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Whoopi Goldberg was Right. . . Sort Of!
http://www.americanvision.org/article/whoopi-goldberg-was-right---sort-of-/ ^ | Oct 07, 2009 | Gary DeMar

Posted on 10/10/2009 10:57:27 AM PDT by topcat54

If you believe in evolution, there is nothing wrong with rape. In fact, you can’t really call it rape. Whoopi Goldberg dismissed Roman Polanski’s rape conviction by declaring that it “wasn’t rape-rape” (see her comments on The View.) As a firm believer in evolution, she should have said, “There’s nothing wrong with rape or sexual aggression. That’s how we all got here!” Here’s the premise: Whatever animals do in nature is natural. What’s natural is normal. What’s normal is moral. So if penguins engage in homosexual behavior, then that behavior must be natural, normal, and moral. How can we mere mortals impose our rules of sexual behavior on what’s natural in the animal kingdom? Homosexuals extrapolate that what animals do naturally in nature applies to what higher “animals” can do naturally without any moral judgments attached.

Consider the case of Timothy Treadwell depicted in the movie Grizzly Man (2005). He lived among bears for 13 years and thought of them as his friends. In 2003, Treadwell and his companion, Amie Huguenard, were mauled and mostly eaten by one of the Alaskan grizzly bears. While he thought of the bears as his brothers and sisters, the bears thought of him as lunch. “Nature, red in tooth and claw,” as Alfred Lord Tennyson put it. Then there’s the case of Armin Meiwes who killed and ate 43-year-old Bernd-Jurgen Brandes.[1] What did Mr. Meiwes do that was wrong given the premise that animal behavior is a normative model for human behavior?[2] If the bears that ate Treadwell were only doing what came naturally, then how can the cannibal nature of Meiwes be judged as abnormal given evolutionary assumptions? Whoopi missed a great opportunity to extol the virtues of the evolutionary religion of the intelligentsia by pointing out these examples of evolution in action.

A few years ago, I saw an advertisement for a television special on Turner Network Television—“The Trials of Life.” The full-page advertisement showed a composite picture of six animals, one of which was the bald eagle, with the following caption: “Discover how similar the face of nature is to yours. The way you love, the way you fight, the way you grow, all have their roots in the kingdom we all live in: the animal kingdom.” The implication here is obvious: Humans are only an evolutionary step away from other animals.

While channel surfing, I came across the second installment of the six-part series. I soon learned what Benjamin Franklin meant when he described the eagle as a bird of “bad moral character.” With two eaglets in the nest and not enough food to go around, mamma allows the weakest eaglet to die. She then cannibalizes the dead eaglet and feeds it to the survivor. Was this natural or unnatural? Is this moral animal behavior that we should emulate? How do we know? Should we follow the example of the eagles or just the homosexual penguins?

If animal behavior is a template for human behavior, then why can’t a similar case be made for rape among human animals? As hard as it might be to imagine, the connection has been made. Randy Thornhill, a biologist who teaches at the University of New Mexico, and Craig T. Palmer, an anthropologist who teaches at the University of Missouri-Columbia, attempt to demonstrate in their book A Natural History of Rape [3] (MIT Press) that evolutionary principles explain rape as a “genetically developed strategy sustained over generations of human life because it is a kind of sexual selection—a successful reproductive strategy.” They go on to claim, however, that even though rape can be explained genetically in evolutionary terms, this does not make the behavior morally right. Of course, given Darwinian assumptions, there is no way to condemn rape on moral grounds. If we are truly the products of evolution, then there can be no moral judgments about anything. So then, if homosexuals want to use penguins as their moral model, then they need to take all animal behavior into consideration when they build their moral worldview. If we should follow the animal world regarding homosexual penguins and thereby regard human homosexual behavior as normal, then we must be consistent and follow the animal world regarding rape, eating our young, and eating our neighbors and decriminalize these behaviors as well. Whoopi just needed some help in framing the issue a little better.

