49 thoughts on “Reblogged from David Yerle

  1. Marco

    Thanks. I certainly think panspermia has become more mainstream in the sciences over the last decade. I agree with the article’s conclusion that the Drake equation won’t work because intelligent life as we know it is a recent phenomenon across the galaxy.

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    1. Marco

      I don’t know where you are going with mentioning hitler and Stalin. In our discussions you mention that evidence from the future is inadmissible. Ie. if one suggests that new atheist thought lends itself to eugenics in the future. Then the greatest evils of the recent past, perhaps in human history are evidence that evils can happen in spite of atheism rather than the atheism being seen as a contributing factor to the lack of suppression of the scale of evil?

      Why is religion accepted as a motivating factor for a suicide terrorist, but not secular Darwinism as a motivating factor for eugenics and the ideas of a superior race?

      In both the cases, is it a bum steer from those that brought up these people? Ie. Islam does not condone mass murder, and Darwinism should not be used as a template for philosophy.

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      1. winstoninabox Post author

        I don’t know where you are going with mentioning hitler and Stalin.>

        Godwin’s law. It’s funny because it’s true.

        Why is religion accepted as a motivating factor for a suicide terrorist, but not secular Darwinism as a motivating factor for eugenics and the ideas of a superior race?

        What is this ‘secular Darwinism’ you speak of? What is it’s bible? It’s Koran? Does it promise virgins in the afterlife for martyring oneself? Does it have a word for ‘jihad’? How about for ‘apostate’ or ‘heretic’? Does it call consensual sex between adults an abomination? Can you be excommunicated? If you do disagree, will you be sent to a land of fire after your death? Or even just because you never hear it’s good news? Where are these secular Darwinists advocating eugenics? Can you name a single one?

        Your secular Darwinism has no founder, no prophet, no bible, no vocabulary, no manifesto, and most importantly no adherents. That’s why it’s not accepted.

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      2. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

        Okay then, mine excellent host! I will take this opportunity to aggressively reject this bogus ‘Godwin’s Law’ which is without intellectual content. During the last hundred years – during which you have been at great pains to point out that the majority of human beings have been theists – ideologies hostile to theism (Communism and various forms of Statolatric Nationalism) have caused vastly more harm than theistic ideologies. You cannot deny this without convincing me you have lost the good of the intellect.

        When I defend theism, I have to wear the crimes of Jean Calvin and Osama bin Laden. Man up and defend the record of atheism warts and all.

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          During the last hundred years – during which you have been at great pains to point out that the majority of human beings have been theists – ideologies hostile to theism (Communism and various forms of Statolatric Nationalism) have caused vastly more harm than theistic ideologies…. When I defend theism, I have to wear the crimes of Jean Calvin and Osama bin Laden. Man up and defend the record of atheism warts and all.

          First show me the link between atheism and the ~isms then I’ll go from there.

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  2. Marco

    What is this ‘secular Darwinism’ you speak of

    It’s reading “survival of the fittest” and using ones own intelligence to generate an ethic that reflects that. It doesn’t proscribe “doing unto others”. The world is your oyster. Whatever set of rules you decide can do for oneself and whoever will follow you. Worked just fine for any emperor or dictator from the First World War on.

    You yourself hate another race – obviously, your own must be the fittest and maybe you can engineer things so that only your own thrives.

    Why be Ahminejad leading a country where people can read and interpret for themselves what is right or wrong from a book you cannot modify, when you can be Kim Jon Il where people have to read and interpret what you want them to believe is right or wrong?

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      1. Marco

        You’ve got to show there’s some link between those people and your secular Darwinism otherwise any schoolyard bully is a secular Darwinist.

        I’m not sure what you mean. Of course I think schoolyard bullies are of the same vein. Certainly the ones that were bullying me when I was at school had a superiority complex because they were Australian and I was a wog boy.

        Again, the link is causal in the sense that precisely due to the fact that there is no prescription about what is right and what is wrong for the Atheist, nonmaterial motives are easily suppressed. This is clearly not obvious where there is strong law and order, the atheist will appear just as moral as the theist. However, when the person is in a position to make the laws, and there is no checks and balances the link appears clear as day to me.

