In the first part of this post, I briefly went over some of the larger problems that our global society is currently facing, including the problem of overpopulation and the overall lack of environmental and economic sustainability. I also mentioned some of the systematic and ideological (including religious and political) barriers that will need to be overcome before we can make any considerable progress in obtaining a sustainable future.
Although it may seem hopeless at times, I believe that we human beings – despite our cognitive biases and vulnerability to irrational and dogmatic behaviors – have an innate moral core in common that is driven by the incentive to increase our level of overall satisfaction and fulfillment in life. When people feel like they are living more fulfilling lives, they want to continue if not amplify the behavior that’s leading to that satisfaction. If a person is shown ways that lead to greater satisfaction and they are able to experience even a slight though noticeable improvement as a result of those prescriptions, I believe that even irrational and dogmatic people do begin to explore outside of their ideological box.
More importantly however, if everyone is shown that their level of satisfaction and fulfillment in life is ultimately a result of their doing what they feel they ought to do above all else (which is morality in a nutshell), then they can begin to recognize the importance and efficacy of basing those oughts on well-informed facts about the world. In other words, people can begin to universally derive every moral ought from a well-informed is, thus formulating their morality based on facts and empirical data and grounded on reason – as opposed to basing their morality on dogmatic and other unreliable beliefs in the supernatural. It’s easy for people to disagree on morals that are based on dogma and the supernatural, because those supernatural beliefs and sources of dogma vary so much from one culture and religion to another, but morals become common if not universal (in at least some cases) when they are based on facts about the world (including objective physical and psychological consequences not only for the person performing the moral action, but also for anyone on the receiving end of that moral action).
Moral Imperatives & Happiness
Science has slowly but surely been uncovering (or at least better approximating) what kinds of behaviors lead to the greatest levels of happiness and overall satisfaction in the collective lives of everyone in society. Since all morals arguably reduce to a special type of hypothetical imperative (i.e. if your fundamental goal is X, then you ought to do Y above all else), and since all goals ultimately reduce to the fundamental goal of increasing one’s life satisfaction and fulfillment, then there exist objective moral facts, whereby if they were known, they would inform a person of which behaviors they ought to do above all else in order to increase their happiness and fulfillment in life. Science may never be able to determine exactly what these objective moral facts are, but it is certainly logical to assume that they exist, namely some ideal set of behaviors for people (at least, those that are sane and non-psychopathic) which, if we only knew what those ideal behaviors were, they would necessarily lead to maximized satisfaction within every person’s life (a concept that has been proposed by many philosophers, and one which has been very well defended in Richard Carrier’s Goal Theory of Ethics).
What science can do however, and arguably what it has already been doing, is to continue to better approximate what these objective moral facts are as we accumulate more knowledge and evidence in psychology, neuroscience, sociology, and even other fields such as economics. What science appears to have found thus far is (among other things) a confirmation of what Aristotle had asserted over two thousand years ago, namely the importance of cultivating what have often been called moral virtues (such as compassion, honesty, and reasonableness), in order to achieve what the Greeks called eudaimonia, or an ultimate happiness with one’s life. This makes perfect sense because cultivating these virtues leads to a person feeling good while exercising behaviors that are also beneficial to everyone else, so then benefiting others is rarely if ever going to feel like a chore (which is an unfortunate side-effect of exclusively employing the moral duty mentality under Kant’s famous deontological ethical framework). Combine this virtue cultivation with the plethora of knowledge about the consequences of our actions that the sciences have been accumulating, thus integrating in John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian or teleological/consequentialist ethical framework, and then we have a good ethical framework that should work very effectively in leading us toward a future where more and more people are happy, fulfilled, and doing what is best for sustaining that happiness in one another, including sustaining the environment that their happiness is dependent on.
A Science of Morality
To give a fairly basic but good example of where science is leading us in terms of morality, consider the fact that science has shown that when people try to achieve ever-increasing levels of wealth at the expense of others, they are doing so because those people believe that wealth will bring them the most satisfaction in life, and thus they believe that maximizing that wealth will bring maximal happiness. However, this belief is incorrect for a number of reasons. For one, studies in psychology have shown that there is a diminishing return of happiness when one increases their income and wealth – which sharply diminishes once a person exceeds an income of about $70K per year (in U.S. dollars / purchasing power). So the idea that increasing one’s income or wealth will indefinitely increase their happiness isn’t supported by the evidence. At best, it has a limited effect on happiness that only works up to a point.
Beyond this, psychology has also shown that there are much more effective ways of increasing happiness, such as cultivating the aforementioned virtues (e.g. compassion, integrity, honesty, reasonableness, etc.) and exercising them while helping others, which leads to internal psychological benefits (which neuroscience can and has quantified to some degree) and also external sociological benefits such as the formation of meaningful relationships which in turn provide even more happiness over time. If we also take into account the amount of time and effort often required to earn more income and wealth (with the intention of producing happiness), it can be shown that the time and effort would have been better spent on trying to form meaningful relationships and cultivating various virtues. Furthermore, if those people gaining wealth could see first hand the negative side-effects that their accumulation of wealth has on many others (such as increased poverty), then doing so would no longer make them as happy. So indeed it can be shown that their belief of what they think maximizes their satisfaction is false, and it can also be shown that there are in fact better ways to increase their happiness and life satisfaction more than they ever thought possible. Perhaps most importantly, it can be shown that the ways to make them happiest also serve to make everyone else happier too.
A Clear Path to Maximizing (Sustainable) Happiness
Perhaps if we begin to invest more in the development and propagation of a science of morality, we’ll start to see many societal problems dissolve away simply because more and more people will begin to realize that the reason why we all think that certain actions are moral actions (i.e. that we ought to do them above all else), is because we feel that doing those actions brings us the most happy and fulfilling lives. If people are then shown much more effective ways that they can increase their happiness and fulfillment, including by maximizing their ability to help others achieve the same ends, then they’re extremely likely to follow those prescribed ways of living, for it could be shown that not doing so would prevent them from gaining the very maximal happiness and fulfillment that they are ultimately striving for. The only reason people wouldn’t heed such advice then is because they are being irrational, which means we need to simultaneously work on educating everyone about our cognitive biases, how to spot logical fallacies and avoid making them, etc. So then solving society’s problems, such as overpopulation, socioeconomic inequality, or unsustainability, boils down to every individual as well as the collective whole accumulating as many facts as possible about what can maximize our life satisfaction (both now and in the future), and then heeding those facts to determine what we ought to do above all else to achieve those ends. This is ultimately an empirical question, and a science of morality can help us discover what these facts are.
What is the conscience?
“What is the conscience?”
I’m not sure what you’re looking for regarding this question. Are you suggesting that you don’t know what that means? Most people would define conscience to be our “moral sense”, or a feeling that guides our behaviors based on what you currently believe to be moral or immoral. So in a nutshell, I would say that the conscience is basically a person’s moral beliefs, and a way to drive us to evaluate the moral status of any particular action or situation based on those moral beliefs.
So are you saying right and wrong is subjective?
