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Why do atheists believe in universal values?
Posted: 02 March 2012 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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Why is it that increasing overall happiness is taken to be the universal value?

Thanks for your thoughts,
Jerry

Hi Jerry,

Overall happiness, or any other meaning, is biologically dependent. We tend to have a rather universal biology we humans, thus, universal values relative too that biology, that consciousness. You might say its a relational world, so the values that arise do not belong to the subject or the object, but to the relations between them, in other words, the value arises as an evaluation of the affect of object upon the subject biology. Without biology, the physical world is utterly meaningless. Biology, is the measure of all things, Values, looking out for ones own biology[self-interest]..

[ Edited: 21 March 2012 05:25 PM by boagie]
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The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.
David Hume

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Posted: 04 March 2012 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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For some inexplicable reason, I think if you take the species as a whole, and you engage in behaviors that reduce the suffering of the species overall, you have a more evolutionarily adaptive species.  This isn’t to suggest that this species is actually as evolutionarily adaptive as it could be.  This species has some serious quirks.  You have people who get suicidal if they can’t hack living bodies to pieces, because it goes against what they love to do, you have women in droves who feel repulsed by kinder males than other males in the sexual selection field.  You have people who have sat in caves simply through a practice or sheer curiosity who have starved themselves to death.  We’re a weird species.  That said, if evolutionary adaptation, the survival game is your game, I do believe the species as a whole is organized to be more adaptive when there is less suffering, and the way that suffering is primarily reduced is through the proper allocation of resources, the ethical allocation of resources.  I actually think that when resources aren’t properly allocated that life is not really worth living, it causes the existential crisis, one of the ways people avoid this existential crisis is to jump on board and do as the romans do when in rome, which is not properly allocate resources, it gives them a sense of meaning in terms of power (If it’s going to happen to me if I don’t do it, I’ll be the one to do it, and I’ll have the power of this phenomenon working for me).  The problem with this is that it increases the overall suffering in the species to do this, even though it may feel good at the time, just like you have people who when hacking living people to death are increasing the overall suffering of the species but it feels good to them at the time.  You could have hacked up a person who in some way contributed to a cure for cancer that you end up catching and suffering greatly from.  The problem is the long term thinking and the marriage of reason and emotion.  People often don’t do what’s in their best interest because it feels good at the time, but I think if you take the species as whole, the ethics of behavior will ultimately determine the reduction in overall suffering, so i think atheists have very good reason to consider this a moral imperative.  Sometimes morals don’t have to do with personal desires, I live because I think my life enhances the lives of others, not because I want to live in the system we have, I feel morally obligated to not be that guy who starves in a cave, because of what I can offer others in terms of wisdom, people might not pay attention to it, but then again, they might.

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Posted: 06 March 2012 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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OK to answer the question which is the title of this thread, we believe in universal values because all humans universally share the same biology, the same body. What hurts me hurts you and visa versa. What’s good for my body and mind is also good for your body and mind, at a certain level of generality.  So this is the ultimate source of universal values. If I meet a human somewhere I’ve never met before, he comes guaranteed,  just out of the box, not to want to step on a nail and get tetanus.


That level of generality is however, special because its the level which everything else depends on and assumes is in good working order. Getting enough folic acid; not being in pain; not constantly having to be looking for food; not having to spend all your time watching out for what a fellow human might do to you. That sort of thing.

 

 

If you’re asking why we hold these values as opposed to say the values of the people in Jonestown, who decided that death was better than being alive or the Christian fundies who don’t care about humans or their suffering or how their affairs go, but only care that THEIR name is written in the Book Of Life and the Rapture will take them up to heaven while everyone else gets fucked (and they get to watch), if you’re asking why dont’ we have THOSE values,  all I can say is those are dangerous cults with a disease.

 


To care about humans and all life (within limits) and to be curious about the world and concerned about how things go for people everywhere is what a healthy human IS.

 

If you want to debate that point, if it’s not completely obvious to you, then perhaps you’re just engaging in a little abstract philosophical thought experiment. I’ll play along.


Suppose that some super race of aliens knows - and it’s true- that the greater good, as we ourselves define it , is best served by turning us into batteries ala The Matirx.  The question is, isn’t this super race entitled to put us in the pods and hook us up to the circuit by our own values?

