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Old 05-05-2008, 06:53 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
Atheists are boring like that, they have nothing to lie about (at least on those matters; as far as anything else goes they are more or less just as human as the next person)

Although I do find it interesting that having abandoned belief you also abandoned some behaviours. The propaganda from some religious institutions would have it that taking the step to unbelief leads down a sinful path.
Well, I don't attend church, I don't pray and I don't read the bible on a regular basis. I suppose not doing all of those things would be described as sinful?
I'm not going to carry on doing them when I don't think any good will come of them.
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Old 05-05-2008, 09:59 PM   #22
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Re: Important Question

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Originally posted by A_Wanderer
Do you behave as if you really believe in God?
As far as anyone here knows, I'm an angel.

And nonbelievers. Do you behave as if your atheism arises out of sober intellectualism or unrepentant hedonism?
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:02 PM   #23
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I was an atheist before I was a hedonist.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:51 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
I was an atheist before I was a hedonist.
So if I have it right you're an atheist, rationalist, hedonist, individualist?

Wouldn't nihilist be simpler?
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Old 05-05-2008, 11:05 PM   #25
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I think that if you get me to say that I am a nihilist you would mischaracterise my position as a fatalistic one. I am a materialist, I subscribe to naturalism and I don't think that reconciles with any idea of an anthropomorphic God.

We can have a high confidence in repeatedly verified scientific facts, they are the only things that have real importance in the universe as they are the only things that are real. In the scale of things emotional attachments between sentient mammals on the planet Earth are of little consequence in the universe . This planet could disappear and it wouldn't have an impact. The scales of space and deep time demonstrate how unimportant we are in the scheme of things, and while we are a lone data point of sentience in the universe that could easily be an artifact of our ignorance.

Of course things like liberties, art, love etc. have an impact on my life; I think it is unfair to say that because my life means nothing on the scale of the universe then it means nothing to me.

Now ethics are an interesting one, there is no universal scorecard; people don't get punished for doing bad things. But people are not all psychopaths, most people have some degree of altruism. Just because someone doesn't believe in God or a universal scorecard doesn't mean that they act to harm others (and it could be argued that morality done out of punishment or reward from the idea of God is somehow less of a moral act than one for the act alone).

I saw an argument which seemed interesting, that there are some transcendental ethics out there for evolved intelligences. That just as arithmetic is transcendental to the universe (2 + 2 = 4 in any universe) things such as the golden rule may be prerequisites for evolving a social animal. This sort of argument would not be an appeal to God and it is falsifiable; if an amoral intelligent species was discovered for instance (note that you can have amoral individuals in the gene pool and they may well succeed but a society of strictly calculating self-serving people would be at a disadvantage to one with some cooperation) . Morality serves evolutionary ends, we are evolved creatures and that is the lens to view it's origins through. Appealing morality to God is meaningless because it leads to the fallacy that in the absence of God morality ceases to exist, and history shows very well that religiousity is no prerequisite for morality.

Just because there is no moral scorecard for the universe does not make people act in evil ways, if you believe that it is only your faith in God that stops you from stealing, raping and murdering that does not condemn atheism.
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Old 05-06-2008, 01:21 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
[B]
We can have a high confidence in repeatedly verified scientific facts, they are the only things that have real importance in the universe as they are the only things that are real. In the scale of things emotional attachments between sentient mammals on the planet Earth are of little consequence in the universe . This planet could disappear and it wouldn't have an impact. The scales of space and deep time demonstrate how unimportant we are in the scheme of things, and while we are a lone data point of sentience in the universe that could easily be an artifact of our ignorance.
Which most certainly would be the case if we were exclusively physical beings.
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(and it could be argued that morality done out of punishment or reward from the idea of God is somehow less of a moral act than one for the act alone).
God gives you a standard. To judge an action as moral it must be measured by some code. So is morality like money; setup by man with countless currencies and ever fluctuating exchange rates? Or is it universal like the laws of gravity?