If you read my post, I mentioned that it can be shown that all moral systems are ultimately reducible to a special type of hypothetical imperative, with hypothetical imperatives being of the form “If my goal is X, then I ought to do Y”, and the moral imperative being of the form “If my ultimate goal is X, then I ought to do Y above all else”. Since it can also be shown that everyone’s ultimate goal is personal satisfaction and fulfillment, then all moral systems break down to doing what will best achieve personal satisfaction and fulfillment. The sciences are showing that there are indeed objective facts relating to what makes human beings (at least those that are sane and non-psychopathic) most satisfied and fulfilled, and so the facts pertaining to our physical and psychological well-being are being discovered by science. Thus, I would say that it appears that morality or “right and wrong” are objective, rather than subjective. However, the majority of people often think that they know what most satisfies them, even when they actually don’t know this accurately, as they are often missing important information that is needed to make those judgements accurately. So if everyone is given the same sets of objective facts pertaining to how to best achieve our ultimate moral goal (personal satisfaction and fulfillment), then every healthy human being should arguably arrive at the same set of morals. The key to discovering the objective moral facts are to ensure that they correlate with reality and are based on physical evidence and the employment of the scientific method (such as evidence found in psychology, neuroscience, biology, and sociology) — for if this isn’t done, that is, if people are getting their moral systems based on demonstrably false and unreliable beliefs about the world, such as beliefs in the supernatural, then their morals aren’t going to correlate with reality and thus will fail to be correct. So people may fail to agree on what moral behaviors should be, but this is because some people are irrational and/or are basing their beliefs on unreliable or incorrect information whereas others are not. So the key to finding out what the objective moral facts are is to use the most reliable known methods for arriving at facts (i.e. the scientific method, logic, etc.).
But those kinds of people exist. What do you propose be done with them?
Also-all the Nazi captives at the Nuremberg Trials had a thorough psychological analysis. The all had above average I, 119 to 141, and none were psychotic. A very interesting fact.
It seems pure reason is not the answer either.
You didn’t list what kinds of people you are referring to, but I assume you are referring to psychopaths or the insane? If so, then what are you asking exactly, in terms of what is to be done with them? Do you mean how do we apply a science of morality to societies that contain psychopathic and insane people? Well, one of the current methods used which I would advocate for continuing (unless there are compelling arguments to do otherwise) is incarcerating those people to protect the rest of society while we try to find a way to modify their brain (using neuroscience among other disciplines) and prevent new psychopaths from entering the gene pool (through genetic engineering). Some studies have suggested that there may be as many as 1 in 100 people that are psychopaths, so we also need to increase the sensitivity of our radar to find these people so we can create the necessary safety measures and precautions. Finding the genes likely responsible for the hypothalamic, prefrontal-cortical, and amygdalic abnormalities in psychopaths is something being worked on now so we can screen for these types of diseases to better prepare for the future — or if the abnormalities are something that can be screened for during pregnancy, if they are found before a certain time of gestation, abortion could be a viable option if the mother so chooses. A rational mother would likely choose to abort if she knew her fetus had markers to be a psychopath, as the alternative to carry the child to full term would carry a high risk of it being incarcerated for the rest of its life, and that child wouldn’t likely be able to live a satisfying life given its brain abnormalities. Fixing current abnormalities in psychopaths that have already been born will likely be a possibility eventually. Medical progress simply has to get there, but it’s well on its way. These are some thoughts that come to mind with how this problem is currently being dealt with and how technological advancements will modify how we can treat or eradicate these illnesses (and would all likely follow from a science of morality).
Well, technically being psychotic and being a psychopath are two different things. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if during the Nuremberg trials, they didn’t actually screen for psychopathy but even if they did and they all came back with a clean bill of mental health, this wouldn’t negate anything I’ve proposed and written about in this post. Clearly many people living in the past thought it was morally permissable to own slaves, and even Jews were taught that it was permissable to own slaves as one can see it condoned in the Old Testament (See especially Exodus 21, and Leviticus 25) and in the New Testament of the Bible (1 Peter 2:18, and other verses), but I doubt most of these Jews were psychopaths — because you don’t have to be a psychopath to do immoral actions. One only needs to be incorrect regarding what they think brings them the most happiness and fulfillment in order for them to be more likely to do immoral actions. It can be shown that the slave-owner can gain greater satisfaction and life fulfillment if they aren’t a slave-owner. And even the Jews began to see this truth as time went on and they gained some of the fruits of philosophical discourse seen across all cultures. People learned more about the world, learned more facts about the consequences of their actions, and they learned more and more about how it was rational and reasonable to treat others as those others would want to be treated — not only because this behavior produces more sustainable and productive societies but also because you never know which rung on the social ladder you’ll end up in. As a result of gaining more factual knowledge like this, people have been stumbling onto the objective moral facts that exist for human beings — even if we don’t yet know what all those facts are. We know some of them with a high degree of certainty (such as that slavery is immoral), and as a result, many people that used to condone slavery no longer abide by the practice. The solution is to discover more and more facts with the scientific method and then educate people about all the facts, showing them that the very thing they are most after, isn’t attainable with objectively immoral behavior. The same logic applies to educating the Nazis you mentioned that treated Jews horribly, and many Germans that sided with the Nazis as well as many Nazis themselves changed their views over time and began to see that what they condoned was immoral in retrospect. They just didn’t have all the facts, or they weren’t thinking rationally because they were brainwashed with dogma (much like how many religions brainwash their constituent members). As Voltaire once said “Those who can make you believe absurdities can also make you commit atrocities”, which is why educating one another about reason, logic, and cognitive biases, is of the utmost importance.
As a former born-again Christian, I used to believe that slavery was okay and killing homosexuals was okay since it was condoned by God in the bible and I believed that the bible was God’s word, and the bible backed me up with those beliefs (so I thought that nothing could change my mind about this). Then I started looking into it further and realized that almost every Christian I knew personally didn’t really believe that killing gays was okay, nor that slavery was really okay. Then it hit me…many of my fellow Christians that felt strongly enough about some moral prescription would often look to the bible to back them up, and ignore verses that didn’t back them up — or they would rationalize the problematic verses away, saying that it wasn’t being interpreted correctly (which made me then wonder why God wouldn’t simply make these as clear as the other commandments, by saying something like “Thou shalt not own another human being as property”). Then I realized on my journey to atheism that there is an innate moral core in all humans and we don’t need a book to tell us what is right and wrong — rather we need to base our behaviors on facts about the world and then morality inevitably results in order to achieve happy and fulfilling lives. I gained some fruits from my former Christian experience which I’ll always cherish, but then realized how ubiquitous these fruits were in other cultures and religions (and were thus likely to be universal with humans). I also gained dangerous beliefs along the way as a Christian, which pushed me further into atheism, and now I cherish reason, evidence, and rational skepticism most, and have used them as the primary tools to become a better version of myself.
Correct. It’s not the complete answer. The complete answer is reason PLUS a plethora of verified facts about the world — facts that we obtain through the scientific method. With reason and evidence of the consequences of our actions, we are driving ourselves to live in a world that is better promoting equality (sex, orientation-LGBT, race, ethnicity, age, etc.), democracy, and the elimination of poverty. Where we end up is largely going to be based on how many people are on board with heeding facts based on evidence to obtain maximal happiness and fulfillment rather than heeding unreliable dogma based on faith.
You cannot be a “former born again Christian “. If you ever were you still are. The second birth is an act of God. Only He could undo it and He doesn’t. You cannot undo what you didn’t do in the first place.
While I think you are straying off topic here (the topic is morality not Christian theology or philosophy), I’ll respond. Yes I certainly can be a former born-again Christian, as I was once a born-again Christian (for several years in fact) and am no longer. You can call me whatever you like, but the labels don’t ultimately matter. What matters is that many of my beliefs are no longer the same as they were when I was a born-again Christian.
Yes, I once agreed with you and believed that as well, but then I realized that these are all just religious assertions derived from scriptural texts, they are not any kind of reliable truth of what the world is or how it works. The emotional experience I had when I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into my heart as my Lord and personal savior was unexplainable and profound. Later on I realized that people have deeply emotional experiences all the time in various religions, cultural settings, etc., and they falsely attribute it to being an act of God (just as I did). Furthermore, science has shown that when something is unexplainable, to invoke the supernatural as an explanation doesn’t explain anything at all, and it has been shown time and time again that the “God of the Gaps” mentality is unreliable and proven wrong with every new scientific discovery that used to be attributed to one God or another.
