a question about the value of human life

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10 May 2015 18:36 - 10 May 2015 18:39 #191511 by OB1Shinobi
EDIT
Khaos your post wasnt there when i started this
i am watching the harris video
ill get back to you

i dont like the quoting and picking apart every detail thing that people usually do so im just going to respond, sort of freestyle to everyone as best as i am able
if i miss anything that anyone feels is important then please direct me to it again

first, if the topic is more accessible by re-framing it then by all means do so

i felt that putting it in the scenario format made it a little more immediate - which imo is appropriate

rather than a completely abstract "does science offer a sense of morality?"
which sort of keeps us all out of it, to an extent

it could be "hey for those who promote science as the foundation of all truth, what reason does science offer to NOT kill (virtually) everybody?"

but like i said, i dont care that much how the question is considered - im really just interested in the feedback and the discussion :-)

as for "is it sciences FAULT? or do i BLAME science?"

no

i think science is awesome - these are two of my favorites in the hope that someone finds one of these interesting

www.khanacademy.org/science/cosmology-and-astronomy


www.khanacademy.org/science/biology


i guess i should have put this in philosophy - my apologies
if a mod wants to move it i am ok with that

im not new to the essential question presented here but i AM new to the experience of taking it seriously as a question

when confronted with the idea that people need religion to be decent to each other i have thought "thats stupid"

but now im asking WHY; why is that stupid? where else does the idea come from? that life has value? that it is RIGHT to be good to each other in a way that is bigger than just personal feelings or the avoidance of negative consequences?

is it not possible that the very reason we assume that treating people decent is self evident is because we have some religious conditioning which tells us it is so?

if it doesnt come from religion then where?

in a relatively equal society, where everyone is basically dependent on everyone else or at least someone else, then yes, cooperation and general respect are in order and are justified by logic and reason

but

in a technological society where innovation has produced the ability to change the social structure virtually over night (consider the intentional release of a biological agent, for example) and where one person or group may see the legitimate opportunity to re-write the existing social structure and place themselves tyrannically above it (nazi germany or stalin or any other terrible regimes or dictatorships you might name) - the need for respect of life drops exponentially in relative proportion to the total numbers of the individuals and logistics involved - i.e. "we only need X number of you - as slaves - and the rest can die".

also, what about personal responsibility insofar as that the ideas which we promote as individuals will inevitably influence our societies?

especially now in the internet era, one single idea can make more of a difference in the intellectual development of mass peoples than ever before in known human history

which brings me to Consequentialism

i dont know where the limits of the consequentialist philosophy are drawn;

if a parent teaches the child that nothing matters and its ok to do whatever they want to anyone as long as they can get away with doing it to, and the child grows to be a monster, is the parent responsible for the consequences of their teaching?

if mom says "go steal me some beer" is she responsible for the child doing it?

if she simply says "theres nothing wrong with stealing in and of itself, because theres no such thing as right or wrong anyway" and the kid goes and steals, is she responsible?

if so, then are we, as individuals not also responsible for what we teach each other?

does the question not become "is it responsible to promote ideas which inherently deny essential value to human life?"

if i teach that life has no value and existence has no meaning, and the charisma of my presentation inspires someone in such a way that their personality develops with faith in the ideas that i presented to them, do i not share in the responsibility when they act on those ideas?

and is it not inevitable that they eventually will?

i understand that there is no guarantee that a "religious" or "god worshiping" society wont produce such a thing as well

religious people have certainly proven that they are capable of mass murder

but does the argument "its not the science that is to blame for the murder, it is the people" not equally hold true for religion?

certainly in the case of christianity and most definitely in the case of buddhism (and buddhists have been known to fight over religion) the doctrine itself advocates love and respect and tolerance and justifies it with the assertion that life is or can be a holy experience

and that there is a cosmic order of which we are a part and that this order is inherently valuable

and religion at least, allows for conversion

do we not have on the one hand "there is no meaning to existence and no inherent value to life"
vs
"we are a part of something inherently meaningful and holy and must treat each other and the world accordingly"

it seems logical to me
(and to others, who i have been impressed with and by whom i am inspired to have this discussion with the group)
that one of those world views virtually guarantees genocidal outcomes and the other at least has within it a mechanism which limits or reduces the likelihood, as well as encourages its resistance

and if not religion, then, again, in the face of the awesome power of science, WHAT?

i am reminded of the fight club quote about the panda that wouldnt screw to save its own species

