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Author Topic:   Problems with being an Atheist (or Evolutionist)
Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 2462
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 63 of 276 (538742)
12-09-2009 2:31 PM
Reply to: Message 62 by Bolder-dash
12-09-2009 1:59 PM


What's the Connection?
Hi BD,
This is one of the most commonly asked questions for atheists. In have to say that I really don't see the problem.
If one is truly atheist, why should you have any morality?
The first problem here is that this questions seems to presuppose that we have a choice. I don't remember choosing to have a sense of morality. It seems to me that my morality is, at heart, innate. I'm not saying that I don't consciously choose how to apply that morality, but the general urge to have a moral system is innate.
A better question might be "Why behave morally?".
Why not just do what is best for yourself, and those you love, and the heck with any others?
Because if I behave well, others are more able to behave well and we have a fairer and better society. Behaving morally is doing the best for oneself and loved ones. Sure, cheating may be a way to gain an unfair advantage, but that takes a rather short-term, vocalised view.
Is it just a practical consideration, that by being moral in your own mind, maybe its harder to get in trouble, legal or otherwise.
It's a practical and a philosophical question. Being moral will help you avoid punishment and make it more likely that you will receive fair treatment from others. Both of these are practical advantages, but that doesn't mean that there are good philosophical reasons to be good as well. It's just that the philosophical reasons appeal more to the innate worth of human beings, rather than an outside authority.
Why have principal if you believe life is just a random mix of proteins? I really can't understand that.
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?
Is it just a practical consideration, that by being moral in your own mind, maybe its harder to get in trouble, legal or otherwise. Why have principal if you believe life is just a random mix of proteins? I really can't understand that.
I really can't understand what the connection is meant to be. How does the origin of life affect my moral decisions? How does the existence or non-existence of a deity affect my moral decisions?
Mutate and Survive

"A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it." - Jacques Monod

This message is a reply to:
 Message 62 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-09-2009 1:59 PM Bolder-dash has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 65 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-09-2009 3:01 PM Granny Magda has replied

  
Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 2462
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 71 of 276 (538756)
12-09-2009 4:02 PM
Reply to: Message 65 by Bolder-dash
12-09-2009 3:01 PM


Re: What's the Connection?
Thanks for the reply BD,
First, if you are atheist, then you believe this innate sense of morality was simply a selected for trait, and that those who were moral had a selective advantage over those who were immoral?
Yes, I think that is likely.
That certainly doesn't seem true, because there are immoral people all over the place
Immorality can also give one an advantage and that would be why it would be selectively selected for in certain circumstances. Don't mistake a selective advantage for a moral imperative though.
On balance I think that it is obvious that morality provides the greatest advantage for the greatest number. That gives us a good reason to be moral.
plus how could morality be a survival advantage over brutality? In the rest of the animal kingdom world, brutality, or the threat thereof rules.
This is untrue, other primates possess a sense of fair-play.
quote:
Monkeys have a sense of justice. They will protest if they see another monkey get paid more for the same task.
Researchers taught brown capuchin monkeys to swap tokens for food. Usually they were happy to exchange this "money" for cucumber.
But if they saw another monkey getting a grape - a more-liked food - they took offence. Some refused to work, others took the food and refused to eat it. Scientists say this work suggests that human's sense of justice is inherited and not a social construct.
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Monkeys show sense of justice
quote:
Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.
Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior - The New York Times
Even if they only possess the rudiments of morality, these results show that our moral notions are not entirely unique to humanity.
You said that cheating would only serve a short term goal of results, but I think that is the only goal one would see as an atheist, because any longer term goals are unforeseeable- if there is no innate justice in the world, short term gains are all you can really hope to gain.
Long term goals are foreseeable, long term realities, less so. That doesn't mean we can't try. Besides, even as a believer, you are no more able to see into the future than I.
Also, if there is no innate justice in the world (which I agree with), that is all the more reason to strive for a positive and productive moral system ourselves; no-one else is going to do it for us, humanity as a whole must guide our own destiny in this respect.
By contrast, if morality is God's business, this leaves us with little impetus to sit up and take control of own morality.
Well, I believe there is a force which connections all of life-therefore I believe my sense of morality is connected to all other living things.
I wouldn't put it in quite those terms, but I too believe that we are all connected, both biologically and dialectically. Our actions affect others, often whether we mean them too or not. That is sufficient reason to go about our interactions with others in a reasonable and moral way.
There also could be karmic implications to that, in that if I am moral, I at least feel validated in wishing good things for myself (if not expecting of them), whereas were I not moral, I would feel no sense of deserving of good.
First, I really don't think that is what is meant by the word "karma". Second, this can be expressed simply in terms of "having a conscience". This is an intrinsic feature of the human mind, reinforced and guided by our social conditioning. There is no need to resort to the supernatural in order to explain it.
But I believe your first observation is most telling. You don't really have a choice about feeling a sense of morality-it just is. And that came from somewhere.
Unless you have some kind of compelling reason to believe that you know what that "somewhere" is, this is a non-point.
And one question-do you honestly never get the sense in your life that some things are not being controlled by you?
Huh? Do you honestly imagine that i think I control everything? What are you asking?
Don't you ever get the occasional feeling that some aspects of your life are simply inevitable? I think this is what some people would call a sense of faith.
Of course some things are inevitable; so what? I fail to see what this has to do with faith, the existence of deities or anything else.
Mutate and Survive

