Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 113 (8749 total)
Current session began: 
Page Loaded: 05-26-2017 4:53 PM
124 online now:
dwise1, edge, frako, kjsimons, PaulK (5 members, 119 visitors)
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: Roshankumar1234
Post Volume:
Total: 809,070 Year: 13,676/21,208 Month: 3,158/3,605 Week: 500/933 Day: 38/51 Hour: 0/1

Announcements: Reporting debate problems OR discussing moderation actions/inactions


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Prev1
...
89
10
11121314Next
Author Topic:   Original Sin - Scripture and Reason
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 136 of 203 (668850)
07-25-2012 12:37 AM
Reply to: Message 134 by Modulous
07-24-2012 7:05 PM


Re: the genetic basis of behaviour
Jon writes:

Okay. So what genes make jar push the carts back?

I don't know, as I've explained.

Well, when you find out, let us know.


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 134 by Modulous, posted 07-24-2012 7:05 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 139 by Modulous, posted 07-25-2012 8:48 AM Jon has acknowledged this reply

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 2870
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 137 of 203 (668860)
07-25-2012 8:17 AM
Reply to: Message 121 by nwr
07-24-2012 3:53 PM


Terminology Sucks
nwr writes:

I suggest other terms (such as "psychological drive") for what is not conscious.

I agree that the terminology can be misleading if we do not constantly remind ourselves that when we talk about "selfish genes" we're talking about a thing that has no brain and therefore cannot have a conscious motivation. Maybe it was to help selling the book (Dawkins'), maybe it makes sense if you discuss this sort of thing all the time. I don't know, I'm just trying to use the language setup from the beginning of this thread:

GDR quoting Dawkins in the OP writes:

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.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 121 by nwr, posted 07-24-2012 3:53 PM nwr has acknowledged this reply

    
Stile
Member
Posts: 2870
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 138 of 203 (668862)
07-25-2012 8:24 AM
Reply to: Message 122 by New Cat's Eye
07-24-2012 3:56 PM


Difficult to read
Catholic Scientist writes:

I don't think that's true but his further explanation only confused me and made less sense.

I agree that things have been less than fully clear regarding exlanations in this thread. It's a difficult concept to keep straight. Especially given the terminology and trying to differentiate between selfish conscious motives and selfish unconscious motives/drives. In the second unconscious variety, the word "selfish" doesn't really mean the same as it does when discussing actual conscious motives. Equivocation here is extremely difficult to avoid (especially accidentally), and I believe it's been at the root of much of the confusion.

Plus, I also find it hard to distinguish between the multiple various uses of "selfish" and "selfless"... the words are simlpy too similar-looking and I have to read uncomfortably slowly in order to understand who's trying to talk about what at which particular time.

Understaning context in this thread has been challenging :]


This message is a reply to:
 Message 122 by New Cat's Eye, posted 07-24-2012 3:56 PM New Cat's Eye has acknowledged this reply

    
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7407
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 139 of 203 (668864)
07-25-2012 8:48 AM
Reply to: Message 136 by Jon
07-25-2012 12:37 AM


Re: the genetic basis of behaviour
Well, when you find out, let us know.

If you manage to work out an argument as to why I should need to know what you are asking, you'll let me know? That way we could, you know, have a discussion. As I stated in my last message, and which you did not quote:

quote:
Nor do I need to, as I've also explained. What you are failing to do is to explain why it is necessary to know this information. Maybe I'll agree with your explanation, and I'll change my view - but I can't if you're not willing to bring it forward.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 136 by Jon, posted 07-25-2012 12:37 AM Jon has acknowledged this reply

    
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7407
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 140 of 203 (668865)
07-25-2012 8:52 AM
Reply to: Message 135 by GDR
07-24-2012 8:28 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
Would you agree if it was phrased this way? Out of the selfish genes of our birth we can come become beings that have the potential to act selflessly or altruistically.