 

The answer has to be that there’s some definite chauvinism here on our part that’s been exposed by the aliens. We’re engaging in some rationalization of our innate impulse to go on living in a way that makes us feel good and spinning it out into some philosophy that equates human happiness with “good” .

 

What if humans are the universe’s equivalent of a disease spreading cockroach?  Then what? Actually, Stephan Hawking worried about something a bit like this. He noted that SETI, the attempt to contact alien life, was likely to result in aliens coming to our planet and eating or enslaving us, choose one. He referenced the sad history of more advanced civilizations on earth encountering less advanced ones (see Guns Germs and Steel for details) and speculated not unreasonably it might not go so well for us.


My answer to this little thought experiment is, the relief of the suffering of nervous systems is a universal good and no nervous system is excluded from consideration except that it’s not practically possible to relieve that suffering . In other words, I’m a bleeding heart liberal and I go the extra step and aggrandize that empathetic impulse into some self evident and inalienable universal good. If aliens want to hook us up or eat us the way we squash cockroaches, then they must be wrong. They’re bad aliens, oh and help me man this raygun.

 

Too much circular logic for you? Sounds too self satisfied and self referential to stand as a pillar of morality? Then try this on for size- there’s more of us than there is of you, supposing you think human suffering is not important.


If a person exists- and in no way am I saying that you are such a one just for asking this question! - but if a person exists who puts some value above human welfare and intends to enact that programme upon others in some way large or small without their consent (and even with it in many cases….. Jonestown being one such) then all I can say is,  that’s what jails and armies are for.

 

We have the power, not you, and we’re not handing it over to you or aliens or Ayn Randers or Christian Fundies or Islamic extremists or anyone or anything else. If that sounds fascistic in some humanist way, well then, tough shit.

 

It’s our way or the highway, so get fucking used to it.

 

But the serious answer here is we all share a common biology and as a side effect it creates a common morality which all non-sick members of society inherently feel to be moral. You don’t actually have to explain to anyone why their suffering is a bad thing and you don’t have to work too hard (although you have to support this notion in your culture or it will is likely to be greatly diminished amongst people)  to convince people that other people’s suffering is also a bad thing, thanks to the innate impulse of empathy.


Along these lines, enhancing human empathy and making sure we’re all born with a sufficient amount will be a great achievement on the part of science during the 21st century.


You know all those pictures of toothless poor souls who lived during the 19th century who looked beaten and defeated and worn out at 30? Or the lives of the average person during the Middle Ages? You look at them and read about them and think, man I’m glad I was not alive back then. That’s what future humans are going to do when they read our literature and watch our TV and see Dick Cheney or Ayn Rand talking. They’re going to see what assholes unengineered human characters can be and they’re going to think “man, I’m glad I wasn’t alive when there were people like THAT walking around ! “

 



 

 

[ Edited: 06 March 2012 11:56 AM by softwarevisualization]
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Posted: 14 March 2012 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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To care about humans and all life (within limits) and to be curious about the world and concerned about how things go for people everywhere is what a healthy human IS.

>> How do you know this?  Sounds like religious thinking.  It’s just ‘so’?  I would replace ‘care’ with respect, perhaps.

If you want to debate that point, if it’s not completely obvious to you, then perhaps you’re just engaging in a little abstract philosophical thought experiment. I’ll play along.

Suppose that some super race of aliens knows - and it’s true- that the greater good, as we ourselves define it , is best served by turning us into batteries ala The Matirx.  The question is, isn’t this super race entitled to put us in the pods and hook us up to the circuit by our own values?

>> Who decides or how does one decide what the ‘greater good’ is?  Sound mystical or intrinsic.  How do you arrive at what’s suitable for the greater good without knowing what’s good for the individual first?

Overall, I’m just super skeptical of ever finding an atheist who isn’t a mystic.

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Posted: 17 March 2012 02:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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mormovies - 14 March 2012 11:41 AM

To care about humans and all life (within limits) and to be curious about the world and concerned about how things go for people everywhere is what a healthy human IS.

>> How do you know this?  Sounds like religious thinking.  It’s just ‘so’?  I would replace ‘care’ with respect, perhaps.

If you want to debate that point, if it’s not completely obvious to you, then perhaps you’re just engaging in a little abstract philosophical thought experiment. I’ll play along.

