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BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement

Donuel 11 Nov 18 - 04:43 PM
DMcG 11 Nov 18 - 04:14 PM
Donuel 11 Nov 18 - 02:04 PM
Steve Shaw 11 Nov 18 - 05:52 AM
DMcG 11 Nov 18 - 02:11 AM
Steve Shaw 10 Nov 18 - 03:41 PM
Stilly River Sage 10 Nov 18 - 11:27 AM
DMcG 10 Nov 18 - 10:50 AM
Iains 10 Nov 18 - 09:21 AM
Iains 10 Nov 18 - 09:14 AM
Donuel 10 Nov 18 - 09:13 AM
Steve Shaw 10 Nov 18 - 08:34 AM
Donuel 10 Nov 18 - 08:30 AM
DMcG 10 Nov 18 - 07:16 AM
Steve Shaw 10 Nov 18 - 06:56 AM
Iains 10 Nov 18 - 04:54 AM
Senoufou 10 Nov 18 - 04:09 AM
DMcG 10 Nov 18 - 03:13 AM
Joe Offer 09 Nov 18 - 08:53 PM
Donuel 09 Nov 18 - 08:06 PM
Joe Offer 09 Nov 18 - 07:47 PM
Donuel 09 Nov 18 - 07:38 PM
Donuel 09 Nov 18 - 07:32 PM
Joe Offer 09 Nov 18 - 07:14 PM
Donuel 09 Nov 18 - 07:11 PM
Joe Offer 09 Nov 18 - 07:10 PM
DMcG 09 Nov 18 - 06:28 PM
Donuel 09 Nov 18 - 06:09 PM
Donuel 09 Nov 18 - 05:57 PM
Senoufou 09 Nov 18 - 04:14 PM
Iains 09 Nov 18 - 03:35 PM
Senoufou 09 Nov 18 - 02:41 PM
Stilly River Sage 09 Nov 18 - 02:37 PM
Iains 09 Nov 18 - 02:31 PM
Steve Shaw 09 Nov 18 - 01:45 PM
DMcG 09 Nov 18 - 01:37 PM
Stilly River Sage 09 Nov 18 - 12:28 PM
Senoufou 09 Nov 18 - 09:45 AM
Donuel 09 Nov 18 - 08:58 AM
DMcG 09 Nov 18 - 08:54 AM
Senoufou 09 Nov 18 - 08:52 AM
Donuel 09 Nov 18 - 08:39 AM
DMcG 09 Nov 18 - 08:29 AM
Donuel 09 Nov 18 - 08:20 AM
Donuel 09 Nov 18 - 08:13 AM
Iains 09 Nov 18 - 05:53 AM
Steve Shaw 09 Nov 18 - 05:48 AM
DMcG 09 Nov 18 - 04:58 AM
Senoufou 09 Nov 18 - 04:37 AM
DMcG 09 Nov 18 - 04:30 AM

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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 11 Nov 18 - 04:43 PM

I use Brita filters.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 11 Nov 18 - 04:14 PM

I am not so ambitious, Donuel. I will focus on purifying my own ideas.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 11 Nov 18 - 02:04 PM

I always thought morals and values was about personal choices about such things as fairness, honesty, courage, generosity, tolerance and not just being told to believe things that are just plain stupid.
What beliefs from religion are we told that are stupid? Let me count the ways. Never mind forget it. Not all but most of it is pure BS.


Way to go DMcG, go out there and purify religion all you want.
It is like a big expensive job called water treatment systems.
But in the end you can drink the water again. But is it improved?

We all know we can make fun of Christianity and Judaism without fear of decapitation so I would steer clear purifying Islam if I were you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 11 Nov 18 - 05:52 AM

He was wrong, as he was about a lot of things. At the philosophical level, science completely negates religion. Belief in God is a massive obstruction on the path of the real quest for truth. God is an all too facile explanation for things that science finds naturally difficult to explain, and that staunches true curiosity and enquiry, sending them down a false path. Worse than that, God himself is the ultimate when it comes to the inexplicable. If he's really there, he'd be hopping mad at us for all that, having supplied us with massive brains to think things through properly. The Pope's remark is simply another example of religion being dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world as science closes in.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 11 Nov 18 - 02:11 AM

I think it is worth thinking a little about this quotation from Pope John Paul II:

Science can purify religion from error and superstition.

