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Author Topic:   Original Sin - Scripture and Reason
GDR
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From: Sidney, BC, Canada
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Message 1 of 203 (668279)
07-18-2012 7:30 PM


In most Christian traditions our understanding of God is based on the three legged stool metaphor. The three legs are of course scripture, tradition and reason. The subject of the Idea of original sin has been dealt with before and most recently in the Bible Study Forum.

Id like to suggest that we should look at original sin from the point of view of understanding the Biblical or scriptural view through human reasoning.

To start with I understand the Biblical creation story as inspired metaphor and most definitely not to be understood as anything more than that. Essentially it boils down to the fact that all things are created by God and that humans have been instilled with the ability to understand right and wrong. In addition humans are intended to choose what is right and use the correct choices to be good stewards of what has been created. (Not really doing all that well are we? )

As a Christian, I believe that God has given us minds that reason and that He intends us to use that reason to form our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in. It is my contention that science falls firmly into the category of reason and as I have said in other threads I view science as natural theology. Ultimately then, theology and science are going to be congruent. As there is a great deal we dont understand about in either field the congruency is not always obvious to us.

I want to attempt to explain where I see congruency through reason and scripture on the subject of original sin.

I think that we can safely assume that Richard Dawkins views are going to be based on reason and not scripture. He wrote a book The Selfish Gene and I think that he is on to something. Here is a brief quote from wiki on the subject of The Selfish Gene.

quote:
In describing genes as being "selfish", the author does not intend (as he states unequivocally in the work) to imply that they are driven by any motives or willmerely that their effects can be accurately described as if they were. The contention is that the genes that get passed on are the ones whose consequences serve their own implicit interests (to continue being replicated), not necessarily those of the organism, much less any larger level.

Dawkins wrote that genes behave as if they are selfish but in his book The Selfish Gene he writes:

quote:
we must not think of genes as conscious, purposeful agents. Blind natural selection, however, makes them behave rather is if they were purposeful, and it has been convenient as a shorthand, to refer to genes in the language of purpose.

Dawkins also claims that we as humans can overcome this natural selfishness that is inherent in our genes. He also writes this:

quote:
We have the power to deny the selfish genes of our birth and, if necessary, the selfish memes of our indoctrination. We can even discuss ways of deliberately cultivating and nurturing pure, disinterested altruism something that has no place in nature, something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world. We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.

What Dawkins has done, based on reason, is to come up with a concept of original sin. He says from the quote above that we have the natural selfishness in our genes. He then goes on to say that we are cultured by what he has termed memes. He tells us that because of memes we can rebel against the tyranny of our selfish replicators.

If we get away from the view held by some Christians that the Bible is to be read like a science text or newspaper then we can see many parallels with Dawkins ideas. The Bible tells us that we have knowledge of good and evil and the ability to choose between them. The term original sin is not a Biblical term but comes from the Christian understanding that we are born with a basic nature of selfishness, which is consistent with Dawkins view that we are born with selfish genes.

I dont think that anyone would disagree that as humans our tendencies towards selfishness or unselfishness evolve over time both as individuals and as societies. Dawkins view is that this is a result of memetics. The definition of a meme varies but this is the best I could find.

quote:
A meme is an information pattern which is capable of being copied to another individuals memory, mostly by means of imitation (though other techniques are possible as well) and which is subject to a selection process.
The quote was from this site on memtics. As we can see from this, memes are not physical but are non-physical thoughts and ideas that can be passed from one person to another resulting in the change of thoughts and ideas of individuals and societies. Dawkins believes, as I understand him, that we are infected, either positively or negatively by these memes or social replicators.

The Christian view using the scriptures, and the reasoning of Dawkins together, form a consistent message. As humans we have the freedom to make choices and we understand the difference between good and evil or selfishness and unselfishness. We understand that we should choose unselfishness or goodness, but that there is something basic within us that we have to overcome in order to commit acts for the benefit of someone else at our own expense.

The point Im trying to make is this:

Original sin has always been a difficult doctrine to understand. My contention is that if we combine scripture and reason it is no longer difficult. Dawkins came to his understanding of selfish genes that we are born with through reason, and if we overlay the Genesis story with his reasoning we gain, what is in my view, a clear concept of original sin, along with the realization that we should move beyond that in our lives.