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          You need to make a link because one can’t be a secular Darwinist without at least some knowledge of Darwinism. You wouldn’t call an atheist a Christian just because they helped the poor and attended church with their Christian spouse to support them.
          Likewise here. A schoolyard bully or a despot need some connection to the theories you say they are operating under. Beating up on the weak doesn’t make one a secular Darwinist.

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      2. Marco

        A schoolyard bully or a despot need some connection to the theories you say they are operating under. Beating up on the weak doesn’t make one a secular Darwinist.

        What matters is what is taught at a formative age. These schoolyard bullies that I know were being fed a story by their parents that wogs were coming to this country and taking their jobs. I don’t know what ethics they were taught, but they were getting their cue from their parents, who were not telling them bullying was wrong, nor that the meek would inherit the earth. It is not a prescriptive dogma that is the problem here, but the lack of one. These schoolyard bullies *could* be moral without religion, they could have been ones to have been brainwashed and joined cults- in all probability they are your average law-abiding citizen- but I believe they still think that Italians are bad and that it is all right to bully the weak. The religious education they got at the school was not enough to counter this lack of prescriptive goodness given to them before school.

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    1. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

      Why be Ahminejad leading a country where people can read and interpret for themselves what is right or wrong from a book you cannot modify, when you can be Kim Jon Il where people have to read and interpret what you want them to believe is right or wrong?

      Yes! This encapsulates the problem perfectly.

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  3. Marco

    Godwin’s law. It’s funny because it’s true.

    I think since you mentioned Godwin’s law first, you should automatically forfeit the argument :-).

    Where are these secular Darwinists advocating eugenics? Can you name a single one?

    Eugenics doesn’t need advocates, manifestos or bibles to be a force of extreme negative disruption to the World. All it needs is a leadership which validates tribal superiority instincts and has no inbuilt check or balance in which manifestos, bibles or moral principles would be a positive force rather than a negative one as you make out.

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    1. winstoninabox Post author

      I think since you mentioned Godwin’s law first, you should automatically forfeit the argument
      Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

      Eugenics doesn’t need advocates, manifestos or bibles to be a force of extreme negative disruption to the World.

      I don’t know about eugenics, but unsurprisingly the Boston bombers turn out to be… secular Darwinists. Oh no,wait… Islamic extremists! I guess all the gun nuts who believe that the government is trying to disarm them can feel a little less heat for awhile as public opinion will once again turn against Islamic fundamentalists. You were asking about why theism is accepted as a factor in suicide bombings. Well, it wasn’t a suicide, but the Boston bombers weren’t brainwashed by extreme secularism nor Darwinism.

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      1. Marco

        Marco: I think since you mentioned Godwin’s law first, you should automatically forfeit the argument

        Winston: Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

        Chris:
        Okay then, mine excellent host! I will take this opportunity to aggressively reject this bogus ‘Godwin’s Law’ which is without intellectual content. During the last hundred years – during which you have been at great pains to point out that the majority of human beings have been theists – ideologies hostile to theism (Communism and various forms of Statolatric Nationalism) have caused vastly more harm than theistic ideologies. You cannot deny this without convincing me you have lost the good of the intellect.

        When I defend theism, I have to wear the crimes of Jean Calvin and Osama bin Laden. Man up and defend the record of atheism warts and all.

        I think Winston’s initial comment opened the door to reject Godwin’s law for this particular thread.

        I don’t see why “lack of theism” as an important aspect of those destructive ideologies, cannot be taken as evidence for the harm that godless ideologies can do if they obtain absolute power. After all, even Osama’s ideology is harmless without power and followers.

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          My comment about Godwin’s Law was in reference to comments in the article to which Chris linked, and not to our comments. It took me until now to realize that there’d been a misunderstanding.

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      2. Marco

        First show me the link between atheism and the ~isms then I’ll go from there.

        Atheism became the “official” religion of the Soviet Union under Communism.

        From Wikipedia The Soviet Union was the first state to have, as an ideological objective, the elimination of religion[1] and its replacement with universal atheism.[2][3] The communist regime confiscated religious property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in schools.

        Surely this is as clear a link as there possibly could be.

        German Nationalist socialism is nowhere near as neatly “Atheist”, but Darwinist influences are a lot more evident in the ideology.

