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Author Topic:   Morality without God is impossible
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 242 of 306 (874430)
04-01-2020 4:19 PM
Reply to: Message 241 by Tangle
04-01-2020 3:18 AM


Re: Morality Evolved, Religion evolved to emphasize Morality
Tangle writes:

What I'm trying to unpick is your question about how could the behaviour of what you call 'sacrificial love' be natural. You claim that people are acting on the 'still small voice' when they run into a burning building to rescue a child. You say that this is against our natural survival interests.

I don’t think that I actually said that. I did in reference to a risking your life for a dog, with the point being that the dog is not just from another human tribe but from a different species. It is more akin to medical people who risk their lives to go in and minister to people in far flung countries around the world.

Here is a Dawkins quote from “River Out of Eden”

quote:
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

In his book the “Selfish Gene” he then promotes the idea that out of this pitiless indifference we eventually found that cooperating in groups could improve the lives of the “self”. We can often see that in the animal kingdom as well.

However, it does not explain why we self sacrifice for other people, and even other species, at the detriment of the self and possibly even our own tribe.
So yes, I can see those things happening without any specific interference.

In an earlier post you did allow for the idea that the properties of self giving love could have been built into creation at the beginning and then allowing for, from your perspective, a deistic view of things. (This might be RAZD’s position.) Yes I can accept that, but, it does not preclude that still small voice being ever present to be with us to overcome Dawkins view of the universe in the quote above. Yes, we can see it as a cultural meme in our society but it doesn’t explain why that cultural meme exists at all.

I read an excellent book a couple of years ago by Christian Barrigar our of Montreal. It is call Freedom All the Way Up. It is an excellent book, that when I get through 4 other books I have on the go I want to read again.

Here is a pdf article on the book and quotes from it. Chris Barrigar
Barrigar talks about the concept that randomness is not only an aspect of our universe but that it is essential to it. Here is a piece from the above pdf.

quote:
First, randomness does not inherently defeat teleology. In fact, as we often see in our high-tech world today, randomness can actually serve teleology. A widely-found example is random number generators, which are used for lotteries, for encryption, for the shuffle option on a CD player, for non-character players in video games, and for numerous other applications. Or, to take a very different example, the random motion and multiplication of bacteria cultivated in a petri dish is likewise initiated purposefully by the scientist or technician engaged in a particular research project or medical test. Such applications are teleological, for they intentionally employ randomness as part of a process to achieve an intended, purposeful outcome, such as determining a lottery winner, ensuring secure communication, enhancing one’s enjoyment of video games or music, or producing a medical test—and these are just a few of the many commercial, consumer, and scientific applications of randomness that exist today. Moreover, the presence of randomness in each of these examples is essential to the purpose of the process. That is, without randomness teleology would not be possible in such cases.

Barrigar’s position that that the universe exists the way it does as God brought it into existence with the very high probability that ultimately, through randomness, bring about creatures that could be capable of agape (essentially unconditional and sacrificial) love.

Tangle writes:

That's just a rationalisation of a serious problem with your position. If the most vulnerable people can't hear the voice, it strongly argues that ei ther the voice doesn't exist or it is not supernatural.

Actually we don’t know that they don’t perceive it. We only know that if it exists they don’t respond to it.

Tangle writes:

No, what I want you to do is seriously consider all the evidence showing the natural process that create our moral behaviours and not simply push it aside like you do with other major difficulties with your beliefs like the problem of suffering.
It doesn't mean that you'll lose a belief that's important to you, just that you're not hiding from reality.

I’m not denying that there are natural processes, such as a parent influencing their children, that take place. I am only saying that the natural process requires an agency. I contend that it is rational to believe that to believe that the process is from a pre-existing intelligence.

Yes, I go further and believe that that intelligence is still there as an influencer along with all the other influences in our lives. The former does not preclude the latter.


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 241 by Tangle, posted 04-01-2020 3:18 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 243 by Tangle, posted 04-02-2020 3:36 AM GDR has replied
 Message 244 by Tangle, posted 04-02-2020 12:59 PM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 245 of 306 (874451)
04-02-2020 1:30 PM
Reply to: Message 243 by Tangle
04-02-2020 3:36 AM


Re: Morality Evolved, Religion evolved to emphasize Morality
Tangle writes:

But I've shown you that they do not! It couldn't be clearer, there is no necessity of real-time, discriminatory interference in this process. It's neither evidenced, nor necessary.

“I believe” is the last ditch defence of a lost argument.

This is the problem in discussing things like this with fundamentalists be they Christian or atheist. It is like a discussion with Faith in the opposite end of things. If it says something in the Bible then it is from God and it has to be true. With you it is because I can show you a natural process of how something can have happened then that becomes how it did happen.

We both have our beliefs. I'm just not concerned about acknowledging that it is belief.


