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My problem with Sam and his books
Posted: 29 March 2007 04:52 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Alright, I have reached a stumbling block in my new way of thinking.

What philosophy to guide morals and ethics does Sam or anyone recommend for general use? 

I am of the opinion that Sam's books blanketly dispose of all known or possible theories for a philosophy to replace Christianity in mainstream American culture.  I do not see how religion can even possibly begin to loose its grip without a relatively useful philosophy to fill that void.  How can we take away what is perceived as the Christians and Muslims and every other religion as a holy mandate of ethics and morals, without offering a guide to replace it?  Do we honestly think we can rely on every Tom Dick and Harry to set their own guidelines?  Our systems are already completely out of wack.  How can we fix this?

I am not asking what I can do, I am asking what we see as an alternative.  The ideal of furthering exploration into cognitive function does not cut it.  Science should not be a philosophy, and in its purest forms, science does not attempt to address this. 

Do you believe it would be necessary to come up with an American or World philosophy/creed to take the place of the useful tool of the Bible/Koran?  I am interested in hearing your viewpoints.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 05:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”]blanketly dispose of all known or possible theories

I don’t have an answer for you. But if you insist on using made-up words like “blanketly”, I am going to continue to make terrible sport of you in public.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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That’s the beuty of language.  If a person uses a word that isn’t traditional, yet everyone understands what it means, what is improper about it?

Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.


Or better yet:  GOD

I would hope that someone realizes that while I have a purposefully limited use of vocabulary, I attempt for people to not focus on my wording and instead on what I am saying.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 05:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”]What philosophy to guide morals and ethics does Sam or anyone recommend for general use? 

If it’s true that morals and ethics are already present, without religion, and that believers simply use the existence of morals and ethics to buttress their belief in religion, then wouldn’t it also be true that if they drop religion, the morals and ethics would remain nonetheless?

If this is true, then no replacement is needed. Only some explanation.

There is a book which I have not really begun called “Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism” by Richard Carrier. That might be a good place to start.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”]What philosophy to guide morals and ethics does Sam or anyone recommend for general use? 

I am of the opinion that Sam’s books blanketly dispose of all known or possible theories for a philosophy to replace Christianity in mainstream American culture.  I do not see how religion can even possibly begin to loose its grip without a relatively useful philosophy to fill that void.


You’re trying to think strategically. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but sound strategy is generally based upon sound understanding. It would be best to understand, as much as possible, whether or not Christian ethics work as advertised and why or why not if you hope to come up with a good strategy by which to accomplish the highest degree of peace and justice and social equity and such. Deciding that Christianity is a force for good (or at least that we’re better off with than without it) simply because the consequences could be bad if it’s rejected on a large scale is 1) not remotely likely to be tested any time soon, regardless and 2) an appeal to the consequences fallacy (the consequences don’t change the facts).

If we start out thinking “if this is true then we’re in trouble, so let’s not go there” we’re damn near guaranteed we won’t deal with the issue in question based upon sound understanding. We need to to start dealing with an issue once it’s understood. “Okay, this is apparently true, so what should we do?”

Byron

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Posted: 29 March 2007 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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[quote author=“SkepticX”][quote author=“MDBeach”]What philosophy to guide morals and ethics does Sam or anyone recommend for general use? 

I am of the opinion that Sam’s books blanketly dispose of all known or possible theories for a philosophy to replace Christianity in mainstream American culture.  I do not see how religion can even possibly begin to loose its grip without a relatively useful philosophy to fill that void.


You’re trying to think strategically. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but sound strategy is generally based upon sound understanding. It would be best to understand, as much as possible, whether or not Christian ethics work as advertised and why or why not if you hope to come up with a good strategy by which to accomplish the highest degree of peace and justice and social equity and such. Deciding that Christianity is a force for good (or at least that we’re better off with than without it) simply because the consequences could be bad if it’s rejected on a large scale is 1) not remotely likely to be tested any time soon, regardless and 2) an appeal to the consequences fallacy (the consequences don’t change the facts).

If we start out thinking “if this is true then we’re in trouble, so let’s not go there” we’re damn near guaranteed we won’t deal with the issue in question based upon sound understanding. We need to to start dealing with an issue once it’s understood. “Okay, this is apparently true, so what should we do?”

Byron

I appreciate your comments.

I agree with your general arguments, however, isn’t a foregone conclusion that Christianity needs to be removed from society?  Or at least from power?  How can we remove religion without having some philosophy to replace it?

I am not attempting to find a philosophy for myself, I am worried about the people with less than perfect IQ scores that simply can’t reason the way we do. 

Discussions about individual morality are great and all, but what do we do with the people that lack the capacity to even understand what morality and ethics even are? 


