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Why would a Christian want to change the world?
Posted: 20 October 2012 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 241 ]
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Bryan - 20 October 2012 11:37 AM
StephenLawrence - 20 October 2012 11:29 AM
Bryan - 20 October 2012 02:10 AM

Fortunately we have Stephen who has figured out that there can be no such higher good. 

Rubbish.

It’s all about the probability of what you believe being true.

Deductive arguments can’t survive on probabilities.

I think you are wrong. Premises of arguments can never be absolutely certain.

Make up your mind whether the FSM doesn’t exist or whether the probability is vanishingly small.

No need to make up my mind the answer is obviously both.


If you’re going to claim the FSM doesn’t exist then the probability has not simply shrunk down small, it has in fact vanished.

Nonsense.

The FSM doesn’t exist and at the same time is unlikely?

Of course, there is nothing incoherent about that.

  If the FSM is impossible then I can expect you to argue the point.  If it’s unlikely then you need to deal with the possibility.

No! If it’s unlikely I don’t need to deal with the possibility, it’s unlikely enough not to bother with.
Stephen

[ Edited: 20 October 2012 11:59 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 20 October 2012 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 242 ]
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StephenLawrence - 20 October 2012 11:56 AM

Make up your mind whether the FSM doesn’t exist or whether the probability is vanishingly small.

No need to make up my mind the answer is obviously both.

If you believe that’s true then you don’t understand probability.

There is no probability that an event that is truly impossible will occur.  It’s not even a “zero” probability, technically speaking.

http://www.statlect.com/subon/probab2.htm

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Posted: 20 October 2012 03:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 243 ]
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Bryan - 20 October 2012 11:25 AM
Write4U - 20 October 2012 02:58 AM
Bryan - 20 October 2012 01:59 AM
Write4U - 19 October 2012 05:06 PM

My observation in #230 stands and your link seems to support my conclusion.
http://insects.about.com/od/coolandunusualinsects/f/antsandaphids.htm

Which conclusion is that, specifically?  Does it undermine my suggestion that we should re-examine the morality of slavery given that millions of ants engage in the practice (apparently having evolved the practice as a successful survival strategy)?

By what criteria do we identify moral survival strategies as opposed to immoral ones (without fallaciously begging the question)?

When in a hostile environment an organism either adapts defenses or perishes. The slaves turning on the larvae of the masters makes them unsuitable as slaves (red highlighted in quote). This is a major threat to the masters. What are those ants gonna do? This is how predatory evolution functions.
Similarly, the parasitic bird laying its eggs in a wren’s nest. Camouflaging the egg is no longer effective. Just the difference in color of the newborns is sufficient for the wren to kill it. How does the parasitic bird solve that problem?

OTOH, symbiotic relationships such as the herder ant/aphid is beneficial to both species. As described some aphids are no longer able to able to void their waste (honeydew) without stimulus from the ants. Obviously this mutual dependency goes back a few million years as well and seems to function very well, whereas the master/slave relationship seems to be in deep trouble.

Let’s try this again:  “What conclusion is that, specifically?  Does it undermine my suggestion that we should re-examine the morality of slavery given that millions of ants engage in the practice (apparently having evolved the practice as a successful survival strategy)?

By what criteria do we identify moral survival strategies as opposed to immoral ones (without fallaciously begging the question)?”

My conclusion is that whatever forces are at work, they are neither good nor evil, they are impartial. Evolution and natural selection are the tests which determine the viability of a species. It has nothing to do with morality. However, it is demonstrably true that voluntary cooperation tends to be more successful than forced cooperation, examples which can be used by humans as an ethical implication of what is a preferred (good) method of co-existence.

[ Edited: 20 October 2012 03:32 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 20 October 2012 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 244 ]
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Write4U - 20 October 2012 03:30 PM

My conclusion is that whatever forces are at work, they are neither good nor evil, they are impartial.

Does this have anything at all to do with the argument?