        From Wikipedia:
        The biographer Alan Bullock wrote that, though raised Catholic, Hitler was a rationalist and materialist, who saw Christianity as a religion “fit for slaves”, and against the natural law of selection and survival of the fittest.

        The acceptance and encouragement of eugenics within the Nazi regime started at the top, and the dangers of using Darwinism as a basis for moral policy are evident, and in a time of war, was seen as acceptable wartime policy.

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          Here we go again:
          If Soviet Russia had had a policy of vegetarianism, then the atrocities that were done in its name would have nothing to do with vegetarianism as there’s nothing in vegetarianism to have justified them. Likewise with atheism. Both are negative ~isms in that they prescribe a non-action. Don’t eat meat; don’t believe in gods. There’s nothing there to say go out and take the land of dairy farmers, put them into re-education camps and turn their farms into wheat fields. Nothing.

          The state atheism of Soviet Russia wasn’t even a perversion of atheism.

          This is in stark contrast to every theistic terrorist or despot who always finds justification for their action from within their religion. It may be a perversion of what the religion itself is saying, but the divisive nonsense as Sam Harris called it in the video I recently posted, is there. I’m not at all familiar with the koran, but it doesn’t take much research to know that there are passages that are quoted by Islamic extremists. As for the bible, there’s passages against anal sex which some take as justification for gay bashing, passages against murder which some take as justification for blowing up abortion clinics, passages used for the justification of slavery, the treatment of women as property, etc. As I said, to take action based on these passages may well be a perversion of the religion’s intent, but self-proclaimed followers of the religion can, have and do read them that way.

          Couple that with the texts being the word of god (sometimes infallible and/or literal word of god), and a demand by that god to spread the word, and it’s not hard to see why religion has been a very negative force in the world.

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      3. Marco

        Both are negative ~isms in that they prescribe a non-action.
        Every action can be turned around as a non-action and visa versa. Theism prescribes a non action – Don’t disbelieve God.
        Communism prescribed *And Enforced* a disbelief in God, because they truly believed that religion was the root of all Evil. If you believe something is evil and you don’t do something to prevent it happening in the future, you are weak and don’t have the strength of your convictions.

        Just as *Atheism* doesn’t proscribe what you should do if your school tries to teach religion in a science class, theism doesn’t proscribe how to deal with infidels.

        To blame a suicide terrorist’s belief in God for their actions is equivalent to blaming a communist soldier for their actions on their disbelief in God.

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          Every action can be turned around as a non-action and visa versa.

          Yes. But that’s admitting that you, and not the ~ism, are doing the turning. Which is to prove my point.

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      4. Marco

        Yes. But that’s admitting that you, and not the ~ism, are doing the turning. Which is to prove my point.
        If that was true nobody would write a book about a God delusion, and wouldn’t actively tell their children not to believe what is written in the bible. Things prominent atheists write may not officially be a bible, but the way their words are referenced in general, they may as well be. Atheism is an active philosophy for those other isms that talk about it or defend it, just like theism.

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      5. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

        Oh, come on. You say: “People can be good without theism.” We say: “Look at the comparative size of these mountains of corpses generated by theist regimes and regimes hostile to theism in the 20th century.” You say: “Look! Cows!”

        ‘People can be good without theism’ is an incredibly obvious truism. Like all other questions of its kind, it has to be addressed probabilistically: “What is the probability of people being good with and without theism?” The historical evidence is cogent to this.

        Please read Marco’s comment contrasting Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Un again. It illuminates the crux of the problem with incandescent clarity.

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          Oh, come on. You say: “People can be good without theism.” We say: “Look at the comparative size of these mountains of corpses generated by theist regimes and regimes hostile to theism in the 20th century.” You say: “Look! Cows!”

          A minute ago those regimes were atheist regimes according to you guys. Now they’re ‘regimes hostile to theism’. A subtle but telling difference.

          Before I go any further, after reading my previous post – are they still atheist regimes? If so, how?

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        2. winstoninabox Post author

          Please read Marco’s comment contrasting Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Un again. It illuminates the crux of the problem with incandescent clarity.

          I remember the comment you’re talking about, but after going up and down the list several times I still can’t find it. Would you mind cutting and pasting it?

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      6. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

        Marco said: Why be Ahminejad leading a country where people can read and interpret for themselves what is right or wrong from a book you cannot modify, when you can be Kim Jon Il where people have to read and interpret what you want them to believe is right or wrong?