Then I began to realize that even if God did exist (which I’ve not seen any evidence to suggest that God does exist), it would be anthropocentric and arrogant to assume that I (a mere mortal) would have access to an understanding of an infinitely complex being to make any kind of statements about what this God can do or can’t do, what this God does do or doesn’t do, or what this God has done, etc.
This is just a semantic issue here. Nothing of any substance. It may seem threatening to you that my beliefs were once likely to be as strong as yours and that they changed markedly (almost 180 degrees in fact). That’s not my problem. I had to deal with my abandoning those strongly held beliefs of mine slowly over the course of a few more years and it wasn’t easy at all. I was giving up one of the main parts of who I was as a person. But that doesn’t change the fact that I once was a Christian that shared many of the same beliefs that you currently hold dear and believe to be undeniably true, and then my beliefs changed. They changed after a long battle of cognitive dissonance where I couldn’t reconcile my faith in God and the Christian religion and its precepts with reality, nor with logic. I had to basically ignore reason and the senses, and when I realize that these are faculties that God would have given me (and all other humans) if we really were created by God, then I shouldn’t abandon those faculties just because they threatened my beliefs. Rather, I should use the same scientific method that we all informally use everyday to solve any problem reliably, no matter how basic it is. So then I slowly changed over to atheism, and began to appreciate the beauty of the universe based on what science had to show me. It has been the most significant change to me as a person, and my view of life, my purpose, etc.
I recommend we stay on the topic of morality. If you’d like to address or talk more about any of my responses in my last comments or from the post itself, I’m glad to do so. However, it would be more productive if we stay away from the peripheral issues of “what a born-again Christian is”, and instead let’s stick with facts, philosophical propositions, and have an honest civil discourse.
God of the gaps? Interesting how you seem to think you are thinking for yourself, yet echo the sentiments of Hitchens and Dawkins.
As for morality. I motice have mafe several moral judgments. By what standards?
Just because Dawkins and Hitchens (among many others) have mentioned these facts, doesn’t mean I can’t also mention them. We all re-use facts gained by others (that’s how science works) and that doesn’t change their truth value. In any case, I am thinking for myself. I’m not taking anyone at their word as some kind of authority (unlike theists). Rather I’m hearing arguments presented and evaluating them for myself based on their logical soundness and the evidence to support them. The sentiments of Hitchens and Dawkins have been supported with historical evidence, and in case you didn’t know, the term “God of the Gaps” actually originated from Christian theologians (not atheists like Hitchens or Dawkins) if that really matters to you.
Which moral judgements are you referring to? Anything I’ve mentioned relating to objective moral facts that can be discovered are judged by the facts found with science, not by any arbitrary individual’s standards. That’s the whole point of a science of morality; it eliminates the arbitrary and subjective standards from the moral system. Rather, it looks at what psychology, neuroscience, and sociology (among other disciplines) are finding out about the consequences of our actions and what actions will maximize our happiness and satisfaction.
The God of the Gaps theory is just that, theory. Produce evidence.
The evidence is the historical record. If you go back in the historical record, we see a greater and greater number of phenomena that were attributed to a god or many gods. When we go forward in the historical record, we see this “God of the gaps” decrease, that is, the gap of knowledge that people are filling with “God must have done it” has only been shrinking and so the prior probability that any current unknown phenomenon is actually attributed to some act of a god or gods is vanishingly small. Do you want examples? Take illness which used to be attributed to curses, demons, or angered gods. Thunder, lightning, earthquakes, and any number of unknown phenomena long ago used to be atttributed to a god or to many gods, and now we know and understand the natural causes of those phenomena and there are no supernatural shenanigans or elements needed for our explanation. Occam’s razor has eliminated them, and so has science since those supernatural explanations carry no power as a theory since they can’t be used successfully to make any kinds of predictions (e.g. creationism can’t make predictions and therefore ceases to be a valid theory).
Overly simplistic and reductionistic for someone who claims to be logic based.
What exactly is oversimplistic and reductionist? What I claim my beliefs are based on is evidence and I complement this evidence with logic as a part of my epistemological methodology.
Also, the “God of the Gaps” is a term/concept used to describe what has happened in history. It is not a “theory” as you put it. Furthermore, if it were actually a scientific theory (and not just a concept used to describe some historical events), then it also wouldn’t be “just a theory”, as that is a common misconception in the public where people often mistake the science’s use of the word “theory” with the common usage of the term “theory” (which should really just be called “hypothesis”). I just wanted to clarify that since you threw those words out, and a lot of people make weird claims because they confuse the two meanings of the word.
So if I hear you right, words have relative meaning and especially in regard to science terms? I thought you want evidence that is absolute? And the impression you give is that scientific evidence is absolute?
I concluded that your lengthy responses confirm that what you are willing to consider evidence is purely conditional on what you are willing to accept.
Could you explain what you mean here, as I don’t understand exactly what you’re asking or implying.
Scientific evidence is the only way to arrive at what the objective moral facts are, because it is the only reliable way shown thus far to arrive at objective knowledge pertaining to anything at all, no matter what the phenomenon is. Science has already begun to show us what makes us the most happy and fulfilled (though we’re far from finished answering this question as the database of knowledge keeps growing) and science has been doing so in part by also discovering the consequences of our actions in greater and greater detail and with higher levels of complexity. Since morality can then be based on these facts (including objective facts pertaining to our brain’s psychology, neurology, and our sociology), there is no longer any room for disagreement as the hypotheses that are being tested become more and more validated (or falsified and abandoned for an alternative hypothesis), and one can no longer defensibly disagree with these facts as they become better and better established over time. One can say “I don’t want to believe that the Sun is the center of the solar system”, but that doesn’t change the fact that science has proved that it is in fact the center of the solar system. The same goes for any other facts discovered by scientific investigation. People may disagree with these facts, but that won’t change their truth value.
I’m not sure what you mean here. What I’m willing to consider evidence is conditional on the fact that it physically exists. If one can show me the evidence, and it can be tested to validate or invalidate a claim or hypothesis, then it will be considered. In other words, I’m willing to accept any physical evidence whatsoever, as long as it actually exists, then it can be weighed to determine how valid it is, and how strong it is (especially when compared to all other knowledge we’ve discovered thus far). So I’ll accept any evidence, as long as it is actually evidence and not just blanket assertions and unsubstantiated claims. That’s how science works, and that’s how a court of law works. As long as it is in fact evidence, then it will be considered.
Then your scope is too narrow and confined. It is a closerd minded view that denies that anything exists beyond what we can explain with pure logic.
I never said we could explain anything with pure logic. I said logic AND evidence. Evidence is key, not just logic. This is as open minded as a person can be without their brains falling out. I’m open minded to change my beliefs if there is evidence presented to warrant my changing that belief. It’s very simple and provides me with a dynamic open mind that changes as the accumulation of knowledge based on evidence changes.
Just to clarify, when I said “logic”, I mean that which can be logically understood based on scientific evidence. This is your position if I understand correctly. Right?
My position is that we only have warrant in a belief if there is evidence to support it, and we can only claim something to be even a possibility if it is logically sound. So if something is logically sound, that can warrant belief in it being logically possible, but to believe that it is physically possible let alone probable requires physical evidence. Without evidence, one can not have a warranted belief in anything at all. They can have a belief, but it is not warranted. It is just wishful thinking, faith, etc.
