there is no God there is no logical basis for morality, the only thing that remains is the Darwinian dynamic of “survival of the fittest”. From that starting point, Nietzsche developed a philosophy which arguably became a precursor to Nazism.

    By contrast, superficial atheists will insist that God does not exist and at the same time they appeal to a morality based on remnants of the Judeo-Christian ethic (that is, the parts of it that they like). But this ethic makes no sense if we are nothing but a cosmic accident.

    And speaking of Nazism, why was it wrong? You gotta hand it to Adolf. He took the defeated economic basket case that was post-WWI Germany and turned it into a thriving society, revved up its economic engines, and turned it into a model of efficiency. The trains ran on time in Germany. And it was a perfect model of Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, as it included in its program the elimination of elements of society that it considered undesirable obstacles to an efficient, well ordered and pure society.

    If we are nothing but a cosmic accident, who are we to say that the Nazis were wrong, or that our concern for human rights is any better or advanced or noble than the Nazi's taking natural selection to the next degree? Where did we come up with this silly notion of human rights and dignity?

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  30. Crusty..Friedrich Nietzsche is now way out of date.

    There has been societies with no belief in Gods who still had moral.

    Just because Christian were around and among us as morals evolve ,you bigots! want to claim morals all as yours and say we non faithful have no right to them?.When some evolved from pagans

    Pfftt what a weak sad ass argument...No wonder Stalin felt the way he did about faithful folk.

    Crusty say..."Where did we come up with this silly notion of human rights and dignity? "

    Where do some monkey come up with some of these ideas Crusty ..Been reading your freaking christian bible too have they?.

    No.

    They have "time" "brains" and "emotions" and "feelings" and are a social group too.

    Who says just because we might be a cosmic accident ,that all of a sudden that gonna mean we simply need to learn to live like idiots Crusty?.

    It might suit your faith belief to think it maybe so ..But it only bullshite propaganda.

    Atheist dont live by Darwin rule.Darwin didnt learn everything.Society is not just survival of fittest,we also have "brains" "emotions" and "feelings",even animals do! and have raw form of moral too!

    Crusty say.."You condemn past practices of societies stoning people to death, and I agree with you, but what gives you or me the right to say that was wrong?"

    Why didnt your God tell you it was wrong back then ? seeing you so sure its Gods that provide moral thought.Was your God off on holiday that week Crusty?.

    Moral thought evolves.Your own bible proves it.

    What gives us right to dislike Hitler? , Hitler shares our social space in this world thats what.And his life dont give him the right to become a threat to others.

    Did your christian God call out from the clouds and say..Go thou now and fight Hitler, Crusty ?.

    No social group Human moral thought once again was what decided.

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  31. Feen say.."Should we all be like Fred? If so why? And if you think Joe is wrong than it's you who are being judgmental. Maybe Joe's "existentialism" (what gives his life meaning) doesn't meet your qualifications. Too bad, it's his life. "

    Feeno if you read over what you wrote again, and this time think about it carefully with some real honesty.

    In my opinion i think if you are honest you will admit a society built around Joes ideas, just simply wont even survive! in the long run .It just wont even work out! for any great length of time.A social society built around Joes ideas, will simply self distruct! in the end .

    You didnt really need to even ask! us atheists about it, had you not be "devoted" on finding something to try and right off atheism.

    Look back over what you wrote again..and then let me know if you really dont agree with me.Let me know if you honestly think social society gonna exist long under Joes thinking.

    We dont need God to work that out for us Feen.Only a brain and some common sense and use of good logic is all thats needed to understand Joes lifestyle wont works in social society.Which is how humans learned to live and survive best.

    Plus add to that we also have feelings and emotions.

    Human always decided Feen.Do you admit humans decided wrong when their moral thought once thought stoning people was maybe ok ?.

    Human moral evolves.We dont get anything always right first time ,proving man is who decides, not Gods.For if man got moral thought passed down from his God ,then stoning would never have happened.

    It is silly circular reasoning for christians to ask who gets to decide....When their very own holy bible proves obviously man did.

    But faithful like elevating themselves above other ...Thinking pointing to their faith book somehow gonna prove, God gave us morals.

    God driven moral thought has proved itself also wrong sometimes.

    Meaning God or no God makes little difference.

    Its "time" and "brains" and "emotions" and "feelings" and "experience" and "learning" etc ,what honestly helps moral thought to evolve.

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  32. GentleSkeptic said... "If anything, it's reason to celebrate and embrace the time you have.

    And really: how is an eternal life more inherently meaningful than a non-eternal one?

    I think where we get hung up is on the word "meaning." For non-believers, our lives only need to have meaning to us. It seems like believers, having become convinced that human life actually has meaning to God, assume that if there is no God, then there can be no meaning."

    "If you insist that it must have meaning to the greatest power imaginable… well, that just seems… unfounded. (And a little bit selfish/arrogant, although I'm really not trying to call you, or TMC, selfish and arrogant: just sayin'.)

    Heaven is the desire of the ego to extend itself, indefinitely, under optimal circumstances. And it is almost certainly a false promise. "


    Well said GentleSkeptic.

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  33. feen - "We simply are saying without a supreme morale lawgiver who gets to decide what is morale and why?"

    Our governmental representatives get to decide. And if we don't like their decisions, then we elect others to decide. Sometimes, we, the citizenry get to decide (as in prop 8 in CA).

    Every society decides for them selves what is legal or illegal, right or wrong (moral or immoral). As society "evolves", we change our "moral code". Just like churches who once shunned Christian Rock music as "worldly", now revel in it.

