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Why should We be Good? : Salvation and Paradise

 
SheriY95
 
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SheriY95
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01 November 2010 03:07
 

Being “good” means acting in accord with the natural values of freedom, equality, honesty, and generosity (see overview of natural philosophy). But - without fear of hell, reward of heaven, Karmic retribution, or the coercion of law - why should we live in accord with these values?

The answer is simple. When the natural values are violated the result is destruction (see origins of conflict). At the international level, excessive violation of the natural values results in violent conflicts and war (see geopolitics of morality). While actions that are in accord with the natural values promote life. Now let us try to make this concept a bit more tangible.

Your House

Suppose you live in a great city. You are building a house for yourself, your family, your children, your friends, and for future generations to enjoy. To build this house well you need to work in accord with the finest principles of construction.

You probably want to build the house on a strong foundation, and construct it from materials that would make it last for a long time. You would also want the house to be comfortable and practical for daily life. But why should you bother to build in accord with the finest principles of construction, and not make shortcuts in your work? What would you get in return for your work?

The answer to these questions is self-evident. This is your house. If you build it well the reward would be the product of your labor. If you don’t build it well - and make shortcuts in your work - the result would be ruinous to you and to those around you. This house is your life. The principles of construction are your values.

Do you really need to believe in a supervisor (God) who will give you a reward if you do a good job, or punish you if you don’t? Of course not! Your reward is the product of your labor. If you don’t do the work well the punishment would be the destructive effect of your shortcomings.

There is no need for any external rewards or punishments to promote such good behavior. In fact, external rewards can only corrupt our work: if your incentive is to avoid a fine from the government, you would make all the shortcuts you can get away with. If it is Karmic retribution, you would still make shortcuts here and there - as long as these are not too severe. And if the reward is absolute (heaven or hell), you would do the work just good enough to avoid damnation.

If the primary motivation for your actions is extraneous to the intrinsic purpose of your actions your performance will deteriorate. The greater the external reward - the worse the behavior. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but this concept has been experimentally demonstrated over and over again.

The Supervisor

Nonetheless, there are many people who believe that the reward of their work is absolute: they either get to enjoy eternal bliss in heaven, or eternal torment in hell. But they think that they will only get the reward if they believe in a supervisor. Not only that, but they also believe that this supervisor has revealed himself to superstitious peasants many centuries ago, and gave them a guidebook with the divine principles of construction - for all to follow until the end of time.

This guidebook has construction principles that far predate the modern era. This means that the house must be made out of mud and sandstone, and cannot have gas, electricity, or running water. But who needs gas, electricity, or running water? According to the guidebook these are just contrivances for the pleasures of the flesh - they “corrupt the purity of the soul” and “tear the fabric of society.”

Is there any reason then to believe in the “perfection and beauty” of these divine construction principles? Is there any doubt that such primitive construction principles could not have possibly come from God? Or are we to believe that we must continue to follow - to the end of time - the same construction principles as did primitive Middle Eastern tribes many centuries ago. Are we to believe that it is impossible to build a house well without a guidebook that came from the divine? Or that without a supervisor nothing would prevent us from destroying our own house? I hope the answer to all these questions is clear and self-evident - absolutely not!

City of Men

Just like you would work in accord with the finest principles to build your house well, you would also want to act in accord with the finest principles to make your city thrive - after all, this is your city! These principles are the natural values of freedom, equality, honesty, and generosity.

Acting in accord with these values would enable you, your family, friends, neighbors, and future generations to enjoy life and prosper in this great city. On the other hand, if you come short of these values the results would be ruinous to you and to those around you.

Yet, you live in a great city. There are many people who live in this city beside you. Some of them are your family, friends, and neighbors. And many of these people do not always act in accord with the natural values (you may even be in this group). This means that many of the things these people do are harmful to the city’s welfare, and even to your own well-being.

But why do they do these destructive acts? Perhaps they don’t understand that their actions are destructive. Maybe they live under the delusion that their destructive behavior is actually virtuous. Or maybe they want to gain some shortsighted payoff through these actions - without seeing the long-term consequences.

Socrates said that “if you know what the good is, you will always do what is good.” I would have to qualify this statement and add: “..unless you are addicted to the bad.”

