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The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 09:19 AM
An interesting piece in New Scientist:


Special report: Morality put to the test

Long thought to be off limits to science, morality has been considered the exclusive preserve of philosophers and theologians. Not any more. In this special report a new generation of scientists share their wide-ranging insights.

'WE CAN SEND RELIGION TO THE SCRAP HEAP'

20 October 2010
Magazine issue 2782. Subscribe and save (https://www.newscientistsubscriptions.com/Default.aspx?prom=4654&referrerUrl=%68%74%74%70%3A%2F%2F%77%77%77%2E%6E%6 5%77%73%63%69%65%6E%74%69%73%74%2E%63%6F%6D%2F%61% 72%74%69%63%6C%65%2F%6D%67%32%30%38%32%37%38%32%32 %2E%31%30%30%2D%6D%6F%72%61%6C%69%74%79%2D%77%65%2 D%63%61%6E%2D%73%65%6E%64%2D%72%65%6C%69%67%69%6F% 6E%2D%74%6F%2D%74%68%65%2D%73%63%72%61%70%68%65%61 %70%2E%68%74%6D%6C)
Read more: Special report: Morality put to the test (http://www.newscientist.com/special/Morality-put-to-the-test)

Sam Harris says that science can show us the best ways for human beings to thrive – and we can then junk religion forever

Most people say that science can tell us facts about the world but not about moral values. Do you disagree?

Questions of right and wrong, good and evil, are questions about human and animal well-being. The moment we admit this we see that science can, in principle, answer such questions - because the experience of conscious creatures depends on the way the universe is. In our case, the difference between the worst possible suffering and the greatest flourishing depends on everything that can influence states of the human brain, ranging from changes in our genome to changes in the global economy. The relevant details of genetics, neurobiology, psychology, sociology, economics and so on are fantastically complicated, but there is no question that these are domains in which there are truths to be discovered and they fall squarely within the purview of science.

So what is "right" is whatever maximises the well-being of conscious creatures? How is that different from utilitarianism?

People often criticise utilitarianism because any narrow concern for utility, pleasure or short-term happiness fails to capture everything that is important to us in life. We are also concerned about things like truth, justice, fairness, intellectual pleasure, courage, creativity and having a clear conscience. I believe, however, that the notion of well-being can capture all of these things.

In my book I argue that we can view all possible experience on a kind of landscape, where peaks correspond to the heights of well-being and the valleys correspond to the lowest depths of suffering. The first thing to notice is that there may be many equivalent peaks on this landscape - there may be many different ways for people to thrive. But there will be many more ways not to thrive.

Religious people often see morality as one domain that they can really claim as their own.

Yes, in fact the most common defence one hears for religious faith is not that there's so much evidence that God exists, but that religion offers the only basis for a universal morality. Moderates and fundamentalists seem to agree on this point. Of course, it makes no sense as a defence of faith because even if it were true, it wouldn't suggest that God exists. But there is the additional problem that religion is a terrible source of moral guidance in the 21st century.

I happen to think that the scientific study of morality is the lever that, if pulled hard enough, will completely dislodge religion from the firmament of our concerns. The world religions will land somewhere near astrology, witchcraft and Greek mythology on the scrapheap. In their place we will have a thoroughgoing understanding of human flourishing, which will include even the most rarified and traditionally "spiritual" states of human consciousness.

How can we move on from religious notions of morality?

Once we accept the idea that right and wrong relate to questions of well-being, and that such questions have answers that will be best illuminated by honest observation and careful reasoning, then we can decide, once and for all, that certain people are not worth listening to on the subject of morality.

Consider the Catholic church. This is an institution that excommunicates women who attempt to become priests, but does not excommunicate priests who rape children. This church is more concerned about stopping contraception than stopping genocide. It is more worried about gay marriage than about nuclear proliferation. When we realise that morality relates to questions of human and animal well-being, we can see that the Catholic church is as confused about morality as it is about cosmology. It is not offering an alternative moral framework; it is offering a false one.


Profile
Sam Harris is an author and neuroscientist. His latest book, The Moral Landscape: How science can determine human values, is published this month by Free Press



http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20827822.100-morality-we-can-send-religion-to-the-scrapheap.html

Rockntractor
10-27-2010, 09:25 AM
Good morning evil one, I would think you would be busy nailing cats to doors for Halloween!

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 09:31 AM
Good morning evil one, I would think you would be busy nailing cats to doors for Halloween!

Good morning. Cats are my favorite animal, but even if they weren't, I would have no desire to harm them.

Rebel Yell
10-27-2010, 09:48 AM
'WE CAN SEND RELIGION TO THE SCRAP HEAP'

That is the point of the study from the get go, and the point of all your posts.

Let me ask you something, if you really belive that religion is all fiction, why are you so obsessed with disproving it? Do you think you'll go down in history as the guy who used other peoples finding to disprove God? I bet you're the guy who spoils the end of movies your friends haven't seen, just to feel smart.

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 09:53 AM
That is the point of the study from the get go, and the point of all your posts.

Let me ask you something, if you really belive that religion is all fiction, why are you so obsessed with disproving it? Do you think you'll go down in history as the guy who used other peoples finding to disprove God? I bet you're the guy who spoils the end of movies your friends haven't seen, just to feel smart.

I'm not the topic of this post and so I think I'll just accept your questions as commentary and move on.

Gingersnap
10-27-2010, 10:34 AM
Keep this thread clean and on-topic.

Since it's doubtful that most people (atheist or otherwise) have read this book. It's up to Night Owl to concisely summarize the central assertion and several arguments from the book to support the conclusion.

Be concise, clear, and use actual quotes from the author.

Arroyo_Doble
10-27-2010, 10:51 AM
While I am willing to agree that morality can be found without religion (probably even that religion can impede a moral outcome), I don't believe that a near Objectivist narcissism sugar coated with an ill defined "well-being" is the answer.

Bailey
10-27-2010, 10:59 AM
I love these threads its like the equivalent to a box, string and a piece of cheese if you want to draw in the resident atheists. HEY look what I caught a half dozen of them. :D

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 11:34 AM
While I am willing to agree that morality can be found without religion (probably even that religion can impede a moral outcome), I don't believe that a near Objectivist narcissism sugar coated with an ill defined "well-being" is the answer.

Do you really believe that after many thousands of years of human existence, this idea of human well-being is ill-defined? I don't. The problem is not that human well-being is ill-defined. The problem is that there is a segment of humanity which dismisses concerns about the well-being of humans and replaces them with concerns about the judgments of an ill-defined supreme authority which hasn't been shown to exist. This is the false moral framework Sam Harris warns of.

wilbur
10-27-2010, 11:40 AM
While I am willing to agree that morality can be found without religion (probably even that religion can impede a moral outcome), I don't believe that a near Objectivist narcissism sugar coated with an ill defined "well-being" is the answer.

We still don't even have a solid universal definition of what 'good health' means.. yet that hasn't prevented us from making amazing advances in the medical field, which keep people healthy(er). None of us would hesitate to say that modern medicine can make us healthier.

So the same is for well-being... we can (and do) figure it out as we go, refining the concept as progress marches on. It doesn't have to be perfect or complete from the start.

And I'm not really sure what you think is so narcissistic about Sam moral theory.... maybe you can fill us in..

NJCardFan
10-27-2010, 11:41 AM
Another Night Owl rant against religion. Dude, don't you have anything new to add? Ever? And ever heard the term "Methinks he doth protest too much"?

wilbur
10-27-2010, 11:45 AM
Another Night Owl rant against religion. Dude, don't you have anything new to add? Ever? And ever heard the term "Methinks he doth protest too much"?

You (and at least a few others) can't seem to stop saying the same exact shit every time an atheist makes a post....

Ever heard the term "Methinks he doth protest too much"?

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 11:45 AM
Another Night Owl rant against religion. Dude, don't you have anything new to add? Ever? And ever heard the term "Methinks he doth protest too much"?

If I were to come up with something new I almost certainly would not give it away for free on the Internet.

