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Author Topic:   Morals without God or Darwin, just Empathy
Stile
Member
Posts: 3863
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 136 of 184 (382578)
02-05-2007 10:00 AM
Reply to: Message 118 by anastasia
02-03-2007 1:30 PM


anastasia writes:

I contend that my 'knowledge' of what I must do, of what is right in any situation, is not knowledge of the 'learned' variety, but of the imnparted.


Alright. I do not see a reason to think that it is imparted in any way. In fact, there are many reasons in this thread alone to think that it is natural, and learnt. I am going to stick with what we can prove, but I cannot force you to see that evidence has a higher weight then feelings. This also, is something we must learn.

anastasia writes:

It is a fear of breaking an invisible law, for I have no fear of the consequences of breaking a civil law, or a natural law, but only an eternal law. It is not even a fear that has punishment, only a sense of creating chaos where there should be harmony.


I still think that this fear of breaking an invisible law and this sense of creating chaos where there should be harmony are both learnt. Taught to you as you went through life. Most likely from your parents, teachers and probably priests as well. The fact that morality is a localized affect... that is, Chinese ethics are different from Italian ethics, yet Chinese ethics are locally very similar and Italian ethics are locally very similar. This tendancy, across the entire planet, shows us that these feelings of "breaking invisible barriers" are learnt.

You seem to be saying that we are all given the exact same "external learning". The exact same "conscience". I would guess that when someone does something wrong, you think they are ignoring that conscience? Every time? I agree that this happens some time. But, when this happens, there is regret, a feeling of being sorry. And we see this. But what about when there is no regret, or no sense of being sorry, or any knowledge whatsoever that any kind of wrong was committed?

If the knowledge is externally imparted, how can anyone do something wrong (say, stab a stranger with a knife), and be unaware of any sort of bad action? Because this does happen. Especially if dealing with a non-modernized tribe of people. It is obvious how this can happen if morality is a learnt process. But these facts do not seem to fit a divinly-guided moral system.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 118 by anastasia, posted 02-03-2007 1:30 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 142 by anastasia, posted 02-05-2007 4:28 PM Stile has responded

  
nator
Member (Idle past 481 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 137 of 184 (382580)
02-05-2007 10:05 AM
Reply to: Message 95 by anastasia
02-01-2007 3:52 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
quote:
People don't write books reminding us to survive by stealing, lying, or murdering when we have to.

Er, yes they do.

One of the most famous is Machiavelli's, The Prince.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 95 by anastasia, posted 02-01-2007 3:52 PM anastasia has not yet responded

  
nator
Member (Idle past 481 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 138 of 184 (382581)
02-05-2007 10:15 AM
Reply to: Message 105 by anastasia
02-02-2007 4:45 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
quote:
Btw, I did not mean to say that the threads were boring, but that the thought of morality without God is so empty. It sorta makes all of our sacrifice and all of our heroism just another possible outcome of biological stimulus; a learned behaviour, both replicable and mechanical.

Why is that an empty thought?

I think it makes us humans all the more incredible that we have such capacity for amazingly complex interactions and behaviors.

What you are describing is really a form of vanity or pride. It sounds as though you want God to be at the source of morality just so that you can avoid feeling ordinary.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 105 by anastasia, posted 02-02-2007 4:45 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 141 by anastasia, posted 02-05-2007 4:05 PM nator has responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 3863
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 139 of 184 (382582)
02-05-2007 10:23 AM
Reply to: Message 120 by nyenye
02-03-2007 1:59 PM


Internal Emotions
Nyeusigrube writes:

Every human has emotion, even if we do not like to admit it sometimes.


I agree. Personally, I value my emotions very highly. Although sometimes inhibiting, they are generally very useful, and can be a source of extreme strength and pleasure.

Nyeusigrube writes:

I think it's just natural for us to feel... as science would explain it's all chemical!


I'm not sure if it's known that it's all chemical. There may be other interactions involved. But I agree with the idea, I do think it is all natural/physical.

Nyeusigrube writes:

I don't believe that, I find it interesting even in the spirit realm... People that have died, still hold true to what they feel and believed in life.