    The problem with claiming that your God is the
    "supreme morale lawgiver" is that Christians can't agree on what ALL of those moral laws are and whether they apply today.

    If you are correct feen, that your God is the supreme morale lawgiver, then I ask that you provide a complete list of all the supremely given moral laws, and what each supremely given penalty should be for those who break them.

    Let's start with the Sabbath - what day is it, how should we remember it, how do we keep it "holy", and what is the penalty for failing to do so? (hint - Num. 15:32-36)

    feen, if you are going to claim to have access to the supreme morale law AND the supreme morale lawgiver, then at least have the integrity to share with us The Moral Law.

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  34. TMC: Where did you get the idea anyone accused Christians of being nihilists? You believe in plenty of stuff, much of it is just patently insane. It's not nihilism to believe you can do whatever you want and just ask for forgiveness, it's just morally lazy.

    And in answer to your question regarding indebtedness... a child is indebted to their parents for what I thought were fairly obvious reasons. I'll try to spell it out so even a deranged sociopathic Christian can comprehend.

    When a man and a woman love each other, or a couple kids who only had abstinence education want to play iceberg (you know... just the tip), then thir sperm and egg combine to make a baby. That baby isn't born independent, able to feed itself, wipe its own ass, or forage for sustenance. For years after birth, the parents take care of their genetic offspring (or they don't) and the child is indebted to their parents (or the child dies or is raised by another, to whom they are indebted).

    I've said this before, but it's not morality or ethics which we imbue children with, it is socialization. We teach them how to be socially acceptable (or we don't), and they in turn seek to become independent and successful (or they don't).

    It's really an insultingly simple scenario, and I feel like a moron having to explain this to grown adults who have convinced themselves their imaginary friend played some major role in all of this and is also the font from which all goodness flows.

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  35. Feeno, you also have to grapple with the Euthyphro Dilemma. I know this has come up before and it seems like you just don't get it.

    Let's say that God is real and that He IS the Moral Lawgiver. Are His laws moral because He gave them, or does He give them because they are moral? If His laws are moral simply as a consequence of being His, then ANYTHING He commands - genocide, seducing your father Lot, dashing babies against rocks, etc. - becomes Moral. If, on the other hand, He chooses His laws because they are moral, then the objective for morality lies OUTSIDE of God, and He is just choosing wisely.

    Again, I think you're confusing morality (maximize happiness and minimize unnecessary harm) with righteousness (always be pleasing to God). Anyone can do the former, only Christians can do the latter.

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  36. Wow...

    First of all, this is an education thing to me. I would not expose my kid to doctrine simply because it is such a limited exposure to reality. It projects its content as the only feasible interpretation with no other arguments present. If religious institutions become interested in presenting their information in a contextualized manner (including opposing viewpoints, political influences, and sociocultural norms of the time), then I would not have any objection. But, they do not. Instead, they give you a slice of the pie and tell you that is all that there is, and completely ignore the rest of the pie that they cut the piece from. Not interested in having a kid see that.... That is why I distinguish them as needing to be adults. At least they would have the capacity to be able to understand that.

    Secondly, MCT- Darwin and Social Darwinism are completely unrelated. Yes, Darwin did conjecture about the power dynamic of races during his time abroad (who would not when observing the genocide exhibited by British colonials towards native people), however his cousin gave the concept of eugenics to the world after his death. Furthermore, you are suggesting that we need Judeo Christian principles to understand how we need to behave. Maybe so, the common codes of secular law do not allow us to steal and kill. But, they do not tell us not to cheat on spouses, lie, etc... I ask you this.

    When you look back on history, and you look at all of the horrible acts of genocide that have been done towards certain races, such as native people, do you think that it was fair how they were treated. Was wiping out entire tribes of people in accordance with the principles of Judeo Christian morality? Were these acts that promoted human rights and dignity?

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  37. There are two issues being confused here. One is whether life has meaning without God. The other is whether morality exists without God. I've already talked a little bit about the first one, but let me say a couple more things.

    First off, TMC mentioned Nietzsche. I think that he had many interesting things to say (and some I agree with), but he is not the be-all-end-all of atheist thought. Just because he coined the phrase "God is dead" doesn't mean that we worship him. So you are certainly entitled to the opinion that his views constitute the "true implications of atheism," but you should just know that many atheists would disagree with you there. I don't feel any need to defend views that I don't hold myself.

    I think that it's clear that life can still have meaning of some kind (even if only subjective meaning) without God. Can we settle on that? Hopefully so. The interesting thing is that if the only meaning that really "counts" is objective meaning imposed from a higher power outside oneself, that must make God the ultimate existentialist. He has no objective meaning to his own life. Who knows, maybe he'd agree with Nietzsche! To say that life is meaningless without objective meaning is to say that God's life is meaningless. Or, if you'd prefer to say that God can create his own satisfactory meaning, then why can't we?

    Anyway, let's move to morality. As far as I can tell, most atheists believe in some form of moral values. Some believe they are subjective, but I'd suspect that a large percentage do believe in objective moral values. I'll let them defend their own views, but for myself, I also believe in a form of objective morality. Feeno, your question that "who gets to decide morality?" assumes that there is a person who should decide - that morality is based on some sort of decision-making process. I prefer to think of morality in terms of principles that may be discovered and acknowledged, rather than decided upon.