NJCardFan
10-27-2010, 11:54 AM
If I were to come up with something new I almost certainly would not give it away for free on the Internet.

This is why you are nothing more than a troll.

Zafod
10-27-2010, 12:13 PM
While I am willing to agree that morality can be found without religion (probably even that religion can impede a moral outcome), I don't believe that a near Objectivist narcissism sugar coated with an ill defined "well-being" is the answer.

wow. well put.

Zafod
10-27-2010, 12:14 PM
You (and at least a few others) can't seem to stop saying the same exact shit every time an atheist makes a post....

Ever heard the term "Methinks he doth protest too much"?
you all take turns humping each others legs.

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 12:28 PM
wow. well put.

So, you agree with AD's assertion that we can have morality without religion?

Zafod
10-27-2010, 12:39 PM
So, you agree with AD's assertion that we can have morality without religion?
one can be moral without relegion. Nice cherry pick. Now get back to rubbing wilbur off.....

Rockntractor
10-27-2010, 12:40 PM
So, you agree with AD's assertion that we can have morality without religion?
Religion is the worship of God and whether we worship him or not he would continue to be perfect morality.
As for us, being separated from the author of morality would seal our demise.

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 12:46 PM
one can be moral without relegion. Nice cherry pick. Now get back to rubbing wilbur off.....

AD's post had only two cherries and so the picking of the one was not that hard.

Zafod
10-27-2010, 12:47 PM
Religion is the worship of God and whether we worship him or not he would continue to be perfect morality.
As for us, being separated from the author of morality would seal our demise.

and that was very well put.

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 12:51 PM
Religion is the worship of God and whether we worship him or not he would continue to be perfect morality.
As for us, being separated from the author of morality would seal our demise.

God is the author of morality? Humans are pretty smart. What makes you think humans can't have devised codes and rules for getting along?

Arroyo_Doble
10-27-2010, 01:01 PM
Do you really believe that after many thousands of years of human existence, this idea of human well-being is ill-defined?

I think the idea of what a human is is ill-defined let alone its well-being.

Zafod
10-27-2010, 01:02 PM
AD's post had only two cherries and so the picking of the one was not that hard.

better get back to stroking wilbur or his widdle feelings are gonna get hurt....

wilbur
10-27-2010, 01:04 PM
one can be moral without relegion. Nice cherry pick. Now get back to rubbing wilbur off.....

The question isn't 'can one be moral as an unbeliever'... even among the hardliner theologians, you'll find very few who disagree. It really isn't controversial at all (anymore).

Is pleasing God a rational and sensible foundation/justification for a moral system? Sam argues no. He argues that a shared desire for human well-being is the most sensible foundation of a moral system. He further argues religious systems which use pleasing God as their ultimate goal, end up causing unnecessary human suffering.

So the question you should answer, at least if you are a person who would like to see a better planet anyways, is do you think it will result in the greater good for human kind... that we come to a consensus about what pleases God, or that we come to a consensus on what constitutes human well-being in this life?

Either of those two choices will change the course of how we interact with one another, drastically... which one do you want?


** Make no mistake, the belief that atheists can be moral people is relatively new among believers in the west and was conceded too with much reluctance. It just became impossible to deny empirical evidence which shows that believers don't behave, as a whole, any better than unbelievers.

Rockntractor
10-27-2010, 01:05 PM
God is the author of morality? Humans are pretty smart. What makes you think humans can't have devised codes and rules for getting along?

You're pretty smart too, did you devise the information you found in the book you quote for this thread, or did you just discover what the author had already written?

noonwitch
10-27-2010, 01:06 PM
Considering that religion has been responsible for both great positive advances in society and for some atrocities in history....

Of course a person can be a moral person and be an atheist. A person also can have faith in God and be immoral-the scandals in the Catholic church, fallen tv preachers, and countless other examples of that exist and probably always have existed.


I think the problem atheists like Sam Harris have is that many christians claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus (including me), in which they receive spiritual guidance, and there is no objective or scientific way to define that. For a science-minded atheist, it seems like people are getting advice from voices in their head, or in the sky, or whatever. Then, when something happens like a guy walks into a church and assassinates an ob/gyn in the name of Jesus, atheists point to that and say "look what he did because God told him to do it" and then use that instance to invalidate everyone else's spiritual experiences.

I can't speak for other christians. I've never heard a voice in my head, though, giving me instructions on how to live. Spiritual guidance for me is more of a tugging at my conscience, or noticing something I hadn't seen previously. Or else it's just a feeling that there is something I shoud be part of, or that person over there needs my help, or I should give a couple of bucks to the guy who lives under the freeway overpass.

I'm not sure that science offers more or better morality than religion. A lot of the problems with religious morality stem from the imperfections of human nature. Science is not going to eliminate those any better than religion has, as scientists are as human as the rest of us.

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 01:17 PM
I think the idea of what a human is is ill-defined let alone its well-being.

Whatever. I don't think we need perfect or all-encompassing definitions of what it is to be human or what it is to be well to make rational determinations about what causes suffering and what promotes well-being. And we certainly don't need supernatural help on this front either.

NJCardFan
10-27-2010, 01:21 PM
You (and at least a few others) can't seem to stop saying the same exact shit every time an atheist makes a post....

Ever heard the term "Methinks he doth protest too much"?

Because it's like some of these nuts who rail against homosexuality then end up being as gay as those they are railing against. By constantly screeding about the non-existence of God to the point that it is bordering on OCD psychosis says to me that you are trying your damndest to convince yourself that it is true.

And Wilbur, if you want to call me out into the dome, have the nads to do it in public and not sending me little PM's.

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 01:22 PM
So the question you should answer, at least if you are a person who would like to see a better planet anyways, is do you think it will result in the greater good for human kind... that we come to a consensus about what pleases God, or that we come to a consensus on what constitutes human well-being in this life?


Yes. Seeking consensus on what constitutes human well-being is not only more useful than seeking consensus on what pleases an invisible god. It's easier too.

wilbur
10-27-2010, 01:26 PM
I think the problem atheists like Sam Harris have is that many christians claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus (including me), in which they receive spiritual guidance, and there is no objective or scientific way to define that. For a science-minded atheist, it seems like people are getting advice from voices in their head, or in the sky, or whatever. Then, when something happens like a guy walks into a church and assassinates an ob/gyn in the name of Jesus, atheists point to that and say "look what he did because God told him to do it" and then use that instance to invalidate everyone else's spiritual experiences.


The interesting about Sam Harris is that he is actually getting his phd in neuroscience in order to study scientifically, just what belief is and what spiritual experiences are. You talk about receiving spiritual guidance... from what I've seen, he thinks these are genuine important experiences worth exploring and understanding, but thinks that their coating in mystical jargon ultimately hinders our ability to use them to their full potential. So I don't think he's really about robbing you of those experiences or dismissing them... he thinks that science will explain them better than mysticism can - just like it explains everything else better.



I can't speak for other christians. I've never heard a voice in my head, though, giving me instructions on how to live. Spiritual guidance for me is more of a tugging at my conscience, or noticing something I hadn't seen previously. Or else it's just a feeling that there is something I shoud be part of, or that person over there needs my help, or I should give a couple of bucks to the guy who lives under the freeway overpass.

I'm not sure that science offers more or better morality than religion. A lot of the problems with religious morality stem from the imperfections of human nature. Science is not going to eliminate those any better than religion has, as scientists are as human as the rest of us.

There is no real way to come to agreement about what actually pleases God, so religious morality is dead from the start. We don't even have to consider the imperfections in human nature.

Using well-being as the center of a moral system is a much better start - because then that makes moral questions totally empirical.

wilbur
10-27-2010, 01:32 PM
I think the idea of what a human is is ill-defined let alone its well-being.

Wha?! It doesn't really matter if we don't know "what we are" in the most deepest and profound existential sense.

Can you distinguish a human from a rock? How about from an alligator? If so, I don't see what there is to be confused about..

wilbur
10-27-2010, 01:34 PM
Because it's like some of these nuts who rail against homosexuality then end up being as gay as those they are railing against.

