Saturday, October 29, 2011

Defining Right and Wrong vs Morality


we're confusing DEFINING right/wrong... from KNOWING right/wrong.
Aka me, all
Not we, you and religions. Most of us social animals have no problem knowing right from wrong which is the natural imprinting of proper social behavior by the herd, pack, or tribe necessary for the survival of the herd, pack, or tribe (or equivalent social structure whatever the arrogant human animals call it.)
Most religions have elaborate definitions of right/wrong for the benefit of the shamans to control the tribe, occasionally for the benefit of the God of the tribe, less frequently for the benefit of the tribe itself and always for the benefit of the shamans. Thanks RAH.
animals are incapable of knowing WRONG. they don't have an internal moral compass. what they have is instinct through genetic programming
You are a bit confused here, animals don’t define wrong, they generally do not have shamans to tell them what it is. They do have a moral compass, partly genetic, mostly imprinted by parents and alphas where the genetic social structure is alpha driven. All social animals have the equivalent of the canine “play bow” to indicate learning behavior, including play fighting and hunting to learn proper behaviors.
The difficulty here is accepting humans as being more than animals, because then we have to start talking about "what" makes them more than animals, and conversation is then heading in the direction of discussing souls.
Again the difficulty is religious as religions have to impose a soul or equivalent on the human animal to define right and wrong for the benefit of the shamans. Without a soul the human animal generally gets along well with at least the extended tribe, including the women and children.
it's not hard to see the cause of the current frustration.
Yeah, we don’t believe in the shamans or God.

Dot's Spirituality


All humans feel awe and wonder resulting from certain things--a beautiful sunrise or sunset, rainbow after a bad thunderstorm, the first day of chilly weather portending the coming of winter, an unexpected act of kindness, a child's delight in simple things.

That we do is simply human, no gods involved, IMO. Current research has identified areas of the brain which react in this way. We're all wired to marvel at things.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Atheist Morality


Morality for atheists comes from the same place that morality for theists comes from: The society of the peers we respect and interact with. The difference is that there is no God arbiter in an atheist society. Therefore the morality of an atheist is generally compliant with the current social imperatives of living in an interdependent, information rich, international, cosmopolitan society. Atheist morality has little to do with the needs of a group of bronze age desert marauders.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Emotional Wounds.

Time and brain chemistry heal all wounds even emotional ones.
I know I’m not physically hurt. Though it feels like I’ve been kicked in the stomach with steel-toed boots, my abdomen isn’t bruised. Spiking cortisol levels are causing my muscles to tense and diverting blood away from my gut, leading to this twisting, gnawing agony that I cannot stop thinking about. I can’t stop crying. I can’t move. I just stare at the ceiling, wondering when, if ever, this pain is going to go away.
Pain is a strong motivator; it is the primary way for our bodies tell us that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. Our intense aversion to pain causes us to instantly change behavior to ensure we don’t hurt anymore. Since the need to maintain social bonds is crucial to mammalian survival, experiencing pain when they are threatened is an adaptive way to prevent the potential danger of being alone.
Where music comes from, or even why we like and create music, is still a mystery. What we do know is that it has a powerful affect on our brains. Music evokes strong emotions and changes how we perceive the world around us. Simply listening to music causes the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to the brain’s reward system and feelings of happiness. But even more impressive is its affect on pain. Multiple studies have shown that listening to music alters our perception of painful stimuli and strengthens feelings of control. People are able to tolerate pain for longer periods of time when listening to music, and will even rate the severity of the sensation as lower, suggesting that something so simple as a melody has a direct affect on our neural pathways.

Yet people wonder about teen suicides caused by rejection whether religious or social.

The whole blog post is incredible. A must read.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Faith as Morton's Demon

What think ye? Can you consider that you (A or T) can't really be objective, that your neural structure will not let you be objective? And, is there a means to "deconstruct" our (unconscious) bias, and see the world as it is in actuality?

Interesting observation. However the major difference between the theist and the atheist is the concept of faith or acceptance of that which cannot be observed in any ordinary manner. While our worldviews are built from the input of our social support group, the theistic support group includes the faith concept which acts as a Morton’s demon to filter out that which conflicts with the faith teachings. Confirmation bias of course exists in all world views, but it is institutionalized in the theistic worldview with the concept of faith or belief. Faith is intrinsic in the teachings about God and any ancillary supporting entities, which cannot be questioned in any normal way, but must be accepted as taught as true. Therefore the confirmation bias cannot even be examined in a realistic way as long as the God is accepted as taught.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Atheism vs Skepticism

There is some confusion in the minds of many including religious skeptics as to the relationship of skepticism to atheism. I think it is fair to say that all skeptics are atheists. It is not true however, that all atheists are skeptics. There are atheists that are not skeptics in that they are agnostic about many of the gaps normally filled by God. Reiki, ESP, paranormal phenomenena in general other unexplained activities of the mind/brain are simply unexplained phenenomena which are not attributed to God, hence atheistic, but simply unknowns. A religious skeptic believes that since God cannot be responsible it must be false.

