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Posted: 15 June 2005 01:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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[quote author=“Alan Slipp”][quote author=“roger_pearse”]Pardon me; the treatment of animals is not the issue here.

it’s part and parcel of the same issue. We treat animals poorly because we fail to identify with them. We fail to identify with them because we see ourselves as separate from them. Not only that, we are encouraged to not identify with animals, especially the ones we eat, in order that we may breed them en mass in factory farms and sell their meat for mass consumption in fastfood restaurants. We treat other people poorly for EXACTLY the same reasons.

White people are not “better” than black people. Christians are not “better” than Jews. Americans are not “better” than Iraqis… human beings are not “better” than animals.

Many, many assertions; but none of them seem relevant to the point made.

We are able to engage in murder, torture and rape not because we reduce other people to mere animals (we were never more than animals in the first place), but because we fail to identify with others; because we fail to recognize that our separateness from others is effectively an illusion.

The notion that secular humanists wish to reduce people to the state of animals is a Straw Man, a mistaken argument that is easier to attack than the argument we are actually *making*.

Let’s just reread that:

we were never more than animals in the first place… The notion that secular humanists wish to reduce people to the state of animals is a Straw Man…

I’m afraid I think you have contradicted yourself.

The treatment of animals is an irrelevance to this question, surely; likewise complaining about Plato or 18th century French aristocrats.  Why not address the point made; that the views espoused involve destroying the humanity of man?

All the best,

Roger Pearse

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Posted: 15 June 2005 04:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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[quote author=“roger_pearse”]The treatment of animals is an irrelevance to this question, surely; likewise complaining about Plato or 18th century French aristocrats.  Why not address the point made; that the views espoused involve destroying the humanity of man?

But that is NOT the point we’re making. Nothing in what I or anyone has said in this thread has pointed to anything like that, except you, of course. I’m starting to feel like a broken record.

You cannot reduce people to the state of animals if there was never a higher state to be reduced from. What meaning there is to human existance, what nobility and greatness, is not some objective meaning conferred by the universe. The universe does not, nor cannot, care about us at all. That meaning is conferred subjectively by ourselves. Whatever great works we create, whatever monuments to human glory we erect, the universe will in time crush all of them to dust. The universe simply does not give damn. Read Shelley’s “Ozymandias” for a much better expression of this reality.

If the universe is truly a cold, dark place, completely hostile to human life except for this small rock we cling to, then there are two essential conclusions we can arrive at. First, the fact that we exist at all in the universe is so incredibly unlikely that we should count our lucky stars that we even exist at all. If I am capable of this realization, and If I am capable of seeing that my own existance as Alan Slipp is merely a result of random probability, that if one variable were to have been slightly shifted I would be a completely different person, perhaps even a different gender… then my own life is more precious to me than I can name. If that all is true, then merely seeing that same expression of infinitesimally small probability in the lives of others means that there is no possible way that I would want to destroy those lives.

The sick feeling I get in my stomach when I hear about the horrible crimes we humans inflict on each other is mirrored in the horror I feel when I hear about pigs and cows stuffed into factory farms and valued as nothing but meat, grist for the mill of human consumption that never stops to consider those lives as equally improbable and absolutely as valuable as our own. Of course how we treat animals is relevant. It’s a reflection of how we treat ourselves.

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Posted: 15 June 2005 04:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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[quote author=“Alan Slipp”][quote author=“roger_pearse”]The treatment of animals is an irrelevance to this question, surely; likewise complaining about Plato or 18th century French aristocrats.  Why not address the point made; that the views espoused involve destroying the humanity of man?

But that is NOT the point we’re making..

You’ll excuse me, but I have no interest in this topic.  You’re welcome to address my original point.  May I say that it is rather strange to silently change the subject and offer an unrelated post as a reply, rather than reply to my post.

All the best,

Roger Pearse

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Posted: 15 June 2005 05:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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Maybe the problem here, or the problem for Roger anyway, is that he keeps referring to “the humanity of man” without ever spelling it out in words - what that phrase means.  I think Alan has in several posts very eloquently refuted your arguments 1) that humanists are destroying man’s humanity and 2) that our treatment of animals is irrelevant. 