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 243 by Tangle, posted 04-02-2020 3:36 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 247 by Tangle, posted 04-02-2020 2:01 PM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


(1)
Message 246 of 306 (874452)
04-02-2020 1:32 PM
Reply to: Message 244 by Tangle
04-02-2020 12:59 PM


Re: Morality Evolved, Religion evolved to emphasize Morality
Tangle writes:

People are often not rational. Maybe this is a scam but the Bishop claims to believe it and that it has a basis in the bible and will argue at length that it is.

Unfortunately for me when I checked I found that they won't ship to Canada so as near as I can tell it is only you Brits that will be ok. How is it working so far BTW?

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 244 by Tangle, posted 04-02-2020 12:59 PM Tangle has taken no action

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 248 of 306 (874456)
04-02-2020 2:56 PM
Reply to: Message 247 by Tangle
04-02-2020 2:01 PM


Re: Morality Evolved, Religion evolved to emphasize Morality
Tangle writes:

You need to knock this off; this isn't an atheist argument, it's a scientific one. You could have this discussion with a scientific Christian - it's not about belief, it's about facts and knowledge.

It is both. As an atheist there is no other position than to reject the whole idea. I'm not sure what you mean by a scientific Christian. Scientists like John Polkinghorne, Alister McGrath, Francis Collins etc would agree with my position.Scientists like Dawkins, Greene, Sagan etc would agree with you. We all have our beliefs.

I acknowledge that I can't evidence my beliefs scientifically. However, science only tells me that what I believe is outside the bounds of empirical evidence which is what science looks at. I enjoy reading people like Brian Greene and others like him in an attempt to gain a minimal grasp of scientific concepts. I don't use my religious beliefs to inform what I believe about science but I do use the little I do know about science on occasion to inform my religious beliefs.

Tangle writes:

After all this time ... We're talking about how moral decisions are made. Science can show you how. It doesn't need a god; it's fully explained. That's all. If you deny in your face evidence there's not much more that can be done. It must have felt like this in Darwin,s time.

Science shows us with brain scans that thought processes, including moral thought processes, can be observed. However, you cannot tell what the conclusions are. They don't tell you whether the decision was steal or not to steal or whether they chose coffee or tea.

You claim it doesn't need a god. Maybe you're right. That is your belief. However, if we exist because of a deity then a god is necessary from the outset. Beyond that ii is still about belief. An atheist has to reject the possibility whereas a theist would most likely be open to the possibility. Brain scans show us the brain in action but it doesn't show us parental, cultural or possible god influences on the decision.


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 247 by Tangle, posted 04-02-2020 2:01 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 249 by Tangle, posted 04-02-2020 4:31 PM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 250 of 306 (874465)
04-02-2020 7:09 PM
Reply to: Message 249 by Tangle
04-02-2020 4:31 PM


Re: Morality Evolved, Religion evolved to emphasize Morality
Tangle writes:

But that's by-the-by, at least your other two are real scientists - if not in any field relevant to what we're discussing. And they're honest people, unlike that slimeball McGrath. Anyway, there are thousands of Christ ian scientists that would not take the extreme position you have on god's real-time intervention in moral choice. I doubt a single neuroscientist would.

The following quote is from the premise of BioLogos the organization that Francis Collins formed.
quote:
The Holy Spirit it is the “living and active” means through which God speaks to the church today, bearing witness to God’s Son, Jesus, as the divine Logos, or Word of God.

Here is a Christian neuroscientist named William Newsome as an example.
Tangle writes:

Yes they do. The experiments show the decision making process in action including the decision.

So you are saying that you can, by reading a brain scan, read the thoughts of the individual. I realize that you can distinguish sad thoughts vs happy thoughts as different parts of the brain light up but I question the idea that you can tell me what it is that is making that person sad or happy by looking at the scan.
Tangle writes:

I don't have a problem with that. A deistic god is impossible to disprove and is another argument altogether.

I agree that the concept of morality was inherent in human creatures, (and maybe others) right from the start. However, using Christian language, I also believe, based on the recorded words of Jesus in the NT, and some personal experience, that God does communicate with us through His Holy Spirit.
Tangle writes:

A theist has already made up his mind by definition and no amount of facts will change their minds. Historically, it's not the generation that gets the new knowledge that changes their beliefs, it's the one after. It's not a coincidence that you believe something wildly differenct to Christians three or four generations ago.

Theists have come to certain conclusions about what they believe just as atheists have.

I agree that Christian beliefs have changed quite a bit over the last few generations. I believe that there is a very good reason for that. There is obviously more to it but under Constantine and his successors Christianity essentially became a religion and specifically a state religion. With that the church became more that just followers of Jesus but an institution which quickly took on the Roman style of governance. Ultimately some Popes even became Emperors. Also Greek thought and particularly Platonism became part of Christian thinking. This carried on for centuries allowing for so called holy wars, and all sorts of abusive behavior.

The reformation of the 1500’s came along and reformed a number of the problems in the Roman church such as indulgences and Bibles being only available in Latin, but one thing that remained was the tendency to understand Scriptures in the context of the day.