So how can we prevent people from committing destructive acts, and promote constructive behavior? In other words, how can we convince people to do that which is manifestly in their own best interest? Should we just put everyone who commits bad acts in jail? Surely not. Such thinking is neither realistic nor effective. Because that would probably mean that most of the population would end up in jail. The only sensible solution is education.

But what if people are so accustomed to their destructive behavior that they do it instinctively. What if they are so addicted to their pattern of behavior that no rational argument would do. Well, I never claimed this would be easy. But as I’ve explained - before people can change their behavior, they first need to realize that these behaviors are destructive (see education: #4 unconscious & unskilled). Rehabilitation is a slow and gradual process.

Salvation and Paradise

Then what about all the thieves and criminals? Should they at least go to jail? Obviously, if someone is a serious threat to the well-being of others he should be restrained. But punishment for the sake of vengeance is neither moral nor useful.

Life is prosperous thanks to the contributions of the past and present generations. The inventions and innovations, discoveries and enterprises, artistry and hard work, and the dedication to raise and educate children. Life is diminished by the abuse and torture, war and oppression, rape and pillage, murder and destruction of past and present generations. No sacrifice can change or erase the faults of the past.

The depraved actions that we and others committed in the past are done. We can regret and mourn the losses, but we cannot go back in time and revive the dead, or recover a destroyed home. No amount of prayer or submission to a supposed deity can change the past. Our only salvation is to build on top of the ruins, and act now to change the future. If we act in accord with the natural values, we’ll be one step closer to making our world a paradise.

Taken from: Geopolitics.us : Why should We be Good? : Salvation and Paradise

 
SkepticX
 
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01 November 2010 10:02
 
Enoughie - 01 November 2010 02:07 AM

Being “good” means acting in accord with the natural values of freedom, equality, honesty, and generosity (see overview of natural philosophy). But - without fear of hell, reward of heaven, Karmic retribution, or the coercion of law - why should we live in accord with these values?


This really isn’t any mystery at all. It’s very odd to me that it keeps coming up.

Being cooperative with our fellow humans is how we’ve essentially been bred to behave over ~100k years in our current form, and over ~10M years (if I’ve got the current timeline right) since we diverged from apes, which were also breeding themselves selectively in this way long before that. Social species get along with each other for the most part. This is what we observe throughout nature. We’re not so special in every freakin’ way, we just have very large brains and opposable thumbs, and using them we’ve manipulated our environment so that we now have a lot of leisure time in which to contemplate our navels. And we’re very special to each other. But we shouldn’t expect our behavior to be so driven by our tremendous willpower as if it overrides millions of years of biological and social development as a species. We understand the whole temperament schtick when it comes to dogs and other lower animals, but it suddenly becomes a mystery when we consider the really really impressive wonder of our selves.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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01 November 2010 13:23
 
SkepticX - 01 November 2010 09:02 AM

We understand the whole temperament schtick when it comes to dogs and other lower animals, but it suddenly becomes a mystery when we consider the really really impressive wonder of our selves.

Because we have a soul.

 
 
eudemonia
 
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eudemonia
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01 November 2010 15:48
 

Actually it is not so much our brain size, as it is the complexity of our brain in relation to our body size. Neanderthals actually had larger brains than us.

But yes, altruism evolved in homo sapien, and it is no real mystery. Social primates all exhibit some amounts of altruism an reciprocal altruism.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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01 November 2010 15:49
 
SkepticX - 01 November 2010 09:02 AM
Enoughie - 01 November 2010 02:07 AM

Being “good” means acting in accord with the natural values of freedom, equality, honesty, and generosity (see overview of natural philosophy). But - without fear of hell, reward of heaven, Karmic retribution, or the coercion of law - why should we live in accord with these values?


This really isn’t any mystery at all. It’s very odd to me that it keeps coming up.

Being cooperative with our fellow humans is how we’ve essentially been bred to behave over ~100k years in our current form, and over ~10M years (if I’ve got the current timeline right) since we diverged from apes, which were also breeding themselves selectively in this way long before that. Social species get along with each other for the most part. This is what we observe throughout nature. We’re not so special in every freakin’ way, we just have very large brains and opposable thumbs, and using them we’ve manipulated our environment so that we now have a lot of leisure time in which to contemplate our navels. And we’re very special to each other. But we shouldn’t expect our behavior to be so driven by our tremendous willpower as if it overrides millions of years of biological and social development as a species. We understand the whole temperament schtick when it comes to dogs and other lower animals, but it suddenly becomes a mystery when we consider the really really impressive wonder of our selves.

