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What the New Atheists Don’t See by Theodore Dalrymple
Posted: 14 November 2007 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]  
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frankr - 14 November 2007 01:15 PM

Why? I have to be good because I am good and there is good in the universe. It seems to be saying that goodness is necessary to have goodness. a = a. The point you seem to be avoiding is this. You say in your post that some people are not drawn to the good. How can you say it? What is good? Where does it come from? What does it mean? We seem to recognize it but you have no way of accounting for its existence except for through the individual or the culture. Yet you seem to hold (through many dct posts) an objective morality. How so?

 

Best to consult Socrates and Plato, Frank.  There is goodness because the Good exists (you might want to read Diotima’s dialogue with Socrates in The Symposium).

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Posted: 14 November 2007 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]  
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frankr - 14 November 2007 01:15 PM

Why? I have to be good because I am good and there is good in the universe. It seems to be saying that goodness is necessary to have goodness. a = a. The point you seem to be avoiding is this. You say in your post that some people are not drawn to the good. How can you say it? What is good? Where does it come from? What does it mean? We seem to recognize it but you have no way of accounting for its existence except for through the individual or the culture. Yet you seem to hold (through many dct posts) an objective morality. How so?

Good is that which serves the life of a rational being. Simple. Didn’t I say this already?

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 14 November 2007 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]  
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Plato believes in an existent supernatural good. The Good exists it may not be a Christian God but it is good. His metaphysics allows for an ethic directed toward the good. Socrates goes so far as to say that immorality is caused by ignorance. I don’t think most atheists are going to posit a world of forms where the The Good exists as the source of all goodness and we are good through our participation in the good.

Saul your answer does not really say anything. It assumes an evaluative language (good, evil, better, worse) but there is no standard against which we judge. Why is one act better than another? The vague answer that which serves the life of the rational being does not really explain why someone throws himself in front of a train to save a stranger’s life.

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Posted: 14 November 2007 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]  
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frankr - 14 November 2007 05:05 PM

Plato believes in an existent supernatural good. The Good exists it may not be a Christian God but it is good. His metaphysics allows for an ethic directed toward the good. Socrates goes so far as to say that immorality is caused by ignorance. I don’t think most atheists are going to posit a world of forms where the The Good exists as the source of all goodness and we are good through our participation in the good.

Saul your answer does not really say anything. It assumes an evaluative language (good, evil, better, worse) but there is no standard against which we judge. Why is one act better than another? The vague answer that which serves the life of the rational being does not really explain why someone throws himself in front of a train to save a stranger’s life.

Isn’t the stranger alive? That someone may not be saving his OWN life, but he is still acting as if he consideres life to be the standard of morality.

The big problem I have with such arguments is that they concern very rare, even unrealistic scenarios. How often do you come across someone who needs saving from a moving train? And will throwing yourself in the path of the train save anyone? More likely, it will just get you both killed. Isn’t it better to push or pull the stranger out of the way, without getting in the way yourself? Getting both of you killed doesn’t sound very moral to me.

I remember watching the movie “Independance Day” with the friend who introduced me to Objectivism and Ayn Rand. When it came to the scene where that old crazy cropduster pilot flew his jet into the alien weapon, saving the day at the cost of his own life, my friend said “An Objectivist would do that”. Think about it. If the aliens win, everyone dies, including the crazy old pilot. If he succeeds in destroying the alien weapon, the aliens lose, and though the pilot dies, his family and the rest of the human race survive.

But as I said, these are very rare, if not unrealistic situations. A rational moral code has to be formulated for real life, under normal situations, not emergencies. Ayn Rand did write an essay called, I think “The Ethics of Emergencies”, but her basic principle for emergencies is to do what is needed to end the emergency so that it is possible to return to normal life.

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 14 November 2007 04:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]  
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frankr - 14 November 2007 05:05 PM

Plato believes in an existent supernatural good. The Good exists it may not be a Christian God but it is good. His metaphysics allows for an ethic directed toward the good. Socrates goes so far as to say that immorality is caused by ignorance. I don’t think most atheists are going to posit a world of forms where the The Good exists as the source of all goodness and we are good through our participation in the good.

The point is that one can discover the Good through a process (one path to that discovery is described to Socrates by Diotima).  That doesn’t require positing any supernatural Form of the Good, but it does give meaning to a poem by Rumi (roughly translated):

Crosses and Christians,
end to end I examined
He was not on the Cross
I went to the Hindu Temple
and the ancient Pagoda
but did not find him there.
I went to the alter of the
fire worshippers and found
him missing from their flame,
I searched in Mecca, that holy place
and my search was in vain. 
Resolutely I pursued to the
ends of the Earth but there
was only the habitat of birds.

I looked into my own heart
in that, His place, I found Him
He was in no other place.

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Posted: 14 November 2007 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]  
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Again, positing that biblical morality and humanist morality are different in anything other than the details is a huge (and baseless) assumption and one that, by definition, no atheist would credit as reasonable. Unless the case for a Creator of the Universe can be convincingly made (and atheists are united in agreement that it most definitely hasn’t been) then any and all arguments about what said creator likes and doesn’t like are entirely meaningless.

