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James Shapiro’s book is scaring at least one Darwinist

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Evolution: A View from the 21st Century In “Yet another “post-Darwinism,” Evolving Thoughts complains about Shapiro’s Evolution:/a> A view from the 21st century thusly:

Over the years there have been many books that purport to “radically revise” or “supplant” Darwinian evolutionary biology; they come with predictable regularity. Usually they are of three kinds: something is wrong with natural selection, something is wrong with inheritance, or something is wrong with phylogeny. This book, by geneticist James A. Shapiro, exemplifies all three.

Shocka!

I shall presume that the science is correct, and the choice of apparent counterexamples to the ruling paradigm (which seems to be far more fluid than many of these books expect. Lateral transfer, endosymbiosis and jumping genes are many “post-Darwinian” ideas that have been easily inserted into the consensus) is illuminating. What is the illumination thus gained?

Not Darwinism. After many historical ruminations, Evolving cannot recommend the book. In consequence, Shapiro has gone into grief therapy. 😉

Comments
Avocationist: "Ilion, you say that my reasoning is so bad, and yet you misunderstood Lizzie’s meaning, which was obvious." Really? What an interesting thing to say! I mean, considering that I *clearly* said that EL’s meaning in using he phrase was a misuse of the phrase from its widely understood meaning.Ilion
August 14, 2011
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Nullasalus, "You subscribe, as near as I can tell, to a wildly different metaphysical view. You talk about ‘being in alignment with the will of God’. This is a non-option on atheism and materialism. And ‘alignment with the good’ is ‘alignment with whatever I and/or others like and approve of at the moment’. It's not really a non-option. They have a soul and a conscience just like you do, and some people listen to it better, and some religious people commit horrendous acts. I am not arguing that a materialist philosophy isn't morally more dangerous, I'm just pointing out that when it comes to individuals, there isn't always that much difference, and many atheists are good, kind people, which last I checked my New Testament were God's will for us. When I spoke of alignment with the good, I meant the real thing. "Now, you tell me that story of the veteran and his little brother. What if he felt that way – but dealt with it, instead of going into the army, by getting over feelings like that? What if you got over your hate of being a welfare slob and actually managed to enjoy it?" Yes, most people would probably. It's beside the point. My point isn't that some people are better than others and take on more selfless actions. My point is that this young man was able to love his brother enough and had the inner character to be able to consider getting in the line of fire before him. But that was his pleasure. When people choose between two very awful choices, they still choose the one they prefer. Ilion, I am suspecting, disliked my reasoning that the entire cosmos and everything in existence is of a unity with God. But this moral question falls right into it. The more a person is selfish, the less he cares about others. But caring about others, what is it? Compassion? Compassion means to "feel together." So one has expanded one's sense of self to include others. God loves the world, and why not? Everything in it arose from Himself. We are to become like God and have unconditional love toward all. That would be a fully expanded sense of self. As Ilion said, all morality is about love. That is what love is - love toward all. There is nothing strange about sacrificing for others when you "feel together" with them, for their joy is your joy and their suffering is your suffering. It doesn't mean that you always enjoy your choices, but your greater pleasure is sacrifice to relieve suffering in others. All love is self love. It's a matter of expanding the self to include all. Most of us function that way. Ever stop to help a stranded motorist? Jump in a body of water to pull out a stranger? Didn't it make you feel good? The reason people are selfish is that others are not included. Just me. This bit about materialism not having a basis for morality? It's because each person is an island of me-ness, with nothing outside of that and no future for 'me'. By the way, soul expansion is bliss, and soul contracture (locked into the island of me) is discomfort. "I think there’s a reason Christ mentioned that the path of the righteous is straight and narrow. I mean, I know you reject Christianity (at least you seem to), but it’s a faith of martyrs, suffering, and a lot of misery in a lot of ways. The idea that pain and misery is not supposed to be involved is just alien. Much less this idea that ‘doing the right thing’ should always make us happy." I reject commonly held Christian dogma, I reject that the scriptures are the word of God although some are inspired to be sure, and I want people to know God for themselves. It's the only way out of confusion and being deceived. No, as I hope I have made clear, God's followers can be put into situations of misery. It's a matter of love. That which you love you will suffer for. As to the straight and narrow path, it is necessary to balance that quote with My yoke is easy and my burden is light, or, It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. All are true. You are right. I do try to find common ground. My spiritual path is unconditional love. But I do defend God from slander on his character, which is all-lovely, all magnanimous, all-generous, and all-forgiving.avocationist
August 13, 2011