That seems agreeable, yes.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 135 by GDR, posted 07-24-2012 8:28 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 142 by GDR, posted 07-25-2012 1:27 PM Modulous has responded

    
New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11348
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 141 of 203 (668872)
07-25-2012 12:50 PM
Reply to: Message 128 by Modulous
07-24-2012 5:04 PM


Re: single sentence summary
But that doesn't change that things acting in their own self interests are necessary for cooperative behaviour in animals. Because acting cooperatively is an evolved behavioural trait. So it has to be explained in terms of promoting in its own replication.

I don't think jar pushing a cart back to the store needs to be explaned on those terms. He very well could have done it without anything acting in its own self interest.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 128 by Modulous, posted 07-24-2012 5:04 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 143 by Modulous, posted 07-25-2012 1:30 PM New Cat's Eye has acknowledged this reply

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


Message 142 of 203 (668875)
07-25-2012 1:27 PM
Reply to: Message 140 by Modulous
07-25-2012 8:52 AM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
GDR writes:

Would you agree if it was phrased this way? Out of the selfish genes of our birth we can come become beings that have the potential to act selflessly or altruistically.

Modulous writes:

That seems agreeable, yes.

This is from the OP.

quote:
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.

Now I completely acknowledge that you and Dawkins believe that altruistic acts are a result of naturally evolved memes. I agree that this is a reasoned conclusion derived from a scientific view point.

As a Christian I believe that I should use the three legs of the stool, (scripture, reason and tradition), to form my theistic beliefs. I will take tradition out of this as it is essentially accumulated reason, whether good or bad, over the generations.

Scripture when taken in the context of the entire meta-narrative gives us a picture of us as humans and that in some way we are beings created in the image of God, at least partly in that we have knowledge of good and evil and the ability to choose between them. In that we have to determine just what is good and what is evil. In the scriptures it is clear that God desires that we should reject evil and accept goodness and that this it is an ongoing process in our lives.

Somewhere along the line the term original sin arose. I think that it is an unfortunate term but it was an early attempt from someone, with no understanding of modern genetics to understand the human condition at birth.

The reasoning of Dawkins and others has IMHO, shed fresh light on the scriptures and the understanding of the unfortunate term original sin.

From a scriptural point of view we can see, as it says in my signature that what God wants from us is that we humbly love kindness and justice or, as Jesus tells us, we are to love our neighbour including our enemies and that we are to spread that message. We understand from scripture that this isnt something that comes natural to us but is something that we hopefully develop over our lifetimes.

Now, through human reason we know a great deal about genealogy and its implications in our lives. Richard Dawkins has taken this knowledge and come up with the idea that essentially we come into this world as a collection of selfish genes and that over our lives we evolve culturally through what he calls memes or social replicators, both positive and negative. Certainly we are still, at our core, a collection of selfish genes which is necessary for our survival, but with the social replicators in our lives we have the ability to move beyond that.

Through scripture alone the state into which we are born is ambiguous. We can see this when we go to wiki and look up original sin and see all the various ways people understand it and explain it. Now by overlaying Dawkins reasoned understanding of genetics and understanding of the human condition we can get a much clearer position of what the Bible is talking about. Original sin then can be understood as being born as a blank slate but made up of our the selfish genes, which are necessary for our survival but that we are then influenced both positively and negatively for the rest of our lives, by all of the various social influences or memes in our lives. It is the Christian hope and indeed the hope of most people that mankind, individually and collectively, will take on board the positive influences and reject the negative.

The atheistic position of Dawkins of course believes that all of these influences have evolved from completely natural causes. As a Christian I believe that God is involved in human thought and imagination and in one sense acts as a positive meme. So certainly, it is a matter of faith but it is a faith that isnt just scripturally based but one that also draws on reason that is not theistically dependent.


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 140 by Modulous, posted 07-25-2012 8:52 AM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 144 by Modulous, posted 07-25-2012 1:46 PM GDR has responded

    
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7407
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 143 of 203 (668876)
07-25-2012 1:30 PM
Reply to: Message 141 by New Cat's Eye
07-25-2012 12:50 PM


Re: single sentence summary
I don't think jar pushing a cart back to the store needs to be explaned on those terms. He very well could have done it without anything acting in its own self interest.