Now perhaps Roger’s description of what ‘humanity’ means to him would clear things up, but all of us are assuming that what you (Roger) mean is that human beings are ensouled creatures and because of that divine aspect of their being they are set in a different realm of life from all the other creatures who inhabit this planet?  If by ‘humanity’ you also mean that our ethical perspective is divinely inspired, then of course we are destroying or reducing that from your point of view, meanwhile from our perspective we are merely exorcising something that was an illusion in the first place (the divine origin - not our humanity).  We are correcting an error, not destroying anything foundational or solid. We believe that our ‘humanity’ comes from how we use our language and how that plays out in the relations between and among us all, animals included.

Bob

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Posted: 15 June 2005 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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The last time I heard this sort of idea, it preceded the assertion that men are just animals; and therefore there is no God (which was a non sequitur, of course, but the poster didn’t realise it). Is this where you’re going with this?

If so, I would merely query whether it is really an attack on Christianity to prove that there are no such things as real human beings. It sounds to me much more like a crushing blow rather to secular humanism. If there are no men, how can there be humanism?

All the best,

Roger Pearse

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Posted: 15 June 2005 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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Roger, that post was the thing that got the whole conundrum going - obviously if it was too opaque to make sense the first time, a second posting will do nothing to clarify the case more.

Bob

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Posted: 15 June 2005 06:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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maybe god needs to change his font LOL

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Posted: 15 June 2005 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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“There is no God” is the central assumption of this entire line of argumentation, not its conclusion. That humans and human moral structures alike are not of divine origin is likewise a central assumption (the one follows from the other).

I find it difficult to believe that I actually had to say that. It’s pretty much what “secular humanism” *means*, after all.

I must also confess a certain dismay at the fact that everyone seems to know what I’m talking about but the person I’m talking to. *sigh*

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Posted: 15 June 2005 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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[quote author=“Alan Slipp”]“There is no God” is the central assumption of this entire line of argumentation, not its conclusion. That humans and human moral structures alike are not of divine origin is likewise a central assumption (the one follows from the other).

I find it difficult to believe that I actually had to say that. It’s pretty much what “secular humanism” *means*, after all.

I must also confess a certain dismay at the fact that everyone seems to know what I’m talking about but the person I’m talking to. *sigh*

Roger, you’ve made it clear on one or another of these threads that you’re selective in the questions that are posed to you (properly so), so I don’t expect you to answer the following, but do invite your response:

Would you concede some chance that a parent-like deity is non-existent? If you do make such a concession, would you be in agreement with atheistic views on this thread concerning humanity being an animal organism?

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Posted: 16 June 2005 12:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”]
Roger, you’ve made it clear on one or another of these threads that you’re selective in the questions that are posed to you (properly so), so I don’t expect you to answer the following, but do invite your response:

Would you concede some chance that a parent-like deity is non-existent?

Well I prefer questions which can be thrashed out, and where we start with things of which we are certain.  But it’s certainly conceptually possible. 

If you do make such a concession, would you be in agreement with atheistic views on this thread concerning humanity being an animal organism?

There seems to be a lot of froth in this thread concealing whatever the atheist position may be.  But no, I don’t think I agree that atheism necessarily involves the degradation of man, at least in theory (I know the evidence is against me on this, but I still think it should be possible to have some form of ethical atheism.  This would base itself on the objective morality of man—as indeed the better sort of Victorian atheism did.

My point is not that atheism must be immoral; but that the arguments used at the start of this thread attack the possibility of moral atheism, not theism.

All the best,

Roger Pearse

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Posted: 16 June 2005 12:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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[quote author=“CanZen”]Roger, that post was the thing that got the whole conundrum going - obviously if it was too opaque to make sense the first time, a second posting will do nothing to clarify the case more.

I know what you’re saying.  But I felt that the ‘responses’ were in fact changes of subject; as such, I wanted to go back to solid ground.

All the best,

Roger Pearse

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Posted: 16 June 2005 03:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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[quote author=“roger_pearse”]I know what you’re saying.  But I felt that the ‘responses’ were in fact changes of subject; as such, I wanted to go back to solid ground.

[quote author=“CanZen”]Maybe the problem here, or the problem for Roger anyway, is that he keeps referring to “the humanity of man” without ever spelling it out in words - what that phrase means. I think Alan has in several posts very eloquently refuted your arguments 1) that humanists are destroying man’s humanity and 2) that our treatment of animals is irrelevant.

