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Author Topic:   Problems with being an Atheist (or Evolutionist)
RAZD
Member (Idle past 1524 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 37 of 276 (538341)
12-05-2009 9:12 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Otto Tellick
12-05-2009 3:04 PM


Re: What is unique about religion? Everything
Hi Otto,
With the possible exception of certain forms of Buddhism (not all forms, mind you), the sharing of rhythmic activity (chanting, singing, dancing, clapping, stomping, various other ritualized behaviors) ...
Think rock concerts, folk concerts, etc, where people are actively participating, dancing, singing, etc. ... and have an enjoyable experience. I think this was a large part of the youth movement in the '60's and contributed to a sense of unity of youth rebellion against the status quo\tradition.
This places atheists/agnostics at a kind of disadvantage, in terms of professing the profundity of our own experience. The "religious experience" as invoked by group (or mob) behavior has a reality to it that many can witness directly.
Yes mob behavior is well known for coercing people into behavior they would not otherwise engage in: vigilante justice, for example.
This is one of the reasons I personally dislike organized religion/s.
But there is a second kind of religious experience, one that is common to all religions I know of, and that is the ascetic experience, one that is personal, and often done as part of a "Coming of Age" testing (see Native Americans, etc).
And a third type of religious experience is found in meditation\prayer, whether in a group setting or in private, which is an internal process. This has been compared between Buddhist Monk meditation and Catholic Nun prayer, and found to involve the same area of the brain, indicating they are comparable experiences.
This same kind of meditation can be done without specific religious intent, as a way of focusing your mind and body function for improved health. There used to be a machine one could get to help one control heart-beats and other normally autonomous body functions and pain responses (as Buddhist Monks also learn to do). See Transcendental Meditation (there's an old joke about a buddhist that went to the dentist to have a tooth extracted and refuse the Novocaine, because he could transcend dental medication ..... ).
See .../Medical_research
And .../Research_on_cognitive_function
The fact that dreams and hallucinations happen is instructive and interesting and deserves whatever research we can do to understand these things better, but we can't put any stock in their content, as is routinely done among religious believers.
I don't think this is limited to religious people, and it seems that all societies have some kind of "dream interpretation" mechanism (including psychiatric). Personally I have found some instances where solutions to problems came to me in dreams, however my personal conclusion is that this involves the subconscious working out the solution and communicating it through the dream.
My personal opinion is that people can become "enlightened" in the way Buddhism teaches, and that a modern example of this was Gandhi. I also don't think this necessarily carries a religious connotation, as I think of Thoreau, Muir and others that seem to transcend their time.
Perhaps one can become an "enlightened" evolutionist.
Enjoy.

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by Otto Tellick, posted 12-05-2009 3:04 PM Otto Tellick has seen this message but not replied

  
RAZD
Member (Idle past 1524 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 40 of 276 (538384)
12-06-2009 8:33 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by jaywill
12-06-2009 7:54 AM


Re: Irrational Atheism
Hi Jaywill,
Like who? Could you give me a few names ?
I have. Which I find rather ironic given my debate/s about the possibilities of god/s with atheists.
I've seen it many times applied to other posters that I know are not atheists, usually by newcomers who are caught in a false dichotomy world of us v them (where all them == atheists).
Enjoy.

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by jaywill, posted 12-06-2009 7:54 AM jaywill has not replied

  
RAZD
Member (Idle past 1524 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 41 of 276 (538386)
12-06-2009 8:50 AM
Reply to: Message 38 by Statman
12-06-2009 1:15 AM


Re: Should Atheists Logically be Evil?
Hi Statman, welcome to the fray,
The most successful and simplest was called 'Tit for Tat'.
Wasn't this proven mathematically by John Forbes Nash Jr?
John Forbes Nash Jr. - Wikipedia.
quote:
In 1978, Nash was awarded the John von Neumann Theory Prize for his discovery of non-cooperative equilibria, now called Nash equilibria. He won the Leroy P. Steele Prize in 1999.
Of course, in this respect, populations can act as a large computer in trying multiple schemes of cooperation and selectiing the one that works best.
This has also been observed in capuchin monkeys
The Times & The Sunday Times
quote:
The animals were asked to perform a set of simple tasks and then rewarded with food or affection. The rewards were varied, seemingly at random. De Waal found the animals had an acute sense of fairness and objected strongly when others were rewarded more than themselves for the same task, often sulking and refusing to take part any further.
Other researchers, said de Waal, have found the same qualities in capuchin monkeys, which also show spontaneous prosocial tendencies, meaning they are keen to share food and other gifts with other monkeys, for the pleasure of giving.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/...17_monkeyfairness.html
quote:
Researchers studying brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) have found that the highly social, cooperative species native to South America show a sense of fairness, the first time such behavior has been documented in a species other than humans.
Brosnan said the response to the unequal treatment was astonishing: Capuchins who witnessed unfair treatment and failed to benefit from it often refused to conduct future exchanges with human researchers, would not eat the cucumbers they received for their labors, and in some cases, hurled food rewards at human researchers.
So yes, an evolved behavior, due most likely to humans and other primates being social animals.
Enjoy.
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we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 38 by Statman, posted 12-06-2009 1:15 AM Statman has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 42 by Statman, posted 12-06-2009 1:06 PM RAZD has seen this message but not replied
 Message 46 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-07-2009 7:36 AM RAZD has replied

  
RAZD
Member (Idle past 1524 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 54 of 276 (538555)
12-07-2009 8:49 PM
Reply to: Message 46 by Dr Adequate
12-07-2009 7:36 AM