If jar has asserted that he 'could have' done it without things acting in their own self-interest we might have had a different argument. Instead he said that there was no such thing in play, and that his conscious self-reflection was sufficient to make that judgement.

I do maintain however, that without a brain built for occasional cooperative behaviour it would simply have been unthinkable to jar to push those carts back. And that the brain is built by genes acting in their own self interest.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 141 by New Cat's Eye, posted 07-25-2012 12:50 PM New Cat's Eye has acknowledged this reply

    
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7407
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 144 of 203 (668878)
07-25-2012 1:46 PM
Reply to: Message 142 by GDR
07-25-2012 1:27 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
Now I completely acknowledge that you and Dawkins believe that altruistic acts are a result of naturally evolved memes.

And, very importantly to the point I'm trying to make: GENES too.

Somewhere along the line the term original sin arose. I think that it is an unfortunate term but it was an early attempt from someone, with no understanding of modern genetics to understand the human condition at birth.

The term 'original sin' was used as far as I know to describe Paul's understanding of the reason why Jesus came and died. In Romans 5:

quote:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned

13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyones account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did Gods grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one mans sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive Gods abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.


From a scriptural point of view we can see, as it says in my signature that what God wants from us is that we humbly love kindness and justice or, as Jesus tells us, we are to love our neighbour including our enemies and that we are to spread that message. We understand from scripture that this isnt something that comes natural to us but is something that we hopefully develop over our lifetimes.

I would argue that something that is part of human development does come natural to us. We are built to cooperate with our allies, a good deal of the Bible seems to be about defining who our allies are (fellow Israelites, 'neighbours' etc), but I think the drive to cooperate with allies pre-exists any commands to do so.

Richard Dawkins has taken this knowledge and come up with the idea that essentially we come into this world as a collection of selfish genes and that over our lives we evolve culturally through what he calls memes or social replicators, both positive and negative. Certainly we are still, at our core, a collection of selfish genes which is necessary for our survival, but with the social replicators in our lives we have the ability to move beyond that.

But it's not just that we evolve culturally through memes to be selfless, its that we are built by our selfish genes to be at times, selfless. Being selfless is completely natural.

The atheistic position of Dawkins of course believes that all of these influences have evolved from completely natural causes. As a Christian I believe that God is involved in human thought and imagination and in one sense acts as a positive meme.

As I said earlier, I'm happy to accept that there are 'divine memes' that are in some fashion important in moral decision making, my only point is that selfish genes can create selfless phenotypes. God might help, but it isn't necessary for cooperative behaviour.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 142 by GDR, posted 07-25-2012 1:27 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 156 by GDR, posted 07-25-2012 4:50 PM Modulous has responded

    
Stile
Member
Posts: 2870
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 145 of 203 (668879)
07-25-2012 1:55 PM
Reply to: Message 124 by jar
07-24-2012 4:09 PM


Re: Trying to summarize
jar writes:

but my point is that as a human I am charged to at least try to do what is right and not simply fall back on "memes" or "depraved on account of I'm deprived" or "The Fall" or "Original Sin" or any other label.

I agree, and this is a good point. (But I also think no one is arguing with you about this particular point).

There are things that are influenced by unconscious acts, by upbringing, by factors out of someone's control, even by genetics, but motives are a conscious act and under someones control. The behaviors I mentioned are conscious acts and under my control. I can determine what the motives for those acts are.

Yes, "motives" (as generally discussed) are. However, the point being discussed here goes something like this:

Facts:
1. Cells evolve.
2. Cells do actions in order to continue their replication.
3. Animals are evolved and are made of cells.
4. Animals do actions in order to continue their replication (I'm going to call these "instincts" as I think that term better represents what we're talking about).
5. Humans are animals.
Therefore, humans are also evolved and made from cells.
Therefore, humans also have instincts.
6. Humans are intelligent enough to have a conscious mind that can reflect upon and sometimes even override our instincts.

