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Comments by canadian_right

Go to: Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by canadian_right

re: Aguazul, and where morals come from.

I'm not aware of any science saying baldly that "greed is good". A certain amount of greed may be necessary to fuel the ambition required to thrive, but I am not aware of any science that says that "greed is good" as a general rule.

Where do people get their morals? While we generally live in a society steeped in religion, even the religious no longer get their morals from religion if they are part of mainstream western society. Most religious people cherry pick the good parts from their religious dogma, and they use the same method as secular people: modern moral concepts developed since the enlightenment that boil down to "do not harm others on purpose." I don't see to many of my religious friends selling their daughters into slavery, stoning to death neighbours who do not observe the Sabbath. They do help the poor, are kind to children, and are generally "good". I can't anywhere in the bible saying gays can marry, but they rationalize that too.

Thu, 16 Aug 2012 04:07:43 UTC | #950852

Go to: Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by canadian_right

You can, to a certain extent, separate Jewish religion from Jewish culture. If someone tells me that they are non-observing Jews I take what they tell me at face value. I don't try to redefine what they think of as Jewish culture and Jewish religion so I can win an argument. From what I know of both Jewish culture and religion it is true that while both are intertwined, it is true that there are significant secular aspects to Jewish culture.

Thu, 16 Aug 2012 03:59:55 UTC | #950851

Go to: Loss within the truth

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by canadian_right

I don't see how anyone can rationally get comfort from a fairy tale, but the fact is that people can act and think very emotionally and want the fairy tale to be true so badly that they ignore the rational part of their brain.

As a young man death was something far away that did not apply to me, but there comes a day when you realize that yes, I too shall die. It kind of sucked when it became real to me that I would die, but it didn't make me want to embrace comforting lies. It made me want to live the one life I have as well as I could. To be the best person I can be; to be a good parent, husband, friend, and citizen.

The universe is full of true wonders. You don't need fairy tales to feel a sense of wonder.

You can lead a good life without fairy tales. In fact, you are more likely to be and behave well as an atheist than as a theist.

Sat, 28 Jul 2012 17:24:16 UTC | #950232

Go to: Do we need objective morals?

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by canadian_right

This depends on the type of "objective" you mean. If you mean the same kind of objective that the rules of mathematics are then no, we can't have "objective morals". If by "objective" you mean based on observations of the real world and how various actions effect the real world then yes, we can have moral objective. Even with this starting point you would still have to agree on some basic rules, for example it is wrong to harm people, before you could start exploring what objective morals would look like.

Of course, Sam Harris has covered this ground fairly well in the book "The Moral Landscape". Personally, I think that "maximizing total human happiness" is a much too difficult thing to figure out to deal with most day to day ethical and moral decisions. A very short book covering some of this ground is "A Simple Guide to Secular Morals".

Fri, 27 Jul 2012 00:20:47 UTC | #950134

Go to: Who matters (or should) when scientists engage in ethical decision-making?

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by canadian_right

Do you feel like you have an interest in what science and scientists are up to? If so, how would you describe that interest? If not, why not?

Of course I have an interest. Science affects my health, happiness, general well being, knowlwedge of how the world really works, and is responsible for my living in luxury that only kings could dream of only a few hundred years ago.

Do you think scientists should treat “the public” as an interested party when they try to make ethical decisions? Why or why not?

I don't think the public's opinion of your research should be taken into account, only the effect of your research on the public. If your research will directly harm people you have to rethink the research. If the results of your research could harm people then some safeguards should be in place to prevent the wrong people from getting the results of your research.

I don't think the moral qualms that someone, somewhere is going to have need be taken into account. If your methods and goals are ethically sound then only the outcome of your research on the public needs to be considered. Your research IS going to offend someone, somewhere, but irrational opinions, or even sincerely held, but misinformed opinions can be discounted.

If you think scientists should treat “the public” as an interested party when they try to make ethical decisions, what should scientists be doing to get an accurate read on the public’s interests?

They should only be considering any harm or benefit the process of the research will have on the public, and in the case of research that will lead to technology with the potential to harm people the safeguards necessary to prevent abuse. As long as your ethics are based on sound methods then the moral opinion of the public isn't important.

And, for the sake of symmetry, do you think members of the public ought to take account of the interests of science or scientists when they try to make ethical decisions? Why or why not?

Only if those decisions are directly affecting the scientists. Other than deciding how to spend my tax dollars, I, and the rest of the public, have no right to interfere with science if it not directly harming anyone. It is a basic ethical principal that people, including scientists, are free to do what they want as long as they are not directly harming anyone. Only in the case of a technology that has the potential for causing widespread harm should I or any member of the public get a say in science research.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 05:08:31 UTC | #936917

Go to: Genocide: What is behind irrational evil perpetrated by ordinary people?