19They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 1 John 2:19
Nobody who ever really knew Jesus would leave him ever
They would if they realized that there was no good reason to believe that he exists in the first place (as a god, or son of a god). That is why I “left Jesus” as you put it. Even though I once had the same beliefs as you about Jesus, eventually over the course of years I realized that there was no evidence to support the existence of any God, and that what I had mistakenly done was misattribute emotional experiences that were heavily reinforced by dogmatic people. It’s actually kind of amazing that I ever got out of it. Most people don’t once they are indoctrinated and brainwashed, but I managed to wiggle my way out through reason and critical thought. You can’t even demonstrate how you know that Jesus even exists in the first place with any evidence at all. You only have mis-attributed introspective emotional experiences (without any demonstrated correlate to the external reality) and faith. That’s all you have. So even if your statement was true, it could be true simply because nobody can ever know Jesus in the first place.
If you ever did know Jesus, you still do. When you have His Spirit in you, His presence in you, it is completion. Wholeness.
I’ve already addressed this claim of yours. Repeating it won’t make it true. It is ultimately meaningless, since you can’t demonstrate that Jesus/God exists nor that you know this God.
But reason won’t unconvert Christians or any other religion. I know atheists who are zealots every bit as much as radicals from any religion. They want to deconvert others instead of make converts. They are sold out and committed to their cause. Its kind of hypocritical that they think they offer the world anything. They offer nothing. And all people are not inherently good. Greed and power make once sane people into insane dictators. You seem to propose that if we remove God from public and make man the ultimate being then everything will be hunky dory.
Yes, I’ve heard from a few people over the years that one can’t be reasoned out of something they were never reasoned into in the first place. Then I realized that it was in fact reason and time (a bit of time) to think things over critically that eventually converted me. So it does happen even though it is difficult, and I’ve heard from some other friends I have that were former Christians as well (and some of them Jews, and some Hindus) and they mentioned themselves having an experience similar to mine, where things just didn’t make sense anymore and they were choosing between intellectual honesty and intentional delusion (they picked the former over the latter).
I don’t doubt this and many of them have similar problems of being dogmatic and never considering that they may be wrong. When I was moving over to atheism, I adopted a rational skepticism where I always reserve some amount of doubt of anything I believed to be true (never any 100% certainty about anything because that was dangerous). As such, I always hold the possibility in my mind that God exists and there may be metaphysical and ontological truths that I’m unaware of. However, I won’t believe them to be true just because they are possibilities or can’t be disproven, just as I won’t believe in the spaghetti monster even though it can’t be disproven either. I won’t believe anything unless there is evidence and reason to warrant that belief. The more extraordinary the claim, the more extraordinary amount and quality of evidence I will require to take that claim seriously. It is through this mentality of a proper belief-vs-evidence proportion, that science has made the advancements it has. As for “conversion vs deconversion”, this is largely a semantic issue, but perhaps you are pointing out that some atheists tend to spend too much time pointing out the absurdity of other’s faith-based beliefs rather than showing why their own beliefs are not (as they are based on evidence) — and I do believe that kind-hearted atheists (that truly want to help others) need to be careful not to alienate the people they are trying to convince of their position — so that is a valid point, and something that I personally try to accomplish when I talk with theists. Part of the discussion however should at some point involve simply asking the theist what they believe and why they believe it, and then go from there to start an honest dialogue.
Well that depends on who you are talking about exactly, and what you think they’re being hypocritical about. If they get anyone to even slightly consider that they might be wrong about their beliefs, or get a person to realize that faith is an unreliable way of determining what is true or not true, then they’ve offered the key to unlocking a wealth of knowledge through healthy skepticism and challenging our own beliefs. If however, they act dogmatic and claim to be 100% certain about their beliefs, then I agree they have little or nothing to offer.
The evidence is suggesting that healthy human beings (as I mentioned, those that are sane and non-psychopathic) do have a common moral core (rooted in empathy to some degree, and supported by “cognitive empathy” to some degree). The problem is that many people are misled into doing morally reprehensible things because they are either irrational or they are lacking the knowledge of a number of facts.
However, greed and power are again the result of being either irrational or not having all the facts about what would most satisfy a person. Because it sometimes tempting for people to think that they can gain maximal happiness and life satisfaction from acquiring wealth and power, they often get led astray into doing actions that they think are best for achieving their ultimate goal and yet which are not actually best for doing so. This is largely because human beings have a number of innate cognitive biases which can serve to prevent people from being rational in any number of situations. However, we also have an innate empathy toward others, so despite our biases (which we need to consciously try to combat), we also have an innate drive which on average persuades us to treat others in ways that avoid their having to suffer. So yes, people are inherently “good” as the sciences have been showing, even though we are vulnerable to adopting bad and dangerous ideas.
Yes, if we remove God, we would be far better off, because more and more people would base their moralities on facts rather than unreliable faith-based religious dogma — religious dogma I might add that has caused people to commit genocide, rape, slavery, terrorism, and the subjugation of many people throughout history. God by no means makes it better, because all the good things that people learn are commanded by God, people tend to want to do anyway and don’t merely do it BECAUSE it is commanded by God. I would argue that a person that behaves in a certain way because they believe God wants them to, and do so ultimately to avoid an eternal punishment and gain an eternal reward, I would argue that this person is in fact immoral. Personally, I do good things and treat others in a nice way because that is the way I want to be treated, and the way I believe they want to be treated. I do it because it makes myself and others feel good by doing so. That is what I would call a moral basis for actions. The former is nothing more than the analog of a kid who behaves so he gets dessert and doesn’t get punished, and this is not what I would call morality. So yes, get rid of God and continue to educate people about the facts pertaining to the world — what we are discovering about our brains, our biology, our society, and use those facts to maximize our life satisfaction and fulfillment. It is by no means easy. I don’t think that getting rid of God will make things “hunky dory” as you put it, because getting rid of God isn’t the only piece to the puzzle. But it is a great start. The difference between an atheist and theist are that the latter can behave in morally reprehensible ways and actually feel religiously obligated by a deity to do so — almost entirely unamenable to moral change (unless they convert/de-convert), whereas the atheist doesn’t believe they are obligated to do so by any god-like authority and thus they are more amenable to moral growth and change. They are able to disagree with a theists’ supposedly divinely ordained morals to stone adulterers or own slaves — they are able to disagree with those morals because it doesn’t seem fair or reasonable or humane to do those things to others. Getting rid of God gets rid of the imaginary totalitarian dictator in the sky — a celestial dictator that orders believers to do his bidding with a total solution for how they are to live their lives. In fact, Deuteronomy 10:12 reads: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” This is as dictatorial and totalitarian as it gets — and this dictator is worse than any actual dictator we’ve seen in human history.
God is perfect, Holy, and Love. When each of us bow in His presence we will want only one thing from then on. To remain in the light of His lobe and ultimate beauty. God is love. To love Him is good for us. If He were not perfect, Holy, and love, such a command would be wrong.
Sure, you can define God to be whatever you want, but that is ultimately meaningless and doesn’t make God exist, and even if God did exist, it doesn’t make those attributes true. They are just religious assertions not backed up by any evidence or valid arguments.
Yes, believe what you want about this imaginary celestial dictator, but I advise against it as a former believer, after learning the greater benefits of “bowing down” before reason, logic, and evidence.
Defining a god to be “love” doesn’t make it so. Your claim that loving him “is good for us” is also a moral or prescriptive judgement, and what evidence and set of arguments are you basing this judgement on? When you start basing concepts of “right and wrong” on verifiable facts about the world, then you’ll have a defensible position. Until then, all you’ve stated are bald assertions with no backing — no arguments and no evidence, and thus the claims are epistemologically unreliable and therefore useless.
Not to sound rude but, are you blind per chance?
I’m not sure what you mean. Could you elaborate?
What do you feel when you see beauty? Can you explain logically how this condition exists?
What do I feel? I’m not sure what you’re asking exactly. When I see what I would call “beauty”, I feel pleasurable feelings like happiness, joy, awe, and others. Depending on what it is I’m experiencing that I believe to be “beautiful”, I may also feel sadness, and other feelings as well.