Are you referring to yourself here?

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 01:37 PM
Considering that religion has been responsible for both great positive advances in society and for some atrocities in history...

Religion has been the inspiration for many great advances but I don't know that I would describe it as being responsible for those advances. In many cases, religion gets the credit for human advancement simply because it was the only game in town for many centuries, so to speak.

Sam Harris has described religion as a failed science. Would you agree with that idea?

NJCardFan
10-27-2010, 01:45 PM
Are you referring to yourself here?

No because I've never railed against gays. See Wilbur, unlike you, I don't care what 2 consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes. I also could care less if 2 dudes want to get married. Doesn't affect me at all. So, how do you like those apples you contemptuous asshole.

noonwitch
10-27-2010, 01:45 PM
Religion has been the inspiration for many great advances but I don't know that I would describe it as being responsible for those advances. In many cases, religion gets the credit for human advancement simply because it was the only game in town for many centuries, so to speak.

Sam Harris has described religion as a failed science. Would you agree with that idea?



No, because I have never thought of religion as a science. I keep it separate from science, doing so makes life much easier. I don't have to lose my faith every time science discovers something that proves the earth wasn't created in 6 days.

Arroyo_Doble
10-27-2010, 01:49 PM
Whatever. I don't think we need perfect or all-encompassing definitions of what it is to be human or what it is to be well to make rational determinations about what causes suffering and what promotes well-being. And we certainly don't need supernatural help on this front either.

You seem tetchy. Perhaps this conversation isn't good for your well-being.

NJCardFan
10-27-2010, 01:51 PM
Religion has been the inspiration for many great advances but I don't know that I would describe it as being responsible for those advances. In many cases, religion gets the credit for human advancement simply because it was the only game in town for many centuries, so to speak.

Sam Harris has described religion as a failed science. Would you agree with that idea?

You know how many people have found happiness in religion? How many people who turned to God who used it to help then out of a situation that if they hadn't, might have eventually killed them? Take those Chilean miners. I'd be willing to bet the cardboard box you live in that their faith kept them going and kept them from going insane. You don't like religion or believe in God, fine. You do you but don't begrudge others if they do. It isn't hurting or affecting you in any shape, way, or form. You know what I do if someone is talking about something I don't want to hear about be it in person or TV? I politely walk away or change the channel. It's really that easy. Faith has helped a lot of people and if you don't think so, then you're as blind as can be and how about this being a Christian thing to say. I hope that when the time comes that when you and I finally shuffle off this mortal coil, that you turn out to be right because I'd rather fade into nothing than see your soul burn for eternity.

Arroyo_Doble
10-27-2010, 01:55 PM
Wha?! It doesn't really matter if we don't know "what we are" in the most deepest and profound existential sense.

Can you distinguish a human from a rock? How about from an alligator? If so, I don't see what there is to be confused about..

Cloning, organ harvesting, stem cell research, abortion, ect ... (and this ignores all the headaches Western civilization overcame about what is human that led to actions such as slavery) sort of blurrs that line a bit.

wilbur
10-27-2010, 02:13 PM
Cloning, organ harvesting, stem cell research, abortion, ect ... (and this ignores all the headaches Western civilization overcame about what is human that led to actions such as slavery) sort of blurrs that line a bit.

Ok, there are outlying scenarios.. but again, I could pose the question, "do you feel the same way about human health?" Just what does human health mean in the abortion debate? Does it make a conversation about human health impossible because you can't determine what a human is, in fringe cases?

Actually now that I think about it, if we go back to Sam Harris's official argument, he purposefully omits the word 'human', and uses the term 'conscious creatures' instead.

So morality is about the well-being of conscious creatures (ie, creatures with minds). If you have problems with the word 'human', this should be much less ambiguous.... at least until the day comes when we invent AI.

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 02:13 PM
You seem tetchy. Perhaps this conversation isn't good for your well-being.

I am perpetually "tetchy" and so there goes your theory.

wilbur
10-27-2010, 02:15 PM
I'd rather fade into nothing than see your soul burn for eternity.

Bravo for summoning up more moral fortitude and compassion than your very own deity.

CueSi
10-27-2010, 02:36 PM
The interesting about Sam Harris is that he is actually getting his phd in neuroscience in order to study scientifically, just what belief is and what spiritual experiences are. You talk about receiving spiritual guidance... from what I've seen, he thinks these are genuine important experiences worth exploring and understanding, but thinks that their coating in mystical jargon ultimately hinders our ability to use them to their full potential. So I don't think he's really about robbing you of those experiences or dismissing them... he thinks that science will explain them better than mysticism can - just like it explains everything else better.

There is no real way to come to agreement about what actually pleases God, so religious morality is dead from the start. We don't even have to consider the imperfections in human nature.

Using well-being as the center of a moral system is a much better start - because then that makes moral questions totally empirical.

Sometimes what makes people feel good hurts others. . .like your sadists and such. For them, beating the shit out of an unwilling partner and making them eat their own shit gives them a sense of well being, so that sentence makes no damn sense to me.

Sometimes Truth can be found in humor - -

-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo



Considering that religion has been responsible for both great positive advances in society and for some atrocities in history....

Of course a person can be a moral person and be an atheist. A person also can have faith in God and be immoral-the scandals in the Catholic church, fallen tv preachers, and countless other examples of that exist and probably always have existed.

<snip for berevity, forgive me Noon! ~QC>

I can't speak for other christians. I've never heard a voice in my head, though, giving me instructions on how to live. Spiritual guidance for me is more of a tugging at my conscience, or noticing something I hadn't seen previously. Or else it's just a feeling that there is something I shoud be part of, or that person over there needs my help, or I should give a couple of bucks to the guy who lives under the freeway overpass.

I'm not sure that science offers more or better morality than religion. A lot of the problems with religious morality stem from the imperfections of human nature. Science is not going to eliminate those any better than religion has, as scientists are as human as the rest of us.

This. I'm a rational human being, but I don't want an asshole in a labcoat telling me to get rid of something I find essential to living-- just as much as the atheists here don't want a minister telling them to get rid of something they find essential to living. It's not going to make us less fallible or frail, so I prefer the status quo, thank you very much. This is the kind of stuff that makes me go deeper into what I have instead of contemplating giving it up.

I didn't ask for or want a replacement for my faith. If you feel that's what you need, GFY. . .leave me alone. :p

~QC

The Night Owl
10-27-2010, 02:39 PM
Sometimes what makes people feel good hurts others.

If one defines the term well-being as "feeling good" then all sorts of horrors are sure to follow but that isn't how Sam Harris is defining it. Nice try.

Arroyo_Doble
10-27-2010, 02:42 PM
Actually now that I think about it, if we go back to Sam Harris's official argument, he purposefully omits the word 'human', and uses the term 'conscious creatures' instead.

Yes I noticed that and it took a great deal of self control not to make a glib comment about not falling asleep.

wilbur
10-27-2010, 02:47 PM
Sometimes what makes people feel good hurts others. . .like your sadists and such. For them, beating the shit out of an unwilling partner and making them eat their own shit gives them a sense of well being, so that sentence makes no damn sense to me.


Well, I believe that was briefly addressed in the quoted bit of the OP:



People often criticise utilitarianism because any narrow concern for utility, pleasure or short-term happiness fails to capture everything that is important to us in life. We are also concerned about things like truth, justice, fairness, intellectual pleasure, courage, creativity and having a clear conscience. I believe, however, that the notion of well-being can capture all of these things.


In short, "well-being" captures much more than just 'what feels good'.

wilbur
10-27-2010, 02:50 PM
Yes I noticed that and it took a great deal of self control not to make a glib comment about not falling asleep.

Well good thing you didn't, because it would be an absurd straw-man. If your going to criticize and argument, its generally good form to do your best to interpret it faithfully and charitably.

Sam Harris makes it pretty clear by 'conscious' he means "sentient", not "awake".