More recently there has been a very strong movement by Christian scholars to study the Bible and particularly the NT in its historical setting and within the framework of the cultures, beliefs and the politics of the time.

As a result I would agree that Christian faith has always been a progressive understanding which I don’t imagine we are through with yet.


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 249 by Tangle, posted 04-02-2020 4:31 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 251 by Tangle, posted 04-03-2020 3:44 AM GDR has taken no action
 Message 252 by Tangle, posted 04-03-2020 6:16 AM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 254 of 306 (874492)
04-03-2020 2:26 PM
Reply to: Message 252 by Tangle
04-03-2020 6:16 AM


Re: Morality Evolved, Religion evolved to emphasize Morality
Tangle quoted writes:

quoteIf we are nothing but a bag of genes and chemicals, as Steven Pinker, Francis Crick, and others have famously written, do we bear responsibility for our own actions?
"I'm on Pinker's side, there's no ghost in the machine," Newsome said, rejecting the Christian notion of a moral soul.


I find that a little ambiguous. I see them saying that if we are only a bag of genes and chemicals then we shouldn't be held responsible for our actions.

Tangle writes:

There are no recorded words of Jesus. There are some writings by unknown authors between 25 and 50 years after his alleged death. Most of them are copies of each other with inherent omissions and contradictions.

They are compilations from overlapping sources of the recollections of eyewitnesses and others.

Actually we know that isn’t true. We have people brought up Christian converting to Islam and vice versa. People change their religious beliefs all the time. I have even heard accounts of people being brought up Christian and converting to atheism.

Tangle writes:

t's not an understanding, it's a belief system. Understanding requires knowledge and you have no new knowledge for 2,000 years. The entire source of 'information, about you belief is contained in your book.

The Anglican church has since the time of Richard Hooker held to the belief that our theology is based on reason, tradition and scripture. In the past 2000 years we have had considerable time to reason as well as build up tradition. Christian theology is evolving and IMHO will continue to evolve. I would add that because of improved understanding of the early Greek language, partly because of the finding of the “Dead Sea Scrolls’ that we have a lot better understanding of the original texts, which is resulting in a lot better understanding of Jesus’ culture, Jesus was a 1st century Jew speaking primarily to 1st century Jews. He wasn’t a 21st century white westerner.

Tangle quote writes:

Using evidence from evolutionary biology, developmental psychology, and neuroscience, we have come to realize that morality is not merely the result of cultural learning, handed to us from our families, peers, and environment. Morality was selected by evolution in our human ancestors in order to promote cooperation and smooth social interactions. Developmental psychologists have demonstrated that some building blocks of morality are in place very early in development [3]. Additionally, the parts of the brain and the brain chemicals involved in morality and decision-making are beginning to be identified.

Morality is a product of evolution but that does not mean that it is set in stone and totally unchangeable. The culture in which we live influences what we think is right and wrong. For instance, second-hand smoking was totally ignored some decades ago, while in Western Europe and North America, it is now considered morally (as well as medically) wrong. In a nutshell, we create our own definition of morality through our interactions the people around us. Ideas about what is and what is not moral are guided by our unique human reasoning and intelligence, and not just by our feelings or gut reactions. It is reason, and not emotion, that provides the push to widen the circle of empathy and concern for others beyond those related to us and our community.

Neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology will continue to help us gain a better understanding of how we think and make moral decisions [2]. Future research in neuroscience will help us to explain how we make decisions, weigh our options, reflect on our desires, and modify our behaviors on the basis of their moral consequences. Hopefully, Science will also help us to understand why some people, like psychopaths, are not able to act morally, and discover ways to help them.


I have no problem with any of that. It also doesn’t preclude external influences.

Tangle writes:

The present study examined the neural underpinnings of and precursors to moral sensitivity in infants and toddlers (n = 73, ages 12–24 mo) through a series of interwoven measures, combining multiple levels of analysis including electrophysiological, eye-tracking, behavioral, and socioenvironmental.
Continuous EEG and time-locked event-related potentials (ERPs) and gaze fixation were recorded while children watched characters engaging in prosocial and antisocial actions in two different tasks.

All children demonstrated a neural differentiation in both spectral EEG power density modulations and time-locked ERPs when perceiving prosocial or antisocial agents. Time-locked neural differences predicted children’s preference for prosocial characters and were influenced by parental values regarding justice and fairness.

Overall, this investigation casts light on the fundamental nature of moral cognition, including its underpinnings in general processes such as attention and approach–withdrawal, providing plausible mechanisms of early change and a foundation for forward movement in the field of developmental social neuroscience.


Again I have no problem with that and actually it confirms what C S Lewis wrote about in Mere Christianity. He wrote about the law of human nature that we are born with and talks about infants having a sense of fairness. (If there are 2 cookies then there is one for you and one for me.)
I don’t question that there is built into our nature a basic sense of morality as well as a basic sense of self centeredness. Throughout our lives we are bombarded with cultural influences. There is no empirical evidence for the fact that I believe that within that there is God’s small still voice or His spirit that nudges us to do the loving thing.