    At any rate, I'll try to keep it brief, but my own view is that moral values are composed of prosocial and antisocial behaviours that are inherent within social interaction. In a universe of one person, then, morality would not exist. The person could not do anything "right" or "wrong". But when there is interaction with other people, there are certain things that benefit social interaction, and others that harm it. These are not things that can be "decided" upon, since even if we decide murder is good, murder still is definitely something that ends interaction. Thus there are fundamental principles that guide interaction with others that don't involve either the decisions of a God or the laws of government. And notably, it doesn't matter whether we are "cosmic accidents" or planned projects - the principles are the same.

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  38. Oh and just to be a bit anal: Nietzsche didn't espouse the idea of "survival of the fittest", but had a related concept of the "will to power" - the idea that every living thing desires to have power over itself and its environment. While the Nazis certainly did take his ideas and run with them, they seemed to do so on a very superficial level. Nietzsche spends far more time discussing how one should become master over one's own desires and passions to become an "overman" than he does talking about how people want to dominate others.

    But that's just nit-picking.

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  39. Jeff- I agree with you about morality becoming active during social interactions. I also do think that it is almost as simple as deciding what consequences you can live with, and what you cannot. For example, I do not cheat on my partner because I would not want to hurt him. I do not steal from people because I would not want anyone to steal from me, etc. I do not break laws because I really do not want to go to jail. I think that clearly understanding the consequences of actions really assists in making the necessary "moral" decisions in life.

    And, as a sidenote, religious folk do not really do well with this type of outlook. They need the structure to dictate what is clearly right and wrong. That is why much of their agenda likes to implicate the more complex decisions in life- ie- reproductive issues, etc..... Worst people ever to have on ethical boards (spoken from experience).

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  40. tinkbell13 said..."And, as a sidenote, religious folk do not really do well with this type of outlook. They need the structure to dictate what is clearly right and wrong. That is why much of their agenda likes to implicate the more complex decisions in life- ie- reproductive issues, etc..... Worst people ever to have on ethical boards (spoken from experience). "

    Sadly its true.Religion is so used to idea that moral is connected to Gods.Their Godly ideas of morality stopped the ability of morality to even continue to evolve.

    Hense why Westboro church still wallows in such nastiness ,and my cult family will likely also die in their cult prison.Thats just part of what happens when its been so widely promoted !, human should wait and rely on moral word/direction from Gods.

    Humans will sue certain pet owners for daring let their pets suffer on needlessly,but we will still not allow this type of kindness! to be extended to any of our own long-suffering human loved ones, by use of euthanasia for those without any hope of recovery, who might themselves choose to choose it.

    No faith stalls human ability of moral evolving.Like Tink points out they learned to rely on "structure to dictate" .Meaning parts of "devoted" brains ,simply shut down.Evolving instead into closed minds!

    Its so obvious morals can be seen to have evolved in our ancient past,all the holy books themselves prove it!.

    But the deluded religious thought of Godly morals ,now enchains many human in a vast deep religious ignorance , and so then also makes very many worldwide need to still continue to suffer and pay for such faithful ignorance.

    This is what happens, and is the price that needs to be paid! , when faith-pride stunts the human ability to simply admit morals and human social society evolved .

    Our laws get "stuck fast" in the ideas of the ancient past.

    Maybe its kinda lucky! holy books were not cannonized , before the matter of stoning people to death first had a chance to "evolve" further away from idea of it previously being thought quite ok to stone people.And so maybe Islam isnt quite so lucky in that regard.

    But now ideas have been set-fast in stubborn rigid unbudging faith of Gods.And sealed within the backward confines of the many printed holy books.

    The human ability to continue to evolve, has become serriously stunted by the nasty curse of faith.

    Which is also why that 24 girl from Westboro baptist origin, will also most likely herself die! first, long before her Westboro group will ever decide themselves to break the chains and evolve onward.

    Because if anything faith helps to stunt human morality.

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  41. The atheist Gods must be pleased with this naughty Heathen country NZ .Christchurch had a 7.1-7.4 ricter scale earthquake at 4.30am this morning ..it was only 10km below earth surface.

    I felt it myself,even miles away from the epecentre .400kms away i was, and yet my house still shook like it was a jelly-wobble .

    So far only ((two)) folks reported suffered more badly,from some broken bones from falling chimley or glass cut etc ,absolutely nobody! reported dead or dieing yet thankfully.

    Quite a lot of old buildings very damaged! and roads and water and sewer pipes etc.Damage quite widespread really.Im thinking (strong building codes) likely helped save us much suffering and deaths.

    Some very wide-eyed !! dazed punters scrambling this morning though ....4.30 am earthquake awakenings along! with automatic power cuts ,resulted in some "rude awakenings" for some kiwi`s who all grew up in the general calmness of paradise.

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  42. By the way... Nietzsche's concept of nihilism was, brace yourselves, Christianity!

    He believed that Christianity lead to nihilism and ruin. In fact he stated the two were impossible to distinguish or tell apart.

    However, I disagree with him there.

    @TMC-

    Tink is correct: Darwinism (e.g. the theory of evolution) and Social Darwinism are two entirely seperate things. The theory of eugenics comes from the ramifications of Darwinian theory, but are missaplied by Social Darwinists into systems of racism and prejudice based on metaphysical notions of superiority (ah--religion thinly veiled as science).

    You might want to watch the recently aired BBC education mini-series "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" to get a better grasp on the distinctions between the two.

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  43. @TMC-

    Also you need to be clear on whether your trying to define objective ethical systems according to a naturalistic worldview or looking for absolute moral values in a metaphysical worldview.

