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    Ansar Al-'Adl's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism

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    Quote Originally Posted by czgibson View Post
    I am a materialist, but I mean that in a different sense than "I value material possessions over everything else". I mean it in the philosophical sense that "material objects are all that exist".
    hmmmm...do you believe in entropy?

    They [people of Moses] sound very rational to me, although I'd extend that to include any of the senses.
    I think this relates to what I said in a previous post, concerning the claim that God should manifest himself to us through such miraculous occurances.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ansar Al-'Adl
    Do you really think your demand is reasonable? The only evidence acceptable from God is that He must break His laws and perform a mircaulous occurance for every human being since the dawn of humanity? As the Qur'an says in reply to such demands, "Indeed, they think too highly of themselves, having rebelled against God with utter disdain. [25:21]."

    Saying that this is the only acceptable evidence of God is akin to saying that all evidence save the accused's confession is inadmissable in court! Of course in a Court trial when evidence is brought against the accused there are always ways of expaining it away with absurd explanations; that's why the requirement is that someone be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    But let's think a little bit more about the idea of God revealing a miracle for every human being. This would mean that as every human being approached a certain level of maturity God would reveal to them, individually a miracle of great magnitude. The problem with this is that firstly, if one's belief in God is based solely on the occurance of a miracle, they may very well began to doubt (later on in their life) that such an event occurred in their past. Also, what if someone never reaches that level of maturity? Secondly, if the miracle occurs in the same manner for everyone, they may begin to think that it is simply a natural phenomenon and not miraculous. On the other hand, if it was always different we would have absoloutely no predictability in our lives! One would never be able to anticapte what tremendous event was going to befall them.

    Once you begin to dig deeper, the demand for a miraculous occurance is exposed as totally ridiculous and illogical. If God truly does exist, then there is no religious philosophy that would explain why God would create a race that would need to be regularly reassured of His existence through the violation of one of His laws. At any rate, such a notion is not consistent with Islamic theology and the Islamic explanation of life. If this life is a test, then God would certainly not need to maintain this practice of miraculous occurances.
    From this post:
    http://www.islamicboard.com/comparat...tml#post102927

    From an older post of yours-
    Quote Originally Posted by czgibson
    I believe animals may have a moral sense, just as we do, although theirs may not be as highly developed as ours, corresponding to the fact that their brains are not as highly developed as ours.
    It does seem rather strange that human beings are the only animal species with a [noticeble] sense of morality and the ability to reason and contemplate. You noted that many human beings might not differ greatly from animals in stealing something if there was no risk of getting caught. Would you do that, given the opportunity? Why or why not? How closely do you feel our morality is connected with our rationality?

    And on a related topic, I brought the issue of morality in western society up in another thread and I asked whether people felt that such activities as necrophilia and incestuous marriage were immoral, and if so, why?

    Regards
    The Moral consequences of Atheism

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

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    root's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism

    It does seem rather strange that human beings are the only animal species with a [noticeble] sense of morality and the ability to reason and contemplate.
    I think your moving onto very shaky ground with the ability to "reason" since this trait is not unique to our species. Granted we have an ability for higher reason which is attributed to our higher intelligence and should be duly acknowledged. If you accept the point that a higher ability to reason is linked to higher intelligence then why would it be considered strange that human intelligence is unique? It would be interesting if you could inform of your position with regard to:

    1. Do you consider higher reasoning is linked to higher intelligence.
    2. Why do you consider only humans as having higher intelligence strange.

    You noted that many human beings might not differ greatly from animals in stealing something if there was no risk of getting caught. Would you do that, given the opportunity? Why or why not? How closely do you feel our morality is connected with our rationality?
    Morality in society could be seen as a luxury afforded to a civilised society. Morality is ill-afforded when the need for survival is paramount. An example of this that I prefer is prostitution in Iran, an Iranian MP once said "We should put to death 100 prostitutes and that will put an end to prostitution once and for all". Prostitution may be morally wrong, but what this person fails to understand in my opinion is survival. The threat of death would not be sufficient to prevent prostitution since when faced with survival (the need to eat and provide for a family) your need to survive will soon "over-ride" morality if and when required. Ultimately, morality and rationality are not that linked afterall.

    And on a related topic, I brought the issue of morality in western society up in another thread and I asked whether people felt that such activities as necrophilia and incestuous marriage were immoral, and if so, why?
    I don't see this being related to atheism.

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    Re: Atheism

    Hi Root,
    Quote Originally Posted by root View Post
    I think your moving onto very shaky ground with the ability to "reason" since this trait is not unique to our species.
    You're right that it can be problematic given the loose definition of 'reason'. What if specify logical argumentation and deductive reasoning?
    1. Do you consider higher reasoning is linked to higher intelligence.
    Yes. But what I'm interested in the massive discrepancy between our reasoning and that of our animal counterparts.
    2. Why do you consider only humans as having higher intelligence strange.
    If humans are to be considered just another animal species, it does seem strange that human beings have always possesed moral values and rational thinking in stark contrast to the primitive instincts of other animal species.

    Quote Originally Posted by Root
    Morality in society could be seen as a luxury afforded to a civilised society. Morality is ill-afforded when the need for survival is paramount. An example of this that I prefer is prostitution in Iran, an Iranian MP once said "We should put to death 100 prostitutes and that will put an end to prostitution once and for all". Prostitution may be morally wrong, but what this person fails to understand in my opinion is survival. The threat of death would not be sufficient to prevent prostitution since when faced with survival (the need to eat and provide for a family) your need to survive will soon "over-ride" morality if and when required. Ultimately, morality and rationality are not that linked afterall.
    Fascinating. Then you agree that human beings seem to have an embedded moral sensibility which has not simply developed along with their rationality? Where then, does this sense come from?

    I don't see this being related to atheism.
    It is related to the question of morality. I would be very interested to know your response to thje question.

    Regards
    The Moral consequences of Atheism

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

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    root's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism

    Quote:Root
    1. Do you consider higher reasoning is linked to higher intelligence.
    Ansar - Yes. But what I'm interested in the massive discrepancy between our reasoning and that of our animal counterparts.
    I take it you mean the discrepency between "living animal counterparts". Since the now extinct Neanderthal shows all the traits in reasoning that would match human equivalent at that time would you not agree.

    Root - 2. Why do you consider only humans as having higher intelligence strange.
    Ansar - If humans are to be considered just another animal species, it does seem strange that human beings have always possesed moral values and rational thinking in stark contrast to the primitive instincts of other animal species.
    Firstly, this does not answer the question why you consider only humans as having higher intelligence as being "strange" and I assume again you mean "living". Additionally why are you assuming that human beings have always possesed moral values? What evidence points to this "assumption" since I would remind you of the archeological evidence that we term "The great Leap" of 40,000 years ago which shows humans posessing no signs of morality beyond that date with significant moral values before this date. Religion never existed 40,000 years ago and man was a hunter gatherer:

    The Great Leap marked by the rise of specifically Homo sapiens sapiens - though this can be a circular argument. Criteria proposed to indicate modern humankind include toolmaking, the development of trade and social organization and the creation of art . Perhaps the emergence of modern humans is when physical evolution became far less important, or manifest and was overtaken by mental and cultural evolution as our powerful, versatile, problem-solving minds gave us the power to adapt in other ways

    To me, the great leap is the birth place for morality and yet we as a species have existed far greater than a mere 40,000 years. Your stance that humans have always had moral values is at odds from what archeology teaches us. Surely we can't go around simply claiming "man has always had morals" without producing the evidence that would show this to be true. What becomes now of "higher reasoning"!

    Morality
    The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.

    1. A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct: religious morality; Christian morality.

    2. Virtuous conduct.

    3. A rule or lesson in moral conduct


    Ansar - Fascinating. Then you agree that human beings seem to have an embedded moral sensibility which has not simply developed along with their rationality? Where then, does this sense come from?
    depends on what you mean embedded, as humans we are not born with an ability to show "Disgust". A baby will be quite happy to play in it's own faeces, this is taught to us by our parents and refered to as "Extelligence". perhaps extelligence seeds us our morality?
    Last edited by root; 04-24-2006 at 04:06 PM.

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    czgibson's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism

    Greetings Ansar,

    Quote Originally Posted by Ansar Al-'Adl
    hmmmm...do you believe in entropy?
    Well, there are lots of meanings of the word 'entropy'! If you're referring to the second law of thermodynamics then yes, I do believe in that.