Can I explain logically how this condition exists? Sure. When our brain receives certain stimuli or combinations of sensations, it causes our brain to respond in certain ways that change our perception or conscious experience such that we experience what we call “beauty”. This is a result of our brain receiving certain sensory inputs, comparing them to the frame of reference stored in our memories, and then producing an output based on how the brain is wired (and how it’s wiring changes over time due to new experiences). Let me know if you’re looking for a more thorough explanation or something else, as I may not have understood what you were asking for.
Do you like flowers in particular?
Do I like flowers? Sure. I think that flowers are beautiful (especially dark blue, magenta, and purple colored varieties). I like lots of different things. Why do you ask?
My friend is an atheist. He said,
“God is a bad communicator.”
I asked, “do you hear the Red Cardinal bird calling each morning ?
It is beautiful isn’t it ?
To which he responded, “yes. It is as though it sings just for me.”
Do you know what it is saying and why our hearts respond to their songs that way? I asked.
It is a message from God it’s creator and ours saying to you, “I love you, I love you.” Over and over again.
When my friend had first come to visit he commented on a most fragrant scent in the air.
I pointed to the counter top and the Spring Hyacinths my wife had purchased the day before.
I asked, “when you smell the wonderful scent of the Hyacinth, do you know what it’s Creator is saying to you?
With each scent, He is saying,”I love you, I love you.”
And when you look at the most indescribable beauty of a flower, again, it is God’s saying,”I love you, I love you.”
God is indeed a marvelous communicator.
You can say that the flowers smell the way they do because of God, or that the cardinal sings as it does because of God, but that is nothing more than an assertion. The evidence suggests that these all do as they do because of evolution leading to a diversity of organisms with various phenotypes.
Furthermore, what you’ve said here doesn’t address what your friend/atheist was getting at, which is that if the God that you believe exists actually did exist, and wanted to be known, he would have no problem getting every person on earth to undeniably agree that he exists, but he would make himself known in the most obvious ways possible with direct communication. If this God wanted us to know how to live or some other instruction, he would tell us all directly, rather than relying on ancient texts that have been copied from copies of copies from different incomplete translations, with ambiguities and contradictions, and with simultaneously existing religious texts from other religions that have different messages as well. A God that is a good communicator wouldn’t do it this way unless he is either not very intelligent, or intentionally making it difficult for people to know it which would suggest that he doesn’t want to be known as much as some people suggest.
They Are the evidence Lage.
What are the evidence?
Those things you look away from every time you begin to hear His message too lowdly. Everything in nature that is beautiful calls to us. It all carries the message that God is beautiful and loved us.
You keep confusing the word “evidence” with “assertions”. This is vacuous nonsense, not evidence. You can describe nature in any way that you like, but that doesn’t make it so. You need evidence to support these claims.
Okay. Explain the universal sense of meaning of a common rose. Everywhere you go, they are given to express love to others both in joy and in grief. But they are naturally occurring? Why does virtually everyone interpret them the same way?
Even if roses did have a universal meaning, that wouldn’t be miraculous. Beyond the fact that we’ve evolved as the same species and therefore should by default expect more similarities than differences, even from a cultural perspective, we live in a global economy, and many cultures have many different things in common with one another. How many countries do you think have McDonald’s restaurants? I wouldn’t be surprised if the supposed universal rose meaning you’re referring to is less common than the number of countries with a McDonald’s. You must admit that if a McDonald’s restaurant franchise can spread farther across the globe than the meaning of a rose, your claim isn’t that amazing. After all, if there was actually a universal symbol for the rose, certainly you would expect to find something that significant more culturally widespread than a fast food chain. Well there are 119 countries with a McDonald’s restaurant, and over 35,000 total locations. Furthermore there are many cultures within most countries, which means that there are likely hundreds if not thousands of cultures that have a fast food chain in common. Show me the statistics of how many cultures share the universal meaning of a rose.
Roses don’t have a universal meaning anyway, even if the meaning of love and compassion are shared in a few countries. Roses actually symbolize a few different things and some of those meanings have changed over the centuries thus showing that we haven’t always had these modern meanings anyway. Those meanings arose and changed over time after we first began cultivating roses for their flowers back in 500 BC, so rather than roses being naturally occurring as you claimed, they were actually artificially selected. As for some different meanings, apparently medieval Christians also believed that the five petals of the rose symbolized the five wounds of Christ, and the rose later became a symbol for the mythical Virgin Mary. The red rose also became a symbol for the Christian martyrs. It is also a symbol for Socialism and Social Democracy in more than a dozen countries. So it means many different things to many different people (even between different Christians), and as I mentioned I'll bet that it's far less likely to find cultures that share the meaning of a rose than cultures that share a McDonald's franchise. If McDonald's restaurants are more universal, then a fortiori, you’d have to grant that a McDonald’s universality is at least as miraculous. If you don’t grant that a McDonald’s franchise being as ubiquitous as it is in this world is miraculous, then a less ubiquitous cultural meme such as the meaning of a rose a fortiori can’t be miraculous either.
So no explanation is needed no matter how miraculous you think it is, if the universality stats aren’t miraculously higher for the meaning of a rose. You need to approach these questions from a rational manner and think these things through. Take advantage of reliable Bayesian statistical reasoning, where you evaluate the prior probability of a claim being true based on all the relevant background information you can reasonably obtain, then look to see how much specific evidence you have to support the truth of the claim and see if this consequent probability outweighs the prior probability. As I’ve already encouraged, it is wise if you begin to look to see if there is any evidence to support your claims before you say them to people. And once you begin to look for evidence, if you think you’ve found some, check the reliability of the source (to combat one’s own confirmation bias) and then search for evidence to refute the claim you’re trying to prove (to see what’s out there from common scientific and well-established public sources).
When God lived among Adam and Eve, they still disobeyed Him.
When God talked to man through good men who did miracles, man still disobeyed Him. When God humbled Himself and became one of us, was perfect, healed all the sick and lame He encountered, showed only love and self-sacrifice for even those who hired Him, people still rejected Him.
Prophecy says they will reject Him even after He rules on earth for 1,000 years. Humility is a requirement to know Him. Anyone who does not come to Jesus like a little child will not see the kingdom of Heaven.
These are all empty, bald assertions, and myths derived from religious scriptural texts. They are not based on evidence. Which is why I no longer take those kinds of claims seriously anymore. Anyone can say anything like that about any god whatsoever in any religion whatsoever, and they are all equally meaningless and unsupported with evidence, and therefore not worth taking seriously.
Keep telling yourself that. Even screaming those words over and over won’t make it true.
I will keep telling myself to follow reason, evidence, and facts. Though I certainly won’t scream those words out because there is no need in a civil discourse. Perhaps you are psychologically projecting a bit here, where you may be screaming on the inside because you haven’t been able to defend your beliefs yet with any good arguments backed up with evidence. If you feel backed into a corner, you should either accept that you can’t defend your claims and admit it, terminate the discourse because you aren’t willing to concede this point, or actually provide evidence to back up your claims. Going around in circles repeating unsupported religious claims isn’t going to elevate you at all in this discourse. If you are making a positive claim that something is the case (anything about God and anything about what is said in the bible), then the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that those claims are true. If you can’t do so, then this discussion should not continue until you can.
As in the beginning. DNA. It is too complex and sophisticated to have evolved. You are the one who cannot give evidence to the contrary.
First of all, I asked for evidence to support your claim, not for evidence against evolution or the origin of life (which you still haven’t presented evidence against it either). In any case, even if you did falsify our currently well-established models of evolution or all current models for the origin of life, that wouldn’t show that your claim is true. At best, it would show that those models were false. But other models being false, doesn’t show that your (unfalsifiable) hypothesis is true. This is basic logic 101.