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by canadian_right

Humans have been a very violent species in the past, and continue to be violent in wide swaths of the world. The good news is that violence has been decreasing for most of human history when measured as what percentage of the population dies by murder (including wars, executions, crime, etc...). Five hundred years ago if you had been reading about the Rwandan genocide you would have thought it a pretty normal occurrence. Here is a short list of atrocities from that era:

538 CE - 300,000 adult males massacred by Ostrogoths and Burgundians in Milan 614 CE - Persian Shah Chosroes allows massacre of 90,000 Christians in Jerusalem Siege of Amorium: 70,000 Moslem and 30,000 Christians. 850 CE - 100,000 Paulicans executed by Empress Theodora

Today, most of the civilised world is shocked by such acts, they are not normal, but actually against the law. You are much less likely to die at the hands of your fellow man today that at any time in history.

Things are getting better.

Wed, 11 Apr 2012 05:31:35 UTC | #933827

Go to: Russell Blackford replies to "Our Christian cultural bedrock"

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by canadian_right

But, for heaven's sake, are we seriously supposed to purge ourselves of the bedrock of feeling on which our civilisation is based? When we marry to the tune of for richer or poorer, to have and to hold, we are all cultural Christians. When the almost solitary mourner in The Great Gatsby says ''Amen to that'' after the priest says ''Blessed are the dead that the rain falls on'' we are cultural Christians. What choice do we have?

Just as most children give up their comforting fairy tales as they grow up, so too should our adult society give up the once comforting fairy tales of old. Yes, we should give up what was once thought of as bedrock when we have so much better reasons for important beliefs such as morality.

Yes, we should give up beliefs that fly in the face of reason. Giving up faith does not mean giving up morality. Giving up faith means embracing a morality based on reason, care for our fellow man, natural justice, and reason. The average "Christian" already chooses their morality exactly like an atheist. The average "Christian" already rejects the many moral teaching in the bible that we now find abhorrent: support for slavery, killing those who don't observe the Sabbath, killing witches, persecuting homosexuals, killing defiant children, and many other teachings any moral person would recoil at.

Giving up the fairy tale as a serious basis of morality, law, and ethics does not mean we have to banish the work. Just as we still read Plato and Homer, we should still keep the important cultural heritage of the bible, but only as art and history.

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 16:49:08 UTC | #932772

Go to: Let Them Eat Dirt

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by canadian_right

There have been many studies indicating that an overly sterile environment impedes children's immune system development.

There is so much evidence of this that our local provincial government has a advertising campaign to encourage washing hands with plain soap, not using anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners, and not abusing antibiotics.

Normal cleanliness is important, but don't worry about trying to protect your kids from all germs.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 01:43:45 UTC | #930302

Go to: Atheists in church: the course of true love may now run smooth

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by canadian_right

Much like many atheists see celebrating Christmas as a nice family event, a church wedding is also a nice family event. I don't see the harm in pleasing the in-laws. I trust that the vows will be a more modern version lacking all that medieval "obey" stuff.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 01:39:22 UTC | #930301

Go to: Secularists & Sundays

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by canadian_right

There is a big difference between deciding to celebrate Christmas, and being FORCED to treat every Sunday as special.

The government has no business forcing any private person or business to do anything due to purely religious reasons. The religious who own businesses can still decide to close or keep short hours on Sundays. The private individual who wants to keep Sunday special can keep it special without the governments help. I should not be forced to be forced to limit my activities because of religion.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 01:32:18 UTC | #930299

Go to: Killing Bald Eagles in the name of religion

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by canadian_right

Our local Natives get to do a lot of stuff that they were doing before the Europeans arrived. For example, they are allowed "food fisheries" during times when commercial fishing is generally closed. Some of these rights are enshrined in treaties, some are local law.

We had a case where some local natives were killing eagles for the feathers, but they ware arrested, convicted and fined as the locals never used eagle feathers for their traditional ceremonies. The feathers were being sold on the black market down into the States.

The treaties and laws should be respected, but I think the natives would be doing themselves a favour if they did not always exploit these rights when it adversely affects people outside the reserves.

Traditions that harm people should be abandoned. Tradition is not a a good reason to continue immoral acts. For example, my ancestors had a long and colour tradition of slaughtering neighbours, sometimes inviting whole villages over to celebrate a peace treaty then sneaking back and slaughtering the women and children left behind. Despite doing this for millennia we gave it up as immoral.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 01:27:04 UTC | #930298

Go to: Untrue Reason -- re Naturalism

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by canadian_right

Russell's teapot doesn't need a solution. Russell's teapot is meant to illustrate that you don't need mountains of evidence to refute claims that are very unlikely given our current knowledge of the way the universe is.

