Sunday School

Sunday School June 10th 2018

This topic contains 24 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 2 days, 10 hours ago.

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  • #9638

    According to this professor of philosophy from Texas we atheists do need God (the Christian one apparently) in order to be good. Especially with all the scandals tainting the community of new atheists according to these fundamentalists. If only we did not make huge philosophical mistakes and learned to accept what it says on the money. Are they just getting edgy as atheist numbers may soon reach a tipping point? In that case should we start breeding more! Hmm, why would another professor of philosophy argue that we still need religion?

    As Project Blitz continues the Founding Fathers would have little chance of being elected today.

    What is it like for a non-believer to take a road trip through God’s country?

    Presbyterians in Northern Ireland vote again to prevent the progress of human rights. Anyone for another slice of cake?

    Evangelical Christians struggle with their own #MeToo movement.

    I know many ex-Muslims who feel like this. What would they make of this article? If only Islam could inoculate children against atheism.

    In New York another 8 priests are accused of child sex abuse.

    The religious right is shamefully silent on the moral crisis that grips the US border.

    This weeks’ Woo: Would Cicero have wondered how Dr. Oz can keep a straight face?

    Climate Change: How global warming is shrinking Earth’s animals.

    Plate tectonics are essential for life on Earth and it may have played an important role in human migration. We had news about potential life on Mars this week too.

    We are not related to Apes. We are apes. We are related to aquatic tetrapods.

    The many shades of bad physics.

    The logic of effective Altruism.

    Why won’t scientific evidence change the minds of Loch Ness monster true believers?

    The case against the nation-state is not new but what would happen if we replaced politicians with randomly selected people like this 10 minute video asks.

    This week I am reading this book(s): Well, not yet but I will just to prevent the loss of logos!

    Some photographs taken last week.

    While you are waiting for the kettle to boil…..

    Coffee Break Video:  A Priest, Rabbi and Atheist smoke some weed and talk religion. Daniel Dennett on our mind, God and other illusions.

    #9639

    Have a great week everyone!!

    I have included a few philosophy themed links today as it was the topic of debate for most of this week because the unexamined life is not worth living as Socrates said in the School of Athens. And he said the only thing he knew was that he knew nothing!

    “Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language” – Ludwig Wittgenstein.

    “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things” – Rene Decartes.

    I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong”- Bertrand Russell.

    #9640

    _Robert_
    Participant

    For centuries while Christianity reigned in full force, the average person had little or no rights at all and was subjugated to the will of the powerful in Jesus’s name. If we could take a few of these apologist  professors and time-transport them back to our year of the lord ~600AD, they would be shocked at what the Age of Reason really means. Some professors at public Universities claim we need “Gawd” to really be good, seem to discount that each of the different gawds and religions have different about being good. Their argument ends right there. My gawd says it’s good to conquer and kill the Aztecs.

    Perhaps there needs to be a period of “extremism” before a second age of reason emerges.

    #9641

    I find some philosophers to be very rigid in their thinking, as if they found some esoteric “knowledge” that is actually theology, which as Thomas Paine said, is the study of nothing and then they decided to stop thinking. I remember you quoted this by Hitchens previously – I think when we were talking about why I called the current Pope “The Cuddly One”;

    “Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.”

    I must give credit though to the University of North Georgia for this idea.

    #9642

    _Robert_
    Participant

    I find some philosophers to be very rigid in their thinking, as if they found some esoteric “knowledge” that is actually theology, which as Thomas Paine said, is the study of nothing and then they decided to stop thinking. I remember you quoted this by Hitchens previously – I think when we were talking about why I called the current Pope “The Cuddly One”; “Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.” I must give credit though to the University of North Georgia for this idea.

    I think some of those gawds in the UNG graveyard were buried a bit prematurely, LOL. Buried alive, so to speak. That’s OK by me. In fact there is one more that should go on in, ASAP !

    #9643

    Strega
    Moderator

    Thanks, Reg!

    #9678

    Daniel W.
    Participant

    Did Dr. Oz take his name from the Wizard of Oz – whose main feature was that he was a huckster and a fraud?

     

    #9679

    Daniel W.
    Participant

    On needing “God” to be good, here are my thoughts.  It kind of pissed me off, a lot of what he said sounded like self-serving gibberish.

