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A Moral Conundrum
Posted: 26 March 2012 02:42 AM   [ Ignore ]
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You don’t have to believe in God to care about others, but there has to be a God for caring about others to make sense.

If our consciousness simply arises from the physical matter of our brain, if it has no hope of continuation after death, if there is no God it reaches out to, then it is no different from gravity, or electromagnetism; and that being the case it deserves no consideration. That being the case, caring is futile.

If God exists and if He wants us to care for one another, then the act of caring for each other moves us individually closer to God. If our consciousness survives death, then the acts we do that move us closer to God are important now and in the hereafter. Caring, in that case makes sense.

[ Edited: 26 March 2012 02:45 AM by Egor ]
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Posted: 26 March 2012 03:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Not really; caring about others doesn’t need to go beyond our physical brains in order to be meaningful. A higher power is not necessary for so called “morally sound” emotional relationships.

[ Edited: 26 March 2012 04:21 AM by mid atlantic ]
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Posted: 26 March 2012 04:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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mid atlantic - 26 March 2012 03:40 AM

Caring is futile in the long run. But it seems that a person will care for others based on down to earth phenomenon; even many religious people don’t claim an absence of meaning in regards to what “works”.

[ Edited: 26 March 2012 04:16 AM by mid atlantic ]
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Posted: 26 March 2012 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Our mind can also create art, calculate and estimate, it can love and hate. Neither gravity nor electromagnetism can do either of those things. The reason why we can care for each other is because it makes biological sense. Gravity and electromagnetism are a force and we are animals designed by the process of natural selection. This is obviously the reason why we care for others: we have evolved a sense of carying for those who are like us, because those who are like us, are partly us. They share our genes. The reason why we care more about our kids, for example, is because they share a half of their genome with us and will make more copies of those genes once they reach adulthood. You, then, care a little less about your niece and even less about a kid next door.

You can also compare the willingness of people to support the less fortunate ones within a group based on their race. The more alike the group the more money is spent on welfare.

[ Edited: 26 March 2012 07:16 AM by George ]
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Posted: 26 March 2012 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’m not following you, Egor.  You say it’s POSSIBLE to care about others without believing in God, but it doesn’t MAKE SENSE to?  You seem to be linking the whole thing to some belief in the afterlife.  Like nothing matters unless we get to talk about it in Heaven later.  That’s your own religious bias talking.  We atheists don’t even think about an afterlife most of the time.  The here and now is all that matters.  Looking at it that way, caring about one another is the only thing that DOES make sense.

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Posted: 26 March 2012 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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This is just a slightly more sophisticated version of the “if there is no god, then why be good” argument. And it is just a morally repugnant.

We care for one another because we are compassionate beings, because one generally reaps as one sows (one of the bits of actual wisdom in the bible), and because there is evidence that evolution favors group altruism.

I don’t need a sky daddy to make me want to do the right thing. I want to do the right thing.

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Posted: 26 March 2012 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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but there has to be a God for caring about others to make sense.

Sorry, but no. One doesn’t follow from the other at all. What there needs to be is a compelling interest which is survival oriented and for a social animal such as humans, that imperative is best served by caring for others.

No gods required, and given the capricious, cruel, and anti-social tendencies which gods are known for, (Assuming they even exist…there’s no evidence to support that.) we’re better off without them.

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Posted: 26 March 2012 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Largely agreed with George.

Egor - 26 March 2012 02:42 AM

You don’t have to believe in God to care about others, but there has to be a God for caring about others to make sense.

If our consciousness simply arises from the physical matter of our brain, if it has no hope of continuation after death, if there is no God it reaches out to, then it is no different from gravity, or electromagnetism; and that being the case it deserves no consideration.

Just because everything can be reduced to physical phenomena does not mean that nothing matters. It just means that what matters is subjective, but it usually based on what aids in survival and reproduction. In the case of caring for others, it tends to be based on genetic closeness, since the survival of those genetically similar to you means the survival of literally a part of you. Of course, we don’t need to think about these things in order to care - it is built into our brains/emotions/instincts by evolution.