Suppose that some super race of aliens knows - and it’s true- that the greater good, as we ourselves define it , is best served by turning us into batteries ala The Matirx.  The question is, isn’t this super race entitled to put us in the pods and hook us up to the circuit by our own values?

>> Who decides or how does one decide what the ‘greater good’ is?  Sound mystical or intrinsic.  How do you arrive at what’s suitable for the greater good without knowing what’s good for the individual first?

Overall, I’m just super skeptical of ever finding an atheist who isn’t a mystic.

I think you refer to what often is called “New Atheism” when you talk about the mystic connection to atheism. Personally I have never believed in the factual elements of religion, as I come from a culture where some still some have experience with the oral mythical saga tradition. In better words, you learn at a young age that language is human abstract interpretation of subjective experiences in what probably is one common objective reality.

Talking about universal issues, one must not forget that such claims are founded on the religious concept of the absolute.

Representing universal values, waging just wars, civilizing the savages, conforming the masses, have been a doctrine influenced by religion as a part of system to maintain and achieve power as long back as human records can be traced.
If the native population of the south and north American continent had not been eradicated and destroyed, as the burden of the righteous bringers of the true path were forced to do. We probably had to bomb some sense into those savages today.


You probably see the obvious ironic exaggeration, without there being anything untrue in the texts. As the text is only a description of actions that can be proven. The abstract interpretation on the other hand, can take different forms.
Let me elaborate:.

- UN have peace keeping soldiers, while “evildoers” have simply soldiers. The peace keeping soldiers are armed, with purpose of striking down threats to own superiority with force required. Thus imposing own will without objection, and achieve state of peace. Soldiers of the “evildoer” faction serve same purpose. So why to different definitions? Because subjective abstract interpretations are bound to contain subjective emotional influence that comes in a dualistic form.


The scenario discussed about alien invasions in relation to universal absolutes makes me smile. The innate biological sense of external threats shapes our frame of mind. This sense can be expressed through the paranoid like feeling that somewhere, out there, something is out to get us. Unfortunately something that have caused the acceptance of terms like pre-emptive war as other than a irrational imaginary claim of having the one true crystal ball that reveals the future. Start a war to prevent war…. War is peace…


So, to address your experience of atheists being connected to the mystics, I believe myself to be different from your experience. I never felt the need to label myself as atheist, as it comes of as taking a stance towards the supernatural which I do not have any experience with. Since I live in the natural world, discussions of other worlds and realities often become that of the absurd.


As I sit and write on my computer made by some unknown Asian worker, I do not fill myself with lies about empathy towards this workers probably working and life condition. I bought it because it was cheap, and know some other people must pay the cost my comfort and luxury demand. The story other people tell themselves in their subjective interpretation matters little when it comes to reality.


In essence, not all so-called atheists believe in universal values that resembles absolute truths and similar beliefs. To me it seems like there is some cultural division on understanding of being non - religious. Coming from Scandinavia, the savage past of rejecting the institution of Rome, religion as other than myth never really got foothold. By majority religion is understood as a child belief, like the tooth fairy and other topics. Debating the existence of the tooth fairy gains little attention, nor should it. Same goes for similar sagas, tales and stories existing only in the realm of the mind. The polarized division between religious and non - religious people in countries where religion influence to a greater extent, seems more aggressive and confrontational. Although I understand that when force is imposed, the only way to counter is increased force to balance separation. When these “riding the dinosaur” stories are integrated into your local school under the pretext of having something to do with science ( Creationism ), the arena for debate is demanded by non - religious people. When these same people support military intervention to civilize the barbarians with bombs and bullets upon whom they only know by what the television have told them. A country, people and culture, very unrelated to their own reality, seems more threatening than events affecting the environment in which they live their lives, logic and rationality becomes little more than a claim.


Capital punishment, the penalty of death because murder breaks the commandment given by the all mighty. As all life is sacred, the taker of life must be sacrificed to please the lawgivers wrath. The killer must be killed because killing is not acceptable…... That is how this practice comes of from my point of view. In the country where I come from, capital punishment does not exist. Looking to the USA, there is a different point of view. Do I think they are immoral? Wrong?
No! Their values, their society and life are matters concerning themselves. What is right for them is something I must assume they know better themselves than me. Who am I to educate them about values as if I had some supernatural knowledge superior to them? As I stated at the top, I am not religious, and nor would I dare to express some simple minded claim about having some god like attributes like being close to all knowing. Such would make me a despicable hypocrite, would it not?