Zafod
10-27-2010, 02:55 PM
You seem tetchy. Perhaps this conversation isn't good for your well-being.

hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Gingersnap
10-27-2010, 04:37 PM
Those who have read the book need to present the author's definition of "human well being". I'm sure there is a concise synopsis within the author's work of what this means.

Let's see it.

wilbur
10-27-2010, 05:50 PM
Those who have read the book need to present the author's definition of "human well being". I'm sure there is a concise synopsis within the author's work of what this means.

Let's see it.

I haven't read the book, but am familiar with Harris's stuff... looking in the OP, we see some hint of what well-being includes, when he says:


We are also concerned about things like truth, justice, fairness, intellectual pleasure, courage, creativity and having a clear conscience. I believe, however, that the notion of well-being can capture all of these things.


So to maximize well-being would require us, at a minimum, to maximize those things. Of course, that list isn't exhaustive, and I'm sure Harris thinks so too. I'd be surprised if he claims to have an exhaustive definition of well-being. If anything, his book seems like a plea for us to get together and begin to work it out.

And again, think of the definition(s) of health. There is no one rigorous and objective definition for 'health', yet it goes without saying that terminal cancer is bad. We don't have to wait for a totally exhaustive definition of health - a thing which will probably never come - to begin working on the project of improving people's health through medicine. And so it can be for 'well-being'.

Gingersnap
10-27-2010, 06:00 PM
I haven't read the book, but am familiar with Harris's stuff... looking in the OP, we see some hint of what well-being includes, when he says:


We are also concerned about things like truth, justice, fairness, intellectual pleasure, courage, creativity and having a clear conscience. I believe, however, that the notion of well-being can capture all of these things.


So to maximize well-being would require us, at a minimum, to maximize those things. Of course, that list isn't exhaustive, and I'm sure Harris thinks so too. I'd be surprised if he claims to have an exhaustive definition of well-being. If anything, his book seems like a plea for us to get together and begin to work it out.

And again, think of the definition(s) of health. There is no one rigorous and objective definition for 'health', yet it goes without saying that terminal cancer is bad. We don't have to wait for a totally exhaustive definition of health - a thing which will probably never come - to begin working on the project of improving people's health through medicine. And so it can be for 'well-being'.

There are two main views to health: the health of the individual as he or she sees it and the concerns of public health. They are not particularly congruent. Back to "well being".

Big Guy
10-27-2010, 06:40 PM
Good morning. Cats are my favorite animal, but even if they weren't, I would have no desire to harm them.

So you use duct tape? :D

wilbur
10-27-2010, 06:59 PM
There are two main views to health: the health of the individual as he or she sees it and the concerns of public health. They are not particularly congruent. Back to "well being".

This doesn't get at the problem. Why not define health as being filled up with cancerous growths and dying at an early age? Why not consider a coma patient, who can feel no pain or unhappiness, as the epitome of perfect health?

Health ends up referring to states of being that we consider valuble or desirable... but there is no objective standard for these values. But there are some states of being that seem self-evidently good to us all, such as the undesirability of disease. So we call the lack of disease, 'healthy'. So we have at least one shared goal in the project of 'healthy living'... and we can move forward using all the tools of science and empiricism to accomplish this goal. And we do.

Rockntractor
10-27-2010, 07:18 PM
This doesn't get at the problem. Why not define health as being filled up with cancerous growths and dying at an early age? Why not consider a coma patient, who can feel no pain or unhappiness, as the epitome of perfect health?

Health ends up referring to states of being that we consider valuble or desirable... but there is no objective standard for these values. But there are some states of being that seem self-evidently good to us all, such as the undesirability of disease. So we call the lack of disease, 'healthy'. So we have at least one shared goal in the project of 'healthy living'... and we can move forward using all the tools of science and empiricism to accomplish this goal. And we do.

Someone could tell you shit stinks a you would follow with two pages of diatribe as to whether we perceive it to stink or it really does stink!:rolleyes:

JB
10-27-2010, 07:24 PM
TNO:

http://www.lptrivia.com/wp-content/themes/InspiredBits/thumb.php?src=http://www.lptrivia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/IMG_4190.jpg&w=683&zc=1&q=80&bid=1

MrsSmith
10-27-2010, 07:55 PM
In order to determine if atheists and non-theists can be moral without the foundation of God's Laws, we would have to be able to define "moral." To a Christian, this is a defined term. A moral person is one that follows God's laws. To an atheist, this term generally means someone that tries to cause no known harm to anyone else (unless that other human isn't really a person, by the atheist's definition. Or is someone that deserves poor treatment, like a fundie. Or... for whatever other reason the atheist can rationalize.) It looks like the difference between grounding your morality in The Rock, or trying to build it upon the quicksand of your own opinion.

In real Christianity, God's work on a Christian causes them to grow into a more perfect moral life...though we all know we'll never attain perfection. The point is to continue to grow toward it.

It's also something that can be proven statistically. For example, the programs that do the most to reduce recidivism into addiction and back to prison are all faith based.

National recidivism rates of secular drug rehabilitation programs range from 60 to 75 percent. The Hazelden Foundation, which Moyers brought to the public’s attention, has a recidivism rate of 50 to 55 percent.

By contrast, San Antonio’s Victory Fellowship—a Christian program—has a recidivism rate of just 20 percent. Prison Fellowship’s Transition of Prisoners Program (TOP), which includes a focus on substance abuse, has a recidivism rate of just 9 percent.
http://www.connectionmagazine.org/archives_old/archives/1998/august/colson.htm


After three years, a faith-based prison program has a recidivism rate of 10 percent compared to the state average return-to-prison rate of 33 percent. Three years isn’t a long time, but the difference between the two percentages is significant enough to give even non-religious people pause.

The InnerChange Freedom Initiative is a state funded prison program at Lino Lakes.
http://www.herald-journal.com/archives/2006/columns/rk073106.html


Last Friday, the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council issued a glowing report about the Innerchange Freedom Initiative, a Christian program launched in 1997 by Prison Fellowship founder (and Christianity Today columnist) Charles Colson.

Only 8 percent of the 177 prisoners who completed the 16-month Innerchange program wound up back in prison within two years of their release, the study found. For other prisoners at the Carol Vance Unit near Houston, the recidivism rate was 20.5 percent.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/februaryweb-only/2-10-42.0.html

By these facts, the work of God in the lives of people is at least as proven as, say, evolution. In fact, more proven, as it can be tested and duplicated. :)

warpig
10-27-2010, 08:01 PM
It looks like the difference between grounding your morality in The Rock, or trying to build it upon the quicksand of your own opinion.

Excellent thought!! I'm gonna use that if you don't mind.

MrsSmith
10-27-2010, 08:35 PM
Excellent thought!! I'm gonna use that if you don't mind.

I don't think it's original with me, I'm sure I've read it somewhere... :)

Gingersnap
10-27-2010, 08:35 PM
This doesn't get at the problem. Why not define health as being filled up with cancerous growths and dying at an early age? Why not consider a coma patient, who can feel no pain or unhappiness, as the epitome of perfect health?

Health ends up referring to states of being that we consider valuble or desirable... but there is no objective standard for these values. But there are some states of being that seem self-evidently good to us all, such as the undesirability of disease. So we call the lack of disease, 'healthy'. So we have at least one shared goal in the project of 'healthy living'... and we can move forward using all the tools of science and empiricism to accomplish this goal. And we do.

No, you aren't facing that question. As I said, there are two views of health that are not congruent. You haven't addressed that dichotomy but it doesn't matter too much since you still haven't answered the main question: what is "well being" as the author sees it?

Articulate_Ape
10-27-2010, 08:40 PM
How exactly is science different from religion at this point, nocturnal strigiforme?

CueSi
10-27-2010, 08:47 PM
If one defines the term well-being as "feeling good" then all sorts of horrors are sure to follow but that isn't how Sam Harris is defining it. Nice try.

What makes Sam' Harris' definition the one you all are going to follow?