    Do you really think your demand is reasonable? The only evidence acceptable from God is that He must break His laws and perform a mircaulous occurance for every human being since the dawn of humanity?
    Not every human being, but a single widely attested miracle every century or so would at least provide some evidence that god exists.

    If God truly does exist, then there is no religious philosophy that would explain why God would create a race that would need to be regularly reassured of His existence through the violation of one of His laws.
    What about the religious philosophy of Bertrand Russell?

    You noted that many human beings might not differ greatly from animals in stealing something if there was no risk of getting caught. Would you do that, given the opportunity? Why or why not?
    If it was a question of stealing something which my survival depended upon, then I would certainly steal it. In other circumstances, I probably wouldn't, because I know that having something stolen from you is very unpleasant, and I would not want to wish that on others.

    How closely do you feel our morality is connected with our rationality?
    I don't know. In general, we might expect that the more rational a creature is, the more moral it is. However, an appearance of rationality can sometimes disguise a lack of morality.

    Why don't we continue this discussion in the original thread?

    Peace

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    Re: Atheism

    Hi Root,
    Quote Originally Posted by root View Post
    I take it you mean the discrepency between "living animal counterparts". Since the now extinct Neanderthal shows all the traits in reasoning that would match human equivalent at that time would you not agree.
    Well, first of all, it is still debated whether the neanderthals were a seperate species or just a subspecies. I know that the evidence from mitochrondial DNA if often taken as an indication of the former, but at any rate they are still so closely related to us that it doesn't really qualify. Why don't other animals appear to show moral senses?
    Firstly, this does not answer the question why you consider only humans as having higher intelligence as being "strange" and I assume again you mean "living".
    I find it strange because the sophisticated mental faculties and moral sensibilities we posses as human beings are obsolete in the remaining animal world, which seems to suggets that we are more than just animals.
    Additionally why are you assuming that human beings have always possesed moral values? What evidence points to this "assumption" since I would remind you of the archeological evidence that we term "The great Leap" of 40,000 years ago which shows humans posessing no signs of morality beyond that date with significant moral values before this date.
    Are you still using the term 'human' to refer exclusively to homo sapiens?
    Religion never existed 40,000 years ago
    Well that is your personal extrapolation, isn't it?

    To me, the great leap is the birth place for morality
    'birth place' ? You mean to say that there is a definite point in time when humanity was endowed with moral sensibilties? Since you don't believe that morality is connected to intelligence, I'm assuming you would disagree with the notion that morality develops amongst a species?

    depends on what you mean embedded, as humans we are not born with an ability to show "Disgust". A baby will be quite happy to play in it's own faeces, this is taught to us by our parents and refered to as "Extelligence". perhaps extelligence seeds us our morality?
    Is playing with faeces immoral or simply unhygenic? Do you think a child that was not taught otherwise would find no problem in slaughtering innocent people?

    Also, I'd appreciate it if you could give me your response to this question:
    I asked whether people felt that such activities as necrophilia and incestuous marriage were immoral, and if so, why?
    Regards
    The Moral consequences of Atheism

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

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    Re: Atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by czgibson View Post
    Well, there are lots of meanings of the word 'entropy'! If you're referring to the second law of thermodynamics then yes, I do believe in that.
    Yes, I'm referring to the scientific concept that there is such a thing as a degree of disorder and order in our universe. This suggests that there is more in our universe than just material objects, doesn't it?

    Not every human being, but a single widely attested miracle every century or so would at least provide some evidence that god exists.
    What kind of miracle? And what about for people who die before seeing the miracle? If it was the same miracle every time, wouldn't people begin to explain it off as some world phenomenon? And if it was a different miracle, would human beings be left with any certainty in their lives as to what was natural and what wasn't? What it all comes down to is saying that human beings should be able to dictate to God the stunt He has to perform for them to believe in Him, which isn't consistent with the concept of God in the first place. Moreover, you don't even consider such a miraculous occurance to be absolute evidence for God, but only some evidence!

    God has placed us in a universe with enough signs to tell us that there is more to us than the random result of chemical determinism - our morals, our thoughts, our emotions, our sentience.

    What about the religious philosophy of Bertrand Russell?
    I meant it isn't consistent with any concept of God.

    If it was a question of stealing something which my survival depended upon, then I would certainly steal it. In other circumstances, I probably wouldn't, because I know that having something stolen from you is very unpleasant, and I would not want to wish that on others.
    But what is it within you that tells you that an action which causes harm to others but benefit to yourself is wrong? What is it within you that causes you to reflect on your actions by considering how you would feel if you were the victim? This would be reasonable it there was some risk of retaliation by the party wronged, but in the case where it was certain that such a risk did not exist, why such reasoning?

    I don't know. In general, we might expect that the more rational a creature is, the more moral it is. However, an appearance of rationality can sometimes disguise a lack of morality.
    True. Where then does our moral sense come from if it does not develop alongside our intelligence?

    Why don't we continue this discussion in the original thread?
    You mean the thread on morality? It was closed for numerous reasons, and I thought the topic was related here. Would you like to venture a response to the issue of incestuous marriage and necrophilia?

    Regards
    The Moral consequences of Atheism

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

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    Re: Atheism

    Greetings Ansar,
    Quote Originally Posted by Ansar Al-'Adl View Post
    Yes, I'm referring to the scientific concept that there is such a thing as a degree of disorder and order in our universe. This suggests that there is more in our universe than just material objects, doesn't it?
    Does it? How?

    What kind of miracle?
    Any unique violation of the laws of nature, insofar as we are aware of them.

    And what about for people who die before seeing the miracle?
    They'd just have to hear about the previous miracle from their elders. After all, religious traditions have suvived on memories of miracles from longer ago than that.

    Or, of course, they could just decide not to believe and be damned to hell.

    If it was the same miracle every time, wouldn't people begin to explain it off as some world phenomenon?
    Of course - the laws of physics would have to be updated and people would no longer see it as a miracle. This is why each miracle would need to be unique.

    And if it was a different miracle, would human beings be left with any certainty in their lives as to what was natural and what wasn't?
    They'd be experiencing public, fully-verified evidence of what we now call 'the supernatural', but which in that situation would simply be part of the way the universe existed. The only reason we currently use the word 'supernatural' is because 'supernatural' events have never been observed in nature.

    What it all comes down to is saying that human beings should be able to dictate to God the stunt He has to perform for them to believe in Him, which isn't consistent with the concept of God in the first place.
    No, it's simply being fair. 'God' is a postulated being, who apparently asks us to live our lives in accordance with his publicised whims, and demands constant applause. Bearing in mind that no-one knows if this being even exists, I think we're entitled to ask for a demonstrable appearance or intervention in our lives.

    Moreover, you don't even consider such a miraculous occurance to be absolute evidence for God, but only some evidence!
    I think at this stage, any evidence would be truly astounding.
    God has placed us in a universe with enough signs to tell us that there is more to us than the random result of chemical determinism - our morals, our thoughts, our emotions, our sentience.
    You could be right - but how would we know that such things were not possible in a world of chemical determinism? Can we say that we know for certain what a world of chemical determinism is actually like at all?

    But what is it within you that tells you that an action which causes harm to others but benefit to yourself is wrong? What is it within you that causes you to reflect on your actions by considering how you would feel if you were the victim?
    Empathy. This apparently exists in some other animals, too. Dolphins, for example, are said to have rescued people from shark attacks. See here for some stories: Dolphins

    This would be reasonable it there was some risk of retaliation by the party wronged, but in the case where it was certain that such a risk did not exist, why such reasoning?
    The question would then be to do with my reasons for wanting the object, and what sort of object it was.

    True. Where then does our moral sense come from if it does not develop alongside our intelligence?
    I think it does develop alongside intelligence, but there are complications of the sort I just mentioned. That's why I don't know the answer to the question.

    You mean the thread on morality? It was closed for numerous reasons, and I thought the topic was related here. Would you like to venture a response to the issue of incestuous marriage and necrophilia?
    Well, what an offer! How could I refuse?

    I think the incest taboo has developed partly because of the genetic defects that offspring from such a union could produce, as well as the disgust reaction mentioned by root. I think the phenomenon of disgust has something to do with the necrophilia taboo as well, as well as our feelings of respect for the dead. This is something we could share with elephants, who appear to mourn their dead (although no-one is certain that this is what they are doing). I think there are echoes of empathy here: Elephants


    Overall, Ansar, I'm not convinced that animals have no moral sense and that it is exclusively possessed by humans. I think it's something that has evolved within us just as it has evolved in different ways among other animals.

