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Go to: If by "Christian love" you mean hatred & contempt...

Rationem's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by Rationem

Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert :

I think it is clear to see by now, that religion fails as a source of morality. The religious like to make claims that religion and belief in God provide a moral framework, without which, society falls apart. Well I challenge such claims, I think religion fails its own premises in providing any such framework for a moral life.

I think Alexandra Vachon @Alexandraa_x7 makes your point. She states in response to @G_Cimarelli that "if I wasn't 18 and wouldn't go to jail I'd beat the shit out o her idk how she got away with not getting beat up yea." She is quite honest in her reply(though I don't understand what the relevance of being 18 is ie if she was older she would beat her up? or if she was younger she would beat her up?). What is really stopping her from physically assaulting Jessica is that she would go to jail if she did. As an aside, she's also confused as to how Jessica did not get beat up; perhaps it never occurred to her that her would-be assailants, much like herself, did not want to "go to jail" either. Now note, it's not fear of gods or some sort of religious injunction to not physically attack people that is preventing her from acting; it's a temporal authority, the police acting on agreed upon laws by a legislature/parliament. Now, her reaction is but one piece of evidence, yet I don't think it would be too difficult to find enough people who would agree with Alexandra that what really prevents them from committing harmful acts are temporal authorities(of some kind) not religious injunctions against committing harmful acts.

As to Dawkins' question, not being a psychologist, I don't know what to say. I do notice though that many of the commentators are young people and some comments appear to be quite juvenile and that this may allow some to disregard what they are saying. I can understand that argument, intuitively. However, comments like this are disturbing: carys @XXX_carys: "When I take over the world I'm going to do a holocaust to all the atheists" or Tayler Crocker @TayCrocks "@somanygods shes not human shes garbage." Truly, carys' fantasy is impotent, but nonetheless disturbing and quite revealing.

Sat, 14 Jan 2012 17:59:18 UTC | #908266

Go to: Man made god - with Andy Thomson - Parts1-5

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Comment 64 by Ignorant Amos :

Comment 62 by Rationem

Then there is the organ transplant variant....morals are such complicated ideals are they not?

You can say that again, lol. What I find interesting though is that many people with widely varying backgrounds have the same responses. Many may might not find it surprising. But, if you think about it, it does provide evidence for a moral faculty/grammar within our brains. In other words, that we have some moral rules built into our brains and that we don't "learn" these moral rules. Though, using our complex brains, we can learn other moral rules(maybe rules that are derived from the built-in rules or rules that are independent of the built-in rules).

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 20:13:57 UTC | #905053

Go to: Man made god - with Andy Thomson - Parts1-5

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Comment 45 by wholewitt :

Reply to comment 42 'Rationem' Thus, one finds that an Israelite may kill/murder/slay a heathen without requisite punishment.

This statement is technically incorrect since lawful killing is not murder any more than the British soldier authorized to kill Germans in the last world war.

My statement is wholly correct. A heathen who murders/kills/slays an Israelite must be put to death. However, if you're an Israelite you may murder/kill/slay a heathen without requisite punishment. There is nothing in your response that overturns that sentiment. In both cases, a person commits murder yet there is differential punishment based simply on in-group membership. Indeed, if one thinks about your line further then it appears even more bizarre for the murder/killing/slaying of a heathen is not at all authorized; it is indeed punished. To be explicit, it is not authorized though punished at what most would consider a slap on the wrist. The point of that is some human life is worth less than others, namely, the killing of heathens is not as wrong the killing of an Israelite as evidenced by the differential punishment. Of course, this illustrates a new point not found in CEVA34's original point, nonetheless, it is interesting. Though, it does reinforce CEVA34's secondary point, given your continued confusion, that the commandment is not clear. One needs something like a book of torts that summarizes rabbinical positions on the law. Take 5:1:9 in the book of torts, one may kill/murder/slay a fetus(even an Israelite fetus) if the head does not emerge, there are complications, and the woman cannot give birth because the fetus is considered a rodef(one who is "pursuing" another to murder). This halakha is not at all clear from the commandment "you shouldn't murder."

However, there is no mandate forthat allows tghe indiscriminate , unauthorized killing of non Israelites anywhere in the bible just as there is no UN mandate that allows the British army to kill non British indiscriminately and without authorization.