Essentially you’re saying that your metaphysics are better than mine because you have an imaginary set of rules that proves you right.
If I was to declare that my moral code is existentially true because waltercat said so, then how is this different than you saying yours is true because the Catholic version of the Council of Nicea’s version of Constantine’s version of Saul’s version of the Hebrew version of how the Universe operates and why said so?
“Ah, but waltercat’s not divine,” you could say.
“Yes, he is”, I could reply, “and so am I. And so is my wife.”
And you would think I’m silly for claiming that and probably fail to see that there’s as much evidence for waltercat or me or you or anyone else being divine as there is for Jesus. Less, in fact, as at least we have official documents and c couple of photos testifying to out existence.

Can’t you see how unsatisfactory your explanation is? How would you respond if, in these disputes about morality, we atheists justified our every argument by explaining in all earnestness that, at foundation, we are all, atheists and Catholics alike, responding to the dictates of the flying spaghetti monster?
How can one reasonably respond to someone whose base assumptions are imaginary?

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All Christians should be sent to heaven immediately.

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Posted: 14 November 2007 04:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]  
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I am not positing a difference. I am saying that man is a moral creature. All men have a sense of right and wrong. Christian metaphysics accounts for this, atheism does not. If you want to say man is moral because waltercat or the flying spagheti monster says so, then do so. It makes more sense than man is moral and that is that. All I want is an atheist to account for objective morality. I understand that atheists are the nicest most moral people in the world. So what. Tell me why they should be moral. Tell me where that morality comes from and please don’t answer from each individual, because it is a stupid answer. Yes stupid.

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Posted: 14 November 2007 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]  
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burt - 14 November 2007 09:01 PM
frankr - 14 November 2007 05:05 PM

Plato believes in an existent supernatural good. The Good exists it may not be a Christian God but it is good. His metaphysics allows for an ethic directed toward the good. Socrates goes so far as to say that immorality is caused by ignorance. I don’t think most atheists are going to posit a world of forms where the The Good exists as the source of all goodness and we are good through our participation in the good.

The point is that one can discover the Good through a process (one path to that discovery is described to Socrates by Diotima).  That doesn’t require positing any supernatural Form of the Good, but it does give meaning to a poem by Rumi (roughly translated):

Crosses and Christians,
end to end I examined
He was not on the Cross
I went to the Hindu Temple
and the ancient Pagoda
but did not find him there.
I went to the alter of the
fire worshippers and found
him missing from their flame,
I searched in Mecca, that holy place
and my search was in vain. 
Resolutely I pursued to the
ends of the Earth but there
was only the habitat of birds.

I looked into my own heart
in that, His place, I found Him
He was in no other place.

Burt I am always cautious of people who quote Rumi. Nonetheless, I have a question. What is the good. Is it something that is being discussed in the symposium? Does it reside in the heart of Rumis seeker? If it is something what is it? I feel like you are attached to the idea but do not want to pursue it to its source.

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Posted: 14 November 2007 07:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]  
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frankr - 14 November 2007 09:15 PM

I am not positing a difference. I am saying that man is a moral creature. All men have a sense of right and wrong. Christian metaphysics accounts for this, atheism does not. If you want to say man is moral because waltercat or the flying spagheti monster says so, then do so. It makes more sense than man is moral and that is that. All I want is an atheist to account for objective morality. I understand that atheists are the nicest most moral people in the world. So what. Tell me why they should be moral. Tell me where that morality comes from and please don’t answer from each individual, because it is a stupid answer. Yes stupid.

Ok, Frank. It comes from the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Now you have a frame of reference you can respect, right?
I have no idea why you find the idea of morality deriving from an imaginary entity a more satisfactory explanation than the idea that it derives from consciousness, but I am aware that imaginary entities carry some considerable weight in Catholicism.
Anyway, glad I could finally clear that up for you.

[ Edited: 14 November 2007 07:09 PM by Occam's Razor]
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All Christians should be sent to heaven immediately.

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Posted: 14 November 2007 10:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]  
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frankr - 14 November 2007 09:22 PM
burt - 14 November 2007 09:01 PM
frankr - 14 November 2007 05:05 PM

Plato believes in an existent supernatural good. The Good exists it may not be a Christian God but it is good. His metaphysics allows for an ethic directed toward the good. Socrates goes so far as to say that immorality is caused by ignorance. I don’t think most atheists are going to posit a world of forms where the The Good exists as the source of all goodness and we are good through our participation in the good.

The point is that one can discover the Good through a process (one path to that discovery is described to Socrates by Diotima).  That doesn’t require positing any supernatural Form of the Good, but it does give meaning to a poem by Rumi (roughly translated):

Crosses and Christians,
end to end I examined
He was not on the Cross
I went to the Hindu Temple
and the ancient Pagoda
but did not find him there.
I went to the alter of the
fire worshippers and found
him missing from their flame,
I searched in Mecca, that holy place
and my search was in vain. 
Resolutely I pursued to the
ends of the Earth but there
was only the habitat of birds.