This confuses me a bit. Do you communicate with people who have died? It's just... I've never met anyone who could do that before. I don't understand how we can have any knowledge of what it is like to be dead.

Nyeusigrube writes:

When it comes to murder, we do not have to go by a book, or a belief ( some do ) it comes from inside... If we know we are killing life, something so precious... we think about all the people who will mourn this person after they are gone.


Some certainly do, yes. I do. Amongst thinking about other things as well. I think you would be hard-pressed to show that everyone thought about this, though. Especially in racial murders. I don't think the killer would consider anyone mourning the victim in a racial murder.

However, I agree that whatever it is we consider, it does come from inside. I just think that the "inside" is a natural process. I do not think that any divinity or higher-power is needed to explain our internal feelings. I think those feelings are learnt.


This message is a reply to:
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anastasia
Member (Idle past 4264 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 140 of 184 (382638)
02-05-2007 3:54 PM
Reply to: Message 129 by Larni
02-05-2007 4:39 AM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Larni writes:

I say there is nothing there: you must bring evidence to support your positive claim.

This thread is about whether or not morality has meaning when empathy is considered its main driver. Survival is not part of the OP either. We have seen that empathy does not produce morality, it can just as easily produce immorality. The conversation evolved to include 'learned behavior'. Again, merely learning about moral laws does not make a person moral.

What makes a person choose to do good things?
There must be some driving force behind the actions. I do good things because I believe there IS a right way. I believe that right is REAL. Why do you do 'good' things? Why do some people do bad things? Oh, I forgot...they mal-functioned. That means there WAS a right way, and they weren't good enough.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 129 by Larni, posted 02-05-2007 4:39 AM Larni has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 146 by Larni, posted 02-06-2007 5:09 AM anastasia has not yet responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4264 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 141 of 184 (382639)
02-05-2007 4:05 PM
Reply to: Message 138 by nator
02-05-2007 10:15 AM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
nator writes:

I think it makes us humans all the more incredible that we have such capacity for amazingly complex interactions and behaviors.

Human beings are incredible. No prob. Now, why are some human beings so much more incredible than others? I am telling you, again, that a person you consider to be a hero, is a hero because he is just like you, and he did something better than you did. Not more complex or biological or 'natural'. Better.

Now tell me, if most of us are naturally inferior to the saints, heroes, geniuses, poets, etc. of the world, how can we even recognize them for what they are? Our admiration leads us to desire emulation, not to cold acceptance of our inferior genetics.

P.S. There is not a human moral or ethical system existing which needs to utilize Machiavelli.

P.P.S. Belief in God is not vanity. It is the great equalizer amoung men, the realization that whatever you are, you are not better than anyone else by nature or by education.

Edited by anastasia, : No reason given.

Edited by anastasia, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 138 by nator, posted 02-05-2007 10:15 AM nator has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 144 by nator, posted 02-05-2007 7:20 PM anastasia has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4264 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 142 of 184 (382644)
02-05-2007 4:28 PM
Reply to: Message 136 by Stile
02-05-2007 10:00 AM


Stile writes:

Alright. I do not see a reason to think that it is imparted in any way. In fact, there are many reasons in this thread alone to think that it is natural, and learnt. I am going to stick with what we can prove, but I cannot force you to see that evidence has a higher weight then feelings. This also, is something we must learn.

There is not one single shred of evidence that tells me why people do good things. There is not even one shred of evidence that 'good' exists outside of our little minds. Therefore, nothing I do is good or bad, I have just been taught to think it is.

Please, I will explain one more time how I feel.

There is a right way to live, and a wrong way. Right brings harmony, wrong brings chaos. No one tribe or society has all of the right answers, and we definitely have to learn and teach each other what we have so far understood. Again, certain individuals, Jesus, Buddha, saints, anyone who we may admire for their example...they by leaps and bounds surpassed what society had so far learned. This tells me that there is always something better which we could be doing.

It is useless to keep giving examples of how morality has changed. Of course it has. Any society can assume that it has reached the best standard. We know now that many societies are wrong in that assumption, and we constantly are driven to find something better. The only thing which is so overwhelmingly different between people who believe in God and people who don't, is that I will say that there really IS something better which we are aiming for, and others will tell you that morality is a revolving door where things come and go in fashion, and 'good' is just an invention.