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 252 by Tangle, posted 04-03-2020 6:16 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 255 by Tangle, posted 04-03-2020 3:50 PM GDR has taken no action

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 257 of 306 (874510)
04-04-2020 3:04 PM
Reply to: Message 256 by Tangle
04-04-2020 11:07 AM


Morality and Empathy
Tangle writes:

Not sure what you find ambiguous about him rejecting the “Christian notion of a moral soul” but the believer's ability to ignore inconvenient evidence is bottomless.

I quoted the part I found ambiguous and that wasn’t it.

I’ll go on to the article you quoted. That article is very interesting and I certainly can’t disagree with any of it. It does talk about how moral and empathetic thoughts can be traced to different parts of the brain. However nothing in the article measures the input and changes in the brain marked by cultural memes, which might or might not include a god meme.
I’ll go over some specific parts of the article.

quote:
It is important to note that while empathy is a powerful motivation for prosocial behavior, it should not be equated with morality. The two concepts refer to distinct abilities with partially non-overlapping proximate mechanisms (Decety & Cowell, 2014a). Whereas morality deals with social norms prohibiting and prescribing specific behaviors, empathy is a complex multi-faceted construct that involves perspective-taking, affect sharing, and a motivated concern for other’s well-being (Decety & Jackson, 2004). Each of these components are implemented in specific brain systems, and have important implications for moral decision-making and behavior (Decety & Cowell, 2014b). For instance, perspectivetaking can be used to adopt the subjective viewpoint of others, and this can facilitate understanding the extent of harm or distress that might be experienced by a victim. Conversely, affective reactions to the plight of another may be foundational for motivating prosocial behaviors as well as moral condemnation (Decety & Cowell, 2017; Patil, Calò, Fornasier, Cushman, & Silani, 2017). But affective sharing may also lead to personal distress, the aversive affect arising in response to others’ suffering, and does not necessarily Yoder and Decety Page 5 Psychol Crime Law. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2019 February 12. Author Manuscript Author Manuscript Author Manuscript Author Manuscript lead to prosocial behavior (Decety & Lamm, 2009). Furthermore, the degree of these empathic responses are known to be modulated (enhanced or suppressed) by social and contextual factors. For instance, stronger reactions and associated neural responses are elicited when observing the pain of people from the same ethnic group compared with people of another group (Contreras-Huerta, Baker, Reynolds, Batalha, & Cunnington, 2013). Many individuals experience schadenfreude when outgroup members experience misfortune (Cikara, Bruneau, & Saxe, 2011).

I found it interesting, and I see it as being correct when they say that, “It is important to note that while empathy is a powerful motivation for prosocial behavior, it should not be equated with morality.”

I think that we,{at least I), have been seeing them as being essentially the same. I think the point is that morality is about the social norms that we use to relate to our society and make it function. This goes back to the idea that essentially my life will be better if I behave cooperatively and in harmony within my own social group which can include my next door neighbour, any social group I’m part of, my work place etc.

Their thoughts on empathy ring so true. I can only relate to the world through my own consciousness. It is unique to me. Everyone one is “I”. This article is so right. The further away we get from that “I’ the less effect it has on my empathetic feelings. My best friend lost his wife recently. This continues to cause me distress a month later. If I read about someone else I don’t know in even more tragic circumstances, it bothers briefly but usually is gone from mind fairly quickly.

It seems to me that people can learn about the plight of others where it is possible to help, and the their sense of empathy is pushed to go beyond the the more local sense and be prepared to sacrifice for those outside and even well outside their own social networks.

We would both agree that our relationships with parents and others have an impact on our response to our empathetic feelings. The question is whether or not “the still small voice of God’ is one of the others.

The fact that we can see different parts of the brain being energized by our conclusions does not tell us about the social interactions that formed the conclusions.

quote:
Behavioral investigations into the influence of psychopathy on moral decision-making have yielded contradictory results, possibly because early studies focused either on judgment (abstract evaluation) or on choices between hypothetical actions; two processes that may rely on different mechanisms. For instance, it was argued that psychopathy was characterized by a failure to distinguish between right and wrong when tested on the classic moral/conventional transgressions task (Blair, Jones, Clark, & Smith, 1995) 2. However, further investigations with forensic populations found no effect of psychopathy on moral classification accuracy, and even individuals with very high psychopathy scores do understand moral rules and can appropriately identify actions as right and wrong (Aharoni, Sinnott-Armstrong, & Kiehl, 2014). These patterns of results support the view that psychopathic individuals know right from wrong but don’t care. One study explored the influence of psychopathic traits on judgment and choice in response to hypothetical scenarios in a non-forensic sample (Tassy, Deruelle, Mancini, Leistedt, & Wicker, 2013). Psychopathy did not predict utilitarian judgments during the evaluation of moral dilemmas, but was positively correlated with utilitarian predictions of future behavior.

