Hello. So many questions. So little time.
Posted: 28 February 2016 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Where to begin?  There is so much.

I think one of the things that is on my mind the most involves the problems of suffering and evil.  How can humans be so cruel and violent toward one another, and other species for that matter?  I realize that compassion and kindness do exist, and the media displays a definite bias towards the negative.  Nevertheless, I am shocked and saddened on a daily basis but what I read there.  It appears at times that religion is a common cause of much of the suffering in the world.  But, I look to politics, social structure, economies, governments, etc. also.

On the question of religion, I am a committed atheist.  While I am not highly public about this, many of my friends and family are aware.  I have a respectful relationship with the Southern Baptist wing of our family, even though they on occasion find it necessary to try to “save” me.  smile
 
I have read many very interesting posts in these forums already, and am looking forward to getting involved here.

Best Regards,
Mike

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Posted: 28 February 2016 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Mike47 - 28 February 2016 04:58 AM

Where to begin?  There is so much.

I think one of the things that is on my mind the most involves the problems of suffering and evil.  How can humans be so cruel and violent toward one another, and other species for that matter?  I realize that compassion and kindness do exist, and the media displays a definite bias towards the negative.  Nevertheless, I am shocked and saddened on a daily basis but what I read there.  It appears at times that religion is a common cause of much of the suffering in the world.  But, I look to politics, social structure, economies, governments, etc. also.

On the question of religion, I am a committed atheist.  While I am not highly public about this, many of my friends and family are aware.  I have a respectful relationship with the Southern Baptist wing of our family, even though they on occasion find it necessary to try to “save” me.  smile
 
I have read many very interesting posts in these forums already, and am looking forward to getting involved here.

Best Regards,
Mike

To my way of thinking, the human-involved suffering in the world is caused by our survival instincts gone awry. Theistic religion is a leading factor, especially in justifying destructive acts and encouraging followers to engage in them, but not the only factor.  (I refrain from using the word “evil” because it is a religious concept that implies a supernatural force.) What’s the answer? Education and moving away from theistic religion. But that is an enormous undertaking that has barely gotten off the ground.

Lois

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Posted: 28 February 2016 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Lois,

Your comment about “survival instincts gone awry is interesting”.  I will have to give it some thought.

Concerning the use of the word “evil”, I understand your perspective, but personally I am not ready to give it over to the religious.  IMHO, “evil” refers to something egregiously immoral.  Many religious folks claim that morality can be judged only from their unique religious perspective.  However, there are many arguments which have shown that morality based on religion is a flawed concept.  In some cases I can think of no better word to use.  For example, when a despotic dictator is murdering his own people for personal gain, I call that evil.

I agree with your suggestion that education and moving away from theism is an important step. And, agreed, the task ahead is enormous. 

Best regards,
Mike

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Posted: 28 February 2016 01:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Our CAPACITY for morality (or immorality) comes directly from our evolution as a species.

Our actual NORMS for morality (or immorality) come much more from the evolution of our cultures.

The latter is subject to MUCH more rapid change.  (Within my own lifetime, in some places, there were things which were normal and standard, but which would now be considered “evil” by most.  e.g., signs over water fountains that say “WHITES ONLY”.  Also, killing someone for disavowing a religion is a norm in some places/cultures in the world, today, despite being considered evil in most places/cultures.)

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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: 28 February 2016 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Mike47 - 28 February 2016 04:58 AM

Where to begin?  There is so much.

I think one of the things that is on my mind the most involves the problems of suffering and evil.  How can humans be so cruel and violent toward one another, and other species for that matter?  I realize that compassion and kindness do exist, and the media displays a definite bias towards the negative.  Nevertheless, I am shocked and saddened on a daily basis but what I read there.  It appears at times that religion is a common cause of much of the suffering in the world.  But, I look to politics, social structure, economies, governments, etc. also.


Mike

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It’s not as bad as it seems.

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“I am back from Syria. I believe I have enlightened ISIS to the error of their ways. They are all vegan now.” - Godfrey Elfwick

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Posted: 29 February 2016 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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TimB, thanks for your thoughtful response.  You hit at the heart of what I struggle with.  Clearly norms arise within different cultures, and many times those cultures disagree on what is proper or improper.  So when cultures meet, and we try to resolve what is right or wrong we are left with the answer, “it depends”, and maybe even, “anything goes”.

So, how should we respond to other cultures that we disagree with?  Women in Saudi Arabia, are suppressed. Is that something we should be concerned about?  Bloggers in Bangladesh are killed for their view point. Should we try to influence that?  ISIS cuts off the heads of people they take issue with.  Should we try to stop them?

I think the answer to those questions is “yes” in all 3 cases, and not just from the perspective of national security.  I believe we have a moral obligation.  But, how can I justify this if morality is relative?  Do I simply state that I think my morality is superior, and therefore, I have a right to impose it on the world?

Is there no such thing as an absolute right or wrong?

Mike

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Posted: 29 February 2016 07:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Mike47 - 29 February 2016 06:04 AM

Is there no such thing as an absolute right or wrong?

Nope.

Welcome to the CFI Forums. I suggest you post this question in the Philosophy forum. This is a complex subject and could lead to an interesting discussion.

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