There is so much evidence, that in fact, there is nothing supernatural I would have to say that anyone claiming anything could be supernatural is going to have to have some pretty impressive evidence. Of course, we can't say we know 100% for sure there is nothing supernatural, but that goes for pretty much any claim, even the claim that I have an invisible pink unicorn in my room.

The fact that there is a universe is not in anyway evidence for any deities. The "first mover" problem is akin to the lady who claimed "it's turtles all the way down" when asked what was holding up the turtle that holds up the elephant that holds up the world. If all things need a creator, what created god? If god doesn't need a creator, then you are admitting a creator is not required for all things.

The fine tuning problem is just not understanding physics that well.

We may not know how abiogenesis first happened, but evolution explains all the biological diversity in the world.

Consciousness obviously arises from our physical brains. Drugs, injury and illness that affect the brain all affect consciousness. There is so much evidence "we" are our brains I'm surprised anyone argues otherwise.

There is no problem with reason and logic.

I've never heard of the problem of natural uniformity. Last time I checked nature was NOT uniform, but quite happy to suddenly change, for example an asteroid hitting the earth.

Where do our values come from? Most Christians get their values from the same place atheists do: modern secular values that have arisen since the Enlightenment. This is why "moderate" Christians cherry pick from the bible, rejecting stoning to death people who don't observe the Sabbath, and keeping "do unto others as you would have done to yourself".

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 23:51:29 UTC | #929127

Go to: Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by canadian_right

I agree that taking part in your community is important. While I'm not the sort to ever have an out of body experience, I do enjoy being part of a community that is working for more than just my own self interest, but is working towards improving society in general.I also feel it is important to not impose what I think is best on others, but only help by education, and only "help" directly when I'm invited to.

There is nothing more dangerous than a man that knows the truth.

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 05:16:26 UTC | #928823

Go to: A Challenge to Make Science Crystal Clear

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by canadian_right

Well, these days if your kids ask you a science question you don't have a good answer for a good response is "let's go google it together."

A flame is surprisingly complex. The light you see comes from a chain of events that the initial combustion starts. The fuel, the wax in a candle say, once it is made hot enough by something like a match, starts a chemical reaction that releases more heat which in turn keeps the combustion going. By combustion we mean combining the fuel with oxygen in the air to create various chemical compounds and release heat.This heat also heats up gases in the air, and gases created by combustion. It is the glowing hot gases that are releasing the light you see as a flame. And the glowing is also interesting, as this is caused by the heat exciting the electrons in the gases which in turn release light.The colours depend on the temperature of the gases with blue flames generally being hotter than red ones.

The clever child now asks why combining chemicals releases heat. Different chemicals take different amounts of energy to hold them together them. If you can get a chemical to go from a chemical that takes lots of energy to hold it together to one that takes less energy to hold together that extra energy is released as energy which is commonly observed as heat and light.

The wikipiedia article on flames is very good.

Sat, 17 Mar 2012 23:28:28 UTC | #928169

Go to: What do you say to your faith-based neighbors?

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by canadian_right

I know very few religious people who are even willing to discuss their faith and the reason, or lack thereof, for their faith.

I never try to "win" these discussions, but merely plant seeds that may lead them see reason on their own. It is the rare person who will admit that a closely held belief is wrong in the middle of a discussion. They are much more likely to come around on their own, and take credit for it, on their own.

Fri, 09 Mar 2012 23:54:37 UTC | #925749

Go to: The real opponents of secularism

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by canadian_right

Large parts of the so called left seem to have become irrationally enamoured of cultural relativism as a misguided response to past bigotry. It is not bigotry to point out that a cultural that supports murdering teachers for the crime of educating girls is an evil culture. Some cultures are demonstrably more moral than others. Pointing out this fact is not racism or imperialism.

Culture or tradition should not be a shield from criticism. Members of all cultures should be open to rational dialogue regarding how to improve their society, and how to make life better for all.

Wed, 29 Feb 2012 00:53:57 UTC | #922971

Go to: Science and cinema

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by canadian_right

Real scientists would not make for very good drama.

I'm more concerned about the very bad science in most movies. Science fiction movies are often the worse for bad science.

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 16:34:58 UTC | #919662

Go to: Technologically advanced, culturally backward

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by canadian_right

I disagree that our technology is promoting ignorance and a "l low level of intellectual and artistic culture".