Now, he did follow that up with a sentence about how religion can benefit science which will be a red rag to a bull to some, but the sentence I quoted was frankly so astonishing that few people, religious or atheist, could take it at face value so immediately started denying he could possibly mean it. What, the 'infallible' leader of the Catholic church saying it has 'errors and superstition' that it needs purifying from? Surely he must mean other religions, not his own? And atheists had a similar problem: this solid monolith of self confident certainty could not possibly say it contained errors - we are certain religion is not like that.

I think he did mean it at face value; in any case I have no problems taking it so myself.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 03:41 PM

A really scary thought is that evolution has been proceeding for four billion years, a time scale that is terrifyingly difficult to get one's head round. Homo sapiens is a tiny blip along that timeline. Homo sapiens is in no way a pinnacle of evolution. Evolution doesn't work towards an endgame or towards perfection and there is no force driving it. If you think about evolution differently to this, then it isn't evolution you're thinking about at all. Human beings evolved to their present state remarkably quickly in the last few tens of thousands of years, a process even more remarkable considering the long length of human generations and the low birth rate. But nothing has happened beyond the bounds of science as we understand it. We can explain human evolution reasonably simply by saying that our most recent non-human ancestors were in the right place at the right time in the right environment and that evolution made some really "good" anatomical and physiological moves (blindly, as ever, and without going into the technical nuts and bolts). The point for this thread is that there's been no sudden spectacular leap from animal-moral to human-moral. We should be happy to see animal traits that we can see moving to human traits, with plenty of overlap. After all, we're just the Naked Ape (cheers, Desmond). I'd far sooner argue that "morality," whatever it is, has evolved and been honed and finessed from animal traits, than argue in favour of religion giving us moral compass. That's utter bullshit.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 11:27 AM

It is also necessary to define what a human is and clearly distinguish between human attributes and evolutionary traits in the animal kingdom that may cause confusion. I think we can be certain that the three wise monkeys at no point sat down and discussed aesthetics, logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology. If not capable of discussing a concept and understanding it, how can actions be controlled by it.

Again, No. You can't put humans above everything else on all matters such as behavior and morality. This isn't just about human language - communication and behavior extend beyond humans. And that philosophy site you linked to is tilted toward xtian philosophy. It is necessary to step away from the religions and get into the philosophers who aren't tethered to one particular creation story.

Crow shares food

Swan feeds fish

Swans feed fish

Orangutan sharing with chimps (you can discuss the morality of humans placing such animals in zoos and such awful enclosures)

Monkey's cooperating to get food.

This just touches the surface - you can look for animals helping injured comrades, you can find all sorts of inter-species cooperation and play, you can find combinations of animals with humans that set aside their "worst" instincts and live harmoniously. These would portray that it doesn't require language to understand cooperation and sharing, or brainstem communication levels that are present in vertebrates across the animal kingdom. Philosophers can discuss this but they can't own it, nor can a religion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 10:50 AM

I think this particular "morality" seam I have gone as far as I intended, so I leave it to others to expand or not as they like. But the sort of animal behaviour which I suggest is worth exploring in terms of an animal-moral system are things like sharing food or eating it entirely oneself. I don't there is necessarily a moral dimension to that, but there is more to consider in that than say foxes killing chickens.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Iains
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 09:21 AM

Myths are far more than fairy tales.

o/essays/indigenous-myths-carry-warning-signals-about-natural-disasters


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Iains
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 09:14 AM

It all depends on which bus took you to the party.

https://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/morality.htm


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 09:13 AM

For Steve, no one else may click here


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 08:34 AM

The temptation is to think that all animal behaviour patterns have evolutionary value, and maybe they have. That clearly involves killing prey or competitors in ways humanity may find unpalatable. Think about a cat toying with a mouse before giving it the last rites, or a fox killing far more hens than it could ever eat. We have to be a bit careful not to impose human standards of morality on actions like those that, frankly, we don't completely understand. Inserting morality to fill gaps in our understanding of animal behaviour is a bit reminiscent of inserting God to plug gaps in our scientific knowledge.