Endnotes:

[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3286721.stm
[2] Theodore Dalrymple, “The Case for Cannibalism” (January 5, 2005): http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon_01_05_04td.html
[3] Randy Thornhill, and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000)..


Permission to reprint granted by American Vision, P.O. Box 220, Powder Springs, GA 30127, 800-628-9460.


TOPICS: Theology
KEYWORDS: americanvision; animalbehavior; animals; evolution; goldberg; grizzlyman; homosexualagenda; polanski; rape; raperape; romanpolanski; sociology; sourcetitlenoturl; timothytreadwell; treadwell; whoopigoldberg

1 posted on 10/10/2009 10:57:27 AM PDT by topcat54
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To: topcat54

These sort of stories highlight the fact that without religion, there can be no morality. It is impossible to explain without any religious context why things like rape, murder, stealing, lying and whatnot are indeed wrong.


2 posted on 10/10/2009 10:59:51 AM PDT by pnh102 (Regarding liberalism, always attribute to malice what you think can be explained by stupidity. - Me)
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To: topcat54

Liberals — all id and ego; no superego.


3 posted on 10/10/2009 11:01:17 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: pnh102

This explains it;

http://jezebel.com/5372888/chris-rock-on-roman-polanski-its-rape-rape


4 posted on 10/10/2009 11:02:04 AM PDT by jessduntno (Tell Obama to STFU - Stop The Federal Usurpation.)
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To: topcat54

Good ole’ hoopie. The never ending liberal idiot.


5 posted on 10/10/2009 11:03:50 AM PDT by eyedigress
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To: topcat54
Whatever animals do in nature is natural.

Whoopi is an animal. That makes her point for her.

6 posted on 10/10/2009 11:13:11 AM PDT by library user
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To: topcat54
“There’s nothing wrong with rape or sexual aggression. That’s how we all got here!” Here’s the premise: Whatever animals do in nature is natural. What’s natural is normal. What’s normal is moral."

At the time of man when it was standard for 'rape or sexual aggression,' there was no such thing as 'moral.'

That man-made ideal came many, many years later.

7 posted on 10/10/2009 11:19:02 AM PDT by deadrock (Liberty is a bitch that needs to be bedded on a mattress of cadavers.)
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: topcat54
Let's face it: someone with the intellectual standing and, yes, gravitas of Whoopi Goldberg must by all means be taken seriously.


10 posted on 10/10/2009 11:34:34 AM PDT by Disambiguator
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To: topcat54

Every now and then, researchers observe a chimpanzee harem, and note that the females often try to sneak away from the dominant male, to have sex with males that hang around the periphery of the harem.

They then say that because chimpanzees cheat, that it must be natural to cheat on one’s spouse.

However, they always neglect the other side of the equation. If a dominant male catches one of his females cheating with another male, he is likely to brutally kill both of them.

So, if cheating is natural, so is murdering your cheating spouse and their lover if you catch them. Just like in Texas.


11 posted on 10/10/2009 11:44:42 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: Disambiguator

The only thing Whoopi is an expert at, is baby killing.

She has admitted to aborting several of her own children.


12 posted on 10/10/2009 11:45:19 AM PDT by Radagast the Fool ("Mexico-Beirut with tacos!"--Dr. Zoidberg)
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To: topcat54

Actually, there is no morality in evolutionary logic. At best an argument can be made for the importance of deceiving people into thinking that you care about them or have their best interest in mind, but that is where the logic of morality stops.

Indeed, the inner city baby daddies who are getting a dozen women to have their children should be considered to be at the top of the current evolutionary ladder. They have figured out the most efficient way to increase their gene line, while having the government (us) feed, shelter and clothe them. Sort of like human Cow Birds.


13 posted on 10/10/2009 11:49:37 AM PDT by SampleMan (No one should die on a gov. waiting list., or go broke because the gov. has dictated their salary.)
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy
So, if cheating is natural, so is murdering your cheating spouse and their lover if you catch them. Just like in Texas.

And for the "no morality without religion" crowd, there is Leviticus 20:10, which says the same thing.