Evolution and natural selection are the tests which determine the viability of a species. It has nothing to do with morality. However, it is demonstrably true that voluntary cooperation tends to be more successful than forced cooperation, examples which can be used by humans as an ethical implication of what is a preferred (good) method of co-existence.

Okay, so is it correct to conclude that we have no reason to expect evolution to provide us some accurate guide to morality?  If that’s the case then your point seems to piggyback on my point.

So you’re arguing against me to agree with me?  How does this happen?

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Posted: 20 October 2012 06:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 245 ]
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I have no desire to get into some tit for tat with Brian, again, but I can’t let this point go by:

Evolution may have resulted in our species having the ability to make and follow rules (including rules of moral behavior), but our making and following specific rules are not the sole product of evolutionary processes (and probably not primarily a product of evolutionary processes).  We can learn and follow rules of morality (or not) or make new ones, within given lifetimes.  It doesn’t necessarily take generations of humans with certain ideas of morality surviving to reproduce in order to pass them on!

Humans have the knowledge of good and evil, because we decide what to accept as good or evil, as we are exposed to various versions of what is proclaimed by religions (or by others) as good or evil, and through our own experiences in life.  Is there some gold standard that is forever established as to what is good or evil?  No.  But that’s okay. We just have to do the best we can. 

There is also, certainly, no divinely inspired gold standard of what is forever good or evil.  If some supernatural entity had made up what is good and evil, and provided us with that accurate guide to morality, then where is it?  It is certainly not the Bible, a mish mash of horribly conflicting rules and laws.  Is it the Koran?  Is it in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints?  Is it in established Wiccan laws? Is it in Zoroastrianism? Is it in etc., etc., etc…?

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 20 October 2012 07:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 246 ]
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TimB - 20 October 2012 06:36 PM

Evolution may have resulted in our species having the ability to make and follow rules (including rules of moral behavior), but our making and following specific rules are not the sole product of evolutionary processes (and probably not primarily a product of evolutionary processes).  We can learn and follow rules of morality (or not) or make new ones, within given lifetimes.  It doesn’t necessarily take generations of humans with certain ideas of morality surviving to reproduce in order to pass them on!

The point is if morals are something that exists objectively outside the mind of mankind then in order to follow those morals we need some means of detecting them.  The thing lacking the the defense of atheist morality remains the coherent means of detecting any morality at all that is more than subjective.

And even if morals are passed on meme-like rather than genetically what can determine their perpetuation other than either subjective preferences or a survival advantage (again, evolution)?

Don’t look at it has having a back-and-forth with me.  Look at it as finding a way to express a coherent account of morality without the appeal to a god (while avoiding logical fallacies).  It’s good for you.

Humans have the knowledge of good and evil, because we decide what to accept as good or evil, as we are exposed to various versions of what is proclaimed by religions (or by others) as good or evil, and through our own experiences in life.

What could possibly distinguish that method from one the automatically results in subjective morality?

Is there some gold standard that is forever established as to what is good or evil?  No.  But that’s okay. We just have to do the best we can.


Um, what?  Is “We just have to do the best we can” forever established as something good?  How did you discover that one?  Or is it morally okay to be the worst we can be on occasion?

There is also, certainly, no divinely inspired gold standard of what is forever good or evil.

So certainly that nobody can possibly expect a CFI skeptic to argue the point affirmatively.  wink

If some supernatural entity had made up what is good and evil, and provided us with that accurate guide to morality, then where is it?

It’s your conscience, to whatever extent it isn’t corrupted.  It’s also divine revelation, to the extent it isn’t corrupted and in addition interpreted accurately.

It is certainly not the Bible, a mish mash of horribly conflicting rules and laws.

So certainly that nobody can possibly expect a CFI skeptic to argue the point affirmatively.  wink  Etc. for the other proposed sources of morality.

I’ll repeat the point once more:  A theistic system can at least appeal to the possibility of knowing right from wrong on a least some level.  I see no clear epistemological path to that in a godless universe and no proposed explanation from your side that remotely passes the sniff test.  It’s often as though skeptics are completely unable to distinguish between subjective morality and moral realism.  It’s understandable that you’d want to attack the other side in a situation like that.  But it doesn’t substitute for shoring up that weakness in your own worldview.

