Showing posts with label altruism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label altruism. Show all posts

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Love Thy Neighbor

I can’t believe that one would seriously suggest that a widely believed good found in the text doesn’t exist.  “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” – the principal of empathy that many atheists on this board seem to think they have copyrighted and patented – is one such widely believed good.   EOb

Believing it and then ignoring it, or actively trashing it with every word that comes out of your mouth and every action you do is hardly an example of textural good morality. 

The Pentateuch version is Lev 19:18 "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord"  is hardly a radical moral edict for a social animal or a tribal human. But OK if practiced dilligently.  For Jews does that mean Hasidim are loved? I understand that some Jews have rejected them.  For Christians are JWs and LDS Christian and vice versa?  For Muslims is ISIS your neighbor?

Jesus radicalized the whole thing.  When challenged "Who is your neighbor" told the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Keep in mind that it was a Samaritan who refused Jesus hospitality, causing him to shake the dust off his sandals. In modern day terms think of dark skinned immigrants without documentation.  Or for Paul competitive sects that practiced temple prostitution.  Are either "loved as thyself?"

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Happiness and Suffering.

What awareness has you come to you through happiness?  What awareness has come through suffering?  -  Seefan

Happiness, both for those important to me and for myself brings awareness that my behavior especially my social behavior is correct and moral.  Technically it means that dopamine and serotinin are stimulating the social awareness compliance centers in the brain to produce the feeling of pleasure in complying with social rules for good behavior.  

Suffering, both for those important to me and for myself means that something is seriously awry in my social system and I must do whatever is necessary to repair the damage.  As an example I hear a baby crying in a burning building indicating that it is suffering.  Since a universal evolutionary imperative for social animals is to protect the next generation at any cost including a serious threat of survival for the adult, I am compelled to enter the probably fatal environment to attempt to get the baby out.  If I can get the baby out of a window safely, the dopamine and serotinin will activate the social compliance centers to mitigate the pain and suffering I feel from the fire.  If I can get out the window myself great, if not I have done the socially necessary thing and will die happy as the building collapses around me.  

Please note that death is the other bookend to my life and nothing follows.  My social group may remember me as a hero, but I won't be aware of that except momentarily as the building collapses.  But no matter. I have done other beneficial things for my society, and when death comes the dopamine and serotinin will flood the social compliance centers so at death I will be happy and I will indeed rest in peace.   

No God. Just evolutionary success that allows the baby to live to enjoy my legacy.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Beliefnet Community > Thread - Question about atheism:

I think I read it first in Heinlein but the definition “Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” has no altruism at all in it. It is a purely selfish definition of love. My problem with altruism is that most definitions insist on self denial as a necessary condition of altruism.

If your child can see the parade better by standing on your shoulders, and shares herm excitement with you are you denying yourself enjoyment of the parade by standing back where you can’t see but where you and your child are safe from jostling by people trying to get close enough to see for themselves? Are you being altruistic by sharing the parade through the fresh eyes of your child? No way! What could be more selfish than providing your child a perfect and safe vantage point to share herm joy with you.

I don't think the traditional definition of altruism a la Ayn Rand has any validity at all. How can anyone be coerced into doing something involving self denial as a value? If they don't feel that they are doing something beneficial for their society and their friends what would compel them to be altruistic? Especially in a Godless society envisioned by Rand. But even throwing God into the picture, the little tinhorn in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony has to provide a selfish incentive even if it is pie in the sky to get the parishioners to give up their selfish pleasures.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Does it make a difference?

Beliefnet Community > Thread - Question about atheism:
If both Hitler and Mother Teresa cease to exist at death, and all the people they helped or harmed cease to exist at death, then is there ultimately any difference between them (Hitler and Mother Teresa)?

"Will any of it matter a billion years from now? Probably not. Did it matter to those who suffered and to those of us in a world where we still deal with the repercussions? Hell yeah. I do not accept that, for instance, Hitler did good in some way because 'god' said so or because he was a part of the greater plan. I'm sure that you don't believe that, but apparently someone did, the man was sadly successful. So what difference does in make in the 'bigger picture'? Not sure that is does, but it makes a difference to me."

It makes a big difference to me as well. I will resist the bad guys and help the good guys because it makes a difference to me and my chosen society here and now, and the repercussions will resonate in the here and then far into my lifetime and for those who I care about who follow me.

Why do Good?

Beliefnet Community > Thread - Question about atheism:
What is an atheist's motivation for doing good, indeed how do you define good given your belief that everything ends at death?

"Again, speaking for myself, [Beliefnet Wampy] why not? Does a smile not have a value all it's own? Is life not valuable enough to save for it's own sake? Indeed, does it not have more value if one believes that there is nothing after death? I would wonder if one would not value life less if one believes that life is just a transitory state and not the real reward. Take suicide bombers for instance. My view is that good is it's own motivation. What does death have to do with good either way? How do you define good when the real action is in the afterlife? My view is that religions have promoted many things that are not good and still valued them as such. I see no intrinsic 'goodness' in something said to have passed down from a supernatural figure. Good is constructive and helpful. Death does not change this.

Perhaps you should make a discussion of what motivates you to do good other than a selfish desire for reward or fear of punishment? I use the word selfish only to indicate that either of those motivations are nothing more than a concern for yourself. Do you do no 'good' simply for the benefit of someone else, with no concern of the benefit or detriment to yourself?"

Indeed, is not a smile worth more than all the pie you can eat in the sky after you die?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Evolutionary analysis of Romeo and Juliet

Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion pp 221-222 brilliantly uses the entire play as an extended metaphor for the "misapplication" of genetic drives of lust, in group altruism, xenophobia, and charity. He explains both the play and evolutionary drives succinctly, and understandably. Incredibly well done!!!