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Nat_H
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Hugh wrote:To reject god completely is not scientific. But to operate on the assumption that he exists is also not science, the proper scientific approach to god is to say that it is possible that a higher power exists and that the probability of that higher power being the judeo-christian god is exactly the same as the probability of that god being Thor.
This is what I have been trying to say on this section of the forum for most of the past 3 years...or so I hope.



As to the morality question. Would you then agree that:
1. there exists (if only theoretically) a "perfect" biological morality?
2. nature has never yet reached that ultimate end?

THEN has

a. the progression of morality from the beginning of nature, over time, always been "upward"?

OR

b. have institutions (e.g. religions), and the morality codified under those institutions caused nature to regress "lower" for periods of time?

I would suggest (operating under assumptions 1 and 2) that only option is acceptable based on the evidence that religion offers a moral code that modern society has rejected. (modern society being the most objective way to determine morality, in a humanistic way).

My final question: is this process accurate to your view: biology causes morality to efficiently (but slowly) move "upward", while society causes morality to fluctuate quickly, often regressively?

Remark: The idea of natural law and divine revelation offers a rather exquisite alternative to this process, assuming there is a god (and, that god possesses some very specific character).

Hugh
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I get what you're trying to say but I don't think that there is such a thing as a perfect code of morality, there's always going to be shades of grey in any moral decision and given the way that people's needs change over time it's impossible to have a static "perfect morality". The bible is basically one of the earliest attempts to institute a static morality and I think we can all agree that we're better off now that the bible has been "interpreted" (changed) so that we don't need to burn witches or own slaves anymore.

I think that the progression of society has been towards a less judgemental and more moral society, yes, but I don't think that there's any biological reason for that. Here's my understanding:

Biology sets the baseline (all humans are empathetic) but we are only empathetic towards humans that we identify with as being members of our social group. For example, if a homeless guy asks you for 20$ then you are less likely to cough up rather than if a friend of yours asked you for 20$. Both are moral actions but you have a greater social connection to your friend so you are more likely to care.

This is also why so much war propaganda and even nicknames are aimed at de-humanizing the other side (Tommys, Jerrys, Krauts, Japs, Skinnies, Sand Niggers etc.) because if humans recognize that the other side is also composed of human beings just like them then they are less likely to be so enthusiastic about killing them.

I think that as time has gone on we've simply gotten better at expanding our social circle to include more people. We've come to accept that homeless people aren't all vagrants and ne'er do wells, a lot of them can trace their current problems back to a troubled past or some poor life decisions. And the more we empathize with these people the more we accept them within our community and the more we help them out just like we would with any other member of our community.

Another example: there are many people dying of cancer in this world and many of them raise money within their community to help pay for medical treatment. Donating money to these causes is a moral action, but you're more likely to donate to help treat a teacher or a neighbour of yours (even one that you don't know that well) than you are to donate to help someone else.

With the advent of globalization, easy access to documentaries and better ways to educate yourself about what it's like to live a different life we are all able to expand our social circle and empathize with more people.


So I don't know if you'd call that biology moving society into a more moral age or not. I think it's society that's doing it...



I don't think religion helps though, the emphasis on the distinction between those who have been "saved" and those with souls in peril can alienate religious folk from other people and prevent them from expanding their social circle. Look at how gay people are treated for example.

Nat_H
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Points taken. But then, I think I can come back to what I was saying earlier: How can society be morally "progressive" if there's no:

1. Biological reason for that progression (which, I believe, you admitted).
2. God

Note--I also want to clarify: I don't, myself, necessarily believe that society is morally progressive.--

Hugh
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1. If there's no biological reason for that progression (i.e. the tendency to be empathetic in the first place) then progression will be extremely slow at best and non-existant at worst.

2. Not sure if I follow you here. Are you saying that a society cannot be morally progressive without a higher power to judge those who act immorally (carrot & stick)?

