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Comments by Dr. Chad

Go to: Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins

Dr. Chad's Avatar Jump to comment 87 by Dr. Chad

Carson's big mistake is that he assumes the foundation of what we call morals is a cognitive effort. It is an instinct bred into us by natural selection for good selective reasons.

If he read The Selfish Gene, or understood evolution, he should understand that the basis for what we call morals is in natural selection of optimal game theory solutions, effectively. The "tit-for-tat" strategy, or some variation thereof, is the optimal solution for the Iterative Prisoners Dilemma, for instance. Since that models a large class of social transactions, those with an instinctive "tit for tat" instinct would reproduce more often than those who don't, up to a point of equilibrium with free riders. Selection pressure would then tend to push better "free rider" detectors as well as free riders getting better at concealing it. It's your standard genetic arms race.

Now of course we aren't limited to pure instinct for given situations. We can cognitively apply our instinctive foundation to new situations and even override these instincts.

So when Carson says that Dawkins has no moral foundation and everything is preference, he is wrong. Dawkins has the same instinctive foundation as mostly everybody else. And violating these instincts isn't without consequence. We have the neurochemicals of guilt and the social punishments of those with free rider detectors. Doing away with God doesn't suddenly do away with these, nor does it change the game theory solutions that selection works on. These solutions will always be optimal for the types of social transactions we have. In that sense they are "moral" absolutes.

Thu, 24 May 2012 00:55:04 UTC | #943199

Go to: The spectre of militant secularism

Dr. Chad's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by Dr. Chad

Militant secularism or atheism has a specific meaning. From the Jacobins through to the communists, militants murdered priests or sent them to camps, and destroyed churches, synagogues, mosques and temples.

I disagree with this definition. Secularism is a strict lack of opinion on religious matters; a "no comment". What this describes is strong anti-theism by the state. It is very much an opinion on religions, and is very much against their practice.

Militant secularism makes no sense. It would mean a very extreme "no comment". It would be more accurate to describe it as is believing in secularism so strongly that you are willing to not comment on blowing up buses or flying planes into buildings.

Mon, 19 Mar 2012 23:12:59 UTC | #928769

Go to: Your Brain on Fiction

Dr. Chad's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Dr. Chad

It talks about reading. I wonder how this compares to other ways of story input such as verbal/audio or video. Many people talk favourably about reading or verbal storytelling, but movies and TV are often denigrated as poor means for learning. I'm curious if there are neurological differences that can demonstrate a difference, or if such criticisms are unwarranted.

Mon, 19 Mar 2012 14:55:12 UTC | #928628