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Ilion, you say that my reasoning is so bad, and yet you misunderstood Lizzie's meaning, which was obvious. As to Jehovah, he is not the true God, he is an imposter. That should be something that people can figure out with their hearts and their reason, and many great people have. Jesus never uses his name. Jesus speaks of an entirely different God with entirely different attributes, as do the New Testament writers generally. Jehovah is indistinguishable from a human tyrant, and the Old Testament is mostly a historical book with very little spiritual discourse in it. Furthermore, I am pretty sure that everyone hates him, without admitting it to themselves perhaps, because the human psychology cannot be altered to accommodate love toward someone who exerts a mind boggling threat toward humanity, which if even you escape, someone you love will not. Nor, as a Christian, should it matter if someone is close to you, for Jesus calls us to learn complete compassion and love toward all. Of course, I don't know why we should bother, since most never learn it and when you go to heaven you must become hardhearted beyond current human ability. I found yet another of those Christian religious tracts today. As usual, the entire effort at conversion amounts to a threat! Believe or else. All the rest is irrelevant. You either believe, or go to hell. Really? Humans are to admire that God? I say that just as it is impossible not to have a divine first cause, it is impossible for a good God to lack all magnanimity, and to come up short in human estimation. How can God's plan for the cosmos include such dismality that I or any decent person can say that we wish it were different? And I have had many firmly believing church-going Christians tell me wistfully that they wish it were different! No, the real God can only come up with a plan for existence which no human could match or outdo. The real God could not fail to amaze at the perfection of his thought and if he wrote a book, which he would not, it could not be outdone by common human authors for beauty, coherence, and consistency of data. The real God could never leave mere human beings saying, Is that it? I wish it could be different..... If people would examine the scriptures with the same light of scrutiny and logic that they examine the works of the Darwinists, why then they might get somewhere. But - that is what we have here, is two competing religious systems, and people like me are less interesting because I am not the real enemy, since I don't belong to either camp.avocationist
August 13, 2011
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... to expand -- My "you are the proof that God is" argument shows via reason alone (no appeal to divine revelation) that God is -- note: it does not even seek to show that Jehovah is God, but only that atheism is false -- and not one atheist who encounters it will admit that he has been wrong in his God-denial.Ilion
August 13, 2011
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"OK, in that sense I do not “believe in” Hitler. I merely believe he existed." You believe that Hitler. "This should be obvious from context." When the context is *anything* you have said? I think not. "Ditto, if I was convinced that God existed, I would not “believe in” that God, in your sense, if he turned out to be the Old Testament Jehovah. Wouldn’t trust him an inch." Jehovah is the Living God, the ony one ... and yes, we all have understood, all along, that you hate him.Ilion
August 13, 2011
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Ilion:
To “believe in” something or someone is to place one’s utmost trust in that thing or that other, and by implication, to place one’s very life and being in the care, or service, if it or him; there is, of course, some element of love involved.
OK, in that sense I do not "believe in" Hitler. I merely believe he existed. This should be obvious from context. Ditto, if I was convinced that God existed, I would not "believe in" that God, in your sense, if he turned out to be the Old Testament Jehovah. Wouldn't trust him an inch.Elizabeth Liddle
August 13, 2011
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EL:If there was good evidence, I’d be appalled, but I guess I’d believe in him. But I still wouldn’t worship him.Nullasalus:Really? That’s even funnier, because you repeatedly go on about how you worshiped this God for on the order of fifty years. So, in line with your comparison of God to Hitler – you were throwing up the Sieg Heils until very recently.” EL seems not to understand the terms/verbs 'to believe in' or 'to worship' -- as witness her statement that she "believes in Hitler". Nazis "believe in Hitler", the rest of us do not; one may, and hopefully does, "believe in" one's spouse, but one ought not "believe in Hitler". To "believe in" something or someone is to place one's utmost trust in that thing or that other, and by implication, to place one's very life and being in the care, or service, if it or him; there is, of course, some element of love involved. To "worship" something or someone is to express either: 1) one's awe of the thing or person, which includes an element of love; 2) one's fear of the thing or person, which includes an element of hatred. We Jews and Christians believe that option 1) is the proper response to God; the Moslems believe that option 2) is the proper response to Allah. Throughout history, most systems of human worship (whether og 'gods' or of other human beings) have been of type 2). There is a reason that the old Anglican marriage ceremony included the spousal promise, "with my body, I thee worship."Ilion
August 13, 2011
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avocationist: "Now I’m intrigued. Anyway, how bad could it be? I agreed with several of your points." Agreement, or disagreement, isn't so important to me as the reasoning behind it.Ilion
August 13, 2011