Out of that point I also want to say that Christians should apply both reason and scripture to our understanding of God and that science is born out of reason and could just as easily be called natural theology.

Of course Dawkins would consider his memes as having a strictly natural origin whereas I would see memes as God working in us. However, IMHO we have come to agreement on the basic nature of the human condition, and from my perspective a clearer understanding of our existence and the nature of God.

I'm not really sure which forum is best for this so I am wide open to suggestion.

Edited by GDR, : No reason given.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


Replies to this message:
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AdminModulous
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Message 2 of 203 (668280)
07-19-2012 9:30 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by GDR
07-18-2012 7:30 PM


I too, have no idea where to put this. It's a fantastic OP though so I want to put it somewhere.

The Bible: Accuracy and Inerrancy perhaps if you want to argue that the Bible reveals Original Sin and reason reveals something close to it, therefore the Bible may not be literally true, but is still in some senses, accurate.

Human Origins and Evolution might work, though at a stretch. If you want this to focus on the natural-meme versus theo-meme idea, it might work since it is kind of related to the origins of humans, ish.

Creation/Evolution Miscellany, just because...where else?

The above are in the science fora.

Bible Study might be an idea if we want to explore whether the Bible is really true in its claims of original sin, but don't want to necessarily have a science-heavy element to the debate.

This is Social/Religious issues.

If you can't pick between them, perhaps you could eliminate some you think are inappropriate for the direction of the thread. And then, if you want, I'll make a judgement call on whatever is left.


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GDR
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Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 3 of 203 (668281)
07-19-2012 10:24 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminModulous
07-19-2012 9:30 AM


As the topic is both about scripture and reason I don't see it as being limited to science or religion. It is probably best then under "Social and Religious Issues" and under that I suppose Faith and Belief".

What do you think?


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AdminPhat
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Message 4 of 203 (668283)
07-19-2012 10:25 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Original Sin - Scripture and Reason thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
Phat
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Joined: 12-30-2003
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Message 5 of 203 (668284)
07-19-2012 10:42 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by GDR
07-18-2012 7:30 PM


Go and sin no more...Dawkins has given us the power.
GDR writes:

Id like to suggest that we should look at original sin from the point of view of understanding the Biblical or scriptural view through human reasoning.

I agree with Modulous...this is a grand topic! As we discuss this idea of "Original Sin" lets first of all define what we mean by original. I see it as meaning that its "human nature" to sin. In other words, its easier to be greedy than it is to be generous. Its easier to say that the toy is mine than it is to share. etc..etc..

Sinc e this is in Faith/Belief rather than Bible Study, I think that we should wax philosophic and use our "human nature" to discuss these ideas. For some of us, God exists and is a sort of super conscious authority figure in our minds. Jar usually points out that one of Gods gifts to humanity was to give us the knowledge of right and wrong and that it is our responsibility to do right and to try and do our best and admit when we are wrong,,,correcting our behavior as we go along.

GDR writes:

In addition humans are intended to choose what is right and use the correct choices to be good stewards of what has been created. (Not really doing all that well are we? )

Indeed, humanity still has wars, still is greedy, selfish, and appears to not really be improving in regards to loving ones neighbor as oneself.

Dawkins also claims that we as humans can overcome this natural selfishness that is inherent in our genes.
I always liked Dawkins.

The Bible tells us that we have knowledge of good and evil and the ability to choose between them.
Though many Christians would maintain that we really don't have the power to choose good unless we accept Jesus(the one whom knew no sin) and thus become in communion with God and, like a beacon on a lighthouse, again able to see our way through the fog of unlimited options.

GDR writes:

Original sin has always been a difficult doctrine to understand. My contention is that if we combine scripture and reason it is no longer difficult. Dawkins came to his understanding of selfish genes that we are born with through reason, and if we overlay the Genesis story with his reasoning we gain, what is in my view, a clear concept of original sin, along with the realization that we should move beyond that in our lives.

Out of that point I also want to say that Christians should apply both reason and scripture to our understanding of God and that science is born out of reason and could just as easily be called natural theology.