If one rationally analyzes your response I think one would find it's quite bizarre, trivial, and quite immoral. You say there are no indiscriminate unauthorized killings of non--Israelites. Note, the key adjective is unauthorized. Of course, one doesn't find unauthorized killings in the bible by the "good" guys, lol. Why would the supposed "good" actors, say like Joshua, in the bible defame themselves by implying that they acted without authorization? Indeed, one can easily find indiscriminate murder on a mass scale as evidence by what happened to the villagers of Ai. Your statement has much in common with the dedicated apparatchik who states forcefully that the United States does not commit crimes when it says it doesn't commit crimes. Why yes, german citizen, the US does not torture people because water-boarding is not torture; Donald Rumsfeld has authorized enhanced interrogation and enhanced interrogation is not torture. It is a tautology and wholly trivial to say that someone doesn't commit murder when they've defined what they've done as not murder. If one defines away murder(with no other argument) the only people one convinces are typically the apparatchiks. However, again your point does not weaken the original point brought forth by CEVA34, namely, that people's understanding of the commandment is not clear. Indeed, you're a case in point.

Since tmy original point was regarding the trolley probem I will reiterate that it is not a difficult dilemma biblically speaking. The command not to murder would need to be observed in either case. If ones actions do not result in a murder, then no biblical law has been broken and the resulting loss of life cannot be deemed the responsibility of the observer.

The trolley problem is devastating to the theist who uses a bible contrary to your assertion. In both cases, under the commandment, you would be committing murder. In the one case, you would be flipping a switch which would divert the trolley to intentionally killing an innocent man. In another case, you would not flip the switch and the trolley would kill more than one man and in effect you would have intentionally killed those men by your action or indeed inaction. Thus, biblically speaking, you would be breaking the commandment in each case, as there is no exception one can find in the torah that would exempt you for intentionally committing murder in this problem.

Nobody has the right to take anothers life, even to save the greater number. I am interested as to the atheistic anser to the dilemma.

The trolley problem is the situation of flipping a switch and killing 1 or 5 men. Now, they were also discussing the more interesting variant of the trolley problem: namely the fat man variant. Where first you decide whether to kill 1 or 5 men. Next, you have a similar situation where you see a trolley heading toward 5 men; you're on a bridge above the men with a fat man next to you who if pushed off the bridge would prevent the trolley from killing the men below. What do you do? Normally, what happens is that, in the first, situation most people say flip the switch, but in the second situation, at first, most people say do not push the fat man off the bridge. Now, after they've thought a bit, they realize that the situation is functionally the same as the original situation, and then some people change their minds. Now, the interesting thing is that psychopaths tend to, at first, say push the fat man off, no changing of their minds is necessary. Next, combine this problem with fMRI studies and one notices exactly what Dr. Thomson said, different regions of the brain are being used in the fat man variant. My responses were to flip the switch to save the 5 men and then to not push the fat man though I didn't change my mind once I realized that the situation was basically the same as the first one. Perhaps, I should change my mind.

I think the mother variant of the problem is interesting too. In that situation, the innocent person on one track is your mother(or friend or child or some relation), and on the other track, you have the 5 men. Do you flip the switch? Most people, myself included, would not flip the switch. So we have the following results. In the original trolley problem most people say saving 5 lives over 1 is preferable, yet in the mother variant, most people say saving 1 life over 5 is preferable simply by adding a relationship to the problem.

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 18:39:58 UTC | #905032

Go to: Man made god - with Andy Thomson - Parts1-5

Rationem's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by Rationem

Comment 35 by Dermot C :

Hi, I think you have to go back to CEVA34'a original post

Comment 26 by CEVA34 :

The command not to murder, says Wholewitt, is clear. Something in the Bible is clear? Good grief, that's a novelty. Actually, that command is not at all clear, or rather most people's understanding of it isn't. It cannot be said too often that the Bible is mostly a Jewish book. The Old Testament certainly is.The command means, not that we mustn't kill another human, but that a Jew must not kill another Jew. No problem about killing anyone else, whether by accident or design (or, often enough, by God's explicit orders).

Then wholewitt responds with comment 28, in which (s)he actually highlights CEVA34's main point, which I made bold to make explicit. If one looks at the book of torts 5:2:11 you find this gem:

"If an Israelite kills a resident alien, he does not suffer capital punishment at the hands of the court, because Scripture says, And if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor (Exod. 21:12). Needless, to say, one is not put to death if he kills a heathen."