Literacy is over 90% in most western nations. This is directly due to technology: printing press, internet, etc... The rise of the internet has made writing and publishing a hobby for millions of people. My kids may not read as many books as I did as a kid, but they spend just as much time reading, and much more time writing. When you can publish a story or essay for all the world to view it motivates you to write, even if only a handful of friends actually read it.

Technology allows us to know about people all around the world. We know what is happening half way across the world five minutes after it happens. This promotes awareness of other cultures. You can download music, view art and movies, and read books online. The opportunities for enriching your cultural life have never been so vast or easy.

In times past only the very richest people had the time or resources to pursue "high culture". The amazing productivity of modern technology gives almost everyone in rich nations the time and resources to pursue both high and low culture.

While not all people will take advantage of these opportunities, it is my opinion that the appreciation of culture has never ben as widespread as it is now.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 18:29:07 UTC | #919318

Go to: Non-theistic sources of inspiration in the face of adversity

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by canadian_right

Inspiration surrounds us all: children, friends, family, the blue of the sky, the stars at night, mountains in the morning, the smell of pine, and the taste of chocolate.

On less material level there is justice, beauty, the search for truth, charity, the joy of learning, music, art, and your next breath.

There is so much in the real world to amaze and inspire us that I simply do not understand why some people need fairy tales for inspiration. there is so much to learn, so much to experience, so much to do. Life is too short to indulge all my inspirations.

Wed, 08 Feb 2012 00:03:48 UTC | #915458

Go to: Living with a theist?

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by canadian_right

If so, how do you accommodate your differences in beliefs/worldview?

As my fiancée's religious beliefs have very little effect on our day to day lives there is not much accommodation required. I go to church with her where she knows I'm internally refuting the whole sermon. I try to make sure when I point out some news story about evil actions rationalized by religion that I do so without being rude. She thinks of me as a good person who got there by a different path than herself, and I think the same about her.

Does it cause you problems or do you manage to respect each other?

We respect each other. We don't respect all of each others beliefs. It doesn't cause problems for us.

Do you think it is harder for you as an atheist to accept that your partner believes in G(g)od(s)? Or harder for him/her to accept that you don't?

In my case I think it might be harder for me to see why she is still religious after having thrown off a much more dogmatic church for a much less dogmatic church, embracing a certain amount of personal modification of church dogma, but not taking the final step of discarding the supernatural. I think she accepts that my very rational mind could never accept religion.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 00:52:24 UTC | #912898

Go to: Wife and daughters died in 'honour killing', court told

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 57 by canadian_right

Metamag, you claim:

You do realize that Obama adviser for such issues is for female genital mutilation if it's part of the "culture"?

Do you have a link to a credible source of information baking up this claim?

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 00:37:30 UTC | #912891

Go to: Living with a theist?

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by canadian_right

I never thought I'd end up with a religious wife, being an atheist myself, but I'm marrying a protestant in a few months. She was raised catholic, but left that church due to its rigidity. She says she believes in god, but other than wanting to attend church once a week if nothing else comes up, it doesn't seem to affect how she lives day to day. We are not being married in a church, but a minister will be doing the ceremony. I let her know about my atheism early on our relationship, and she decided that my lack of belief was not an issue as I am a good person. She doesn't hold any beliefs directly contradicted by science. The world is 4 billion years old, evolution is true, etc... She dislikes the more dogmatic sermons that lack some tempering by knowledge of life and questioning of why there is evil in this world.

Our moral beliefs are very, very similar, but we arrived at them quite differently.

We have only had a couple of serious talks on the subject of religion, and she would rather avoid the subject most of the time.

I am sure I would not be able to have a relationship with a person with beliefs such as creationism or a young earth, and I certainly would not want to be around someone who's life revolved around religion.

Love just can't be fully explained by science - yet.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 00:29:58 UTC | #912890

Go to: Colbert explains how to deal with Internet censorship protests

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by canadian_right

So called internet piracy is NOT theft. It is copyright infringement. Theft is when your lawful possession is taken and you can no longer use or enjoy it. Copyright infringement is when you copy a copyrighted work without paying the owner of the copyright. It isn't theft as he still has his work, and still has his copyright.

I think copyright is a good idea to help artists make money, but that the law has got completely out of hand. A twenty year free term with followed by an optional very expensive 10 year extension should be long enough for an artist to make some money from their work. Copyright that last until the authors death plus 70 years is not motivating any dead authors to create new works. Long copyright terms are locking up our culture to be exploited by large corporations.