        And what I said was: During the last hundred years – during which you have been at great pains to point out that the majority of human beings have been theists – ideologies hostile to theism (Communism and various forms of Statolatric Nationalism) have caused vastly more harm than theistic ideologies

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          The enforcement of atheism is not a royal road for despots, which is the underlying assumption behind this. And the Arab Spring which is occurring now is only happening after 5 decades of suppression, so let’s not go overboard of the power of theism to conquer evil.

          Why does a despot choose one method over another? Maybe several reasons.
          1. Go with what you know.
          2. Go with the existing state apparatus.
          3. Go with xenophobia.
          4. Go with economic control.
          5 . Go with information control.

          The answer as to why the Arab Spring is occurring now probably has little to do with theism (around since forever) and more to do with education and improved access to information technology.

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      7. Marco

        Chris: “What is the probability of people being good with and without theism?” The historical evidence is cogent to this.
        WinstonBefore I go any further, after reading my previous post – are they still atheist regimes? If so, how?

        You have defined atheism as “not theist” such that nothing can be pinned on atheism even though the people concerned are definitively “not theist” and, especially Soviets, defined by their lack of theism. I think you are playing semantics because your atheist rule book doesn’t prescribe anything in particular, infact, anyone can invent their own rule book and that is quite ok within atheism. Kim Jon Il does not have to justify any of his laws to anyone, while Ahminejad has a real “Arab Spring within” to deal with which severely restricts his ability to threaten his neighbours.

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          Marco, I’m sorry but I’m done with commenting with you for now. When you accuse me of playing semantics and having an atheist play book, then I’m out. Thank you for your interest in my blog and please feel free to continue commenting, but do not expect an answer from me for the time being.

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      8. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

        Play the board, winstoninabox! I think you are playing semantics, too. Marco isn’t “accusing” you of having a playbook, he’s saying that the negative nature of your creed gives you a “get out of gaol free” card because you can point to any action done by atheists that we raise as evidence and say: “well, no holy book explicitly told them to do that”.

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          Atheists write books about why theism is wrong. Atheists discuss why theism is wrong. Neither of these activities is given any kind of imperative from atheism. This is not the case with theism, where the followers are told *by their god* to spread their belief.

          So Chris, it’s not a ‘get out of gaol’ free card. It is the point of the defence. Either you accept the definition of atheism contains no imperative, or you don’t. If you accept that it contains no imperative, then people who do things in the name of atheism are doing so off their own bat. If you don’t accept that there’s no imperative, then you need to show where the imperative comes from within a definition that contains none. Or you can submit another definition to discuss which has an imperative.

          Either way, I’ve no intention of ignoring this huge difference between atheism and theism simply because neither you nor Marco accept it without any evidence to the contrary.

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      9. Marco

        Ok Winston, I will withdraw the last comment. Please demonstrate to me why regimes that specifically exclude religion are not atheist regimes. What feature would subtly change the semantics making ” regimes hostile to theism” equivalent to an atheist regime?

        Why would it make a difference, other than getting atheism itself of the hook over the other associated isms?

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      10. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

        Either you accept the definition of atheism contains no imperative, or you don’t. If you accept that it contains no imperative, then people who do things in the name of atheism are doing so off their own bat.

        This is a bug, not a feature, and makes my point. Atheism contains no imperative for people to be good. So they aren’t good, to a greater extent than if they subscribed to an ideology that contained an imperative to be good.

        *points to the 20th century*

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          *points to before the dawn of civilization*
          People have been bad since forever. This will undoubtedly continue into the foreseeable future. As theism has been around since then and will still be around to then, I’d say it’s a bug of theism. You could hardly claim that theism’s feature is the eradication of evil.

          Besides that, you can’t legislate for good behaviour. And besides besides that, you’re putting imperatives on atheism that you’d put on nothing else. As I said vegetarianism doesn’t demand good, and it would be silly to ask of it. Science, too. There’s been plenty of evil done ‘in the name of science’, yet every one knows that that is an evil born from those that have done the evil and not science itself.