Or are you saying that the only reason that we're morally progressive is because of the existence of god?


If the first case then I would respond that a divine carrot and stick (and constant revision of what is good and bad) are not necessary for a progressive, moral society. People would be good anyway if only because people want other people to like them; if you go around being an assh**e all the time then no one is going to want to interact with you and since human beings are social creatures the prospect of being cut off from human-human interaction is unappealing.


If the second case: see my previous post, there's no room for god in the point I made. I think you'd agree that stoning as a form of death penalty is not moral but Leviticus and Deuteronomy would disagree.

ajc
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Nat_H wrote:How can society be morally "progressive" if there's no:

1. Biological reason for that progression (which, I believe, you admitted).
2. God
Perhaps part of the explanation for that could be that people are constantly learning from history and previous mistakes that certain societies have made and seeking to eliminate the things that were once acceptable which, today, with our greater understanding and respect for the individual regardless of his social status, we would now deem immoral.

However with that explanation, the moral progression of society is limited to the amount of knowledge we have about the events and peoples who came before us, and our ability to interpret that information in a useful context.
Nat_H wrote:Note--I also want to clarify: I don't, myself, necessarily believe that society is morally progressive.--
Personally, I don't believe that we, today, are the most morally progressive society there has been, nor do I believe that there is a law that dictates that a society's morality will inevitably improve over time. I do believe that in general, the tendency of a society is to progress morally over time, but there are many many other factors which could influence or reverse that process.

Edit: I think there must be a biological reason for this progression- empathy. And there is also a biological reason for regression- ego and the instinctual desire to fulfill one's needs before worrying about others.

ajc
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Forgive me for the double post, but I was reading last night and came across an idea which I found interesting.

It basically stated that, our lives on earth, intrinsically, have no meaning. But if we use our lives in a positive way, we can create meaning.

To some it may be obvious what teachings this is from, but for the sake objectivity I will leave it at that. Any thoughts on this concept?

ajc
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What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?
Make me One with everything

btw. jeez, a triple post, sorry guys lol

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expert
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ajc wrote:It basically stated that, our lives on earth, intrinsically, have no meaning. But if we use our lives in a positive way, we can create meaning.

To some it may be obvious what teachings this is from, but for the sake objectivity I will leave it at that. Any thoughts on this concept?
Reading over your post, a couple of quotes comes to mind:
In so far as the word “knowledge” has any meaning, the world is knowable; but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it, but countless meanings.
Regarding absolute meaning:
a position outside morality, some point beyond Good and Evil to which one has to rise, climb, or fly—and in the present case at least a point beyond our Good and Evil, a freedom from everything... That one wants to go out there, up there, may be a minor craziness, a peculiar and unreasonable “you must”.. the question is whether one can really get up there. This may depend on manyfold conditions, in the main the question is how light or heavy we are, the problem of our “specific gravity.” One has to be very light to drive one’s will to knowledge over such a distance and, as it were, beyond one’s time, to create for oneself eyes to survey millennia and, moreover, clear skies in these eyes! One must have liberated oneself from many things that oppress, inhibit, hold down, and make us heavy...

NewBornProdigy
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An observation:

I was sitting in a feild today, watching an uncle shoot phesants, the dog of his would run and collect the phesant... This took him much training not to rip the phesant apart or eat him or even bite to hard and ruin the meat

It led me to a strain of thought, I was thinking on how that dog was trained, how it instinctivley wants to hunt down the prey and kill it, how its midset toward hunting is so potent (its a hunting dog) this led me to:

how it instinctivley wants to hunt down the prey and kill it

Instinct, the dog was never put in the situation of hunting before it was trained... But, it knew it wanted to hunt, it had a strange understanding of how to hunt, it felt desire and energy toward hunting

Its like a pre-engaged persona of his

This had me thinkin is it a scientifically proveable phenomenom, instinct, or is it something only a creator could put in place