14 posted on 10/10/2009 11:54:21 AM PDT by Oztrich Boy (They have a saying in Chicago Mr Bond once happenstance, twice coincidence, three times enemy action)
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To: topcat54

"I'm Whoopie Golgberg and I Love Kids."
Click for Whoopie video still on the Toys-R-Us website.

15 posted on 10/10/2009 12:03:09 PM PDT by TexasCajun
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To: topcat54

If we were just animals, then one might excuse the behavior. I’m of the opinion that Adam and Eve were given the first souls, and distinguishing them from Homo Sapien Sapiens (call us now Homo Sapien Adamsis), thereby setting mankind apart from the animal world. It allowed us to consider spiritual things, and allowed us to become spiritual beings. It provided the key element that causes us to rise above our base (animalistic) nature.

The materialists and secular humanists ignore it at their peril.


16 posted on 10/10/2009 12:10:51 PM PDT by Daniel II (I'm Jim Thompson, this is my brother Jimmy, and this is my other brother Jimmy)
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To: pnh102

“These sort of stories highlight the fact that without religion, there can be no morality. It is impossible to explain without any religious context why things like rape, murder, stealing, lying and whatnot are indeed wrong.”

How absurd and vile. They are wrong because they are contrary to the very nature of human beings, the very necessity for them to survive as human beings. The human mind cannot function on lies. A human cannot exist without producing and stealing is a denial of that basic human requirement and must except a lie to violate that truth. It is the very nature of human beings to understand that “pleasure” is the reward for correct choices and pain the consequence of wrong ones. A pleasure enjoyed that is not earned is like stealing, enjoying that which is unearned and undeserved. It is a basic human requirement to know that one is worthy of what one enjoys in life, and must suffer the psychological consequences for attempting to enjoy what is not earned, and consequences of the lie to cover up that guilt.

Perhaps you would not be able to figure out that rape, murder, stealing, lying are wrong, without some authority telling you they are, but truly moral people do not need to be told they are wrong.

What you are implying is that rape, murder, stealing, and lying are only wrong because God said so. If He said they were OK, would they be?

Hank


17 posted on 10/10/2009 12:11:11 PM PDT by Hank Kerchief
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To: Hank Kerchief
They are wrong because they are contrary to the very nature of human beings, the very necessity for them to survive as human beings.

If we take the view that humans are descended from lower order animals, then how can this be true? In the animal kingdom, the only rule is survival of the fittest. Animals kill other animals, steal from other animals, take the mates of other animals because that is their instinctively driven behavior. If we are descended from those same animals, then how can it be in our very nature to not do these things?

Perhaps you would not be able to figure out that rape, murder, stealing, lying are wrong, without some authority telling you they are, but truly moral people do not need to be told they are wrong.

Then how did those people learn to do it? And how did the people who taught those who taught these moral people learn? Where did what we consider to be good behavior come from?

What you are implying is that rape, murder, stealing, and lying are only wrong because God said so. If He said they were OK, would they be?

I am not implying it, I am explicitly saying it. Look at the Islamic faith as an example for how morality is derived from religion. In this faith, the holy book states very clearly that it is perfectly OK to kill nonbelievers, that it is perfectly OK to lie to advance the cause of Islam and that it is perfectly OK to have sex with minor girls. Many followers of Islam who agree with these tenets do so because Allah told them it was OK.

Likewise, societies that base their morality, and ultimately their laws upon laws listed in the Bible do so because we believe that God told is this was the right thing to do.

18 posted on 10/10/2009 12:19:53 PM PDT by pnh102 (Regarding liberalism, always attribute to malice what you think can be explained by stupidity. - Me)
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To: topcat54
If you believe in evolution, there is nothing wrong with rape.

And the Creationist Craliban wonder why they get so little support from most Americans....

19 posted on 10/10/2009 2:04:11 PM PDT by MindBender26 (Never kick leftists when they're down. Wait till they're half way back up. You get better leverage!)
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To: topcat54
If you believe in evolution, there is nothing wrong with rape.