    Peace

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    Re: Atheism

    Thanks for the response:

    Well, first of all, it is still debated whether the neanderthals were a seperate species or just a subspecies. I know that the evidence from mitochrondial DNA if often taken as an indication of the former, but at any rate they are still so closely related to us that it doesn't really qualify. Why don't other animals appear to show moral senses?
    let's clear up this neanderthals tale:

    Firstly, your right. Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA has been compared with Mitochondrial Eve's DNA and shown to be distinctly different from each other. This and other DNA extractions again showing no gene inheritance is powerful evidence that the Neanderthals were quite a distinct species. We also know that humans co-existed with neanderthals. Here, we show a species that was NOT human yet displayed traits you claimed for soley human beings as indicated below.

    Ansar - It does seem rather strange that human beings are the only animal species with a [noticeble] sense of morality and the ability to reason and contemplate
    I find it strange because the sophisticated mental faculties and moral sensibilities we posses as human beings are obsolete in the remaining animal world, which seems to suggets that we are more than just animals.
    We should not confuse your point here, since I put it to you that moral sensibility has developed post "gret leap" and with the formation of societies and groups which neanderthals also achieved. You also mention in the same sentence "mental faculties" and again neandethals could match this. You seem to want to draw a line between humans and the rest of the animal kindom alive or dead to draw upon a conclusion which premis is flawed.

    Are you still using the term 'human' to refer exclusively to homo sapiens?
    Yes. I would not call a neanderthal human any more than I would a chimp.

    Well that is your personal extrapolation, isn't it?
    This is in relation to the fact religion did not exist until the great leap and that religion did not exist prior to this. Your wrong to say it's my personal explanation. It's the scientific view based on well grounded archeolgical discoveries and thus bears repeating. Beyond 40,000 years we find no burials, no rituals nor ANY signs of ANY religous behaviour.

    'birth place' ? You mean to say that there is a definite point in time when humanity was endowed with moral sensibilties? Since you don't believe that morality is connected to intelligence, I'm assuming you would disagree with the notion that morality develops amongst a species?
    The great leap tells us this, I am not making it up and it does not require faith. Upto 40,000 years ago we see societies and religion art and burials indicating early religous beliefs, morality will flurish in such social grouping and formations with species that are capable as you stated of higher reasoning and I would add to that list by suggesting communication (language) too. I do believe morality is connected to morality just not soley.

    Is playing with faeces immoral or simply unhygenic? Do you think a child that was not taught otherwise would find no problem in slaughtering innocent people?
    A deep question, and one I don't have time for right now. Needless to say as I stated earlier survival of a group will over ride morality and the "slaughtering of innocent people" would be viable to a group that either impeached on anothers groups food and water or face a certain death. Society, (well most) allow us the luxury of not having to make such decisions in life, thus morality can flourish amongst a civilised society.

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    Re: Atheism

    Greetings Callum,
    Quote Originally Posted by czgibson View Post
    Does it? How?
    We used to believe that the universe was entirely composed of matter and energy but now we know that there is much more to our universe than that, just one example being order, and the information that order produces, eg. DNA. According to SLoT, the universe is locked into a state of declining order, is it not? Does this not seem to indicate that there has been some external source beyond our universe which has infused it with this order?

    Any unique violation of the laws of nature, insofar as we are aware of them.
    So if you went home one day and you saw a coffee mug floating in the air for a brief moment before settling back on the table, would you believe in God or would you run off to the psychiatrist?

    They'd just have to hear about the previous miracle from their elders.
    You think that would be satisfactory for them? You think that if God followed this plan of yours no one should have an excuse to deny Him?
    After all, religious traditions have suvived on memories of miracles from longer ago than that.
    Religious traditions are not taken as proof in and of themselves.
    Or, of course, they could just decide not to believe and be damned to hell.
    That is acceptable to you?
    Of course - the laws of physics would have to be updated and people would no longer see it as a miracle. This is why each miracle would need to be unique.
    :confused: I'm not sure what you mean by having the laws of physics updated. Are you implying that even after such a miraculous occurance mankind should immediately seek to explain it off as a natural phenomenon?

    They'd be experiencing public, fully-verified evidence of what we now call 'the supernatural', but which in that situation would simply be part of the way the universe existed. The only reason we currently use the word 'supernatural' is because 'supernatural' events have never been observed in nature.
    I think it's because they don't normally occur or because they violate the laws of nature. If you saw someone flying through the air you wouldn't say, "Note to self: Flying through the air has just become a natural act".

    No, it's simply being fair. 'God' is a postulated being, who apparently asks us to live our lives in accordance with his publicised whims, and demands constant applause.
    God does not ask us to do trivial things of no significance; He asks us to forbid murder, theft, violence, rape, etc. and to enjoin love, compassion, truth, peace and justice, etc. By making personal sacrifices in order to help others we are able to draw closer to God and appreciate His Mercy and Justice on a greater level. Please see this related post:
    http://www.islamicboard.com/comparat...some-ayat.html

    Bearing in mind that no-one knows if this being even exists
    Wait a second - knowing something and proving it are two different things are they not?
    I think we're entitled to ask for a demonstrable appearance or intervention in our lives.
    I find the idea to be irrational because it is inconsistent with the concept of God and it also displays some arrogance on the part of human beings who seem to think they can dictate ridiculous stunts God must perform for them to believe in Him.

    I think at this stage, any evidence would be truly astounding.
    Are you sure you have not placed unreasonable requirments on what evidence is acceptable and what isn't?
    You could be right - but how would we know that such things were not possible in a world of chemical determinism? Can we say that we know for certain what a world of chemical determinism is actually like at all?
    Can sentient self-conscious life arise out of insentient lifeless matter? The notion that a coherent observant analytical mind is exclusively composed of lifeless molecular interactions is inconceivable for me. If you're willing to believe that there is more to human beings than lifeless matter, then you're not entirely materialist, are you?

    Empathy.
    Empathy is a moral value, is it not? What I'm interested in knowing is why do you follow your moral value here instead of acting on what provides you with benefit?

    What is it about us that makes us so opposed to causing harm and suffering to innocents? Would you attribute it to the 'extelligence' root mentioned? Or is it a value ingrained within human conciousness?

    The question would then be to do with my reasons for wanting the object, and what sort of object it was.
    Say it was a million dollars. If there was no risk of you getting caught, would you steal it? Why or why not?

    I think it does develop alongside intelligence, but there are complications of the sort I just mentioned. That's why I don't know the answer to the question.
    Thanks for your honesty. I think it is a very important question since human beings conduct their daily lives on the baiss of this moral sense we have within us yet atheists do not know its origin. They don't know the answer to the question of where our moral sense comes from.

    Are you looking for an answer or are you waiting for the answer to come to you

    I think the incest taboo has developed partly because of the genetic defects that offspring from such a union could produce, as well as the disgust reaction mentioned by root.
    Would you object to the legalisation of incestuos marriage between two consenting adults? Or the legalisation of necrophilic acts? Why or why not?

    About the disgust reaction - do you agree that it is from 'extelligence' as root mentioned? Do you think if you lived in a society where incestuous marriage and necrophilia were accepted in the way homosexuality is becoming accepted, you might accept them too?
    Overall, Ansar, I'm not convinced that animals have no moral sense and that it is exclusively possessed by humans. I think it's something that has evolved within us just as it has evolved in different ways among other animals.
    Thanks for the links on animals - they were interesting. On morality, do you think it is relative or do you think there are some universal moral 'truths' that human morality more or less conforms too?

    Regards

    [s]ps. Root, I hope you don't mind if I respond to you tomorrow![/s]
    The Moral consequences of Atheism

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


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    Re: Atheism

    Greetings Ansar,
    Quote Originally Posted by Ansar Al-'Adl View Post
    We used to believe that the universe was entirely composed of matter and energy but now we know that there is much more to our universe than that, just one example being order, and the information that order produces, eg. DNA.
    Information and order are abstract concepts that we apply to objects and groups of objects. They are not corporeal in themselves, are they?

    According to SLoT, the universe is locked into a state of declining order, is it not?
    Yes, if I understand it correctly. (I'm not a physicist.)

    Does this not seem to indicate that there has been some external source beyond our universe which has infused it with this order?
    I don't see how it indicates this.

    So if you went home one day and you saw a coffee mug floating in the air for a brief moment before settling back on the table, would you believe in God or would you run off to the psychiatrist?
    If the coffee mug told me its motion was controlled by god (or gave me some other unambiguous indication of this), then I would believe.

