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Old 07-15-2006, 03:21 AM   #106
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I still don't understand why the freedoms of essentially pointless existences are of any concrete importance.
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Old 07-15-2006, 03:34 AM   #107
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If nothing that we do matters then all that matters is what we do.

If its all pointless then we can either resign to nihilism or give it a point. But that is a philisophical argument and it is a step removed from the preservation of secular law and the protection of people from state religion.
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Old 07-15-2006, 03:58 AM   #108
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Of course it would, if it was discovered that macro-evolution was false then it raises a lot of questions - for instance the entire fossil record (my field to be), if new species didn't arise naturally then they would have had to be emplaced for the last several hundred million years for animals and billion years for more basic forms. Or our dating mechanisms are completely wrong as would be our understandings of radioactivity and geology - it would completely overturn what we know.
Even though at present I consider myself a theistic evolutionist, I do find it alarming there are no transitional fossil records and the scientific community (not the Christian community) is currently in a tizzy over Darwinism (irreducible complexity is an interesting topic you might want to pursue in your studies.) If the papers I’m reading lately hold up to scrutiny, I will have to change my view.

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No, that would be a gross violation of rights, the information in our genes is not a marker for life and death by a state - by virtue of being alive and sentient we are afforded those non-negotiable rights. Even if we were sitting before a collapse (and I do not take catastrophism very seriously) I don't think it would justify pre-emptive slaughter. .
Natural Selection goes against just about everything you said here. Genes do not care if they are in a “state” or “government” – they simply exist in order to be passed on…

BTW – Natural Selection would "negotiate" any rights that it deemed necessary in order to pass on the genes. Again, Natural Selection is ALL about getting those darn genes passed on no matter what.

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Evolution is not always nature red in tooth and claw, human beings evolved to be social creatures, in fact having basic social networks wihin families where grandparents are alive and assisting with child rearing is an example where the protection of less "fit" individuals (the elderly who have already passed on their genetic information) has benefits for the group as a whole. The resources taken to aid the severely mentally disabled reflects the compassion that humans are capable of. .
I would think the above passage would offend several people here. I am not trying to throw you under the truck, but you are essentially arguing that the only purpose for family is to protect the genes through procreation and then nurture the product of the procreation.

In some aspects, I agree with you, (but I am more compelled to accept design here) but it still doesn’t explain self-sacrificing love, something that goes COMPLETELY against the rules of biological evolution.

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I think that genetic screening and abortion are valid options to be pursued, until birth a foetus is not an individual, it could be argued that until a child is 2 or 3 that they are also not an individual but still they are human and deserve those riights. .
So, if I understand you correctly, if I had a “genetic screening” on my next child, and it turned out he was genetically predisposed to be short, fat, geeky, and unlikely to ever find a mate to pass on his genes – I should go ahead an abort? Wow...

And not even the most staunch Pro-Choice person I’ve talked to would agree that an abortion should take place 5 seconds just before birth – much less 2-3 years after the child was born. Man – that’s a tough stance you have on that one.

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The obligatory Hitler point may be a neccessary evil to justify your position. the Nazi style eugenics were practiced on the basis of race nationalism, it was cultivated on a continent with a longer history of religious percecution of the Jews.

There is no inherent superiority within the different races of humanity and every mix in between, there are certainly differences which can be quantified but in terms of individual potential greatness is never limited to a single population and human individualism is shared by all.
.
I agree. One race is not genetically superior to another. But all it takes is on man using Natural Selection justification, and then you will have a modern Hitler. No major leap in logic to grasp that one.