It simply doesn't get any dumber than that. An epic example of non sequitur (On par for that crowd, though.) Just because non-consensual sex may (or may not - who knows?) have played a role in evolution, it does not follow therefrom that 'rape' is condoned today by someone believing in the theory of evolution. (Otherwise, 95+ percent of males out there would be active rapists.)

20 posted on 10/10/2009 2:26:13 PM PDT by Moltke (DOPE will get you 4 to 8 in the Big House - HOPE will get you 4 to 8 in the White House.)
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To: pnh102

“If we take the view that humans are descended from lower order animals ...”

I do not take that view. (Do you?) Since the rest of your post is based on that false assumption I’ll only add this:

Please tell me where in the Bible the principles of the calculus are found. If they aren’t there, how could men possibly know them. Why do you think if men, using their ability to reason could discover the principles of calculus they could not discover the principles of ethics.

Hank


21 posted on 10/10/2009 2:46:47 PM PDT by Hank Kerchief
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To: pnh102; Hank Kerchief
I think you are both missing some important elements of moral psychology. Moral reasoning contains two components, a visceral empathic component and a rational utilitarian component (you can find a good summary of current research here). Both of those components are necessary for sound moral judgments.

Contrary to what many educated people seem to believe, ignoring the visceral and emotional component to morality does not produce better decisions and more moral people. Quite the opposite, it produces monsters. We can know this because psychopaths, who are often otherwise quite intelligent and rational, lack the visceral empathic component and it allows them to behave in monstrous ways toward others. This is why psychopaths are often described as not having a conscience or even being simply being evil (you can find a good introduction to psychopaths here).

So to a degree, Hank is largely right and a significant amount of morality is is an element of human nature in normal people, though psychopaths (perhaps 4% of the population) don't have that visceral moral conscience as part of their nature and narcissists (a much larger portion of the population who do have a visceral moral conscience, though it is it impaired). In fact, similar moral principles can be observed in chimpanzees and other social animals (you can find a good overview of some of the similarities as well as differences in this program). The research with chimpanzees point to another important element of moral behavior, which is impulse control.

That said, culture and religion also play a role in human morality and behavior by playing with the visceral and rational components of morality and their relative dominance. To make a long story short, it's possible to encourage normal people to behave like psychopaths by emotionally distancing them from the victims of their moral decisions (the classic dehumanization of the enemy), encouraging people to generally be emotionally aloof and even to ignore their visceral emotional reactions as wrong (I believe this is what's been happening in modern academia and with self-styled intellectuals), and by making immoral behavior seem normal, since humans also naturally validate their moral decisions against those of the people around them. Thus you can take a normal person who has a healthy visceral emotional conscience and get them to behave like a psychopath without a conscience.

While it's possible to argue that morality is necessary for human survival, the reality is that some percentage of human beings survive without it (psychopaths) or with impaired morality (narcissists) Further, entire societies have existed for quite a while while downplaying or even doing their best to eradicate the moral conscience of their citizens. For example, the way Spartans conditioned their citizens was essentially designed to turn people into psychopaths by beating the moral conscience out of their children. In addition, individuals balance their morality against their needs and consequences and that balance of interests will often lead people to make decisions that they know are immoral because the value the benefits is high to them and the consequences of behaving immorally are acceptably low. This is why people will do things they know are wrong and feel guilty about when they know they can get away with it. This is also where impulse control comes in handy.

The bottom line here is that most people do have an innate sense of morality that will encourage them to be behave morally but it can be suppressed by the culture around them and they can and often will freely ignore their moral conscience when the consequences of behaving immorally are low or inconsequential. So why normal people don't need to be told, per se, that rape, murder, stealing, lying, and so on are wrong, they may need to be taught to view those they might rape, murder, or steal from with empathy rather than as sub-human resources to be pillaged, they may readily ignore that moral understanding if the benefits are sufficiently high and the costs sufficiently low, and may have their moral conscience suppressed or even erased by a culture that dehumanizes others or tells them to ignore their visceral emotional responses in favor of their rational utilitarian thoughts that focus solely on costs, wants, and needs.