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Posted: 26 March 2012 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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One of the most reprehensible characteristics exhibited by some religious people is willful ignorance, by that I mean choosing not to recognize facts and phenomenon that don’t align with their religious beliefs.  If electromagnetism and gravity deserve no consideration, then does it follow that the whole of the natural world deserves no consideration?  The only consideration Egor has in life, apparently, is building up some kind of savings account of biblically defined good deeds so he can get into heaven.  I think you can make a pretty strong argument that this is not the sort of individual best suited to managing a planet with limited resources in a way to provide the most stability and highest quality of life for it’s inhabitants. 

This is precisely why I choose not to be tolerant of religion.  I try to be tolerant of people practicing religion, but not of religion it’s self.  Religion, in almost any form, because of it’s insistence on the validity of revealed knowledge and it’s promotion of “faith” as a positive ideal, teaches people to think poorly.  Most people are religious because religion is what they know, the system they were born into.  As long as they don’t try to promote or impose their religion on me or others it’s not hard to be tolerant of them, although tolerance should not be mistaken for approval. 

Egor, on the other hand, publishes a blog “dedicated to fighting the atheistic influence our society”.  It is because I care about this planet and all of it’s inhabitants that I decry the influence and activities of people like Egor.  In his careless dismissal of the natural world, which is, in my opinion the absolute opposite of morality, he dismisses everything I care about and earns my unwavering opposition to his ideas and influence.

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Posted: 26 March 2012 11:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Jeciron - 26 March 2012 11:19 AM

One of the most reprehensible characteristics exhibited by some religious people is willful ignorance, by that I mean choosing not to recognize facts and phenomenon that don’t align with their religious beliefs.  If electromagnetism and gravity deserve no consideration, then does it follow that the whole of the natural world deserves no consideration?  The only consideration Egor has in life, apparently, is building up some kind of savings account of biblically defined good deeds so he can get into heaven.  I think you can make a pretty strong argument that this is not the sort of individual best suited to managing a planet with limited resources in a way to provide the most stability and highest quality of life for it’s inhabitants. 

This is precisely why I choose not to be tolerant of religion.  I try to be tolerant of people practicing religion, but not of religion it’s self.  Religion, in almost any form, because of it’s insistence on the validity of revealed knowledge and it’s promotion of “faith” as a positive ideal, teaches people to think poorly.  Most people are religious because religion is what they know, the system they were born into.  As long as they don’t try to promote or impose their religion on me or others it’s not hard to be tolerant of them, although tolerance should not be mistaken for approval. 

Egor, on the other hand, publishes a blog “dedicated to fighting the atheistic influence our society”.  It is because I care about this planet and all of it’s inhabitants that I decry the influence and activities of people like Egor.  In his careless dismissal of the natural world, which is, in my opinion the absolute opposite of morality, he dismisses everything I care about and earns my unwavering opposition to his ideas and influence.

Wow. Very well stated. <<Standing applause>>

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Posted: 26 March 2012 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Egor - 26 March 2012 02:42 AM

You don’t have to believe in God to care about others, but there has to be a God for caring about others to make sense.

If our consciousness simply arises from the physical matter of our brain, if it has no hope of continuation after death, if there is no God it reaches out to, then it is no different from gravity, or electromagnetism; and that being the case it deserves no consideration. That being the case, caring is futile.

If God exists and if He wants us to care for one another, then the act of caring for each other moves us individually closer to God. If our consciousness survives death, then the acts we do that move us closer to God are important now and in the hereafter. Caring, in that case makes sense.

That just dumb.  I am my brothers keeper and he is mine.  No big daddy in the sky needs to get in the way.  It’s a survival skill.