I can't ask anyone to believe in God, just to consider that possibility that heros are real, that they have found something better than what anyone has taught, or anyone has been born with. Or consider that the next person whom you admire had no choice but to be admirable, that you and I have no choice but to be mediocre. We are either equal, or we are not. Nature has certainly not made us all equal, nor has education.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 136 by Stile, posted 02-05-2007 10:00 AM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 145 by nator, posted 02-05-2007 7:24 PM anastasia has responded
 Message 149 by Larni, posted 02-06-2007 5:30 AM anastasia has responded
 Message 150 by Stile, posted 02-06-2007 10:35 AM anastasia has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4264 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 143 of 184 (382646)
02-05-2007 4:46 PM
Reply to: Message 131 by Larni
02-05-2007 4:53 AM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Thank you Larni!

Larni writes:

I am thankful today that the sun is out. I know that there is no one to thank, but because human brains infer causality I 'feel' thankful.

Human beings infer causality. Beautiful. Wonder what the hell we evolved that for. There is schraf here telling me that humans are so wonderful and complex, and then you telling me we are a pile of mush that infers causes when there are none. If you know better, why not be done with this charade of thankfulness and hodge-podge of antiquated 'feelings'? And here you were telling me that feelings are nothing to base an argument on, yet admittig that feelings exist without visible causes. Hm.

Again, you need to substantiate the fact that YOU have no cause. Your morality is useless, contradictory, and is nothing more than a survival instinct...which is exactly what the OP denied. It has been proven that humans are not driven by a survival instinct. Yet, any time that an example appears which shows that we are behaving in a way that causes destruction, you palm the pea and claim that this same action is ANOTHER form of survival.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 131 by Larni, posted 02-05-2007 4:53 AM Larni has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 147 by Larni, posted 02-06-2007 5:22 AM anastasia has not yet responded

  
nator
Member (Idle past 481 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 144 of 184 (382682)
02-05-2007 7:20 PM
Reply to: Message 141 by anastasia
02-05-2007 4:05 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
quote:
Human beings are incredible. No prob. Now, why are some human beings so much more incredible than others?

The particular circumstances of their lives allowed and influenced them to be incredible.

Like I've repeatedly said, human social behavior is an extremely complex thing and cannot be described in dichotomies or simple sound bites.

quote:
I am telling you, again, that a person you consider to be a hero, is a hero because he is just like you, and he did something better than you did. Not more complex or biological or 'natural'. Better.

"Better" is subjective and relative.

And, nobody is "just like me". I am not "just like" anybody else.

And this is getting past the point of my post, which was to respond to your statement:

quote:
but that the thought of morality without God is so empty. It sorta makes all of our sacrifice and all of our heroism just another possible outcome of biological stimulus; a learned behaviour, both replicable and mechanical.

I ask again; Why is that thought so empty?

quote:
Now tell me, if most of us are naturally inferior to the saints, heroes, geniuses, poets, etc. of the world, how can we even recognize them for what they are? Our admiration leads us to desire emulation, not to cold acceptance of our inferior genetics.

I really don't even know why you are talking about saints instead of answering the question.

quote:
P.P.S. Belief in God is not vanity. It is the great equalizer amoung men, the realization that whatever you are, you are not better than anyone else by nature or by education.

Well, let's look again at what you wrote:

quote:
but that the thought of morality without God is so empty. It sorta makes all of our sacrifice and all of our heroism just another possible outcome of biological stimulus; a learned behaviour, both replicable and mechanical.

It certainly looks very much to me as though you simply do not like the idea of morality being natural because to you, it is "empty" without God being the origin of morality.

I never said that belief in God, per se, was a kind of vanity, but specifically that being disappointed with and resistant to the prospect that God did not magically imbue us with a special moral sense most certainly is vain.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 141 by anastasia, posted 02-05-2007 4:05 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 152 by anastasia, posted 02-06-2007 3:18 PM nator has responded

  
nator
Member (Idle past 481 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 145 of 184 (382684)
02-05-2007 7:24 PM
Reply to: Message 142 by anastasia
02-05-2007 4:28 PM


quote:
There is not one single shred of evidence that tells me why people do good things.