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avocationist, You’re saying that it just so happens that she prefers real morality, but that there is no real basis for it. Not really. I'm pointing out what follows, and what has to follow, given certain intellectual commitments, ones she happens to have. Not to mention the whole 'we'll all operate just the same' line falls down in the fact of observation, among other places. As for her preferring 'real morality' even without understanding why, that frankly requires vastly more psychoanalyzing than I care about. I've run into more than one atheist playing the 'love is my God' card, and what that added up to was pretty vile. I comment on what I can see. Well, to tell you the truth, I think she’s actually right about that. I don’t think there is such a thing as sacrifice without self benefit. You subscribe, as near as I can tell, to a wildly different metaphysical view. You talk about 'being in alignment with the will of God'. This is a non-option on atheism and materialism. And 'alignment with the good' is 'alignment with whatever I and/or others like and approve of at the moment'. Now, you tell me that story of the veteran and his little brother. What if he felt that way - but dealt with it, instead of going into the army, by getting over feelings like that? What if you got over your hate of being a welfare slob and actually managed to enjoy it? There's multiple ways to benefit. Isn’t spiritual growth toward God supposed to be glorious and joyful? Isn’t loving one another joyful? I mean, it’s not miserable, is it? I think there's a reason Christ mentioned that the path of the righteous is straight and narrow. I mean, I know you reject Christianity (at least you seem to), but it's a faith of martyrs, suffering, and a lot of misery in a lot of ways. The idea that pain and misery is not supposed to be involved is just alien. Much less this idea that 'doing the right thing' should always make us happy. I think you're trying to find common ground that doesn't exist, or exists only minimally, here. At your leisure, but the problems I've pointed out stand.nullasalus
August 12, 2011
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Nullasalus, "What EL is casting as morality ultimately comes down to personal individual preference, feeling, and benefit – and really, she has to do that on materialism and atheism. Of course, she’s free to say ‘Well, I’ve decided that being generous is good and selfish is bad’ – but that doesn’t change what I’ve said. You're saying that it just so happens that she prefers real morality, but that there is no real basis for it. I think that is true, because if we have souls and the conscience is an aspect of the soul, then it matters not whether you are a materialist. You will operate internally just the same, and respond morally (or not) just the same. "In fact, it’s only been highlighted further since a defense of the Golden Rule was given that added up to ‘it maximizes personal benefit in the long-term’.And honestly, isn’t that a damn amusing breakdown of it? That should be right in the New Testament translation. Matthew 7:12: “Maximize personal long-term benefit. This is the Golden Rule.” Well, to tell you the truth, I think she's actually right about that. I don't think there is such a thing as sacrifice without self benefit. Now, I mean that in the best possible way, for example, I ran into an ex soldier the other day and we got to talking, and I asked him why he signed up, and he told me a couple of minor reasons, and then he sort of looked off into the distance and said that he thought there would be a draft and it would be better for him to go than for his little brother to go. I'm against the invasion of Iraq, but I was very touched by this. So here we have a young man who would die in place of his brother. The thing is, though, he still did it because he wanted to and because his love gave him more pain at the thought of losing (or his mother losing?) his brother than of himself being lost. And if you think of it, you cannot find an instance of any action, in which we don't make the choice to do the thing which we most want. I hate my job but I go to work. Why is that? Because I hate having no money even more. Or I hate the shame of being a welfare slob even more. The spiritual change we want is not to be able to do what we don't want, but to want different things. It's a subtle difference. It's not that the selfish person gets more pleasure because they think only of themselves and the good person gets less pleasure because they give of themselves, don't take more than their share or take less than their share - it's that the good or saintly person enjoys giving and it gives them pleasure. I mean, think about it. If becoming a godly person meant *less* pleasure - wouldn't that be odd? So the closer we get to God the more unhappy we would be? Isn't spiritual growth toward God supposed to be glorious and joyful? Isn't loving one another joyful? I mean, it's not miserable, is it? If doing the right thing, if loving and sharing, did not bring us pleasure it would mean we would eternally be engaging in pleasure-reducing sacrifice. There is nothing wrong with admitting that being in alignment with the good = being in alignment with the will of God = being internally at one with oneself = joy. For a person oriented toward goodness. It's a matter of having the right preferences.avocationist
August 12, 2011
