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wayne stephen
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Do you believe our sense of ethics and morality has a basis in our biological evolution vs. a supernatural source . I do ! Here is a link to an infographic from The Brights :

http://www.the-brights.net/morality/mpinfographic.htm#.VB1-N5RdXko

If so , how do we perpetuate and communicate this code without religion , myths , and clergy ?
 
Dale Hodgins
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I watched a test with monkeys where they had to complete some skilled task and the researcher rewarded success with food. Part way through this, they stopped giving food to one, while continuing to reward the other. Both became agitated. The one receiving food, refused to eat and eventually threw some to his companion and threw more at the researcher. He knew this wasn't fair. This may be the beginnings of morality in our hairy cousins.

Whenever my dog got into some food that was not hers, she would sit as far from me as the space would allow, with her face pointed to the wall and tail tucked under her bum. She knew what theft was and that this breached our code of conduct.
 
wayne stephen
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So , the dog knew the phrase "Bad Dog" and had internalized it . The monkeys were obviously saying "Bad Scientist" ! So providing a little shaming is one way to steer the ne'er do wells towards better behavior . Is the Code of Conduct based on factors which change with time or is there a biologically based "Ten Commandments" ?

Dawkins rewrote the Ten Commandments :

1. Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
2. In all things, strive to cause no harm.
3. Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.
4. Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
5. Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.
6. Always seek to be learning something new.
7. Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
8. Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
9. Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.
10. Question everything.

Would those stand the test of time ?
 
David Livingston
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I am not surprised at all that DAwkins rewrote the ten commandment but then he thinks he is God

David
 
Leila Rich
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I did an ethical philosophy paper at uni, and part of it was exploring how morality, ethics exist completely separately from a belief in the supernatural.
For generations, my family have been average to poor Christians at best.
My parents were hippies, went off to India, got gurus, the usual...
I'm a strait-ahead atheist, and I doubt my sibling's kids will get religious.
Basically, I say just follow the 'golden rule', and don't be a dick
 
Leila Rich
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wayne stephen wrote:Dawkins rewrote the Ten Commandments (...)5. Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.
I'm not a Dawkins fan. The guy tried to ban fairytales!
Where's the 'joy and wonder' in that?
 
Dale Hodgins
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My friend Sahoshi started to tell me about his guru. I stopped him and asked - "Is this going to involve an Indian guy in his underpants ?". He paused and said that it's sort of a shawl.
 
wayne stephen
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Here is a link to an article about brain scans done on people who donate organs to complete strangers :

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/09/22/349639464/the-biology-of-altruism-good-deeds-may-be-rooted-in-the-brain

Seems that one almond shaped area of the brain of these people is significantly larger than that found in psychopaths .

Leila wrote :"I'm not a Dawkins fan. The guy tried to ban fairytales! Where's the 'joy and wonder' in that?"

Dawkins also preaches vehemently against teaching any religion to children until they are of an age they can freely choose it . Who would enforce such a statute ? An oligarchy of scientists who know better I assume .

The Golden rule has an interesting history . While Jesus was preaching "Do unto others..." Contemporary Rabbi Hillel was preaching ""That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." This version of the Golden Rule has been showing up on Libertarian websites as the better of the two . "Don't do unto others what you would not have them do unto you" . Better to have the do-gooders leave us alone , I guess .

In Elberton , Georgia an anonymous individual circa 1970 or so built a mini Stonehenge with these rewritten Ten Commandments . Known as the "Georgia Guidestones" :

1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

2. Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.

3. Unite humanity with a living new language .

4. Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.

5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.

6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.

7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.

8. Balance personal rights with social duties.

9. Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.

10. Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature.
 
Cj Sloane
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wayne stephen wrote:
The Golden rule has an interesting history . While Jesus was preaching "Do unto others..." Contemporary Rabbi Hillel was preaching ""That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." This version of the Golden Rule has been showing up on Libertarian websites as the better of the two . "Don't do unto others what you would not have them do unto you" . Better to have the do-gooders leave us alone , I guess .


