a question about the value of human life

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13 May 2015 09:26 - 13 May 2015 09:45 #191860 by Gisteron
Okay, my apologies for taking advantage of you in the following way, but this comes up a lot. While you are welcome to see the following as a response to you specifically, be aware that I am using you to address the points so broadly that I may venture outside of your particular words.

OB1Shinobi wrote: 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

But it is. Whether or not there is a god out there (and whatever "to be" would even mean in that context), we live in a world that increasingly seems to be not controlled by anything smart or at all interested in our welfare. I am willing to entertain a deist conception of a first cause with no further interference. While there is nothing to indicate that, it does not seem to be strictly in conflict with what we learned about the universe until now. What "truth" means in this context is also yet to be defined, but for the sake of the discussion I am tentatively willing to entertain that this could be true in a colloquial sense of "could" and "true", respectively.
In any case, since this god (or universal force or pantheon of gods, if that is more to your liking) doesn't seem to be giving much of a damn about us, we are effectively operating in what I am comfortable saying is a world without gods. In this world people have morals. Some are decent from our point of view, others are barbaric, and all but a few insist that their morality is that of a god, revealing the inherent arrogance and vanity of that position (which is not universal, but very present and outspoken). I don't know what a world with a god would look like or, if ours is one, what one without a god would look like. For as long as no difference can be identified, we - sort of by definition - couldn't tell. The idea therefore, that in a world without god people would have no morals is either the declaration of a definition of a godless world, in which case it is begging the question and pretty much defining god into this world, or it is an empty statement asserted without any justification and thus not worth our consideration until such time when a valid or sound argument is presented in its favour.

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

But it isn't. Not in general anyway. Some religions do insist on a value of life, others don't. Those that do have one or all of the following problems: First, most are willing to abandon their oh-so-sacred principles whenever it suits their interests if it is the leaders or the believers or whenever it suits their narrative when it is their holy myths. Second, all of them, with not one exception, lack any and all justification for their assertions of the value of life. The best they can offer is an appeal to consequence in which case no sacredness is attached or an appeal to dictate from up above (be it their gods or the universe or holy creeds or whatever), which in essence is no more than themselves claiming the heart and mind of God as their own, yet again revealing an astounding arrogance and vanity so many religions tend to shun. And as if that wasn't quite enough, many will talk about how the human condition is a bad or wicked one and instill shame and guilt over being what we were born to be, essentially wrecking our sense of self-worth to the point where they can rebuild it for us, thus capturing us forever in their service.

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"

Except of course it isn't. Science isn't in the business of proving anything, but I shan't make this about semantics again. In the struggle for the authoritative position on what is true, religion at this point has pretty much lost, not least thanks to their constant conflicts among the globe and, perhaps more importantly, epistemic vapidity in just about every claim they ever made. Seeing as science is gaining the upper hand through curiosity and honesty in their pursuit of knowledge, the religions now desperately try to have a part in it. This is why they claim that science keeps confirming what they had been saying all along. Back when religion was strong, back when it had god on its side, it would confidently contradict science and declare capital-T Truth in any way it pleases and by force. Now that it can't get away with that anymore it is humbling and sleazily trying to hijack the good name of science. This is particularly apparent in the entire creationism debate where they literally try to say that what is science really isn't science but what they do is, because that is how good the name of science has indeed become. The Great Christopher Hitchens pointed this out numerous times, here is one.
As for the new-agers and their quantum nonsense... Well, they have been doing it to electricity, too, back when nobody learned any of that in school. There is no ancient wisdom confirmed by it and in my humble opinion what ever asserts itself as true and waits for millennia to be confirmed by honest inquiry, meanwhile insisting on its own correctness for no reason and with dissenters' blood, does not qualify as wisdom.

FYI, in the 60's comics and for as long as until the 90's cartoons, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider to become the Amazing Spider-Man. However, in the 2012 blockbuster, Peter was bitten by a genetically altered spider. Could it be that both are just rephrasings of "magic" in a popular current scientific frontier sort of way? Science woo in a nutshell.
;)

Better to leave questions unanswered than answers unquestioned
Last edit: 13 May 2015 09:45 by Gisteron.