And this still hangs in the air...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo

~QC

wilbur
10-27-2010, 10:47 PM
In order to determine if atheists and non-theists can be moral without the foundation of God's Laws, we would have to be able to define "moral." To a Christian, this is a defined term. A moral person is one that follows God's laws. To an atheist, this term generally means someone that tries to cause no known harm to anyone else (unless that other human isn't really a person, by the atheist's definition. Or is someone that deserves poor treatment, like a fundie. Or... for whatever other reason the atheist can rationalize.) It looks like the difference between grounding your morality in The Rock, or trying to build it upon the quicksand of your own opinion.


Putting aside for a second that there is significant disagreement within Christianity over how morality is defined, and what its nature is.....

You're few football stadiums away from the salient point, as usual... which is that there is no way to resolve the thousands of years old debates about what deities, if any, actually exist - and more importantly, what behaviors please them. Nor does there appear to be much of any way in which to improve the situation, even a little bit.

So you can scream and shout all day long that you have this "Rock" foundation, but its all just self-deception. You've the opinion of a few other people who have the hubris to claim that they know better than anybody else what God exists and what God wants, but nothing more.



In real Christianity, God's work on a Christian causes them to grow into a more perfect moral life...though we all know we'll never attain perfection. The point is to continue to grow toward it.

It's also something that can be proven statistically. For example, the programs that do the most to reduce recidivism into addiction and back to prison are all faith based.

http://www.connectionmagazine.org/archives_old/archives/1998/august/colson.htm

http://www.herald-journal.com/archives/2006/columns/rk073106.html

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/februaryweb-only/2-10-42.0.html

By these facts, the work of God in the lives of people is at least as proven as, say, evolution. In fact, more proven, as it can be tested and duplicated. :)

I'm sorry, these articles give us nothing more than a few anecdotes which are painfully deficient of important information. This is typical Mrs Smith though...

Please show us a detailed examination of these programs.... show us how you came to the conclusion that there is a causal connection between Christian doctrine, and recidivism rates That's how it works in science. If you want to make a claim about something, you have to do some rigorous study. You have to control for confounding factors. You certainly have to do more than spout some links from biased sources, and articles by people who are shilling for their own programs.

Actually, one of the authors of your article appeared in an interesting little item I just found: http://www.fsu.edu/news/2006/10/04/prison.programs/


As an example, Mears cites the Prison Fellowship Ministries, founded by Charles Colson,(ie, the guy who wrote the first article you linked} the former Nixon aide who became a born-again Christian while imprisoned for his part in the Watergate scandal. Colson has touted the success of his ministries based on studies that show lower recidivism rates among participants. However, Mears noted that the studies focused only on inmates who completed the program, while comparing its recidivism rates to those of all participants—including dropouts—of selected secular programs.

In fact, if recidivism rates in Colson's programs were revised to include all participants, "graduates" or not, results would be worse than those for the comparison groups. Where successes might be construed to exist, it's unclear what to credit—the computer and life skills classes or its fundamentalist Christian doctrine

More goodness at the link...


As proven as evolution, eh? Riiiiiiiiight...

wilbur
10-27-2010, 11:01 PM
No, you aren't facing that question. As I said, there are two views of health that are not congruent. You haven't addressed that dichotomy but it doesn't matter too much since you still haven't answered the main question: what is "well being" as the author sees it?

As I said, I don't know how specifically Harris defines well-being, but he gives a hint in the OP, as I already quoted... what about this isn't satisfying you?


We are also concerned about things like truth, justice, fairness, intellectual pleasure, courage, creativity and having a clear conscience. I believe, however, that the notion of well-being can capture all of these things.


So well-being at least includes maximizing those things listed above, though as I said, probably a lot more.

Sonnabend
10-28-2010, 04:35 AM
One does not have to have religion to have morality. One may be derived from the other, but not always. Morality has its own values and definitions.

A reminder to Owl, faith and religion are not the same thing either. One is not the other.

The Night Owl
10-28-2010, 02:56 PM
You know how many people have found happiness in religion? How many people who turned to God who used it to help then out of a situation that if they hadn't, might have eventually killed them? Take those Chilean miners. I'd be willing to bet the cardboard box you live in that their faith kept them going and kept them from going insane.

...

Yes. One could argue that religion is, for better or worse, the opium of the people.

Arroyo_Doble
10-28-2010, 02:58 PM
One could argue that religion is, for better or worse, the opium of the people.

The common theme of all moral philosphies which have been perverted is people.

Lager
10-28-2010, 03:56 PM
Yes. One could argue that religion is, for better or worse, the opium of the people.

Many things function as the opium of the people. Reality shows, shopping, computer games, and yes, even opium. Comparitively, it's not such a bad thing.

Sonnabend
10-28-2010, 05:24 PM
Yes. One could argue that religion is, for better or worse, the opium of the people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_of_the_people).

If one was a Marxist.

Wei Wu Wei
10-30-2010, 07:25 PM
Now I'm what most people would consider an Atheist (even though I consider spirituality very important and consider myself a type of Christian) and I have quite a few of the books from the so called New Atheists (like Dawkins, ect) including Sam Harris's old book The End of Faith.


Let me say, from this perspective, that these new Atheists, while brilliant in their fields (there's no doubt Dawkins is a brilliant evolutionary biologist) are absolutely awful when it comes to the topic of religion, morality, or anything that belongs to philosophers, theologians, and prophets (and yes I do believe that legitimate prophets have existed and glipsed Truth).


Harris is awful, in The End of Faith, he actually justifies using torture (the utmost dehumanizing act against another Being) along the same lines as all the crazies.

I reject the very most basic premise of this book, that hard, empirical science can shine a light on the nature of humanity, including morality.

No, absolutely not.

Science is a wonderful tool and I even considered myself a scientists at one point in my life, but there are very real limits to the scientific method. This is where Harris is trying to verge into with his shitty book.


I agree with Harris on some things, but this is where I draw the line. He is asserting that Rationality and Science are the only tools we need to gain access to Truth.


At this point, he is no different from Ayn Rand, one of the worst "thinkers" (with the help of lots of Speed) and easily the most supportive of the status quo (which, I believe, disqualifies her as being considered an "Artist" or even a serious "philosopher").

Articulate_Ape
10-30-2010, 07:31 PM
What makes Sam' Harris' definition the one you all are going to follow?

And this still hangs in the air...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo

~QC


John Cleese is awesome.

Wei Wu Wei
10-30-2010, 07:35 PM
I will stand against our forum liberals on this point (and many others).

There is a limit to pure Reason, say hi the to 18th century while you're there you bunch of uppity snobbish fools.

Articulate_Ape
10-30-2010, 07:35 PM
Yes. One could argue that religion is, for better or worse, the opium of the people.

"Religion is the opiate of the masses." If you are going to quote Marx, at least get it right.

Now, what exactly, in your own estimation, separates science from religion at this point in time?

hampshirebrit
10-30-2010, 07:55 PM
Now I'm what most people would consider an Atheist (even though I consider spirituality very important and consider myself a type of Christian) and I have quite a few of the books from the so called New Atheists (like Dawkins, ect) including Sam Harris's old book The End of Faith.

Matey-peep, you really should proof-read your stuff before hitting the commit button.

There are some things in life that you should make your mind up on, sooner rather than later.

Either you are an atheist or you consider spirituality "very important" and consider yourself to be a "type of Christian".

This is a binary decision, which you cannot possibly have both ways.

If you do not honestly know which you are, I'd urge you not to post so here. You will not win respect of either side with such a wooly statement.

Atheism is not just an issue of "having quite a few of the books" authored by us heretics, any more than Christianity is a question merely of reading both the O and NT.

Wei Wu Wei
10-30-2010, 08:09 PM
This is a binary decision, which you cannot possibly have both ways.


I submit that you should reconsider this.

Every time a necessary binary arrives, it comes as a unity of substance which appears as the background, giving the binary it's very possibility as distinct (I know this is getting abstract, I'm not so articulate at the moment, but any image of 2 colors requires actually 3, even if that third color is actually the "canvas" upon which the other two make their appearance possible).