"A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it." - Jacques Monod

This message is a reply to:
 Message 65 by Bolder-dash, posted 12-09-2009 3:01 PM Bolder-dash has not replied

  
Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 2462
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 110 of 276 (565497)
06-17-2010 11:25 AM
Reply to: Message 107 by saab93f
06-15-2010 1:55 AM


HI saab93f,
the Bible as we know it was first put together in the Council of Nicea in 318
I hate to continue the nitpick, but... no it wasn't.
The Council of Nicea was, IIRC, concerned with defining the core principles of Christianity, particularly the divinity or non-divinity of Christ. The canon (as we are familiar with it) was formalised only when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Empire.
Not trying to badger you. Just sayin'.
Mutate and Survive
Edited by Granny Magda, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 107 by saab93f, posted 06-15-2010 1:55 AM saab93f has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 111 by saab93f, posted 06-18-2010 1:23 AM Granny Magda has not replied

  
Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 2462
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


(1)
Message 233 of 276 (582259)
09-20-2010 3:12 PM
Reply to: Message 217 by riVeRraT
09-20-2010 1:32 PM


Re: Atheism IS a belief
Hi Rat,
I really hate when atheists do just what you did. There has to be a name for it, something like, lying?
There's really no need for that kind of talk.
Jesus doesn't stop us from doing anything, only you can, by following His ways.
Blatantly not what you said before.
If you follow His ways, you are believing in Him, if you are not, then you are not believing in Him.
Well we might reasonably suspect that, but it doesn't follow as a logical conclusion, at least not in every case. It is quite possible to believe something and yet not follow through on it.
Take the belief that murder is wrong for example. Do you really suppose that every murderer in history honestly believed that murder is right? Of course not. Many, if not most, murderers believe, as most of us do, that murder is wrong. They simply fail to live up to that belief.
For your argument to make sense, we would need to suppose that people always live up to their own beliefs, never failing, never engaging in hypocrisy. This is obviously not the case.
Tell me one thing that Jesus suggested that is the "wrong thing".
Easy.
quote:
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.
Terrible, terrible advice. Of course we should consider tomorrow, of course we should engage with the material world. This advice might be good for an ascetic hermit, but for ordinary folks, it's dreadful advice.
quote:
12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
12:4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
12:5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
12:6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
12:7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
12:8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
Yeah! Screw the poor! Jesus' feet are far more important.
What a jackass.
quote:
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels
There is no excuse for this kind of abhorrent nonsense. The whole concept of everlasting fire as a punishment is monstrous and wrong-headed. Only a psychopath could be so hateful and heartless. Even the vile Old Testament doesn't go in for this kind of fire and brimstone talk half as much as Jesus does.
I could go on in a similar vein for a very long time, but I believe I have made my point. Jesus' teachings are in some ways, an improvement upon previous moral codes but they are far from perfect. Modern morality is a definite improvement on this kind of thing.
Even when I was not a believer, I have a problem with the concept of science dictation all of what is right or wrong.
Science cannot tell us what is right and wrong. Science can help inform our morality by helping us achieve a desired result more effectively but it cannot provide us with any moral axioms. That is a philosophical function.
One day wine is no good for you, the next day a few glasses is good for you.
Eh? That has no connection morality. Wine will either improve your health or worsen your health or, possibly, do a bit of both. It isn't a moral issue. I appreciate that you don't intend to but nonetheless, you are equivocating between two meanings of the word "good".
Science cannot tell us that wine is morally good. It cannot tell us that it is morally bad. It can only tell us, given the assumption that we wish to be healthy, whether wine will help achieve that goal or not.
It is possibly worth noting here that the whole wine is good/wine is bad thing is more a function of shitty science journalism than anything else. To paraphrase Ben Goldacre, some sections of the media seem to be on an ontological quest to sort all the inanimate objects in the world into those that either cause or cure cancer. That is poor journalism and extremely poor science. The reality is usually far more complicated than that.
In a way science can be like the wind, and we should just take it for what it is worth, and not make science into our god. Be realistic about it, is what I am saying.
Well great, because that's what the scientific method is telling you as well. That's what tentativity is for.
Mutate and Survive

This message is a reply to:
 Message 217 by riVeRraT, posted 09-20-2010 1:32 PM riVeRraT has not replied

  
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