That's where religion comes in and, in particular, where some particular elements of Judeo-Christian religion comes into play.

Religion, in general, tells us that not only is there a supernatural always watching us even if we don't get caught behaving immorally by another human being but it also generally tells us that how we lead our lives will determine how eternity judges us, again, even if there is no earthy punishment for our wrongs.

To illustrate, I once asked an atheist friend (and member of Mensa) who was puzzled about why religious people assume that atheists are morally lacking, "Why is it wrong to kill someone?" He started giving me the normal utilitarian argument about how we don't kill people because we hope they won't kill us, at which point I stopped him and said, "Suppose you knew you could get away with it and nobody would ever punish you?" There is no shortage of despots who died peacefully in their sleep having never suffered earthy punishment for their sins. He looked and me and didn't have an answer. In fact, it's even worse. "What if you don't care if you get caught and punished?" There are plenty of examples of that, too. Here the absence of religion (or the belief in a cold and utilitarian religion that offers moral judgment can work the same way) weakens the visceral moral conscience. To put it another way, removing God as the center of the universe makes the individual the center of their own universe.

Where the Judeo-Christian (and even Muslim) perspective goes even a step further is that it argues that all humans are children of God and are morally equivalent. This, in theory, encourages people to treat all humans (even their enemies) with a minimum set of humanity, which one doesn't find in many pagan cultures, who treat outsiders as less than human. Where it breaks down with radical Muslims, as it has with many militant Christians, is when one uses a lack of belief as an excuse to treat others as less than human. I don't want to get into a larger debate about the particular views of each of those religions and their multitude of sects but I do think that the general idea that humans were created in God's image has been critical to the sort of global morality that's the norm in Western Christian civilization and it's why the Western Christians were critical in the elimination of the slave trade, among other things.

So to wrap this all up, most humans are born with an innate sense of morality commonly referred to as a "conscience". Some percentage of people aren't born with or never develop a "conscience" and a very large percentage of them behave like monsters, not necessarily murdering those around them but often leaving a trail of destruction in their wake as they use and abuse those around them. For those born with a conscience, the environment and their beliefs will play a huge role on whether they listen to the visceral emotional component of their moral decision making process (their "conscience") or whether they'll ignore it and act according to baser needs, utilitarian motives, or the orders of others. Religions that extend moral judgement to eternity, hold people responsible for their moral deeds even when not watched by others, and encourage people to view all humans as morally valuable children of God (as do Judaism and Christianity) tend to strengthen and vitalize a person's conscience and encourage them to behave morally even when there are no consequences to behaving immorally. An absence of religion offers no such strengthening and can actually undermine the visceral emotional component of morality because it can be written off as irrational and worthy of being ignored. And that's exactly why one sees so much immorality being promoted by academics and why it seems that the more people intellectualize a problem, the more immoral the solutions they are wiling to consider become.

The truth is that there is no rational reason to be moral, a point that this philosophy paper lays out in great detail. While it's possible to explain why people have a conscience in evolutionary or psychological terms, it doesn't provide an individual with a finite life any particular reason to care. Why should an atheist care if the human race survives or dies off in a matter of years once they are in the ground pushing up daisies? And once people stop caring, they can stop listening to that little moral voice in their heads called a "conscience" and the results of doing so are rarely good.

22 posted on 10/10/2009 2:48:36 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Hank Kerchief
Please tell me where in the Bible the principles of the calculus are found. If they aren’t there, how could men possibly know them. Why do you think if men, using their ability to reason could discover the principles of calculus they could not discover the principles of ethics.

Please see my previous response and, in particular, this paper. In short, there is no moral calculus through which one can prove that moral behavior is correct. Moral Rationalism (the idea that morality is based on reason or rationality like calculus) isn't supported by the observable evidence.