    I think both can be argued... but the only one which I think can be modeled as applicable for humans living in the real natural world is the naturalistic system.

    Even if we assume there is a metaphysical stem for morality any interaction of it would come in terms of our natural understanding of how we might process the information using our limited (or finite) human capacity. At any rate, naturalism plays into both versions, lending positive evidence that metaphysical naturalism might be the more valid description of moral theories and practices.

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  44. Tristan.

    The Nature of Things in Canada, hosted by David Suzuki, is also currently airing a three part series celebrating The Origin of the Species. It is exploring it from all aspects, including the impact of developing the idea on his personal life. Excellent series. Darwin actually had fears of Natural Selection being applied to humans, and it was one thing that he considered prior to publication.

    Also, Tristan- you are right. Neitzsche's ideas were almost primitive, and very reactionary to the predominant religious ideology of his time. He made belief and non belief into a simple dichotomy; He believed that morality was the hero (the one that rejects God) or the slave (the person who believes in God). It was pretty simple to him. Perhaps, if inquiry and science had been a little more advanced, he would have been able to develop a less "metaphysical" way to communicate his opposition to religious dogma and been able to prescribe his ideas a little more clearly. This is what often happens when ideas develop on a reactionary basis. They get misquoted, and are often not placed in the proper context.

    There is also one key thing we are all missing. Morality, or what we think it is, can often be as easy as a biochemical reaction. If someone frightens me, I will release certain hormones needed to react and defend myself (could make me a murderer). If I meet someone who I find attractive, I will release certain hormones that will make reproduction more likely. If I am sad, certain biochemical processes allow me to cry and feel better. At the end of the day, we are only primates with higher level active cortexes that allow us a unique form of species communication. Maybe, it is as simple as that.

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  45. Tink and TV: I am not sure I buy the separation between evolutionary Darwinism and social Darwinism, which seems to be a distinction without a difference.

    If we grant your atheistic premise, then where does "survival of the fittest" end? In the evolutionary sense, it means that those species that are best able to adapt to their environment survive. It also means that the strongest survive, and that implies competition and rivalry, both inter- and intra-species. In the intra-species realm (which seems to fit the idea of social Darwinism), the competition is for food supply, mates, land, stuff, etc.

    The only thing that keeps this from deteriorating into a dog-eat-dog world is a moral code. The question is, where does the moral code come from? Is it a herd instinct or some other mutually agteeable and utilitarian rules of the game? Or is it an otherwise biologically unexplainable sense of conscience, self-awareness and sense of right and wrong that is somehow universally present in all homo-sapiens? And if it is the latter, where does it come from?

    And yes, I am aware of Neitzche's opinions of Christianity, which he described as a religion for losers and weaklings. He railed in particular against Christianity's regard for the weak and exaltation of humility. At least that is the sense I get. I don't pretend to know a lot about Neitzche. But it seems to me that his objections to Christianity largely parallel the idea of social Darwinism, that even within the species, the strongest are the ones who survive and, in Neitzche's view, are to be commended.

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  46. @ MCT- The distinction is not something to buy- it is a documented fact. Here is a piece of an essay I already wrote, long ago. "The evolutionary theory explored by Charles Darwin and Social Darwinism and Eugenics are two completely different ideas. The Origin of Species was written in 1859. The idea was then applied to humans (which Darwin never intended). Darwin, likely having realized the problems—scientific and social—arising from the study of natural selection in humans, remained decidedly focused on plants and animals, at least publicly. But his cousin Francis Galton, who by the 1860s was an established explorer and anthropologist, found the question of natural selection in humans an irresistible topic of study. So too did British philosopher Herbert Spencer, who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” just five years after Darwin’s publication.

Galton introduced his own controversial idea—the theory of eugenics—in 1883. At the time, Galton was probably thinking simply in terms of science, using his theory to describe selective breeding in humans as a means to improve the fitness of the human race. However, when his theory was united with Spencer’s socially inclined concept of survival, the result was social Darwinism, a gripping theory about competition for survival among human races and social classes. 

During Galton’s era—the Victorian Age in Britain—eugenics and social Darwinism seemed reasonable.

    The only notes that have ever been found written by Charles Darwin that has indicated these types of ideas towards humans were, as I said, written prior to Origin of Species. When he first arrived in New Zealand, he observed the way that the British colonial officers were overpowering the native people. However, he never discussed or implied that these ideas could be used with people. His ideas were primarily biological, focused on plants and animals and geological artifacts. This occurred after his death, and I would encourage you to do a little more research. Only the Victorians would think up such sick stuff, sorry.

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  47. @ MCT- Sorry, all due respect.... This is a dog eat dog eat world. Here we are, sitting in the Disneyland of the world (North Americs), on my Mac laptop pontificating about where moral codes are developed. Meanwhile, there are millions with no access to fresh water, medical care, or food to keep yourself alive. Where is the moral code inherent in our privilege, and the lack of privilege based on geography? Why is God not making some countries more able to sustain themselves? Why can't God help people irrigate water so that the lands become more sustainable? Where is the ethics in that?

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  48. And, perhaps a more simplistic way of understanding how moral codes are developed is to look at a very basic concept. I do not know if you are familiar with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It implies that humans do not achieve a state of self actualization until our basic needs are met, which is a five tier process within a pyramid of needs. The lower we are on the pyramid, the less actualized we are. This can also be applied on a larger scale, and can also be used to place social inequity within a broader perspective. It is one of my most favored scales of assessment- it is fair and compassionate. Perhaps, as we are able to achieve higher levels of need, we become more morally aware and invested. Here is a link if you are interested,

    http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/a/hierarchyneeds.htm

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  49. Tink: "Sorry, all due respect.... This is a dog eat dog eat world. Here we are, sitting in the Disneyland of the world (North Americs), on my Mac laptop pontificating about where moral codes are developed..."

