Atheism's problem of evil

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sgttomas
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Re: Atheism's problem of evil

Post by sgttomas » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:16 am

met wrote:
Metacrock wrote:
that's nowhere near the same. They not dealing with ethical decision making and they are not imposing an "ought."
It's interesting, looking it up, what Hume meant the way he referred to that. when all of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence.

Yeah, remembering Plato's dialogues, Socrates was always doing exactly that, deriving an 'ought' from an 'is,'wasn't he? Looking into the "true nature" of a thing, then devloping a POV on how it/we should act in accordance with that nature. The underlying 'ought' I suppose was this: "a thing OUGHT to act in accordance with its true nature and not agaisnt it"

Isn't Buddhism (in my lame oversimplification at least) doing the same thing? "All of us are contingent, and only part of the whole, so we should ease and not contribute to each other's suffering, because each other's suffering is part of our suffering"

Is the underlying 'ought' "we should ease our own suffering??" As opposed to what? Just learning to like it? :shock:
...see all that gobbledigook I spout, and how I abuse the language in order to make the opposites mean the same thing and then back again....this is how oughts are defined in Eastern logic. The language has a kind of syntax that does the following: all is contingent upon the self knowing the external reality and then knowing the inner reality AS the external reality (they are the same), by which we learn how to see opposites in tension (i.e. the boundary of "me" and "not-me" is whatever I cannot directly control with conscious thought...previously the limited us to the body that grew around us, now we can build upon this basic framework, add to it, or replace a defective piece....the boundary of "me" has changed, and so has our consciousness). This is what is meant by the middle path: wrestling with how to define "pattern" within the continuum of reality and being changed by the consciousness of that pattern. The reason why Buddhism often sounds so impersonal and self-depreciating is because it is entirely an inner-derived religion with no authoritative texts to act as the objective aim of morality (which in this sense is the broadest meaning of knowing what one ought to do with one's life). The reason why it can be very useful at achieving a peaceful emotional state and an expansive consciousness is because of how closely it mirrors the learning process with a practical syntax for encoding knowledge literally. The correlation between inner and outer states through the language of Buddhism allows one to share consciousness and move towards "enlightenment" - in other words, enlightenment by accretion (which is also by negation, it's just a different perspective and both are right, but are only self-consistent within a proper framework).

To repeat: in order for this inner reality to be properly translated one has to work through these rhetorical techniques, both literal and experiential, to unwrap the grammar that we construct in our minds to interpret our experience of reality and thereby be able to accept a more encompassing scope of consciousness. This is literally expanding the mind.

With the wisdom that comes with awareness of the connectivity of life to everything else, we understand how to ease our own suffering by walking the path of least resistence. The sense in which this path is benevolent or malevolent is defined in the absolute sense of survival - imorTALity. But having such God-like perspective is not possible except for the enlightened individual, whose consciousness dissolves into the Great Infinity beyond which human perception of ought and ought not disappears because there is no tension between opposites when your perspective is ALL perspectives. This is why suffering of one individual is also your suffering, because the God-Point of the fate of all life is to gain this universal perspective. So this is also why the middle path, moving through opposites in tension, personally wrestling with how to achieve greater consciousness of how to propagate life, begins with an absolute: the self-perspective, then defines the self in relation to other selves, and then defines the self AS the other selves. So with each perspective the meaning of good and evil has an entirely different basis.

All together, then, the middle path seems incoherent, inconsistent, and self-destructive, but it's just using different logic to think about the same yearnings for immortality and morality that any Western religious behaviour exhibits. Instead of having the objective truth defined in relation to revelation (be she Nature or Book), truth is defined relative to itself. The same thing works in the Abrahamic faiths because they are fundamentally Eastern in their epistemology. The Western model of reality is the only sense in which atheism has any meaning. In the Eastern sense, atheism is not a lack of belief in a god, it's a lack of commitment to the cause of knowing truth and behaviour contradictory to the benevolence of life....which isn't really the same thing as "atheism" in our parlence at all!!!!

Did any of that make sense????!?

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")

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Re: Atheism's problem of evil

Post by QuantumTroll » Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:56 am

sgttomas wrote: Thanks for taking the time to read it and add to the discussion.
My pleasure ;)
Having an objective principle for morality is not possible for an atheistic culture, therefore the aggregate is not immorality, but amorality.

