Sunday School

Sunday School January 26th 2020.

This topic contains 57 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  _Robert_ 10 months ago.

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    Nice bit of evidence-based reasoning.

    It only takes a little reasoning to create massive doubt.

    Theist: I believe that God, as in the Christian god of the Bible, created the Heavens and the Earth. He created the conditions for all the other planets in all the other galaxies to come into existence.

    Me: Do you think there could be alien life in any of the 100 billion or more planets in just our galaxy alone?

    Theist: No, because God created us because he loved us and gave us the Garden of Eden. He would not need to duplicate it anywhere else.

    Me: You seem very certain of this. How do you know this without referencing the Bible?

    Theist looked confused and did not answer.

    Me: So you are only pretending to know that there is no alien life anywhere. If we just consider 1% of the planets in the Milky Way we would be still have 1 billion to investigate. There are billions of other galaxies that also have over 100 billion planets in each of them.

    Theist: But God made the conditions perfect so life could survive on Earth. He would not need to do so anywhere else.

    Me: So you know the mind of this God too?

    Theist: Mmmmm…have you heard of the scientific theory of the Goldilocks zone?

    Me: No, never please enlighten me with the science behind it. I have never heard a believer mention it before. But first I have met people who said that they have communicated with alien visitors to Earth. Do you discount these testimonies that are first-hand accounts?

    Theist: Their evidence is just a report of some delusion or dream they experience. They were probably under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. The evidence always breaks down when you dig deeper into it.

    Me: What about people who say that God speaks directly to them?

    Theist: But there are accounts of this since the time of Adam and Eve. They can’t all be mistaken. I personally have felt Gods’ presence during prayer and acted upon the advice He gave me.

    Me: So you have actually heard the voice of the Creator of the Universe? Did you record it by any chance?

    Theist: No. I mean you just feel it in your head when god speaks to you.

    Me: Well maybe aliens can communicate via telepathy too?

    Theists: If they existed but there is no evidence that they are real. And even if they did exist somewhere in the Universe there would be no way of knowing that they really did communicate with us. I mean we are just too far away from anywhere that could harbour life.

    Me: But so many people believe aliens communicate with them that there must be something to it.

    Theists: But as I said, we only have their word for it. There is no evidence, no proof!

    Me: If your god created all that exists he could have created alien life. Yet you think it impossible for them to communicate with us or other alien life elsewhere within the Universe? At the same time you believe you get messages about how to live your life from your god who exists even further away, from outside of the Universe?

    Theist: But God is everywhere!!

    Me: How do you know this without mentioning the Bible please? I mean did God move into the Universe after he created it? I thought he lived in Heaven which exists outside the Universe? It has to be because he was there when he created everything in 6 days.

    Theist: Facial contortions are now alien like so I give him a break.

    Me: I almost forget, can you explain the science behind that Goldilocks Theory to me. It sounds really interesting. I hope it is not about porridge though LoL!!




    If push comes to shove, that’s all we’ve got.

    No. There are many moral systems that are not based on “least harm”. There are so many problems with a “least harm” approach, not least of all the fact that harm is relative in so many ways. It is most certainly not “all we got”.


    Simon Paynton

    But benefit/harm is the most important and fundamental value of all.  Fairness is constructed from it.


    My friend is dying from cancer. He recently found out that he is eligible for a new treatment. He is too far gone to be cured but the tablets match his genetic profile very well. They will prolong his life for about 18 months without a serious deterioration in quality of life. However, like some other cancer treatments that are covered by the government, his is not.

    So his choices are: Pay for the drugs and live another year, possibly two or leave the money to his wife and sons to ensure they are looked after. It will cost him approx $100,000.

    What would you do?


    Simon Paynton

    Stay alive.  You can replace money, but you can’t replace a person.


    But he is the “bread winner”. The money would pay for his children’s’  college and leave a good sum for his wife.

    His attitude is “I am fucked either way” but as a father and husband I can continue to support my family. His family gives his life meaning.



    He could read Crazy Sexy Cancer, and attempt to slow the progression of his disease through lifestyle. Kristin Carr (I think that’s her name) has lived with stage 4 cancer for over 10 years….he could gamble with that, and put that nest egg to work to its maximum to benefit his family financially in the long run….he may end up with the best of both worlds. Cancer can and should be treated with lifestyle but nobody ever tells you that.