Also, most biologists and biochemists actually believe that RNA is much more likely to have preceded DNA in terms of evolution, because RNA has the ability to not only store genetic information, but also act as an enzyme and make copies of itself, so it is both a genetic storage medium and a self-replicating molecule which is exactly what abiogenesis models need at some point before the natural selection of modern nucleic acids such as DNA could take place. Many biochemists have already shown how amino acids and other biological molecules such as acetates and other important carboxylic molecules can be made from simple starting materials and sources of energy flow and dissipation. I actually just wrote a couple posts that talk about some of the most recent models on abiogenesis which are proving to be very promising for answering the questions pertaining to the origin of life.
Beyond the actual SCIENCE that you should be discovering and researching regarding these matters which have proved beyond any doubt that evolution is a fact, and the fact that there are several abiogenesis models that are not only plausible but probable supported by well-established physics including a couple thermodynamic facts, as well as some sound geological and chemical models, you’re also committing a couple of logical fallacies with your claim here. For one, you are claiming that the evolution of DNA is an improbable event but you haven’t shown how you arrived at that probability. Let me see the math. It disagrees with the probabilities calculated by the biochemists, geologists, and biologists that actually specialize in the fields that investigate these abiogenesis models. Second, you are claiming that because you believe DNA evolving is a highly improbable event, that therefore a miracle must have occurred instead. This is an argument from ignorance, specifically an argument from incredulity, and is therefore invalid. Just because you don’t know how DNA could have arisen doesn’t mean that it is improbable at all, and even if it was, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible until demonstrated to be so. Furthermore, you are guilty of the very “God of the gaps” argument I spoke about earlier, where you see a lack of a satisfactory explanation as a reason to introduce the infinitely worse explanatory problem of an infinitely complex, entirely unfalsifiable and unknown supernatural abstraction. Therefore you don’t make the problem solved by invoking a “God of the gaps” argument, but rather you make it worse without providing any true explanation. You only introduce a silly reason to stop scientific investigation of the phenomena, because the explanation can be entirely “explained” by magic.
Look at the wikipedia page for starters for abiogenesis, dna, and evolution, and those are great places to start (be sure to check the sources noted after each piece of information). Also take a look at Talk Origins. You will soon find that the evolution of DNA and the rest of life on earth is so well-established in various sciences including geology, biology, biochemistry, psychology, paleontology, paleobotany, and others. The evidence is vast (fossil record, genetic evidence, anatomical homologies, geographic distribution of species, seeing species evolve within our lifetimes in the lab and in nature such as bacteria, insects, fish, and domesticated animals such as dogs). Remember, no matter how improbable anything is (even if you do go through the work of actually calculating it to see if your claim is supported or not), a supernatural explanation is always going to be a priori less likely than a natural explanation, and this is further supported a posteriori based on all the background knowledge we’ve accumulated thus far in the sciences. Therefore, the evidence needed to overcome this vanishingly small prior probability of supernatural causation is so enormous, and yet you don’t have any physical evidence at all. You have to do more research before you say these kinds of things to people. It is intellectually dishonest to continue doing so, after being clearly refuted. If you continue to spread these claims to others, then you are in fact guilty of being an irrational and dishonest person and no rationalization will change that fact. Do the right thing and be honest with yourself and with others. At the very least, if you decide in ignorance to propagate this misinformation to others, you should present the counter-arguments you’ve read here so they can make the choice themselves. If you know they’ll find them to be ridiculous, then you’ve got nothing to lose. This will show that you actually want people to consider both sides of an issue and make an informed choice, rather than presenting them with a one-sided highly biased perspective to persuade them at all costs including sacrificing your personal integrity and intellectual honesty with deception (at least by omission). In any other part of your life, I bet that you’d personally want to be told both sides of an issue, for example if you were going to go on vacation or buy a product of some kind — wouldn’t you want people to present you with both positive and negative reviews for those vacations or products so that you are given an overall perspective? Or would you really just want people to share the positive reviews and keep the negative ones to themselves, therefore deceiving you by not sharing the whole story? The analogy carries over. Cheers.
You deny plausible theory that is contradictory to your position and then present plausible theory in support of your position?!! And heap paragraphs on top. Back to square one.
I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Could you explain more clearly what you mean by this statement? What plausible theory did I deny? I haven’t heard any theory at all from you yet. I’ve only heard bald assertions of some kind of unfalsifiable God hypothesis (not theory) and claims that are either illogical and/or not supported with any evidence. What theory have you presented exactly? I’m all ears.
Also, you haven’t addressed a single one of my responses. Not a single one. We are going around in circles with you making unsubstantiated claims with no evidence to back them up. My responses have all been logically sound and are entirely supported by the scientific community, as well as statistical data to back me up. What have you got? I’m still waiting. Rather than beating around the bush, I suggest you heed my earlier advice and either admit that you can’t defend your claims, or terminate this discussion until you can. You are wasting time by going around in circles, and it’s blatantly obvious why you are doing so. Please address my earlier responses if you want to continue this conversation. Quote me on my responses that I’ve made to you and respond to them or else you’re done.
DNA. The whole point is that Information with order must have a source and sender. The rest is a an anonymous quote. “Shannon’s theory of information which contains universal laws which demonstrate that living matter could not have come from the laws of physics and chemistry. See Yockey’s book by Cambridge University Press.”
I’ll gladly continue this topic and address this comment of yours on your blog. The post of yours I just commented on “Evolution – The Theory of Everything – and The Definition of Insanity” is more relevant than this post of mine which was on a science of morality anyway. So it makes more sense to continue it on your blog post. I’m still waiting to see my comment post on your blog, as I assume you’ll extend me the same courtesy I’ve extended you with your long thread on this post. Let’s continue this conversation there since your post referred to DNA and other relevant topics anyway. Also, if there are others that chime in, we can get other perspectives on the issue which can help in cases where we may not be communicating effectively with one another. To be continued there! Cheers.
For those interested in seeing where this conversation goes, I have already commented on CCT’s blog at the following link (here), and among other things we’ll likely discuss Shannon Information Theory and Yockey’s book since it was mentioned. My comment hasn’t yet posted, but I imagine that will happen sometime today or tomorrow and then the conversation can continue there. The thread got a little long here, and CCT has brought up some more details to talk about and since their post mentioned evolution specifically, it makes sense to continue the conversation there. FYI to any readers that are interested. Stay posted on the provided link and we’ll see where the dialogue goes.
For those interested, I still haven’t heard back from ChristCenteredTeaching (CCT), nor have they posted my two comments yet on their blog post that I provided a link to. I had hoped that CCT would grant me the same charity I granted him with the long thread of comments they left, which I approved and posted so that others could see the dialogue and hopefully benefit from it. I had hoped that CCT would be comfortable and confident enough to defend their position and continue the conversation in their own territory (i.e. on their own blog), but this still remains to be seen. If CCT decides to actually defend their position and engage in a dialogue on their blog (in return for the courtesy I’ve given them to comment on my blog), I’ll keep readers updated on this comment thread. FYI.
Since I have yet to hear back from CCT, I’ll quickly address his comment here.