7 of the 10 commandments are negative directives like Hillel's. Sometimes the do-gooder is doing something they like but you'd hate and lots of trouble can come from that.

The 3 non-negative commandments are much harder to stick to then the negatives.
 
Cj Sloane
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This reminds me of the Three Laws of Robotics.
 
Leila Rich
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wayne stephen wrote:1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

2. Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.

3. Unite humanity with a living new language .

4. Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.

5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.

6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.

7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.

8. Balance personal rights with social duties.

9. Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.

10. Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature.

That feels like a rather permie ten commandments!
Maybe the permie-Libertarian-humanist ten commandments?
wayne stephen wrote:
3. Unite humanity with a living new language .
I assume they were keen on Esperanto...
Cj Verde wrote:7 of the 10 commandments are negative directives
That's kind of why I like the plain ol "do unto others"-
I'm a bit of a grammar nerd, and aside from preferring its proactive language,
I find " Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you" feels a bit clumsy and practically *gasp* a double negative
 
Cj Sloane
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Leila Rich wrote:
Cj Verde wrote:7 of the 10 commandments are negative directives
That's kind of why I like the plain ol "do unto others"-
I'm a bit of a grammar nerd, and aside from preferring its proactive language,
I find " Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you" feels a bit clumsy and practically *gasp* a double negative


But consider.
Do not kill (really do not murder) is pretty easy to obey.
Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. What a can of worms that opens. How do you honor it? What keeps it holy? Do no work to keep it holy? What is considered work?

It's a disaster and basically takes negative directives to make sure you're doing it correct.
 
Leila Rich
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wayne stephen wrote:http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/09/22/349639464/the-biology-of-altruism-good-deeds-may-be-rooted-in-the-brain
I do not have that industrial-strength altruism.
I'd do it in a flash if I could pop out a kidney, hand it over and waltz off!
I just don't have it in me to hang out in hospital for a stranger.

Organ (etc) donation has some interesting ethical/moral things come up.
My parents have always refused to be donors.
They have no ethical/moral reasons; basically the idea makes them feel 'icky'.

I find that quite weird and wasteful, but I know my attitude isn't standard.
When I die, basically anything anyone can use is up for grabs.
I might even let the med students do their thing

 
Dale Hodgins
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I've had a couple conversations with close relatives concerning my organs. There are many siblings. I informed all of them that only my children would ever be in line for a free kidney or chunk of my liver. Several have abused their bodies with cigarettes, alcohol and other things. I have never done this, so it would not be an even gamble to agree to just provide them to whoever comes in need.

Some might think my stance is rather harsh. I think it's pragmatic.
 
wayne stephen
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We have a strong genetically based sense of altruism for our nearest kin over strangers . Gene theory still debates group selection vs. individual selection but the mathematics plays out . Most creatures defend their own first .

Scientists have extensively examined moral dilemna such as the trolley problem and it's extrapolations :

"The general form of the problem is this: There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You do not have the ability to operate the lever in a way that would cause the trolley to derail without loss of life (for example, holding the lever in an intermediate position so that the trolley goes between the two sets of tracks, or pulling the lever after the front wheels pass the switch, but before the rear wheels do). You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?"

The answers are fairly consistent among different cultures . Most people chose to throw the switch toward the one sparing the five . However , when the question is posed in such a way that the rescuer is asked to physically toss a person in front of the trolley they chose to let the five perish . The intimacy of physical contact with the tossee outweighs the previous mathematical problem . If the one on the track was a relative the five usually perished .

I believe this problem has been worked out in variations involving altruistic self-sacrifice also . I'll have to explore that .
 
wayne stephen
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Yes , the trolley problem was analyzed with the variable of self sacrifice being an option . The gist of the findings {I think} was that seeing oneself being an option to save the others made it harder to sacrifice the one . I don't believe a whole lot of folks chose self sacrifice either . Here is the link :

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1997082
 
Dale Hodgins
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Yesterday, my ex wife informed me that morality could only exist if there is a creator and that those who refuse to accept this creator are inherently immortal and will be subject to extreme punishment upon death.