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Posted: 17 March 2012 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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The scenario discussed about alien invasions in relation to universal absolutes makes me smile. The innate biological sense of external threats shapes our frame of mind. This sense can be expressed through the paranoid like feeling that somewhere, out there, something is out to get us. Unfortunately something that have caused the acceptance of terms like pre-emptive war as other than a irrational imaginary claim of having the one true crystal ball that reveals the future. Start a war to prevent war…. War is peace…

 


It may make you smile, but it is also the tale of the historical tape when a more technologically advanced civilization encounters a less advanced one. Insights gained from historical facts are not generally categorized as ‘paranoid.

 

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Posted: 19 March 2012 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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If you want to debate that point, if it’s not completely obvious to you, then perhaps you’re just engaging in a little abstract philosophical thought experiment. I’ll play along.
Suppose that some super race of aliens knows - and it’s true- that the greater good, as we ourselves define it , is best served by turning us into batteries ala The Matirx.  The question is, isn’t this super race entitled to put us in the pods and hook us up to the circuit by our own values?

>>>I believe the ‘greater good’ is a mystical concept.  There is no ‘greater’ or ‘common’ good that aside from very basic requirements for life that we can agree on.  We can only know and exist as our SELF and cannot, for a even split second, be our un-SELF.  Based on what is essential for an individual of the species is all we can know and extrapolate that to entire species.  That’s how we study all other creatures.  They have slightly different adaptations but basically have the same requirements and are similarly genetically programmed.  ‘Caring’ is not a principal it’s derived from individuals leaving tribal societies and wanting to be independent and not part of a group.  We learn that we must trade values and goods and cooperate to survive.  ‘Love’ is not a principal, it’s a mystical concept.  We come together and ‘love’  when it is in our best interest to do so, when we value something highly.  Otherwise, we can only ‘care’ and ‘love’ because Jesus or some other invisible entity says so.  Sorry, I react violently to cliches and rhetoric that are repeatedly spouted automatically because Hitler, Jesus, god, Mao, Stalin and others I don’t respect, are say so and advocate deadly force to promote their version of the ‘common good .’  I think the best explanation of how we evolved and created values and learned to cooperate is explained in Matt Ridley’s THE RATIONAL OPTIMIST.  Check it out.

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Posted: 22 March 2012 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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softwarevisualization - 17 March 2012 04:44 PM

It may make you smile, but it is also the tale of the historical tape when a more technologically advanced civilization encounters a less advanced one. Insights gained from historical facts are not generally categorized as ‘paranoid.

 


Of course you are correct on value of insights gained from historical facts. But as you surely will agree, much of the misconception regarding Darwin, theory of evolution and the phrase “survival of the fittest”, comes from understanding it in context of cultural mindset.


As “survival of the fittest” often is portrayed as competition between elements in a system, “survival by adaptation” in coherence with elements in system often becomes more correct. In any micro or macro ecological system there is balance and mutual evolution. We fragment and divide time ( reality ) to have point of reference as necessity in order to have some kind of comprehension. Evolution is a constant process of change that in essence is time, and therefore reality.


So, regarding historical insights, we know that past civilizations viewed themselves as center and purpose of the universe and existence. Recent flawed theories like the German Nazi era, where the superior “race” and culture with - Gott Mit Uns - as slogan, claimed to follow the enlightened destined path of conquering the inferiors. Now we know about DNA, expanded our knowledge of comparative mythology, and have a better understanding of patterns of human migration and social development. Something that proved the stupidity of mentioned example.


When presenting hypothesis about aliens coming to earth, one should be careful about attributing them our human frame of mind. If a different form of life have developed to the extent of technology making such travel, it only comes of as strange to think that their logical and rational capacity are at the level of past and present human capacity. 


I understand the biological inherent impulse where external unknowns signals possible danger. I also reject this as indicator of probable intentions any hypothetical alien visitor comes with. We did not invent and built enough nuclear weapons to eradicate all life on earth several times because of rational and logical minds, we did it because we in essence still are plain fools.