    Maybe, because I’m an atheist, I don’t understand these arguments. Some seem like gibberish, or just assertions without providing any evidence. But I am reasonably intelligent. …
    1.  “Since he does not recognize God as the Supreme Good …  he will find it difficult to understand how any act can be intrinsically evil.  He will be inclined to think that for a good enough result, we may do anything.”   I think some acts are intrinsically evil. Such as genocide. Lynchings. Jim Crow laws. Sectarian and holy wars. These acts have been committed by millions of christians, who apparently thought that for a good enough result, they could do anything. But I don’t think that or wouldn’t do those things, in any stretch of the imagination.
    2. “Since he does not recognize Divine providence, the idea that he should do the right thing and let God take care of the consequences will seem senseless to him. …  He may find it difficult not to do evil for the sake of good. ” I think we should do the right thing regardless of the nonexistent god. Also see, #1. Christians, by the millions, have done evil for the sake of some undefinable good.
    3.  Since he does not recognize God as the Creator, he must regard conscience as the meaningless and purposeless result of a process that did not have him in mind…he will be tempted to think that the authority of conscience is an illusion. Huh? I have a conscience. It comes from within. There are good christians, but when it comes to what they do to people who they regard as “other”, they can and often do great evil.”
    4.  Since he does not have faith, he is likely to view his moral dilemmas as inescapable. … “Huh? My moral dilemmas are usually defined by “What is the right thing to do. What is the kind thing to do. Don’t be an asshole”. That is as effective as a christian asking their nonexistent god.”
    5.  Since he does not believe in divine grace, he will be unable to avail himself of its assistance.  Certainly he will be able to perform naturally good acts.  However… when he finds himself doing the wrong he does not want to do and not doing the right that he wants to do, he will be unable to cry out for assistance. “Bullshit! What is the meaning of ‘naturally good acts”? If I need help with a decision, there are lots of people I can talk to about it, or read. I deliver meals to infirm elderly people. God doesn’t tell me to do that. I do it because I feel good helping them. I recently started volunteering for a group that provides free testing and treatment for HIV and STDs, especially for marginalized LGBT people. Again, that is because it makes me feel good, and helps people who many christians demonize and literally want to see dead. Where is the divine grace in those christians, and why do I need it? “
    6. ” Since he does not believe in those spiritual virtues which depend on grace for their very existence, he will be unable to practice them at all.  For example, though he may love his wife with natural love, he will fail in that supernatural charity which enables him to see that since she is made in His image, the only true way to love her for her own sake is to love her for God’s sake. “Huh? I love someone, because I truly care, want to see the best for them, want to help them have happy and secure lives. What is the use of “spiritul value” and “love for god’s sake”. Love is love, without the interference of a nonexistent deity.
    7.  “Finally, since only a person can forgive, the moral law will seem to him a harsh accuser with a heart of rock.  When he has done wrong, as we all do, he will long to drown out the condemning voice of conscience.  He will be tempted to tell himself that the law is a fantasy, that there is nothing to be forgiven, that the solution to the problem of guilt is that there is no such thing… “This is gibberish.  I have forgiven things that hurt me, forgiven when I felt manipulated or abused or wronged, and forgiven myself at times for my very human failings.
    “So yes, for all these reasons — some logical and some psychological — we do need God to be good.”   Nope. We need to try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, recognize our own failings, be caring, and not be holier than thou, not think that there is a god who happens to support and expand on our grievances and prejudices, not think that there is a god who hates the people who we hate. We don’t need gods to be good. We need empathy and some humility. Christians by no means have a monopoly on those characteristic, and some christians have none at all.

     

    #9682

    Thanks Daniel. When it comes to debates with theists on the topic of morality I tend to become very selective about how involved I will become. Some arguments are easy to debunk, such as the “Absolute Morality” argument.  When they claim “Thou shalt not kill” is an absolute law of their God, just ask them about killing during war, self-defense or accidental killings. This shows that morality is relative. If they follow up with what the commandment really means is “thou shalt not murder” I will tell them that is their own private interpretation of the words and all it does is to make the commandment “absolutely vague”.

    BTW, “why do you wear a crucifix on a chain around your neck when another “absolute” commandment forbids “graven images or likenesses”?

    Or….

    Theist: You have to appreciate that some of those laws (like not getting tattoos) apply only to the people 2000 years’ ago.