Everyone recognizes the difference between leaders and followers.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 06:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”]Everyone recognizes the difference between leaders and followers.

Yeah, but not everyone is going to agree to your categorization of who is who. Most especially, how do you categorize yourself? There seem to be a goodly number of ideas you do not really question.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“MDBeach”]Everyone recognizes the difference between leaders and followers.

Yeah, but not everyone is going to agree to your categorization of who is who. Most especially, how do you categorize yourself? There seem to be a goodly number of ideas you do not really question.

Which is why I am taking up this topic.

Please show me the ideas I am failing to account for.  I’m not trying to be a smart a**, I actually want other peoples opinions.  To me, this isn’t about whether I am actually right or wrong, but whether I am approaching the problem correctly.  Please point out any flaws you may find.  Even if it is spelling and grammatical errors! LOL

I characterize myself as a leader who does not yet have all the tools necessary to lead correctly.  I still have many inconsistencies in my beliefs hampering me in areas outside my specialty.  What I know, I know well, but at the same time I realize I have much more to learn.

If we are saying that reason has to replace our current philosophy based on religion, is it not a good idea to start exploring other possibilities?

There will always be large segments of our population that are either intellectual insufficient to participate in these discussions, or are just plain lazy.  My concern, is what happens to them?  If we disprove text based religion to everyone, what do we do for the weaker of our society?  It would seem that our goal is fruitless if not to improve the overall human condition.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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I am not attempting to find a philosophy for myself, I am worried about the people with less than perfect IQ scores that simply can’t reason the way we do.

There will always be large segments of our population that are either intellectual insufficient to participate in these discussions, or are just plain lazy. My concern, is what happens to them? If we disprove text based religion to everyone, what do we do for the weaker of our society? It would seem that our goal is fruitless if not to improve the overall human condition.

I think these two statements may be somewhat elitist, assuming a certain philosoophical erudition is necessary to see reason.

Certainly not everybody on this board (including me) is able to fully comprehend all the various isms that are discussed. But, Harris’s books don’t discuss them either, and look at what wonderful tools they are.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 08:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“HappyHeathen”]

I am not attempting to find a philosophy for myself, I am worried about the people with less than perfect IQ scores that simply can’t reason the way we do.

There will always be large segments of our population that are either intellectual insufficient to participate in these discussions, or are just plain lazy. My concern, is what happens to them? If we disprove text based religion to everyone, what do we do for the weaker of our society? It would seem that our goal is fruitless if not to improve the overall human condition.

I think these two statements may be somewhat elitist, assuming a certain philosophical erudition is necessary to see reason.

Certainly not everybody on this board (including me) is able to fully comprehend all the various isms that are discussed. But, Harris’s books don’t discuss them either, and look at what wonderful tools they are.

I would argue that it is elitist to talk about morals at all.  However, I am not arguing that I have the answers, I am simply posting what I consider to be overriding principles that need to be addressed. 

And yes, I do believe that it is a responsibility of humans to look after other humans.  I have yet to find any philosophy that eliminates that requirement, and I happen to agree with it.

Actually, I do disagree with the propostion that Sam’s books do not address the majority of isms.  I contend the exact opposite.  Sam addressed every school of thought that has been accepted known to man, but did not pick any that could fill the void caused by the removal of organized religion.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”]
Actually, I do disagree with the propostion that Sam’s books do not address the majority of isms.  I contend the exact opposite.  Sam addressed every school of thought that has been accepted known to man, but did not pick any that could fill the void caused by the removal of organized religion.

Well, maybe I ought to re-read Sam’s books.  What I know is that they made perfect sense to me and were very accessible, whereas some of the discourse here on this forum seems to carry the same ideas to a point beyond which it’s necessary for the layman to understand them.

So, that I can’t necessarily remember the ins and outs of every school of thought that Sam addressed, but still feel I have a good understanding of the book’s main points, says much for addressing the layman effectively.

As far as filling the void caused by removal of religion, I like the question. I guess I don’t have the same worries as you as far as reaching the laypeople.  If I can understand Sam’s books, I could certainly understand a similarly-written book discussing how to live without religon. I don’t yet know if Carrier’s book is one of those.

A thought - if you draw the analogy of religon as a drug like heroin, then what is its “methadone”, and need it be permanent? 

There is probably a necessary degree of sadness and possibly depression that comes with deconversion. It’s perhaps the “cold turkey” aspect of withdrawing.

I’m just thinking out loud here. Hope you guys don’t mind….
Just worried about replacing one addiction with another….