As for flocking, etc., my abundant use of speech marks in that post was meant to suggest strongly that I was using the word "moral," as I was applying it to animals, advisedly.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 08:30 AM

The education provided by Myth is profound. The myths of the Greeks was relatively non religious secular methods of learning while in India they were more closely associated with religion.
The exploration of similar myths and the journey of the Hero are well treated by Joseph Campbell in his Power of Myth books. I still rely on the myths I learned there such as the 'trickster god'. It reveals many nuances regarding our current era.
Joseph Campbell is well known in America but I do not know if he was televised in Europe. Joseph was often interviewed by Bill Moyers before his death.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 07:16 AM

I made the concept of 'choice' one of my key criteria because I wanted to eliminate actions that are entirely 'pre-programmed.' Flocking is undoubtedly a real behaviour but I am not convinced that it can be considered a moral choice to flock or not to flock. As usual I am talking well outside my field of expertise, but short of illness or perhaps nesting, isn't the response to a particular predictor something better thought as pre-programmed than chosen?

However, as I say, when it comes to feeding behaviours I see something much less automatic, which to me can be labelled as a moral choice on their part. Not a human morality, of course, but still something I would be content to call moral behaviour.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 06:56 AM

"Now, I suppose there are those who can say that myth is unnecessary because they have other ways of appreciating the beauty of the universe. Those who don't understand or appreciate poetry or art, can say the same about poetry and art."

Er, I don't think that anyone is saying that myth is unnecessary. It's the extrapolation of myth into religious tenets that creates the sticking point. I think you're making a false equivalence when you compare myth-to-religion with poetry or art. In the latter two there are flights of fancy, along with music perhaps the highest achievements of human imagination, but there is the full expectation by the artist (provided he hasn't been bought off as a proselytiser: many an artist has been bought off, of course, as they have to make a living, but all the ones we regard as the greatest have managed to retain their integrity) that disbelief will be suspended and that the recipient will be complicit in that. With religion, disbelief is expected to be scrapped. In leaving myth as just myth, without the religion, then for sure myth can be set alongside poetry and art. But you're not really defending just myth here, rather the extension of myth into belief. Two very different things.

As for choice and morality, that's a very interesting path to go down. To take an example, unless I should become severely mentally ill, I am not capable of choosing to commit child rape, let's say. So to say that morality must have an element of choice is at best moot. Yes there are people who commit child rape and no-one here is going to deny the immorality of that. But, to even out the supposed choice element, we'd have to plunge into the absurdity of saying that not committing child rape is moral. Well not committing child rape is just normal. There's no choice available to most people. The choice concept is very skewed. Of course, there are far more marginal cases in which the choice becomes almost a dilemma. We know that producing meat on today's scale is unsustainable for the human race and the planet, and I know that I eat too much meat. So my wife has just presented me with a surprise bacon butty. It would be very easy for me to choose to not eat it, but then I'd offend my wife who's gone to the trouble of making it for me. In absolute terms the moral thing to do would be to not eat it on principle. To overcome that inclination and eat it just to show appreciation would be slightly less moral.

DMcG, you were correct in your interpretation of my use of speech marks. The examples I chose are real ones, and the speech marks were intended to avoid the anthropomorphism you demurred at.

I've eaten the bacon butty, by the way. Discuss.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Iains
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 04:54 AM

Before terms like conscience, morality, ethics are used they really need a rigid definition, as they can mean different things to different people, and change over time. It is also necessary to define what a human is and clearly distinguish between human attributes and evolutionary traits in the animal kingdom that may cause confusion.I think we can be certain that the three wise monkeys at no point sat down and discussed aesthetics, logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology. If not capable of discussing a concept and understanding it, how can actions be controlled by it.
Does a hornet rationalise it's actions before stinging, or is it an innate response to a threat?


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Senoufou
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 04:09 AM

Joe, the reason why I distrust conscience is that many people use it as their reason for choices of behaviour, decision-making and actions, when it simply means it's what they wish to do.
Feeling something is 'right' according to one's conscience doesn't make it so.
I've always felt that society's ethics and codes of behaviour are liable to be dodgy and not 'self-evidently' the best way forward. But that's only my view, and it's just as dodgy as anyone else's.

However, I accept that in travelling through life, one has to apply some sort of rule/code for oneself. This is where such words as tolerance, kindness, compassion, empathy, honesty, fidelity, support in trouble, altruism, courage and so on come into play.

But actually, even these sterling qualities can be misguided and inapplicable to certain situations.