If there is any changing of subject happening here, then I would think it would be because both CanZen or I, at least, are mistaken as to what the subject actually is.

You seem to be arguing this:

If there is no God and humans are endowed with some special essence that allows us to understand morality, and if animals are not endowed with the same special essence that humans are, then humans are qualitatively on a higher level than animals and equating humans with animals both reduces humans to the state of animals and denies our morality as endowed by that special essence.

We are (or at least I am) actually arguing this:

If there is no God and humans are not endowed with a special essence that allows us to act in a moral fashion, but understand morality through either acknowledging the sheer improbability of life existing or the thousands of years of human ethical choices embodied in our collective memory*, then the concept of humans being qualitatively on a higher level than animals is false and equating humans with animals neither reduces us from a higher state nor denies human morality.

*For reference, here is a post I made in another thread.

[quote author=“I”]Morality is product of human existance - there was no morality before humans existed, because there was no one around to concieve of it. Likewise, morality will not exist after the human race is extinct. It is neither an object or a quality - those things exist regardless of whether they are percieved. It is an idea, and ideas live or die by their presence in minds capable of concieving them. Since morality, an idea, is dependant on human minds to exist, it is finite, not eternal.

The only possible way that morality can be considered to be objective is if it is considered as a product of thousands of years of human society and human laws. We, as members of Western civilization, have at our disposal the result of those thousands of years of successes and mistakes in decision making, the continually evolving human memory. The only way we are able to say on an objective basis that “X is wrong”, or “X is right” is because we have that human memory to refer to, the memory of all those encounters with “X” and their consequences. Without access to that memory, all morality is subjective, reinvented for every situation with merely the aid of instinct and intuition.

I’m sure this could be a little clearer, but frankly I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

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Posted: 16 June 2005 04:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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There seems to be a lot of froth in this thread concealing whatever the atheist position may be. But no, I don’t think I agree that atheism necessarily involves the degradation of man, at least in theory (I know the evidence is against me on this, but I still think it should be possible to have some form of ethical atheism. This would base itself on the objective morality of man—as indeed the better sort of Victorian atheism did.

Roger, I’m glad you honestly answered the question I asked you. It appears that you might think that atheists and/or agnostics think poorly of humanity in comparison to the way Christians think. I would strongly suggest that the opposite is the case. For instance, I don’t subscribe to the notion of original sin; I don’t see human nature as being in any way fallen or in need of redemption. Most atheists, I’d guess, are much more optimist about humanity’s inherent abilities and don’t feel any need to be morally propped up by holy or other spirits. They don’t get arrested any more than devout religionists. In fact (and this is only a guess) atheists have committed fewer atrocities historically than your ilk. If you work in the social services, you already realize that people who eagerly define themselves as being devout Christians need to be carefully considered and suspected of having sexual disturbances and a tendency to molest children. Atheists attract no such suspicion other than normal skepticism.

As for your comment about discussions that are based on what can be held with certainty, I would refer you to Schroedinger, Heisenberg, Bohr and Popper. They spent much of their lives studying concepts such as certainty and I suspect that your understanding of the universe could improve if you spent a few months looking into their ideas.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 16 June 2005 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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Roger, I’ve just had the misfortune of rereading your comments to which I wrote the above diatribe. Once again, I need to apologize to someone on these forums. Sorry, Roger. I had misread your statement.

Way too much stress lately. I think I’ll just read rather than write posts, until things get easier in my work. Thanks for your patience.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 17 June 2005 12:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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Let me try again.

Human beings breed animals, and use them for food.  Human beings do not, on the whole, treat animals as other than a convenience.

If we assert that ‘men are just animals’, this is the category that we are discussing.  We are asserting that the things which distinguish men from beasts—intelligence and a sense of right and wrong—are not of importance.

The next stage, of course, is to treat men as a convenience in the same way as we do animals.  Phrases such as ‘punters’ come to mind; and man has rarely been unwillingly to exploit man.

Concepts such as the ‘dignity of man’ rely on the concept that there is such a thing as a man.  Once we assert that men are just animals, on what rational ground can we talk about ‘the dignity of man’?

All the best,

Roger Pearse

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