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Posted: 20 October 2012 07:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 247 ]
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Bryan - 20 October 2012 07:41 PM

The point is if morals are something that exists objectively outside the mind of mankind then in order to follow those morals we need some means of detecting them.

Emphasis added.

Right there is the problem with your thinking. Morals do not exist outside our minds. You are assuming your conclusion.

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Posted: 20 October 2012 08:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 248 ]
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DarronS - 20 October 2012 07:59 PM
Bryan - 20 October 2012 07:41 PM

The point is if morals are something that exists objectively outside the mind of mankind then in order to follow those morals we need some means of detecting them.

Emphasis added.

Right there is the problem with your thinking. Morals do not exist outside our minds. You are assuming your conclusion.

Oh, please.  One does not state a conclusion as a conditional statement with an “if” lead-in.  You can contest the inference represented by the if/then if you like.  But that inference appears inarguable in the absence of some creative parsing.

It’s like this, DarronS:  Moral realism is not true if it is true that moral subjectivism is true.  So anybody who believes morals are subjective is already conceding the point that their worldview does explain how humans can detect a morality that exists objectively (moral realism) rather than only subjectively.

I don’t assume my conclusion, and you’re only helping my point slightly by breaking with the atheists who claim an avenue toward discovering the oughts that make up an existing moral realism.


http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-anti-realism/moral-subjectivism-versus-relativism.html
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-anti-realism/#ChaMorAntRea

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Posted: 21 October 2012 12:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 249 ]
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Bryan.
I’ll repeat the point once more:  A theistic system can at least appeal to the possibility of knowing right from wrong on a least some level.  I see no clear epistemological path to that in a godless universe

I read that sentence in the following way, “An undefined variable belief sytem can logically appeal to the possibility of knowing right from wrong at an undefined level”. But that is not epistemology, is it?  To me that is just an exercise in logic. It makes absolutely no difference if there is a god or not. The world is what it is to theist and atheist alike. Good and Evil are human concepts and is related to humanr intelligence and they are derived from human evidence, not divine evidence.

OTOH, I can see a clear epistemological path to that from an atheist view.

IMO, ethics are an “emergent evolutionary quality” resulting from the evolutionary process of thinking itself. Knowledge expands in a exponential function, which demands better cognitive skills, planning skills, operational skills, ultimately leading to abstract thought and the ability to recognize fundamental patterns and how they affect all organisms.

Do we need a god to learn what we can learn from history of human and animal behaviors and their ethical implications.?

[ Edited: 21 October 2012 06:23 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 21 October 2012 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 250 ]
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[quote author=”TimB” ]

Evolution may have resulted in our species having the ability to make and follow rules (including rules of moral behavior), but our making and following specific rules are not the sole product of evolutionary processes (and probably not primarily a product of evolutionary processes).  We can learn and follow rules of morality (or not) or make new ones, within given lifetimes.  It doesn’t necessarily take generations of humans with certain ideas of morality surviving to reproduce in order to pass them on!

[quote author=”Bryan”]

....And even if morals are passed on meme-like rather than genetically what can determine their perpetuation other than either subjective preferences or a survival advantage (again, evolution)?...

[ author=”TimB” ]

Cultures influence the establishment and perpetuation of morals. To that extent they are not subjective.  But, ultimately, human cultures are made up of individuals who, ultimately, operate subjectively and decide to accept and follow morals.  This is the case whether the morals are developed by a group of non-theistic humanists or by true believers of some religion. That some theistic humans have declared that their morals are divinely inspired, does not improve the product.

It would be better for humans to come to an agreement as to what values we hold, then to establish morals that can be objectively measured in regards to their promotion of those values.  Religious morals cannot do that.  The religous are relatively stuck with whatever morals some person or persons (often in the distant past) has made up, while also making up the idea that there is a god who declared those morals. 