The bolded is exactly what I disagreed with in my post. Please tell me why the morality of my atheistic culture isn't objective. As I tried to show, I think it is founded on objective facts and observations...
Morality is a cultural creation with no a priori knowledge derived from On High (this is integral to Metacrock's notion of Godhood in the Fount of Being, sense and also to the theistic fatalism of anthropic reasoning - we are hopelessly stuck on thinking of a way to achieve immortality). Any move towards On High necessarily invokes what I have identified as religious principles. So universal, objective morality is a religious pursuit, while individual morality and cultural amorality is an atheistic endeavour. Your choice of suffering has no universal moral application because equally valid moral systems appreciate suffering, while abhorring, say, going into the afterlife without one's spouse (requiring the "timely" deaths of both partners). How can we say one is better than another except to appeal to our own reasonable perspective.
The possibility of ethical dilemmas and conflicting views of what is moral is unrelated to whether a system of morality is objective or not. God doesn't seem to pass moral judgments here on Earth, nor has He told us in perfectly clear terms what is moral. If He did, then there wouldn't be such fervent disagreements between His followers on small and large matters. Whatever code of ethics that religious thinkers cook up are not based on God's objective morality. I don't see any difference between an atheist attempting to develop a universal and objective code of ethics and a theist doing the same, except that the atheist will base his on humanism rather than religion.
The only thing required of humanity in terms of morality is survival because without survival morality has no context, because no one exists to be moral. There is no way to be more specific than that about who survives, why and in what capacity.

Because of this variety of moral experience, I only use "atheist" and "theist" as archetypes of behaviour. Real people occupy both categories, because pragmatism is favourable over consistency when it comes to forming beliefs about life. So there need not be a grand synthesis of knowledge (that necessarily leads to On High) for there to be morality. But any characteristically human effort to propagate as a species (a move towards immorTALity) is a religious one. This is the only consistent way to keep the notions of atheism and theism distinct from one another. Any other resolution makes such a distinction entirely subjective (i.e. atheism only in the specific sense, not the absolute sense).
I find myself disagreeing with you here, but when I tried to formulate why I found that I probably don't understand what you're saying. Are you saying that atheism and theism are distinct in that theism deals with a species-level morality? That doesn't make any sense, so I'll just let you try to explain again...
This is critical to resolve the circular logic of negation, "I don't believe in *that* god" that is the lone necessary characteristic of atheism. Since anything can be defined as "god", for us to be able to use these words in an intersubjective sense...and not in the private language sense necessitated by the inner experience of divinity that cannot be duplicated in speech or writing...this is the only consistent framework to apply.

Of course, this only applies in the very limited context of describing absolutes. When discussing non-absolutes we can be a lot more flexible and personal in how we think and speak. So while you think of using "atheism" in both the general and specific sense, I have clearly and consistently defined the two differently as atheism (the general sense) and an Atheist (with correlate to the specific atheism).

Now, I will allow that my logic could be wrong about how to deal with absolutes, but it doesn't falter from the objection you raise here. As Fleetmouse pointed out, I have a tendency to abuse the english language - or as I prefer; teaching it a lesson to make it behave. lol. I wish I knew another language that corresponds better to how my inner grammar works! :ugeek:
You're right that the non-existent definition of "god" makes clear communication difficult, but I'm not convinced that abusing the English language is the best course of action. Better would be to repeat often and concisely what sort of "god" is under consideration. Language only works if all participants use sufficiently common language. Better to be redundant rather than subtly changing existing words, as this often introduces "false friends" and misunderstandings. This is why my posts tend to get long and tedious... but hopefully clear ;)

In any case, my position that atheism and objective morality aren't mutually exclusive hasn't changed. You say "you can't derive an ought from an is", which to me sounds like a catchy bit of nonsense. Why not? The "is" is obvious enough: pain hurts and we don't like to hurt. The "ought" derives so naturally that we see understanding of it even in animal behavior: you shouldn't cause others pain. That's the foundation of humanist morality and can be rephrased, reiterated, broadened, deepened, and discussed to no end. And quite objective...

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Re: Atheism's problem of evil

Post by met » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:59 am

The "ought" derives so naturally that we see understanding of it even in animal behavior: you shouldn't cause others pain. That's the foundation of humanist morality and can be rephrased, reiterated, broadened, deepened, and discussed to no end. And quite objective...

I think NOT!!!! :o The problem is OTHER PEOPLE'S PAIN doesn't actually hurt us! :shock: ... and since competition - ie predation on and/or exclusion of the weaker -seems to be woven very deeply into the everyday, natural order of things too, why shouldn't the stronger among us act in accordance with their nature (while PRETENDING to be moral whenever it suits them...) and take all they can for themselves?


The difficult thing for u would seem to be ... that strategy often works. Hitler and Stalin, for example, lived (or seemed to seemed to have had at least) much easier lives than those of many of their victims or those they exploited in that they didn't starve, they never went hungry at least..... So if using others without conscience, while pretending to be moral, can be a successful life-strategy, how do you frame an atheistic "objective" morality?
Last edited by met on Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Atheism's problem of evil

Post by met » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:00 pm

sgttomas wrote:
met wrote:
Metacrock wrote:
that's nowhere near the same. They not dealing with ethical decision making and they are not imposing an "ought."
It's interesting, looking it up, what Hume meant the way he referred to that. when all of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence.