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Posted: 26 March 2012 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I agree with Gary.  Our morals do not come from any mythical being but from becoming socialized as we grow up.  And to answer the second clause in Egor’s first sentence:  We are social animals, and we recognize inherently that we maximize our personal benefits if we cooperate to help each other.  We don’t need any fairytale to make sense of our behavior.

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Posted: 26 March 2012 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Egor - 26 March 2012 02:42 AM

You don’t have to believe in God to care about others, but there has to be a God for caring about others to make sense.

Living in society, makes caring make sense. Even looking at social wild animals such as wolves, whales and elephants, which all care for others in their societies without believing in a god, it is a part of ‘our’ evolutionary nature.

If our consciousness simply arises from the physical matter of our brain, if it has no hope of continuation after death, if there is no God it reaches out to, then it is no different from gravity, or electromagnetism; and that being the case it deserves no consideration. That being the case, caring is futile.

I will leave friends and family on this earth when I die. That makes me care what will happen to them. Society will remain after I die, it is important to me to leave a contribution.

If God exists and if He wants us to care for one another, then the act of caring for each other moves us individually closer to God. If our consciousness survives death, then the acts we do that move us closer to God are important now and in the hereafter. Caring, in that case makes sense.

Which ‘god’ are you talking about. There are thousands of them out there, each has millions of believers, and each has differing requirements. Just for that reason alone, existence of a ‘god’ makes absolutely no sense.

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Posted: 27 March 2012 12:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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mid atlantic - 26 March 2012 03:40 AM

Not really; caring about others doesn’t need to go beyond our physical brains in order to be meaningful. A higher power is not necessary for so called “morally sound” emotional relationships.

What is morally sound? What does that mean?

George - 26 March 2012 05:37 AM

Our mind can also create art, calculate and estimate, it can love and hate. Neither gravity nor electromagnetism can do either of those things. The reason why we can care for each other is because it makes biological sense.

So does genocide.

Gravity and electromagnetism are a force and we are animals designed by the process of natural selection. This is obviously the reason why we care for others: we have evolved a sense of carying for those who are like us, because those who are like us, are partly us. They share our genes. The reason why we care more about our kids, for example, is because they share a half of their genome with us and will make more copies of those genes once they reach adulthood. You, then, care a little less about your niece and even less about a kid next door.

So, there is no such thing as love. There is only biological impulse, like second degree murder?

You can also compare the willingness of people to support the less fortunate ones within a group based on their race. The more alike the group the more money is spent on welfare.

But no one in their right mind considers that moral or good.

advocatus - 26 March 2012 07:11 AM

I’m not following you, Egor.  You say it’s POSSIBLE to care about others without believing in God, but it doesn’t MAKE SENSE to?  You seem to be linking the whole thing to some belief in the afterlife.  Like nothing matters unless we get to talk about it in Heaven later.  That’s your own religious bias talking.  We atheists don’t even think about an afterlife most of the time.  The here and now is all that matters.  Looking at it that way, caring about one another is the only thing that DOES make sense.

Nice Hallmark card, but it doesn’t wash. If atheism is true, it is better to be the best sociopath you can be. Not the kind that can’t control their impulse to drive 200 mph in a residential neighborhood, but the kind that can coldly calculate what is in their best interests and eliminate anything or anyone that opposes that. Also, to impregnate as many women as possible. And women should have as many babies from as many different fathers as possible. In fact, it would be best to enslave women to be artificially impregnated with your own ovums.  In fact, genocide/genetic engineering is the only way to go. Eventually, the clones of the strongest person left standing will be all that populate the earth.

Unless there’s a consciousness directing the evolution. But in an atheistic universe there isn’t.  I’m not sure caring for another person comes into play here at all. I mean you have to care for the slave child-bearers, but other than that…
You think I’m being facetious don’t you? I’m not. You just won’t explore the implications of atheism.

FreeInKy - 26 March 2012 08:17 AM

This is just a slightly more sophisticated version of the “if there is no god, then why be good” argument. And it is just a morally repugnant.