          As I said a while back to Marco when he was trying to conflate eugenics, the Nazis and atheism, when the documentary “Expelled” made similar claims there was an outcry from the Jewish community. They wanted it remembered that the people who were responsible for the holocaust, however their motivations were justified to themselves, did so not for any other reason than they were evil.

          Even looking at the Ten Commandments – what many would consider central to being a good Christian – there is no prescription to be good. They are, apart from the silly devotion to god ones, rules on how to avoid being bad.

          You’ve got to stop blaming the man-made systems that were never designed to correct what people innately know to be wrong.

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      11. Marco

        Or you can submit another definition to discuss which has an imperative.

        I think atheists’ definition of atheism is empty of any content which would lead to a sense of an atheist identifying with atheism. I reject it as a device to distance oneself with atheists one does not identify with – much like a theist would distance oneself from the actions of Osama Bin Laden. I find it a similar argument to the meme about Christianity not being a religion which was popular in the eighties.

        I would like to make a definition we can talk about which includes what makes an atheist identify with other atheists – generally speaking this means accepting the main philosophies of naturalism and secular humanism and the people that follow and are spokespersons for these philosophies as a trusted peer group.

        Just as different theists have different trusted peer groups, or churches, doesn’t make theism irrelevant to the evils of other theists with different peer groups.

        I think this is the same with atheism. Just because your own trusted peer group of atheists, as I have defined above, is antipathic to the ideas of communism, does not mean that atheism is irrelevant to their evils, nor that it should not be considered an “atheist regime”.

        So if you tell me that you think atheist peer groups are evolving to almost universally accept more prescriptive philosophies like secular humanism, to counter the sorts of moral gaps in earlier 20th century trials of atheist regimes, I can agree with you to a point, but if you say that atheism has nothing to do with the gap, you are saying that atheism is something that one cannot identify with, it is just something that one can be, and is immune to peer pressure.

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      12. Marco

        *points to before the dawn of civilization*
        Look!! Cows.
        People have been bad since forever.
        What we’re looking for here is an atheist/theist differential, in times where we can trace back motives and opportunities of the people leading countries.
        I’d say it’s a bug of theism.
        Are you still talking about the prescriptions of theism? Later you say that 10 commandments prescribe mainly in the negative, and attempt to put the fear of God in them with the few positives. Basics like murder, theft and infidelity amongst them. You are using the fact that it is towards the dawn of civilisation such that we can’t demonstrate any atheism/theism contrast here. Get back to the 20th century so we can talk about the detail of what is motivating people with actual examples we have a bit of data on.

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      13. Marco

        I don’t have a conclusion that I’m looking for. These are questions about atheism that bug me. Atheist Gillardism doesn’t bother me so much, and I even voted for her. Atheist communism appeared just fine until it removed all checks and balances and permanently installed itself in power. It is the removal or lack of these checks and balances which make the resultant evil. This is regardless of whether the leadership is secular or religious. In the distant past, there was no secular to compare, so obviously the religion took the wrath of the victims, regardless of whether there would have been more victims without religion or not.

        I may have developed prejudices based on personal experience of people in my life who turned out to be evil. It is a very complex thing because most people that turned out to be evil had their own way of gaining people’s trust, including church connections. Thus it is the unfakeable signals that they truly believe in God which sometimes convinced me to trust people that I didn’t otherwise know well enough.

        I truly believe that a belief in God is a clear signal of intent to lead a moral life. You don’t have to have it to be moral, but it helps.

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          I truly believe that a belief in God is a clear signal of intent to lead a moral life. You don’t have to have it to be moral, but it helps.

          And when there’s almost certainly no god, at least as presented by the big three religions, where does that leave the seat of morality of the believers? None of the big three present any coherent evidence or logical foundation for their mythos. And they all make claims about the natural world (angels are real, miracles happen, prayers work) that do no better than not disprovable. That being the case we can try and sift through the avalanche of nonsense that they hide morality under, or discover the same principles for ourselves with the trappings of superstition.

          I opt for the later.

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      14. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

        *points to before the dawn of civilization* People have been bad since forever. This will undoubtedly continue into the foreseeable future. As theism has been around since then and will still be around to then, I’d say it’s a bug of theism.

        There is a vast – and possibly unbridgeable – divergence of worldviews in your reply which deserves a whole essay. Every statement is something I disagree with, which is really saying something! I will have a go.

