Sunday, April 27, 2014

Morals as Thought Police

I think you are confusing morality with social justice.

Morality at least for those of us that don't get it from some deity, is a way of policing one's own thinking.  I think that is what Jesus was getting at with the message about mental adultery. If you are thinking about adultery/rape rather than simply enjoying the scenery, assuming that adultery/rape is a defined problem for you, then I would suggest you have a moral issue you need to deal with.  

Occasionally there will be moral conflicts that need to be resolved, but if you are truly responsible for your behavior you need to resolve those conflicts at the mental level before any action is taken. Jesus or a surrogate isn't going to pat you on the head, tell you to say three Hail Mary's, and don't do it again.  A responsible person must insure that it can't happen. 

Manners, Atheists and Free Will.

Those who do recognize their own authority rests in their own moral sense and thinking mind have the chance to operate with a sort of free will.

At least God gives believers the option to be moral or not.  Forget for the moment forgiveness of sin.  At least there is a choice.  In my experience the subconscious social rules in big things and little like manners learned at mama's knee allow no choice at all.  One can reason about them, but only in quiet contemplation not in the activities of life. 

Good manners were drilled into this atheist right down to which fork to use for what course.  I still find myself changing forks to eat melon after breakfast.  I learned to eat Chinese food and use chopsticks as an adult and learned Chinese table manners along with chopsticks. 

Now picture a very high class Chinese Wedding, as one of the few Euro-Americans at the wedding, the groom was far from friends and family, I was seated at the bride's mother's table with the groom's few family members.  As a courtesy the table was set with English tableware.  All went well until the duck course where I was visibly distressed to be unable to eat the 2 in. cube of meat and bones with my fork.  The hostess suggested that if I didn't like it I should pass, I gathered my wits and very courteously asked for chopsticks so I could enjoy it as it was a special treat.  That shut up the shrill voice in my head as my mother knew nothing at all about chopsticks.   

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Values and Morality

If our values are not policing our thoughts immoral actions would be all to common.  See any fervent believer that does as told without even applying a value test.  Believer in the Shermer sense which may or may not have anything at all to do with religion. 

I do see values as different from morality, as the values are axiomatic and morality is the expression of those values.  A value of radical respect for all people doesn't do much good when the perp is attacking.  Morality is the mental activity of deciding what the proper reaction to the attack is. 

Source of morality

We all get our concepts of good and evil, right or wrong from the same place: The local society we grew up in, very slightly modified by adult reasoning about morality. 

You say your morality is from a Moral Law Maker. It isn't really. It is from your family, (hat tip to Robert Fulghum) your kindergarten teacher, your Sunday School teachers,  and your play groups which were probably selected from church relationships of your parents.  They all had in common a belief in a Moral Law Maker, God or Jesus depending on the church community. (Off topic my guess would be Jesus.) All moral instructions were of the form share this, don't hit, respect your elders, don't take the toy that isn't yours, etc. because Jesus won't like it if you don't do it. 

I grew up in a secular society and my friends and I learned from family, (hat tip toRobert Fulghum) kindergarten teacher, and play groups which were selected from secular relationships of  parents. All moral instructions were of the form share this, don't hit, respect your elders, don't take the toy that isn't yours, etc. because that is what we humans do. 

Please note in either case nothing is really learned, the admonitions are simply reinforcing the genetic necessities of intelligent social living.   

Friday, April 4, 2014

HowMuch Sleep is Enough

It depends on genetics.  A good article can be found at
Excerpt: Unfortunately, for most of us, sleep is the one non-negotiable. To operate optimally, 90 percent of the human population needs somewhere between seven to nine hours a night, says Ying-Hui Fu, a human geneticist at the University of California-San Francisco. She estimates that a small segment of the population -- about 3 to 5 percent – needs less than 6.5 hours, while an even smaller sliver (Fu places it at less than one percent) can function normally on less than five hours.
As one of the miniscule percentage 'tis nice.


If you think you might be a short sleeper the consistent wake time usually to the minute seems to be the characteristic to be aware of even on the first day off after a long week. (Or two.)  One short sleeper I talked to trained himself to "Feet on the floor at 4:44" every day.