I DONT WANT TO BE THAT PANDA :deadpanda

on the issue of the word "genocide"
i dont know the context or history of that discussion
my thought is that the debate over a word is fair and good here on an internet forum where the entire experience is centered around words - but that in the face of actual genocide, in the face of the EVENT, the personality who would quibble over the DEFINITION would be part of the problem

it seems to me the shorthand definition most of the world will acknowledge would be something like "mass murder of a predetermined group of people"
you could add "regardless of their level of hostility" and i think that would seal the deal about the word and its definition
some people have mental associations to religious implication, or geographical or cultural, but i think its a safe bet that most of the world would look at any event which met that criteria/definition and say "genocide"

the only positive thing i can come away with is the idea that not really having a good word for the event seems hopeful in its own right

i am reminded of the fight club quote about the panda that wouldnt screw to save its species and i wonder if belife in the value of life is not something we ought to teach on faith

i think the world needs more than science alone to move us forward, if for no other reason than that science does not provide any real reason TO move forward

one of those degrassi tyson talks he mentions that chimps and humans have only about 2% difference in genetic make up and that this two percent is the difference between say vivaldi and koko the gorilla

he suggests that "aliens" if they were ahead of us by the same two percent margin might wheel a stephen hawking or isaac newton out on a chair and say "look this one is a little bit smarter than the others - it can do math, sort of"

and in the context of this discussion - if koko the gorilla told me there was no meaning to the universe and no value to life because her culture couldnt find any evidence of it being otherwise, if i wouldnt then laugh at the clever little monkey and its clever little science (sorry ms goodall, i know shes not actually monkey)

what im saying is, since we are not by any means guaranteed to be the measure of intelligence (in the "grand cosmic sense")
even though our science is doing a great job in a lot of things in its own right, who are we to say that it is the be all and end all of what is true in the universe?
isnt it still premature to accept this?

it cant even prove that we should continue to live
isnt this the most basic thing?

is it rather like crawling around in a dark room and only being certain that anything exists at all if we can fit it into our hand and smell it and set it back on the floor and crawl our way back to it and find that its still there?

compared to someone who knows how to flip the switch (that theoretical alien with a 2 percent difference to us) arent we imbeciles?

isnt this enough to confirm that we shouldnt put ALL our faith in the results of science to provide the answers - at least in this one instance?

People are complicated.
Last edit: 10 May 2015 18:39 by OB1Shinobi.

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10 May 2015 19:33 - 10 May 2015 19:37 #191515 by Khaos
Replied by Khaos on topic a question about the value of human life
Lol, I think you need to try to shorten your posts. Seriously, they run on for so long and I get lost into what it is your trying to say.

but does the argument "its not the science that is to blame for the murder, it is the people" not equally hold true for religion?


In that context, replace the blame for murder, for the blame for doing good. Hence religion holds no real corner in the market in regards to morality, any more than science anyway.

So ultimately, who is to blame? The individual, or group, who if they are going to do bad or good, probably do not need science, or religion, as you have reduced them to tools, blameless tools, and so, the rest of the argument is moot in my opinion.

You don need science, or religion to do bad, or good things, or to look to to justify your acts of atrocity, or benevolence.

Perhaps people put to much time into looking for those answers outside to begin with.

You will not get rid of bad people, or god people, and there excuses are largely irrelevant, and the means with which they carry it out, the tools as it were? Well, you cant blame them right?

Those that will do good will, and though they have excuses, would not need them. The same for those that would do bad.

You cant look to the tools for answers.

Do you ask your ethical and moral questions to a hammer?

So why ask it of science, if it is just a tool?

Lol, and if religion is also a tool, it has just as much of an answer, or lack of one.
Last edit: 10 May 2015 19:37 by Khaos.

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10 May 2015 19:45 - 10 May 2015 19:47 #191516 by Khaos
Replied by Khaos on topic a question about the value of human life

isnt this enough to confirm that we shouldnt put ALL our faith in the results of science to provide the answers - at least in this one instance?


Heres the thing....Science has in no way said it could asnwer the questions you are asking of it.

So the instance, this one instance, to say it doesnt have the answer to a question it doesnt ask...

What are you trying to prove exactly?

Science doesnt ask for, or require faith anyway.
Last edit: 10 May 2015 19:47 by Khaos.

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10 May 2015 20:30 #191520 by Khaos
Replied by Khaos on topic a question about the value of human life
For those paths, or avenues, or what have you, that do say they have the answers...None of them have an overwhelming corner in the market on morals and ethics, but all have been vehicles for various levels of atrocity.