    You think that would be satisfactory for them? You think that if God followed this plan of yours no one should have an excuse to deny Him?
    Of course, they might.

    Religious traditions are not taken as proof in and of themselves.
    No, but the memories of miracles that are alleged to have happened are often used as evidence in debates with atheists!

    That is acceptable to you?
    Why not? You are happy with that under the Islamic system.

    :confused: I'm not sure what you mean by having the laws of physics updated. Are you implying that even after such a miraculous occurance mankind should immediately seek to explain it off as a natural phenomenon?
    I'm talking about the situation you described where the same miracle was performed repeatedly. If this was the case, such an event would no longer be considered miraculous, and would have to be incorporated into any attempt at an explanation of the workings of the universe (i.e. the laws of physics).

    I think it's because they don't normally occur or because they violate the laws of nature. If you saw someone flying through the air you wouldn't say, "Note to self: Flying through the air has just become a natural act".
    Of course - but I would if it happened every day.

    God does not ask us to do trivial things of no significance;
    In my view, the Islamic prohibitions on pork, wearing silk (for men) and music are definitely trivial.

    He asks us to forbid murder, theft, violence, rape, etc. and to enjoin love, compassion, truth, peace and justice, etc.
    There's nothing wrong with that, but can humans not encourage these attitudes by themselves, with no need for god?

    By making personal sacrifices in order to help others we are able to draw closer to God and appreciate His Mercy and Justice on a greater level.
    If I do charitable deeds, how does this give me appreciation of god's mercy and justice?

    I'll read Dr. Lang's article again later (I've read it before, at your suggestion).

    Wait a second - knowing something and proving it are two different things are they not?
    Yes - one is an action and one is a state, but proving normally leads to knowing - but that's slightly tangential to my point. People would know god existed if it had been proven.

    I find the idea to be irrational because it is inconsistent with the concept of God and it also displays some arrogance on the part of human beings who seem to think they can dictate ridiculous stunts God must perform for them to believe in Him.
    I don't know about the concept of god, or why my request is inconsistent with it, but if I am supposed to live my life according to the command of some being, and I am supposed to fear this being, I'd just like some evidence that it exists - that's all.

    Are you sure you have not placed unreasonable requirments on what evidence is acceptable and what isn't?
    What evidence do you think I am discounting that you would consider to be clear and unambiguous evidence of god's existence?

    Can sentient self-conscious life arise out of insentient lifeless matter?
    I don't know. One would have thought not, but could it be possible over billions of years?

    The notion that a coherent observant analytical mind is exclusively composed of lifeless molecular interactions is inconceivable for me. If you're willing to believe that there is more to human beings than lifeless matter, then you're not entirely materialist, are you?
    Let me explain. I am tempted to believe that our minds are more than complex chemical interactions, but I have no good reason for doing so. The fact that scientists cannot fully explain all brain functions in terms of deterministic reactions may not mean that there is something else (such as a soul) there, it may simply mean that they haven't yet studied the chemical reactions enough to understand them fully.

    So, I am a materialist at the moment, but I'm happy to change that view should new evidence arise that persuades me that materialism is untenable.

    Empathy is a moral value, is it not?
    Sometimes, yes. Sympathy is always a moral value, though.

    What I'm interested in knowing is why do you follow your moral value here instead of acting on what provides you with benefit?

    What is it about us that makes us so opposed to causing harm and suffering to innocents? Would you attribute it to the 'extelligence' root mentioned? Or is it a value ingrained within human conciousness?
    In the case of both of these first two questions, I think the answer lies with both nature and nurture (if 'nurture' is a fair interpretation of the word 'extelligence', which I'm not familiar with).

    We naturally have the instinct to survive. We survive better in communities than as individuals. Morality helps to keep communities from self-destructing.

    That is my basic position on the origin of morality. You may remember this from the "development of theism" discussion we had a few months ago. The next step on this sequence was the creation of religion.
    Say it was a million dollars. If there was no risk of you getting caught, would you steal it? Why or why not?
    It would depend on who I would be stealing from. I have to say, I'd be strongly tempted. After all, a million dollars is a million dollars!

    Thanks for your honesty. I think it is a very important question since human beings conduct their daily lives on the baiss of this moral sense we have within us yet atheists do not know its origin. They don't know the answer to the question of where our moral sense comes from.
    Correct. I've given an outline of a theory of the origins of morality that I think could be true, but it's not really possible to assess whether it is.

    This question comes under the field of meta-ethics, and there are lots of theories in that department, which shows how unsure people are about questions like this.

    Are you looking for an answer or are you waiting for the answer to come to you
    Looking / thinking / pondering. The default position, really.

    Would you object to the legalisation of incestuos marriage between two consenting adults? Or the legalisation of necrophilic acts? Why or why not?
    I would object, essentially for the same reasons I gave in my last post on these topics.

    About the disgust reaction - do you agree that it is from 'extelligence' as root mentioned?
    I'm not sure. I think it's possible that the disgust reaction exists within us naturally to protect us from things that could be harmful to us, in the same way that pain does, or the strong urge not to jump off a bridge does.

    Do you think if you lived in a society where incestuous marriage and necrophilia were accepted in the way homosexuality is becoming accepted, you might accept them too?
    That's an interesting question. I can't be absolutely sure, but I strongly believe that I would not accept them. I find the idea of homosexual sex unpleasant, but I find the idea of incest and necrophilia absolutely repulsive - it's an entirely different order of feeling.
    Thanks for the links on animals - they were interesting. On morality, do you think it is relative or do you think there are some universal moral 'truths' that human morality more or less conforms too?
    In the words of an ethicist, am I a believer in moral relativism or de-ontological ethics?

    Again, I'm unsure. Moral relativism strikes me as unsound, since it could be used to justify almost anything, it seems to me. I tend towards the view that some things are just wrong in themselves, such as killing. It may sometimes be necessary, or indeed moral, to kill (e.g. to prevent more killings), but essentially it is wrong.

    Also, the fact that the moral codes that have existed throughout the history of the world do seem to share the same essential core values leads me to suspect that these values may be naturally ingrained.

    Peace

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    Ansar Al-'Adl's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism

    Greetings,

    Okay, Root first since I promised a reply,
    Quote Originally Posted by root View Post
    Here, we show a species that was NOT human yet displayed traits you claimed for soley human beings as indicated below.
    Right.
    Yes. I would not call a neanderthal human any more than I would a chimp.
    Yet they are much more closely related to us. But I take it we both agree that such faculties are strangely exclusive to our genus?
    Beyond 40,000 years we find no burials, no rituals nor ANY signs of ANY religous behaviour.
    That's the fallacy we call argument from ignorance, ins't it? (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).

    I do believe morality is connected to morality [intelligence?] just not soley.
    Okay. Do you believe that there are such things as definite moral values or do you believe it is a blend of cultural/societal influence, or what you call 'extelligence'.

    A deep question, and one I don't have time for right now.
    I'd be interested to know your thoughts on it later, when you get the time to reflect over it.

    Regards
    The Moral consequences of Atheism

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

  16. #13
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    Re: Atheism

    Greetings Callum,
    Quote Originally Posted by czgibson View Post
    Information and order are abstract concepts that we apply to objects and groups of objects. They are not corporeal in themselves, are they?
    You're right, but that is my point - there is more to our universe than the corporeal, tangible or material.

    Does this not seem to indicate that there has been some external source beyond our universe which has infused it with this order?
    I don't see how it indicates this.
    If the universe is locked into this declining state of order, then in and of itself it posseses no control or capability to regulate its internal organization to reverse the process. Only an external source can alter this process or initiate it.
    If the coffee mug told me its motion was controlled by god (or gave me some other unambiguous indication of this), then I would believe.
    Or maybe you would think you were hallucinating? It's hard to say until it happens to you. Ex-atheist Dr. Laurence Brown MD converted from what He felt was divine intervention depite there being a way to explain it off otherwise (Conversion story). The point being that there are numerous things that happen to us in our lives that we just explain off as coincidence or imagination. Moreover, if such supernatural events became commonplace, some people might create new theories for them, which they could advance as an alternative to belief in God, and then we're back to where we are today.
    Of course, they might.
    Well if they might, then it really is no better from the way we have it now.

    No, but the memories of miracles that are alleged to have happened are often used as evidence in debates with atheists!
    But they shouldn't be. I don't consider it an argument to say to an atheist, "Moses's staff became a snake, why don't you believe?"