In comparison to biological principles as guidance transferred over to culture and society, my arguments are strengthened. Life have success by moving from the conformed singular existence to multitude and diversity. Does culture evolve by influence of a multitude of diverse cultural directions, or does it evolve by the influence a streamlined conformed single society echoes.

 

To elaborate on “my smile”. As the imagined alien encounter is something we only can imagine, since our current mathematical and technological knowledge still can not prove scenario one of relevant probability. The construction of a hypothesis of imagined threats such as this, more or less is the definition of paranoia. Do not take it as a comment towards the individual, but as a reflection about a social state of mind we are all influenced by.


To be honest it could be that I disagree because a difference in how we view the world in general. Perhaps some would say the migration to Australia was the scenario of a more advanced civilization removing a less advanced one. Knowing that the indigenous people ( Aboriginals ) was accepted as equally human by law first in 1967, the concept advanced civilization becomes one more used because of convenience rather than one of fact.

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Posted: 22 March 2012 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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Recent flawed theories like the German Nazi era, where the superior “race” and culture with - Gott Mit Uns - as slogan, claimed to follow the enlightened destined path of conquering the inferiors.

>> This is not accurate and I would argue that Nazism and Marxism were reactions and revolts against Darwin and the Enlightenment. These systems/philosophies, whatever, were not scientific and did not use Darwin.  Read history and more recently, read Steven Pinker and others.  This is a tired, bad example of social Darwinism.  Evolution is part of every facet of human, animal and plant life.  We create societies to shield us from the worst aspects of cut-throat survival but we don’t need to reject science.  Nazism and Marxism were mystical and much closer to Christianity than Darwin!

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Posted: 24 March 2012 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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mormovies - 22 March 2012 02:52 PM

Recent flawed theories like the German Nazi era, where the superior “race” and culture with - Gott Mit Uns - as slogan, claimed to follow the enlightened destined path of conquering the inferiors.

>> This is not accurate and I would argue that Nazism and Marxism were reactions and revolts against Darwin and the Enlightenment. These systems/philosophies, whatever, were not scientific and did not use Darwin.  Read history and more recently, read Steven Pinker and others.  This is a tired, bad example of social Darwinism.  Evolution is part of every facet of human, animal and plant life.  We create societies to shield us from the worst aspects of cut-throat survival but we don’t need to reject science.  Nazism and Marxism were mystical and much closer to Christianity than Darwin!


You probably did not understand that I did not say the social system of Nazi Germany WAS anything. I commented on their CLAIM of being, as well as how THEY PERCEIVED themselves. Context probably eluded you as I used their slogan - GOTT MIT UNS - ( GOD WITH US ), the obvious implication of belief being a strong influence.


Please do not add false arguments under the claim of them being mine. I hope the mistake was unintentional.


Regardless of mentioned issue. I fail to understand your connection between political systems and science. Perhaps you could inform me about the scientific correct political system? as I have never heard of such a system before. You see, I have the limited notion of science being knowledge gained by the use of the scientific method.


Ironic as it is to recommend me reading history about the Nazi ideology being a bad example of social Darwinism, while you elegantly evade the pseudo science behind “evolution” aspects of the Nazi ideology having origin in the academic circles of Darwin`s fellow British scientists and historians.

 


.

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Posted: 25 March 2012 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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Regardless of mentioned issue. I fail to understand your connection between political systems and science. Perhaps you could inform me about the scientific correct political system? as I have never heard of such a system before. You see, I have the limited notion of science being knowledge gained by the use of the scientific method.

>>>  I’m not claiming there is, or that I know, a scientifically correct politically system but that is an idea worth investigating.  I am claiming that with science we can better understand human nature and human biological and psychological requirements.  What we currently know I think refutes the traditional centralized, top-down type of political systems.

Ironic as it is to recommend me reading history about the Nazi ideology being a bad example of social Darwinism, while you elegantly evade the pseudo science behind “evolution” aspects of the Nazi ideology having origin in the academic circles of Darwin`s fellow British scientists and historians.

>>> I would only agree that the Nazis distorted the concept of ‘social Darwinism’ to their purposes and that ‘social Darwinism’ itself is a perversion of Darwin.

