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1  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Ancient water in the Earth's crust estimated at 2.5 million cubic miles. on: December 20, 2014, 10:53:34 am
How long until creationists start arguing that Genesis' "fountains of the deep" referred to this underground reservoir, and that its discovery proves the historicity of Noah's Flood?
2  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Please help me understand non-religious metaethics. on: December 17, 2014, 11:45:03 am
Then why is it that I have friends? Why is it that I have a husband? Why is it that these people come from outside my family and my social groups if as you say, it’s in my interest to dehumanise them? After all, they were once people I did not know and had no reason to trust when I initially encountered them. If what you say is true, we wouldn’t go out our way to fraternise with anyone…

Your husband, the people who are now your friends - you had an impulse to bring them into your life, you acted on that impulse, and now they're all a part of your immediate social circle. But not everyone will have the same impulse that you did; some will even feel the impulse to act cruelly towards the people that you know and love. Since you've rejected any objective ground for morality, it would be up to you to argue that it isn't in the prospective offender's self-interest to commit whatever cruelty. When you're incapable of dissuading them, however... that's when problems arise.

I don't follow your logic at all or why you're contrasting Christians with "individualist/rationalist" Ayn Rand types.  I never said self-interest is the sole human motivating force and it evidently is not.

You're right, it isn't. But for some, self-interest is a more important factor in their calculus than feelings of empathy or compassion. That's why the only way that someone with your worldview can convince those people to do the "right thing" is by arguing that doing the "right thing" is in their material self-interest. Which isn't always easy.

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And, indeed, religious people are no kinder than non-religious people, so I'm just at a loss here. 

You get this impression because many religious people adhere to a shallow version of their faith, where they're religious only when they feel that being so serves them materially; at the same time, secularists by and large adhere to religious systems of morality, except that they discard the parts that inconvenience them.
3  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Please help me understand non-religious metaethics. on: December 17, 2014, 10:33:23 am
I don't really understand why it's necessarily in a primitive human's interest to dehumanize anyone outside their immediate family and social group. 

It isn't just in a primitive human's interest; it can be in our interest, too.

Let's say that you're a goat herder living in the Negev. A stranger happens to be sojourning in your land, and he asks you for a meal and a place to sleep. You're under no obligation to grant these to him, and since you're unlikely to ever see him again, the discomfort that feeding and boarding him would create outweighs the discomfort that you'll experience while turning him away. Since you don't believe that there's an objectively right way to treat one's fellows, you do turn him away, and you don't feel bad about it, either.

Incidentally, your Bible-believing neighbor happily provides the stranger with what he asks for.

A more modern example would be the homeless man begging for alms. Most of us would move past him with a guilty conscience if we didn't at least give him a token donation, but to the totally rational individualist, recognizing that he derives no material benefit from the exchange renders such feelings of guilt a foreign concept. How would you convince this person that he ought to feel otherwise?
4  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Please help me understand non-religious metaethics. on: December 17, 2014, 09:45:18 am
The basis for ethics is facts and circumstances of being human, as established by the laws of physics and biology.  We have a limited life-span, we experience pain, we have emotions, we share basic characteristics with other humans.  Those are just the circumstances of being human as they happen to be.  They inevitably lead to a set of ethical precepts which all humans seem to agree to.

To be honest, this comes across as a shallow justification for your preconceived moral beliefs; in effect, what you're doing is appealing to human tradition and to "science" as the basis for your morality. But what if I made a conscious decision to break with human tradition and with my biology, and commit an act that, according to you, those things should lead me to believe is objectively immoral? What would you say to convince me that this is the improper course of action?

It's hard to say if you're not specifically saying what action you're taking. 

And, I think you're misinterpreting me.  I don't think science creates an ethical framework.  I think the basic facts surrounding our human existence inform our basic ethical intuitions and give them content.  It's not so much "science" as the material facts of our human community and relationships. 

I'm certainly not going to argue that our experiences don't inform our conception of right and wrong; what I disagree with is the assertion that our experiences will necessarily lead everyone, everywhere to conclude that a common handful of things are immoral. For example: a hunter-gatherer has a self-interest in cultivating a sense of empathy and compassion towards fellow members of his tribe. However, he also has an interest in denying those same virtues to members of an alien tribe. How would you go about convincing this individual to value the lives of his competitors to the same degree that he values the lives of his neighbors and his kin?

How is that different from our view of ethics today?   We still care more about our family and friends and have no absolute rule against conflict with other groups.

What I'm getting at is more than just caring more for members of your own social group than for members of a foreign one. I'm saying that our hypothetical hunter-gatherer has no reason to extend any degree of compassion or humanity to members of a rival tribe - indeed, it's in his interest to dehumanize them, as that makes it easier for him to kill them should he feel that it's in his interest to do so. Are you saying that you find nothing objectionable in this line of thinking?
5  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Please help me understand non-religious metaethics. on: December 17, 2014, 08:21:09 am
The basis for ethics is facts and circumstances of being human, as established by the laws of physics and biology.  We have a limited life-span, we experience pain, we have emotions, we share basic characteristics with other humans.  Those are just the circumstances of being human as they happen to be.  They inevitably lead to a set of ethical precepts which all humans seem to agree to.