CCT would first have to establish what “information” is, how it is defined, and demonstrate that these definitions are even applicable to biological systems. However, this wouldn’t matter because it is a well-established fact that DNA evolves as it does due to imperfect copying processes that take place every time a cell divides (for example) which leads to the accumulation of mutations. Mutations are also caused by environmental mutagenic sources (chemicals, radiation, etc.). Some percentage of mutations are bad, some are neutral, and some are beneficial to the organism under consideration. Natural selection leads to an accumulation of beneficial mutations, and so we could even phrase this in a particularly relevant way by saying that the “information” that corresponds to the environmental conditions that an organism lives in are being accumulated to a higher degree within the genomes of the organisms that survive and reproduce more than others (on average). Thus, even by starting with simple strands of DNA that are short and produced randomly, eventually the strands that are most likely to exist and increase in number will begin to accumulate this environmental “information”, because that very “information” is being selected for since it is effectively increasing the replication rates and survivability of the DNA. So if by “source and order”, we mean “the laws of physics” which are causal sources for all material interactions and which are certainly well-ordered and thus lead to well-ordered arrangements of molecules, then I would agree with this claim. Unfortunately, this doesn’t support the God hypothesis at all, but rather reinforces the plausibility of abiogenesis and evolution from naturalistic means.
Well, for starters CCT should have been careful to avoid simply repeating an anonymous quote that he obviously never checked for accuracy or soundness. Second, Claude Shannon’s “theory of information” contains no universal laws at all (only various theorems, such as the Noisy-channel coding theorem), so this is incorrect right off the bat. Third, this quote doesn’t at all demonstrate or show how any theorems found in or derived from Shannon information theory leads to the absurd conclusion that living matter couldn’t “have come from the laws of physics and chemistry”. It is just a blanket assertion that CCT has propagated (one of many thus far) without any consideration of whether it is even reasonable or based on any evidence or arguments at all. Fourth, CCT mentioned Yockey’s book, which I believe was a reference to Yockey’s Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life (2005). So what does Yockey say in his own book? Well, perhaps the most relevant quote from that book that pertains to CCT’s propagated claim is “I have no doubt that if the historic process leading to the origin of life were knowable, it would be a process of physics and chemistry“, and then goes on to make the argument that a natural “process of the origin of life is possible but unknowable” (p. 173). This claim of Yockey’s (that the process of the origin of life is unknowable) is based on a few logically fallacious assumptions, but that doesn’t matter because he himself says in his book that he believes that the process of abiogenesis is actually possible. The only fallacious arguments he makes pertain to our ability to learn what those processes are. So CCT’s propagated quote has left CCT’s claim dead in the water, from the very source that CCT referenced. This goes to show what I’ve tried to mention to CCT a number of times — one needs to research the validity of claims they hear and not simply regurgitate them (just to serve their interests) without so much as a critical thought put forward to verify their validity or soundness.
DNA loses information and degradation, not evolution, is the result. Your bias is so blatantly obvious. Degradation in all mutation. Humanity is gradually failing. Such bias as yours assures you will never post a comment in the CCT sanctum.
Blanket assertions with no evidence or arguments to back them up — big surprise…
We both know perfectly well why you don’t want me to comment on your blog. Take a look at the people commenting on your blog. Many Christians that are there to simply reinforce your delusion (and their own), so you can all pat each other on the back. You obviously also recognize that you will be unable to defend yourself and don’t want to appear foolish in front of your cohort. A person with integrity and intellectual honesty would be willing to engage in a dialogue and defend their position. A person with integrity and honesty would be willing to present opposing views on their forum/blog so that others can make a decision for themselves. If you are so confident that my arguments are highly biased (and not supported by a plethora of evidence), then you’d have nothing to lose by engaging in the conversation (and so others can join in and benefit from it as well). Instead you choose to run away back into your hall of mirrors. I’m not surprised that you refuse to be as charitable as I was in allowing every single one of your comments through so all can see an open conversation, though I was truly hoping you would have the character to do so. I may have to take a look at who’s been liking and commenting on your posts, and contact them through their blogs as well, and see if their character is any better (to be willing to engage with the opposition to at least talk about topics in an open format). Everyone is always welcome to comment on my blog (no matter what their biases) because I don’t believe in the censorship of ideas. I believe that even though your ideas are demonstrably biased (beyond the fact that you haven’t provided a shred of evidence to support your views, nor addressed a single argument in my responses), I’m still always willing to engage in a dialogue because I’m confident that it will be useful (at least some of the time) and I’m confident that I can defend my position. In any case, I’m also on the lookout for new perspectives and ideas in case I want to change my mind in light of better arguments and evidence. Unfortunately, when I’m discussing a topic with someone that doesn’t respect arguments nor evidence, then the only things gained generally are my pointing out the flaws with that approach, the reflection taken by the readers, and my own personal mental exercise of reevaluating the knowledge I’ve acquired about logical fallacies, the value of the scientific method, reason, etc. We’ve had far too much suppression of ideas in our human history for people to censor ideas just because they’re not comfortable talking about them, with most of that suppression coming from Christian cultural influence not surprisingly. Your refusal to engage in a conversation on your blog (where your admirers will see your true dialectic argumentation strength), is ironic considering that it recapitulates Christian/religiously motivated censorship in general. What’s really sad and an unfortunate waste is that this is a conversation that you obviously wanted to talk about (or you wouldn’t have engaged in it for so long) and a conversation that you wanted to continue to talk about even after my last two (unposted) comments on your blog. If you didn’t want to keep talking about it, you wouldn’t have posted yet ANOTHER comment about it as you just did. Icing on the cake. If you ever change your mind and you want to continue to discuss your position on your blog (if you’re willing to defend them out in the open for your admirers to see), let me know as I’ll happily engage. Until you agree to do so and grant me the charity I’ve granted you, this conversation is over and you shouldn’t post any more comments from this point forward. Please respect this request of mine if you have any shred of decency left. Peace and love!
So not one shred of decency left. I ask for one last request of you to refrain from commenting (until you agree to continue on your blog), and you couldn’t even do that. Thanks CCT for showing such a marked level of decency and maturity. I will keep your comment approved nevertheless (for all to see). There is a lesson to be learned here by anyone reading this (including yourself).
I also disagree that motivation to do good and feel good because it makes logical sense is universally present to a degree that will lead us to utopia. Evil exists, and for those who love evil, evil makes them feel good. Hate is easy. Greed is easy. Pride is easy. Love can be hard. Sacrificial generosity can be hard. Humility can be hard.
Science is showing this to be true, whether or not you believe it to be true. You can deny what they’ve been finding in psychology and sociology, but that is a losing battle when the data speaks for itself and is further confirming these hypotheses over time. I agree that this fact alone won’t inevitably lead us to a utopia, but it is likely that if a science of morality is seriously pursued and invested in (as opposed to it merely being diffuse in the sciences and spread out without any primary directive or goal in place), it will lead us to a brighter future, because it has already been demonstrated to be working thus far. Science is confirming that the goals of humanism which are spreading are working to increase happiness and life satisfaction globally. We just have a long way to go and a lot of ideological barriers to overcome (as I alluded to in my post).
I believe that circumstances and behaviors exist that aren’t conducive to our well being, and I could label that as “evil” though it doesn’t carry the same religious significance as your definition of the term. So sure, “evil” exists in that sense. For non-psychopaths, it can be shown that those people would feel worse if they knew the harm that their behaviors caused to others and most especially to themselves. You may say that hate is easy and greed is easy, but they are difficult in a number of ways in terms of what one is living with, and what satisfaction they are sacrificing by being hateful and greedy. Just as it is more difficult to be a liar than an honest person, such is the case for people that haven’t cultivated moral virtues in themselves versus people who have (another point mentioned in my post). Love, and sacrificial generosity, and humility can be hard, but they can be easy if those virtues are cultivated in a person rather than one merely doing them because they feel they are supposed to as if it is a chore (as per Kant’s deontological moral “duties”).
The west is turning from God and becoming more violent and crime and corruption is more prevalent.
See a patern?