And the basis of morality is…?

We care for one another because we are compassionate beings, because one generally reaps as one sows (one of the bits of actual wisdom in the bible), and because there is evidence that evolution favors group altruism. 

Then evolution must have a smart mind behind it, because the superman clone birthed from slave child-bearers is what an atheistic universe should produce.

I don’t need a sky daddy to make me want to do the right thing. I want to do the right thing.

Great. So what? You want to do the right thing. I don’t. In an atheistic universe who is right? You or me? Let me guess: You. And now we’re back to the superman clone and his billion-woman harem of slave child bearers.

Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 26 March 2012 08:26 AM

Sorry, but no. One doesn’t follow from the other at all. What there needs to be is a compelling interest which is survival oriented and for a social animal such as humans, that imperative is best served by caring for others.

Who made the “imperative”? Personally, I think I should be cloned, and those are the only babies that should be born. Now all I need is enough nuclear weapons to make that happen. Right?

No gods required, and given the capricious, cruel, and anti-social tendencies which gods are known for, (Assuming they even exist…there’s no evidence to support that.) we’re better off without them.

That’s prima facie ridiculous, you do realize that don’t you? If there is a God, my guess is we need Him in order to exist.

domokato - 26 March 2012 10:59 AM

Just because everything can be reduced to physical phenomena does not mean that nothing matters. It just means that what matters is subjective, but it usually based on what aids in survival and reproduction. In the case of caring for others, it tends to be based on genetic closeness, since the survival of those genetically similar to you means the survival of literally a part of you. Of course, we don’t need to think about these things in order to care - it is built into our brains/emotions/instincts by evolution.

Thank God Evolution did that for us, huh? It’s funny in an apocalyptic kind of way, the more Dawkins I read, the more Evolution looks a lot like a conscious entity.

Jeciron - 26 March 2012 11:19 AM

One of the most reprehensible characteristics exhibited by some religious people is willful ignorance, by that I mean choosing not to recognize facts and phenomenon that don’t align with their religious beliefs.  If electromagnetism and gravity deserve no consideration, then does it follow that the whole of the natural world deserves no consideration?  The only consideration Egor has in life, apparently, is building up some kind of savings account of biblically defined good deeds so he can get into heaven.  I think you can make a pretty strong argument that this is not the sort of individual best suited to managing a planet with limited resources in a way to provide the most stability and highest quality of life for it’s inhabitants. 

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m not the best suited for “managing the planet.” But apparently you think you are, so I have just one question: Why bother? Why not just go extinct? The dinos did.

This is precisely why I choose not to be tolerant of religion.  I try to be tolerant of people practicing religion, but not of religion it’s self.  Religion, in almost any form, because of it’s insistence on the validity of revealed knowledge and it’s promotion of “faith” as a positive ideal, teaches people to think poorly. 

Yeah, we’ve done so bad for ourselves over the last 6,000 years with it. Hell, I’m surprised we have running water.

Most people are religious because religion is what they know, the system they were born into.  As long as they don’t try to promote or impose their religion on me or others it’s not hard to be tolerant of them, although tolerance should not be mistaken for approval. 

So much for free speech, eh Big Brother?

Egor, on the other hand, publishes a blog “dedicated to fighting the atheistic influence our society”.  It is because I care about this planet and all of it’s inhabitants that I decry the influence and activities of people like Egor. 

You sound like you’re about to launch a crusade. And you think I’m bad now; wait a couple of years.

garythehuman - 26 March 2012 01:31 PM

That just dumb.  I am my brothers keeper and he is mine.  No big daddy in the sky needs to get in the way.  It’s a survival skill.

So is war.