    I suppose that makes you a top dog because you can afford a Mac :-)

    Seriously, and this is a totally different subject that can be debated at another time, I don't think the socio-economic conditions of the world are geographically based. The poorest nations of the world certainly do not lack for the natural resources necessary to maintain a level of prosperity and well being similar to North America's. The main difference is despotic, idiotic governments. What has made North America (with the exception of Mexico, another despotic, idiotic basket case) is a civil society based on ordered liberty, with philosophical underpinnings based on an (ahem) Judeo-Christian ethic. The combination of individual liberty and ethics have made North America not only prosperous, but also generous. Unfortunately, the well intentioned generosity often results in money being poured down a rathole, as relief to the oppressed does nothing to address the underlying root causes of despotic, demagoguic governments that stifle liberty, initiative and prosperity.

    I don't expect you to accept any of the above. It might likely throw you into conniptions, wringing your hands about American greed and imperialism and hegemony, and their might even be a tiny grain of truth in that. I nonetheless stand behind my statement. But again, this is a completely different subject.

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  50. Tink: "The distinction is not something to buy- it is a documented fact. Here is a piece of an essay I already wrote, long ago."

    It is a documented fact because Tink wrote an essay stating that Darwin never intended his ideas to apply to humans.

    Case closed.

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  51. That is not true... It is an actual documented fact. See for yourself, do the research. Everything I have said (that I used for that essay, which I used as an example as a summary) was information that is readily available to anyone who is inclined to actually become interested in understanding the distinction. Based on your reaction, you probably will not because you want to hold on to this argument which is absolutely incorrect. You sneer because I wrote an essay on it, which pretty much summarizes what your intentions are. Much easier to sit with not knowing the reality of it, than actually learning what is happening. Why don't you actually take the initiative and learn something new and correct your future arguments?

    I do not disagree with what you said about social inequity. However, you have omitted some crucial facts. Those Judeo Christian "good ethics" brought European settlers to what was a peaceful land. There, they stole the land from natives, conducted mass scale genocide to the Indians, brought in slaves to establish capitalism, and set about to create one of the bloodiest histories in the world. Your "privilege" is because of the blood of others, something that your history books cover up very nicely. Might want to open your eyes about the cost of liberty.

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  52. Here, I even did the legwork for you. I dare you to actually have the balls to correct your incorrect argument;

    http://www.allaboutscience.org/what-is-social-darwinism-faq.htm

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  53. "I am not sure I buy the separation between evolutionary Darwinism and social Darwinism, which seems to be a distinction without a difference."

    The difference is that evolution is a description of the current state and history of living organisms, and social Darwinism is a prescriptive methodology for actively trying to improve the human race. Simply describing how the world works does not give us any prescriptive statements about what to do with it. If research shows that second-hand smoke causes lung cancer and then someone decides to go out and kill a bunch of smokers, do you blame the research? Of course not. All it did was describe the facts of the world. What people decide to do based on that (or in spite of it) is a completely separate issue.

    Moreover, social Darwinism is decidedly not natural selection. It's artificial selection, much like animal husbandry. So how a description of natural selection includes a statement that we should sterilize institutionalized people is beyond me. You're going to have to be more specific as to how one necessarily follows from the other.

    "In the evolutionary sense, [survival of the fittest] means that those species that are best able to adapt to their environment survive. It also means that the strongest survive, and that implies competition and rivalry, both inter- and intra-species."

    Wrong. Your first sentence is correct. Your second sentence is absolutely incorrect. Yes, in many cases, competition and rivalry result from scarce resources. However, in many other cases it can lead to cooperation. Think of ant colonies for example. Individually, one ant cannot survive for very long. As a group, however, they are able to procure enough resources for themselves and create division of labour.

    It's a little like the business world. Yes, there are companies which compete with each other, but the most ruthless company is not always the one that survives. Because there are often mutual benefits in cooperation, evolutionary selection can often produce cooperative behaviour. And if this outweighs the benefit of going it alone, then the "fittest" organisms will be the ones that cooperate.

    "In the intra-species realm (which seems to fit the idea of social Darwinism), the competition is for food supply, mates, land, stuff, etc."

    And again, as I'm sure your mother taught you when you were little, it's often better to share what you have instead of hoarding it all to yourself. Or as economics shows, division and specialization of labour can often create a more efficient marketplace, producing gains for all parties involved. So the ideas of social Darwinism are absolutely not implied by the theory of evolution. "Survival of the fittest" does not always lead to cutthroat, dog-eat-dog behaviour.

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  54. Crusty say.."It also means that the strongest survive, and that implies competition and rivalry, both inter- and intra-species. In the intra-species realm (which seems to fit the idea of social Darwinism), the competition is for food supply, mates, land, stuff, etc.

    The only thing that keeps this from deteriorating into a dog-eat-dog world is a moral code. The question is, where does the moral code come from? Is it a herd instinct or some other mutually agteeable and utilitarian rules of the game?"

    --------------------------------------
    Jeff and Tink have already explained it.

    But i can hardly believe how wrong some of the statments are that Crusty makes .Its pure propaganda and in my opinion driven by faith deceit , by people who try suggesting "objective morals" come from Gods.