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avocationist, The crux of morality, as Elizabeth stated, is a matter of selfishness or not. When one takes pleasure in hurting others or uses force or intimidation or trickery to take advantage for oneself at their expense, this is selfishness. Another way to state it is that one regards only the self as “real” and deserving. It’s opposite is compassion, in which one “sees” the other and feels their discomfort, and takes joy in their happiness, such that one prefers to share rather than watch them undergo deprivation. What EL is casting as morality ultimately comes down to personal individual preference, feeling, and benefit - and really, she has to do that on materialism and atheism. Of course, she's free to say 'Well, I've decided that being generous is good and selfish is bad' - but that doesn't change what I've said. In fact, it's only been highlighted further since a defense of the Golden Rule was given that added up to 'it maximizes personal benefit in the long-term'. And honestly, isn't that a damn amusing breakdown of it? That should be right in the New Testament translation. Matthew 7:12: "Maximize personal long-term benefit. This is the Golden Rule." Alright then, suppose you are a nonmaterialist atheist. What basis for morality could you have? Good question, but not my place to answer it. You'd probably want someone more sympathetic to do that job, given my theism. I merely recognize the existence of non-materialist atheists. (And, I suppose, materialist theists - though outside of the mormons, they're less known nowadays.) EL, It comes back to Euryphro’s dilemma in a way. The funny thing is, you pretty much impale yourself on a horn of the ED anyway. Horn one, in fact - you just replace God or gods with Sam Harris or yourself. Not exactly a step up. If there was good evidence, I’d be appalled, but I guess I’d believe in him. But I still wouldn’t worship him. Really? That's even funnier, because you repeatedly go on about how you worshiped this God for on the order of fifty years. So, in line with your comparison of God to Hitler - you were throwing up the Sieg Heils until very recently. Of course, back then perhaps you thought those acts could be good. But now you know better, and embrace a metaphysical system where what is good comes down to personal choice, feeling, and desire. Hey, wait a minute. ;)nullasalus
August 12, 2011
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Ilion- "Really? How interesting. I haven’t yet decided whether to comment upon your post # 32 — partly because I really shouldn’t be spending even as much time as I have been commenting on UD, and partly because I really don’t enjoy being critical … and any evaluation I made of post # 32 would be highly critical." Now I'm intrigued. Anyway, how bad could it be? I agreed with several of your points.avocationist
August 12, 2011
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---Liz: ----“But it still doesn’t really work for me as an argument, for two reasons.” [The argument that a non-personal force cannot cause a universe to begin to exist] ---“One is that some forces, it seems, are intrinsically stochastic – you can say, with a high degree of confidence, how likely they are to do something, but not whether they will. Which was the surprising result of quantum mechanics, which could, of course, still be wrong (and at least one theoretical physicist seems to say possibly). But I won’t go there any further because I am certainly no physicist! It just seems to me that determinism is not a given, and quantum mechanics says no.” Liz, some of my most bizarre discussions with Darwinists relate to the first principles of right reason, especially the law of causality. When I explain to them that the law of causality is a non-negotiable prerequisite for any rational discussion, and that this principle also applies to science---especially to quantum mechanics---they object on the grounds that “micro” events are “different” from “macro” events, and because of that difference, only the latter category is subject to reason’s rules. The discussions are always entertaining because [a] it becomes apparent that they have never even heard of reason’s rules and [b] it only takes them a sentence or two to make the claim that the beginning of the universe could have been something similar to a quantum event, which completely invalidates their earlier claim the micro events are subject to different rational standards than macro events. Quantum mechanics is vitally important as a way of studying how matter behaves, but it has nothing at all to say about the law of causality: It simply follows that law. Quantum events may be unpredictable, but they are not uncaused. There is no such thing as an uncaused event. Indeed, it was through his understanding and acceptance of the law of causality that Heisenberg was able to develop his uncertainty principle. Evidence does not inform reason’s rules; reason’s rules inform evidence. The principles of quantum mechanics could not have been conceived except through a rational interpretation of evidence, which is possible only if one accepts the law of causality and the law of non-contradiction as the rational starting point. Most people accept as a scientific fact that the universe began to exist. Building on that fact, reason confirms other truths for which no scientific verification is needed. As en example, we can know that a non-programmed, unchanging, non-creating physical law cannot morph into a creative force. It is, by definition, deterministic. It if isn’t deterministic, then it isn’t an un-programmed, unchanging, non-creating force; it is something else—perhaps a programmed process that goes through a maturation process. If it is a programmed process, then someone programmed it. “Forces” or laws cannot program anything; they just do what they do without variation. A thing cannot be what it is and also be something else. Reason’s rules allow us to know many things without scientific verification. Rational people do not need a physicist’s reassurance to be confident that a cement wall cannot just pop up in front of a moving car without a cause. We know that such a thing cannot happen-- just as we know that the streets will not get wet unless it rains or else something else causes it to happen—just as we know that Jupiter cannot both exist and not exist at the same time. ---“But even were I to stipulate determinism as a given, my second objection would still hold,and it is the reason why I consider the dismissal of materialism as “reductionism” as fallacious: things can, and usually do, have properties that are not the properties of their parts. This is because the way a whole