That is not true.

You have a whole thread of evidences for why people do good things, but you have handwaved away all of it without giving any logical or factual reasons for doing so.

This is poor debate.


'Explanations like "God won't be tested by scientific studies" but local yokels can figure it out just by staying aware of what's going on have no rational basis whatsoever.' -Percy

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool."- Richard Feynman

"Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins a movie by telling you how it ends! Well I say there are some things we don't want to know! Important things!"
- Ned Flanders


This message is a reply to:
 Message 142 by anastasia, posted 02-05-2007 4:28 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
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Larni
Member
Posts: 3990
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 146 of 184 (382837)
02-06-2007 5:09 AM
Reply to: Message 140 by anastasia
02-05-2007 3:54 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Ana writes:

I do good things because I believe there IS a right way. I believe that right is REAL.

Incorrect.

You do good things because you learn to believe they are good things. As I have said nth times.

Ana writes:

Why do some people do bad things?

People can do bad things for many reasons: At its most basic level it is because the cost is less than the reward.

Thats all it is.

You do good because breaking your leanrt code of ethics costs you more than you gain from the act.

It is a simple equation you negotiate every time you make a choice.

The thing to remember is there is loads more detail to this topic.

Pick up any degree level psychology text and you will see there is so much more than our own personal experience vis a vis cognitive emotional behaviour.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 140 by anastasia, posted 02-05-2007 3:54 PM anastasia has not yet responded

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


Message 147 of 184 (382841)
02-06-2007 5:22 AM
Reply to: Message 143 by anastasia
02-05-2007 4:46 PM


Re: Empathy does not equal Good
Ana writes:

Wonder what the hell we evolved that for.

Ana, things don't evolve for anything.

They evolve because (insert causal input here).

We infer causality because are brains make mistakes because it it better to have a false positive than a false negative; any clearer?

Take a look at how we recognise faces in clouds. That's out brains making a false positive; why? Because our brains are good at recognising faces (or inferring causality) that it recognises faces (or causality) where there is none.

You are making a false positive when you ascribe causality to the sentient action of a god because, again our brains are geared to detecting intentional actions (this has survival value).

Ana writes:

And here you were telling me that feelings are nothing to base an argument on, yet admittig that feelings exist without visible causes.

Again, you need to substantiate the fact that YOU have no cause.

Sorry, I don't get your point, here.

Ana writes:

It has been proven that humans are not driven by a survival instinct.

No it has not! Please show where it has or retract your assertion.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 143 by anastasia, posted 02-05-2007 4:46 PM anastasia has not yet responded

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


Message 148 of 184 (382843)
02-06-2007 5:27 AM
Reply to: Message 120 by nyenye
02-03-2007 1:59 PM


Nyeusigrube writes:

I think it's just natural for us to feel... as science would explain it's all chemical!

It most certainly does not. Look up any theory of emotion and you will find that cognition plays a massive role in emotion.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 120 by nyenye, posted 02-03-2007 1:59 PM nyenye has not yet responded

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


Message 149 of 184 (382845)
02-06-2007 5:30 AM
Reply to: Message 142 by anastasia
02-05-2007 4:28 PM


Ana writes:

There is not one single shred of evidence that tells me why people do good things.

Ana, this sounds like the typical xian tactic of dismissing evidence presented that conflicts with the xian world view.

Ana writes:

Please, I will explain one more time how I feel.

For the nth time you can't use feelings to investigate reality!

Edited by Larni, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 142 by anastasia, posted 02-05-2007 4:28 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 153 by anastasia, posted 02-06-2007 3:27 PM Larni has responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 3863
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 150 of 184 (382903)
02-06-2007 10:35 AM
Reply to: Message 142 by anastasia
02-05-2007 4:28 PM


A Summary Just for You
anastasia writes:

There is not one single shred of evidence that tells me why people do good things.