    Crusty says.."The only thing that keeps this from deteriorating into a dog-eat-dog world is a moral code"

    Ohh i see .So beings dont have any "emotions" and "brains" and "feelings" etc.

    Of cause they do ! .For if they didnt bitches would maybe either eat or abandon their puppies at birth .

    However that wouldnt be such a great trait for survival of Dogs .So naturally the Dogs best "fit" for survival, happens to be the ones that also has a "brain" and "emotion" and "feelings" etc that they then use in a social type of way.

    And yes Dogs who have genes that have defects ,will naturally have more trouble with survival.The same thing happen with humans ,some folk are more prone to desease for instance cancer ,but so happens humans have more evolved brains! that can then also learn how to create remedys for cancer cures.

    Does this mean Dogs dont care? . No it dont.They just dont have the same ability to think .Infact Dogs show they have plenty of "emotions" and "feeling" and thats why they are often called mans best friend! ,and they have even been documented as trying to save one of their own species! from danger of drowning in swollen river.

    Crusty how could you be so blind, as to think animal instinct equal only survival of the strongest.Do you simply shut your eyes, when you see on TV an adult elephant or buffalo etc standing ground against Lion attack in hope of saving one of its own?.Or is it charismatic devotion ,that works to stop the ability to considder these things.

    Without godly moral code ,its blatantly obvious! moral code still do exist !.

    Faith propaganda tries to continue to promote these blatant lies! .And sadly it come from people who often like to pretend about having possesion of real honesty.

    Yes of course there is such things as "competition and rivalry" but please dont become so blinded by "deceitful faith propaganda" ,that you feel need to try and suggest this is the only! type of traits we see that exist.

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  55. Crusty say.."In the intra-species realm (which seems to fit the idea of social Darwinism), the competition is for food supply, mates, land, stuff, etc. "

    But you turn a blind eye to the fact "prides of Lions" exist."Herds" of buffalo exist ."Flocks" of birds exist.

    Life aint ever only about the "self".It just dont/wont even work that way ! ,unless we were all worms male/female

    You turning a blind eye because your "mode of faith propaganda" ,like to try and suggest atheism must need to equal this bullshite of "nihilism" and "anarchy" and ideas of atheist life degenerating into it being only about "dog-eat-dog" etc.

    And its a blatant digusting deceitful lie Crusty.Promoted by the unhonest! faithful.

    Beings are evolving.In fact us human beings are now starting to evolve to finally realize, life really aint all about us.We evolving to realize we humans ALL breathe the same air! and fish in the same sea! etc ...And so life just aint all about us !.And learning that if we dont learn new tricks ! we simply wont even survive.

    We dont learn by needing Gods to be telling us that .

    We use our "brains" and learn by "experience" and have "feelings" and "emotions" etc.

    And the sooner we humans realize this .The sooner we going to stop fighting! over stupid who`s sky daddy likely gonna be the one to come save us!.

    Meanwhile all the faith ignorance causes something far more akin to this "anarchy" and "nihilism" etc ,that longterm faith propaganda has long tried acusing the atheists of.

    Because the faithful all so very focused on ideas of "their" own personal "salvation" and "afterlife" etc .

    They tend to turn a blind eye to matters of "this life" that do happen to effect "all" of us.

    And many people paying for it.

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  56. @TMC

    Gotta' hand it to you for so tenaciouly persisting against such formidable adversaries in this discussion. If nothing else, you are certainly outnumbered, but still you carry on.

    In truth, a part of me wishes I could jump in and help you out in this discussion. I can't though because I do not agree with you on almost all of the points that you try to argue. Still, I can't help but admire somebody who is as determined as you are, even if I think they are wrong.

    Peace,

    SteveO

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  57. Thanks, Steve, for the compliment and encouragement. There is so much coming at me from so many directions and on so many lines of thought, it is a little difficult to decide if, how and to what to respond. I suppose I will, but for now, it's bedtime.
    :-)

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  58. Actually, Crusty, I have been thinking.

    I really do not know, and I may be off base here, but I am starting to think that your beliefs about Darwin and Social Darwinism may not be your fault. You might well have been taught this because the way that you pose this reflects(to me) the type of fear mongering tactics that the church uses to scare people away from properly understanding evolution. Just that, what you think is completely incorrect.

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  59. Actually, Tink, I can't think of any discussion in church or even anything I have read that has led me to my conclusions. (Goodness, have I actually been expressing an original thought?!? :-) No, most likely not.)

    It just seems to me that social Darwinism and evolutionary Darwinism go hand in hand. It's not that I don't know that Darwin wasn't thinking of human social relationships when he developed his theory. Rather, it seems natural and inevitable that, absent an overriding moral code, that the same survival-of-the-fittest dynamic that allegedly caused species to evolve would necessarily be at work in human relationships.

    Even if you attribute this moral code to an evolved and utilitarian herd mentality of cooperation because that seems to be what works best, such a purely utilitarian moral code leaves no place for human dignity and worth. And it does not explain that annoying inner voice called conscience that screams at you when you know you hvae done wrong (whatever you define wrong to be.)

    Further, absent a fixed moral code (wherever it comes from), things will necessarily deteriorate, as things that were once considered unthinkable start to become plausible because they seem utilitarian.

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  60. Again, Crusty... Totally, completely dead wrong. Read the link, do the research. Learn about evolutionary biology, see the distinction. It is a fact, many of us have told you that. Do not buy, see... actually learn for yourself. None of my thoughts are original, I am merely paraphrasing canonized history and literature that is available to all of us humans existing on Planet Earth. Learn the difference between natural science and social science.. The language may have been borrowed from one discipline, but it is applied very differently in another.