behaves depends on the interactions of its parts, in other words, on contingencies between them. And so we can build entirely mechanical computers that will take complex input and produce precise verifiable predictions (weather forecasting computers, for instance) and will even feed back the results of those predictions as input into the system so that the system becomes better and better at predicting. In a perfectly real sense, I would argue, then, that mechanical computers, though assembled from non-creative parts, are themselves creators – deciders, in fact, their decisions informed not only by multiple sources of information, but also from past experience.” Real creativity lies in the original design. By following that design, the computer is not really being creative as an originator; it is simply following instructions and adapting as programmed. A truly creative computer would rise up and challenge its own program. ---“That is why I think that describing materialism as “reductionism” is very misleading, and leads to the fallacious inference that because an entity (a mind, for instance) can be accounted for in terms of simple mechanics, therefore it has no properties that transcend those of simple mechanics. In other words, to assume that because a whole consists of a system of parts that the system can be “reduced” to the parts. It can’t be – if you “reduce” it to a part inventory you leave out the bit – the system itself – on which the properties possessed by the whole depend! Unless you want to call systems “immaterial”, which in a sense they are, in which case materialists shouldn’t call themselves materialists unless they deny the existence of systems, which not a single one, to my knowledge, does.” None of this applies to what we are discussing, because your examples do not apply to an unchanging “first cause” of the universe. Indeed, you appear to be using the computer references as an example of how a mechanical device can fundamentally change itself. Even if that were possible, which it isn’t, it has nothing in common with the first cause of the universe, which is unchanging. On your related point, a mind grounded in matter is not really a mind at all and those who liken the mind to an epiphenomenon of the brain are perverting the language. In effect, they are trying to have it both ways, claiming spiritual like qualities of the soul while clinging to matter. As philosopher Peter Kreeft puts it, “Material beings are moved from without, like billiard balls; but spiritual beings are moved from within. The first cause of a specifically human act is always internal, not external. By a ‘specifically human act’ I mean one like asking a question, creating a work of art, making a moral choice, affirming another person, or appreciating the beauty of nature—or praying. Mind moves itself from within, actively; matter is moved from without, passively.” Indeed, the brain is an organ, albeit the most noble of organs; but the mind, like the will, is an immaterial faculty of the soul. The brain puts us in contact with the sensual world; the mind puts us in contact with the conceptual world. The brain is a part of the body, and, by extension, the material world; the mind is part of nothing. Immaterial entities such as minds do not have parts nor can they be parts of something else. That is why they live forever. There are no parts to disintegrate. This is the point that materialists and epiphenominalists always miss. --“I’m not sure what we can say, with certainty, what the properties of an “eternal” force is. How would one begin to find out? I certainly don’t think one could deduce the answer “as night follows the day”. After all, your very terms “always” and “never” are temporal terms. What would it mean for an “eternal” force to be “always” doing something or “never” doing it?” I thought that we agreed that the so-called “force” that created the universe, be it personal or impersonal, was a first cause. A first cause must, by logical necessity, be uncaused, eternal, and unchanging. It is for these reasons that it must also be personal, as I have been pointing out. If, at this late date, you want to challenge the fact that first cause must be unchanging, please let me know before any more time passes so I can explain why that must be the case. ---“What would it mean for an “eternal” force to be “always” doing something or “never” doing it?” It would mean that [a] an unchanging, eternal force that can create must, by definition, have always been creating universes and that there was never a time when it was not creating universes, or it would mean that [b] an unchanging, eternal force that does not create universes at all, and, by virtue of its unchanging nature, will never create a universe. Your claim, as I understand it, is that an unchanging, non-personal force, which once did not create universes, could conceivably change its non-creating nature and create a universe. This is not logically possible. The Creator of a universe that begins to exist must, by necessity, be a person. Consider reflecting on the fact that, for some reason, perhaps unconsciously, you may not want God to exist. Ask yourself if their could possibly be a lifestyle change, hurtful experience, luring temptation, consuming habit, dubious opportunity, or personal set back that could have prompted you to move in that direction. Atheism is an act of the will, not the intellect. ---“It doesn’t seem to be doing anything It certainly doesn’t seem to be telling me what Good is. Something is “good” if it operates the way it was designed and intended to operate. Thus, a good can opener is one that opens cans well. A good pencil is one that writes well. A pencil cannot be a good can opener because it was not designed to do that. If it tries, not only will it fail in its mission, but it will destroy itself in the process. (Of course a good thing can be used for a bad moral purpose, such as a knife [used for torture] or gas [used for genocide as in a gas chamber]) What is a good person? A good person is one who behaves the way he was designed and intended to behave, meaning that he habitually chooses to love God and neighbor, not necessarily as he pleases, but in the context of the objective moral law. What is a good act? A good act is one which moves us in the direction of the purpose or destiny for which we were designed. If we are not designed or created for a purpose, then there could be no such thing as a moral act or an immoral act. There are no spiritual planes. We are all either getting closer to our destiny or else we are moving away from it. No one remains at the same moral level.StephenB