To that I would add, morality requires that one care and there is no rational reason to care about anything that could convince a person who doesn't care that they should care. This is why psychopaths are all but impossible to cure or reform. They don't want to be cured and don't care and there isn't a rational argument in existence that can replace what they innately lack.

23 posted on 10/10/2009 2:54:05 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Moltke
It simply doesn't get any dumber than that. An epic example of non sequitur (On par for that crowd, though.) Just because non-consensual sex may (or may not - who knows?) have played a role in evolution, it does not follow therefrom that 'rape' is condoned today by someone believing in the theory of evolution. (Otherwise, 95+ percent of males out there would be active rapists.)

Thankfully, atheist evolutionists are not all permitted to act according to their baser instincts. But there is nothing stopping them, other than external pressure to conform to a society whose laws were constructed before the age of self-identified atheists run amok.

After all, an evolutionist is a suit is still just a higher order of slime.

24 posted on 10/10/2009 4:56:39 PM PDT by topcat54 ("Don't whine to me. It's all Darby's fault.")
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To: Question_Assumptions

“In short, there is no moral calculus through which one can prove that moral behavior is correct.”

Do you understand what hubris you demonstrate by declaring something with neither a logical or factual basis?

Do you believe human beings have a specific nature that makes immoral behavior self-destructive? That is what your Bible teaches. Why would you not believe it.

Even Paul understood that moral values can be understood from nature.

Romans 2:14-15 “For when the Gentiles which have not the Law, does by nature the things contained in the law: these having not the Law, are a law unto themselves, which shew the works of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witnesse, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing one another ...”

If moral values have no practical consequences, than they of course cannot be known rationally. The Bible, and all rational men know, moral values have practical consequences, and are determined by the nature of the world in which we live, and the nature of human beings.

If moral values are not based on the nature or what human beings and the world are, then they are totally fictitious, like any other set of phony “principles” any conman wishes to press. Moral values are based on facts, the facts of what human beings and their nature is, and what the nature of the world they live in is.

Any principle that cannot be discovered by examination of reality and reasoning from those facts is not truth at all, but superstition.

Sorry that you and Paul are in such disagreement.

Hank


25 posted on 10/10/2009 5:34:22 PM PDT by Hank Kerchief
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To: topcat54

I wonder why nobody thought to ask the Whoop-di-doodoo if she would think the same way if her daughter or grandaughter were raped. Would she be cool with that? What about if she herself was raped? Jus’ wonderin’....


26 posted on 10/10/2009 5:55:25 PM PDT by boatbums (Pro-woman, pro-child, pro-life!)
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To: Hank Kerchief
Didn't C.S. Lewis make the point in Mere Christianity that if you step on a cat's tail, she may let out a yelp and run but she wouldn't have any way of knowing your intentions. Step on a man's foot in a crowded bus and he will look to see your intention first before deciding to react. If you say "Sorry, excuse me." He will most probably nod and go about his business. If you look back and sneer, he may come after you.

Mankind is different from the animal world in this small example in that animals have no sense fairness. No real sense of "right" or "wrong". We may teach our pets accepted and nonaccepted behavior, but they will never grasp the concepts of why.

27 posted on 10/10/2009 6:11:59 PM PDT by boatbums (Pro-woman, pro-child, pro-life!)
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To: boatbums; Question_Assumptions

“Didn’t C.S. Lewis make the point in Mere Christianity that if you step on a cat’s tail, she may let out a yelp and run but she wouldn’t have any way of knowing your intentions.”

Yes, exactly. If men were not able to understand right and wrong, without someone teaching them, they could never be responsible for their actions, and everyone understands that we are all responsible for what we choose and do.

The comparison to animals is very apt. Thank you for that illustration. I have always appreciated Lewis whom I regard a first class thinker.

Hanki


28 posted on 10/10/2009 6:52:11 PM PDT by Hank Kerchief
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To: Hank Kerchief

and thanks for the thanks!


29 posted on 10/10/2009 7:17:09 PM PDT by boatbums (Pro-woman, pro-child, pro-life!)
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To: rintense
I don’t know of one baby born from anal rape.