Is it important for us to understand God or merely to understand ourselves? Can we understand ourselves without bothering to accept Jesus?
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GDR
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Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 6 of 203 (668297)
07-19-2012 1:37 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Phat
07-19-2012 10:42 AM


Phat writes:

I see it as meaning that its "human nature" to sin. In other words, its easier to be greedy than it is to be generous. Its easier to say that the toy is mine than it is to share. etc..etc..

Essentially I agree. The word sin has some connotations that can drag us down in this discussion but I wanted to use the term "original sin" in order to give us a starting point that is understood by all.

I would say that we are all born with a selfish nature with no real understanding of selflessness. From the quotes in the OP we can see that Dawkins would agree with that, as does the Bible, although less directly than Dawkins. That isn't to say that this is necessarily a bad thing because obviously the survival instinct plays into that self centred nature.

Phat writes:

Indeed, humanity still has wars, still is greedy, selfish, and appears to not really be improving in regards to loving ones neighbor as oneself.

Yes, there is a long way to go but I disagree that things arent improving. Less than 2000 years ago the most civilized nations on the planet found it entertaining to watch people fight to the death or to watch people being killed by wild animals. We have massive programs for foreign aid. We have invested huge sums into healing the sick. There are programs that help the poor in our own nations. There is a lot wrong, but there is also a lot that is right and I think that it is evident that if we take the long view that the world is a better place now than it has been in the past.

Phat writes:

Though many Christians would maintain that we really don't have the power to choose good unless we accept Jesus(the one whom knew no sin) and thus become in communion with God and, like a beacon on a lighthouse, again able to see our way through the fog of unlimited options.

I dont accept that view of Christianity. It is in contradiction with both reason and scripture. Christians believing that should read through Romans 2 because Paul doesnt agree with it either. Jesus is very clear that it is about love and mercy. My signature from the OT encapsulates the message of God for us. I agree that we shouldnt cherry pick verses but that verse along with Jesus saying that loving God and neighbour is the foundation for all of the laws. It is all a heart thing, whether we accept that the ability to love comes from God or not. There are many atheists who seem to be a lot more loving than many of us Christians as near as I can tell.

Phat writes:

Is it important for us to understand God or merely to understand ourselves? Can we understand ourselves without bothering to accept Jesus?

Well, Im a Christian. I find that Christian philosophy makes sense of the world and human history for me. I also find that the little I know of science very much helps complete the picture. It is my view that in rejecting either we have an incomplete picture, but that is my belief which obviously isnt shared by everyone.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


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PaulK
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(3)
Message 7 of 203 (668298)
07-19-2012 1:39 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by GDR
07-18-2012 7:30 PM


Selfish Genes and Original Sin
Firstly we need to understand the concept of the selfish gene. It is not, as some people think a, gene that causes selfish behaviour - instead it represents a gene-centred view of evolution which was formulated to explain altruistic behaviour.

In a view of evolution which puts individual survival first, selfish behaviour is to be expected. And that doesn't really fit with what we see. The key insight of the selfish gene is that the survival of individuals is not the most important factor - the spread of genes is more important. A gene that acts in ways that boost it's own frequency in the population will tend to become more common - even if the effects are to the detriment of the individual carrying that copy of the gene. It can be seen as a generalisation of the earlier idea kin selection (i.e. helping close relatives helps "your" genes, therefore evolution will tend to encourage such behaviour - within limits).

I don't see that this relates very closely to the Christian idea of Original Sin. Even if we reduce Original Sin to the idea that there is something in humans that encourages "bad" behaviour - selfish genes can also cause good behaviour. But reducing Original Sin that far would seem to be taking an extremely liberal view of the subject. Original Sin is - in more orthodox views - a consequence of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, not something innate to all life, and long predating human existence. In that respect there is a huge difference between the two concepts.

In summary: The "Selfish gene" concept is far more than the idea that genes cause bad behaviour, and in fact includes the idea of genes causing good behaviour. Even the idea of genes causing bad behaviour is only similar to an attenuated idea of Original Sin, and contradicts the story of its origin.


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Coyote
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(4)
Message 8 of 203 (668303)
07-19-2012 2:07 PM


Coming from reason
I consider the concept of original sin to be one of the most loathsome and self-destructive ideas ever dreamed up by our shaman class. There is nothing in this evil idea to help humankind, only to denigrate.