Tolerance - towards paedophiles, domestic abusers, Jihadi?
Courage - risking one's life when one has a family at home to support?
Compassion - for prisoners who have mugged the elderly or stabbed a youth in a drug feud?
Non-violence - if a burglar enters one's house and assaults one's children?
I suppose I could sum all this up as 'Nothing is certain and nothing is self-evidently right or true'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 10 Nov 18 - 03:13 AM

But I'm also interested in what distinguishes us from animals with regard to moral behaviour.
I maintain that they don't have any, and that morality is an essentially human characteristic


I suspect Steve is right that at least some aspects of morality have an evolutionary basis and you would therefore expect to find a morality on other species, though I thought his actual examples rather too anthropomorphic, and the way he used quotations the whole time suggests he had that concern as well. I also did not think his examples gave enough weight to choice. Nevertheless, as I say I broadly agreed.

There are formal definitions of morality we could bring in, but rather than do that, here are some things I think are characteristic.

* It must involve a choice of behaviours, both of which could occur. There is no point on having a "Thou shalt not kill" rule unless both killing and not-killing are options to choose between.

* Some implicit or explicit understanding has arisen that 'the right thing to do' is not the thing that most directly benefits the individual. (It is possible, or even probable, that in the long term the other behaviour is more beneficial to the individual via a rather nebulous 'group support' or similar.

* The response to the transgression involves other members of the group not just the two most immediately involved.


If you agree that those are key characteristics, then we see them quite widely in the animal kingdom, particularly around rules for sharing food.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 08:53 PM

Senoufou, what's the difference between "conscience" and a rational decision? I don't think there is any difference. So, conscience and rational decisions have the same flaws, and the same merits.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 08:06 PM

Mind you, I am not this fiesty in the morning :^/
Most assuredly both religion and science will continue to evolve.
By their nature and needs, science will evolve more.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 07:47 PM

Donuel, I view religion as poetry. I like poetry, and it feeds my soul.

I am also fascinated by science and value it highly.

It's not that they're equal, or that one is better than the other. They're just different things. Same with apples and oranges - they're just different. No need to compare or contrast them.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 07:38 PM

God's greatest hit- ? I suspect it is life but frankly I'm not sure not being omnicient.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 07:32 PM

Joe, I celebrate religion as the life line in bad times, but it should not be on equal footing or superior standing compared to science in the good times.
Religion has its place in times of civilization collapse' Science has its place as we advance. To believe this will require a great deal of tolerence. Especially in the God Business LLC.

Perhaps our civilization is at a halfway point in which science and religion have equal footing.
The factor that determines which has more relvance is 'TIME'
The religion of science is ETHICS.

You Joe may be open minded but I think you will always view religion as God's great hit and science is OK too.
As guiding principles in civilization go;
I too think religion is great but primarily only in certain times.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 07:14 PM

My view of morality, is that it ought to be rational - not based on arbitrary rules and dictates, but rather on what's good for the world and for most people.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 07:11 PM

My odd view of morality is that I find it offensive when the religious wield it like a weapon against the non religious as if only the believers have a monopoly on morality. I have one word to say about it
Preists.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 07:10 PM

As an educated person who likes to be seen as open-minded, I'm very uncomfortable with any religion that rejects or denies the findings of science.

But as a religious person, I feel very uncomfortable with those who apply the rules of science to religious thinking. I see religion as based on poetry and myth and imagination - an appreciation of the artistry and beauty of the universe that just isn't possible with the Scientific Method.

Now, I suppose there are those who can say that myth is unnecessary because they have other ways of appreciating the beauty of the universe. Those who don't understand or appreciate poetry or art, can say the same about poetry and art.

Some people practice religion in distorted ways, and come up with results that are harmful, or at least in extremely bad taste - but does that mean that religion is wrong? Some people have distorted views of art, and come up with scantily-clad Indian princess pictures on black velvet - but does that mean that art is wrong?

Religion is but one of many perspectives on the universe that surrounds us. I find it helpful and very valuable to me, but I admit that other people use religion in ways that are repulsive to me.

Some people thrive by living a life with a religious perspective, and some people don't. Why is it necessary to condemn something, simply because it doesn't work constructively for everybody?

As for myself, I prefer tolerance.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 06:28 PM

On the subject of morality and our rather odd views of it, my daughter has just sent me this, which I post without further comment:

Worked Levinson Wood show tonight. At one point he was showing footage of his time spent "hunting Isis". I found it a strange contradiction to have a room full of people perfectly fine watching recent battles in on going wars whilst at the same time wearing poppies...