To be honest, this comes across as a shallow justification for your preconceived moral beliefs; in effect, what you're doing is appealing to human tradition and to "science" as the basis for your morality. But what if I made a conscious decision to break with human tradition and with my biology, and commit an act that, according to you, those things should lead me to believe is objectively immoral? What would you say to convince me that this is the improper course of action?

It's hard to say if you're not specifically saying what action you're taking. 

And, I think you're misinterpreting me.  I don't think science creates an ethical framework.  I think the basic facts surrounding our human existence inform our basic ethical intuitions and give them content.  It's not so much "science" as the material facts of our human community and relationships. 

I'm certainly not going to argue that our experiences don't inform our conception of right and wrong; what I disagree with is the assertion that our experiences will necessarily lead everyone, everywhere to conclude that a common handful of things are immoral. For example: a hunter-gatherer has a self-interest in cultivating a sense of empathy and compassion towards fellow members of his tribe. However, he also has an interest in denying those same virtues to members of an alien tribe. How would you go about convincing this individual to value the lives of his competitors to the same degree that he values the lives of his neighbors and his kin?
6  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Please help me understand non-religious metaethics. on: December 16, 2014, 09:32:51 pm
The basis for ethics is facts and circumstances of being human, as established by the laws of physics and biology.  We have a limited life-span, we experience pain, we have emotions, we share basic characteristics with other humans.  Those are just the circumstances of being human as they happen to be.  They inevitably lead to a set of ethical precepts which all humans seem to agree to.

To be honest, this comes across as a shallow justification for your preconceived moral beliefs; in effect, what you're doing is appealing to human tradition and to "science" as the basis for your morality. But what if I made a conscious decision to break with human tradition and with my biology, and commit an act that, according to you, those things should lead me to believe is objectively immoral? What would you say to convince me that this is the improper course of action?
7  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: 100 children killed in a school attack in Pakistan on: December 16, 2014, 06:58:50 pm
Attack appears to be over, at least 135 people dead. These jihadists are only technically human.

I never understand why people try to attack horrible people by implying that they "aren't human."

Because it implies that humanity is synonymous with a certain standard of behavior. A standard which, I hope that we can all agree, the perpetrators of this atrocity have consciously decided to fall far short of.
8  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: What is your favorite fish to eat? on: December 08, 2014, 09:42:33 am
If I were to become a full-fledged vegetarian, the only meat that I would be challenged to not make an exception for is fried catfish.
9  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: The Oxford School of Absurdity, Ignorance, and Bad Posts IV on: December 03, 2014, 11:27:41 am
All you're doing is digging desperately for a story in which religious people in America are somehow the victims because that, in turn, makes you feel noble for exposing some trifling little concern. It isn't as if the novels are accusing them of poisoning wells. In a country where people are suffering under the weight of unemployment, cancer, and all the rest of the humanity's plagues, you're sounding the alarm because the details of Amish people's theology and worship style are not accurately presented in romance novels? By all means, cry wolf on that account.

I rarely feel inclined to post in this thread, so I feel obligated to justify my entry: For me, in order to warrant admission into the Oxford School of Absurdity, Ignorance, and Bad Posts, a post must not only be absurd, ignorant, or bad, but absurd, ignorant, or bad in an entirely novel or unanticipated way. It must be so absurd, ignorant, or bad, that I can't even fathom the kind of reasoning that went into the making of it. The post must literally take me aback.

That's the kind of post that this is.

Seriously, I have no idea where this even came from.
10  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of "New Atheism" on: December 02, 2014, 06:23:18 pm
There's certainly nothing wrong with criticizing a practice or belief that happens to be held by members of a particular religion. Where "New Atheists" go wrong is that they often assume that that practice or belief is essential to the religion in question and then attempt no deeper understanding of the issue.
11  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of "New Atheism" on: December 02, 2014, 05:51:24 pm
In my experience, the fatal flaw of the "New Atheists" isn't that they criticize religion, but that they criticize something that they don't fully understand.

To be fair, 'New Atheists' make their money because uppity Christian churches/colleges constantly invite them to debate brain dead Christian fundies because no one else will. Watching William Lane Craig and Dinesh D'Souza get their ass handed to them on a plate each and every time is easy money. If 'New Atheists' don't understand religion, neither do these people.

You certainly won't hear me object to that assertion.
12  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of "New Atheism" on: December 02, 2014, 05:38:46 pm
In my experience, the fatal flaw of the "New Atheists" isn't that they criticize religion, but that they criticize something that they don't fully understand.
13  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Advent on: December 01, 2014, 10:21:33 am
2.) commercialized

A lot of the joy of Christmas comes from the expectation and exchange of gifts. What's wrong with that? Would you rather Christmas reverted to the solemn religious day it was in Medieval times? Personally, I think it's much better as a secular commercial holiday celebrating love, family, and plenty.