I referred to her friend Priya who is Hindu. I asked if she believes that Priya and her parents will go to hell if they remain Hindu for the rest of their lives. She's afraid that they might. We discussed it further and it turns out that she thinks the whole family are very good and moral people. I pointed out that according to her religion, these people are due to receive a punishment that far exceeds what any society does with its serial killers. Rather than agreeing that they have done nothing wrong and therfore deserve no punishment, she thinks it's imperative that they convert before it's too late.

If you take her religious view to be true, then do a little math, it's safe to conclude that most people who have ever lived are destined to a future of eternal torment. Just the promotion of this idea seems quite immoral to me, particularly if it is taught to children. It seems like a recipe for unfounded fear and xenophobia. "Those who are different from us are cursed by God and are going to hell." I learned that in Sunday school. I now recognize it as child abuse and not a good way to promote a sense of morality in young minds.
 
Craig Dobbson
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I like some of what Sam Harris has to say about morality.



 
Dale Hodgins
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Sam's views are very similar to my own. I often encounter people who are intellectually lazy. Rather than considering that there may be a right answer, they go with the idea that we can't be sure about anything. Since we can't determine that one thing is better than another, all ideas should be given equal weight.

I like to lay out very simple examples that a three year old can understand. I believe that it gets too cold here in the winter, for people to live comfortably outside. I take this as a know truth based on the outside temperature and the temperatures at which humans experience hypothermia and death. I also take it to be true that house fires are very dangerous and destructive and that because of this, we should strive to prevent them.
 
wayne stephen
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Leila says :

"That's kind of why I like the plain ol "do unto others"- I'm a bit of a grammar nerd, and aside from preferring its proactive language, I find " Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you" feels a bit clumsy and practically *gasp* a double negative" .

I don't see " Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you" as a double negative or grammatically clumsy . I read it as "If you don't want your things stolen , don't steal". As opposed to "I insist on teaching my kids homosexuality is evil , so I am going to insist on teaching yours the same".

Possibly making grammatical mincemeat , but it's all in the perspective of the "doer" and "done to" . In this new era of the Nanny State and religious zealotry I think it is a very pertinent distinction.
 
Dave Burton
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I like the idea that science can answer morality questions. In AP Biology, when we covered animal behaviors, we learned about the tit-for-tat strategy that is commonly used in animals with complex social behaviors. It is a form of altruism; they agree to help others now with the expectation of help from the other in the future, and those who cheat the system are banned. This form of altruism, I think, is a good basis for morality; a spirit of cooperation, honesty, and kindness ensures the survival of the species as a whole. I think Nature already figured morality out long before people came on the scene.
 
Cj Sloane
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Equality amongst monkeys.

Well worth the 3 minutes.
 
wayne stephen
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Nathaniel Branden - Psychotherapist , Atheist , and Libertarian - wrote this verse about self-responsibility and reciprocity :

"Embracing self-responsibility not merely as a personal preference but as a philosophical principal entails one's acceptance of a profoundly important moral idea. In taking responsibility for our own existence we implicitly recognize that other human beings are not our servants and do not exist for the satisfaction of our needs. We are not morally entitled to treat other human beings as a means to an end , just as we are not a means to theirs . ...a consistent application of the principle of self-responsibility implies the following rule of human relationships : Never ask a person to act against his or her self interest as he or she understands it . If we wish people to take some action or provide some value , we are obliged to offer reasons that are meaningful and persuasive in terms of their interests and goals . This policy is the moral foundation of mutual respect , goodwill , and benevolence among human beings . It rejects the notion that some people may be treated as sacrificial fodder for the goals of others , which is the premise underlying all dictatorships and , for that matter , most political systems."