        As Marco says, the point of talking about the 20th century is to contrast the effects of two classes of ideology on human behaviour during a period of time when they were both prevalent. People have been bad since forever, yes, we get that. What is the best way to stop them? Marco and I are not concerned with the effect of one person’s choice to be to theist or atheist; we are concerned with the probable overall effects on society as a whole.

        You could hardly claim that theism’s feature is the eradication of evil.

        Yes, I can. I am doing it now. I am not saying it is the only thing that has this feature, or that it does it very well, but I am requiring as a minimum that any thing that seeks to replace it have this feature to some extent as well.

        Besides that, you can’t legislate for good behaviour.

        Yes, you can. That is what society does. The laws legislated might not be written down in books (though one of the oldest extant societies, Orthodox Judaism, does indeed have thousands of pages of millennia-old laws written down) but every society legislates for good behaviour. Think of all the unwritten laws that govern the Japanese social compact. Of course people will sometimes break these laws; people have been bad since forever, vide supra. That is no reason not to try and stop them.

        And besides besides that, you’re putting imperatives on atheism that you’d put on nothing else.

        Yes, yes I am. I put those imperatives on theism, and therefore they are requirements of any ideology that seeks to replace theism. I am not saying this replacement is impossible. These arguments are not chess moves in any scheme to convert you to something. Marco and I are genuinely interested in how ideologies, theist or atheist, can demand good with authority.

        As I said vegetarianism doesn’t demand good, and it would be silly to ask of it.

        Yes, vegetarianism does demand good, in a limited sphere. Most people in most places and times who have been vegetarian see it as part of ‘being good’.

        Science, too. There’s been plenty of evil done ‘in the name of science’, yet every one knows that that is an evil born from those that have done the evil and not science itself.

        Science is not a thing that is seeking to replace theism, any more than vegetarianism is a thing that is seeking to replace theism. They are incommensurate sorts of thing. For the record, I cannot think of much evil done ‘in the name of science’: people have perverted science in the service of ‘higher goals’, with bad results, and given regimes that allowed free reign to whatever experiments they dreamed up, a few scientists have done evil things (people have been bad since forever, vide supra).

        As I said a while back to Marco when he was trying to conflate eugenics, the Nazis and atheism, when the documentary “Expelled” made similar claims there was an outcry from the Jewish community. They wanted it remembered that the people who were responsible for the holocaust, however their motivations were justified to themselves, did so not for any other reason than they were evil.

        In this instance the Jewish community were wrong. If you want to be healthy, you don’t just say: ‘Sickness is bad. We must abominate sickness.’ We need to understand the motivations people have for doing what they do if we want to live in a society where people are less likely to do evil, just like we need to understand the causes of disease if we want to be healthy.

        Even looking at the Ten Commandments – what many would consider central to being a good Christian – there is no prescription to be good. They are, apart from the silly devotion to god ones, rules on how to avoid being bad.

        If you think there is a meaningful difference cogent to the point we are discussing between ‘being good’ and ‘not being bad’, then you need to explain it. To me this looks like a pointless semantic quibble.

        You’ve got to stop blaming the man-made systems that were never designed to correct what people innately know to be wrong.

        Here I disagree with your core assumptions in toto. Certain man-made systems *were* designed to correct what people *do not* innately know to be wrong. The systems exist for that purpose. If you want to replace those man-made systems, you need to replace them with other systems that also have that function.

        Human beings are not rational animals, but rationalising animals. In the same way, they are not empathic animals, but sentimental animals. Everywhere I see a grotesque lack of proportion in the moral responses of my fellow human beings. Four people are killed by Islamists in the developed world, and it dominates the news for days. 185 people are killed by Islamists in Nigeria in one incident in the same week, and the news disappears without a trace. American Christians get themselves worked into a lather about gay marriage when 50 million human beings have been industrially murdered in ‘One Nation Under God’ since the 1970s. Pop-up ads tell me about the terrible lives of performing bears in Turkey when billions of chickens – conscious creatures with personalities and emotions – are killed every year. Humans don’t innately know shit. They have a crude sense of morality that is no more useful in its undeveloped form for ordering a society than their crude sense of number is useful in its undeveloped form for designing an aeroplane.

