September 29, 2005
It is for this reason that societies built on irrational premises will ultimately result in a race of humans best suited to being irrational. If we want to preserve the rational faculties that evolution has bestowed upon us, we must base our culture on rational premises.
What an interesting premise!
As our mental faculties are a result of our physical capacity to possess those faculties -- we have brains capable of reason -- it is possible not only to develop brains that at better suited to reason but also to develop brains not well-suited to the exercise.
Presumably, having more capable brains is what got us this far because reason triumphed over force. But if we subject ourselves to an environment where reason is trumped by force, we would reverse our evolutionary path.
The hopeful me thinks that this is not likely to happen. I tend to think that there are no situations in which reason cannot overcome brutishness. But given sufficient pressures, I don't see why this would be the case. We could regulate and govern ourselves back to savages!
What a horror!
September 28, 2005
I would like to point out that each of the three people I just listed are Christians. Christians are, by definition, characterized by their faith and lack of reason.
This doesn't mean that I don't think these people ever make the right decisions or that they never make the right decision for the right reason. It means that I think they mostly make their decisions, right and wrong, for the wrong reasons, for irrational reasons. I don't care how sanely you responded to the Senate committee or how many words you made up or how passionately you spoke over your callers. You define yourself by your irrationalism when you define yourself by your faith. Full stop.
So, brave commentors, if you're going to come onto my website and tell me that my credibility is in question because I've dared to shame the devil, you're just going to have to pedal your horse hockey elsewhere. We'll have none of it!
September 21, 2005
America's atheists finally have a voice in Washington D.C. to champion the cause of the "amoral minority," and the rights of those who believe in no intrinsic basis for rights
Ms. Brown said public educators "pay lip service to 'survival of the fittest', but when it comes to the legal system, we put the best predators behind bars and play nursemaid to the weak, crippled and pathetic creatures who should be culled from the herd."
That guy cracks me up!
And he linked to this story:
USATODAY.com: Non-believers raising voice in capital
WASHINGTON — Americans who don't believe in God have decided it's time they had a lobbyist in the nation's capital. Their new advocate describes herself as a "soft, fuzzy atheist."
Lori Lipman Brown starts Monday as executive director of the Secular Coalition for America. Her two goals: keep religion out of government and win respect for a stigmatized minority.
In a recent Pew Research Center poll, 11% said they do not believe in God but do believe in a "universal spirit" or "higher power"; 3% said they do not believe in God or a spirit or power. In a separate question, 1% said they are atheists (those who believe there is no God), 2% said they are agnostics (those unsure whether there is a God), and 11% said they have no religious preference.
When I announced to a small group that I'm an atheist, I was told that I'm not really. I was told that I am actually just opposed to organized religion.
That's not true. I deny even the possibility of existence in the supernatural and something even remotely fitting Judeao-Christian descriptions of "God."
I have to be that specific because some people define "God" as the equivalent of physics and as such the term is redundant and essentially useless. Also, I'm not familiar with other formulations of concepts of God, but I am assured that unless they refer to something found in nature they are impossible and if they do, they are redundant.
Anyway, one of the jokes that Ott makes is that athiests lack an objective standard of right and wrong.
Some athiests may not subscribe to the objective standard, but it does not follow that it does not exist. Some people aren't even sure that reality exists, but that also doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.
The fact is that reality is real. That's actually what the word means. Existence exists. And you know what else? People are a part of reality. The nature of human beings and each individual are objective facts. It is from this fact that we are able to deduct an objective standard of right and wrong.
It does not take a god to show that freedom is conducive to human survival whereas tyranny is not. It does not take ghosts and angels to tell me that the initiation of force against others is not compatible with the exercise of my rational faculty.
But if you don't agree, you must be terribly frightened of me. For you all you know, I might fly off at any moment and kill the whole lot of you. That I don't must be one of the greatest mysteries in the world... like television to cats.
I think you should pay more consideration to your safety and well-being and just stay as far away from me as you can. Just stay out of my way because you don't know what I'll do. It's best for all of us, really. Just stay away.