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13 May 2015 10:03 #191862 by Khaos

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13 May 2015 14:48 #191886 by OB1Shinobi
if a man has the power to kill off 99% of the human population and place himself as supreme emperor of the remaining - and devote the majority of the remaining workforce to ensuring the colonization of space

and the majority of the rest of his personal time to having as many children as posibble

why shouldnt he do it?

People are complicated.

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13 May 2015 15:06 - 13 May 2015 15:11 #191890 by OB1Shinobi
all of the individual points made about god not being smart/good and/or not caring are highly interpretive

if we acknowledge the possibility of "god"

religion places man in the position of being held accountable to a reality inherently superior to his potential

if religion is not the ultimate source of ethics, what is?

is there any reason to respect the social structure or the value of life if one has the power to reign supreme over it?

religion does offer justification Gisteron, and the various expressions of it can be summed up with this; because it is gods will - gods plan and gods work (or THE Gods, or The Spirit, or The Spirits, or the Grand Cosmic Poobah, or the Force) that something essentially RIGHT is behind it all and there is a limit to how much of that we have a right to mess up simply because we are playing with something beyond our ability to fathom or to judge

and we are meaningful because we are a part of it, but we are only one piece in a puzzle and we do not have the right to break the whole durn thing just because we can and we want to


EDIT

im not talking about any particular religion

i am talking about religion as a psychological force - meta religion, as it were

even the potential of the next era of religious thought, which is in our hands as free thinkers and conscientious participants in the global society

People are complicated.
Last edit: 13 May 2015 15:11 by OB1Shinobi.

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13 May 2015 15:20 #191893 by Calem
Replied by Calem on topic a question about the value of human life

OB1Shinobi wrote: if a man has the power to kill off 99% of the human population and place himself as supreme emperor of the remaining - and devote the majority of the remaining workforce to ensuring the colonization of space

and the majority of the rest of his personal time to having as many children as posibble

why shouldnt he do it?


Because he hasn't the right to do so.

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13 May 2015 15:35 #191896 by LuCrae Jiddu
Replied by LuCrae Jiddu on topic a question about the value of human life
OB1Shinobi, do you see morals as objective or subjective. Are they seen by you as derived from an external whatever there is or through an internal reasoning?

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13 May 2015 16:04 #191901 by OB1Shinobi

Calem wrote:

OB1Shinobi wrote: if a man has the power to kill off 99% of the human population and place himself as supreme emperor of the remaining - and devote the majority of the remaining workforce to ensuring the colonization of space

and the majority of the rest of his personal time to having as many children as posibble

why shouldnt he do it?


Because he hasn't the right to do so.


i agree that he hasnt the right

now i ask you (us) to justify this assertion

People are complicated.

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13 May 2015 16:08 #191902 by Calem
Replied by Calem on topic a question about the value of human life

OB1Shinobi wrote:

Calem wrote:

OB1Shinobi wrote: if a man has the power to kill off 99% of the human population and place himself as supreme emperor of the remaining - and devote the majority of the remaining workforce to ensuring the colonization of space

and the majority of the rest of his personal time to having as many children as posibble

why shouldnt he do it?


Because he hasn't the right to do so.


i agree that he hasnt the right

now i ask you (us) to justify this assertion


No one has given him the right thus he cannot have it.

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13 May 2015 16:32 #191904 by Gisteron

OB1Shinobi wrote: if a man has the power to kill off 99% of the human population and place himself as supreme emperor of the remaining - and devote the majority of the remaining workforce to ensuring the colonization of space

and the majority of the rest of his personal time to having as many children as posibble

why shouldnt he do it?