Occam. - 26 March 2012 01:59 PM

I agree with Gary.  Our morals do not come from any mythical being but from becoming socialized as we grow up.  And to answer the second clause in Egor’s first sentence:  We are social animals, and we recognize inherently that we maximize our personal benefits if we cooperate to help each other.  We don’t need any fairytale to make sense of our behavior.
Occam

Okay, so we do good to get good. So, if you and I are in the gym locker room, and I can steal your wallet, which is really fat with cash, why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t I throw a lit cigarette from a car window? Why shouldn’t I factory farm animals? Why shouldn’t I kill a person to get the last Mountain Dew from a soda machine?

If it really makes me feel good to torture animals, why shouldn’t I. And if that should lead to torturing prostitutes that I know have HIV or Hep C, why shouldn’t I?

If you and I are in a fight, with some dudes who are trying to hurt us, why shouldn’t I run away while they’re beating you up?

See, when I believe in God, I know He’s watching. I know he loves the animals and the prostitute.  I know He loves you. If I do these things, I know He can punish me. But if there’s not God…Well, to quote Gunnery Sergeant Foley in “An Officer and a Gentleman” while he’s choking a student during martial arts training: “Fight back! Or are you relying on my generosity, my love of humanity to stop me from killing you!”

Atheists want to believe in a biological morality. But it doesn’t exist.

asanta - 26 March 2012 06:25 PM

Living in society, makes caring make sense. Even looking at social wild animals such as wolves, whales and elephants, which all care for others in their societies without believing in a god, it is a part of ‘our’ evolutionary nature.

Oh no, it’s part of their evolutionary nature. Ours is war. Besides, instincts are proof of God.

I will leave friends and family on this earth when I die. That makes me care what will happen to them. Society will remain after I die, it is important to me to leave a contribution.

So we should eliminate those who can’t contribute, right?

Which ‘god’ are you talking about. There are thousands of them out there, each has millions of believers, and each has differing requirements. Just for that reason alone, existence of a ‘god’ makes absolutely no sense.

God: the monistic entity of fundamental consciousness, and his revelation to humankind, Jesus Christ.

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Posted: 27 March 2012 04:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Egor - 27 March 2012 12:51 AM
mid atlantic - 26 March 2012 03:40 AM

Not really; caring about others doesn’t need to go beyond our physical brains in order to be meaningful. A higher power is not necessary for so called “morally sound” emotional relationships.

What is morally sound? What does that mean?

How would I know, I thought you knew.

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Posted: 27 March 2012 04:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Egor - 27 March 2012 12:51 AM

Nice Hallmark card, but it doesn’t wash. If atheism is true, it is better to be the best sociopath you can be. Not the kind that can’t control their impulse to drive 200 mph in a residential neighborhood, but the kind that can coldly calculate what is in their best interests and eliminate anything or anyone that opposes that. Also, to impregnate as many women as possible. And women should have as many babies from as many different fathers as possible. In fact, it would be best to enslave women to be artificially impregnated with your own ovums.  In fact, genocide/genetic engineering is the only way to go. Eventually, the clones of the strongest person left standing will be all that populate the earth.

Some of what you say here is true. Women who have many babies obviously inject their genes into the future pool. You add “from as many different fathers as possible” simply to invoke emotion. Since a woman can only be pregnant serially it really doesn’t matter how many men she screws. It is a bit ironic that you mention this however since it is the church - not common sense - that encourages couples to have many children. And honestly, do you think the church cares who the fathers are if he children remain in the flock?

Unless there’s a consciousness directing the evolution. But in an atheistic universe there isn’t.  I’m not sure caring for another person comes into play here at all. I mean you have to care for the slave child-bearers, but other than that…
You think I’m being facetious don’t you? I’m not. You just won’t explore the implications of atheism.

I don’t believe anyone here thinks you are being facetious but you are showing an ignorance of what not believing in your god means. There are many gods in which you do not believe yet you judge yourself to be better than those who believe in the wrong gods. Atheists are a group of people and as such there are atheists who are sociopaths, atheists who are kind and caring, atheists who love to hate, and atheists who hate to love. In other words, our group is just like your group but without the myth.

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