So , in order to be nice and get anything done we will have to be persuasive . In a nice way !
 
wayne stephen
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Penn Jillette is one of my favorite modern day moralizers . I thought I would throw this in since "the Season" is fast upon us :

 
Dale Hodgins
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Here in Victoria, we're getting closer to Penn's view of how Christmas should be. I know a Sikh family who give the kids presents and I helped put up lights at the home of a Buddhist. They decorate Chinatown. One non practicing Muslim woman greets non Muslim friends with "Merry Christmas". Jesus is accepted as a prophet by many Muslims.

I have always bought gifts for my kids and have attended many religious and non religious Christmas events. A prayer was said at one of these events, just before a meal where I had supplied all of the food. Here's part of it, "and thank you for all of the work Dale did in growing the food and getting the salmon". That one struck me and my daughter's boyfriend funny. There was giggling. The deity was thanked for supplying them with me, the most vocal Atheist any of them have ever known.
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Here's something that seems quite immoral to me,if you take the Christian story to be untrue. The crucifixion. As a child, I was taught that each and every human is so inherently evil that we are deserving of this sort of punishment. Luckily, Jesus stepped in and took our place. If the story is true, he's a great guy. If it's not true, a blanket story that casts all of us as evil, is evil in itself.
 
wayne stephen
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"The idea of Original Sin - of guilt where there is no possibility of innocence , no freedom of choice , no alternatives available - is anti-self-esteem by its very nature. The very notion of guilt without volition or responsibility is an assault on reason as well as on morality." - Nathaniel Branden
 
wayne stephen
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Lately Sam Harris has been delving into Zen Buddhist territory . Not with the same flaming sword he uses to "demystify" the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions . Continuing to wield Occams Razor his findings might find you wanting to practice a bit of third eye gazing :



I think I will choose a mantra from the "Book of Bokonon" :

We do, doodley do, doodley do, doodley do,
What we must, muddily must, muddily must, muddily must;
Muddily do, muddily do, muddily do, muddily do,
Until we bust, bodily bust, bodily bust, bodily bust.
 
wayne stephen
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Sam Harris again :



ओं मणिपद्मे हूं, !
 
Dave Burton
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I recently read an article about shaming at the Films For Action website, and it really struck a chord with me. People have tried to institute their morales on me while growing up through shaming, and different people respond differently to external stimuli. I liked my sense of morals from the start; I learned what fair was in kindergarten and how to be nice. I did not need my parents to teach me this, and hehe, I like how I handled the situation when my parents and others tried to shame me into following their morals. I took the title of "uncouth" as a something nice- a conscientious objector. Now, yes, it was probably immature of me at the time, which is why I have also learned over the years that I can pretend and act to make it appear like I agree with their opinions just so I can sweet-talk what I am looking for from said people. Yes, it is probably rude to have ulterior motives when being nice, but the old phrase that "honey gets more flies than vinegar" is figuratively and literally true. And it works out well for both parties, we both get what we want from others: they get to see their views enforced upon me, and I get their support and aid.

That brings me to the next part of my little tirade. People, parents and otherwise, believe they have the right to enforce their worldview of morals and what not on other people. I think there is a fundamental flaw for parents and other adults to believe that their views are the only views that are right, and then enforce those views on the youth. Being nice is a much simpler form of morality in my opinion, and it is seen quite often throughout the kingdoms of life.

"But to bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against." -Mennonites of Germantown (full text is here)
 
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Dale's post SEEMS implies that Christians think all others are going to Hell- just because they are not Christians. That is not true of most Christians, anyway. Catholics teach that those who are outside of the Church will be judged on how they behave; just as Catholics will. One can get baptized all they like, but it will not get them anywhere if they don't "love their neighbours as themselves."

Of course, Dale may not have intended that implication. Probably he just meant that the particular Christian mentioned thought that. It is a crazy idea, no matter what.
 
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