    Why not? You are happy with that under the Islamic system.
    But I want to know if you would be happy with that. Because this is your suggestion and now that we analyzed it, if it comes out to be hardly different from what we already have, then there's no point to it, is there? If you think it is acceptable for God to judge some people based on there acceptance of the beliefs of previus generations, then you've nullified your initial objection to God's evidence, haven't you?
    I'm talking about the situation you described where the same miracle was performed repeatedly. If this was the case, such an event would no longer be considered miraculous, and would have to be incorporated into any attempt at an explanation of the workings of the universe (i.e. the laws of physics).
    I don't understand why that would be the case since if it was known to be a miracle (a suspension of natural laws of the universe) then it wouldn't become a natural law in the sense that theories would be created to explain the phenomenon through scientific analysis. If you just mean that it will be considered a natural phenomenon, then yes I agree.
    In my view, the Islamic prohibitions on pork, wearing silk (for men) and music are definitely trivial.
    The basic concept behind all rulings is the test of seeing if we can control ourselves to adhere to specific guidelines, sacrificing personal desires. Each ruling can be analyzed individually though - with pork there could be physical/medical reasons, with silk it is more about men imitating women, and with music the ruling is related to moral and spiritual issues (which gives rise to the gray areas which I think we have discussed quite a bit before).

    If I do charitable deeds, how does this give me appreciation of god's mercy and justice?
    This is something that Dr. Lang went into great depth discussing in his writings, but the gist is when you are being merciful to others you experience a very small reflection of the attribute of mercy thus allowing you to come to a greater appreciate of God's divine mercy on human beings.

    Yes - one is an action and one is a state, but proving normally leads to knowing - but that's slightly tangential to my point. People would know god existed if it had been proven.
    Right, but something can be known to one person without that person necessarily being able to prove it to someone else. Would you say that proof -> knowledge; evidence -> belief ?
    I don't know about the concept of god, or why my request is inconsistent with it, but if I am supposed to live my life according to the command of some being, and I am supposed to fear this being, I'd just like some evidence that it exists - that's all.
    That's a perfectly fair position, my only objection is when someone restricts the evidence like the people of Moses saying, "We will NOT believe UNTIL we see God". I think that is being unreasonable.
    What evidence do you think I am discounting that you would consider to be clear and unambiguous evidence of god's existence?
    Well one piece of evidence can be interpreted in different ways, right? If I find cookie crumbs trailing from where I left my cookies to someone who is happily munching on something, that is likely evidence but it is easily possible to interpret it otherwise. I think some of the clearest evidence relates to the human fitrah, man's ingrained moral conscience, and that is why I spend a lot of time discussing morality. I think if someone first recognizes the fitrah within all humans and follows it, they can certainly come a lot closer to the truth.

    I don't know. One would have thought not, but could it be possible over billions of years?
    It just seems to me that when people go to such lengths that even others atheists like yourself find a little unbelievable, that they are really bent on looking for whatever excuse they can to deny God. I don't think there is any basis here to deny God, and my argument stems from the Qur'an:

    2:28 How can you deny Allah? Seeing that you were dead and He gave you life. Then He will give you death, then again will bring you to life (on the Day of Resurrection) and then unto Him you will return.

    We were absolutely nothing and suddenly here we are in a bright world conscious, sentient and discussing amongst ourselves.
    So, I am a materialist at the moment, but I'm happy to change that view should new evidence arise that persuades me that materialism is untenable.
    Right.

    That is my basic position on the origin of morality. You may remember this from the "development of theism" discussion we had a few months ago.
    Now that you mention it, yes I do recall the discussion and I can see how the same concepts behind it are tied in here.
    It would depend on who I would be stealing from. I have to say, I'd be strongly tempted. After all, a million dollars is a million dollars!
    No doubt you would be strongly tempted in this scenario and many others. And what really is there to stop you in such a case? You have the moral value within you that tells you such an action is not right, but that can easily be overrided by the powerful desires for the object in question. Can you see why Muslims bring up the issue of morality with atheists though you might initially think it is a straw man? THis is also why I kept this statement from the beginning of your post for here:
    There's nothing wrong with that, but can humans not encourage these attitudes by themselves, with no need for god?
    I think when you get into the issue of morality, the difference between theists and atheists becomes clear. Furthermore, when left to themselves such as in secular societies, the moral limits keep dropping. The moral value system becomes entirely subjective and we don't really have objections to things like incestuous marriage other than the moral values we surpress by our desires.

    I would object, essentially for the same reasons I gave in my last post on these topics.
    If genetic risks were eliminated (homoincestuous marriage, sterility, protection, etc.) would you have any remaining objections?
    That's an interesting question. I can't be absolutely sure, but I strongly believe that I would not accept them. I find the idea of homosexual sex unpleasant, but I find the idea of incest and necrophilia absolutely repulsive - it's an entirely different order of feeling.
    This is what I believe is part of our fitrah - that human beings naturally find certain things repulsive and are inherently inclined towards good but they allow this fitrah to be surpressed by desires, doubts and denial.

    I have to cut this response short, I have to go; if I left out something important please highlight it in your next post.

    Thanks
    The Moral consequences of Atheism

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

  17. #14
    root's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism

    Yet they are much more closely related to us. But I take it we both agree that such faculties are strangely exclusive to our genus?
    You keep saying that Neanderthals are close relatives to us and you should stop thinking this way.



    This data reduce the likelihood that Neanderthals contained enough mtDNA sequence diversity to encompass modern human diversity" (Ovchinnikov et al. 2000)

    Scientists have so far extracted 4 seperate Neanderthal MtDNA for comparison and concluded and reached a scientific consensus that is quite clear:

    The studies of Neandertal mtDNA do not show that Neandertals did not or could not interbreed with modern humans. However, the lack of diversity in Neandertal mtDNA sequences, combined with the large differences between Neandertal and modern human mtDNA, strongly suggest that Neandertals and modern humans developed separately, and did not form part of a single large interbreeding population. The Neandertal mtDNA studies will strengthen the arguments of those scientists who claim that Neandertals should be considered a separate species which did not significantly contribute to the modern gene pool

    In other words, if you and I was to go into a time machine and stop every 1000 years to physically look at our ancestory, at no point would we find ancestory with the Neanderthal. At some point in time we may cross a species that both human and neanderthal are ancestory to but that same premis applies to any species on the planet. Chimps (who are included in the DNA comparison chart) do rarther well and deserve the status of closest living relative to Humans.

    My point here is simply that you stated that you find it "strange" that no other animal shares our ability with intelligence self awareness with superior conciounce. This may well be true currently if we consider "currently living", however, it simply is not true to say amongst all the species now extinct.

    Further, considering the complexities and artificial differences in Human races. Could two differing species actually co-exist at such a level that man has now achieved, did man ultimately destroy it's closest competitor the Neanderthal. I put it to you that this is why we are the only living species to have superior intelligence, had evolutionary history been different then maybe, just maybe the Neanderthals may have considered themselves quite lucky that they championed in thier natural competition for survival over the human race and you and I would not be here debating this.

    Either way, mans unique ability of mind was not really unique!

    Regards

    Root

    Root - Quote:
    Beyond 40,000 years we find no burials, no rituals nor ANY signs of ANY religous behaviour.
    That's the fallacy ins't it? (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).
    No it's a solid scientific theory that is falsifiable. All that needs to happen to change the theory is to find such signs beyond 40,000 years. It's not that we are searching for evidence of what we cannot find, it's the date of what we find. So it's not relavent to absence of evidence.

    Root - Quote:
    I do believe morality is connected to morality [intelligence?] just not soley.
    Okay. Do you believe that there are such things as definite moral values or do you believe it is a blend of cultural/societal influence, or what you call 'extelligence'.
    Cultural/socieital influence and extelleigence

    Quote:
    A deep question, and one I don't have time for right now.
    I'd be interested to know your thoughts on it later, when you get the time to reflect over it.

    Regards
    Yes I will; make sure I do.

    Thanks
    Last edited by root; 04-25-2006 at 10:41 PM.

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  19. #15
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    Re: Atheism

    Greetings Ansar,
    Quote Originally Posted by Ansar Al-'Adl View Post
    You're right, but that is my point - there is more to our universe than the corporeal, tangible or material.
    There may well be, but we haven't found it yet. Our abstract concepts come from our minds, which, as far as we know, consist of our brains - physical objects. Just because we have concepts, ideas and consciousness, that doesn't mean materialism is false, since as far as we know all these inhere and originate within physical objects.