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Posted: 29 March 2007 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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If it’s true that morals and ethics are already present, without religion, and that believers simply use the existence of morals and ethics to buttress their belief in religion, then wouldn’t it also be true that if they drop religion, the morals and ethics would remain nonetheless?

Happy Heathen, I agree with you. If for a moment a religious person is willing to surrender to reason—to let fall his or her suspension of disbelief—it won’t take long to point out that even modern fundamentalists know that murder and slavery are wrong. If they have the moral intuition to cherry pick lessons from the Bible, why not start with a clean slate unadulterated by superstitions, ancient world views and mistranslations?

I am not asking what I can do, I am asking what we see as an alternative. The ideal of furthering exploration into cognitive function does not cut it. Science should not be a philosophy, and in its purest forms, science does not attempt to address this.

MDBeach, I came away from Harris’ books feeling it’s urgent that science begin doing just that—addressing human pain, love and ethics. Why do you say that furthering exploration into cognitive function isn’t enough? Is it that you need something with more traditional moral authority? I sense not—it seems you’re afraid others do.

I’m just riffing here, but maybe once science gets the reverence and wonder it deserves in our society, and once more scientists break the glass ceiling that keeps them from studying human spirituality, then honest, evidence-based findings will take religion’s place.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Is morality really so complicated? We already value democracy and the rule of law as being ‘self-evident truths’ so why not just go on with that? Liberty is not a particularly religious value, and yet we like it. Sure, there are always wrinkles to iron out, but we have a fairly good system for working things out right now.
The greatest progress in ‘morals’, I think, is in the field of psychology. Here we learn that people who are generally treated well, treat others well. When someone does really awful stuff we call them ‘sick’. So we can shift morals right out of religion into the mental health field.
As a religious person, I can tell you that you can pull the moral carpet out from under religion and I’m still standing squarely on a religious platform. You can point out that religion is not rational, and my thinking about spirituality does not skip a beat. So if you want to do some sort of cleansing to get religion completely out of society, you will need to find something comparable to replace it. And there is nothing comparable. That’s what we mean by ‘spirit’ - the material world offers nothing like it, nor is it separable from the material world.
I see Sam Harris as a religious reformer, a new world prophet, who can help us see through the conflict of science, religion and philosophy.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 12:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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I think the complicated part of getting the world to accept a single form of morality is that everyone wants to attach their label to it. They don’t want to call it “morality” they want to call it “Christian morality” or some other religions morality.

There are certain things that, if they work, will dispense of their labeling origins and become a part of the whole with which everyone can work. If Christian morality works, there’s no reason that I have to accept that and also accept that Jesus was the Son of God. It’s not “Christian morality” or anybody else’s. Everyone has good ideas. The problem is that there is a superiority complex that goes along with saying that certain Christian ideas are right because they are Christian. If they were right solely because they were Christian then the Christian doctrine would have to be definitionally true. However, people don’t need to accept faith in order to follow so-called “Christian morality.”

I’m just parroting Harris now, but if we were to discover that Buddhism had the best theory on the brain and consciousness, objectively verifying it would automatically take it out of the realm of Buddhism into the world of scientifically verifiable facts that everyone can use, and no one has to be a Buddhist to accept these facts. This is the reason we don’t have Christian physics, yadda yadda as Sam says. The only thing we need to remove is dogma and we don’t need to accept any form of morality that lacks good reasons. Nobody is replacing morals. We’re just ridding ourselves of irrationality.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“snapshot1”]The only thing we need to remove is dogma and we don’t need to accept any form of morality that lacks good reasons. Nobody is replacing morals. We’re just ridding ourselves of irrationality.

Well put, Snapshot. I think that’s what I was afraid to say….for some reason….

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Posted: 29 March 2007 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“HappyHeathen”][quote author=“snapshot1”]The only thing we need to remove is dogma and we don’t need to accept any form of morality that lacks good reasons. Nobody is replacing morals. We’re just ridding ourselves of irrationality.

Well put, Snapshot. I think that’s what I was afraid to say….for some reason….

I do not disagree.  The christian philosophy without the dogma is a very good start.  That’s why Chicken Soup for the soul is such a popular series. 
However, I haven’t been exactly been hearing many atheists on here praising anything about Christianity, but rather its utter ignorance.  That’s why I am asking what philosophy you propose replace the christian philosophy, as a belief in a deity is necessary to make that philosophy work.  You can’t have one without the…other.  (You know, like a horse and carriage?)  It is hypocritical to praise a philosophy as a tool and admonish its followers in the next breath.  So…........what do we use?  I like the teachings of Plato and Socrates as a start. 

If you wanted to rebuild a lost civilization, how would you start?

[ Edited: 09 April 2007 02:45 AM by ]
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