August 12, 2011
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Nullasalus: "As for being able to base ‘morality’ on something given atheism and materialism (the conjunction is key), sure you can. I’m pointing out what’s available to manage that, and what ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is in the end. I suppose you can argue that if morality is based on one’s personal likes and dislikes, that it’s still ‘based on something’. But hey, at that point I’m simply pointing out what it’s based on." The crux of morality, as Elizabeth stated, is a matter of selfishness or not. When one takes pleasure in hurting others or uses force or intimidation or trickery to take advantage for oneself at their expense, this is selfishness. Another way to state it is that one regards only the self as "real" and deserving. It's opposite is compassion, in which one "sees" the other and feels their discomfort, and takes joy in their happiness, such that one prefers to share rather than watch them undergo deprivation. So morality is a matter of how expanded or contracted one's sensitivity to "self" is. In a Darwinist system, development and biological life are the only game in town. So life and all that keeps death at bay would be the good. It is possible to extrapolate that pure selfishness causes pain and and general malaise, and that sharing brings happiness to all. But that's as far as I can go because I can't see this being expanded beyond one's tribe. Because in a Darwinist system it makes sense to wipe them out.avocationist
August 12, 2011
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Nullasalus, "But, hey. My experience." Yes, and I'm not doubting it, but my experience is that they are up front about it quite frequently. As to not wanting any kind of God, that puzzles me but I suspect that many people simply do not pursue the question much past their conception of God, which is negative and Judeo Christian. In other words, it does not occur to their problem is with man and not God. Who was that famous atheist who became a deist upon hearing ID arguments? He admitted he was turned off to God by Thomas Aquinas' statement that we would see and enjoy the sufferings of those in hell. And he keeps the Christian God at arms length! Alright then, suppose you are a nonmaterialist atheist. What basis for morality could you have? Because if this means a reincarnating consciousness, then I think we might have something. junkdna-- "The greatest evidence that an atheist hates God, " Hatred of God, if possible at all, would be rare but people could far more commonly hate a false caricature of God. I do not think Dawkins actually hates God. He hates the negative aspect of religion. Nor did the professor mentioned above hate God. He hated what a revered doctor of the church said about God. He hated cruelty and uncompassion.avocationist
August 12, 2011
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EL: "Of course :)" Nevertheless, you're mistaken about having found a flaw. I guarantee it.Ilion
August 12, 2011
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Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". Was this a good saying? Jesus said, "before Abraham was, I am." Was this a good saying?suckerspawn
August 12, 2011
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nullasalus: I think you need to distinguish between "belief in" and "worship". It comes back to Euryphro's dilemma in a way. I certainly don't want the God of the Old Testament to exist, but that's not in itself a motivation for not believing in him (seems to be a him). I don't believe in him because there is no good evidence. If there was good evidence, I'd be appalled, but I guess I'd believe in him. But I still wouldn't worship him. Even if you told me that he had the power to dictate what is good and what is evil, and make me burn in hell forever if I disagreed. So I'm with avocationist on this. That's why I still think that junkdnaforlife has the only persuasive argument - that the miraculous events of Jesus's life tell us that he had a hotline of some sort to the creator of the universe, and can be therefore be relied on to tell us what God thinks. And, on the whole, that seems pretty good, If True. But had he told us very different stuff (like some of the stuff Jehovah allegedly told Moses) then it wouldn't matter how good the evidence was for his authenticity, I still wouldn't worship him. In other words, the reason I like Jesus is because he says good things; I don't think Jesus says good things because he is God, and if he said bad things, and still seemed to be God, then I wouldn't be a Christian, merely a "believer". Just as I believe in Hitler but don't worship him.Elizabeth Liddle
August 12, 2011
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Of course :)Elizabeth Liddle
August 12, 2011
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"Fair enough. But I’ll do it on my blog." Would you be so kind as to post a link to it as a comment to the original item om my blog? After all, if you really have found a flaw in it and you never tell me about it, I'll never know what it is.Ilion
August 12, 2011
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Ilion:
Well, good. Now, if I may tongue-in-cheek echo something you say quite a bit: “Identify, or retract.”