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        1. winstoninabox Post author

          I’ve no doubt that we’ve a gap in world-views… I’m basically positive about the future. I think it’s far better to be living now that it was 2000 years ago, and I’ve no doubt that in 2000 years time it will be even better still. Yes, life is bad for performing bears and chickens, but every day we’re getting closer to a time when life will improve for them, too. I’ll address your comment in a rambling manner, and probably forgetting something, as I’ve got a bit of work on today.

          Atheism isn’t trying to replace theism. It is saying that it is wrong as it has no basis for believing in it. Probably you’re thinking of humanism, which will usually include atheism as it human centric.

          No, we don’t legislate for good. We legislate against doing bad. There are no laws which reward us for good behaviour (tax rebates for donations, maybe?) – especially in the Ten Commandments. Out laws tell us what not to do – don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t covet your neighbours ox or wife – not what to do.

          I won’t quibble about if vegetarianism demands good, except to say that there are various reasons why people choose to follow it. Those reason may demand good (causing animals pain is wrong) or may not (it’s a more healthy lifestyle), but those reasons are not vegetarianism itself. This is a distinction which neither you nor Marco seem to see when talking about atheism.

          Reply
      15. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

        If I interpret your last comment correctly, you’re not interested in talking about morality or social consequences, just truth, which I can grokk. I have said all pretty much all I have to say as far as that goes, as clearly as I could say it, here.

        Reply
        1. winstoninabox Post author

          I’m most interested in the evidence people present for and the logic behind their claims. That said, I can talk about morality etc. but the ~isms under discussion have to be given a fair suck of the sav. I thought we were going places recently with the discussion on humanism, and I think that that is a more fruitful pursuit. When humanism is understood better I think how atheism and evolution work into it will be better understood, and there’ll be less confusion about what atheism is and isn’t.

          Reply
      16. Marco

        This is a distinction which neither you nor Marco seem to see when talking about atheism.

        Primarily, we disagree with the definition of atheism. When I look at the Wikipedia entry on atheism I could be considered atheist, agnostic, theist, or none of the above. It somewhat hinges on the definition of believe, and God. There is a fairly large section on the Wikipedia entry regarding the difficulties of defining atheism.

        I like to define atheism in a way that an atheist, an agnostic, and a theist can agree about what these words mean. A meme one can identify with in the battle of ideas. Otherwise it is hopeless talking about it. I’d like to think the position of my idea in 3D idea space can be modified through logic and discussion, however subtly. Not if my idea is compressed onto a line describing the percentage probability I believe in there being a God.

        Reply
      17. Marco

        That being the case we can try and sift through the avalanche of nonsense that they hide morality under, or discover the same principles for ourselves with the trappings of superstition.

        I assume you mean without the trappings of superstition. Ok. Let us, for the benefit of the argument take as a given that the avalanche is nonsense (ie. not true), and that the principles may or may not be discoverable through *science*.,ie. there are huge gaps in moral science as there is in say abiogenesis, and no guarantee when or if we will find satisfactory answers. What we choose to fill those gaps, eg. God or Naturalism, makes a big difference with how well the overal ism operates to help us be moral rather than self-serving. Simple concepts to understand, with clear precedent for helping rather than hindering moral behaviour, are clearly better than facts discovered from first principles hedged with the proviso that they may be proved wrong in the future as our science and understanding improves? I opt for the former “gap filler”. Certainly I disagree with holding onto ideas that have been generally disproven, such as young earth ID etc. I think the mainstream ID groups have let go of that from what I can tell. But, in general sub-memes like that become extinct anyway in the battle of ideas.

        Reply
  4. Chris Fellows (@cfellows65536)

    I didn’t even notice H*** and S*** were mentioned in that link, FWIW… the point was this ‘new generation’ of atheist philosophers who take the sort of problems we’ve been arguing about seriously. I am still not convinced that you take them seriously, winstoninabox.

    Where are these secular Darwinists advocating eugenics? Can you name a single one?

    The ‘Green’ movement is rife with them. Have a google at how many awards this arsehole has won.

    Reply
  5. winstoninabox Post author

    What matters is what is taught at a formative age.

    For the purposes of your argument what matters is that you can make some connection between your idea of secular Darwinism and the despots and bullies you’ve mentioned. If there’s no connection then you can’t call them secular Darwinists.

    Reply

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