    If the universe is locked into this declining state of order, then in and of itself it posseses no control or capability to regulate its internal organization to reverse the process. Only an external source can alter this process or initiate it.
    I'm still not quite sure what you're saying. Do you mean something like this?:

    1. The universe exhibits increasing order
    2. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the levels of order must always decline
    3. So the increasing order we see must have been caused by god

    Or maybe you would think you were hallucinating?
    That's quite some hallucination - I've never heard anecdotes of any hallucination like it.

    It's hard to say until it happens to you. Ex-atheist Dr. Laurence Brown MD converted from what He felt was divine intervention depite there being a way to explain it off otherwise (Conversion story).
    Well, there's not a lot I can say about that story, other than you know whose explanation I accept.
    Moreover, if such supernatural events became commonplace, some people might create new theories for them, which they could advance as an alternative to belief in God, and then we're back to where we are today.
    Even if these miracles were strongly indicative of god's hand?

    But they shouldn't be. I don't consider it an argument to say to an atheist, "Moses's staff became a snake, why don't you believe?"
    I'm glad to hear it, but many theists do make this kind of argument.
    But I want to know if you would be happy with that. Because this is your suggestion and now that we analyzed it, if it comes out to be hardly different from what we already have, then there's no point to it, is there? If you think it is acceptable for God to judge some people based on there acceptance of the beliefs of previus generations, then you've nullified your initial objection to God's evidence, haven't you?
    I don't think so, because what we're talking about are regular, widely attested miracles occurring every century or so. When is the last miracle in our current world said to have happened?

    I don't understand why that would be the case since if it was known to be a miracle (a suspension of natural laws of the universe) then it wouldn't become a natural law in the sense that theories would be created to explain the phenomenon through scientific analysis. If you just mean that it will be considered a natural phenomenon, then yes I agree.
    We agree then!

    The basic concept behind all rulings is the test of seeing if we can control ourselves to adhere to specific guidelines, sacrificing personal desires. Each ruling can be analyzed individually though - with pork there could be physical/medical reasons, with silk it is more about men imitating women, and with music the ruling is related to moral and spiritual issues (which gives rise to the gray areas which I think we have discussed quite a bit before).
    We've discussed some of these more fully than others, but I would still maintain that they are trivial. However, it's likely that I only say that because I don't believe in god and don't see the requirement for these "tests".

    This is something that Dr. Lang went into great depth discussing in his writings, but the gist is when you are being merciful to others you experience a very small reflection of the attribute of mercy thus allowing you to come to a greater appreciate of God's divine mercy on human beings.
    So I could experience something of the attribute of mercy, but that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with god.

    Right, but something can be known to one person without that person necessarily being able to prove it to someone else.
    I don't know. Knowledge is a very tricky concept. Some people might say that a test for whether something could be considered to be knowledge might be that it must be provable in theory.

    Would you say that proof -> knowledge; evidence -> belief ?
    Well, evidence can lead to proof and then knowledge. For belief I would normally use the word 'reason', but I suppose 'evidence' amounts to the same thing.

    Well one piece of evidence can be interpreted in different ways, right? If I find cookie crumbs trailing from where I left my cookies to someone who is happily munching on something, that is likely evidence but it is easily possible to interpret it otherwise.
    Or there may be no-one there at all...

    I think some of the clearest evidence relates to the human fitrah, man's ingrained moral conscience, and that is why I spend a lot of time discussing morality. I think if someone first recognizes the fitrah within all humans and follows it, they can certainly come a lot closer to the truth.
    I think you're right to say that this recognition of "universal human conscience", if I can call it that, does lead to important truths; I don't see that it leads to god, however.

    It just seems to me that when people go to such lengths that even others atheists like yourself find a little unbelievable, that they are really bent on looking for whatever excuse they can to deny God.
    These hypotheses only seem unbelievable because they concern mysterious questions to which nobody knows the answers. It is fair enough for religious people to put forward their hypotheses, but until there is supporting evidence of a kind that everybody can accept, then that is what they will remain. In other words, I think that my suggestion that sentient beings could possibly arise from non-sentient matter over billions of years is just as valid a suggestion as the view that says god created life - however, I would not urge someone to accept my view or live my life by it.

    We were absolutely nothing and suddenly here we are in a bright world conscious, sentient and discussing amongst ourselves.
    Suddenly?

    Now that you mention it, yes I do recall the discussion and I can see how the same concepts behind it are tied in here.
    It's Durkheim again.

    I also have to cut my post short - I don't think you've left too much out from the last exchange.

    Since our posts are now getting quite long, and we're discussing several different issues here, might it be in order to find other threads to carry on each strand of the discussion?

    Thanks for your thoughts, Ansar - I always find our conversations beneficial. We don't often agree, but it's pleasant to find scattered points of contact along the way.

    Peace

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    Re: Atheism

    I think this sums up my atheism nicely :-)

    Click the bilow link ;-)

    Imagine

    Imagine there's no heaven
    It's easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today...

    Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace...

    You may say I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world...

    You may say I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will live as one
    Last edited by root; 04-27-2006 at 02:11 PM.

  21. #17
    root's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism

    Thanks for the response, I did not expect it.

    Hi root, what I find in the lyrics of John lennon that you have posted, is that some of the concepts are just too idealistic to ever be a reality, (unless of course if implemented through the Islamic reilgion ).
    I would counter that by obviously pointing out the paradox.

    "And no religion too"

    Am I not correct in assuming that an athiest, seeing that he believes in no hereafter, would be inclined to leading perhaps a very hedonistic lifestyle? Afterall, as the saying goes 'you only live once'.
    Well I am an an atheist and I would say you are not correct.

    So what exactly would motivate a person to eliminate greed?, would it not be quite the contrary? Would not people live to capitalise on other peoples misfortunes? Would not jeaolosy drive a person to carry out insane acts?
    Again, I don't think that is so. The absence of religion does not imply an absence in Morals

    Also, this brotherhood that is spoken of, tell me do you honestly think that people can actually accept people of different races as a 'brother' if there was no such thing as religion, especially the likes of Islam, compelling them to do so?
    In y lifetime. No I don't, but also if something takes a thousand years to achieve do we then call it an impossible goal? Perhaps many moons from now racial divide will become less of an issue. It's always present of course. My daughter dislikes people who live in the next village (Childrens thing), people from my county have a dislike for the bordering county. of course they all live in Scotland, and if they meet in England they see themselves allied as friends under the unity of being scottish. In turn a lot of scots have a dislike for England, but again united in allie if a scot meets an Englishmen in Pakistan for example. This principle is always present and as the world moves forward I do hope the "World" is united in a similar way under humanity in that we are all brothers of humanity.

    What is not taken in acount of here is that there is a vast spectrum of people with differing levels of intelligence, different races etc, which again begs the question, what exactly would be the motivation in achieving brotherhood, why would the average joe care for the other - capitalistically speaking what will he gain? I honestly fail to understand this.
    A species of social integration has a greater chance of survival working as a single group. The more the better I would say.

    In Islam we are commanded to love one another for the sake of Allah. Did you know that when muslims greet each other they shake hands
    ,

    I spent a lot of time in Pakistan, I was informed that shaking hands with a women was considered "not the done thing"

    whilst extending the greeting of peace? Do you recognise the potential that exists in the doctrines of Islam, where people pray shoulder to shoulder,
    Again, the doctrine was men preyed shoulder to shoulder & not women & men.

    regardless of all the differences in race, intellect etc? Do you not see then that these teachings are far more potent that any athiestic attempt at unification of humanity?
    Yes, I agree with religous morals and it's effectiveness in forming early civilisations. To believe in Islam is to accept what I logically know not to be the truth. (I have many, but the main one is crationism)

    For arguments sake lets assume that the people of the whole world decided to renounce religion all together. Judging by what the lyrics above say, they would be 'living for today', but again would that not entail wanting the best life possible? How far do you think this dangerous ideaology of athiesim can drive a person into commiting a crime in order to live this 'best life', since like I pointed out, not all people are the same, not everyone is intellectual enough to treat people with the respect they deserve.
    It almost that you are institutionalised into religous moral. I don't see what you see a potential for. I see the exact opposite

    Please don't try to bounce back by saying that all religion is the problem seing as they have been the cause of many wars and arguements because that conclusion would fall apart when you acknowledge that the followers of this faith actually believe in Allah and his divine attributes, and his ability to do anything.
    I won't. religion is not all together bad and has done a service to mankind. I think progress of man as a species will dilute religion and as the real truth is uncovered perhaps thousands of years from now a forum discussion will find religion an odd and funny concept like today we find the sun as centre of the universe quite funny including the flat earth.

