« Challenge Response: Christianity Destroys Women's Self-Esteem | Main | What Is the Sine Qua Non of Human Nature? (Video) »

August 02, 2013

Comments

And the evidence that 'moral truth' exists is what?

You really don't understand the evolutionary perspective - why else would you write this kind of straw man argument? Hey, how can you be against something if you don't even know what it is? I suspect you don't want to know the truth.

Individuals don't act out of concern for the species. They act based on what they individually care about. Often individuals are not conscious of why they do things. But moral behavior emerges in the whole population as the aggregate of individual acts.

There, was that so hard?

But moral behavior emerges in the whole population as the aggregate of individual acts.

This statement is more accurately revised to the following:

But behavior emerges in the whole population as the aggregate of individual acts.

Just because a population set "gels" toward particular societal norms doesn't make them moral or good.

So basically morality as we know it is contrary to the 'survival of the fittest' mindset. Grounding objective morality in the survival of the species as opposed to the individual or clan is a way to keep it objective and less selfish but the question of origin arises since it is still transcendent. Also this type of morality would run into problems when dealing with individual rights and reproduction.

One solution is to deny objective morality altogether or to ground it in our DNA which makes it deterministic.

John Moore,

There, was that so hard?

I have to admit, you did make that look pretty easy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make any sense.

But moral behavior emerges in the whole population as the aggregate of individual acts

What do you mean by “emerges”? Do you mean emerges like a boil emerges on the surface of the skin? Out of the clear blue sky?

Individuals don't act out of concern for the species.

Let’s go way back. Way back before “moral behavior emerged”. Why was the first moral act performed? Just because? Just a flip of the proverbial coin?

John Moore is certainly right - the argument is a straw man. The argument depends on a flawed view of evolution. (There's no shame in arriving at such a view - the issue is not simple.)

Sometimes the simple act of running away assures your survival.
True dat.

But the OP's conclusion that, on evolution, cowardice would have to be regarded as some kind virtue simply doesn't follow.

The problem is: Evolution is about inherited traits and a 'simple act' such as running away in a particular situation is not inherited traits like cowardice.

We inherit traits and having a trait doesn't guarantee any particular choice or action (like whether to run away in a particular situation).

Rather, a trait is just one factor among many that may influence a particular choice or action.

So: a brave person will sometimes run away; a coward will sometimes stand.

On evolution, why are some people brave? To acquire things of reproductive fitness value.*

On evolution, why do we value and reward bravery and why do we despise and punish cowardice? To encourage people to defend us.

On evolution, why do we feel gratitude when we see a soldier in uniform? So that we will promise to reward her bravery.**

So...

No individual act of standing and fighting rather than running away - even against impossible odds - is evidence against evolution.

Evolution predicts such actions will occur because we have long valued and rewarded the trait of bravery. To the point that it is a recognizable trait we possess - to varying degrees. We have selected for it.

The fact that sometimes people don't run away was offered as a challenge to evolution. I'm just answering that challenge. So, don't complain that I haven't shown that evolution explains the existence of 'moral truth'.

RonH

*Hold your fire. This doesn't demean the motives of the brave; it just explains how, on evolution, such motivation is possible. It should not be necessary for me to make a list of things of reproductive value that we promise and (sometimes even) deliver to the brave.

**We don't always keep such promises and when we don't we run the risk of degrading our defense.

So is killing off unwanted babies moral or immoral? In many societies, including where our own is moving to, it's considered a good thing. In others, it is considered a great evil. Justify your answer with respect to evolutionary theory.

All things look very, very different in this world for Mind Perceives inside of self-evidence the truth of the matter here inside this bizarre world of duality.


A casual journey into these two different worlds, that of the perceived reality of every man who has tasted evil’s unending indifference to his loved ones and who has tasted of love’s unending differentiation of worth of his loved ones which seems to outlast this contingent thing called Time, and, on the other side, that of atheism’s assertion of its incoherent reality:


Atheism seems to be wanting to hint, or, stealthily suggesting, that the way that bees evolved is on some magical level immoral. But the bees flourish. Atheism seems to be wanting to hint, or, stealthily suggesting, that the way that evolution nurtured Man, gently, over time, into those necessary tendencies needed to foist Child Sacrifices into actuality is, magically, immoral. But man, then, as now amidst all our fields of carnage, flourish. Atheism seems to be saying that, like insects, Man too produces various casts of slave-labor who, because they benefit the non-slaves, therein have value, and this is the mechanistic-grounds (evolution has no other grounds) to justify their existence. An atheist commentator recently referred to insect slave labor as the coherent means to atheism’s attempt at its incoherent end. Then, from there, Atheism seems to attempt the leap that although such slave casts obviously demonstrate simultaneous slave-hood and justification for existence therein there is a yet-to-be-explained reason that the myriads of casts used in such ways will be selected out of existence for “Villages” of that sort just cannot last. Then they turn this assertion around and say that these “Villages” will last because of insect-slave-mechanistic models.