Ayn Rand explained it this way:

What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledgehe acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evilhe became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his laborhe became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desirehe acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joyall the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of mans fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he wasthat robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without lovehe was not man.

Source


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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Modulous
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Message 9 of 203 (668307)
07-19-2012 2:52 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by GDR
07-19-2012 1:37 PM


I would say that we are all born with a selfish nature with no real understanding of selflessness. From the quotes in the OP we can see that Dawkins would agree with that, as does the Bible, although less directly than Dawkins.

But Dawkins does not believe that selflessness is exclusively the domain of memes. He does accept that the genes can create bodies that do apparently altruistic things. He points to bees and vampire bats as well as some others if memory serves. He doesn't claim that bees suicidally defend their hive because of their culture, but so doing would be classed as 'selflessness'.

One of his central points is that selfish genes can give rise to selfless behaviour. Granted, he also believes that memes have an impact on our behaviour too: The brain is built part by genes and in part by the environment (which includes learning).

Less than 2000 years ago the most civilized nations on the planet found it entertaining to watch people fight to the death or to watch people being killed by wild animals.

And we still find that kind of stuff entertaining, we've just found safer ways to get our kicks (films/video games/sports etc).

There is a lot wrong, but there is also a lot that is right and I think that it is evident that if we take the long view that the world is a better place now than it has been in the past.

Yes, even including the World Wars, the chances of dying by the hands of another human have decreased over time. And this can be put down to the evolution of culture via memes.

What Dawkins has done, based on reason, is to come up with a concept of original sin. He says from the quote above that we have the natural selfishness in our genes. He then goes on to say that we are cultured by what he has termed memes. He tells us that because of memes we can rebel against the tyranny of our selfish replicators.

I both agree and disagree. I think modern research has called into question a lot of this in some sense.

What causes us to 'rebel against the tyranny...'? Rebelling against the tyranny... is itself an idea. And it can replicate. So its a meme. Our memes might help us overcome the tyranny of genes, or I would rather say that it helps us find more optimum ways of existing within the tyranny of the genes. But what helps us overcome the tyranny of memes? Some have suggested temes as the next level

The Bible tells us that we have knowledge of good and evil and the ability to choose between them.

We don't need the Bible to do that, observing human behaviour is all that's required.

As we can see from this, memes are not physical but are non-physical thoughts and ideas that can be passed from one person to another resulting in the change of thoughts and ideas of individuals and societies.

In one way of looking, genes are not physical too. They are just information. They are typically based on a physical substrate called DNA. Memes have a physical substrate in the brain.

Original sin has always been a difficult doctrine to understand. My contention is that if we combine scripture and reason it is no longer difficult.

The difficulty of original sin is not resolved by this I'm afraid.

The difficulty is in why should the actions of one couple, determine the moral standing of all of their descendants? And in what way is Jesus' sacrifice a way around this? That's where all the hard theological work tends to get done.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


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nwr
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(2)
Message 10 of 203 (668309)
07-19-2012 3:15 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Coyote
07-19-2012 2:07 PM


Re: Coming from reason
I consider the concept of original sin to be one of the most loathsome and self-destructive ideas ever dreamed up by our shaman class.

I agree.

  • I am unable to find any Biblical basis for the doctrine.
  • it makes God look like an evil monster.

Ayn Rand explained it this way

Damn! I'll have to rethink that. I wouldn't want to be agreeing with Randroids


Jesus was a liberal hippie

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Phat
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Joined: 12-30-2003
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Message 11 of 203 (668310)
07-19-2012 3:32 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Modulous
07-19-2012 2:52 PM


Is Exclusive salvation reasonable?
The Bible tells us that we have knowledge of good and evil and the ability to choose between them.

Mod replies writes:

We don't need the Bible to do that, observing human behaviour is all that's required.

From a fundamentalist Christian standpoint, humans will observe and plan to advance their own offspring and interests and compete against others. Problem is, those who "accept" Jesus also behave rather badly, doing the same thing that the "unsaved" do and advancing their own families interests and those "in the club" while ignoring the pagans.

It has been established before that there is no real difference behaviorally between "saved" and "unsaved people. Some groups are altruistic, loving, and sharing while others are competitive capitalists who see no need to give away anything that can't be written off the taxes.