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I am not making a case that negative genes must be weeded out - of course I do think that in the future the benefits of genetic engineering should be exploited. .
Not sure how to respond this one. On the surface it seems, well, pretty heartless. But it is late and I have had a glass of wine…
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Old 07-15-2006, 04:15 AM   #109
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Even though at present I consider myself a theistic evolutionist, I do find it alarming there are no transitional fossil records and the scientific community (not the Christian community) is currently in a tizzy over Darwinism (irreducible complexity is an interesting topic you might want to pursue in your studies.) If the papers I’m reading lately hold up to scrutiny, I will have to change my view.
I would disagree because we do have a lot of transitional fossils and we are finding more as time goes on. A great example is Ambulocetus which is essentially the transition form for whale, a whale with legs.

We can get a bit confused because life branches off into so many different clades many of which can just end, but we do sometimes strike transitional forms and we can find vestigial features that point to it. The molecular evidence for evolution is also very strong.

Once you accept that evolution happens on small scales it is a cocnequence that it has to also happen on large scales, there is no true division between micro and macro evolution because they both represent the identical process.
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Old 07-15-2006, 04:24 AM   #110
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So, if I understand you correctly, if I had a “genetic screening” on my next child, and it turned out he was genetically predisposed to be short, fat, geeky, and unlikely to ever find a mate to pass on his genes – I should go ahead an abort? Wow...
That is an awfully large leap - I thought you were discussing severe mental and physical retardation, cases where I think abortion would be a valid course of action if the woman chose too.

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And not even the most staunch Pro-Choice person I’ve talked to would agree that an abortion should take place 5 seconds just before birth – much less 2-3 years after the child was born. Man – that’s a tough stance you have on that one.
My stance is that the foetus is a potential human being, I definitely don't consider a fertilised egg to be a human being but late stage abortions do seem repellent.



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I am not making a case that negative genes must be weeded out - of course I do think that in the future the benefits of genetic engineering should be exploited. .

Not sure how to respond this one. On the surface it seems, well, pretty heartless. But it is late and I have had a glass of wine…
Whats heartless about it? If ever given the option for my progeny to have a greater physical and mental potential and reduced risk of heart disease and mental illness I think that it would be right to use the technology.

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Natural Selection goes against just about everything you said here. Genes do not care if they are in a “state” or “government” – they simply exist in order to be passed on…

BTW – Natural Selection would "negotiate" any rights that it deemed necessary in order to pass on the genes. Again, Natural Selection is ALL about getting those darn genes passed on no matter what.
Natural selection doesn't have anything to say about the nature of government, natural selection is just the process by which population pressures enable adventageous traits to be propogated through a population, it is not a social theory.
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I agree. One race is not genetically superior to another. But all it takes is on man using Natural Selection justification, and then you will have a modern Hitler. No major leap in logic to grasp that one.
And no more of a major leap than to see the believer demand the death or conversion of the unbeliever, something a good deal more relevent in todays world than a hypothetical dictator using pseudoscience.

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I would think the above passage would offend several people here. I am not trying to throw you under the truck, but you are essentially arguing that the only purpose for family is to protect the genes through procreation and then nurture the product of the procreation.
Yes, and it makes sense, you share 50% of your genes with your offspring, 25% with your grandparents etc. your family has common genetic material and animals evolved to pass on their genetic material - familial bonds are adventageous for creatures that invest so much into child rearing. It is not heartless to study or recognise the importance of evolutionary pressures in the evolution of human societies (things that surpass a strictly biological and reductionary explanation).

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In some aspects, I agree with you, (but I am more compelled to accept design here) but it still doesn’t explain self-sacrificing love, something that goes COMPLETELY against the rules of biological evolution.
Not neccessarily, love is a concequence of evolution - it is neccessary for things like procreation and protecting offspring, self-sacrifice; it is an emotion and it sparks some interesting behaviour; it may be that the will to die to protect family can be present in situations where we are protecting others, the ability to think and to rationalise produces behaviours that are not strictly governed by genetics or reproductive success (one extreme example may be the suicide bomber where zealotry drives the sacrifical murder),

Want an evolutionary quirk, some species of birds will sit by while their offspring kill eachother (by pushing one out of the nest), this seems counterproductive but when studied more closely it was found that the nests that killed off a chick with siblicide produced birds with higher chances of reproductive success and thus more adventageous than one with an extra chick but lower net chance of reproductive success.
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Old 07-15-2006, 10:11 AM   #111
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Originally posted by A_Wanderer
"love is a concequence of evolution"

"siblicide"
- these are quotable.