Evidence that tells you why people do good things, as explained in this thread:

Message 44
-Larni discusses how we learn that bad things are not good for us, and how we learn not to repeat them

Message 6
-I understand that "I consider myself a moral person simply because I choose to be moral". Which can be rephrased as "I do good because I want to do good". And "...because I want to..." is explained throughout the rest of the thread, culminating at:
Message 66
-where, after a discussion with Larni and others, I finally understand and explain that I do good because I use my intellect to judge my feelings (be they empathic or any other feelings) with my past experiences (what I've learnt) and with how I think future events will be affected (future projection). I then use all this information to decide that I want to do good.
-everything here is learnt behaviour, everything is naturally/physically explained. Please question a specific point again if something is still not clear, or if you think I'm missing something.

anastasia writes:

There is a right way to live, and a wrong way. Right brings harmony, wrong brings chaos. No one tribe or society has all of the right answers, and we definitely have to learn and teach each other what we have so far understood. Again, certain individuals, Jesus, Buddha, saints, anyone who we may admire for their example...they by leaps and bounds surpassed what society had so far learned. This tells me that there is always something better which we could be doing.


Yes, we've gone over your view and my view. Remember? I lined them up phrase for phrase right here:
Message 39
And it was a bit confusing, so I clarified things here:
Message 41

anastasia writes:

The only thing which is so overwhelmingly different between people who believe in God and people who don't, is that I will say that there really IS something better which we are aiming for, and others will tell you that morality is a revolving door where things come and go in fashion, and 'good' is just an invention.


But you're wrong here. And my two posts above (MSG 39 and 41) show you how wrong you are. Not only is there nothing overwhelmingly different between you and I, there's only one very small difference. You contribute morality to God, and I do not. Without God there still 'really IS something better which we are aiming for', as shown specifically in MSG 41. And, yes, I do think that "good is just an invention", but this in NO WAY lowers it's importance, or creates some sort of "revolving door where things come and go in fashion", as shown to you in MSG 39.

Please don't take this explanation as trying to prove that there is no God. It doesn't do that. This explanation shows that God is not needed for morality, that's it. It has no bearing on whether or not He exists, just that He's not needed for us to be moral people. In the same way he's not needed for me to like ice-cream, or bake a cake.

anasasia writes:

I can't ask anyone to believe in God, just to consider that possibility that heros are real, that they have found something better than what anyone has taught, or anyone has been born with.


But I do think heros are real. And I do think they "found something better than what anyone has taught". I just don't see any reason why they need God to act this way. Specifically, I would say that heros have learnt something better than anyone else has learnt. But they did learn that thing the same we anyone learns anything. Through their experiences, and making decisions judging their feelings and thoughts.

anastasia writes:

Or consider that the next person whom you admire had no choice but to be admirable, that you and I have no choice but to be mediocre.


Neither do I believe this. They did have the choice to be admirable, and they made that difficult decision, and that's exactly why they are a hero. Because they made that choice. Not because God guided them to make the choice. Because they weighed the good and bad and decided to help bring us closer to "a world which maximizes positive feelings in everyone" (GOOD), in heroic proportions. In general, everyone else does not have to be mediocre, but they choose to be mediocre, and that's exactly why they are mediocre.

anastasia writes:

We are either equal, or we are not. Nature has certainly not made us all equal, nor has education.


I think you are slightly confused here. No one has said that all people are the same, in every way. In fact, everyone seems to be saying the exact opposite.

People are different.

As you say, "nature has certainly not made us all equal, nor has education". Nor has our individual and unique full-life experiences.

People are different, yes. But this does not change the fact that we are all people. And being people, we are all given equal rights, and privileges. That is how we are equal, or the same.

Most of us "mediocre" people do have the same abilities and capacities of the "heros". Some of us choose not to become heros, and therefore do not. Some of us never get the opportunity to make the choice that would have us deemed a hero, even if they would make the heroic choice. These people too... remain mediocre. Yet, due to differing life-experience, differing natural abilities, differeing education... there are some of us that are incapable of ever becoming a hero. If you do not believe this, look around. There are people who will never be a 100-Metre dash World Champion. There are people who are incapable of climbing a burning building and rescuing a small child. There are people who cannot decipher the equations needed to understand a new reusable energy source. This is the way it is.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 142 by anastasia, posted 02-05-2007 4:28 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 154 by anastasia, posted 02-06-2007 3:43 PM Stile has responded

  
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