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Author Topic:   The difference between a human and a rock
DevilsAdvocate
Member (Idle past 1489 days)
Posts: 1548
Joined: 06-05-2008


Message 16 of 102 (539125)
12-13-2009 7:09 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 6:57 AM


I was asking atheists why they believe a human deserves more compassion than a rock.

The word "deserve" is a loaded word. As far as from a human perspective, humans and animals prefer to stay alive and not die and therefore will do things within their power to ensure they meet this objective both conscienciously and unconscienciously (aka by instinct).

Like Cavediver discussed earlier, higher intelligance animals have more capability to control their behavior/instincts than lower intelligence organisms and therefore social dynamics (how organisms behave around each other and effect each other) play more into survival than with lower intelligent organisms. Therefore behavior such as altruism and social bonding (forming families, tribes, etc) do more to increase the survivability rate of an organism than do destructive acts. There are of course exceptions to this and this concept of altruistic behavior increasing survivabiliy of a species, family, tribe, etc is complex and not always universal in scope. It also varies in intensity the closer we get to that animal socially speaking i.e. altruism is typically closer in an organisms immediate relationships than with it's more remote relationships. This in a nutshell explains the differences, morally speaking between a human and a rock. We can dig into this deeper if you like.


“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous.” - Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

"You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe." - Carl Sagan

"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." - Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World


This message is a reply to:
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cavediver
Member (Idle past 2031 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 17 of 102 (539126)
12-13-2009 7:11 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 7:01 AM


So do you think there is a specific mutation for empathy or for love?

No, I think it is much more complex than that. We know of areas of the brain that are directly associated with empathy, and we see what happens when these areas are damaged or less developed. Apparently, my own inability to appreciate fully danger and risk is due to a similar under-development.


This message is a reply to:
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Percy
Member
Posts: 19301
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 18 of 102 (539127)
12-13-2009 7:20 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 6:57 AM


Bolder-dash writes:

I was asking atheists why they believe a human deserves more compassion than a rock.

It's innate, part of our makeup. That's why atheists are no more likely to be murderers than Christians. In fact, they're less likely.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-13-2009 8:21 AM Percy has responded

  
DevilsAdvocate
Member (Idle past 1489 days)
Posts: 1548
Joined: 06-05-2008


Message 19 of 102 (539128)
12-13-2009 7:20 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 7:05 AM


Why do you care what's good for the human race?

Because in the long run, it is better for me as an individual. If I went around indiscrimanetly hurting or killing people, it hurts me psychologically (the psychological stress would cause my emotions to be at the extremes from sadness to anger to fear which in the long run would wreak erecovable physical harm on my body and mind), socially (there would essentially be no human social fabric, cooperation, collective intelligence if everyone acted this way) and physically (puts strain and stress on my body to try to get away from other people that want to hurt or kill me). In other words, it makes my and other humans life and survival more difficult, uncomfortable and unsustainable. That is why caring for the human race and the world we live in 'good' (personally and socially acceptable).

Rocks don't care what's good for other rocks

Rocks have no capacity for caring much less any other emotion, we as humans and many higher intelligence animals do have this capacity so this is a moot point.

Tigers don't care what is good for giraffes.

Typically no, because they do have the need to in the wild. Humans are one of the few species to have risen to the capacity to be able to care for other species. However, there are special cases in which animals of one species have "cared" for animals of another species.

Edited by DevilsAdvocate, : No reason given.

Edited by DevilsAdvocate, : No reason given.

Edited by DevilsAdvocate, : No reason given.


“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous.” - Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

"You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe." - Carl Sagan

"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." - Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World


This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-13-2009 7:05 AM Bolder-dash has responded

Replies to this message:
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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 2017 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 20 of 102 (539131)
12-13-2009 8:20 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by DevilsAdvocate
12-13-2009 7:20 AM


Humans are one of the few species to have risen to the capacity to be able to care for other species.

Its interesting that you use the term risen.

In what sense is this a form of rising? There really isn't a quality of goodness to the sense of empathy, or sadness or emotion. In fact these emotions are much more of a burden. if we don't have them it would be much better. Then if people died we wouldn't care, and then we really could have survival of the fittest.


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Replies to this message:
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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 2017 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 21 of 102 (539132)
12-13-2009 8:21 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by Percy
12-13-2009 7:20 AM


Do you think this innateness arose from a chance genetic mistake?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by Percy, posted 12-13-2009 7:20 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by Percy, posted 12-13-2009 8:54 AM Bolder-dash has responded

  
Larni
Member
Posts: 3990
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 22 of 102 (539133)
12-13-2009 8:23 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Bolder-dash
12-12-2009 1:19 AM


Like many people here I would suggest the answer to this is pretty straight forwards.

Smashing a rock would provoke a reaction in me of

"wicked, that rock was well smashed!".

Where as smashing a person would provoke the reaction

"good lord what have I done? I feel awful because of my ability to empathise with the person I've just smashed. Given that that person was alive and I took action to change that quality for no reason I can justify I feel extreme distress. As I would rather avoid said distress I will endeavour not to smash any one else in the future".

I would suggest that this is the long and short of it.

In fact these emotions are much more of a burden. if we don't have them it would be much better.

Only for individuals. As a society it is vital to maintain large populations that that are less vulnerable to extinction.

Edited by Larni, : 2nd point.


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Percy
Member
Posts: 19301
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 23 of 102 (539134)
12-13-2009 8:54 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 8:21 AM


Bolder-dash writes:

Do you think this innateness arose from a chance genetic mistake?

Innateness? I don't think of innateness in the way you're using the term. Keeping this at an undetailed level, qualities are either innate or acquired.