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  61. One thing human life has taught us humans is ideas of having "fixed moral code" is honestly a very ludicrous impossible idea.It is been fraught with being the cause of much harm, pain, and great suffering right down throughout history.It is indeed the stupidity of this "fixed moral code" which see`s much harm and even stoning of people still happening! in Islamic countrys to this very day!.

    We human need fear "fix moral codes" Crusty ,thats what we really need have fear in.For "fixed moral codes" is what is blatantly seen to honestly be what leads to great blindness and great ignorance.

    And the reason i get a little heated, is only because i am "also" one of the MANY who is effected by the remenant of the human inability of evolving,simply because of the very existence of these ancient and out-dated stupidity idea of us really needing "fixed moral codes".

    In my opinion many theists are devoted to such charisma , that you cant even see! we human never honestly even had any "fixed moral codes" . Yes we had some moral codes that have stayed fixed, only because they were considered good morals.But we had others that have changed because the moral was later found wrong.

    Meaning honest "fixed moral codes" is simply like a childish dream Crusty,and any fear of not having such a thing i suggest is built on pure propaganda! and utter bullshite!.

    And worst of all,is blatant theist lies!.Lies! that have also wrongfully long been used, to help demote and demean the non faithful.

    Theist suggestions of ever having "fixed moral codes" is oxymoron ...Or some type of freaking moronic! thing anyway.

    How can theists claim "fixed moral codes" yet have their faith books! which actually blatantly! show , more honestly their morals were obviously evolving ?.

    You theist live and promote a real lie! while trying to claim fixed morals ever existed.

    Morals evolved.

    And in all real honesty morals could never even be considered true! morals, unless they were able to have the ability to evolve.

    Islam lives today with being stunted! by many "untrue" morals .Thats because of the existence stubborn attitude of theism.

    My family stays devided in a Christian cult.Because of the existence of untrue theist type morality.

    Morals must always have room to evolve if need be.Because humans often learn by experience.We dont always get things right first time.

    Fixed moral = extreme immorality

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  62. Crusty said..."Further, absent a fixed moral code (wherever it comes from), things will necessarily deteriorate, as things that were once considered unthinkable start to become plausible because they seem utilitarian."

    If this were indeed honestly true ...We would also still stone people to death to this very day.

    In ancient old times very likely it was "utilitarian" to stone people.Or for some ancient theists to cast live babies! into fire! ,in their "hope" of it helping them all be receiving more fertility.

    Sadly your fear is a fear built on many lies and much propaganda , Crusty.

    You say things will "necessarily deteriorate" .

    But honesty of much of our history tells a very different story.

    Charisma and devotion can be a very dangerous thing.So can humans always having to need morals that are become fixed.

    But maybe one needs to be open minded rather than devoted , to be able to see it.

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  63. The Crusty Terp aka The Maryland Crustacean has written a very good and interesting piece on his blog. I'm curios to know how you all would respond to his faith v. crazy stance.

    I may see you over there, later, feen

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  64. "Rather, it seems natural and inevitable that, absent an overriding moral code, that the same survival-of-the-fittest dynamic that allegedly caused species to evolve would necessarily be at work in human relationships."

    Assuming that this is the case - that survival of the fittest is at work in human relationships - that still gives us no information about whether it should be at work in human relationships. Prescriptive theories like social Darwinism make statements about how people should act. But it is completely reasonable for people to say that survival of the fittest is present, and yet it is not acceptable behaviour. Just like it is consistent to say that people are not always oriented towards finding truth, but that we should be. The descriptive state of how things are gives no prescriptions as to how we should act.

    "Even if you attribute this moral code to an evolved and utilitarian herd mentality of cooperation because that seems to be what works best, such a purely utilitarian moral code leaves no place for human dignity and worth."

    Sure it does. "It works best to always treat humans with dignity and worth." That's a utilitarian system that leaves a place for human dignity.

    But I should also add that just because natural selection works on a utilitarian level (whatever "works" to help the organism survive and propagate), that again leaves us no basis for saying that we should operate our moral codes on a utilitarian level. Since nature is composed of blind forces, and since we are not (we have the abilities of intention and foresight), we do not always have to operate the same way as nature.

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  65. "And it does not explain that annoying inner voice called conscience that screams at you when you know you hvae done wrong (whatever you define wrong to be.)"

    Sure it does. Evolution has developed us into a social species, and as a social species, we care what others think. Also, our developed theory of mind helps us to feel what others feel. Combine this with a socialization process from parents to children, and you've got the perfect mechanism for a "conscience." Your conscience tells you when you've done something that goes against the social rules and norms that you have been brought up to understand. This also explains the difference in conscience between individuals from different cultures - a cannibal will not feel any pangs of remorse for eating a fellow human being, but you presumably would.

    "Further, absent a fixed moral code (wherever it comes from), things will necessarily deteriorate, as things that were once considered unthinkable start to become plausible because they seem utilitarian."

    I question your use of the word "deteriorate." Let's presume for a moment that there is no fixed moral code (which, again, I don't believe) and that the "right" system is a utilitarian one. In this case, it certainly would not be a deterioration to switch from an incorrect moral system to a correct one. In fact, we might find a greater sense of freedom, since we would now be able to perform actions that lead to the greatest good, where they may have previously been prohibited by a strictly regimented moral system that did not allow for exceptions.

