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SPS's Avatar Jump to comment 78 by SPS

I have to wonder from what philosophical grounding does Dawkins’ altruism emanate? Why is other human life worth anything if there is no God? From what philosophical groundwork is he basing his good works on? Dawkins, it would seem to me, hasn’t defined his terms and is only borrowing our definition of “good.” Because without our definitions he’d have to ask the question, “What is good without God?” And that’s something I haven’t seen answered yet.

Philosophical grounding did not precede altruism. If philosophical grounding preceded behavior, why adhere to it? What is the motivation? You no more need philosophical grounding to be good than you do to know you don't like being punched in the face, and realizing most others don't, either. "Good" has never belonged to religion, so don't flatter yourselves.
“What is good without God?”
First, what is good with god? Good with god is fear. Good with god is the expectation of reward, and avoidance of promised punishment for specific behavior - both on a grand scale, limited only by the believer's imagination. None of this lends itself to owning the rights to "good". It is simply another instance of 'me right, you wrong', then sticking your fingers in your ears and refusing to hear anything else. Good with god is the equivalent of drawing a box around yourself, and then convincing yourself that if you step out of the box you'll fall of a cliff, and if you stay inside it you'll be fine, better than fine, you'll be rewarded because you're doing the "right" thing. Religion's version of 'good' is indeed inferior, because it does not allow revision or examination without referring back to itself as the answer. I'll copy and paste from a post I made elsewhere as it is somewhat relevant here, as well:
Is there commonality of experience? Are there experiences which are preferable to others, and how do you bring them about? Do you have them and seek them only after contemplation of moral absolutes every time, and if not, why not? Why are there specific behaviors to be observed in non-human animals? How do you know the absolute you believe is the correct one? There is also a false assumption that a proposed absolute need be the only absolute with authority. Again, a problem specific to religion, as there could be any number of proposed eternal absolutes by any number of religions.

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 03:12:00 UTC | #433250