Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ye Olde Grandpa John's

Lance posted an article concerning an editorial on George Bush's veto of the federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Interesting comments followed.

In these types of discussions religious faith plays a large role on one side of the argumentation. The detractors try to discount these arguments as superstitious and ignorant rantings of rubes. I want to know the foundations of the non-Christian 'rationalist' that inform his belief that there is any real value to human life at all and why it is wrong or immoral to murder another.

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe gives it a stab:

"Why is murder wrong absent god? Human well-being, in this life, increases in a world without murder. It's a bit of instinct, a bit of game theory. It's economics and physics and math. It's feelings and thoughts that come from our brains that maybe we don't quite understand entirely yet. It is the same things that led the inventors of all of the world's religions to place such tenets into their mythologies."

To which I responded:

"Instinct is debatable, game theory, math, and physics make your sentence longer, and feelings/thoughts must be of the warm and fuzzy variety to add credence to your assertion. Not all are warm and fuzzy.

Naked economics (not the warm and fuzzy kind) more than likely would support murder. The aged, infirm or injured, contrary or criminal, and otherwise weaker members of our society are heavy economic drains on human society. Evolutionary nature culls them, both to strengthen the present herd and to insure future generations are only possessing the superior genes.

Hobbling the advance of human society by heavily draining finances, technology, manpower and skills, and valuable time decreases the well-being of others.

That loud sucking sound you hear? It's economics swirling down the drain.

However, since man was created in the image of God, he has implanted within him these moral motions, these 'instincts' "that maybe we don't quite understand entirely yet." Since man also is of a fallen nature, he has perverted this image into one exhibiting all varieties of incongruities."

I wanted to keep this discussion going, so I moved it onto a main post. This type of discussion was rife in the early days of this blog, "The good old days."


JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

I thought we were talking about murder, not about "letting old people die." I'll responde to this in greater detail when I have the time, but for now I'll just say a few things. Murdering other healthy adults is wrong for several reasons. Economically speaking, it leads to retaliation which leads to war etc. But that's not the only reason. We don't let old people just die because we love them. Or someone loves them. What we don't fully understand about the brain is what the evolutionary purpose of love is. Our big brains separate us from lower species in lots of ways. And not letting out old members just dies is one of them. It's also largely cultural. Many civilizations did just let their old people go off to die. This is quite a complicated question and we don't know enough about our brains to answer it fully. What I do know it that throughout history, people have tried to answer it by inventing gods. These gods were replaced by other gods with slightly differing rules. It makes little sense to continue to do this.

Scott H said...

You could try to argue that the benefits of such a strong human bonding mechanism outweigh the negatives. That the caring and looking out for others, the cooperation that it inspires, the lack of infighting between families in a community, are far more beneficial to human society than the costs carrying along a few stragglers. Especially if you consider that the ability to artificially prolong life was very, very limited until quite recently historically. Also, in humans, even the old and weak have value in knowledge, social assets, and the ability to perform minor helpful duties that free up stronger individuals for harder work.

I'm not saying that is what it is, but I know many cooperative behaviors by animal communities have been explained with similar logic.

DannyNoonan said...

"However, since man was created in the image of God, he has implanted within him these moral motions, these 'instincts' 'that maybe we don't quite understand entirely yet.'"

Steve, aren't you the one that is "making the sentence longer"? Aren't you the one adding the "warm and fuzzy"? JIJAWM suggests it's human but we don't understand how or why. You make a guess as to how or why: God. That guess is not based on anything observable.

How would you responde to his first assertion? The humanist would still know murder is wrong even if a god told him it was right. But the religious person, who's morals allegedly come from god, would believe that murder was right if god told him so. Right?And "god" has told people that murder is right. Would you believe that murder was morally right if God told you it was?

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

Steve, most religions have rules that forbid murder. Some are more strict than others. If only your god is real, how did the followers of all of the false gods come to largely the same conculsions rearding the morality of murder, stealing and lying?

DannyNoonan said...

Are you there Steve-o?

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

Steve, I'm really glad we kept this chat going.