There have been multiple theologians who have asserted that God cannot be properly said to either "exist" or "nonexist". for both of these terms limit the possibility of God's existence.

Consider the Quantum universe, on that scale, particles easily transcend these types of binaries such as existing/nonexisting (even though our Einsteinian Universe does follow more simple laws (relative to quantum at least)).

If subatomic particles can exist in multiples places at once, exist and nonexist, and do all sorts of other strange things, why cannot God transcend these (or all) binaries?

Rockntractor
10-30-2010, 08:14 PM
I submit that you should reconsider this.

Every time a necessary binary arrives, it comes as a unity of substance which appears as the background, giving the binary it's very possibility as distinct (I know this is getting abstract, I'm not so articulate at the moment, but any image of 2 colors requires actually 3, even if that third color is actually the "canvas" upon which the other two make their appearance possible).

There have been multiple theologians who have asserted that God cannot be properly said to either "exist" or "nonexist". for both of these terms limit the possibility of God's existence.

Consider the Quantum universe, on that scale, particles easily transcend these types of binaries such as existing/nonexisting (even though our Einsteinian Universe does follow more simple laws (relative to quantum at least)).

If subatomic particles can exist in multiples places at once, exist and nonexist, and do all sorts of other strange things, why cannot God transcend these (or all) binaries?

http://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/upyourstruly/One_Mole_Digging_Hole.jpg?t=1288484017

Wei Wu Wei
10-30-2010, 08:17 PM
lmao i must admit that image made me erupt when it appeared

hampshirebrit
10-30-2010, 08:35 PM
why cannot God transcend these (or all) binaries?

None of the above gives me any reason to believe in the existence of such an entity.

I really think you are not an atheist, not in any true sense of the word, and certainly not as I understand the truth of the term.

In truth, our difference in opinion is only numerical.

I believe in the number of gods that you believe in, minus exactly one.

Don't be shy about it. I don't agree with you, but you're entitled to be blunt about your belief. Don't mind if I seem blunt when I say you really are not an atheist, though.

The Night Owl
10-30-2010, 08:37 PM
"Religion is the opiate of the masses." If you are going to quote Marx, at least get it right.

Now, what exactly, in your own estimation, separates science from religion at this point in time?

I think I got the phrase right...


Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/critique-hpr/intro.htm

http://books.google.com/books?id=XgAwxudE1iEC&pg=PA57&dq=A+Contribution+to+the+Critique+of+Hegel%E2%80%9 9s+Philosophy+of+Right&hl=en&ei=NrrMTNTBBYH_8AajvpCFAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=opium&f=false

Okay?


Now, what exactly, in your own estimation, separates science from religion at this point in time?

The scientific method. What else?

The Night Owl
10-30-2010, 08:45 PM
If one was a Marxist.

I don't think one has to be a Marxist to accept that religion, like opium, brings joy and relief to some.

Wei Wu Wei
10-30-2010, 08:49 PM
None of the above gives me any reason to believe in the existence of such an entity.

Well it's not an entity which is able to exist that I'm talking about. Try to think of Existence/Nonexistence as a duality which is actually a unity. Example:

http://imgur.com/CU188.gif

A binary/unity (at once).

This image is either a duck, or it's a rabbit. Similarly, something can either exist, or nonexist, but not at once. You can oscillate between the two images quickly but if you try to see both simultaneously you'll see it's bound by the rules of a binary, even though it is (obviously) one unchanging picture.


I really think you are not an atheist, not in any true sense of the word, and certainly not as I understand the truth of the term.

In truth, our difference in opinion is only numerical.

I believe in the number of gods that you believe in, minus exactly one.

Don't be shy about it. I don't agree with you, but you're entitled to be blunt about your belief. Don't mind if I seem blunt when I say you really are not an atheist, though.

Maybe I'm not :shrug:

The Night Owl
10-30-2010, 09:00 PM
Well it's not an entity which is able to exist that I'm talking about. Try to think of Existence/Nonexistence as a duality which is actually a unity. Example:

http://imgur.com/CU188.gif


I think what is interesting about the picture you posted is that we cannot help but see something we recognize in it. We cannot shut down our pattern seeking tendency at all.

Wei Wu Wei
10-30-2010, 09:11 PM
It's because the process that constitutes our perceived reality also constitutes ourselves as subjectivty in relation to the world. It's like the world is a rabbit and our subjectivty is a duck, the tricky thing is trying to assert something about the "actual" image (or real metaphysics / ontology) because the actual image is radically inconceivable for a duck to perceive because the very appearance of a duck (and the rabbit at which it gazes) is the 'destruction' of the real thing itself, in it's whole, which you seem to agree is lost through our process of pattern-seeking.

Rockntractor
10-30-2010, 09:11 PM
I think what is interesting about the picture you posted is that we cannot help but see something we recognize in it. We cannot shut down our pattern seeking tendency at all.

I bet you guys are absolutely hypnotized by shadow pictures on the wall!:rolleyes:

Wei Wu Wei
10-30-2010, 09:15 PM
I bet you guys are absolutely hypnotized by shadow pictures on the wall!:rolleyes:



"Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see. "

- Martin Luther King Jr.

In fact, one of the philosophers I mentioned with a rather interesting idea of God is Paul Tillich, who was called an Atheist by some but is considered one of the great Christian theologians.

Dr. King even wrote his dissertation on this, titled "A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman."

PoliCon
10-30-2010, 09:23 PM
I bet you guys are absolutely hypnotized by shadow pictures on the wall!:rolleyes:

The reference is lost on them.;)

Rockntractor
10-30-2010, 09:27 PM
The reference is lost on them.;)

Yeah, he probably went back to contemplating his naval now.

hampshirebrit
10-30-2010, 09:38 PM
Maybe I'm not :shrug:

That's just my point. There is no maybe, and no shrug about such a decision. It's a very important one, one not to be taken lightly.

I bet many, indeed most of my fellow CUers, would agree.

Shrugging is for trivial matters, and this is no trivial matter.

Either you believe, or you do not.

What's your choice?

By the way, neither your duck or your rabbit are in any way anatomically correct. Your rabbit in particular looks like it's moving at least 50mph into a headwind. Rabbit ears are not generally aligned so exactly with the eye and mouth. A duck unfortunate to have a bill shaped so would be unlikely to survive for long in the average pond.

Wei Wu Wei
10-30-2010, 10:00 PM
That's just my point. There is no maybe, and no shrug about such a decision. It's a very important one, one not to be taken lightly.

I bet many, indeed most of my fellow CUers, would agree.

Shrugging is for trivial matters, and this is no trivial matter.

Either you believe, or you do not.

What's your choice?

By the way, neither your duck or your rabbit are in any way anatomically correct. Your rabbit in particular looks like it's moving at least 50mph into a headwind. Rabbit ears are not generally aligned so exactly with the eye and mouth. A duck unfortunate to have a bill shaped so would be unlikely to survive for long in the average pond.

Well if you're going to split hairs about the rabbitduck just use this instead:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_E_ktYFQnr-E/R-4BMJQOIwI/AAAAAAAAAIw/FB-Yc3somyk/s320/3D%2Bcube.JPG

Are you seeing a cube's front face, it's bottom side with the cube leaning to your top left, or do you see the cube's front face, with it's top side and the cube leaning to your bottom right?

Again, it's one or the other, trying to see both at once doesn't work, but the image never really changes.

Another example:

is the woman spinning clockwise or counterclockwiset?

http://scienceblogs.com/omnibrain/spinning%2Bdancer.gif

you see, asking about the so called objective existence of "God" isn't far off from arguing about these matters.

My point: a real conceptual binary always comes as a unity, in this tricky sense.

Rockntractor
10-30-2010, 10:01 PM
Well if you're going to split hairs about the rabbitduck just use this instead:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_E_ktYFQnr-E/R-4BMJQOIwI/AAAAAAAAAIw/FB-Yc3somyk/s320/3D%2Bcube.JPG

Are you seeing a cube's front face, it's bottom side with the cube leaning to your top left, or do you see the cube's front face, with it's top side and the cube leaning to your bottom right?