[ Edited: 21 October 2012 10:09 AM by TimB ]
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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 21 October 2012 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 251 ]
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Write4U - 21 October 2012 12:10 AM

Bryan.
I’ll repeat the point once more:  A theistic system can at least appeal to the possibility of knowing right from wrong on a least some level.  I see no clear epistemological path to that in a godless universe

I read that sentence in the following way, “An undefined variable belief sytem can logically appeal to the possibility of knowing right from wrong at an undefined level”. But that is not epistemology, is it?

It’s an avenue toward epistemology.

To me that is just an exercise in logic.

Thank you?  grin

It makes absolutely no difference if there is a god or not. The world is what it is to theist and atheist alike. Good and Evil are human concepts and is related to humanr intelligence and they are derived from human evidence, not divine evidence.

You’re making assertions without evidence, now.  You’re right that it makes no difference to the theist or atheist, but when you claim it doesn’t make any differnce whether there’s a god or not you’re going against what you just finished calling an exercise in logic.  It makes a difference whether there’s a god or not.  If you think it makes no difference then make an argument.

OTOH, I can see a clear epistemological path to that from an atheist view.

IMO, ethics are an “emergent evolutionary quality” resulting from the evolutionary process of thinking itself. Knowledge expands in a exponential function, which demands better cognitive skills, planning skills, operational skills, ultimately leading to abstract thought and the ability to recognize fundamental patterns and how they affect all organisms.

That’s indistinguishable from word salad.  Please highlight for me the specific epistemological path from cognitive skills to the perception of real existing morals (moral realism).  What part of reality is the cognitive brain supposed to latch onto in hunting for morality?  Would it offer a survival advantage such that an evolutionist should expect evolution to advance in that direction?

Do we need a god to learn what we can learn from history of human and animal behaviors and their ethical implications.?

What are the implications from history if we don’t start with morality presupposed?  Show me how you get past square one with your atheist system.

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Posted: 21 October 2012 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 252 ]
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TimB - 21 October 2012 10:01 AM

[quote author=”TimB” ]

Evolution may have resulted in our species having the ability to make and follow rules (including rules of moral behavior), but our making and following specific rules are not the sole product of evolutionary processes (and probably not primarily a product of evolutionary processes).  We can learn and follow rules of morality (or not) or make new ones, within given lifetimes.  It doesn’t necessarily take generations of humans with certain ideas of morality surviving to reproduce in order to pass them on!

[quote author=”Bryan”]

....And even if morals are passed on meme-like rather than genetically what can determine their perpetuation other than either subjective preferences or a survival advantage (again, evolution)?...

[ author=”TimB” ]

Cultures influence the establishment and perpetuation of morals. To that extent they are not subjective.

That doesn’t follow.  Cultures influence tastes in architecture and fashion.  To that extent they are not subjective?

But, ultimately, human cultures are made up of individuals who, ultimately, operate subjectively and decide to accept and follow morals.  This is the case whether the morals are developed by a group of non-theistic humanists or by true believers of some religion. That some theistic humans have declared that their morals are divinely inspired, does not improve the product.

You’re supposed to be explaining why atheistic morality can represent moral realism rather than subjectivism.  I’m not seeing it.

It would be better for humans to come to an agreement as to what values we hold, then to establish morals that can be objectively measured in regards to their promotion of those values.

It would be good to be moral, in other words?  Flippin’ brilliant.

Religious morals cannot do that.

You’re neither explained how an atheistic system can accomplish what you propose nor why a religious system cannot.

The religous are relatively stuck with whatever morals some person or persons (often in the distant past) has made up, while also making up the idea that there is a god who declared those morals. 

Okay, so you do have an argument.  But it fallaciously begs the question.

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Posted: 21 October 2012 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 253 ]
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Brian, I truly do not see the value of your argumentative babble.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 21 October 2012 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 254 ]
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TimB - 21 October 2012 12:33 PM

Brian, I truly do not see the value of your argumentative babble.