Intellectual property is not property. They are artificial government monopolies intended to foster the arts and sciences, and prevent fraud (trademarks). The law should be revised to make copyrights and patents work for art and innovation, and not for locking up ideas and art for the sole benefit of big business.

PS It is bollocks to claim that every freely copied work is a lost sale.

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 23:47:20 UTC | #910362

Go to: Violence and Humanism

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by canadian_right

It is wrong to initiate violence, except to protect an innocent who is in clear and immediate danger. It is wrong to kill to protect property. Only protecting people can justify lethal force. Only the minimum force necessary to protect the innocent should be used.

Confinement can be justified to protect people from someone who has proven that they are a danger to people.

Executions, even for murder, are wrong because even the best justice system can make mistakes. You can release and compensate someone wrongly imprisoned. You can't bring back the dead.

On the other hand, pacifism is also wrong as it allows evil to act and grow unhindered. To the best of your ability and courage you should protect your fellow man from evil.

Tue, 10 Jan 2012 06:07:23 UTC | #906805

Go to: Will 2012 Be the Year of the Atheist?

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by canadian_right

2012 will not be the "year of the atheist". Religious belief is much too widespread to expect it to fade away quickly. Religious people, especially the more rational ones, are expert at managing cognitive dissonance, disregarding inconvenient facts, and holding onto the comforting fairy tales of their youth.

The fact that many normal, good people, still belong to the Catholic church despite its long history of vile abuse of children and women shows just how much people of faith are willing to overlook to keep their comforting blanket of religion. I'm shocked that there are not crowds of protesters at churches demanding justice.

I am very unlikely to run into a religious fundamentalist who thinks it is right to use force to impose their beliefs on others. Most people in my society are non-religious, or pay lip service to religion while not allowing religion have any real affect on their actions or morals.Moderate religious people who are sincere believers, but are much too polite to yell at anyone are common. For this, I am thankful.

Regarding religious moderates: While being a moderate is certainly better than being a fundamentalist, and acknowledging that most moderates are good people, I have to agree that moderates do provide tacit support to the fundamentalist by agreeing that it is proper and good to believe things with out any evidence at all. Moderates support the fundamentalist belief that some things can be believed just because a religious authority says it is so. While the moderate may reject the more extreme beliefs and actions, for example throwing acid in the face of a girl who dares to get an education, they are supporting the basic underpinnings of these extreme beliefs.

For moderates to be part of the solution they must become more vocal in denouncing the abuse of religion to support immoral acts.

Secularism will win over the long term because societies that embrace secular humanism thrive, while those that embrace superstition stagnate and fail to provide a just society for all.

Sat, 31 Dec 2011 23:59:56 UTC | #904137

Go to: Educational reform

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by canadian_right

You need to bring this unprofessional behaviour to the attention of the schools administration.

Mon, 26 Dec 2011 17:40:18 UTC | #902784

Go to: The day the gods were born

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by canadian_right

We are down to one god only if you ignore a LOT of religions all over the world.

Tue, 15 Nov 2011 16:24:42 UTC | #890412

Go to: Anglican newspaper defends 'Gaystapo' article

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by canadian_right

Hey, tmaxwell83, and what point was it in that article that you support? Do you think that people should be able to discriminate, in public, against gays due to their religious beliefs? Are you saying that people who run a bed and breakfast that is open to the public should be legally allowed to turn away gay people? Should pharmacists be allowed to not dispense birth control if it offends their religion?

If you want to allow this bigotry where would you draw the line? Which religions get this dispensation to discriminate in a manner contrary to the law? Once you allow this bigotry what is to stop other forms of bigotry from being allowed due to religious belief?

I do not see any rational reason to allow religious belief to trump the law of the land. We have secular law and government because people found it the only way to improve society, increase justice,and allow equality for all.

Tue, 15 Nov 2011 16:22:54 UTC | #890408

Go to: How do I define my religious beliefs when asked?

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by canadian_right

Asking about your religion is considered rude where I live, but if it comes up I generally answer "I am not religious". If someone seems sincere about learning about my views I am an atheist, more particularly, a human secularist.

I don't see how being an atheist is negative. I don't believe in invisible pink unicorns and no one seems to think that attitude is negative. Yes, some religious bigots see being atheist in a negative light, but I don't respect those peoples opinion so it doesn't bother me.

Mon, 14 Nov 2011 16:28:10 UTC | #890097

Go to: Children's atheism

canadian_right's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by canadian_right

All science books. All books on how things work. All history books. The real world. I don't collect stamps, and have never felt the need to teach my children about not collecting stamps.

Children should be taught about religion, just like they are taught about ancient Greek myths.

Sun, 13 Nov 2011 16:30:22 UTC | #889822