Aaron]I disagree. We can think beyond our core survival level. I'm doing it right now. I did it when I wrote my posts.[/quote]
My meaning was in terms of species survival we can't think beyond our core survival level. Yes, as we go about our lives we are thinking beyond our core survival level, but if confronted with it, our survival instinct is precisely that -- an instinct -- and it will kick in. If someone is trying to put an end to your life, your body will struggle to overcome the obstacle-- you will not simply lie there and think about various color patterns for your study if someone is chioking you or has a gun to your tmeple. You will want to survive.
Even suicides go through a process of debating with themselves if they should or shouldn't proceed with the act, and in not a few cases, it seems that some suicides don't recognize that the act is a permanent one.
[quote="Aaron wrote:I suspect people who no longer find living worth their time think beyond it also. This is something I've been trying to hammer out. When we get right down to it we have to ask ourselves why living is actually good. This might seem trivial to you and you might list off a number of reasons why you want to live (wife, kids, fun to drive cars, hiking and fishing, excitement, learning...). But I don't want to get too much into it just yet, I think it would be better to address it later in this post.
Well, we can let it go for now until you wish to flesh it out more, but I think "good" as a moral definition is probably irrelevant-- it's not specifically "good" to be alive, as opposed to it being "evil". Life is neutral on this; it's neither good nor bad, though as you note one can easily list the enjoyable things about being alive.
Aaron wrote:But when humans achieved reason something changed. With reason we are able to step back and consider the reasons we don’t steal. As I have said before the logic might flow something like this: stealing is not beneficial to our survival and we want to survive because living is…define as good by civilization?
No, I don't think this last part is quite right because civilization (or better, society) doesn't just define life as good. There are other drivers that would override society. There was a film in the 1970's called "Logan's Run" which was about a society that killed everyone once they reached 30 years of age (stupid movie by the way). Now, while the movie was bad, the premise works as illustrative of this discussion. Society defines anyone over the age of 30 as "bad" -- and what does this result in? well, (unbelievably) most people in the film go to their untimely deaths, but Logan decides to (guess what?) run
. He wants to live despite society's definition that life after 30 is "bad". What is that drive? It's the desire we each have for life and to enjoy being alive. And that is purely the evolved state of our survival instinct.
Aaron wrote:If I’ve understood correctly you say an artifice called civilization has come into play and that’s why we want to keep our society from destruction (i.e. the reason we don’t steal), not necessarily because living is good, but because over thousands of years of social consciousness-raising we’ve been trained to recoil from a behavior that leads to the removal of civilization. This might be the case for a lot of people who never stop to consider the reasons why they believe what they are doing is right, as you mentioned we can be easily swayed by a movement of nationalism or patriotism. But I’m afraid you haven’t gotten anywhere except add more words and another layer which you called civilization onto NS.
It's not just that we've learned to recoil from a behavior that would lead to the removal of civilization (our civilization seems to being doing ok with a lot of different types of stealing, which it seems to do all the time). It doesn't mean the species would collapse, but it would mean the species would spend most of its time fighting for food and doing little else. consider seagulls., Have you ever fed them? They each compete for every breadcrumb and will easily steal it from their brothers and sisters without a second thought. and extinction is certainly not a concern for seagulls (though we may wish it). But fighting for food then is just about all they do, all day long
We are among the animals that have the capacity to understand that stealing , far from leading us to a life of less work, leads to a lot more
work in that you must remain ever vigilant and constantly battle for every morsel you are able to get your hands or beak on.
The resistance to stealing comes from an understanding that should it be condoned, it would negatively affect everyone at each level of society. There would be hardly time for anything else. It's a different niche that allows us to expand our actions away from just fighting for any morsel, but it's got nothing to do with NS in terms of it being better or worse in efficacy. Stealing is a survivable way to make a living and ensure the species will continue. But it's not the best way to do it, particularly for the sapient animals.
Aaron wrote:Just as NS cannot be the source of our morality neither can civilization. Just as evolution outsmarted itself so has civilization. Once a person discovers that the source of their morality is “thousands of years of social consciousness raising” they are forced to decide if they agree with where that morality has led them. Once a person discovers that the reason they want to survive is only because we have been trained that way by civilization, civilization can no longer be the source of their desire to live. They must decide for themselves why they want to live and it is that right there that I’m interested in. Where will they get their standard so to speak? How will they decide if civilization has produced a valid definition explaining why living is good? If you are a naturalist you must concede that there is no such thing as absolute good and therefore living can only be good if a person defines it that way.
I disagree with your entire chain of premises here. NS has inputed the survival instinct within the balance of cooperation and competition. Even the seagulls cooperate when stolen from in that they do not go about exacting revenge for the deed. They get stolen from, they steal in kind. It's fairly cooperative even in its competitiveness.
This isn't a simple black and white on/off paradigm. Society isn't the sole source of morality necessarily but the arbiter of it. And there are different moral levels as well. Are we talking about the morality of love for instance? Our society decrees that sexual contact before the age of 16-17 or so is criminal. Is it ? Because other societies say no. As recently as 100 years ago, 15 year olds would be married and having children in various cultures.