I for one wouldn't mind Christmas gift-giving if what it amounted to was, "Hey! I couldn't help but notice that you've been eyeing this gift all year long, so I decided to show my love by buying it for you!", or, "Here you go! I saw this gift and immediately knew that it was something that you'd enjoy". Instead, it's more along the lines of, "Well, it looks like we've once again reached that time of year when people are obligated to shower one another with material goods. Here's $100 worth of items that someone of your demographic might plausibly find enjoyment in".

That just feels so empty to me.
14  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Weird dreams you've had in general on: November 29, 2014, 08:00:48 pm
I rarely dream, but when I do, my dreams are always nonsensical.

In my most recent dream, I happened to encounter a Black Widow while going for a walk in my backyard. Not a normal-sized Black Widow, mind you, but one that was comparable in size to a Tarantula. Well, this spooked me so much that I decided that I had no choice but to move to the suburbs of Nevada in order to escape the thing. Once there, I went for a walk in my new backyard desert only to make a most unpleasant discovery: the Black Widow had followed me the whole way.

:/
15  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Darren Wilson vs. Adolf Hitler on: November 29, 2014, 01:19:05 pm
Disgusting that Cuomo is winning. If he loses to Hitler he should lose to some random cop.

No, no, it's like rock-paper-scissors. Hitler beats Cuomo, Cuomo beats Wilson, Wilson beats Hitler.
16  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Trends / Re: could a red pillite ever get elected to the presidency on: November 28, 2014, 10:36:14 am
17  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Happy Thanksgiving! (2014 Edition) on: November 28, 2014, 10:26:25 am
Imagine a universe where the Native Americans had smallpox and spread it to the European visitors.  95% of Europeans wouldve died over the ensuing century and the Native Americans would be the most populous group of people on earth... And the English would have a sh**tty wind blasted mountain in Scotland to call home.

Lolno. Europeans aren't even close.

[IMG]

I don't think that it's unreasonable to assume that any diseases that Native Americans introduced to Europeans, assuming that those diseases were as devastating as the ones that Europeans introduced to Native Americans, wouldn't have had any trouble spreading along trade routes to infect every group of people in the Old World, sans perhaps the more remote inhabitants of Siberia and the Khoisan of southwest Africa.
18  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints a Protestant Sect? on: November 27, 2014, 02:53:32 pm
"Restorationism" doesn't work, that refers to a distinct grouping of Protestant churches itself.

And "Christian primitivism" refers to the nondenominational attempt to return to the beliefs and practices of the early church. However, no other terms really recommend themselves. Perhaps "Christian Science Fiction"?
19  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints a Protestant Sect? on: November 27, 2014, 11:11:08 am
I agree that Mormonism belongs to a branch of Christianity distinct from Protestantism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy, but I don't consider it popular or historically significant enough to warrant being a branch unto itself. Instead, I'd lump it, along with sects such as Christian Science and Jehovah's Witnesses, under the umbrella branch "Primitivism" or "Restorationism".
20  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Grand jury reaches decision in Ferguson case (Announcement tonight) on: November 25, 2014, 06:42:14 pm
The "leadership" of the African American community needs to step up and actually lead in a positive way.

I don't understood how exactly they're supposed to do this. Besides discouraging violence - which, for all intents and purposes, every single "leader" of the African-American community has emphatically and repeatedly done - what is there to do? Physically put a stop to rioting and looting themselves?
21  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you wish we had opebo's insight on the Ferguson, MO situation? on: November 25, 2014, 11:29:57 am
The post where he attacks the voraciousness of capitalism is certainly in his late unoriginal mold. Granted, his post in reply to Nathan was a good one, but none of the others were particularly insightful. They weren't repetitive either, but then again we do have plenty of posters who manage to be bad or unremarkable without being repetitive per se.
22  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you wish we had opebo's insight on the Ferguson, MO situation? on: November 25, 2014, 11:15:36 am
Towards the end of his tenure, I noticed a definite tendency to rotate between three or four stock posts, ever so slightly modified to meet the particularities of the thread at hand (his posts on the political situation in Thailand notwithstanding). The only thing that kept him readable was his skill at the English language. 
23  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Christianity on: November 23, 2014, 07:36:38 pm
The "metaphysical" is just more make-believe. Can it be edifying? Sure. But it's not astrophysics, and it could never compete with astrophysics.

But metaphysics doesn't compete with astrophysics. "Metaphysics" does mean "after physics", after all.

You have to judge it on some standard, though.

Yes, you're right: it's judged by the standard of how fulfilling it is to the person who believes in it.

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Myth is personal in a way that scientific evidence is not.

Of course. And that's natural, as the two deal with two completely different levels of existence/experience. Just as people shouldn't believe in a scientific theory because it "feels right", people shouldn't embrace a particular mythos because it seems "scientifically sound". 
24  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Christianity on: November 23, 2014, 05:50:49 pm
The "metaphysical" is just more make-believe. Can it be edifying? Sure. But it's not astrophysics, and it could never compete with astrophysics.

But metaphysics doesn't compete with astrophysics. "Metaphysics" does mean "after physics", after all.
25  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Music Megathread on: November 23, 2014, 05:31:04 pm
Periodically, I'll latch on to a relatively obscure band or artist and proceed to promote them aggressively.

Right now, that band or artist is Twa Toots.
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