Again, it's one or the other, trying to see both at once doesn't work, but the image never really changes.

Another example:

is the woman spinning clockwise or counterclockwiset?

http://scienceblogs.com/omnibrain/spinning%2Bdancer.gif

you see, asking about the so called objective existence of "God" isn't far off from arguing about these matters.
See post #75

Rockntractor
10-30-2010, 10:12 PM
http://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/upyourstruly/kittyduck.jpg?t=1288491137

hampshirebrit
10-30-2010, 10:13 PM
you see, asking about the so called objective existence of "God" isn't far off from arguing about these matters.

My point: a real conceptual binary always comes as a unity, in this tricky sense.

Not in the sense that I asked the question in, nor the spirit.

You made the claims that ... what was it again?


Now I'm what most people would consider an Atheist (even though I consider spirituality very important and consider myself a type of Christian)

Now I'm sorry, sir, but no amount of tautological gymnastics is going to get you out of this.

In the very same sentence, you made the simultaneous statements that you are what most people consider an atheist and that you yourself consider yourself to be a "type of Christian" although exactly which type you would be you do not make clear.

If this statement really is true, then you are a Christian who has succeeded in pulling a gigantic con on "most people", who are now convinced, on your own admission, that you are nothing of the kind.

Or an atheist, who's somehow conned himself into believing in Jesus.

You gotta shit or get off the pot. Buck up, buddy.

Articulate_Ape
10-31-2010, 12:38 AM
I think I got the phrase right...



http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/critique-hpr/intro.htm

http://books.google.com/books?id=XgAwxudE1iEC&pg=PA57&dq=A+Contribution+to+the+Critique+of+Hegel%E2%80%9 9s+Philosophy+of+Right&hl=en&ei=NrrMTNTBBYH_8AajvpCFAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=opium&f=false

Okay?

I stand corrected. Your fluency in Marxism is duly noted.




The scientific method. What else?

What method is that? Theory supported by theory, cross-checked against theory? Think about it NightOwl.

The Night Owl
10-31-2010, 01:16 AM
What method is that? Theory supported by theory, cross-checked against theory? Think about it NightOwl.

Theory supported by evidence and analysis. Do you have a better way of conducting scientific inquiry?

CaughtintheMiddle1990
10-31-2010, 01:22 AM
Fucking Militant Atheists just can't let people be.
Just can't let people believe what they want without challenging them.
Go sit in the corner and rub each other off you Militant Anti-Theist Communist fucks.

wilbur
10-31-2010, 10:18 AM
Harris is awful, in The End of Faith, he actually justifies using torture (the utmost dehumanizing act against another Being) along the same lines as all the crazies.


Sam Harris clarifies his view on torture below. More at the link (http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2/)... He doesn't so much 'justify' or endorse torture, but claims torture is unthinkably bad. He then claims that some things are actually worse, like collateral damage, which may leave many innocent people maimed or dead by the thousands. And yet our attitude towards those worse things is often more cavalier and less caring. And also, reality sometimes only gives us the choice between unthinkably bad and worse.... and in those situations its preferable to do unthinkably bad things, than worse things.


My position on torture:
In The End of Faith, I argue that competing religious doctrines have divided our world into separate moral communities and that these divisions have become a continuous source of human violence. My purpose in writing the book was to offer a way of thinking about our world that would render certain forms of conflict, quite literally, unthinkable.

In one section of the book (pp. 192-199), I briefly discuss the ethics of torture and collateral damage in times of war, arguing that collateral damage is worse than torture across the board. Rather than appreciate just how bad I think collateral damage is in ethical terms, some readers have mistakenly concluded that I take a cavalier attitude toward the practice of torture. I do not. Nevertheless, there are extreme circumstances in which I believe that practices like “water-boarding” may not only be ethically justifiable, but ethically necessary. This is not the same as saying that they should be legal (e.g. crimes like trespassing or theft may sometimes be ethically necessary, while remaining illegal).

I am not alone in thinking that there are potential circumstances in which the use of torture would be ethically justifiable. Liberal Senator Charles Schumer has publicly stated that most U.S. senators would support torture to find out the location of a ticking time bomb. Such “ticking-bomb” scenarios have been widely criticized as unrealistic. But realism is not the point of such thought experiments. The point is that unless you have an argument that rules out torture in idealized cases, you don’t have a categorical argument against the use of torture. As nuclear and biological terrorism become increasingly possible, it is in everyone’s interest for men and women of goodwill to determine what should be done if a prisoner appears to have operational knowledge of an imminent atrocity (and may even claim to possess such knowledge), but won’t otherwise talk about it.

Wei Wu Wei
10-31-2010, 10:33 AM
Right but you aren't going to find categorical arguments against anything. There's always some mythical imaginary circumstance where an ethical dillema is raised against ANY act.

He seems content calling torture practices "ethically necessary"?


My argument for the limited use of coercive interrogation (“torture” by another name) is essentially this: if you think it is ever justifiable to drop bombs in an attempt to kill a man like Osama bin Laden (and thereby risk killing and maiming innocent men, women, and children), you should think it may sometimes be justifiable to “water-board” a man like Osama bin Laden (and risk abusing someone who just happens to look like Osama bin Laden). It seems to me that however one compares the practices of “water-boarding” high-level terrorists and dropping bombs, dropping bombs always comes out looking worse in ethical terms. And yet, many of us tacitly accept the practice of modern warfare, while considering it taboo to even speak about the possibility of practicing torture.

Here's the problem, we don't fight wars where every bad guy is clearly marked and every bad guy is literally Hitler or Bin Laden. Most of the people killed in Iraq were civilians, many of those detained, tortured, or killed had extremely tentative (at best) relation with insurgent fighters.

We aren't dropping bombs on Bin Laden, we drop bombs on anyone who might know a guy who knows a guy.

In this aspect, I say that war is far more horrific than even Harris is making it out to be, but his justification is that, well if Americans can lay around stuffing Doritos in their face while tens of thousands of civilians are killed in a war that frankly (some will say) we have no business being in, then why do they have a problem with torturing a few people?

He's sort of right, in that it is ideologically inconsistent for Americans to match their views on brutal wars and brutal torture, but the sad truth is that Americans don't know about either and don't care.

The callousness of Americans towards human life in a war that is only seen via bloodless shots of troops standing around on television (rather than the real, horrifying side of war that our media refuses to show) should not be used as justification for even more heinous acts.

My point: instead of saying "well you're alright with war why are you not okay with torture?" we should be asking "if you aren't okay with torture why are you okay with these wars?"

hampshirebrit
10-31-2010, 10:37 AM
Fucking Militant Atheists just can't let people be.
Just can't let people believe what they want without challenging them.
Go sit in the corner and rub each other off you Militant Anti-Theist Communist fucks.

Calm down a bit, laddie. :rolleyes:

Anyway, it looks like Wee might be a Christian. I'm just trying to establish whether or not this is the case.

wilbur
10-31-2010, 10:55 AM
Right but you aren't going to find categorical arguments against anything. There's always some mythical imaginary circumstance where an ethical dillema is raised against ANY act.


I don't know about you, but I find myself tripping over categorical arguments against torture from the left, and even many right wing religious people, all over the place. Categorical arguments are used all the time.

So I believe that's why Harris spend a few pages talking about torture this way.

Wei Wu Wei
10-31-2010, 10:55 AM
Christian theologian I am very partial to is Tillich, here's a little from wikipedia:


Tillich was – along with his contemporaries Rudolf Bultmann (Germany), Karl Barth (Switzerland), and Reinhold Niebuhr (United States) – one of the four most influential Protestant theologians of the 20th century.