Yeah, remembering Plato's dialogues, Socrates was always doing exactly that, deriving an 'ought' from an 'is,'wasn't he? Looking into the "true nature" of a thing, then devloping a POV on how it/we should act in accordance with that nature. The underlying 'ought' I suppose was this: "a thing OUGHT to act in accordance with its true nature and not agaisnt it"

Isn't Buddhism (in my lame oversimplification at least) doing the same thing? "All of us are contingent, and only part of the whole, so we should ease and not contribute to each other's suffering, because each other's suffering is part of our suffering"

Is the underlying 'ought' "we should ease our own suffering??" As opposed to what? Just learning to like it? :shock:
...see all that gobbledigook I spout, and how I abuse the language in order to make the opposites mean the same thing and then back again....this is how oughts are defined in Eastern logic. The language has a kind of syntax that does the following: all is contingent upon the self knowing the external reality and then knowing the inner reality AS the external reality (they are the same), by which we learn how to see opposites in tension (i.e. the boundary of "me" and "not-me" is whatever I cannot directly control with conscious thought...previously the limited us to the body that grew around us, now we can build upon this basic framework, add to it, or replace a defective piece....the boundary of "me" has changed, and so has our consciousness). This is what is meant by the middle path: wrestling with how to define "pattern" within the continuum of reality and being changed by the consciousness of that pattern. The reason why Buddhism often sounds so impersonal and self-depreciating is because it is entirely an inner-derived religion with no authoritative texts to act as the objective aim of morality (which in this sense is the broadest meaning of knowing what one ought to do with one's life). The reason why it can be very useful at achieving a peaceful emotional state and an expansive consciousness is because of how closely it mirrors the learning process with a practical syntax for encoding knowledge literally. The correlation between inner and outer states through the language of Buddhism allows one to share consciousness and move towards "enlightenment" - in other words, enlightenment by accretion (which is also by negation, it's just a different perspective and both are right, but are only self-consistent within a proper framework).

To repeat: in order for this inner reality to be properly translated one has to work through these rhetorical techniques, both literal and experiential, to unwrap the grammar that we construct in our minds to interpret our experience of reality and thereby be able to accept a more encompassing scope of consciousness. This is literally expanding the mind.

With the wisdom that comes with awareness of the connectivity of life to everything else, we understand how to ease our own suffering by walking the path of least resistence. The sense in which this path is benevolent or malevolent is defined in the absolute sense of survival - imorTALity. But having such God-like perspective is not possible except for the enlightened individual, whose consciousness dissolves into the Great Infinity beyond which human perception of ought and ought not disappears because there is no tension between opposites when your perspective is ALL perspectives. This is why suffering of one individual is also your suffering, because the God-Point of the fate of all life is to gain this universal perspective. So this is also why the middle path, moving through opposites in tension, personally wrestling with how to achieve greater consciousness of how to propagate life, begins with an absolute: the self-perspective, then defines the self in relation to other selves, and then defines the self AS the other selves. So with each perspective the meaning of good and evil has an entirely different basis.

All together, then, the middle path seems incoherent, inconsistent, and self-destructive, but it's just using different logic to think about the same yearnings for immortality and morality that any Western religious behaviour exhibits. Instead of having the objective truth defined in relation to revelation (be she Nature or Book), truth is defined relative to itself. The same thing works in the Abrahamic faiths because they are fundamentally Eastern in their epistemology. The Western model of reality is the only sense in which atheism has any meaning. In the Eastern sense, atheism is not a lack of belief in a god, it's a lack of commitment to the cause of knowing truth and behaviour contradictory to the benevolence of life....which isn't really the same thing as "atheism" in our parlence at all!!!!

Did any of that make sense????!?

Peace,
-sgttomas
Perfect sense!!!!! :o :o :o
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
Dr Ward Blanton

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Re: Atheism's problem of evil

Post by Metacrock » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:46 pm

but the distinction between Socratic ethics and Christian ethics is that for Socrates "good" means functional or serviceable, not moral. for Christians it means "moral" in other words, mindful not to sin.
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Re: Atheism's problem of evil

Post by Metacrock » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:47 pm

The Western model of reality is the only sense in which atheism has any meaning. In the Eastern sense, atheism is not a lack of belief in a god, it's a lack of commitment to the cause of knowing truth and behaviour contradictory to the benevolence of life....which isn't really the same thing as "atheism" in our parlence at all!!!!
exactly, know why? Because modern Western civ is Western thought after is Christian heart is ripped out.
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Re: Atheism's problem of evil

Post by met » Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:33 pm

Metacrock wrote:but the distinction between Socratic ethics and Christian ethics is that for Socrates "good" means functional or serviceable, not moral. for Christians it means "moral" in other words, mindful not to sin.
does it depend upon the end? ... if moral behavior is a means to something (getting to heaven, avoiding hell, whatever) is it then NOT moral behavior?