Well, with some folks, don't you at least suspect it?

30 posted on 10/10/2009 8:47:40 PM PDT by Erasmus (Barack Hussein Obama: America's toast!)
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Comment #31 Removed by Moderator

To: Hank Kerchief
Do you understand what hubris you demonstrate by declaring something with neither a logical or factual basis?

I provided the basis for my declarations. I can provide even more sources if you want. Perhaps you'd like to address the particular points raised by those sources?

Here is another one that illustrates the problem pretty well, an excerpt from a book titled The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. It describes how sociopaths/psychopaths (both words are both used to describe the same thing) perceive the word around them:

Imagine--if you can--not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken. And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools. Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless. You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.

In other words, you are completely free of internal restraints, and your unhampered liberty to do just as you please, with no pangs of conscience, is conveniently invisible to the world. You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences, will most likely remain undiscovered.

How will you live your life? What will you do with your huge and secret advantage, and with the corresponding handicap of other people (conscience)? The answer will depend largely on just what your desires happen to be, because people are not all the same. Even the profoundly unscrupulous are not all the same. Some people-- whether they have a conscience or not-- favor the ease of inertia, while others are filled with dreams and wild ambitions. Some human beings are brilliant and talented, some are dull-witted, and most, conscience or not, are somewhere in between. There are violent people and nonviolent ones, individuals who are motivated by bloodlust and those who have no such appetites.

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Do you believe human beings have a specific nature that makes immoral behavior self-destructive? That is what your Bible teaches. Why would you not believe it.

I believe that normal human beings have, by nature, a moral conscience that allows them to understand right from wrong and moral behavior from immoral behavior but that this conscience, alone, is not sufficient to produce reliably moral behavior. I believe that human beings have other elements of their nature, including baser drives such as hunger and lust, that can completely overwhelm their moral sense, thus it's not uncommon to find people who do things that they are ashamed of and know are wrong. In addition, I believe that culture and education can deaden a person's moral senses and lead them to behave immorally on the false belief that true morality can be derived rationally and by ignoring a person's visceral emotional moral feelings. Finally, I believe that immoral behavior is not necessarily self-destructive in material world sense. Many immoral and even evil people die peacefully in their beds and have successful lives that they largely enjoy. This is what the evidence readily shows.

Even Paul understood that moral values can be understood from nature.

12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Let's look at that passage in some plain English translations:

"When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life." (NLT) Or how about, "Those people who don't know about God's Law will still be punished for what they do wrong. And the Law will be used to judge everyone who knows what it says. God accepts those who obey his Law, but not those who simply hear it. Some people naturally obey the Law's commands, even though they don't have the Law. This proves that the conscience is like a law written in the human heart. And it will show whether we are forgiven or condemned, when God appoints Jesus Christ to judge everyone's secret thoughts, just as my message says" (CEV)

This is exactly what I was saying. Normal people have a conscience which lets them know right from wrong independent of their culture. That conscience, alone, is not sufficient to produce reliably moral behavior any more than eyesight will guarantee that you won't run into anything you see while walking, nor does it mean that conscience can't be blinded just as one's eyes can be covered or ignored. And just because the morality is innate and natural does not mean that it can be derived logically and rationally. For example, game theorists frequently despair that humans regularly make sub-optimal choices in the tests they derive that don't make any rational sense and Joshua Greene, one of the researchers cited in the Discover Magazine article I posted a link to earlier, has written a philosophy thesis making the case for rational utilitarianism on the basis that instinctual morality is so often irrational.

If moral values have no practical consequences, than they of course cannot be known rationally.

Moral values are not known rationally. They are known innately. There are people who lack innate morality. They are called psychopaths or sociopaths and their behavior is particularly malicious and evil as a result, often despite being very intelligent and rational individuals. That psychopaths don't rationally decide to behave morally in the absence of innate morality is strong evidence that moral behavior cannot be readily derived through rational reasoning alone. Can I presume that you didn't bother to look at the links I posted in my last reply because one of them covers this in great detail.