    His attitude is “I am fucked either way”

    I mean…come on Reg…this is just some vulgar moral dilemma that has no real life application. What does that have to do with ethics? This guys problem is rubbish. What can we possibly learn from any decision he makes?


    Simon Paynton

    I presume this is a true story, or at least, it’s plausible, and therefore natural.  That’s why it brings up a few issues we want to know about (e.g., duty, importance of human life versus money, selfishness …).

    The trolley problem is artificial.  That’s why it has not much of any significance to teach us.



    But he is the “bread winner”. The money would pay for his children’s’ college and leave a good sum for his wife. His attitude is “I am fucked either way” but as a father and husband I can continue to support my family. His family gives his life meaning.

    Screw that. Book on a plane to Vegas. Get the finest call girls money can buy, drop some pure LSD, fly to Paris and dine like a king, hit up Amsterdam for all it has to offer….Call NASA, tell them you will man their next unmanned launch…Feel good that you taught your family the most important lesson..”enjoy life”.



    A few developments since time of posting. Turns out he IS buying the tablets at a cost of about €5,800 per month (less expensive than the first quote).  The treatment is to slow (and possibly stop) the spread of his Stage 4 (there is no Stage 5 as Hitchens once said) lung cancer (he was never a smoker) from spreading to his brain. It is also possible that the Dept. of Health will cover the costs but that is not certain. This already happens for other expensive cancer treatments but his is very new and very specific.

    @robert – I was in the process of getting a full length tattoo on my back when my tattooist (also a good friend) discovered he had stage 4 cancer with 3 months to live. I used to drop in when passing to tell him he would be glad to see the back of me 🙂

    He went to Bangkok for 2 weeks to recover from his  2 weeks in Amsterdam and then returned to Amsterdam to recover from the 2 weeks in Bangkok. 2 weeks later he died. Everyone needed time off to recover from the funeral as he had left several varieties of “presents” from Amsterdamage for us behind his bikers club private bar.

    “The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

    Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels.



    Cancer can and should be treated with lifestyle but nobody ever tells you that.

    If I could propose perfect logic and accuracy here, I see idealism (which is mostly laudable but can’t cover every person’s circumstance) in the first clause, and an over-generalization in the second. But I’m not here to criticize just Ivy for imperfect or incomplete logic, and mine is also imperfect wrt morality.

    Morality in humanity is more complicated than discussing a few simple thought experiments and expecting to find perfect resolutions every time.

    The situation you describe with traffic lights and pollution etc. may come up sometimes, but it’s not a good description of morality in general.  It’s a good description of a moral dilemma.

    A problem with most of our thought experiments is that there is no “natural” origin of absolute and pure morality. Humanity consists of only one species that has the power to define its own ethics, and try to agree on its own currently relevant, tentative tenets of morality. The golden rule is a good start, but it can’t cover every possible, unpredictable circumstance, especially when decisions must be made before all possible data is known, including the impossibleness of knowing how every person on the planet would feel about all possible scenarios.

    And there’s no all-knowing judge or enforcer that can simplify moral dilemmas, except in the imaginations of charlatans and dictators. Early civilizations attempted to codify absolute laws in scriptures, only conjured up and written by mortal human beings who may or may not have claimed or felt they had a personal, divine connection to and all-knowing God. How arrogant they can be! Or at least supremely naive, or delusional, even with good intentions.

    Modernization presents scenarios that were once unfathomable hundreds (much less thousands) of years ago. I personally think Davis’ traffic light thought experiment is exactly the kind of dilemma that’s difficult but helpful to address, also illustrating sciences we know or don’t know but should learn. Another huge ethical/moral issue is fetal/prenatal rights, aka abortion. Trolley car dilemmas only scratch the surface, only a bit more illustrative than Aesop’s Fables.

    Jeebus, Dr. Seuss wrote more currently-relevant stories than our ancestors.

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: typo fix (thx Jake!)


    Modernization presents scenarios that were once unfathomable hundreds (much less thousands) of years ago.

    I agree, but don’t sell the ancients short. Genghis Khan’s wars ended the lives of some 40 million people (about 10% of the world’s population). They even used biological and chemical warfare and well….abortion is nothing new. The ancients had the same basic moral issues we have today yet we have only progressed marginally over them,….if at all.

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