This does indicate that we start off in this life with a basic sense of right and wrong which would agree with C S Lewis, as well as your quote, as I mentioned earlier. Why this exists as part of our conscious nature is of course the question. To say that it simply evolved does not answer the question of why it evolved or whether there was an intelligent agent responsible or whether it evolved simply as a result of other non-intelligent processes.

quote:
Social decision-making capacities in humans have allowed them to achieve unprecedented evolutionary success. Decades of research demonstrate that neurocognitive systems for stimulus valuation, mental state attribution, saliency processing, and goal-related response selection provide the necessary mechanisms for moral reasoning. Disruptions in any of these systems can have devastating consequences for individual and collective welfare, which are often dealt with by the legal system. Moreover, atypical changes in the social aspects of Yoder and Decety Page 11 Psychol Crime Law. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2019 February 12. Author Manuscript Author Manuscript Author Manuscript Author Manuscript decision-making are pervasive in many neurological and psychiatric disorders (Ruff & Fehr, 2014). A better understanding of the psychological and neural mechanisms of social decision-making and moral behavior is thus an important goal across social and biological sciences with implications for the law and the criminal justice system. The law regards antisocial acts as arising from the same forces which produce all acts of those whose reason is sufficiently intact to ascribe free will, namely, a conscious decision to violate social norms for which, once apprehended, they must be held responsible (Kiehl & Hoffman, 2014). Current neuroscience work demonstrates that social decision-making and moral reasoning rely on multiple partially overlapping neural networks which support domain-general processes, such as executive control, saliency processing, perspective-taking, reasoning, and valuation. Neuroscience investigations have contributed to a growing understanding of the role of these process in moral cognition and judgments of blame and culpability, exactly the sorts of judgments required of judges and juries. Dysfunction of these networks can lead to dysfunctional social behavior and a propensity to immoral behavior as in the case of psychopathy. Significant progress has been made in clarifying which aspects of social decision-making network functioning are most predictive of future recidivism. Psychopathy, in particular, constitutes a complex type of moral disorder and a challenge to the criminal justice system. Indeed, despite atypical neural processing in specific brain circuits, these individuals are considered sufficiently rational and presumed to have free will to allow moral choice (Kiehl & Hoffman, 2011). Thus psychopaths cannot be excused for their illegal and immoral actions. While future research could identify biomarkers of sufficiently abnormal moral reasoning or reduced capacity to support a mens rea defense, there is currently no neuroscience evidence that would be diagnostically exculpatory in the case of psychopathy. It seems more likely that the neuroscience of decision-making could be applied to identifying individuals for targeted interventions that might prove to be even more effective at reducing future antisocial behavior than incarceration.
Once again it does demonstrate that a psychopath has knowledge that what he/she is doing is wrong and is responsible for their actions.
quote:
Finally, while most of the evidence discussed in our paper supports the notion that social decision-making and moral reasoning are implemented by domain-general reward, valuation, motivation and reasoning mechanisms, it is not totally clear whether social and non-social valuation are implemented in similar or distinct neuronal populations, or how areas that are specialized for either social and non-social cognitive functions interact across contexts. Knowing if there is an overlap in neural representations of motivational relevance for social and non-social decision-making is important for both conceptual clarity and for improving interventions aims at rehabilitation. In this way, future investigations into the neural networks underpinning social decisionmaking can help to characterize specific constellations of biomarkers indicating responsiveness to treatment or reduced capacity, which will increase the effectiveness of the legal judgments and lead to better-informed sentencing decisions

As I see this it is going back again to separating morality and empathy. This is saying that morality is more governed by the “domain-general reward”. I think then that the implication is that empathy is motivated in a different way.

With this in mind I’ll amend my thinking to agree that morality is something that has socially evolved naturally, (without addressing the question of “why” which can only produce a subjective conclusion), but I would still subjectively maintain that the God meme still nudges us in the direction of empathy.

Right off subject, but one of my musical heroes lives in Sussex. (Ditchling) That would be Vera Lynn who turned 103 on Mar 20.


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 256 by Tangle, posted 04-04-2020 11:07 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 258 by Tangle, posted 04-04-2020 5:44 PM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 259 of 306 (874550)
04-05-2020 5:56 PM
Reply to: Message 258 by Tangle
04-04-2020 5:44 PM


Re: Morality and Empathy
GDR writes:

The question is whether or not “the still small voice of God’ is one of the others.

Tangle writes:

That's not in doubt either. There's no necessity for it; it's totally explicable naturally. It's like still insisting that Thor is behind lightening - yet we have a natural explanation.

I would agree that it can be explained naturally, but that doesn't explain "why" it can be explained naturally. The articles that you linked earlier do suggest that a sense of morality is universal. Is there a universal morality built into the evolutionary process that is there as the result of intelligence? The answer is subjective and flows from belief.

