Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why do I ask so many Why's?

Thread - Is there a moral position without God?:

"The three year olds I know would never accept the cop out of Goddidit. They want to know why in terms they can understand and wrap their rapidly growing minds around. I would feel that Goddidit would be a real damper on that vibrant inquisitiveness that is the birthright of all humans."

Since they weren't stunted by Goddidit most of the kids I dealt with were 2 or so when they got into the Why?'s, and many of them never got over it. One I know got the nickname of Rikki for Rikki Tikky Tavi because she always had to "Run and find out." I suspect that after 30 odd years she is still running and finding out. No one ever told her she had to ask God's permission to do so.

The title of the post is reputed to be an actual question of J'Carlin at 2. (The "J" was more important then which is why it is part of J'Carlin). I hope it is true. I want to know everything and I want to know why about everything. I'll never get there but I will try.

Moral Standards

Is there a moral position without God?:

"Morals are not beliefs they are behavior patterns bred into us over millions of years of being dependent on our social group for survival. Doing what we must for the good of the social group is the beginning and the end of moral behavior. If the social group is religious, doing what the mediator says God wants is part of the package. Many of us have a more cosmopolitan social group see Appiah, Cosmopolitanism - Ethics in a World of Strangers and the insular and usually xenophobic morality of religious groups just does not work for us."

Atheism for Theists

Thread - Can there be a moral position without God?:

"Many have a hard time with atheism as they try to map it into a belief system. It is not a belief system, it is simply a way of managing life without a deity to blame things on. Life itself is far from random, natural selection insures that only advantageous changes are conserved. Life is a series of events, most predictable but some indeed random that must be dealt with in a reasonable and for most atheists a rational manner. An atheist will waste no time trying to second guess a deity or try to get the deity to intercede, hesh will deal with events as they are for good or for bad and try to emerge with life and integrity intact."

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Makes Us Human?: Scientific American

What Makes Us Human?: Scientific American: "It turns out that until humans came along, HAR1 evolved extremely slowly. In chickens and chimps—whose lineages diverged some 300 million years ago—only two of the 118 bases differ, compared with 18 differences between humans and chimps, whose lineages diverged far more recently. The fact that HAR1 was essentially frozen in time through hundreds of millions of years indicates that it does something very important; that it then underwent abrupt revision in humans suggests that this function was significantly modified in our lineage."

And HAR1 is only one, and it doesn't even code a protein. It simply! regulates the protein coding genes around it. Great article well worth reading for anyone interested in genetics.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spirit continuation after death.

Belief Corner: Religious and Political Debate - agnostic atheist and agnostic theist?: "UPGs are not particularly reliable in dealing with the unknowable. If there is any continuation of the spirit after death, highly unlikely in my UPG, but possible, we will all go to the same place when we die. It will be a natural continuation of the way we lived unmediated by supernatural influences. In other words it will be a completely natural continuation of the spirit we nurtured while alive. Which tells me that whether a UPG includes an afterlife or not, one better be sure that the spirit they are nurturing in this life is one which they would like to live with forever. My guess is that it is WYSIWYG once it posts after death."

Those who think Pascal's wager will make any difference after death seem to me to be taking the short end of the odds if they are neglecting their personal spiritual enrichment in this life. I wonder what it would be like to spend eternity in Westboro Baptist Church? Sure sounds like Hell to me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Moral Standard

moral position without God?: "Lavengro wrote:

Could someone tell me what this [moral] standard is, whence it derives?

I don't know about others but my standard is that the welfare, defined as satisfaction with the life they are living, of those in the society which I choose as my own, is a higher priority than even my own welfare. This is a genetic imperative derived from countless generations of primate ancestors for whom group welfare was a necessary condition for survival. The society definition is historically a village, even cities have historically been collections of village sized neighborhoods, although in cities some villages may overlap.

This genetic imperative has usually been co-opted by mediators for Gods, and occasionally by national leaders, by imposing a society on individuals either by indoctrination or more rarely by coercion. Churches have transferred the society from the village to the parish but the concept remains the same."

The difference for me is that I do not accept another's definition of what my society is. I may consider those outside my society as being important and worthy of consideration, but they are not covered by the obligation I accept for my society, and become a different consideration where my welfare and that of my society takes precedence.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Arguing with a belief.

beliefnet :

"To argue with a belief is to tilt at a windmill. The sails keep going round and round, with any damage to the sails ignored rather than repaired. One gets the impression that if the sails are shredded completely, the believer will turn the crank hermself to keep the sails moving."

One gets to the point that there is nothing left to tilt at. The sails are completely gone. At that point one can only say, as belief is usually God related, "God Bless You, it is all you have left."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Is Evolution a Science?

Thread - Is Evolution a Science?:

"Evolution is alive and well for humans, it just doesn't involve physical survival to breed anymore. It is a given in a modern technological society that mortality prior to adulthood is minimal, and evolution is focused on how adults are able to cope with living in that modern technological society. Numbers are no longer a measure of fitness, indeed out breeding resources without the technology to manage those resources is evidence of lack of fitness for survival in a modern society and the results speak for themselves. The wars and genocides in Africa and the Middle East and the slaughter of millions of citizens by modern despots while deplorable, can be thought of as evolution in action. Evolution has never been kind to the less fit by whatever standard species fitness is determined.

Evolution is occurring in Bangalore, Shanghai, parts of the US and a few other areas of the planet. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out over the next few generations. I suspect that those parts of the US where creationism is taught in science class, will find themselves among the unfit. The country is rich enough and benevolent enough to provide all with a couch and a TV to keep them off the streets, but it will be interesting to see if their religion provides them with meaning and purpose to get off the couch even to breed."

Evolution like economics is a dismal science.