Re: Should Atheists Logically be Evil?
Hi Dr A,
I've simulate the evolution of strategies for the Iterated Prisoners' Dilemma on my computer. The gene pool converges rapidly on Tit-For-Tat style strategies.
One of the things that intrigues me, is the question of morals from the perspective of another species. If some moral precepts are derived from evolution (and then "explained" by moral codes), then it follows that different species with different social patterns would have evolved different moral precepts.
Compare a tiger to a human. The tiger rarely interacts with other tigers except during breeding (damn hormones) and do not share in raising offspring. Similar bears, which are omnivores rather than obligate carnivores, similar to humans in other respects.
It seems to me that attitudes towards rape, murder, forced abortion, infanticide, theft, etc, would be different from the perspective of a species where sharing is not the norm.
Enjoy.
Edited by RAZD, : theft

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 46 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-07-2009 7:36 AM Dr Adequate has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 56 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-08-2009 8:17 AM RAZD has seen this message but not replied

  
RAZD
Member (Idle past 1524 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


(1)
Message 74 of 276 (538770)
12-09-2009 9:28 PM
Reply to: Message 66 by Bolder-dash
12-09-2009 3:07 PM


the golden rule in monkeys and morality
Hi again Bolder-dash.
And you feel this sense of empathy arises from where? If a tree doesn't have it, why do you?
It was simply a mutation that held selective advantages? But it doesn't hold a selective advantage for frogs.
Trees and frogs are not social animals. We do see similar behavior in social animals, especially in other primates that share our common ancestry, even monkeys:
Monkeys Show Sense Of Fairness, Study Says
quote:
Researchers studying brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) have found that the highly social, cooperative species native to South America show a sense of fairness, ...
The question of whether human aversion to unfair treatmentnow shown by other primatesis an evolved behavior or the result of the cultural influence of large social institutions like religion, governments, and schools, in the case of humans, has intrigued scientists in recent years.
The new finding suggests evolution may have something to do with it. It also highlights questions about the economic and evolutionary nature of cooperation and its relationship to a species' sense of fairness, while adding yet another chapter to our understanding of primates.
"It looks like this behavior is evolved it is not simply a cultural construct. There's some good evolutionary reason why we don't like being treated unfairly," said Sarah Brosnan, lead author of the study to be published in tomorrow's issue of the science journal Nature
We also see common moral and ethic beliefs in widely diverse cultures - almost every culture known to man has some variation on the "golden rule," in part because (as Rahvin points out) this is enlightened self-interest: it benefits the society and the society in turn benefits us.
Message 62: If one is truly atheist, why should you have any morality? Why not just do what is best for yourself, and those you love, and the heck with any others?
Curiously, if moral behavior really were dependent on religious beliefs, then one would expect to find a significant, large difference in the proportion of the religious people in prison compared to the general population. This just is not true, for the proportions are virtually the same (with slightly fewer atheists and agnostics, but not outside the margin of error for the small sample size in prison). This holds for repeat offenders as well, so don't start thinking that new prisoners convert. The fact is that there is no significant correlation between religious beliefs and breaking the law/s of a country.
Page Not Found - HolySmoke!
quote:
Judeo-Christian Total 62594 83.761% (of the 74731 total responses)
Which is comparable to the general USA population:
Religion in the United States - Wikipedia
quote:
According to a 2007 Pew Research Center survey,[9] the following is the order of religious preferences in the United States:
• Christianity: (78.5%)
There is a difference of 5% (higher in prison than out) in the reported numbers. If anything, it appears that "Judeo-Christian" people are slightly more likely to be in prison than other people (including atheists, agnostics, and people of other religions). This is within the margin of error for comparing these stats from different sources.
Is it just a practical consideration, that by being moral in your own mind, maybe its harder to get in trouble, legal or otherwise.
What we consistently see is that moral are defined by the culture and the practical considerations of people living together in a community.
Start with the golden rule as enlightened self-interest, and you can derive a basic set of moral ethics that is not significantly different from what you see in society.
And we see the golden rule in the behavior of capuchin monkeys, above, and in other primates:
Monkeys have a sense of morality, say scientists:
quote:
MONKEYS and apes have a sense of morality and the rudimentary ability to tell right from wrong, according to new research.
In a series of studies scientists have found that monkeys and apes can make judgments about fairness, offer altruistic help and empathise when a fellow animal is ill or in difficulties. They even appear to have consciences and the ability to remember obligations.
The research implies that morality is not a uniquely human quality and suggests it arose through evolution. That could mean the strength of our consciences is partly determined by our genes.
As a deist, I do not believe that any moral commandments come from god/s, but rather that we are left to our own devices. It is up to us to determine what we conclude, through logic and reason, would be a model for interactive social behavior, in a society where we would like to live -- starting with "do unto others as we would like to have others do unto us" as the basic precept.
I don't see the moral ethical issue being any different for atheists: just because they reject belief in god/s does not mean that they are not caring, social, rational and law-abiding people, or that caring, social, rational and law-abiding people are not moral, regardless of beliefs.
Regarding the topic, this shows that the issue of morality and ethics is not a problem with being an atheist (or evolutionist (or deist)), but one in defining what we would consider an ideal social framework.
So we should return to letting our atheist friends complain about the burden/s they bear.
Enjoy.
Edited by RAZD, : topic link

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 66 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-09-2009 3:07 PM Bolder-dash has not replied

  
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