The fact that nothing else offers a good answer does not mean that the billion things that pretend they figured it all out are any closer to the truth than an honest innocent shrug. Besides, the default position is inaction. The question shouldn't be why should he not do it, but rather, with all things considered, why should he?

all of the individual points made about god not being smart/good and/or not caring are highly interpretive

No, they aren't. This world operates in precisely the way we would expect one without god to work and nothing like what we would expect assuming the claims of the preachers were true to any extent. Again, not saying that they're wrong, just that we would expect different if they're right.

religion places man in the position of being held accountable to a reality inherently superior to his potential

No, it doesn't. Not in general anyway. Again, some might, others might not and the more sophisticated ones end up contradicting themselves all the time on this point. And even if we accepted that we are accountable (because or in spite of religious claims in regards to that), there is nothing forcing us to care either way. We care on our own for - you guessed it - no reason. At least not any ultimate reason which seems to be what you are asking for as if that made any difference.

if religion is not the ultimate source of ethics, what is?

It isn't. We are. Ultimate in the sense that ultimately it is us making the moral judgements and engaging in action. We do that with and without religion just as we do it with and without politics. Other animals do it, too. All it takes is a collective of social animals. If you need anything more ultimate than that, at least in this lifetime, well, then that's too bad; better luck next time.

is there any reason to respect the social structure or the value of life if one has the power to reign supreme over it?

No, there isn't. There are people who have no capacity to value either their own or anyone else's life and no amount of reasoning can bring them about, and that's not for a lack of logic skills on their part but for a lack of good reasons on ours.

religion does offer justification Gisteron, and the various expressions of it can be summed up with this; because it is gods will - gods plan and gods work (or THE Gods, or The Spirit, or The Spirits, or the Grand Cosmic Poobah, or the Force) that something essentially RIGHT is behind it all and there is a limit to how much of that we have a right to mess up simply because we are playing with something beyond our ability to fathom or to judge

Yes, and they said that the subordination of black people was part of that plan and back in that day you would have had no argument to refute them.
I'm sorry, but a dictate from up above is not its own justification. I could bring up the Euthyphro-Dilemma and have another chuckle watching people trying to get around this pretty much unsolvable problem, though I don't even need to, because you are already arguing in a circle here. Even if we grant that all this is a divine plan, that doesn't make it "essentially RIGHT", it just makes it a god's plan. That doesn't give it the right to command us and does not obligate us to follow it. Nothing does and nothing can, and even if it could, that wouldn't make it right, it would just make it obligatory. But we don't live in a world that seems to be governed by gods and we don't have divine commands. All we have is our own texts and our own morals and we must make our own decisions in this world and until such time that we can identify consequences outside of our world, consequences like that must not and cannot come into consideration - and again, wouldn't oblige us to anything, if they could.

and we are meaningful because we are a part of it, but we are only one piece in a puzzle and we do not have the right to break the whole durn thing just because we can and we want to

So what sort of meaning is it exactly? Let's say we were specially created by a god. That tells us nothing about our purpose. Let's say we know the purpose. That doesn't tell us about why the god did it. Let's say we knew why the god did it. How could we possibly know there is a meaning to any of this? Let's say we know there is a meaning. How do we know what it is? You see, even to get to the questions countless assumptions must be made and you are saying there is something that is answering those questions as we speak?
Oh, and even if we could answer all of them: How do you infer that we wouldn't have the right to break the entire thing and do our own instead? No moral obligation follows from that knowledge, even if the god gave us laws to live by. They would be just that: Divine laws. Why we should care in the slightest would still be a matter of our individual own.

Better to leave questions unanswered than answers unquestioned

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13 May 2015 16:42 #191906 by OB1Shinobi

LuCrae Jiddu wrote: OB1Shinobi, do you see morals as objective or subjective. Are they seen by you as derived from an external whatever there is or through an internal reasoning?


i dont know

how much of who we are internally is shaped by our environment and our conditioning is something still up for some debate

that a developed personality has a moral inclinationnwhich is not a result of some level of conditioning seems to me very unlikely and impossible to prove anyway since we wouldnt survive infancy without some external care and that experience itself is the begining of or moral conditioning, for better or worse

i think there is such a thing as a "meta-view" of the world and existence and that we all develop one as an automatic psychological process

i think that the nature of this view is then used either as a model for ideal behavior or as a justification for desired behavior and that it has a huge influence over the types of behavior which result

this "meta-view" is basically what i mean when i say "religion"

which is why imo the most functional defition for the word religion is "what a person believes to be true aboutife, existence, and their place with it"

People are complicated.

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