Fair enough. But I'll do it on my blog.Elizabeth Liddle
August 12, 2011
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StephenB
No, I wasn’t saying that at all. A non-personal force or law, which by definition is deterministic and mechanistic, can do only what it does and nothing else; it cannot change its nature by first being a non-creator and then choosing to become a creator. An eternal, unchanging law either always creates universes or it never creates universes.
OK,thanks. But it still doesn't really work for me as an argument, for two reasons. One is that some forces, it seems, are intrinsically stochastic - you can say, with a high degree of confidence, how likely they are to do something, but not whether they will. Which was the surprising result of quantum mechanics, which could, of course, still be wrong (and at least one theoretical physicist seems to say possibly). But I won't go there any further because I am certainly no physicist! It just seems to me that determinism is not a given, and quantum mechanics says no. But even were I to stipulate determinism as a given, my second objection would still hold,and it is the reason why I consider the dismissal of materialism as "reductionism" as fallacious: things can, and usually do, have properties that are not the properties of their parts. This is because the way a whole behaves depends on the interactions of its parts, in other words, on contingencies between them. And so we can build entirely mechanical computers that will take complex input and produce precise verifiable predictions (weather forecasting computers, for instance) and will even feed back the results of those predictions as input into the system so that the system becomes better and better at predicting. In a perfectly real sense, I would argue, then, that mechanical computers, though assembled from non-creative parts, are themselves creators - deciders, in fact, their decisions informed not only by multiple sources of information, but also from past experience. That is why I think that describing materialism as "reductionism" is very misleading, and leads to the fallacious inference that because an entity (a mind, for instance) can be accounted for in terms of simple mechanics, therefore it has no properties that transcend those of simple mechanics. In other words, to assume that because a whole consists of a system of parts that the system can be "reduced" to the parts. It can't be - if you "reduce" it to a part inventory you leave out the bit - the system itself - on which the properties possessed by the whole depend! Unless you want to call systems "immaterial", which in a sense they are, in which case materialists shouldn't call themselves materialists unless they deny the existence of systems, which not a single one, to my knowledge, does.
If the non-personal force is, and always was, creating universes, then the universes (or universe) it creates must also be eternal and cannot, therefore, begin to exist. If it is never creating, well, then, obviously it can’t create the universe. This follows as surely as the night follows the day. From these considerations it is clear that only a personal agent who can choose to create or not create can create a universe that begins in time.
I'm not sure what we can say, with certainty, what the properties of an "eternal" force is. How would one begin to find out? I certainly don't think one could deduce the answer "as night follows the day". After all, your very terms "always" and "never" are temporal terms. What would it mean for an "eternal" force to be "always" doing something or "never" doing it? And why not (this is a serious question) just remove the superfluous [] term? http://www.raige.net/pictures/images/sig_occam.gif It doesn't seem to be doing anything :) It certainly doesn't seem to be telling me what Good is. So far, in this thread, the only person that seems to have made that connection is junkdnaforlife :)Elizabeth Liddle
August 12, 2011
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avocationist @ 88: "I checked your link but I did not see anything related to my questions @32 about your logic sequence." Really? How interesting. I haven't yet decided whether to comment upon your post # 32 -- partly because I really shouldn't be spending even as much time as I have been commenting on UD, and partly because I really don't enjoy being critical ... and any evaluation I made of post # 32 would be highly critical.Ilion
August 12, 2011
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EL: "That actually made me laugh :)" Well, good. Now, if I may tongue-in-cheek echo something you say quite a bit: "Identify, or retract."Ilion
August 12, 2011
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Ilion:
EL @ 57: “Ilion, that is an interesting argument. I think it has a major flaw but it is interesting.” Oh, don’t be silly! I wouldn’t going around linking to an argument which says that each human being is the proof that God is if there were a flaw in it.