Quote:
if an amoral intelligent species was discovered for instance (note that you can have amoral individuals in the gene pool and they may well succeed but a society of strictly calculating self-serving people would be at a disadvantage to one with some cooperation).
But we have countless examples of observable amoral intelligence right here. Biological and artificial. Tigers are amoral and so is my Dell. The question is, why is man alone driven -- or nagged -- by the moral consequences of his actions?

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Morality serves evolutionary ends, we are evolved creatures and that is the lens to view it's origins through.
Even if I accepted every tenet of scientific evolution I don't see how "morality serves evolutionary ends." Algae, flowers, fish, insects, reptiles, birds and all mammals other than man seemed to have developed quite nicely. How does the interjection of morality after 3.5 billion years of evolution secure the future of life on earth or increase the odds of Homo sapiens surviving beyond that of any amoral life form?

Quote:
Appealing morality to God is meaningless because it leads to the fallacy that in the absence of God morality ceases to exist, and history shows very well that religiousity is no prerequisite for morality.
Is man a prerequisite for morality? You must answer "yes" since you believe we are it's authors. I believe morality, as old as any laws governing the material universe, has been waiting patiently to be discovered and applied to a greater end.
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Old 05-06-2008, 03:59 AM   #27
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I just don't believe in a God, plain and simple. I don't think there is any intellectual component to it. Just like financeguy, I have never believed in any higher being.
I guess it's a fairly German socialisation I went through. Whether you believe or not, it doesn't play a role here. Doesn't mean morality has left the building. I think it's ridiculous for religious people to say that without them there would be no morality and everything would go down the drain. That's just pure nonsense some people like to tell themselves, but it comes from an utter lack of knowledge about non-religious people.
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Old 05-06-2008, 04:35 AM   #28
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Quote:
Even if I accepted every tenet of scientific evolution I don't see how "morality serves evolutionary ends." Algae, flowers, fish, insects, reptiles, birds and all mammals other than man seemed to have developed quite nicely. How does the interjection of morality after 3.5 billion years of evolution secure the future of life on earth or increase the odds of Homo sapiens surviving beyond that of any amoral life form?
I think that you are overlooking rudimentary morality in other species, the classic examples are those of altruistic behaviour in social animals; such as vampire bats sharing blood, parental bonding and kin selection. Even big cats look after their young, of course there are examples where looking out for their genes includes infanticide.

Put simply populations of animals in some conditions will survive better when they cooperate, the odds of passing genes down and having successfuly breeding offspring carrying common genes is improved so social animals and hard wired "moral" behaviour is favoured.

It seems that you are defining morality as some God given law, I treat it as gut reaction that drives social interaction. Such as caring for an infant, helping somebody out etc. There are exceptions in any population but on the whole functional societies contain relatively altruistic people because they may be required foster stability, that is one hypothesis.

And this is a point, that sort of hypothesis is testable; one could verify or disprove it based on the evidence. You simply can't do that with God based ones, although exceptions to the rule of God based morality do seem to exist and do point against it.
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Old 05-06-2008, 01:15 PM   #29
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I believe in God and I try to lead a good life and sometimes fail
I don't think it would be much different (for the outside world at least) if I didn't believe

I might not really understand the question though
like what sort of behaviour I am supposed to have
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Old 05-06-2008, 02:57 PM   #30
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i don't believe in a vain, easily upset and grudge-holding God who metes out punishments and rewards on the basis of arbitrary standards of behavior. so, no, i don't behave in a way where i take the cosmic considerations of my actions into account. i behave in a way that measures the real, tangible affects of my behaviors on other people (including myself) and that takes into consideration how this behavior fits into the broader philosophical principles i've learned over the years -- and i hold these principles through experience and rational thought, not through inheritance.

do i behave in a way that takes into account that we might all be from the same "source," that we're all cosmically equal before whatever greater power *might* exist and that the farmer covered in sheep shit is as equal in worth as the aristocrat who owns the land he works?

absolutely.
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