Apparently you didn’t see the absurdity of claiming that since culture affects our views of morality therefore they’re not subjective (or something).

Maybe there’s nothing I can do about that.

However, if you can get around to describing what it is you don’t understand to the point of calling it “babble” just maybe I can explain it to you so that you can understand.

Any chance at all you can describe it?

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Posted: 21 October 2012 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 255 ]
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Bryan - 21 October 2012 11:46 AM
Write4U - 21 October 2012 12:10 AM

Bryan.
I’ll repeat the point once more:  A theistic system can at least appeal to the possibility of knowing right from wrong on a least some level.  I see no clear epistemological path to that in a godless universe

I read that sentence in the following way, “An undefined variable belief sytem can logically appeal to the possibility of knowing right from wrong at an undefined level”. But that is not epistemology, is it?

[quoteIt’s an avenue toward epistemology.

Really?  And is a god (a vague variable belief system) necessary in this equation? 

To me that is just an exercise in logic.

Thank you?  grin

Oh, I deeply respect your capacity for logical thinking, but thinking like a computer does not guarantee a comprehensive answer. “Garbage in….etc”.

It makes absolutely no difference if there is a god or not. The world is what it is to theist and atheist alike. Good and Evil are human concepts and is related to humanr intelligence and they are derived from human evidence, not divine evidence.

You’re making assertions without evidence, now.  You’re right that it makes no difference to the theist or atheist, but when you claim it doesn’t make any differnce whether there’s a god or not you’re going against what you just finished calling an exercise in logic.  It makes a difference whether there’s a god or not.  If you think it makes no difference then make an argument.

An exercise inlogic based a a false premise is just an exercise in logic. It does not prove anything. If you claim that a god is necessary condition for human ethics to exist, the burden of proof is on the claimant.  You prove to me it does make a difference.

OTOH, I can see a clear epistemological path to that from an atheist view.

IMO, ethics are an “emergent evolutionary quality” resulting from the evolutionary process of thinking itself. Knowledge expands in a exponential function, which demands better cognitive skills, planning skills, operational skills, ultimately leading to abstract thought and the ability to recognize fundamental patterns and how they affect all organisms.

That’s indistinguishable from word salad.  Please highlight for me the specific epistemological path from cognitive skills to the perception of real existing morals (moral realism).  What part of reality is the cognitive brain supposed to latch onto in hunting for morality?  Would it offer a survival advantage such that an evolutionist should expect evolution to advance in that direction?

Ok, would you put deadly nightshade into your salad?  And if not, why not?  It’s is because putting a poisonous plant into your salad is BAD for you.
How do we know epistemologically that this is true, regardless of the existence of a god?  People have tried and died. That’s how you learn from experience. It is a repeatable experiment, of course it needs a different subject each time…... cheese
Thus if you purposely put deadly nightshade into someone’s salad you are intending to kill him. That is BAD. There I just used epistemology, founded on experience.

Do we need a god to learn what we can learn from history of human and animal behaviors and their ethical implications.?

What are the implications from history if we don’t start with morality presupposed?  Show me how you get past square one with your atheist system.

Sorry, but that is not logical IMO. How did Newton come to his “discovery” of gravity. Not God, not some vague undefinable belief system. It was a rotten apple falling from a tree and Newton asking “why does it fall down, not up”.  Did he need some prior knowledge of a god making things fall down instead of up or do we even need a god to have gravity?
In know this may diverge from abstract ethics, but the same principle holds true. Science is based on this principle. We observe a cause and effect and ask why. A theist says “therefore there must be a god”, a scientist says “a massive body has a gravitational field”.

Bryan, what is the difference between god’s logic and man’s logic. If you cannot tell them apart, where is the need for a god?

Do you propose that ethical behavior is an aspect of the universe, since it’s beginning? 
The entire concept of god stems from observation of unexplainable events and using God as an argument from ignorance. The same thing holds true for ethical behavior.

[ Edited: 21 October 2012 05:59 PM by Write4U ]
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