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 06:09 PM

I have seen cats display a compassion and sacrifice for others such as defend a human baby against a malevolent dog. Greed is quite a different thing.
Especially over Friskies cat food.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 05:57 PM

the altruism hormone
The neuropeptide oxytocin regulates parochial altruism particularly in new mothers -


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Senoufou
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 04:14 PM

That's an interesting article Iains. It appears to be chiefly concerned with humans' treatment of animals. I've always been a defender of humane and compassionate methods of animal husbandry and the use of them in scientific laboratory research etc.
But I'm also interested in what distinguishes us from animals with regard to moral behaviour.
I maintain that they don't have any, and that morality is an essentially human characteristic.
Religion has harnessed this and added the God factor, insisting that God commands us to ...(here follows some sort of list or code, depending on which religion is doing the dictating) These commands are merely cooked up in the heads of some rather controlling chaps in history. One can't be sure God really wants this stuff, or even if He exists at all.

I've always been a little doubtful about 'conscience'. In Moral Philosophy, this was quite a stumbling block in our discussions. Science may invent a new 'thing' (contraceptive pill, organ transplants, euthanasia for example) and we're supposed to consult our 'conscience' when judging if these are good things or not.
But conscience can deceive and is not self-evidently right just because we feel it is. It's very dodgy in fact! (Ethics has always fascinated me.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Iains
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 03:35 PM

T would like to say the linked paper is interesting but my view is that the publication date should have been April !st.


https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-animal/


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Senoufou
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 02:41 PM

I think a useful word here might be 'altruism'. Maternal instinct, acting for the good of the colony, protecting a herd etc - would this be classified as altruism? I actually don't think so. It's mere instinct.

Altruism (when applied to morality) is self-sacrifice for the good of another, without reference to survival of one's genes or any other benefit to oneself. Pity is another moral stimulus which may give rise to altruistic actions.
I don't believe animals possess this quality.
(Even our cats are selfish little buggers!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 02:37 PM

In a word, no.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Iains
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 02:31 PM

One may be seen to be "moral," worker bees sacrificing themselves to protect the colony.
They also murder drones by forced exile from the colony when autumn arrives and resources get stretched. It may be instinctive survival behaviour, but it is not moral behaviour.
For morality to exist the power of reason must exist. Is this not restricted to homo sapiens?


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 01:45 PM

That's absolutely right, SRS. There are animal instinctive behaviours whose function is to protect and perpetuate individuals and the species. Those behaviour patterns have great evolutionary value in spite of their basic, "unthinking" nature. Species with social organisation structures are great examples, as is flocking behaviour in birds and fish. One may be seen to be "moral," worker bees sacrificing themselves to protect the colony. Or the other "immoral," birds or fish gathering in their thousands, each individual essentially acting to lessen its own chances of being picked off by a predator. Looking after numero uno. But even that behaviour is "moral" in the sense that a large assembly looks far too menacing for a predator to want to attack at all, so the community is protected even by behaviour that hardly has that in mind. Isn't evolution wonderful. The nurturing of young is seen as a beautiful and "moral" activity, but it's also "immoral" in that the primary interest is basically to protect the bloodline. It's less "immoral" and more "moral" when it occurs within communities, especially when crèches are involved (it does happen). When we start to consider humans, we have to drop the "unthinking" bit because, well, we can think and reflect and try to balance. But we retain all those old, primitive behaviours and we hone them into the thing we call our moral code. Over time that is modified and becomes highly developed, to the point where we adopt behaviours that don't possess much evolutionary value but are more tied up with tradition, ritual even. Only apropos of that last point does religion start to creep in. Very much the Johnny-come-lately in the formation of human morality, and he isn't always welcome, especially when he encourages such negativities as heresy, religious wars and martyrdom. The very best of humanity comes when we learn to stand on our own two feet and eschew crutches based on myth and fallacious thinking. We can still leave room for imagination...


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 01:37 PM

The reason I said I was unsure about that question on morality is that I was thinking of far earlier times than the Greeks, Egyptians and so on: back to the times that Sen was hinting of when we are talking of extended family groups and simple tribes. On those later times, certianly you could have morality without religion. Now Sen is, I think, right that at that level you could have a morality based on what is done and not-done, and that's it. But as soon as you ask the question why, three variants of 'Because X decrees it' emerge. If X is 'the Chief' you have some sort of proto-dictatorship. If X is 'we have all agreed' you have a democracy of some kind, and if X is 'the gods' you have an early religion. And it seems to me the 'why' question is likely to be almost simultaneous with the rule. And all three answers may arise at the same time. So, in short, I am unsure.