You make some good points from an evolutionist perspective. Of course, I disagree with you that I am just part of the furniture of the universe. dancing to the tune of my DNA, and I am still not convinced how you arrive at your conclusion for the moral value of humans; and we could go on further about "where does life come from" and all that (I would love to eventually discuss that in another thread)

For the purpose of this thread - I am sill a bit confused on your position on the existence of an Objective Moral Law. I think you are saying "yes" - but that it is a product of evolution, not from God - is this correct?
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Old 07-15-2006, 10:26 AM   #112
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No, I am saying that morality is a social invention based on emotional responses, it enompasses abuses like rape and murder as well as matters like sexual behaviour and language. It is not a sound basis for law since it is culturally subjective. Logically derived and consistently applied law is going to be more objective or at least less subjective than any one crafted from cultural or religious tradition, it is not dependent on revealed truth (a common link between the social and political philosophy and the scientific method, although they differ in that science is the accumulation of knowledge while the law is the practice and application of it to maintain civil society.

I think that a common law is crafted from logical axioms, essentially constructed around John Stuart Mills no harm principle. I would say that it generates rules that are more objective and reasoned than ones built around morality. The rise of the liberal tradition is not an evolutionary event, it is a social one, I think that the secular liberal democray is the best model and I would say that there is a lot of evidence to support my contention - and apart from the biological function that produces conciousness - it is removed from both morality and any reductionary science.

My conclusion of the moral value of humans is that we are not imbued with any morality whatsoever, that we are a product of genes and upbringing but that good behaviour will be advantageous. I also think that there are genuinely dangerous minded people in this world and for want of a better term would use the word evil, I am not a fan of relativism in measuring deeds.
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Old 07-15-2006, 11:17 AM   #113
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No, I am saying that morality is a social invention based on emotional responses, it enompasses abuses like rape and murder as well as matters like sexual behaviour and language.
Well, thankfully society didn't "invent" mass rape and mass killings.

Saying that morality is based on societal consensus invokes all of the prior points that were made about the pitfall os such ideology.
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Old 07-15-2006, 01:27 PM   #114
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You know, all of this discussion about science all makes sense and such, but it doesn't do a thing to prove that in the grand scheme of things we matter to anyone but ourselves.

Right and wrong would still be the invention of humans no matter which way you want to spin it, and there would be no universal truths (besides science) that we could base our lives on.
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Old 07-15-2006, 01:48 PM   #115
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Originally posted by shart1780
You know, all of this discussion about science all makes sense and such, but it doesn't do a thing to prove that in the grand scheme of things we matter to anyone but ourselves.

Right and wrong would still be the invention of humans no matter which way you want to spin it, and there would be no universal truths (besides science) that we could base our lives on.
Ironically, I think science DOES prove in the grand scheme of things that we do, in fact, matter; and that our existence and moral value were not a cosmic accident (which would require an astounding leap of faith considering the astronomical odds against such a probability).

Further, the same reasoning skills and logic used in science can be used to support the reality of an Objective Moral Law, of which requires a Moral Law Giver.

I would like to start a new thread eventually on some of the fallacies in an Uncaused Big Bang, as well as purely Atheistic Evolution. I think these topics are perhaps a bit out of the scope of this thread.
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Old 07-15-2006, 02:00 PM   #116
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I must be missing something then, because I cannot see the resemblence of a science-given human importance and a God-given one. The evolution of our minds would still be of no significance whatsoever in my opinion. Self awareness would still mean nothing, as would human rights and feelings.
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Old 07-15-2006, 02:09 PM   #117
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I must be missing something then, because I cannot see the resemblence of a science-given human importance and a God-given one. The evolution of our minds would still be of no significance whatsoever in my opinion. Self awareness would still mean nothing, as would human rights and feelings.
Shart, science does not necessarily = evolution. Just wait a few years, and you will see what I mean. Remember this comment

God never asks us abandon reason. In fact, God turns out to be the MOST reasonable explanation for a great many things.