That actually made me laugh :)Elizabeth Liddle
August 12, 2011
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"but copping to admitting that that’s a motivation for their atheism is flatly denied" The greatest evidence that an atheist hates God, and further that this is the driving force behind their atheism is the bitter epic combat they spend the rest of their lives engaged in with the theism they abandoned that militarizes at the very moment of abandonment. It appears "free" is not so free after all.junkdnaforlife
August 11, 2011
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avocationist, No, on the contrary, they admit publicly all the time. What I don’t see is a Christian saying gee, why would an amiable and kind man like Charles Darwinn say no decent person would want Christianity to be true? I think they publicly admit they hate the idea of the Christian God, but copping to admitting that that's a motivation for their atheism is flatly denied. I've also seen numerous atheists insist that they don't 'hate God' because 'you can't hate something you don't think exists', and going on to suggest that their thoughts about the Christian God in that sense could therefore not play a role in their atheism. But, hey. My experience. I’d like to see Thomas Nagel’s quote. "I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”(”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)"" Perhaps I had better ask you what you mean by a nonmaterialist atheist. Many/most buddhists would arguably qualify at least in an agnostic sense, potentially more. Or an atheist platonist.nullasalus
August 11, 2011
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Nullasalus, Supposedly, a monk asked Buddha, "what about God"? and he was told, get enlightened before worrying about it. "I don’t think it’s glee. It’s simply evidence of a motive that is alternately glossed over or flat-out denied." This is just what I'm complaining abut. If you are locked into a circular belief system, you have no choice but to ascribe evil motives to those who reject the Christian God. "What doesn’t take place nearly as much is the concession that many atheists are motivated by a dislike of God, or of particular religions. " No, on the contrary, they admit publicly all the time. What I don't see is a Christian saying gee, why would an amiable and kind man like Charles Darwinn say no decent person would want Christianity to be true? How can it be that millions of people reject my God on grounds of morality if my God is True, All Good, and is Love? I'd like to see Thomas Nagel's quote. Perhaps I had better ask you what you mean by a nonmaterialist atheist.avocationist
August 11, 2011
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Ilion, I checked your link but I did not see anything related to my questions @32 about your logic sequence. Now, you say love is that standard for morality. Very good. But this is precisely the problem I have with Christian dogma, that it falls so woefully short of that standard. Jesus, it seems to me, attempted an overhaul of the bronze age god and its morality by introducing the true God and a system of moral perfection by which we could come close to God. Instead, the die hards took all available scriptures and put them together and voted to call them divinely inspired, leaving people in a state of utter confusion, because the personage who goes by the name of Jehovah is immoral by any standard of human morality and justice. Never mind love. And even though we know that the gift of our intellect and reason is the greatest gift we have as human beings, and our conscience is supposed to be very fine, it is repelled by the actions and words of this being Jehovah and is frightened into compliance when it so rebels, rendering the human moral faculty inert, spinning like a boat with one, torn sail. We have for example the exposition on the nature of love in Corinthians, and we have a fearsome God who lives up to none of it. And we are told that if God does it, it is OK, even though we are the weak ones who need guidance, and the behavior of God is exactly like a tyrant if he were human. So it is a lack of real guidance and mental and emotional abuse of mankind. It keeps people in a state of moral immaturity, because they have no clear stream of teaching and are afraid to rely on their own soul's guidance.avocationist
August 11, 2011
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Elizabeth, "I am a “strong atheist” in the sense that I think there is good evidence that mind requires matter to exist, and that therefore the idea that the “causeless cause” of all existence is a mind is an oxymoron. I therefore think there is actual counter-evidence for the idea of a mind as the cause of existence." This touches closely upon something that I think about a lot and might lead toward a solution for you. And that is "What is existence?" When we speak of spiritual things and mind, we say it is nonmaterial. And yet, what can that mean? To me, there is only existence versus nothingness. And something, like God, which can influence matter, and even a human mind with an emotional thought, greatly influences the body, must therefore have something material about it or it could not "touch" material things. So I think that everything in existence, including mind, souls, and God, have some sort of actual existence, however fine and small. Most likely some form of energy. So it is possible that - not matter as we know it but matter in potentia - has always existed with God.avocationist
August 11, 2011
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