In terms of anthropology, I am not aware of any tribes identified that do not have a religion, but it not something I know much about, so am happy to be corrected.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 12:28 PM

Did morality exist without religion?

Certainly. Religions appropriated the concept, tried to make it theirs, but many ancient philosophers understood the concept in religion-free terms. This was something we were given to understand early in graduate school philosophy classes (in the philosophy and religion department at my university.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Senoufou
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 09:45 AM

I watched the final episode in Cox's series 'Human Universe' last night. He showed an underground seed store somewhere in Scandinavia, in which specimens of practically all the seeds in the world of use to humans are stored. The places is over 100m underground in solid rock, protected by an air lock.
The aim is to save from extinction any plant forms for the future.

He also showed an American facility where they fire lasers at great speed towards a small target 1mm across, in an attempt to produce a tiny energy source, which would not involve burning fossil fuels, but leave only helium behind.

He also visited a NASA place and spoke to an astronaut who had left a small photo of his family on the surface of the moon.

Cox has a mesmerising and rather sinister way of smiling while he talks, then extinguishing the smile suddenly. It's a bit chilling to be honest.
My Muslim husband watches these documentaries with intense interest.
His remark as the final titles rolled was, "Allahu akbar!" (God is the greater) meaning that the Universe is limitless, space is dauntingly huge, but God's power and importance exceeds it all.
I'm not quite sure if I agree with him. But I try to have Faith!


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 08:58 AM

I had a bible so small it did fit in a matchbox, sure ya gotta go with what you know but you should not be circumsized by it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 08:54 AM

Many thanks for that, Sen. I have known I have not known (!) for a long time now.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Senoufou
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 08:52 AM

I think it was RS Thomas who wrote that poem. 'A Welsh Testament'.

Our vicar years ago used to say that strict and over-fundamentalist religion tries to cram God into a matchbox.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 08:39 AM

Some minds have suggested the travelers by extraordinary craft that we may have encountered are merely redesigned organic low mass,low inertia versions of aliens 'back home' who are not good candidaates to make a long journey. One can see the advantages.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 08:29 AM

I am afraid I have forgotten almost everything about this short poem, including who wrote, when, its title, or even if I have it exactly right, but I still find it thought provoking:

He was too big to be nailed to a cross
But still they try to crush him
Between the pages of a black book.


Their scripture is an important starting point for anyone who is religious. But it is a mistake to be circumscribed by it. In my opinion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 08:20 AM

Redesigning our DNA haphazardy is one bite of the apple of knowledge I would not take.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Donuel
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 08:13 AM

Religion and science are on an opposing sliding scale in terms of nessesity. I find this discussion lost in the weeds of scripture without an understanding of the greater good and dissapointing if one must even ask if morality can possibly exist without religion.

Be that as it may, good for you Senofou for discovering that your religion is the source of the mysogeny that stymied your education for a lifetime. And if you didn't, you should have. By participating in a scientific occupation you have seen science take up the slack where religion leaves off. Yet the touch of human kindness is essentially outside the bounds of both religion or science.(although desribed by both)

I would go so far as to say compassion (not morality) is coded in our genes by natural selection for the continuation of our species. Where it is not, there is danger, or in the darkest of times, necesssity.
As in WWII sometimes evil is good to defeat a greater evil.

Will we redesign our genes and exo genetic triggers? With all the hazards I would rather trust millions of years of experience and slow improvements and mistakes.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Iains
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 05:53 AM

Some interesting "numerology":
"Currently we are in the last centuries of Pisces (the fish), while the previous constellation was Aries (the ram). The change between Aries and Pisces happened in about AD 10, and this is why Jesus was said to have been born as a Lamb of God (Aries) but became a Fisher of Men (Pisces). As one can readily see, the last vestiges of an ancient astrological religion are still clearly visible within early Nazarene Christianity.