The religion of skepticism can be just as irrational as any other religion, and skeptical beliefs like beliefs in any religion are frequently strongly held and vigorously defended. It is amusing to some of the atheists here who do not believe in Randi to see the God like status in him assumed by skeptics. Randi says it. I believe it. That settles it.

I am one of the atheists here that has found convincing evidence that the mind or brain if you prefer has much more control over the working of the body and the social environment than can be presently explained by science. I do not use skepticism of the gaps to deny or argue against alternative medicine or any other unexplained observations about workings of the human mind.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Atheism and Being Human


Actually even in cases [failed theists] such as you describe, they are "observing the world" and finding that atheism does not fulfill what they know of the reality of being human.
El Cid
Nolo contendere. Atheism has never pretended to be a fulfilling philosophy for the reality of being human. All atheism is a rejection of God as being fulfilling for the reality of being human. This may be done for many reasons. One of the more common is the “hiding” from God. While this meets the definition for atheism it is a weak sort of atheism ready and willing to grab the God life saver when they can’t cope with reality.

Until one has replaced the big two of morality and death as mediated by God and come up with a coherent worldview that is both moral and realistic about death that does not involve God atheism is simply a meaningless label to fool the self and hopefully others.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is Life Enough?

When is one's current (often rather inadequate and inaccurate) understanding of reality enough? Shouldn't one desire more?

One's current (often rather inadequate and inaccurate) understanding of reality is never enough. But by sharing one's current (often rather inadequate and inaccurate) understanding of reality with others with perhaps more wisdom or drive to make it more accurate and adequate is how human progress happens.

I have no intention of ceasing to share my current (often rather inadequate and inaccurate) understanding of reality with others, indeed that is why I get out of bed each morning, even though I know I will be unable to do so relatively soon.

I have already seen how others with more wisdom and drive have taken what I have shared to places I cannot get to. I see others in the process of doing so, and am quite confident that they will achieve goals that are beyond my capabilities. Have I personally changed my world for the better? I think so, but others are doing as much or more.

I have no time to appease some God so that I might increase my current (often rather inadequate and inaccurate) understanding of reality after I die. I do the best I can with what I have. If I haven't learned enough and shared enough by now one thing is certain: all the learning I achieve after death is useless. I never will share it with anyone who can affect humankind.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Atheists on the will to live.

All my life I have been positive but lately I have been thinking why? I do not see the reason to live. I mean it all ends in death anyway.
Isn't that a bit like saying; what's the use in baking a cake because it just gets eaten?

When it is gone it is gone.
There's no particular reason to live, but most of us have got into the habit of it. As long as we're doing it, we might as well make the best of it.
Life is an end in itself. It is pointless to look for the reason to live beyond living itself.
What is the best of it?
Being reasonably comfortable and having something interesting to do.

But don't you want to just lay that down sometimes. As you said before no one will remember the person anyway.
Why would I want to be uncomfortable and uninterested? And why would I care whether anyone remembers me or not? My contentment doesn't depend on other people's opinions.
Perhaps not, but if you change someone's life they will remember the change. Is that not enough?
Some of the Buddhists that I have met over the years have said that one of the things that humans find difficult is valuing things that are impermanent; they tend to find value in things that they consider permanent, unchanging, and eternal. But just because something does not last forever does not mean that is is not of value, or that we cannot find a reason in it. Likewise, the idea of "being forever known" (as Charlotte Bronte phrased it). We may remember someone like Steve Jobs now, and he may have invented a number of things that many people find beneficial, and we consider him a "genius," but the things that he did does not mean that his name, let alone his life, will be remembered years from now. And does it really matter that people who did not personally know someone like Steve Jobs remembers him? I don't know. I'd personally prefer to be remembered by a few family and friends for a brief while after I have died rather than have people far in the distant future recall me.

Some authors, like Charlotte Bronte and Anne Frank, really did want to be forever known, while others, such as Emily Bronte, merely wanted to be left alone and to remain anonymous.