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10 May 2015 20:56 #191524 by Calem
Replied by Calem on topic a question about the value of human life
Science holds no morals as science is not an ideology because science is a tool. Everything that science does it dependent on the one who uses it.
You can use science to create or to destroy. Which you choose depends on who you are as a person. Will you use the hammer to smash the vase or build a shelf for it?

Does human life only hold value in a religious sense? No, absolutely not. The value of life is inherit to all of us if we care to listen to our natural instincts because without other people we won't survive and the instinct to keep our species alive is just as strong in humans as in other animals and organisms. Many ideas, though, has given us an ethnocentric view of the world that sets us apart from the natural world and has taught us to ignore natural instincts.

In the end I can't answer your question because I believe you're holding two things up against eachother which aren't comparable. In a sense it's like asking if you prefer icecream or jazz.

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10 May 2015 21:54 #191532 by Zenchi
A heads up to the newer members and guests here, most of us are geeks, and we love science. Consider yourselves warned when posting theoretical questions...

My Word is my Honor, and my Honor is my Life ~ Sturm Brightblade
Passion, yet Serenity
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12 May 2015 23:30 #191807 by OB1Shinobi
the sam harris video was cool

the only thing i see that needs to be addressed in response to his talk is what i already mentioned about the situation where a person or small group sees a legitimate chance to overthrow the existing structure and kill off most of the competitors (i.e. the rest of the human race)

the conclusions of science dont require faith insofar as they are able to be reproduced deliberately and reliably

what i meant when i said something about "faith in science" is that i see people putting forward the idea that religion is bad and science is good and therefore we should do away with religion and count on science to provide all the answers

i see that religion is pretty much a bad word among people who pride themselves on being intellectual and the more i think of it, the more i come to believe thats a terrible way to see things

i guess thats my point

People are complicated.

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12 May 2015 23:32 - 12 May 2015 23:33 #191811 by OB1Shinobi

Zenchi wrote: A heads up to the newer members and guests here

Consider yourselves warned when posting theoretical questions...


the taliban say stuff like this

People are complicated.
Last edit: 12 May 2015 23:33 by OB1Shinobi.

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12 May 2015 23:39 #191812 by Calem
Replied by Calem on topic a question about the value of human life

OB1Shinobi wrote: the sam harris video was cool

the only thing i see that needs to be addressed in response to his talk is what i already mentioned about the situation where a person or small group sees a legitimate chance to overthrow the existing structure and kill off most of the competitors (i.e. the rest of the human race)

the conclusions of science dont require faith insofar as they are able to be reproduced deliberately and reliably

what i meant when i said something about "faith in science" is that i see people putting forward the idea that religion is bad and science is good and therefore we should do away with religion and count on science to provide all the answers

i see that religion is pretty much a bad word among people who pride themselves on being intellectual and the more i think of it, the more i come to believe thats a terrible way to see things

i guess thats my point


But that would be the intentions of that small group of people, not the intention of science as science has no intentions in itself. Math enables you to calculate how many bombs it would take to destroy a certain amount of buildings but it also enables you to calculate how many throws of a dice it would take to spell out "Macbeth" in Morse code. Math doesn't care. Chemistry doesn't care or judge the right or wrong in making Agent Orange more than it does when I make soap at home. Chemistry just do what it does.
I see no conflict between religion and science as they deal with two different things. The spiritual and the earthly. Coming from Druidism do I see a problem with science explaining how photosynthesis works considering I attribute Life to the Force? No, it just makes it all so much more wonderful and beautiful to me. It doesn't change the fact that I believe there's an all-pervasive Force running through the entire universe, it simply shows me another aspect of it.

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12 May 2015 23:58 - 12 May 2015 23:58 #191816 by OB1Shinobi
i agree

i love learning about a wide variety of subjects- i myself am not a scientist, strictly speaking, but i do promote science and i am fascinated with scientific discovery

the feeling that inspired this thread was a response to the idea that religion is a blight on humanity and in its place we should accept science

in the place of religion

i grew up seeing religious people act like asses and for a time i had a sense that religion was more trouble than its worth

every now and again a religious person would say "without god people would have no morals" and i thought "thats absolutely stupid"

but i realize that its not stupid at all

its not precise that we need "god" but it seems to me that it IS religion that insists life is valuable and so i was interested in exploring that basic topic

i bet science would care if you could make a soap that would wash away the agent orange :-)

and i feel the same way with a lot of astronomy and physics

the universe is amazing and every time i hear or read scientists talking about how atoms and molecules behave and space time and the multiverse i always think "science is proving the ancients were right about a lot of stuff"

People are complicated.
Last edit: 12 May 2015 23:58 by OB1Shinobi.
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