Right. We’re emotional passionate beings and exhibit or possess the potential to exhibit the best and worst of ourselves under various conditions, not only between individuals, but within each of ourselves. Fear elicits both.

 
 
W. Collins
 
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01 November 2010 16:18
 
SkepticX - 01 November 2010 09:02 AM
Enoughie - 01 November 2010 02:07 AM

Being “good” means acting in accord with the natural values of freedom, equality, honesty, and generosity (see overview of natural philosophy). But - without fear of hell, reward of heaven, Karmic retribution, or the coercion of law - why should we live in accord with these values?


This really isn’t any mystery at all. It’s very odd to me that it keeps coming up.

Bruce is going to be pissed. He brings this question up at least once a month and Enoughie beat him to the punch this month.

 
 
SheriY95
 
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SheriY95
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01 November 2010 20:13
 
W. Collins - 01 November 2010 03:18 PM
SkepticX - 01 November 2010 09:02 AM
Enoughie - 01 November 2010 02:07 AM

Being “good” means acting in accord with the natural values of freedom, equality, honesty, and generosity (see overview of natural philosophy). But - without fear of hell, reward of heaven, Karmic retribution, or the coercion of law - why should we live in accord with these values?


This really isn’t any mystery at all. It’s very odd to me that it keeps coming up.

Bruce is going to be pissed. He brings this question up at least once a month and Enoughie beat him to the punch this month.

Well, I didn’t really ask the question. I stated it rhetorically…

 
SkepticX
 
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01 November 2010 21:19
 
eudemonia - 01 November 2010 02:48 PM

Actually it is not so much our brain size, as it is the complexity of our brain in relation to our body size. Neanderthals actually had larger brains than us.


And they may very well have been smarter.

But yeah, it’s more about the ratio once there’s sufficient size to be complex enough ... or something like that. I wasn’t going for technical accuracy there—basically right even if simplified made the point more effectively, which is what I was going for there.

 
 
Dennis Campbell
 
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01 November 2010 21:45
 

Bruce is more succinct.

 
 
eudemonia
 
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eudemonia
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01 November 2010 22:17
 

Sorry Byron, didn’t mean to nit-pic. Your commentary was spot on as usual. Didn’t mean to distract anyone from your excellent point.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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02 November 2010 15:02
 

The reason an eternal reward is necessary is because an eternal punishment is so very useful and needs a counterpart for composition. Not for the benefit of the individual believer but for the figure of the authority.

 
Dennis Campbell
 
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02 November 2010 15:16
 
Brick Bungalow - 02 November 2010 02:02 PM

The reason an eternal reward is necessary is because an eternal punishment is so very useful and needs a counterpart for composition. Not for the benefit of the individual believer but for the figure of the authority.

Very good point.  Keeps the serfs in line

 
 
Poldano
 
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02 November 2010 19:58
 
GAD - 01 November 2010 12:23 PM
SkepticX - 01 November 2010 09:02 AM

We understand the whole temperament schtick when it comes to dogs and other lower animals, but it suddenly becomes a mystery when we consider the really really impressive wonder of our selves.

Because we have a soul.

Pardon my rhetorical curiosity, but exactly what is a “soul”?

 
 
GAD
 
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02 November 2010 20:05
 
Poldano - 02 November 2010 06:58 PM
GAD - 01 November 2010 12:23 PM
SkepticX - 01 November 2010 09:02 AM

We understand the whole temperament schtick when it comes to dogs and other lower animals, but it suddenly becomes a mystery when we consider the really really impressive wonder of our selves.

Because we have a soul.

Pardon my rhetorical curiosity, but exactly what is a “soul”?

It’s what separates us from the lower animals and makes us special.

 
 
Dennis Campbell
 
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02 November 2010 20:15
 

I know I’m special.  God told me so, just last night.  Not sure about you, Gad,

 
 
GAD
 
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02 November 2010 21:07
 
Dennis Campbell - 02 November 2010 07:15 PM

I know I’m special.  God told me so, just last night.  Not sure about you, Gad,

I’m special²

 
 
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