Murder, rape, stealing-- these are what concern us today. There was a time when rape wasn't a crime, and stealing a loaf of bread would be punishable by death. Murdering old women based on accusations they were "witches" was once accepted as well. Really, our moral compass is pretty narrow from a survival point of view. It's as we have developed a sense of human rights, that has made questions of morality and ethics more complex. Vastly so because often rights will create clashes between the wants/needs of one versus another-- both of whom can lay claim to those inalienable human rights.
Aaron wrote:Hmm you seem to have made your decision about what is good. You seem to agree with where civilization has brought us. How did you make that decision? What standard did you use when you asked whether or not civilization has created a valid definition for what is good?
My decisions on what is "good" depends. That's the problem with these types of discussions-- they tend to try to oversimplify how complex issues of rights really are. So, here's a good fir instance: I'm pretty much anti-death penalty. But I'm not against it because I am against killing certain types of people (like Hitler, or Osama bin Laden, etc). I'm against it because we cannot hope to deliver it without error. We have, and will continue, to execute people who are not guilty of the crime they are being executed for. From a NS / Darwinian perspective, executing killers makes perfect sense. But from a liberal / human rights perspective, it does not. As a Darwinian world would be vastly more brutal and would result in more people killing one another when their competition drive took precedence, the better option is to reduce the Darwinian NS methods in favor of the liberal / right methods. This makes the world better for all of us. Society itself doesn't really teach this concept so much. But not because society is somehow evil or out of touch -- it's just much more simplistic in its cause and effect model.
Aaron wrote:Oh but they do. If living was neither good nor bad then we should have no problems with the things that are precursors to destruction: chaos, suffering, and ruin. But these are all things you suggest we are right to recoil from and I agree with you by the way. Either living is good or bad or it is neutral and we just as well might be dead, because then there is no difference.
From our perspective it's good because we enjoy it and our survival instinct propels us to it, but in reality it's neutral. If every human dies tomorrow-- if all of Earth is consumed in a fireball and scorched to a cinder-- and if only life has a foothold in all of the universe, the universe will not end.
What's interesting about this to me is the issue of how the theist has elevated life to a degree of importance that they yearn for it to be eternal
in nature. This is just as extreme a position as is nihilism, but it doesn't have the bad press that nihilism receives.
Furthermore, the Christian's god has this peculiar idea of a literal living death in the form of Hell. I'm not inclined to adopt the position of extremists or hypocrites when it comes to defining life as enjoyable or not. And I don't accept the premise that life can be something that is "good" or "bad" because it's simply not "good" or "bad" -- life simply is.
Aaron wrote:Yes but the mutations that allow organisms to gain an advantage are random. It is not as though an organism only mutates in the direction of “progress”. In fact in my small amount of knowledge I would guess that most mutations are non-beneficial or even harmful. So therefore evolution is random in that it is entirely open ended. Who is to say that there is only one direction of “progress”?
Evolution may seem random in the end result but natural selection is not. Only changes that allow for survival are maintained; all others die off. That is the direct opposite of random. Neither are directed
-- so if you mean random as in "chance" I disagree, but if you mean random in direction, then that's more acceptable.
Aaron wrote:No, buildings do not have a purpose simply because we say they do. They have a purpose because they can in fact keep us warm and out of the weather. They do not do these things because we say they do, they do these things because they have that inherent ability which is not dependent upon our thoughts or words. In the same way in a Christian world something is good or bad because it actually is good or bad, and it is not dependent upon our thoughts or words. But I do agree with were you are going with the good and bad. In naturalism good and bad are ours to define.
As human constructs they do what they do because we "say" they do. We say, "If I build this shelter, it will protect me." That is why we build it ("say" is metaphorical to some degree-- you may not use the words but instead have the belief).
Aron wrote:Basically I am noticing that nearly every time you talk about Christianity it is from the naturalistic world, which is fine, my feeling are not hurt and I can see why it would be necessary to do so, because some explanation is needed for Christianity in naturalism. So, what do you think about this thought of mine?
I think it's fine as far as it goes but some things in this model are not equal two-way streets. For instance, I cannot adopt the "define Christianity from the Christian worldview" very well because the "Christian worldview" itself is rife with major gaps. You
can't fully operate from the Christian worldview yourself which is why there are so many examples of unanswerable questions in the Christian religious models.
For example, the Christian will eventually have to resort to a disclaimer of "well, that's a mystery" about key elements of their worldview-- this is not the fault or design of the Reasonist, but an inherent flaw in the Christian worldview. Now, certainly there are mysteries in a Reasonist worldview as well, but there is nothing otherworldly about these mysteries. When a theist says "It's a mystery" that is a surrender to the idea that their worldview is founded upon a realm that offers them utterly no answer and no hope
for an answer. Meanwhile, when a Reasonist says "Well, that's a mystery" this only means the tools are not yet in hand to discern the answer. There is nothing inherent about the issue that precludes us from knowing it, given the right tools. Hell, maybe even time travel will be possible so we can go back and view actual events, and know what happened for sure-- providing we can invent a time machine. But the theist is hopelessly locked into a veil of ignorance because even if there is a god and a heave, only god can know everything.