    Me: But the ones about homosexuality from the same book and chapter do?  So they are not absolutes then. You have just admitted that they are relative to their time and place.

    If they cannot grasp something as simple as that I will not discuss “where I get my morality from” with them. This is because I will have to explain some science to them an d I don’t give free science lessons to anyone who only reads one book over and over again. Nor will I counter their prepared idiotic questions about Evolution to them which only intellectually debase an otherwise potentially worthwhile conversation.

    I will just end it with something like this; “If you cannot see that not everyone needs the rules of your God in order to “be good” or to live in civil society then please continue to keep your faith”.

    #9683

    Davis
    Participant

    On needing “God” to be good

    This is one of his stupidest arguements. For so many reasons. First, in a cultural/religious sense. There are thousands of Gods and very few could remotely be called “Good”. If we needed god to be good we would have greated a lot more Good ones…no?

    The second idiotic part, is the idea that atheists demand utter perfect morality and not a single ethical failing by God. Apparently this is asking too much of the God. An all perfect all greatness all everything…is still allowed to screw up some times. We don’t expect too much…we expect God to be as amazing as God is described in the bible and by the faithful.

    The third idiotic part is the…God seems like he doesn’t always do good things but in reality his seemingly cruel acts have a noble purpose which we cannot understand. This might make sense if God did things we found unfair in order to protect us or teach us (as when our parents don’t let us ride our bicycles on a busy street). But when God fire bombs an entire city filled with many innocent people and commands his soldiers to mass rape … I think protection and education is not a reasonable excuse. Commanding mass rape and inflicting genocide…cannot possibly be for “good reasons” in any universe under any circumstances. We aren’t talking about a “lack of goodness” where people with free will making improvised decisions  and their evil is simply a lack of God. God commanded the genocide and rape. It is an intrinsically evil act. God cannot have a lack of God.

    • This reply was modified 6 days ago by  Davis.
    #9685

    Davis
    Participant

    However… when he finds himself doing the wrong he does not want to do and not doing the right that he wants to do, he will be unable to cry out for assistance. “Bullshit! What is the meaning of ‘naturally good acts”? If I need help with a decision, there are lots of people I can talk to about it, or read. I deliver meals to infirm elderly people. God doesn’t tell me to do that. I do it because I feel good helping them. I recently started volunteering for a group that provides free testing and treatment for HIV and STDs, especially for marginalized LGBT people. Again, that is because it makes me feel good, and helps people who many christians demonize and literally want to see dead. Where is the divine grace in those christians, and why do I need it? “

    Well put

    #9687

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    In any case, while doing the most good is an important part of the life of every effective altruist, effective altruists are real people, not saints, and they don’t seek to maximize the good in every single thing they do, 24/7.

    – Peter Singer gives himself away in answering the question “is there still a bias towards one’s own children, while practicing Effective Altruism?”.

    I believe that for him, “favouring one’s own children” can be counter to “the good”.  For me, “favouring one’s own children” is one of the building blocks of “the good”, even if it comes at the expense of some other child.

    some causes are objectively better than others, and philanthropy advisors ought to be bold enough to say so.

    – again, he needs to give his definition of “better”.

    In general though, I agree that it’s a good thing to widen our circle of concern and consider other people outside our immediate circle, as people.

    • This reply was modified 5 days, 2 hours ago by  Simon Paynton.
    #9689

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    I think that Singer’s mistake is to equate “altruistic” with “good”.  According to him, if you had a choice of saving your own child’s life, or three strangers’ lives, it’s “better” to save the three strangers.

    I believe this is because Singer’s definition of goodness is “the greatest good (i.e. flourishing) for the greatest number”.  But this is impersonal and only works on a large scale.  It ignores the individual.  It is the philosophy of a psychopath in my opinion: it contains no emotion.

    If we use the definition “the greatest benefit and least harm for each individual affected by one’s actions, available to them” then this is more detailed and more reasonable.

    #9690

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    If this is a situation of helping in response to need (the need to thrive), then the question becomes not “what is the greatest good for the greatest number” but “what are their needs, and what is available to help them?”.

    #9691

    If I had to choose between saving the life of a member of my family over that of a stranger, I would always choose family. If it was the same choice but 3 strangers then order 3 coffins. At what number, if any, would you allow your family member to die in order to save the lives of the strangers?

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