Villages seem to not-last and yet last in a swirl of self-contradiction. And yet sexual-slavery is on the rise worldwide in the species called homosapien. We are like the insects. Then, from this still incoherent location, atheism will assert, in blind axiom, that slavery in insects and in homosapien are somehow immoral though atheism previously appealed to insect slave labor as naturalism’s appeal to definition with the shout of, “See! –Tis love’s mechanism!”


These are all very tough sales to make on atheistic grounds. They all, the insects and mankind with all these various casts, flourish. Atheism is, at best, contradicting its own stated claims, or, at worst, employing circular reasoning as it just cannot reach its stated End Points coherently.


“Flourishing” and “The-Good” as we all taste, Pan-World, the bitter bite of evil’s hard fist in our face are not identical actualities. Anyone whose loved one has been torn apart by evil perceives the incoherence in these definitions atheism is stuck with against its will. Yes, atheism wants to make the leap to ought-not. It just can’t pull it off without appealing to blind axiom and thus the death of circularity as it’s epistemology feigns a move toward immutable love but its ontology is claiming love’s mechanism in all sorts of unloving vices; many of which are still with us.


It seems that Dr. Harris was right after all in his “telling admission that if people like [cheap slave labor, sex slaves], rapists, liars, and thieves could be just as happy as good people, then his "moral landscape" would no longer be a moral landscape. Rather, it would just be a continuum of well-being whose peaks are occupied by good and bad people, or evil people, alike.” This is why atheism is so hesitant to look back upon Child Sacrifice an offer that it was “back then” immoral even though they called it “good” back then, for nothing is immoral until it is selected out of existence. Sects within Hinduism / Pantheism are still offering up children in sacrifice. Like the insects who kill their own for the good of the village. Billions are thriving over there in Pantheism which is unable, like atheism is unable, to differentiate amid Self and Other for all is but one grand indifferent blind spot. Perhaps if other countries followed their lead they too could in like manner thrive. First we will be told villages cannot exist, then we will be pointed to all sorts of sex-slave insect (and human) colonies, villages, as villages which thrive via love’s mechanism therein. Love is, it seems, atheism knows not what.


Atheism's Moral Landscape fails to hold up. The creature's good and moral duty just cannot find each other, much less a happy marriage. It’s a false identity claim.


RonH,

Is there a "bravery gene" that biologists have managed to identify to substantiate what you're advancing? That's a rhetorical question of course, I realize you're talking in terms of "inherited traits", and such traits don't guarantee any particular action in a given situation.

But doesn't the whole argument you pose seem kind of soft in light of that? Couldn't you theoretically just identify any behavior whatever as either having "reproductive fitness value" (can I just say "sexy points" instead? That seems like a more fun way to put it), so it's reasonable we should expect humans to exhibit such behaviors, or otherwise a behavior that won't accrue sexy points, and hence evolution will not "select for it" and "predict" that our descendants will not tend towards such behaviors?

It's very convenient that this view is neither falsifiable for the reason just given, nor provable since we're not talking about some physically identifiable feature of our genetic makeup. But yet this view gets touted in some circles as "scientific" instead of the just-so story that it is because it's consistent with the naturalistic worldview.

bc307,

The story in the OP is meant to cast doubt on evolution by purporting to show that evolution predicts that certain widely recognized virtues will be taboos.

But the story in the OP isn't an evolutionary story. So the whole first paragraph of the OP is a straw man.

My story, even if it's hard to test, is an evolutionary story and it doesn't predict that cowardice will be widely hailed as a virtue.

RonH

PS

This really is secondary, but I'm having a little trouble understanding your second paragraph. Are you saying 'survival of the fittest' is circular? Or are you talking only about evolutionary psychology?

Violent villages flourishing being referenced as explanatory as to how other violent villages will not flourish IS circular (and self refuting).

Just evolutionary psychology. And I didn't mean to suggest EP (insofar as you describe it) is circular. It's not so much circular or self-refuting as it is self-fulfilling; there is no set of actions/behaviors that, in retrospect, EP couldn't look back and say, "Ah, evolution predicted this would happen. That particular behavior had/did not have reproductive fitness value, so it was/wasn't selected." It's practically useless because an EP advocate could spin a given action and its consequences any way they want, making the whole enterprise void of any predictive power. The cowardice/bravery example is a case in point:

Cowardice = run away, live to reproduce another day

Bravery = sexy points

Either trait could be construed as conducive to survival. I'm not sure how anyone who isn't already committed to the naturalist worldview would find it compelling.

Cowardice = run away, live to reproduce another day -

Cowardice is the one trait all Christians share. Christainity only appeals to the base emotion of cowardice.

The comments to this entry are closed.