However, you might ask what if a resident alien kills an Israelite? The answer is instructive for CEVA34's primary point. So, in the book of torts 5:5:4, you find:

"If a resident alien slays an Israelite inadvertently, he must be put to death in spite of his inadvertence. For a human being is always deemed forewarned."

Thus, one finds that an Israelite may kill/murder/slay a heathen without requisite punishment. Yet, if a resident alien inadvertently kills/slays/murders an Israelite, he must be put to death even if the death was inadvertent because a human being(naturally, a non-Israelite human being) is forewarned. However, in chapter 5 halakha 3(5:5:3) Israelites can slay/murder/kill a resident alien or servant inadvertently. The punishment not being death but exile. So, in effect the main thrust of CEVA34's point was spot on, most people do not understand the commandment very well as evidenced by wholewitt's response. Contra wholewitt, "you must not murder" (exodus 20:13) does not clearly refer to deliberate and unlawful killing. For an Israelite is allowed to unintentionally murder both servants and resident aliens without fear of death, simply exile from the city you committed the murder to a "city of refuge." A more accurate description would be that murder refers to, at the minimum, both intentional/unintentional and lawful/unlawful acts which again backs up CEVA34's secondary point that the commandment is not clear. Specifically, you cannot intentionally/unintentionally murder Israelites lest you are put to death yet you may unintentionally murder/kill/slay resident aliens/servants and receive the minor punishment of exile from the city which you committed the murder. Again, it's not clear from exodus that that's what "you shouldn't murder" meant hence the reason you need a book like the book of torts that summarizes the final decisions of the law found in the torah and talmud.

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 00:14:44 UTC | #904693

Go to: Arguments that just don't make sense in the first place!

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Comment 492 by dandelion fluff :

But the final step between this and concluding that such a being would have to be perfectly moral is, would such perfect knowledge necessarily lead it to minimize pain? Maybe and omniscient being could just like pain and therefore be evil? This seems to me like nonsense but I'm not really sure, which is why I originally framed my objection as a question rather than an assertion.

Hi! I'm not sure about the whole pleasure/pain aspect you brought up. I think it complicates things; so I'll put it to one side. Now, I do like how you reasoned through what would omniscience actually get you? You ended with a good question concerning would knowledge necessarily lead to doing something about evil? Although, I think when you say "doing" it muddles things up. Again, I can only reiterate; I see no connecting of perfect knowledge to not allowing evil, even if you knew what everyone's pain/joy felt like. This knowledge of pain would have to necessarily(ie always) get you to act. One might ask, does knowledge of pain always get you act? In any case, I think we've drifted away from my original argument. In order to run my argument, I assumed that a priori there's no real difference between the different types of beings except for their moral characters(you essentially asked was I justified in assuming that?). Now, I haven't been very convincing, but let's consider a die again. A priori, I can say that all trajectories are equally probable and that if the die is fair then we should assign, for each roll, an a priori probability of 1/n to each possibility. I think you'd agree that that's all I did with my argument. Now, what you said is, wait a sec, isn't this one being, x, more probable than the others? The reason I asked for an argument is because there is an a priori argument that could show that being x is more probable than the other beings. And in a roundabout fashion you're bringing up parts of that argument. The argument is the ontological argument for the morally perfect being(ie that an ominpotent/omniscient/morally perfect being metaphysically exists). This argument would provide you with exactly what you're looking for, that is, an a priori argument that the morally perfect being is actually more probable. Since, it could show that a being of that sort would exist in 1 possible world then you would know that, given any amount of evidence, that being must have a non-zero probability of existence. This morally perfect being would always have a higher probability of existence then the other beings(unless someone came up with ontological arguments for those beings too). So, that would definitely show that principle of indifference does not hold. However, as you're probably well aware, there is no sound ontological argument. This is why I knew I was safe in assuming the principle of indifference. We really have no good reason to think a priori that a morally perfect being exists over a morally imperfect being or anything in-between. Now, things may be different a posteriori(though I'm not convinced). But, I just wanted to show that even if we assumed there was an ominpotent/omniscient being then there are a plethora of these beings(because they have different moral characters), and since the prob. of any one of them existing is trivially small(because none of the beings have sound ontological arguments to change their probs.) then one has a good probabilistic reason to reject all of such beings, at least a priori.

Fri, 09 Dec 2011 16:58:15 UTC | #897151

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