But if I rephrase your question to be, "Do you think human empathy for other humans arose through a chance genetic mistake?", then given that all mutations are genetic copying errors, what other conclusion is there? Of course, any significant quality arises only after many mutations and generations and aided by the filtering of natural selection.

--Percy


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Replies to this message:
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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 2017 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 24 of 102 (539135)
12-13-2009 9:19 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by Percy
12-13-2009 8:54 AM


So you believe, in the just so stories of Darwinian evolution, that somewhere in the history of advanced life forms such as primates, or the like, that an individual was born with a unique mutation, that caused it to have feelings of empathy, where none ever existed before. And because of this empathy this one individual carried, it had a selective advantage for survival- and thus this trait became a norm? I wonder why this would carry any selective advantage?

Either way, whatever selective advantage it might have incurred at that time, that advantage is surely lost by now-in much the same way any advantage hair might have had as a selective advantage, it is now longer really necessary. Perhaps this remnant mutation might one day phase it self out of the population, as it is really no longer necessary. Surely moral people don't have any better chance of giving birth than immoral people do, do they. In fact the opposite must be true. If you are immoral enough to sleep with whoever you can, with whatever trickery you can conjure up, you will likely create more babies.

And, since we realize that this unusual feeling of empathy is really just a genetic mistake from some long ago primate or hyena, we now must realize that even though we have these awkward feelings, there is nothing fundamentally special about them, and if we can find a way to live without them-its just as well. We really shouldn't care anymore about our morality than we care about our appendix.


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Straggler
Member (Idle past 17 days)
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 25 of 102 (539136)
12-13-2009 9:24 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 6:57 AM


Question Back At Ya
I was asking atheists why they believe a human deserves more compassion than a rock.

Well assuming that you accept that atheists do feel this I would like to ask you why you think that is?

Is it really that puzzling to you? Do you really think that if we remove god from our lives that we become emotionless, compassionless automatons devoid of humanity?


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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 2017 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 26 of 102 (539140)
12-13-2009 9:52 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by Straggler
12-13-2009 9:24 AM


Re: Question Back At Ya
No, I don't think that, but that is because I am not one that thinks morality is just another genetic accident that is a remnant from some animals that proceeded us.

I accept that we all have humanity, empathy and morality, the disagreement stems from where it came from and what its real value is. To those who believe in Neo-Darwinian evolution, the value of morality should be no different logically than the value of hair.

Of course that isn't they way people view it, so my question to them is simply why not?


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Straggler
Member (Idle past 17 days)
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 27 of 102 (539141)
12-13-2009 10:15 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 9:52 AM


Re: Question Back At Ya
Of course that isn't they way people view it, so my question to them is simply why not?

OK. I don't think it was entirely clear that this is what you were asking but having cleared that up......

Do you think the human species would have survived and prospered if we treated each other as we treat rocks?

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 491 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(1)
Message 28 of 102 (539142)
12-13-2009 10:15 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Bolder-dash
12-12-2009 1:19 AM


then what exactly makes any natural form any more valuable than another?

What makes chocolate ice cream more tasty than strawberry?
What make the music of Mozart better than the music of Rossini?
Why is gold more valuable than soil?

They aren't objective discriminations inherent in the universe. 'Value' is in the eye of the beholder. No beholders, no value.

Do things "deserve" to live?

Yes and no.

Living didn't do anything prior to living that anyone I know is sufficiently meritorious to mean the 'gift of life' should have been awarded to them.

However, that which is living has a claim to maintaining life...but whether they can assert their claim under any given circumstances remains to be seen (and ultimately their claim to life can no longer be asserted in all cases).

Why would smashing apart a rock be any different than smashing out a life, when in fact they are just different versions of the same thing?

Chocolate ice cream is no different to Strawberry Ice Cream. If you mean 'Why are they different?' as a rhetorical device which results in the chocolate ice cream being no different to strawberry ice cream then your point is trivial. There is no difference: They are all just interacting waves or fields or some such.

However, if you are asking about a qualitative difference: Why is choc ice cream different than strawberry ice cream becomes more interesting. Obviously the ingredients are slightly different, but they have a suitably different affect on humans. So humans identify key differences between them.

Does that matter?

To whom?

It does to me. That's why I pick chocolate.

Should smashing a human to pieces be considered different to smashing a rock? Should according to whom? It is an empirical fact that they are viewed differently. There is a solid theoretical basis of an explanation for why that state of affairs came to be. What else can be said?


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 2017 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 29 of 102 (539143)
12-13-2009 10:34 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by Modulous
12-13-2009 10:15 AM


Should smashing a human to pieces be considered different to smashing a rock? Should according to whom? It is an empirical fact that they are viewed differently.

Yes, it is an empirical fact that they are viewed differently, even though logic should tell us they are the same. And to frogs and to aardvarks they are the same.

So do you believe that this genetic accident, presumably to a hyena, or to a capuchin or something, would have carried a significant survival advantage for the Morality Eve who was so fortunate to get this mutative mindbend amongst their immoral hyena or monkey brothers and sisters?


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Percy
Member
Posts: 19301
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 30 of 102 (539146)
12-13-2009 10:54 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by Bolder-dash
12-13-2009 9:19 AM


Hi Bolder-dash,

Well, that certainly is one very tangled web of speculation you have there, not much informed by anything I said or by reality for that matter.

Science is the best method we have for understanding the natural world, and science tells us that we are the product of billions of years of evolution. The way our minds work is also a product of the evolutionary process. It is because we are all a product of the same process that belief in God does not correlate with the quality of one's morality or ethics.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
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