Sometimes individuals like Steve Jobs can make our lives look pretty puny and worthless. That, I think, is one of the problems with heroes and other individuals. We may celebrate them for their acomplishments, but they can make us devalue our own lives. But just because someone like Jobs is so famous now does not mean that his life was any better than anyone else's, or that what he accomplished is somehow better than, for instance, all of the men and women throughout history whose names are not famous. Many people accomplish great things -- things that are not celebrated in heroic songs, or that are not included in world history chronicles.

I don’t know. Lying in bed at night knowing this –dying- which we will all do I do not know. How do you know my friend?

there are many reasons to enjoy life to the fullest:
passion for a hobby, mine is flying.
passion for those we love, mine is my wife and son.
pleasure of experiencing new things, like getting a pilot's license, or flying an ultalight at 5300 feet to discover a commercial airplane coming straight at you wondering if you have enough metal to show up on their radar.
satisfaction of making the world a better place.
enjoyment of helping someone in need.
even simple things like an excellent dinner with someone special.
I've long felt like life is passing me by, without having done anything extraordinary. since Steve Jobs passed away I've been asking myself "why does that does it bother me so much?"

I know a I have been asking myself, because of Jobs, the same thing.
Don't know if anyone remembers a movie with Robert Duval and James Earl Jones, "A Family Thing".
My favorite scene is Duval explaining to his newly met nephew that happiness is as simple as having something to look forward to.
I've long felt like life is passing me by, without having done anything extraordinary.
Where would we be if it weren't for the billions of people who never do anything extraordinary? They keep things going.

I guess that what bothers me the most is I do not care to dream anymore.
I can not seem to capture my happiness. I read poetry and it does not help. I take my long walks on the river. I spend time with friends. Who knew?
Then find an old dream and make it happen.

Have you ever had a time in your life when you could not dream of better things. I ask you because you seem honest.
I don't dream of better things. I fully accept that my life is as good as it will ever be. But I don't care. It's good enough
Many times. Which is why old dreams had to do. And each time the old dream led to new ones. As a result I keep a stock of old dreams around for emergencies.
Is love an opinion?
I'd personally prefer to be remembered by a few family and friends for a brief while after I have died rather than have people far in the distant future recall me.

Yes that would be nice but as you know my family are all gone.
But you have friends -- and me.

Yes thank you. You hold away the thought of death for me.
I want to be clear the WHY is about the fear of death. Do you not have it?
I know ma but has there not been times in your life when you needed a reason?
I can't say that I've had much existential angst in my life. I've always found values that make life worth living. They don't have to be grand values either. Sometimes it's just anticipating movies based on some novel I've enjoyed in the past, such as the Lord of the Rings movies.
But I always locate my reasons in this life, and never outside.
Also, I don't try to force meaning onto life. There is an unusual aspect to happiness, and that is that it can't be achieved directly. It can only be approached indirectly. It's almost something that has to sneak up on you from behind, as you do things that suit you.
So, I do what I enjoy and find interesting and challenging. Meaning catches up
Yes I also in the past have seen it that way.
I know but can atheist ideology fix things?
Sartre seemed to have thought so, but some critics think that his three-part system (anguish, forlornness, and despair) is only really relevant for former Catholics during the mid-20th century, and is of little use for anyone else during any other time period. (And the fact that Sartre was supportive of suicide makes his atheist Existentialism unacceptable for some people who otherwise support his Existential ideas.) Other than Sartre's, I am not familiar with any other atheist ideology, unless you are referring to an individual atheist's ideology, one that he or she personally invents for his or her own life
That all depends on what we want it to fix, I suppose. Atheism doesn't seem to particularly fix our human struggles for meaning, purpose, and value, nor does it seem to particularly fix our human knowledge of our own mortality. Theism, though, doesn't particularly seem to fix those things, either. Saint Therese of Lisieux and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, for instance, are two examples of theists who seemed to struggle through much of their lives with a search for meaning and purpose.
No, but it does give you an incentive to fix things for somebody that God isn't going to fix either. Maybe that somebody is you, maybe somebody else.

If it is to be it is up to me to do it.

I find that a liberating, demanding, and inspiring thought. If something needs to be fixed, neither God nor atheism is going to fix it. And there is always something that needs fixing. Endless opportunities to make each day worth dying for.
I want to be clear the WHY is about the fear of death. Do you not have it?
You can find an extended answer on Thinking About Death. It is an atheist's answer.
The short answer is I do not fear death.

The preceeding was extracted and rearranged from a beliefnet thread. Names abbreviated as this was obviously a personal thread.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Life 101

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss
Thanks for finding this Jamel Oeser-Sweat