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Jazzns
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Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 12 of 203 (668311)
07-19-2012 4:51 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Coyote
07-19-2012 2:07 PM


Re: Coming from reason
Wow. That is a great quote. I generally know Rand through her sociopathy but people to forget that she was first criticized for her rejection of religion.

If you would have told me Hitchens had written that I would have believed you.


BUT if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes? Do we not see a fair creation prepared to receive us the instant we are born --a world furnished to our hands, that cost us nothing? Is it we that light up the sun; that pour down the rain; and fill the earth with abundance? Whether we sleep or wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on. Are these things, and the blessings they indicate in future, nothing to, us? Can our gross feelings be excited by no other subjects than tragedy and suicide? Or is the gloomy pride of man become so intolerable, that nothing can flatter it but a sacrifice of the Creator? --Thomas Paine

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GDR
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Joined: 05-22-2005
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Message 13 of 203 (668321)
07-19-2012 7:45 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by PaulK
07-19-2012 1:39 PM


Re: Selfish Genes and Original Sin
PaulK writes:

Firstly we need to understand the concept of the selfish gene. It is not, as some people think a, gene that causes selfish behaviour - instead it represents a gene-centred view of evolution which was formulated to explain altruistic behaviour.
In a view of evolution which puts individual survival first, selfish behaviour is to be expected. And that doesn't really fit with what we see. The key insight of the selfish gene is that the survival of individuals is not the most important factor - the spread of genes is more important. A gene that acts in ways that boost it's own frequency in the population will tend to become more common - even if the effects are to the detriment of the individual carrying that copy of the gene. It can be seen as a generalisation of the earlier idea kin selection (i.e. helping close relatives helps "your" genes, therefore evolution will tend to encourage such behaviour - within limits).

But I dont think that is what Dawkins is saying. Ill repeat the quote I used in the OP.

quote:
We have the power to deny the selfish genes of our birth and, if necessary, the selfish memes of our indoctrination. We can even discuss ways of deliberately cultivating and nurturing pure, disinterested altruism something that has no place in nature, something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world. We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.

I understand Dawkins to be saying that genetically speaking we are born selfish but with memes or social replicators we can overcome the, selfish genes of our birth. As he says, we are built as gene machines but cultured as meme machines.

PaulK writes:

I don't see that this relates very closely to the Christian idea of Original Sin. Even if we reduce Original Sin to the idea that there is something in humans that encourages "bad" behaviour - selfish genes can also cause good behaviour. But reducing Original Sin that far would seem to be taking an extremely liberal view of the subject. Original Sin is - in more orthodox views - a consequence of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, not something innate to all life, and long predating human existence. In that respect there is a huge difference between the two concepts.

I dont see either Dawkins view, or the Christian view as it being something in humans that encourages "bad" behaviour. I agree that selfish genes can cause good behaviour in the sense that co-operation can be beneficial for the individual or for his/her gene pool. I dont see it as being about good and bad behaviour precisely, but more about our motivations and desires. I understand Dawkins to be saying that we can develop true altruism, (benefitting others at the expense of ourselves, gene poll or tribe), and that this is done by the spread of memes.

As I said in the OP I view the creation story as inspired metaphor or myth for that matter. I believe that it in essence saying that we are born with selfish genes to use Dawkins language. Where we differ is that Dawkins sees true altruism being spread as a result of naturalistic memes, whereas I would see altruism being spread by the spark of God working in us and being spread in meme like fashion to others as well.

PaulK writes:

In summary: The "Selfish gene" concept is far more than the idea that genes cause bad behaviour, and in fact includes the idea of genes causing good behaviour. Even the idea of genes causing bad behaviour is only similar to an attenuated idea of Original Sin, and contradicts the story of its origin.

I guess I dont disagree with the statement itself but it doesnt address the point Im making for reasons that I think Ive explained in the last couple of paragraphs.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


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GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 14 of 203 (668322)
07-19-2012 8:05 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Coyote
07-19-2012 2:07 PM


Re: Coming from reason
Coyote writes:

I consider the concept of original sin to be one of the most loathsome and self-destructive ideas ever dreamed up by our shaman class. There is nothing in this evil idea to help humankind, only to denigrate.