Just food for thought/debate

LiveTheDream
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NewBornProdigy wrote:An observation:

I was sitting in a feild today, watching an uncle shoot phesants, the dog of his would run and collect the phesant... This took him much training not to rip the phesant apart or eat him or even bite to hard and ruin the meat

It led me to a strain of thought, I was thinking on how that dog was trained, how it instinctivley wants to hunt down the prey and kill it, how its midset toward hunting is so potent (its a hunting dog) this led me to:

how it instinctivley wants to hunt down the prey and kill it

Instinct, the dog was never put in the situation of hunting before it was trained... But, it knew it wanted to hunt, it had a strange understanding of how to hunt, it felt desire and energy toward hunting

Its like a pre-engaged persona of his

This had me thinkin is it a scientifically proveable phenomenom, instinct, or is it something only a creator could put in place

Just food for thought/debate
The instinct is probably a throwback to its ancestral species, around prior to dogs (and other animals ) being domesticated. Even though (as you said) the dog hasn't been hunting before its training, it still knows what to do as it is a basic survival instinct. It's not naturally a domesticated animal - you can't find dog-roll in the wild for example! - so it still has those basic instincts (if this makes sense)
Don't wish things were easier...

... Wish you were better


Focus on the journey, and the result will take care of itself

NewBornProdigy
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LiveTheDream wrote:The instinct is probably a throwback to its ancestral species, around prior to dogs (and other animals ) being domesticated. Even though (as you said) the dog hasn't been hunting before its training, it still knows what to do as it is a basic survival instinct. It's not naturally a domesticated animal - you can't find dog-roll in the wild for example! - so it still has those basic instincts (if this makes sense)
Yeah i understand it has those intincts... my question is the source :D

Like its ancestors, only learned through following its parents, instinct plays a huge part, is instinct a trace of say a creators intentions or blueprint of how a creature functions

Like are we all born with a common instinct, but as we grow we develop our only individulaistic and personal attribute, our personality, thats what shapes our uniqueness

2brown347
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blueprint of how a creature functions
This. Watch a clip of 2 common house kittens playing then another of 2 lion cubs playing and you won't see much difference in behavior. Even though you'd have to go back quite a ways to find their common ancestors they both have the same tools (claws and fangs), want the same thing (food), and know how to get it (killing).

ScottyBoy
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The following video disproves both creationism and evolution, either that or whatever one is the truth is seriuously F'd up.

Not suitable for young children.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVE60zwXx1k

I challenge you to explain that from any veiwpoint.

Icy
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The following video disproves both creationism and evolution, either that or whatever one is the truth is seriuously F'd up.

Not suitable for young children.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVE60zwXx1k

I challenge you to explain that from any veiwpoint.
Ok, you win.
"Somewhere along the line, we seem to have confused comfort with happiness"

Hugh
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NewBornProdigy wrote:
LiveTheDream wrote:The instinct is probably a throwback to its ancestral species, around prior to dogs (and other animals ) being domesticated. Even though (as you said) the dog hasn't been hunting before its training, it still knows what to do as it is a basic survival instinct. It's not naturally a domesticated animal - you can't find dog-roll in the wild for example! - so it still has those basic instincts (if this makes sense)
Yeah i understand it has those intincts... my question is the source :D

Like its ancestors, only learned through following its parents, instinct plays a huge part, is instinct a trace of say a creators intentions or blueprint of how a creature functions

Like are we all born with a common instinct, but as we grow we develop our only individulaistic and personal attribute, our personality, thats what shapes our uniqueness
I would imagine that instincts are also born of the process of natural selection. For example, humans (and most other primates) have an instinctual aversion to snakes, even people who have seen snakes before in movies and in pictures and are comfortable touching them will flinch when they see a snake hiss at them and rear its head. This now redundant evolutionary instinct survived because snakes are natural predators of primates and any cavemen who didn't have a healthy fear of snakes would wind up as a python snack.

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