    One of the reasons perhaps to why this is (if one was to relate it to this particular issue), is the fact that currently no other theological ideaology has so much to offer in the sense of pragmatic methods to achieve true unity.
    Unity is achieved through truth, I don't consider Islam as the truth and additionally christianity.

  22. #18
    root's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism

    Great Replies Alpha Dude, and I assure you I take my time and fully ingest your communication. I appreciate the lengths that you have gone to in respect to the time it takes for a full response.

    Firstly, I just created a thread titled "What's god got to do with it". i regret that now because it is more appropriate to how this thread is developing.

    But is that not just your individual view? Like I said in the previous post, people are different, not everyone will understand like you do. Unfortunately people of this day and age are constantly bombarded by the media telling them what do act like, for a prime example of what I mean, look at the way rap stars live their lives, guns/violence/fast cars/bling and loose women are what the younger generation are increasingly looking up to as a source of inspiration. People are raised to believe that they should have what they want, hedonism as I termed it earlier is shoved into peoples mentalities at an early age.
    I agree and would not attempt to defend it, I personally consider it a transitional change and to be honest I find it healthy that the younger generations constantly strive to rebel and challenge the social moral of society. Encouraged further from a recent study that found 9 out of 10 western women (UK) considered "One night stands" immoral.

    Again, what I said about people having a different thought process applies, also even if I were to accept that morals can be retained in an athiestic society, what exactly would compel one to act upon them? Take for instance the situation where a person has the oppurtinity to easily con someone out of millions without fear of any punishment, if that individual was an athiest, why would he not follow his desire to live a good life? If your answer is that he has a conscience then you are arguing a case for Islam, this is due to the fact that in Islam we are taught that everyone that is born has the natural concept of right and wrong programmed in their conscience (Fitrah it is called I think - If anyone has any hadith/Quran reference please feel free to post), thereby allowing them to feel bad but sometimes not knowing why.
    Yes, I agree with you. I think personally that you do not associate social group dynamics and morality nearly as much as you do, but religous moral has good strength and some people could struggle without it. Of course I am just talking social group morality and not belief in a supernatural entity called God.

    Again, what I said about people having a different thought process applies, also even if I were to accept that morals can be retained in an athiestic society, what exactly would compel one to act upon them? Take for instance the situation where a person has the oppurtinity to easily con someone out of millions without fear of any punishment, if that individual was an athiest, why would he not follow his desire to live a good life? If your answer is that he has a conscience then you are arguing a case for Islam, this is due to the fact that in Islam we are taught that everyone that is born has the natural concept of right and wrong programmed in their conscience (Fitrah it is called I think - If anyone has any hadith/Quran reference please feel free to post), thereby allowing them to feel bad but sometimes not knowing why.
    I disagree that we have a natural concept for good and bad, however it would seem to me that you are suggesting Islam as a way of "controlling" morality which I would again not disagree with. I would disagree that it is directly attributed to a supernatural entity called God, perhaps inspired by a belief in God but not the existence of god.

    Some good points, I understand what you are trying to say, but I'd like you to understand that currently muslims still see themselves as one massive community, what I am saying is that in practice we all treat each other as brother and sister (give or take several rogue people that are neither here or there). This is something tangible that has been achieved and has lasted for the last 1400 years or so
    I bolded your statement that troubles me. This is because in my opinion the minute you create a community you create a divide!

    BUT the prerequisite in understanding my argument is that you must understand that WE muslims actually believe in Allah, therefore whatever has been said is the true way of life and we must act upon it, no matter how institutionalised it may seem.
    Yes, tell me though. How comfortable are you with the other Muslims and possibly yourself who so easily accept the moral value in killing a muslim who leaves the faith. To me that is a very bitter pill to swallow.

    Finally, here is the text from the other thread since I essentially feel that what we are talking about is group social order and morality and not in essence the truth to the existence of god since under this context, I would question if it is really that important:

    Perhaps your sentiments lie with Karl Popper. Religion, argued the great philosopher of science, lies in the realms of metaphysics and is not open to scientific enquiry. That is the line most biologists take to justify sidestepping the issue. But there is no denying that religion and gods are a core part of human behaviour. That's why I and a growing number of biologists think we must offer some insight into the questions of why religion exists and at what point in human evolution it began.

    Humans exhibit one feature that is very odd by animal standards, namely our extraordinary willingness to accept the will of the community and even to die for it. This level of altruism is the key to our success, allowing us to exploit cooperative solutions to the problems of individual survival and reproduction. For these to work, however, the individual has to be prepared to trade immediate personal interests for long-term gains. And high levels of group conformity expose us to the risk of free riders - those who take the benefits of sociality but will not pay the costs.

    Of course, we can and do control free riders with policing and appeals to decency. But in the end, both strategies carry only so much weight: who cares if you don't like what I do if I gain enough by doing it. Religion offers a significant advance because the threat of intervention by forces beyond our control - whether now or after death - offers a level of penalty that far exceeds anything the civil estate can manage. But it only works if people believe in the existence of a shared supernatural world.

    That's where our species' special talent for mind reading comes in. This phenomenon is best known in the form of "theory of mind": the ability to understand that someone else has a mind driven by belief-states. This might be represented in the sentence: "I believe that you suppose that there is a supernatural being who understands that you and I want to aspire to behave decently." It is this kind of thinking that enables us to go beyond holding personal supernatural beliefs to organising religion as a shared, social phenomenon.

    So, our brains allow us to create gods and religions. But is this ability simply an accidental product of the evolution of big brains, or is it an adaptation? My own studies show that in primates, including humans, the volume of the neocortex - and especially the frontal lobe - is directly correlated with group size and social skills. In other words, the evolution of brain size has been driven by the need to provide the computational capacity to support the social skills needed to maintain stability among large groups. And in the case of humans, these social adaptations include religion.

    By recognising that religion requires a large amount of mental power, we can also start to ask when it might have evolved. Plotting theory of mind abilities as a function of brain size in our fossil lineage suggests that the complexity required to support religion is likely to have arisen very late in our evolutionary history. It could not have happened before the appearance of Homo sapiens half a million years ago, and possibly not until anatomically modern humans appeared 200,000 years ago. That tallies with evidence for the evolution of language, another prerequisite for religion.

    Of course, religion isn't all stick and no carrot. While religious sanctions help enforce conformity, religious experiences make us feel part of the group. Once again, evolution seems to have furnished us with mental mechanisms that make this possible. In recent years neuroscience has revealed the so-called God-spot - part of the brain's left parietal lobe, responsible for our sense of spatial self - an area that shuts down when individuals experience ecstatic states (New Scientist, 21 April 2001, p 24). As well as being linked with a sense of "oneness with the universe", it also creates the blinding flash of light associated with trances and religious experiences.

    But perhaps the most powerful device for reinforcing commitment to the group must be endorphins. These brain chemicals are released when the body is under stress. It's surely no coincidence that most religions involve practices such as flagellation or long periods spent singing or dancing, which trigger a flood of endorphins whose opiate-like effects make us feel relaxed and at peace with those we share the experience with.

    So, gods are created by big brains to prevent free riders benefiting from cooperative society without paying the costs. But religious experience can also be seen in a more positive light, as a way to help reinforce the group's effectiveness as a bulwark against the vagaries of the natural world.

    Robin Dunbar studies evolutionary psychology and behavioral ecology at the University of Liverpool, UK.

  23. #19
    Ansar Al-'Adl's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism

    Hi Callum,
    Quote Originally Posted by czgibson View Post
    I'm still not quite sure what you're saying. Do you mean something like this?:

    1. The universe exhibits increasing order
    2. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the levels of order must always decline
    3. So the increasing order we see must have been caused by god
    No; sorry for not being clear. The universe is locked into a declining state of order. The order in the universe is not increasing. It continuously degenerates. This indicates to me that there must have been an external source that ordered the universe. There must have been some source that gave it this order and organization because the universe itself does not cannot do that.

    That's quite some hallucination - I've never heard anecdotes of any hallucination like it.
    Or what if someone believes it was a scheme crafted by extraterrestrials to distract human beings as a precursor to a massive alien invasion? People can make whatever theory they want to explain the incident.

    Also, with the increase in our understanding of science we are able to perform even more fascinating tricks - a speaking holographic image may not be that far off, anyway. People will still find excuses.
    Well, there's not a lot I can say about that story, other than you know whose explanation I accept.
    What I find interesting is that Dr. Brown, despite having lived his life as an atheist, fully immersed in the study of science (specifically opthalmology), did not do what you might have done.