However, back in the early part of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, a similar change in the constellations was about to occur - Taurus was about to cede its rule to the next constellation in line – Aries. A computer planisphere can precisely date these astronomical eras and it appears that the era of Taurus (the bull) lasted until about 1750 BC, when Aries (the sheep) came into ascendance. This date is very close to the era of the first Hyksos pharaohs, the Shepherd Kings of Egypt. It is quite possible, therefore, that this change in the astronomical alignments may have influenced the rise of the Hyksos Shepherd pharaohs (Followers of Aries?) in Lower Egypt, and perhaps even precipitated the civil war in which they were eventually thrown out of Egypt."

Bull worship
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horned_deity


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 05:48 AM

"Our Father who art in heaven" sounds like a stated certainty to me, Joe, as does "as it is in heaven", and the non-Catholic add-on about the kingdom, power and glory is very assertive. The thing is that Christian worship requires repetition of these words again and again and again. The more they are chanted, the less easy it is to question them. It's a conditioning process. You are a thoughtful man who is troubled by being told what to think. Millions of Christians take these things at face value. I hate to tell you this, but that's the whole idea. Your own powers of reflection on religious matters doesn't justify that policy of conditioning people's minds. Of major religions I suppose Christianity is a tad more benign than many. I was not free to say what I liked or to question certain tenets in my religious miseducation lessons at school. There were threats of punishment. Threats of hellfire even. I trust things have moved on somewhat. I should like to see a world in which heresy laws didn't exist and in which there is no such thing as being able to be accused of insulting religion (but not believers, who deserve the same respect as everyone else, provided they don't misuse their beliefs: let's not go there). You can't show that there is anything to insult, and, in any case, your God is big enough to take it by all accounts, even if his adherents can be a little more delicate.

Was Mary a virgin? Did Jesus turn water into wine or come away from a paddle in the sea with dry sandals? Your point is taken on matters such as these, but you should be asking yourself why these things have to be part of the narrative in the first place. It seems that having a very good earthly man teaching unimpeachable morals isn't good enough. The miraculous add-ons are infantilising. They are intended to add awe to something that, on the face of it, is awesome enough in itself. Awestruck people are much easier to keep onboard than those who question everything. I know which camp I'd rather be in.

As for religion and morality, ancient religions, with their misogyny, object worship, blood sacrifices and burnings at the stake are the very essence of immorality. Pretending that religion is the source of, or even a contributor to universal moral compass is simply mischievous.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 04:58 AM

My wife's grandmother was an early science student at Liverpool University. Despite very high results all the way though the course and in the written examinations, she was note allowed to pass without completing the practical - and the University could not find a suitable chaperone, so she was not permitted to take it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: Senoufou
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 04:37 AM

Ah DMcG, we tackled that one in my Philosophy seminars at University.
We explored the possibility of 'self-evident truths'. For example, is it obvious that one shouldn't kill, steal, lie etc.? Does one trace these ethics back to early religions (eg the Ten Commandments), or are they natural adaptations of human life in community?

I personally reckon the morality came first, with the urge to bring some kind of order to the behaviour of groups of humans in primitive times. Co-operative living needed basic rules and structure.
Later, I expect religions built on this and maintained it was what God wanted/ordered.
As to the latter, who knows if He does?

By the way, with regard to Science and females, I studied Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Maths to 'O' Level (in addition to French, Latin, German, English, Geography, History and Art), and many of the girls had opted out of those Science subjects. Most of my Science lessons were awash with boys.
Our Physics teacher, a ghastly chap, used to call us few girls 'The Dears', and was convinced we should go and learn how to type, cook and sew.
Unfortunately for him, my feisty feminist sister followed me into his Physics lessons a few years later, and let him have it right on the nose. She confronted him after a lesson and tackled his attitude. (No-one ever dared challenge my sister!) He apparently modified the misogyny after that.
The poor lass then needed to find a Medical School that had a place for a woman. She had to wait a year before St Andrews offered her a place, in spite of her having brilliant 'A' level results.


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Subject: RE: BS: Symposium: Exemplary disagreement
From: DMcG
Date: 09 Nov 18 - 04:30 AM

I agree, Sen. It is one of many areas we have been plagued with for many millennia - I am sure the Abrahamic religions just took up the misogyny of the time, but they have done precious little to eliminate it. On some areas at least, they have fought to preserve it.

There is a Bank of England consultation for the new person to appear on the £50 note. It needs to be a scientist. I suggested Herga Ayrton who, in addition to her work as a scientist is one of the front-runners in getting women recognised in science and invented the Ayrton Fan which protected an unknowable number of soldiers from the effects of gas attacks.

I doubt if they will pick her.


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