Just because you don't deem it as necessary does not mean that it isn't there.

Tangle writes:

If you could start distinguishing between a god that intervened at creation then stood by and watched and a god that's intervening with all of us in real time it would be helpful. The first is quite, quite different to the second.

Sure, deism vs theism.

Tangle writes:

Of course you do. Nevertheless, god is not a necessary component of the process.

The windshield wipers aren't a necessity for me to drive my car but they sure can be a big help.

Tangle writes:

Ditchling is pretty, and about 10 miles away. Has a great pub too.

I met Vera Lynn once a long time ago. She is and was a great woman. It was inspiring that at 103 she was still able to give an inspiring message for the times.

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 258 by Tangle, posted 04-04-2020 5:44 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 260 by Tangle, posted 04-06-2020 3:37 AM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 261 of 306 (874584)
04-06-2020 12:06 PM
Reply to: Message 260 by Tangle
04-06-2020 3:37 AM


Re: Morality and Empathy
Tangle writes:

The 'why' is the same as it is for all other naturally evolved traits - it has a survival advantage. We evolved emotions like empathy and calculating brains because they helped us to become the most successful critter on the planet.

I find those two sentences contradictory. We have evolved natural traits that have given us a survival advantage and one of them is that we survive better as individuals when we work cooperatively in groups than we do on our own. Incidentally even the Bible tells us that.

However, when we make personal sacrifices which will also weaken the group I contend that we are going against natural evolution. For example our church raises a fair bit of money to send to non-related groups including to having it go to the third world, and then we struggle to raise the money for the new furnaces we had to put in recently.

IMHO opinion this is evidence that there is more going on than simply the evolutionary process which would lead us to work collectively in a group.

Tangle writes:

But it seems that you have shifted your position from your god being an interventionist one whispering in our ears moment to moment, to one that created a process that achieved the same effect without his direct involvement.

I think what I have changed is that I separated morality from empathy. I see that designed in the evolutionary process a sense of morality involved in how we work collectively in our groups. However, I do contend that we have a "God meme" that nudges us to empathy and then act upon that empathy when we are able to do so.

Tangle writes:

We don't need scientific articles to tell us that do we? Even CS bleedin' Lewis could tell you that. Even my old mum could tell you that!

OK we agree that there is a universal sense of morality. Would you agree that is represented by "The Golden Rule"?

Tangle writes:

We will never have an answer to whether a god exists because it's evidentially impossible if he prefers to hide and all his 'effects' are made to look totally natural. Rationally we are left with shrugging our shoulders and saying that if it looks like a duck etc, it is a duck.

You know I actually agree with that. In accessing the ducks this sure looks to me like a world designed by intelligence, and that being the case then it looks to me like a world designed with a purpose. Hopefully I have all my ducks in a row.

Tangle writes:

Or more formally, “ Entities should not be multiplied without necessity.

I would contend that "processes" should not be multiplied without necessity.

For many years I worked as a volunteer with a political party. I believed that by getting my representative elected and the party in government that Canadians would collectively be better off. I see my Christianity in very much the same light. Yes I believe it intellectually, but that isn't the point. I believe that hopefully, by becoming a volunteer for the Christian God that I can in a minuscule way make this a better world.


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 260 by Tangle, posted 04-06-2020 3:37 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 262 by Tangle, posted 04-06-2020 1:12 PM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 263 of 306 (874594)
04-06-2020 3:02 PM
Reply to: Message 262 by Tangle
04-06-2020 1:12 PM


Re: Morality and Empathy
GDR writes:

You know I actually agree with that. In accessing the ducks this sure looks to me like a world designed by intelligence, and that being the case then it looks to me like a world designed with a purpose. Hopefully I have all my ducks in a row.

Tangle writes:

I wish you'd stop doing this. We're discussing our sense of morality, not life the universe and everything. Just as I think we’ve agreed something you move the bloody goal posts again.

I'm going to just focus on this as I think it is the basis of where we disagree, but first off I agree that physical evolution is not the same thing as cultural evolution. However I don't see it as moving the goal posts at all.

The problem in dealing with that is that we are starting with a very different core belief about our world. We are miles apart on why things are the way they are. If we aren't here as a result of intelligence then there is no reason in the world to consider a divine interaction, (which is not the same as intervention), with our lives.

I believe that there is a god and you believe that there isn't. Neither of us can prove our beliefs. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think that you would say that the limit to what we can know, or even believe, is going to be based on science and reason.

As someone who believes in God I could believe, as I assume RAZD does that it is simply a deistic god and then I am back essentially in the same position as you as to what we can know or believe.

However I do go further than that and I'm interested in the how it is that God interacts in my life. I'm a Christian so now I attempt to form my subjective beliefs based on that. I believe that God resurrected Jesus. How does that fit in?

So yes, I can learn from you and others and my views are pretty much in a constant state of flux as when I'm presented with new idea they will often change my views, such as seeing as distinct emotions morality and empathy, although there obviously is a connection as well.