I looked into my own heart
in that, His place, I found Him
He was in no other place.

Burt I am always cautious of people who quote Rumi. Nonetheless, I have a question. What is the good. Is it something that is being discussed in the symposium? Does it reside in the heart of Rumis seeker? If it is something what is it? I feel like you are attached to the idea but do not want to pursue it to its source.

You mis-take the point of what I posted, a natural result of your coming from inside a Catholic worldview.  No blame in that, but your question has the flavor of an attempt to push me into recognition of your particular source of ultimate good to the exclusion of any other.  So let me be perfectly clear: the Good is in my heart, in your heart, in the heart of every human being and probably many other beings on other planets throughout the universe.  But we have to discover it because our individual ego concerns get in the way.  That is not, as you would see it, original sin, there is no sin in having an ego but there is a need to know that, to know how it operates and not to identify with it.  For you, the good wears the clothing of Jesus, but in a deeper sense of the Christ, which unlike you I do not identify uniquely with the man Jesus.  It is not a matter of pursuing it to its source, but of allowing it to manifest through conscious recognition.  As my grandmother advised me many years ago, in relating to others the proper attitude to take is “Let the Good in me speak to the Good in you.”  In my own terms, let me recognize the same consciousness in others as in myself.  Since the Good is the result of a process of discovery, it is grounded in human consciousness and even an atheist can engage in that process.  There is no need to project it ourside to an external deity.

[ Edited: 14 November 2007 10:05 PM by burt]
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Posted: 16 November 2007 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]  
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frankr - 14 November 2007 09:15 PM

All men have a sense of right and wrong. Christian metaphysics accounts for this, atheism does not.

You’re ignoring the possibility of that sense being rooted in our brain structure.

Why would people assume that their sense of right and wrong comes from some external source? It’s not like the sense is a voice talking to them in their heads like in the old cartoons. It’s really a nameless feeling that an action being contemplated is right or wrong.

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Posted: 16 November 2007 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]  
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frankr - 14 November 2007 09:15 PM

All men have a sense of right and wrong. Christian metaphysics accounts for this, atheism does not.

You’re ignoring the possibility of that sense being rooted in our brain structure.

Why would people assume that their sense of right and wrong comes from some external source? It’s not like the sense is a voice talking to them in their heads like in the old cartoons. It’s really a nameless feeling that an action being contemplated is right or wrong.

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Posted: 16 November 2007 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]  
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Carstonio - 16 November 2007 11:43 AM
frankr - 14 November 2007 09:15 PM

All men have a sense of right and wrong. Christian metaphysics accounts for this, atheism does not.

You’re ignoring the possibility of that sense being rooted in our brain structure.

Why would people assume that their sense of right and wrong comes from some external source? It’s not like the sense is a voice talking to them in their heads like in the old cartoons. It’s really a nameless feeling that an action being contemplated is right or wrong.

Or how about the idea that human beings have a natural desire to live, and they come to learn that treating other people with respect helps gain the advantages of living in a civilized society? I do not believe that we have some automatic sense of right and wrong. We learn it. And some people learn it wrong, which gives us dictatorships, murder/suicide cults, mass shootings like Columbine, and all sorts of innocent moral blunders where people try to do the right thing, but end up hurting people by mistake.

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 16 November 2007 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]  
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homunculus - 13 November 2007 11:37 AM
mahahaha - 13 November 2007 11:07 AM

. . .
. . . if your philosophy, religion, and/or theology cannot keep pace with what man discovers about the universe . . . .

M, I would hope that you wouldn’t have allowed yourself to fall into habitual male-dominated word choice. The above usage could have easily been neutralized by going plural or at least using “humanity.” I’d say the same to Frank, but I doubt if he’d take the advice to heart.

This comimg from a, uh, person, whose username derives from the Latin homo, which translates to English as, uh, “man.”

Dude, is it your irony detector that’s not working, or mine?  raspberry

P.S.  May political correctness die the same quick death as neocon Christian fascism.

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“Believe those who seek the truth; doubt those who find it”—Andre Gide

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Posted: 16 November 2007 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]  
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burt - 14 November 2007 09:01 PM

The point is that one can discover the Good through a process (one path to that discovery is described to Socrates by Diotima).  That doesn’t require positing any supernatural Form of the Good, but it does give meaning to a poem by Rumi (roughly translated):

Crosses and Christians,
end to end I examined
He was not on the Cross
I went to the Hindu Temple
and the ancient Pagoda
but did not find him there.
I went to the alter of the
fire worshippers and found
him missing from their flame,
I searched in Mecca, that holy place
and my search was in vain. 
Resolutely I pursued to the
ends of the Earth but there
was only the habitat of birds.

I looked into my own heart
in that, His place, I found Him
He was in no other place.

I suspect that what we call the “Good” is really a biological phenomenon that we perceive in our consciousness. That would in no way lessen the value of the “Good,” and it would eliminate unfounded notions of the supernatural to explain it.

I am not familiar with Rumi. One of my interpretations of the poem is of the value of personal philosophical exploration over religious doctrines and practices.

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