I assume that because you used the Ayn Rand quote that you would understand original sin in the same way that she describes it.

With that understanding of "original sin" I agree with your assessment of it. I just don't see it that way. I agree with Dawkins that we are born with "selfish genes" but that we are able to overcome them in this life.

I agree with Rand's statement from your quote when she says

quote:
It is not his vices that their myth of mans fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man.
That is beautifully put. She says, far more eloquently than I ever could, what I was trying to say to Paul. It isn't about our actions but it is about the essence of our nature. (What a great phrase. Thanks for that quote.)

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Coyote, posted 07-19-2012 2:07 PM Coyote has acknowledged this reply

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4240
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 15 of 203 (668326)
07-19-2012 10:00 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Modulous
07-19-2012 2:52 PM


Modulous writes:

But Dawkins does not believe that selflessness is exclusively the domain of memes. He does accept that the genes can create bodies that do apparently altruistic things. He points to bees and vampire bats as well as some others if memory serves. He doesn't claim that bees suicidally defend their hive because of their culture, but so doing would be classed as 'selflessness'.

OK but I understand Dawkins to be saying that genes can only generate behaviour that appears selfless. Genes on their own only function in order to best support their survival.

Here are two quotes that I used in the OP.

quote:
In describing genes as being "selfish", the author does not intend (as he states unequivocally in the work) to imply that they are driven by any motives or willmerely that their effects can be accurately described as if they were. The contention is that the genes that get passed on are the ones whose consequences serve their own implicit interests (to continue being replicated), not necessarily those of the organism, much less any larger level.
quote:
we must not think of genes as conscious, purposeful agents. Blind natural selection, however, makes them behave rather is if they were purposeful, and it has been convenient as a shorthand, to refer to genes in the language of purpose.

Genes function through mindless natural selection and primarily function as genetic replicators. Dawkins view is that there are social replicators that have naturally evolved over time that enable us to overcome our selfish genes.

He also says this in The Selfish Gene.

quote:
We have now arrived back at the point we left at the end of Chapter 1. There we saw that selfishness is to be expected in any entity that deserves the title of a basic unit of natural selection. We saw that some people regard the species as the unit of natural selection, others the population or group within the species, and yet others the individual. I said that I preferred to think of the gene as the fundamental unit of natural selection, and therefore the fundamental unit of self-interest. What I have now done is to define the gene in such a way that I cannot really help being right!

Modulous writes:

One of his central points is that selfish genes can give rise to selfless behaviour.

I dont see that in what I have read. I only see that selfish genes can give rise to behaviour that appears to be selfless but in actuality isnt. Can you give me a quote that supports that statement?

Modulous writes:

And we still find that kind of stuff entertaining, we've just found safer ways to get our kicks (films/video games/sports etc).

Which supports my view that we still have a long way to go. However, the vast majority of people who find death in video games entertaining would still be horrified at watching someone being eaten by wild animals. I still maintain that we are progressing.

Modulous writes:

Yes, even including the World Wars, the chances of dying by the hands of another human have decreased over time. And this can be put down to the evolution of culture via memes.

That is a logical conclusion and Dawkins would agree with it. However a meme is a non-physical thought or idea and as such it is only conjecture whether or not it has evolved from totally natural non-intelligent and non-moral sources.

Modulous writes:

We don't need the Bible to do that, observing human behaviour is all that's required.


Absolutely, and Paul as we see in Romans 2 would agree with you.

Modulous writes:

In one way of looking, genes are not physical too. They are just information. They are typically based on a physical substrate called DNA. Memes have a physical substrate in the brain.


I agree with your statement on genes but Im not at all clear as to what the substrate would be for memes.

Modulous writes:

The difficulty is in why should the actions of one couple, determine the moral standing of all of their descendants?

I dont agree that they do. The point of both Christianity and Dawkins proposal of memes, is that we can overcome our genetics, and that we are not a slave to them.

Modulous writes:

And in what way is Jesus' sacrifice a way around this? That's where all the hard theological work tends to get done.

If it is ok with you Id like to leave that alone for now as I see it just dragging us off topic.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Modulous, posted 07-19-2012 2:52 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by Modulous, posted 07-20-2012 8:39 PM GDR has responded

    
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