So, if I were to reject my theism and accept atheism I would agree with everything that you have said. You have laid out what it is that we can observe about human behaviour. There wouldn't be much if anything to disagree about.

However, if you were to reject atheism and accept theism you still might disagree as I doubt you can find 2 theists anywhere that will agree on everything. There is much in life that is a mystery and our individual theistic views are subjective, and we all muddle on as best we can.

The point is that we will never agree on any of this as our starting points are so far removed from each other. However, what helps me is that your views are helpful in helping me form my subjective theistic beliefs. Thanks for that.


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 262 by Tangle, posted 04-06-2020 1:12 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 265 by Tangle, posted 04-06-2020 5:33 PM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 264 of 306 (874604)
04-06-2020 4:45 PM
Reply to: Message 262 by Tangle
04-06-2020 1:12 PM


Re: Morality and Empathy
I came across this quote by Nietzche I think is kind applicable.
quote:
“If you know the why, you can live any how.”

We have opposing views on the "why" we are here. I find it interesting to learn how but no matter what conclusion that we come to in the "how" it doesn't affect the "why".

I won't presume to suggest as to how you would answer about why you are here except that it appears to me that the "how" in your case has a significant impact on the "why" you are here.


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 262 by Tangle, posted 04-06-2020 1:12 PM Tangle has taken no action

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 266 of 306 (874612)
04-06-2020 9:06 PM
Reply to: Message 265 by Tangle
04-06-2020 5:33 PM


Re: Morality and Empathy
Tangle writes:

I happen to be an atheist. That has absolutely nothing to do with what science is saying about what it knows about morality and neuroscience.

Of course it doesn't. However, looking at brain scans is science. Observing that moral traits are transmitted within a culture is simply an observation and not science.

Tangle writes:

To put it in more personal perspective, years ago I heard about what I thought was a new scientific discovery called Intelligent Design. I was excited. Something had been discovered that pointed to a god of creation. I read everything I could about it and found that it was a pile of bollox. Not science at all; another religious scam. I was disappointed for two reasons, firstly because it wasn't true and secondly because the religious community had created another scam. If it had been good science it would have been great.

They utilized clever marketing. When I first heard about it of course I thought great news. Then when I read up on it I found that although it sounded like they held objective scientific views. Yes, I believe in intelligent design but the ID movement as understood by the Discovery Institute is simply a pseudo-scientific argument against evolution, and something altogether different that what the term implies.

Tangle writes:

As a believer you attempt - not just you, every believer I've ever met - to make an equivalence between belief and atheism. You want them to be equal and opposite and you consistently refuse to accept that atheism in not in itself a belief.

I don't see them as equal and opposite. It is a belief at least to the extent that you consider my theistic beliefs to be wrong. Also I don't see atheism as being opposite to my beliefs. I am closer to seeing them as simply different. I've watched debates between Chris Hitchens and various Christians. Quite often I would agree that Hitchens presented a stronger case than his opponents on some issues, and on those points I agreed with Hitchens.

Tangle writes:

You think/believe that an atheist will force everything they learn into an atheistic world view just as you feel forced to jemmy everything I point you at into your belief. That's simply not the case. Science is objective - or as much as it possibly can be. Its findings are independent of belief. That's why believers can be, and usually are, good scientists. And so can atheists.

Essentially I agree but I might just nit pick and say that from what I have read, scientists will often have a theory and will sideline evidence that doesn't support their theory. However I certainly agree that philosophical and theological beliefs should not effect an objective view of scientists.

Tangle writes:

It's only when science's findings conflict with a belief that there's a problem. You can accept science's findings without question when science tells you the genetic make up of Corvid 19 but if it suggests that the earth orbits the sun it's immediately dismissed as a conflict.

You say it yourself “ So, if I were to reject my theism and accept atheism I would agree with everything that you have said.” Like I said before, you're a version of Faith. A nice liberal one but you're fighting facts to save your belief and that's ultimately disastrous for your faith. Someone capable of real critical thinking would not allow a belief to overcome a fact. A real fact will last while belief will change.

The trouble is that you are claiming that things are fact when they are just your subjective opinion. We can look at all the brain scans we like, and see what is going on when moral decisions are being made. That is science. However, it isn't science to understand the influences that went into that decision. By observation we can see that a person who grew up in a loving environment is more likely to become a loving adult. (Mind you it doesn't always work out the way.) However, that isn't science.

Tangle writes:

That's the history of both magisterial, your faith will adapt to encompass the new knowledge science produces or it will die. You'll call it an increasing understanding of god and you'll argue increasingly for a kind of cosmic background sort of god if you're sensible.

I agree, and I believe that is just what I do. I like to read books, like Greene that give me some level of knowledge of some of the concepts of science. Science has influenced my thinking on theological subjects and sometimes my views overlap but only really to the extent of thinking that maybe this is how it works. Often then I read something by someone else and modify my views.