Summary of ideas:
Humans have instincts.
Humans have a conscious mind.
Sometimes humans are not consciously aware of the impact their instincts may have on their actions.
When we do an action, it may be because we've consciously decided to, or because of our instincts, or some combination of both.
A - It may be possible for an action to be 100% instinct and 0% conscious, but this is currently unknown.
B - It may be possible for an action to be 0% instinct and 100% conscious, but this is currently unknown.
C - It may be impossible for any action to be 100% instinct and 0% conscious... therefore all human actions would involve some level of conscious motivation, but this is currently unknown.
D - It may be impossible for any action to be 0% instinct and 100 % conscious... therefore all human actions would invove some level of instinctual driver, but this is currently unknown.
Currently, it is impossible to "know" how much of our actions' motivations/drivers are based on our conscious decisions or our instincts.

Obviously, Dawkins has labelled "instincts" as "selfish genes." Dawkins likely is doing this from taking facts 1 to 5 above and saying that doing actions for the sake of replication is a "selfish act." I'm trying to be careful not to equivocate by simply using the term "instinct."

Mod's position seems to be that he agrees with the above statements (A-D), yet it is his opinion (that is, he accepts that he has no evidence) that D is absolutely true and, therefore, that B is absolutely false. It should also be pointed out that even if D is true and B is false, people can still be "100% altruistic" if their conscious motivations account for such. We simply need to remember that there is a certain amount of equivocation going on when Dawkins steals the term "selfish" and applies it to genes.

Your position seems to be that you already know that C is absolutely true and, therefore, that A is absolutely false. I think Mod has been asking you to provide evidence for such an assertion of knowledge.
If this is true, or if you disagree with the bolded statement under ideas A-D, I would also be interested in learning the basis for this knowledge you seem to claim to have.

Or, possibly, you also agree with ideas A-D and are simply expressing your opinion that C is absolutely true and A is absolutely false? This would be very understandable with how difficult it is to discuss this issue around the equivocation of the term "selfish" when used with instincts. (Taking the general meaning of the term "selfish", it is impossible for instincts to be selfish as they do not think or have any conscious aspect.)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 124 by jar, posted 07-24-2012 4:09 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 146 by jar, posted 07-25-2012 2:04 PM Stile has responded

    
jar
Member
Posts: 28838
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 146 of 203 (668880)
07-25-2012 2:04 PM
Reply to: Message 145 by Stile
07-25-2012 1:55 PM


Re: Trying to summarize
Maybe you should stop trying to state what my position is.

In the examples I have mentioned I believe that it is 100% possible to determine if my motive for those particular examples is 100% conscious because I do not always behave the same way. When I do not behave the same way I can also determine why I behaved differently.

I am making no general statements or assertions and so the check list you present is simply irrelevant.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 145 by Stile, posted 07-25-2012 1:55 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 151 by Stile, posted 07-25-2012 2:58 PM jar has responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 2870
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


(1)
Message 147 of 203 (668881)
07-25-2012 2:06 PM
Reply to: Message 135 by GDR
07-24-2012 8:28 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
GDR writes:

Would you agree if it was phrased this way? Out of the selfish genes of our birth we can become beings that have the potential to act selflessly or altruistically.

I would.

We need to remember the equivocation that is going on with Dawkins' use of the term "selfish genes." If we keep the general definition of the word "selfish" as we usually use it in every day life, it is absolutely impossible to have a "selfish gene." The term simply doesn't make sense (it's an oxymoron) since we are taking a word that implies conscious behaviour and applying it to something that has no consciousness.

When Dawkins says "selfish genes" he's talking about the processes and chemical reactions that occur within our bodies that are simply out of our control. A closer more general term would be "animal instincts." And, if we rephrase your statement with this in mind we get:

Out of the animal instincts of our birth we can become beings that have the potential to act selflessly or altruistically.