    Even if these miracles were strongly indicative of god's hand?
    But it's a subjective matter, isn't it? What is a strong indication for you may not be such for the next person. There are some people who will never accept God no matter how many signs; they have fully surpressed their fitrah.
    I don't think so, because what we're talking about are regular, widely attested miracles occurring every century or so.
    But how different is it to rely on a miracle witnessed by your previous generation or a miracle witnessed several generations ago. In either case, you have not witnessed it directly. What if someone says, "I don't believe them, I'm going to wait till the next alleged miracle to find out" but they die before that happens and they've lived their life disbelieving in God.
    When is the last miracle in our current world said to have happened?
    Muslim scholars make a distinction between Mu'jizât and Karamât. The former occur only at the hands of the Prophets and are much greater than the latter. The latter are lesser supernatural occurances that may be happening in the modern world. Neither occur by the will of human beings but by the will of God.
    However, it's likely that I only say that because I don't believe in god and don't see the requirement for these "tests".
    I think that is probably the case.
    Ansar Al-'Adl By making personal sacrifices in order to help others we are able to draw closer to God and appreciate His Mercy and Justice on a greater level.
    czgibson If I do charitable deeds, how does this give me appreciation of god's mercy and justice?
    Ansar Al-'Adl This is something that Dr. Lang went into great depth discussing in his writings, but the gist is when you are being merciful to others you experience a very small reflection of the attribute of mercy thus allowing you to come to a greater appreciate of God's divine mercy on human beings.
    czgibson So I could experience something of the attribute of mercy, but that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with god.
    You're right, the point is that doing righteous deeds allows us to better appreciate God's Mercy and Justice and come closer to Him, but obviously there is the prerequisite of belief in God. The striving towards God allows us to come closer to Him.
    Well, evidence can lead to proof and then knowledge. For belief I would normally use the word 'reason', but I suppose 'evidence' amounts to the same thing.
    Okay, I agree. So one can come to know something through evidence that collectively establishes that fact, without just one proof of the fact.
    Or there may be no-one there at all...
    It was just an example of how one piece of evidence can be interpreted differently. I wasn't attempting to draw a parallel with belief in God, if that's what you understood from it.
    I think you're right to say that this recognition of "universal human conscience", if I can call it that, does lead to important truths; I don't see that it leads to god, however.
    I believe that the recognition of one supreme power behind our universe is the core of our fitrah. One thing that is to me, strongly indicative of this, is the fact that ever ancient human civilization, no matter where on the planet, has always acknowleded some supreme power.
    These hypotheses only seem unbelievable because they concern mysterious questions to which nobody knows the answers.
    Fair enough, that's you opinion, but to me it is obvious that these suggestions people come up with to justify their disbelief in God, clash with our human conscience.
    Suddenly?
    On an individual basis, yes it has been sudden. I do not recall gradually entering into this universe. All I remember is suddenly being here and being a part of a bright and colorful world, and before that - nothing. I suspect you're thinking of humanity as a whole and the idea of its gradual evolution.

    Since our posts are now getting quite long, and we're discussing several different issues here, might it be in order to find other threads to carry on each strand of the discussion?
    If you want me to move any post, let me know which part of the discussion is better suited to which thread and I'll try to sort it out.
    Thanks for your thoughts, Ansar - I always find our conversations beneficial. We don't often agree, but it's pleasant to find scattered points of contact along the way.
    Absolutely.

    Regards
    The Moral consequences of Atheism

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

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  25. #20
    czgibson's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism

    Greetings,

    Sorry for the delayed reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ansar Al-'Adl View Post
    No; sorry for not being clear. The universe is locked into a declining state of order. The order in the universe is not increasing. It continuously degenerates. This indicates to me that there must have been an external source that ordered the universe. There must have been some source that gave it this order and organization because the universe itself does not cannot do that.
    Well, I'm not really up on physics, I'm afraid, so I can't give you a decent answer. What I would say though, is that some things appear to become more ordered as time goes on. The law of maximum entropy production seems to support this as well, but, like I said, this is not an area I know very much about.
    Or what if someone believes it was a scheme crafted by extraterrestrials to distract human beings as a precursor to a massive alien invasion? People can make whatever theory they want to explain the incident.

    Also, with the increase in our understanding of science we are able to perform even more fascinating tricks - a speaking holographic image may not be that far off, anyway. People will still find excuses.
    Or maybe they could just say that they don't know what happened, or they can't explain it. I take your point, but I still believe that such miracles would increase the number of believers.

    What I find interesting is that Dr. Brown, despite having lived his life as an atheist, fully immersed in the study of science (specifically opthalmology), did not do what you might have done.
    True, but Dr. Brown, in his moment of crisis, did fall to his knees and start praying, which is an odd thing for an atheist to do. I've been in some desperate situations in my life, and have never felt that doing this would help in the slightest. Of course, I may yet face something of a seriousness I've never encountered before, but still, I highly doubt I would ever resort to prayer.

    But it's a subjective matter, isn't it? What is a strong indication for you may not be such for the next person. There are some people who will never accept God no matter how many signs; they have fully surpressed their fitrah.
    Like me, they do not even recognise that there are any signs of god. Other explanations are always possible, as you say.

    But how different is it to rely on a miracle witnessed by your previous generation or a miracle witnessed several generations ago. In either case, you have not witnessed it directly.
    I think it's very different. Let's say that there was a miracle in 1500 CE and another one in 1960 CE. Now, I couldn't possibly have witnessed either of those, but it's a virtual certainty that more convincing evidence would exist for the more recent miracle, due to the more accurate and reliable recording technology available.

    What if someone says, "I don't believe them, I'm going to wait till the next alleged miracle to find out" but they die before that happens and they've lived their life disbelieving in God.
    If we're talking about a convincing miracle that everybody from the previous generation believes occurred, then you'd have to ask them why they didn't believe.

    Muslim scholars make a distinction between Mu'jizât and Karamât. The former occur only at the hands of the Prophets and are much greater than the latter. The latter are lesser supernatural occurances that may be happening in the modern world. Neither occur by the will of human beings but by the will of God.
    That's interesting - I didn't know that. In the case of Karamât, since they may be happening in the modern world, it seems that god isn't being very clear about it. Are things like the tree and the markings on a fish that supposedly spell the name of Allah examples of Karamât?

    It was just an example of how one piece of evidence can be interpreted differently. I wasn't attempting to draw a parallel with belief in God, if that's what you understood from it.
    I interpreted it in both ways.

    I believe that the recognition of one supreme power behind our universe is the core of our fitrah. One thing that is to me, strongly indicative of this, is the fact that every ancient human civilization, no matter where on the planet, has always acknowleded some supreme power.
    (I acknowledge the sun as our supreme power, as some of the ancients did.)

    The fact that ancient societies held certain beliefs in no way implies that we should therefore believe them too, surely?

    Fair enough, that's you opinion, but to me it is obvious that these suggestions people come up with to justify their disbelief in God, clash with our human conscience.
    The fact is, nobody knows where the universe came from (to take one example of a mystery). Muslims may claim that they do, but they don't. They have faith in god, and that god created the universe, but that is not the same as knowledge.

    On an individual basis, yes it has been sudden. I do not recall gradually entering into this universe. All I remember is suddenly being here and being a part of a bright and colorful world, and before that - nothing. I suspect you're thinking of humanity as a whole and the idea of its gradual evolution.
    That's right - I am thinking of that, and I'll explain why. Here's your original quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ansar
    We were absolutely nothing and suddenly here we are in a bright world conscious, sentient and discussing amongst ourselves.
    It looks like you're talking about abiogenesis there (which is supposed to have happened before evolution could even begin). The reason I assumed that you weren't talking about an individual (for example, me) is because you said "We were absolutely nothing..." I was not absolutely nothing before I was born. I consisted of genetic material within each of my parents, which was waiting to be matched in conception. When you think about it, each individual has existed in some form since DNA began to exist.

    If you want me to move any post, let me know which part of the discussion is better suited to which thread and I'll try to sort it out.
    I thought the 'morality' part of this discussion could have been moved - there are lots of threads on morality, I think. It might be worth setting up a thread on a subject like "Are atheists automatically evil?" or, perhaps more diplomatically, "Can atheists be expected to adhere to a moral system?". I'll set it up one day, but unfortunately I don't really have time for it these days as I'm busy with work.

    Peace

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