September 19, 2005
Often times he challenges an argument because it doesn't jive with "commonsense" or traditionally held values. I don't think this is fair, reasonable, or rational. Just because lots of people have thought something for a very long time does not mean that it is correct.
Even when I don't agree with the particular philosophy in question, this tactic is frustrating in large part because such a discussion only serves to make things less clear. Rachels will spend two pages giving an example of a particular situation in which most people would agree with tradition, but the particular philosophy in question would dissent. And he attempts to say that this is a legitimate contest.
Even when I agree that the first argument is wrong, I mentally body slam his objections on their face.
Why is it so difficult to imagine that someone espousing a philosophy might actually attempt to apply it consistently? Frankly, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and say that is their stand on issues. Mostly, this benefit does not hold true because I find that most people are not interested in consistency or finding their own personal "super-string theory" of ethics. They're just not interested in the truth; they're interested in what will grant them the most pleasure or help them avoid the most pain in the near term.
When arguing philosophy, however, we test the consistency of ideas not by assuming that someone will give up on their position because someone's feeling's get hurt, that's a job for propagandists and rhetoricians. We have to assume that when a position is taken, it will be taken consistently and followed to its logical conclusion.
I think this is how a person should live life. You should find a theory and use it consistently until such time as you discover that the theory contradicts itself or fails to serve its purpose. In the case of ethics, the purpose is to provide a consistent system of assessing good and bad and guiding our actions accordingly. You cannot practice any system of ethics consistently except the one that is derived from the reality.
This is what frustrates me about religious folks the most. I have yet to meet a single one who lives their life consistently with the teachings of the Bible or even those of Jesus Christ and the later apostles -- and they KNOW that they aren't. They make willful decisions against their stated philosophy or religion even when they know what it says on a particular issue. I feel the same frustration when I encounter people who subscribe to other philsophies as well.
I've said consistency throughout this post. I hope you've caught on to my real meaning.
I'm talking about the virtue of Integrity.
September 05, 2005
The key to an understanding or ethics lies in its central concept, "value." Specifically the key lies in the concept's existential basis and cognitive context.
Ayn Rand defines "value" as "that which one acts to gain and/or keep."
In Ayn Rand's words, " 'value' presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whome and for what? It presupposes an entity capable of acting to achieve a goal in the face of an alternative. Where no alternative exists, no goals and no values are possible."
Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Piekoff
Ayn Rand discusses the situation of the immortal, indestructible, and rational robot in the Virtue of Selfishness and concludes that such a robot would not have any values because it has no alternatives. Ultimately, human values rest on the fact that we have the alternative to cease to exist; we might die. So, life is not only our primary value but the foundation of all subsequent values.
I bring this up because I've discussed immortality with people before and I am all about it. Some aren't really for it, though, and choose to treat death as if it is a necessary and inevitable part of existence as a human being.
I am not under the delusion that we possess the capabilities to make people live forever today; I just think we should seek that technology.
Some think that if we had indefinite lifespans and for all intents and purposes became immortal, that our lives would become purposeless and we would lose the ability to value anything. This is false. As a living thing, even living things with indefinite lifespans, we would still have the alternative of non-existence. It isn't possible to create some thing that is indestructible and it certainly isn't possible to make your body where it cannot be destroyed. There is no reason to think that just because you might live forever that you will without any regard to dangers you encounter.
I just wanted to point that out so that y'all can get back to work finding ways to keep me from getting dead. I'm going to do everything I can on my side, but my powers are limited and I'm not a scientist or a doctor, so I will need some help. Don't worry, I intend to find means of paying and the longer you can keep me alive, the more I will be able to pay you.
Maybe we could set up some sort of residual system whereby I pay you an annual fee for every year that you're able to keep me alive after a certain age, say 100. Get me to 100 and I will pay you some sum like $500,000 and for every year after that I'll pay you some annual fee. We can work out the details later. Call me!
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