So I'm not able to easily drop what I see as purely naturalistic motivators for theistic paradigms. At the same time, theists are forced to acknowledge their entire worldview does actually rest on naturalism-- life, death, reward and punishment, etc.
Aaron wrote:Okay, that is exactly what I said too. So why do you disagree with my premise and conclusion? I was only pointing out that in naturalism there is no such things as good or bad outside of humanity. Many times however I came to the conclusion that good and bad are possible, but only through the subjective will of humans, which is what you’re saying too. So why do you disagree again?
I don't recall what this was about but if we're saying the same thing then I wouldn't disagree.
Aaron wrote:You can easily demonstrate them after you have decided that you agree with what civilization taught you, that is that living is good.
Not really. I can demonstrate positive and negative impacts to survival without much caring about what society says about it one way or the other. This would be more darwinian, but we don';t need civilization to teach us that life strives to survive. That's part of our genetic make up.
What the theist is interested in is the standard you used to make your decision on whether or not you agree with what civilization has trained you to think. The theist might be led to think that there is more going on here than meets the eye. The theist might be led to think that good and bad might exist outside of human whim or will.
Well, far be it from me to be able to manage what theists are led to think. The standard is ephemeral and changes. I used to be fairly virulently anti-gay, now I work towards helping gays gain equal treatment in the USA. My standard was something that grew over time because I stopped caring about what gays did privately and started caring about what was happening to them unjustly. I empathized with them and applied it to my self-- how would I
feel if I were not permitted to be with the person I loved. While the manifestation of the injustice was social, I didn't "learn from society" that being treated badly for no good reason was unjust. I simply empathized with their plight.
The reason a theist would want to add a supernatural is because they realize the naturalistic view is too simple. Good seems to have all the qualities of an absolute or universal characteristic and they realize that such a thing doesn’t fit in naturalism. So by admitting there is a supernatural they are in effect solving mysteries and not creating more (at least that is how I see it).
The operative word above is the word "seems". Good may seem
to have a universal character (though I disagree with that because "good" can be different for different people), If such good does exist, and it exists in our existence, then by definition it has to be naturalistic.
As to the second half of your statement, you are just ignoring the sizable mysteries asserting a supernatural realm brings with it. Neither science nor religion can answer the Why
Keep The Reason wrote: You know here’s the equation as I see it. If a person wanted to believe in Christianity there is nothing they will find that will prove that Christianity is false and (I believe) there are many things that will support the idea that Christianity is true (that’s the kind of thing that I try to do here, present things that support Christianity). The question then becomes why would a person want to believe Christianity is true? and that would without contest be because a guy knows he is a sinner and he has learned that Jesus is offering a way to become clean and to lead a pure righteous life through Him. But unfortunately (at least as I see it) most people don’t seem to want or need that gift of grace.
And so they deserve... .what?
Aaron wrote: The reason I would suggest a person should assert that the actual source of morality is outside of nature is because it makes sense to do so. In other words it fits better with how we find the world to be.
But you haven't demonstrated this at all. It's begging the question. We can suggest just about anything-- I could suggest that morals come from 100 monkeys spinning their spider monkey tails counterclockwise on the night of a full moon-- but so what?
Well I thought that’s what I’ve been doing.
But again I think you may be asking for the kind of proof that isn’t there.
no, you're merely presenting an opinion. That's not bad at all-- but it doesn't substitute for demonstration.
Aaron wrote:Well all I would like to do at this point is to show that it makes sense (at least to me) when considering morality to have another “realm” which interjects a sort of universal morality into our own realm. I don’t really have any plans to explain how exactly it functions only that it is necessary based on the state of morality as we find it.
What is this realm comprised of? How does this realm operate? Where is this realm? Do the laws of physics apply there? If not, what does apply there? Can we visit that realm? Why or why not? As you can see, these questions already apply here
and we haven't answered all of them yet-- but you want people to assert yet another realm to answer something that doesn't even get answered.
Aaron wrote:Well I would if I was bent on proving Christianity is true I would have to demonstate that it is indeed true. But I can’t, at least in the way that I think you desire. But it follows logically that if I can’t prove Christianity is false it might be true and if it might be true then naturalism might be false, so if I was in the mood to boss people around I might ask the same thing of you.
This is off topic, but if you pile up the reasons for why Christianity exists, you'll find they are not much different from why any
religion exists. However, when you apply science to mysteries, when you get an answer it tends to lead you to an answer or brings you the actual answer. The idea that this is "bossing people around" is a deflection. I have a standard for what I will embrace in my worldview, and if someone doesn't wish to provide me with what I require in order to invest belief in what they say, that's fine. I'm not "bossing them around" to inform them of my standards. They are not obligated to adhere to my standards, and likewise I am not obligated to believe anything they say is true. That's fair, right?