is "you ought'a obey God 'cause s/he carries a mighty big stick!" an ETHICAL argument or not? :shock: ... in Hume's sense of "can't derive ought from an is," i mean
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
Dr Ward Blanton

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Re: Atheism's problem of evil

Post by Metacrock » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:10 pm

met wrote:
Metacrock wrote:but the distinction between Socratic ethics and Christian ethics is that for Socrates "good" means functional or serviceable, not moral. for Christians it means "moral" in other words, mindful not to sin.
does it depend upon the end? ... if moral behavior is a means to something (getting to heaven, avoiding hell, whatever) is it then NOT moral behavior?

is "you ought'a obey God 'cause s/he carries a mighty big stick!" an ETHICAL argument or not? :shock: ... in Hume's sense of "can't derive ought from an is," i mean

no it does not depend upon the end. There are two major divisions in ethics. People who believe in truth beieve that rules and duty and obligation determine the good or the right, while godless secularist atheist heathen believe that it's based upon outcome.

I say that tongue in cheek of course it seems to fall that way. Atheists tend to be consequential and believers in some form of deity tend to be deontological in their ethics. Most ethicist today believe that most from consequential have been beaten.
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Re: Atheism's problem of evil

Post by QuantumTroll » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:22 am

met wrote:
The "ought" derives so naturally that we see understanding of it even in animal behavior: you shouldn't cause others pain. That's the foundation of humanist morality and can be rephrased, reiterated, broadened, deepened, and discussed to no end. And quite objective...
I think NOT!!!! :o The problem is OTHER PEOPLE'S PAIN doesn't actually hurt us! :shock: ... and since competition - ie predation on and/or exclusion of the weaker -seems to be woven very deeply into the everyday, natural order of things too, why shouldn't the stronger among us act in accordance with their nature (while PRETENDING to be moral whenever it suits them...) and take all they can for themselves?
Because humans are social beings. No man is an island, and (barring sociopathic mental illness) aren't happy living just for ourselves. Competition among people makes sense in exactly one context: survival. If there are only enough resources (e.g. food) to feed 50% of the people you know, the stronger will make sure that they're in that 50%. Once you have your basic needs met, however, taking advantage of the weak doesn't provide you with any benefit. More probably, people around you will notice, starting thinking you're a jerk, and stop treating you with kindness. A recipe for a crappy life.
The difficult thing for u would seem to be ... that strategy often works. Hitler and Stalin, for example, lived (or seemed to seemed to have had at least) much easier lives than those of many of their victims or those they exploited in that they didn't starve, they never went hungry at least..... So if using others without conscience, while pretending to be moral, can be a successful life-strategy, how do you frame an atheistic "objective" morality?
Successful life-strategy, you say? Hitler shot himself in a bunker. Stalin was so afraid of his enemies that he executed or banished anyone who showed even an inkling of independent thought and drive, even his oldest friends. These men were historical greats, but I would hardly call their lives a success. But okay, you disagree, that is fine.

Because none of us is Hitler or Stalin. Most of humanity is quite ordinary. We need others and we need others to need us. If humans were sharks, you'd be right. The biggest, fastest, strongest shark gets the most food and is happiest. Humans, however, are more like sheep. A happy flock makes for a happy sheep.

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Re: Atheism's problem of evil

Post by QuantumTroll » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:45 am

Metacrock wrote: no it does not depend upon the end. There are two major divisions in ethics. People who believe in truth beieve that rules and duty and obligation determine the good or the right, while godless secularist atheist heathen believe that it's based upon outcome.

I say that tongue in cheek of course it seems to fall that way. Atheists tend to be consequential and believers in some form of deity tend to be deontological in their ethics. Most ethicist today believe that most from consequential have been beaten.
Deontological ethics don't make sense to me, unless your moral rule is that you shouldn't hurt people. But if that's your deontological rule, then you end up with a consequentialist ethics in practice anyway. A deontological ethics that isn't based on that rule is in my opinion not a good idea.

Suppose you follow the rule "always tell the truth". Then you might find yourself in a situation where someone will be hurt by the truth, and you knowingly tell the truth anyway and knowingly hurt this person. And you walk away feeling like you did the moral thing. Madness!

My point here is that a deontological ethicist might say "tell the truth" only if she also says "don't hurt anyone". But as I said above, the latter rule turns the deontologist into a consequentialist in practice.

Then there's the question of where the deontological rules come from. You might say they come from God. I don't think God cares about people following rules (such a petty God that would be!), but rather that people care about each other and act like it. While I don't see any value in following rules for their own sake, a rule can be a good guideline or hint for ethical behavior in many situations (like for example the truth-telling rule).

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