I love science. And I think that it is a gift to be able to explore and explain this immense, beautiful creation. Many of the most brilliant scientific minds in history, including Einstein, accepted Intelligent Design.
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Old 07-15-2006, 02:21 PM   #118
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I do have a respect for science, I'm just saying that the reason I believe we're worth anything has nothing to do with science and can't be proven by science.
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Old 07-15-2006, 08:36 PM   #119
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Well, thankfully society didn't "invent" mass rape and mass killings.

Saying that morality is based on societal consensus invokes all of the prior points that were made about the pitfall os such ideology.
No, but it does reflect the treatment afterwards, one only needs to look at the treatment of women who have been raped in many societies to see the effects of moral law.
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Old 07-15-2006, 09:51 PM   #120
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This means that we may filter the actual moral laws through various subjective experiences, but this does not mean that objective moral laws do not exist or that they cannot be known and applied.
This is what troubles me most about the type of argument you are making. How could an objective moral law be applied without getting into the realm of subjectivity, contingencies, rationalizations and qualifications based on particulars? And if the application requires venturing into this realm...well then, as the ethicist MacIntyre famously asked, Whose justice? Which rationality? You are getting into a potentially infinite regress of authority as to upon which interpretive stance, and which set of facts about the particular situation at hand, you are going to base your application. Stating that, e.g., "murder is objectively wrong" is not like stating Pythagoras' theorem; that is always and everywhere true in precisely the same way, and does not need to be qualified or contextualized with regard to particular right triangles. By contrast, in order for "murder is wrong" to amount to anything more than an impotent assertion with regard to a particular case, you must first define what murder is, which in turn creates a need to define what innocence is, what homicidal intent looks like, and why any arguments presented in the muderer's defense cannot withstand rational scrutiny. In other words, it seems to me, you will have to rely on precisely the same sorts of thought processes you are criticizing A_W and melon for presenting as authoritative. By what authority can an atheist, a humanist, or a utilitarian claim a given thing wrong...well, by what authority can you claim it wrong? By the universal objective moral laws whose proper applications unfortunately cannot be universally objectively known, as evinced by the fact that we cannot agree on how to apply (or even derive) them?

I realize this does not address the question of whether objective moral laws exist one way or the other. But it seems to me that you are not making a very convincing case for why anything particularly meaningful follows from it if they do. You keep citing the Holocaust as an example--what precisely is the hypothetical objective moral law that you would argue it violated? I cannot readily think of one against which an opposing argument could not be made, on the basis of Nazi ideology, that said law was not violated. Of course you could and would retort that said counterargument--the Dolchstosslegende, eugenics, etc.--cannot withstand rational scrutiny; and you would probably also argue that even if it could, the solution advocated was nonetheless unjustifiably disproportional to the threat thus posed, and sets an unacceptably dangerous and destructive precedent for how to respond to other threats of logically comparable magnitude, etc. But again, I do not see how this is substantially different from the sort of argument A_W or melon might make about why it was wrong, nor do I see how it makes your authority compellingly greater than theirs. In all three cases, I would have to rely on reason to evaluate the argument made, and in no case could I absolutely rule out the influence of subjective or historically contingent biases (partiality towards other Jews; reflexive association of fascism with violence and tyranny; greater and prior familiarity with a very different set of ideas about genetics, WWI-era German history and Jewish history; fear of legal and political systems which prioritize the interests and autonomy of the state over those of individuals; etc.) upon my evaluation.
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