Tangle writes:

Try to get beyond this atheism problem you have, it's colouring your thinking. If I was a Muslim neuroscientist the facts would be the same. There is no evidence for a god or anything else intervening with how moral problems are dealt with in the brain.

I agree that there is no scientific evidence. It is belief.

Tangle writes:

Why doesn't that force you to think that maybe the beliefs are all wrong? Or at best, only one is right and it might as well be a buddhist in Nepal as you.

I agree. I have no doubt that some of what I believe is wrong. I just don't what part of my beliefs they are. Cheers

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 265 by Tangle, posted 04-06-2020 5:33 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 267 by Faith, posted 04-07-2020 1:19 AM GDR has taken no action
 Message 272 by Tangle, posted 04-07-2020 4:03 AM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 279 of 306 (874653)
04-07-2020 2:38 PM
Reply to: Message 272 by Tangle
04-07-2020 4:03 AM


Re: Morality and Empathy
Tangle writes:

So what's different about studying how a particular observation that some higher-order mammal exhibit moral behaviours and that humans are extreme examples of this? To a scientist it's simply another area of study but to a believer is exempt from study as god given and inexplicable by normal means. It's a silly exceptionalism that science just shrugs at and goes on to explain.

Well firstly I don't see it as being exempt from study. However I don't see how the study of the fact that morality is culturally spread is science. You can do studies that show that children from loving moral home are more likely to be loving and moral. I don't see that as scientific. It is sorta like saying that as we have storm clouds to the west we're likely to get rain today. I certainly am not saying it should be exempt from study.

Tangle writes:

What is it that you think is so special, so different about morality to excludes it from scientific study? What is it that's missing from explanations you've seen so far? As far as I can understand it's something to do with the cultural transmission of moral norms - what you keep calling memes. I don't see any problem there at all.

I don't question that morality is spread naturally. We, I think, have agreed that there is a universal sense of morality. The question is then, did that sense of morality exist prior to there being sentient life and is external to it.

My theistic, subjective belief is that their is a moral agency that is responsible for our sense of morality. I also subjectively believe that that moral agency influences us to respond positively to that sense of morality but has allowed us the free will to totally reject it.

I'm not questioning the science but I do add subjective, non-scientific beliefs to it.


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 272 by Tangle, posted 04-07-2020 4:03 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 280 by Tangle, posted 04-07-2020 4:09 PM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 281 of 306 (874657)
04-07-2020 5:01 PM
Reply to: Message 280 by Tangle
04-07-2020 4:09 PM


Re: Morality and Empathy
Tangle writes:

That's what science is. It takes a simple anecdotal observation and tests it. Does it always rain? How often? Does it work for every season in every continent? Can we predict it? Can we build it into other observations and begin to build a general weather model?

OK. Here is the dictionary definition of science.

quote:
noun. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.

Hmmm. It turns out that you are right and I am wrong. Who would ever have seen that coming.

Tangle writes:

Yeh well, if that's what you need to get you through your day, there's not much else I can say other than it's just plain silly.

I'm not really sure why you feel the need to be so patronizing, but if that is what you need to get through your day then so be it.

That is my belief which is also held by millions which of course does not make it true, but maybe not silly.


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 280 by Tangle, posted 04-07-2020 4:09 PM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 282 by Tangle, posted 04-08-2020 2:22 AM GDR has replied

  
GDR
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Posts: 5410
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005


Message 286 of 306 (874706)
04-08-2020 12:26 PM
Reply to: Message 282 by Tangle
04-08-2020 2:22 AM


Re: Morality and Empathy
Tangle writes:

Fair enough, I apologise.

Accepted

Tangle writes:

Even here in the UK where religion is a minority and dying pastime the bloody stuff is everywhere. Every village has a church - often more - we have non-elected bishops in our Parliament, the BB C broadcasts a mass every day and we have JWs banging on our doors and hanging around town proclaiming the 'good news'. The propaganda is everywhere and it annoys the hell out of me.

Firstly I agree with you about Bishops in your parliament. However as far as the rest of it goes you should try looking at it from the other side. Everywhere we are bombarded with advertisements with messages promoting self centeredness and greed. Our entertainment in virtually all cases includes blasphemy and portrays life styles built on the belief that happiness or contentment comes from wealth, pride and personal influence or power, as something highly desirable. We essentially worship entertainment figures as being successful, and models for what we should all want and totally disregard their morality. It is interesting that many of these very human gods have found that when they have achieved all this human success of money and fame they are far less happy or content than they had been before. Still, we still hold up that human success as being highly desirable.

I am bombarded with all of that every time I turn around. The propaganda is far more pervasive that what you deal with. Personally I’m not annoyed with the way things are, just sad, and I worry about the world my descendants will live in. Frankly, I don’t think that you have a lot to complain about.


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 282 by Tangle, posted 04-08-2020 2:22 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 287 by Tangle, posted 04-08-2020 1:09 PM GDR has replied

  
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