    So your use of the word "deterioration" suggests you are already committed to a fixed moral code, and see it as the preferred system before you even look at the evidence. That's your prerogative, but it's hardly an objective analysis.

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  66. Feeno... Crazy is holding onto information that is not accurate. I really could not care what he believes. But, get informed, be correct. And, if you are wrong, correct it and move on. I guess the thing that I overlook is this. If you start to pull apart a house of cards, you may have to face the chance that it will come down. And, that is why many folks like him do not want to find anything other than what they believe.

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  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  68. I am operating at a bit of a disadvantage. First of all, I am outnumbered. Second, I am somewhat slow and contemplative and usually try to take my time in formulating my responses, trying to give a thoughtful reply. I also don’t spend that much time in the blogosphere. So by the time I get around to posting a response, I am almost immediately hit with a deluge of incoming fire from several directions. What do I respond to first? (Not whining, just making an observation.)

    Anyway, I just made an attempt at posting a reply to Gandolf's challenge about "stoning" in the Old Testament. It is a fair question that deserves a response. My response was rather long and I had to separate it into three comments because it would otherwise be over the limit. I no sooner posted all three than they seemed to disappear into cyberspace. I will attempt to post it at my blog in the next day or so if anybody is interested. If not, that is fine too.

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  69. I just noticed your comment Jeff, which states "Prescriptive theories like social Darwinism make statements about how people should act." This might be part of the reason why we are not understanding each other.

    I don't claim to know or have read much about social Darwinism (so Tink has a bit of a point) and my comments are therefore based on my own intuition and not the little I have read on the subject.

    But in any event, I am not viewing social Darwinism as "prescriptive". I am saying that, absent an overriding or competing moral code, it would necessarily be or become descriptive. And even if it is a prescriptive theory competing with Christianity, humanism or whatever your moral code of choice, what makes it any better or worse?

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  70. Hey Kids!

    I just got back from Crusty's blog where I read his response to the Gandyman's comments on Stoning. Fortunately he did not lose his entire post to the hungry gremlins of Cyberspace who seem to delight in devouring the most well considered and lengthy posts that people write. This has not been much of a problem for me since, as you know, I specialize in Cheap Shots and One Liners, but even I have seen my best efforts disappear into the Void.

    Anyhow, I recommend that you do both Crusty and yourself a favor and dart over to his domain and give The Cruster a fair reading. He deserves it and so do you.

    Go Here Now:

    http://mdcrustacean.blogspot.com/

    Hmmm, that sounds kind of like "Be Here Now", only different. (Remember Ram Das aka Richard Alpert?)

    SteveO

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  71. The "net gremlins" been playing merry havoc with me too for a while now.

    Some weird shit.Says i dont have the right cookies or something.Ive also seen comments appear on a blog ,and then next moment disappear.And double post of comments.

    DM ? ..What tricks you playing at.Give us back our freaking cookies !

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  72. "But in any event, I am not viewing social Darwinism as 'prescriptive'. I am saying that, absent an overriding or competing moral code, it would necessarily be or become descriptive."

    I'm really not sure how one would argue this, but I'm not entirely sure that I understand what you're saying here. But at any rate, I'll give you a break. Like you said, you're outnumbered, so I won't expect you to give a full reply to my comments. Essentially, I was saying that you are using a fallacious appeal to nature to claim a link between social Darwinism and evolution. Read up on it when you get the time, but don't feel the need to respond. Cheers!

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  73. Crusty,

    Yes, you are outnumbered. And, yes you are usually pretty thoughtful in the content of your replies. What I do not understand is that it would take you about 5 to 10 minutes of your life to correct your idea that Social Darwinism and evolution are connected. All you have to do is read a little to understand where you went wrong. I can see how you would think this, I really can, because some of the language was borrowed. But, its wrong, and very easily corrected with a little effort. I get that you are a little overwhelmed.... I really do. But, make us proud and show a little intellectual integrity in correcting something that just ain't right.....

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  74. Crust sez:

    I don't claim to know or have read much about social Darwinism … and my comments are therefore based on my own intuition and not the little I have read on the subject.

    In other words: "I am willfully uninformed, but I have strong opinions that I consider just as valuable as real information."

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  75. "And, it is just so HARD to find that ten minutes to clear it all up..."

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  76. This is not an atheism-specific issue. You may have titled it "I don't want to be Jewish" or "I don't want to be Muslim."

    It doesn't matter if they are atheists, Hindus, Jews, or Baptists (and she wants to go to a Catholic service), they will have to address the daughter.

    Unfortunately, to intelligently answer we need to know more details about the girl (e.g., her age), the Church (are they snake handlers), and her friend (how long has she known this person, do you know the parents well).

    My first reaction, assuming no red flags are raised when it comes to the above details, would be to say "Let's go to the Church together it will be fun!"

    On the other hand, I know in my family I was forced to go to church when I didn't want to go starting when I was about 10. I think that wasn't too unreasonable of my parents. So I wouldn't think it unreasonable for someone of a different faith to be like "No, we are Y, not X." (Where X and Y can be Catholic, or Buddhist, or whatever, as long as X≠Y). And then, depending on the age of the child, you can explain what it means to be Y and not X, and that you are all still friends and such.

    This is what Jews typically do when their kids in 99% Christian communities start to want to go to Church with their Christian friends. It can be a real problem in terms of peer pressure and such.

    So, good question, with more details needed, and more generality would make more people respond (e.g., if you are Christian and your kid wants to go to the mosque, what do you say?).

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