First of all, correlation doesn’t imply causation. Second of all, where are you getting your statistics to show that crime, violence, and corruption have increased on the average? Third, even if those statistics were true, what makes you think that an increase of any of those things must be a result of people “turning from God”? Have you not realized that wealth inequality has been increasing largely from the corruption of only a few (less than one percent), and this has in turn been causing more poverty, which in turn causes more crime? Also, have you not considered the facts mentioned in my post that the population in the world has increased markedly, and this inevitably leads to people stretching their resources over more people, and inclines people to go to war with each other and with other nations because there aren’t enough resources to go around (or they’re being unequally distributed)? So inequality, poverty, and population growth can account for all of the things you mentioned in fact. Also, your claims of violence and crime increasing don’t jive with the statistics. Violent crimes in the U.S. for example have actually decreased over the last few decades by almost 50% (according to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division). The homicide rate has fallen by about 51%, forcible rapes declined by about 35%, robberies decreased by 56%, and aggravated assault has decreased by 45%. Even property crime rates have fallen markedly. Furthermore, the Corruption Perception Index has almost remained constant for the U.S. over the last few decades (slight fluctuations up and down over this time period). So where are you getting your statistics from? So not only do the statistics disagree with your claim, but again, even if they did agree with your claim (which they don’t), how could you possibly know that any increases would be intimately linked with disbelief in God, since there are a number of factors that control the rates of crime, violence, corruption, etc. — factors such as population density, government and economic systems employed, amount of available resources, wealth distribution and poverty, women’s reproductive rights, etc.? There are so many factors involved that one could still see crime and violence increase even with an increased belief in God. So your argument doesn’t hold any water either way. Sometimes people see what they want to see (confirmation bias), and I think that’s what’s going on here…you need to be careful when you make assertions, and you need to be prepared to demonstrate evidence and arguments to support your position. Food for thought.
Confirmation bias… indeed.
Exactly. The best way to combat confirmation bias is to actively challenge one’s own beliefs, and ensure that when one thinks something is true, they need to be able to back up those claims with evidence and arguments. If a competing claim is more supported with facts and evidence, then one must adopt that competing claim as at least more likely than the original claim. This is why science is such a good tool because it helps us eliminate the confirmation bias from the experiments (especially when we use blind studies, and double-blind studies, etc.). Science doesn’t let people get away with confirmation bias (at least not for very long) because these experiments and research papers are peer-reviewed and people try to repeat them to confirm their validity. It’s a great tool to combat our biases!
Too narrow. God is supernatural. Your request is unreasonable. You want me to use natural means to prove supernatural existence. The just shall live by faith. Faith is essential for relationship with God. The heart must be engaged. I believe choice must be free from empirical evidence. But to those who see wonder in small things, creation communicates God through wonder. He put the element of wonder in us and creation and it resonates a transcendent message. God is love
It is not unreasonable at all. When you assert something to be true and that something exists (i.e. God), then the burden of proof is on you to prove that claim. The only way to prove that claim or provide support for it is to have evidence that supports that claim. If you can’t provide evidence, then you can’t support your claim. Plain and simple as that. I will not believe your claim to be true until you have demonstrated that it is at least more likely to be true than not true, and to do this requires evidence. If you assert that the spaghetti monster or gremlins exist, the same rules apply, where I will need evidence from you that supports the existence of spaghetti monsters and gremlins. To say that it isn’t reasonable for me to ask for evidence because spaghetti monsters and gremlins are supernatural, is simply ridiculous. It is how we all go about our everyday lives, where people making claims that are extraordinary require extraordinary evidence to back them up.
Sure, I agree that faith is essential to have a relationship with a being that has never been demonstrated to exist (and thus is likely to be an imaginary abstraction and nothing more), because faith is needed whenever you don’t have a good reason to believe that something is true. This is why faith is not an epistemological virtue but rather a flaw, because whenever you don’t have evidence or good reasons to believe that something is true, then you most obviously should NOT believe it to be true. If I told you that I just got word from your boss (through an unknown means) that you can no longer go to work anymore and all your bills will be paid for, but only on the condition that you don’t go to work anymore, nor make any contact with the company again in any way — would you believe me on faith? Or would you want evidence to support my claim? If I told you that an angel told me all of this through some unexplainable vision, would you believe me on faith? I’m guessing you wouldn’t just take my word for it, because you realize that it would be unreasonable to believe me on faith, and you would likely want a decent amount of evidence to demonstrate that my claim is true. I can list any number of claims and I bet you would deny most if not all of them, especially if I told you that there was no physical evidence to support them (because the experiences came to me through a supernatural means), yet you should just believe my claims on faith. This demonstrably shows why we don’t use faith to get by in this world, because faith is unreliable and nothing but wishful thinking. It isn’t how one determines what is true and what is false. What we use instead is evidence, logic, and reason. They have been demonstrated countless times to be reliable and have only served to increase our knowledge about the world.
This is a very dangerous idea of yours, though it depends on what you mean exactly by this belief. If you mean that choosing to believe something shouldn’t be based on empirical evidence, then you are arguing for intentional ignorance. If this is truly what you’re saying, then I can still say rather confidently that you likely don’t really use this “method” to arrive at the majority of your beliefs (even if you’ve used this “method” to arrive at an unwarranted belief in God and other religious beliefs). When you make choices everyday of your life, you are using empirical evidence, whether it is deciding what foods to buy, where to live, which path to take to get to work, and even generally with choices that you make to maintain your survival (should your choice to wear a seatbelt or not be “free from empirical evidence”?). Every day of your life, with all the normal day-to-day goings on, you are making decisions based on your memories of previous experiences and the causal interactions and relationships inferred from those experiences to determine a reasonable course of action to take. While we sometimes have misleading experiences as well including hallucinations, delusions, dreams, and other mental states that don’t correlate with the external reality, what we do to check the validity of our experiences, and thus to differentiate between those that are likely to be valid and those that are likely not to be, is to see how they compare to your other remembered experiences and then see how well they are supported by physical evidence to have actually occurred in the physical world (and isn’t just a figment of one’s imagination or a mis-attributed emotional or other mental experience).
As I said before, you can define God to be love, good, or whatever you want, but that doesn’t make God’s existence demonstrated, and even if God could be demonstrated to exist one day, your claims don’t demonstrate that this God would in fact be “love” or “good” or anything else you assert without any evidence. If the God you believe in is anything like the God we read about in the Bible, then this God is far from being identical to “love” or “goodness”. This is a God that plays with people’s lives as if human beings were play things. He intentionally ruins some people’s lives to prove a point to an adversary. He massacres huge numbers of people including women, children, and sometimes infants. He drowns all of humanity except for eight specially chosen people. He is described as a God that is jealous, narcissistic, and insecure. He is not at all omnibenevolent as he allows people to suffer (to varying degrees) and even prevents people from being forgiven for “sin” after they die, thus damning them to eternal torture. This is anything but good. This is anything but love. This is the antithesis of love and goodness, and is a God that even if he were demonstrated beyond any doubt that he exists, I wouldn’t worship him. An omnibenevolent God that is capable of producing heaven would simply create all sentient creatures in heaven from the very beginning of their existence so they could only live an eternity of pleasure, paradise, and happiness with no possible suffering in the physical world at all. This would already be the case with miscarried or aborted fetuses for example, which if they die before the brain develops to the point of being conscious, would go straight to heaven (according to most if not all Christians), thus only experiencing heaven and no suffering in the physical world at all — thus showing that, if Christian claims like this were actually true, then it is already the case that some people experience only heaven and nothing else. So why can’t everybody have this exclusive eternal paradise with no experiences of the physical world at all? Any excuse is an argument against fairness and compassion either way. Furthermore, a good and loving God wouldn’t have us worshiping him (at all, let alone for eternity in heaven) because he would be selfless and humble rather than insecure, egotistical, and narcissistic. There are already many people in the world that are far more loving and good than this God that is described and portrayed in the Bible.
Hardly what? I gave a long response to your comment, and your one word response is ambiguous at best.