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Posted: 04 April 2012 07:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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mormovies - 25 March 2012 10:11 AM

I’m not claiming there is, or that I know, a scientifically correct politically system but that is an idea worth investigating.  I am claiming that with science we can better understand human nature and human biological and psychological requirements.  What we currently know I think refutes the traditional centralized, top-down type of political systems.


The problem with investigating a “scientifically” better political system should be fairly obvious. The system and society we have created, is very different from the environment humans are evolved to exist in. As our society is founded on the belief in meta-values instead of functional value, we find ourselves imprisoned by a system of own creation. The complexity of this is a subject of such enormous proportions that any elaboration would only provide vague implications.


But nevertheless, here are some: Clothes should be a garment protecting the human body. Instead clothes have become the conveyor of illusions regarding how people wish to be perceived as well as how they are perceived. A car should be a mode of transportation from point A to point B. Instead the car have been attributed imaginary values to the degree of it being perceived as a physical manifestation of the concept “freedom”.


The traditional centralized, top-down type of political systems is our creation. Animals who form social groups usually, if not close to always, functions within a hierarchical system where there is a dominant pack leader or leading group. As we are social animals, a top down system should not surprise. This kind of systems faults and problems are the natural result when it exists in environments it is not meant to function in.


Mental illnesses, physical problems like obesity and other similar lifestyle health issues, are only symptoms. Problems with cause in irrational human behavior could lead one to think that it could be connected with the environment humans finds themselves in. But do we? If it is the environment that promotes and influence behavior, does it matter much to behavior what choices are preferred within the same environment?


Now. I must agree with you on the importance of investigating and researching in order to find solutions and answers to problems influencing society and life in general. I also acknowledge current problems of humanity today. What I am most sure about, is that I do not claim to have the answers. My skepticism towards any “prophet” who advocates and preach such answers, boils down to the fact that it was people with the right answers who lead us to current situation.

 

When I see people using the concept of science to support belief or own point of view, I feel responsibility to react. Science is a matter of what can be supported through the use of the scientific method. The vague implications gained by neuroscience on a religious concept as morale can in some sense be argued as remotely connected to science. But when it is connected to political ideologies and other factors that relates to the faith in a specific direction eventually leads to a imagined future vision, it becomes strictly mockery of the concept of science.


To provide with a specific example of such mockery of science, and how it is being under attack from forces operating within the scientific community, I will give you one. ( added exaggerated irony for the fun of it ).

 

When a child struggles to adapt to the institutions implemented to raise and eventually educate the child. Nourished from childhood on the convenience offered by fast food, frozen dinners and tasty colored fluids. There are a steady growth in parents who feel bothered by the symptoms such a struggling child could display, as it could interfere with more important issues like personal career or favorite television show to name some. Fortunately science have taken new directions, and provide scientific solutions to suit the modern way of life. Children who struggles to focus and adapt according to what the social system demands must have some kind of sickness. Although nothing wrong can be found on mentioned children, the “new science” have faith in finding the cause of this newly invented health problem. By pure luck there is doctors to aid with medicine to help with this health problem revealed by faith and maintained by belief. Research and scientific work came with the solution, Metylfid - or Ritalin as it is known amongst the commoners. The academic circles was amazed. Who would have thought, all that was needed to help the child to focus and enjoy the environment was carefully measured dozes of amphetamine derivatives.

mormovies - 25 March 2012 10:11 AM

I would only agree that the Nazis distorted the concept of ‘social Darwinism’ to their purposes and that ‘social Darwinism’ itself is a perversion of Darwin.

That was partially my point. The problem is that you believe this perversion as something owned and limited to the Nazis. I used the example because that example is one that many recognize.

Do you think a black WW2 veteran coming home to the welcoming arms of the US of A, where he could enjoy his racially limited freedom to be a inferior citizen?

Do you think the native population of Australia cheered the victory against the evil forces of Nazi Germany with same pride as when they in the 1960`s managed to get acknowledged by written law as human beings, changing to some degree their prior legal status as a sub human species categorized as belonging to the general plant and animal life?


Darwin talked about life and environment as a continued process of change. In this process there was no fixed universal point of reference regarding interaction and development. Universal values as idea was given birth by the merger of religion and state, institutionalized religion as mechanism of social control to strengthen power of rulers and those in position of power. By claim of the one true universal knowledge, all actions of those with power became just and right. Values that are universal can NEVER be taught, as they are equally human. Values that are universal would therefore be the foundation of ANY culture, not forgetting creations made by people and their culture as in religion.