And, since we all know humans have intelligence which allows us to reflect upon and even sometimes override our animal instincts... this is obviously a simple and true statement.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 135 by GDR, posted 07-24-2012 8:28 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 148 by crashfrog, posted 07-25-2012 2:28 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply
 Message 149 by Modulous, posted 07-25-2012 2:33 PM Stile has responded
 Message 150 by jar, posted 07-25-2012 2:49 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply
 Message 157 by GDR, posted 07-25-2012 5:01 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

    
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 148 of 203 (668886)
07-25-2012 2:28 PM
Reply to: Message 147 by Stile
07-25-2012 2:06 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
People get hung up on this, which is bizzarre because obviously "selfish gene" is just a metaphor. The point is that there's a certain evolutionary imperative to pass on one's genes at the expense of others, but, apparently paradoxically, some people engage in self-sacrificing altruistic behaviors. "The Selfish Gene" is about how there are at least some conditions under which what appears to be self-sacrificing altruism really does serve one's own interest in passing along one's genes. The description "selfish gene" describes such a situation, and makes it clear that the individual survival of the gene's host is not always the optimum strategy for the expansion of that gene in the population. Sometimes it's worth looking at a population not as a collection of discreet organisms, but slantways, as a collection of statistically-distributed individual genes.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 147 by Stile, posted 07-25-2012 2:06 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7407
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 149 of 203 (668887)
07-25-2012 2:33 PM
Reply to: Message 147 by Stile
07-25-2012 2:06 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
When Dawkins says "selfish genes" he's talking about the processes and chemical reactions that occur within our bodies that are simply out of our control. A closer more general term would be "animal instincts."

No, he's really talking about genes, and genes specifically. I wouldn't say that 'animal instincts' is either closer or more general. Some selfish genes do go into constructing the brain structures that give us our instincts, but some selfish genes go into making toes.

From The Selfish Gene:

quote:
The gene is defined as a piece of chromosome which is sufficiently short for it to last, potentially, for long enough for it to function as a significant unit of natural selection...The largest practical unit of natural selection-the gene-will usually be found to lie somewhere on the scale between cistron and chromosome...Any gene that behaves in such a way as to increase its own survival chances in the gene pool at the expense of other alleles will, by definition...tend to survive. The gene is the basic unit of selfishness.

In terms of discussion specifically about behaviour, then I guess 'instincts' is as good a word to use regarding the unconscious 'motivators' going on - but those instincts, whether they selfish or selfless, are strongly influenced by our genes and the successful genes will be selfish genes.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 147 by Stile, posted 07-25-2012 2:06 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 154 by Stile, posted 07-25-2012 3:16 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

    
jar
Member
Posts: 28838
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 150 of 203 (668889)
07-25-2012 2:49 PM
Reply to: Message 147 by Stile
07-25-2012 2:06 PM


Re: we are in part, by nature, selfless beings.
I think that's an important post.

To try to tie this discussion back to the topic, "Original Sin" is a concept in Christianity even if not strongly held by all chapters of Club Christian, and yes, genetics and upbringing and intelligence and experience and culture and society and the law and likely things I have not mentioned can all "motivate" (as opposed to being the "motive") behavior. However as a Christian I also believe that we have a duty, a responsibility, to always try to do what is right for others even when that may be difficult, unpleasant, counter to our desires and regardless of whether our motivation (as opposed to "motive") is conscious, unconscious, within our control, out of our control, genetic, "Original Sin", "The Fall", "I'm depraved on account of I'm deprived" or any other possibility.

As a human we have control over our behavior within certain limits. Yes, it is possible to alter behavior by surgery, drugs, illness, experience, but those are abnormalities and often can be treated. That does not change the fact that I believe I am charged to try to do what is right for others even when that might not be best for me or what I "want" to do.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 147 by Stile, posted 07-25-2012 2:06 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 177 by Phat, posted 10-22-2014 2:25 AM jar has not yet responded

  
Prev1
...
89
10
11121314Next
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2015 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2017