On Being:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Tillich#The_use_of_.22Being.22_in_systematic_ theology

On Faith:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Tillich#Absolute_faith

On the Existence of God:

Throughout most of his works Paul Tillich provides an apologetic and alternative ontological view of God. Traditional medieval philosophical theology in the work of figures such as St. Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham tended to understand God as the highest existing Being, to which predicates such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, goodness, righteousness, holiness, etc. may be ascribed. Arguments for and against the existence of God presuppose such an understanding of God. Tillich is critical of this mode of discourse which he refers to as "theological theism," and argues that if God is a Being [das Seiende], even if the highest Being, God cannot be properly called the source of all being, and the question can of course then be posed as to why God exists, who created God, when God's beginning is, and so on. To put the issue in traditional language: if God is a being [das Seiende], then God is a creature, even if the highest one, and thus cannot be the Creator. Rather, God must be understood as the "ground of Being-Itself." The problem persists in the same way when attempting to determine whether God is an eternal essence, or an existing being, neither of which are adequate, as traditional theology was well aware.[29] When God is understood in this way, it becomes clear that not only is it impossible to argue for the "existence" of God, since God is beyond the distinction between essence and existence, but it is also foolish: one cannot deny that there is being, and thus there is a Power of Being.

Wei Wu Wei
10-31-2010, 10:56 AM
I don't know about you, but I find myself tripping over categorical arguments against torture from the left, and even many right wing religious people, all over the place. Categorical arguments are used all the time.

So I believe that's why Harris spend a few pages talking about torture this way.

It's a good method for deconstruction of a position held by someone who believes their position is complete and without holes.

However, that should be a given in any real discussion (although I realize many things that should be a given are tossed out the window when political debate heats up)

wilbur
10-31-2010, 10:57 AM
Calm down a bit, laddie. :rolleyes:

Anyway, it looks like Wee might be a Christian. I'm just trying to establish whether or not this is the case.

There are actually Christian Ahteists out there, as crazy as that sounds: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism

Basically they don't believe God exists or that Jesus was divine, but that his moral teachings were pretty swell and so choose to follow them.

hampshirebrit
10-31-2010, 10:59 AM
There are actually Christian Ahteists out there, as crazy as that sounds: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism

Basically they don't believe God exists or that Jesus was divine, but that his moral teachings were pretty swell and so choose to follow them.

Oh dear.

This is at the very top of your Wiki quote.


This article contains weasel words, vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. Such statements should be clarified or removed.

Do you have any possibly more reliable sources of information on the subject ... other than Wikipedia, I mean? That first sentence is a bit off-putting.

Wei Wu Wei
10-31-2010, 10:59 AM
There are actually Christian Ahteists out there, as crazy as that sounds: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism

Basically they don't believe God exists or that Jesus was divine, but that his moral teachings were pretty swell and so choose to follow them.

lol it was on similar grounds that Nietzsche described Jesus Christ as a "Jewish Buddhist"

Wei Wu Wei
10-31-2010, 11:03 AM
Oh dear.

This is at the very top of your Wiki quote.



Do you have any possibly more reliable source of information on the subject ... other than Wikipedia, I mean?

The question needs to be raised first what is existence, what is nonexistence, what is their relation to each other. More purely, what does it mean for something to Be?

Usually we jump over that question and ask if something is or is not, but Tillich claims that God is Being itself, the ground of being, that which gives an existing thing it's property of being. Also, it is the ground of non-being as well (a careful look will show that on a close enough scale being and non-being are indistinguishable from each other).

These questions of being have been raised for a century now, it's not too new.

For example, think of all the trickiness that arises when we jump past these basic questions and ask something simple like "Does Free Will Exist?" - we end up with a rather confusing set of contradictions and strange entanglements, only because of our misplaced presuppositions.

The Night Owl
10-31-2010, 11:48 AM
lol it was on similar grounds that Nietzsche described Jesus Christ as a "Jewish Buddhist"

I don't know that Nietszche described Jesus as a Jewish Buddhist but I do know that he described Christianity and Buddhism as nihilistic religions. I think that makes a lot of sense. In Christianity, for instance, having your individuality destroyed to the point where you find yourself in a perpetually blissful state as family and friends burn in Hell is considered a good outcome.

The Night Owl
10-31-2010, 11:51 AM
Fucking Militant Atheists just can't let people be.
Just can't let people believe what they want without challenging them.
Go sit in the corner and rub each other off you Militant Anti-Theist Communist fucks.

No one made you come here.

Wei Wu Wei
10-31-2010, 11:52 AM
With buddhusm I'm not sure if I'd describe it as 'nihilistic'. (although I can see some justification for it) I think there should be a distinction between a nihilistic and meontological, which is, in the context of my posts in this thread at least, more focused on the ontological aspects rather than the meaningful ones. I do think though that being and meaning are extremely closely related, even if distinct.

hampshirebrit
10-31-2010, 03:27 PM
With buddhusm

With what ... ? :confused:


With buddhusm I'm not sure if I'd describe it as 'nihilistic'. (although I can see some justification for it) I think there should be a distinction between a nihilistic and meontological, which is, in the context of my posts in this thread at least, more focused on the ontological aspects rather than the meaningful ones. I do think though that being and meaning are extremely closely related, even if distinct.


Jayslijk.

Surely you mean that there should be a distinction between nihilism and meontology, or maybe a distinction between nihilists and meontolgists.


which is, in the context of my posts in this thread at least, more focused on the ontological aspects rather than the meaningful ones. I do think though that being and meaning are extremely closely related, even if distinct.

which WHAT is, in the context ?? The distinction?

I have a very good command of the English language, and you are making no sense to me, not in English at least, at all. You may as well be speaking in tongues.

wilbur
10-31-2010, 06:00 PM
Oh dear.

This is at the very top of your Wiki quote.



Do you have any possibly more reliable sources of information on the subject ... other than Wikipedia, I mean? That first sentence is a bit off-putting.

You can find a few things about them with google... Here's another link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/atheism/types/christianatheism.shtml

Rockntractor
10-31-2010, 06:38 PM
I have a very good command of the English language, and you are making no sense to me, not in English at least, at all. You may as well be speaking in tongues.

Around here we call that talking shit, and wei speaks it fluently!

hampshirebrit
10-31-2010, 06:41 PM
You can find a few things about them with google... Here's another link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/atheism/types/christianatheism.shtml

OK, from that I learned this:


There is no objective being or thing called God that exists separately from the person believing in him.

and this:


"God" is simply a word that stands for our highest ideals.

There are around 26 similar points in the link you provide.

Amazingly, given that each of them is supposedly trying to describe what Christian Atheism is, not a one specifically mentions Christ or his teachings.

The article (BBC) starts with this gem:


this requires great intellectual sophistication, as you can see from the outline of non-realistic Christianity below.

Sorry, but I can't see any signs of intellectual sophistication here. To present these 26 points in defense of the notion of "Christian Atheisim", is more indicative of lazy thinking, and certainly not sophistication.

wilbur
10-31-2010, 06:59 PM
OK, from that I learned this:



and this:



There are around 26 similar points in the link you provide.

Amazingly, given that each of them is supposedly trying to describe what Christian Atheism is, not a one specifically mentions Christ or his teachings.

The article (BBC) starts with this gem:



Sorry, but I can't see any signs of intellectual sophistication here. To present these 26 points in defense of the notion of "Christian Atheisim", is more indicative of lazy thinking, and certainly not sophistication.

Oh I don't disagree... I'm not at all defending Christian Atheism... I was just pointing out that they actually exist. I think its pretty ridiculous.

Wei Wu Wei
11-01-2010, 01:55 PM
With what ... ? :confused:


Buddhism.



Jayslijk.

Surely you mean that there should be a distinction between nihilism and meontology, or maybe a distinction between nihilists and meontolgists.

Yes, that's what I meant.




which WHAT is, in the context ?? The distinction?

I mean that this discussion has been focused on the question of the Existence of God (at least my posts in this thread have been), and discussing the nature of What Is is the realm of ontology, not philosophies of meaning.


I have a very good command of the English language, and you are making no sense to me, not in English at least, at all. You may as well be speaking in tongues.

Yes my bad. I was posting in a rush. wrote a poorly worded post, then tried to edit it quickly and it came out a bit choppy.