To be more precise. If there are universal human values. Why are they limited to a corresponding majority within a specific cultural framework? How come these truths are revelations received by group of chosen people, who`s mission it becomes in life to spread this message? What power is bestowed upon those who promise to guide humanity towards paradise, as such gift exceed the limitations of what can be tested and proven with science? Do you recognize a familiar pattern here…

 


Please do not take all I say to serious. I like to write in exaggerated and ironic form, as I have experienced it to engage/rage people who see thing differently. Most likely much of issues disagreed upon is a matter of the limitations of language as form of communication. When I compare the religious pattern in different mindsets, I do not see people like Sam Harris as some preacher of some absolute truths. I have read and listened to so much of his work, that I know he is more reflected that can be portrayed in a debate where one is representing one side of two different arguments. The average “fan” base of the icons that have become the front men of the so-called “New Atheism” on the other hand, are a completely different story.. Not that I with certainty are free of similar traits, as they are human. It is only difficult to see the bubble one sits inside. But then again, the reason behind me being reluctant of claiming to know answers to questions with universal answers. When I throw a rock up in the air, I know with great certainty that it will come down. Some would say they are absolutely sure the rock will come down, not reflecting to much about why their eyes need a confirming second look to make sure about that which one is absolutely sure of. On the other hand, it could be biological instinct of targeting, analyzing and interpret objects in motion as our eyes are positioned in front like most known mammal hunters…. Who knows  

( NB! Do not take my rant to seriously please =)

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Posted: 04 April 2012 08:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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That was partially my point. The problem is that you believe this perversion as something owned and limited to the Nazis. I used the example because that example is one that many recognize.

>>  Not at all.  For brevity, I merely picked a single, pretty extreme example.  Basically, we are always evolving biologically and socially and culturally (and in every other way).  I’m surprised we developed top-down systems nor religion and mystical beliefs.  Earlier in our evolution, these were very logical and important things.  We just can’t cling to them anymore.  Overall, you have spoken well.

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Posted: 12 April 2012 10:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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Hi all,


Thanks for your comments. It seems that boagie, 0username0, and softwarevisualization all derive a universal value from evolution or from biology. I believe that doing so crosses the is/ought debate referenced earlier in the thread. Just because we all feel pain under certain circumstances does not mean that we should automatically avoid those circumstances. For example, just because I feel sore when exercising does not mean I should abstain from exercise. Likewise, these derivations seem simplistic in the face of certain cases where we expect a few to be hurt for the larger good. For example, it’s unclear how this supposed universal value would hold up when deciding whether a nation should go to war (there’s clearly the short-term pain and loss inflicted upon the soldiers who are involved, but perhaps there is a longer-term gain of curbing tyranny).


softwarevisualization asserts that “the relief of the suffering of nervous systems is a universal good and no nervous system is excluded from consideration except that it’s not practically possible to relieve that suffering” but doesn’t offer much justification. For example, everyone that I know wants to have more money—does that mean that becoming rich is a universal value? If not, how is that different from the relief of suffering? Common feelings—even when imposed by a common biology—does not seem like a sufficient basis for morality.


In review of this thread, the question that I brought up is how can any atheist uphold any value as universal? I think comment #6 (written by buybuydandavis) and Sean Carroll’s critique of Sam Harris’ presentation offer the intellectually honest answer that the atheist viewpoint does not afford the possibility of a universal value. In light of that, a lot of what Sam Harris has been preaching loses both moral and intellectual imperative.


Regards,
Jerry

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Posted: 12 April 2012 10:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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Jerry,

Universal values such as human compassion make it possible to have a society, a civilization. Seeing as all meaning belongs to the subject and not the object,  I would say biology is the only place to look to as the source of all meanings and all values universal or otherwise. Indeed all mythologies, all belief systems have many differences, but there are indeed more significant similarities than dissimilarities regarding meaning and morality, all societies embrace the right to life. biology/consciousness is the measure of all things, in other words, it is this which defines the world around you, and just perhaps, it is the creator of apparent reality.

[ Edited: 13 April 2012 07:01 AM by boagie]
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The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.
David Hume

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