The Bible, and all rational men know, moral values have practical consequences, and are determined by the nature of the world in which we live, and the nature of human beings. If moral values are not based on the nature or what human beings and the world are, then they are totally fictitious, like any other set of phony “principles” any conman wishes to press. Moral values are based on facts, the facts of what human beings and their nature is, and what the nature of the world they live in is.

A moral conscience was put into humans by God or nature for some collective practical purpose, be it the perpetuation of the species or because it pleases God, but the universe does not enforce karma with any reliability and the consequences for doing moral wrongs can be essentially inconsequential.

Mao Zedong was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese as well as other atrocities and moral failings yet he died of a heart attack at 82 just like an account who has led a moral and productive life might. On what practical and purely rational grounds could you argue that Mao did something wrong from his individual perspective? Sure, you can argue that if everyone tried to be Mao, the world would be a horrible place but the world doesn't work that way and didn't for Mao. Yes, it's beneficial for other people to behave morally toward you but it's actually a handicap to have to behave morally toward others, the point of the quotes from The Sociopath Next Door above.

Humans have the capacity to strengthen or weaken their morality, to listen to their conscience or ignore it. The question is whether it's rational to behave morally is the question of whether we should listen to that irrational visceral emotional moral conscience or not and not only psychopaths but academic philosopher, again and again, seem to argue in favor of ignoring the visceral moral voice in favor of some for of rational utilitarianism.

Any principle that cannot be discovered by examination of reality and reasoning from those facts is not truth at all, but superstition.

To echo the opening comment of your reply, do you understand what hubris you demonstrate by assuming that humans can understand everything through examination and reasoning?

Sorry that you and Paul are in such disagreement.

What Paul was saying does not disagree with what I'm saying. I find myself wondering if you understand what I'm saying and understand what Paul was saying. By the way, I'm not a Fundamentalist or Biblical literalist so baiting me with the Bible probably isn't going to end the way you'd like it to.

32 posted on 10/10/2009 9:22:28 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: boatbums
Didn't C.S. Lewis make the point in Mere Christianity that if you step on a cat's tail, she may let out a yelp and run but she wouldn't have any way of knowing your intentions. Step on a man's foot in a crowded bus and he will look to see your intention first before deciding to react. If you say "Sorry, excuse me." He will most probably nod and go about his business. If you look back and sneer, he may come after you.

That's because cats are not social animals and lack the mental capacity or interest to determine intent (I say this as a cat owner). It's why you can't train a cat like a human or a dog. A dog, on the other hand, is a social animal and has a rudimentary understanding of intent. Here is a video of a fairly famous series of photographs that is worth watching in this regard. Here are two animals, assessing each other's intent, and instead of fighting and killing each other, playing with each other. In fact, if you want to see Chimpanzees exhibiting a fairly sophisticated understanding of the intentions of others of exactly the sort that CS Lewis was talking about, you should watch this video that I posted a link to earlier in this discussion (see Chapter 5, "Mind Reading"). There is also evidence of dogs reading the intent of humans in a fairly sophisticated way.

Mankind is different from the animal world in this small example in that animals have no sense fairness. No real sense of "right" or "wrong". We may teach our pets accepted and nonaccepted behavior, but they will never grasp the concepts of why.

This is not accurate. Watch the show in "Ape Genius" that I linked to above. Chimpanzees demonstrate an understanding of fairness and right and wrong. So do other social animals. Cats aren't sufficiently social to understand or appreciate pleasing their owners but dogs are to some degree (see also this video). Watch the program about apes above. I think it will challenge some of your assumptions about animals.

33 posted on 10/10/2009 9:43:59 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Hank Kerchief
Yes, exactly. If men were not able to understand right and wrong, without someone teaching them, they could never be responsible for their actions, and everyone understands that we are all responsible for what we choose and do.

This is partially correct and partially wrong. Normal humans do understand the basics of right from wrong without people teaching them, but that understanding is not necessary to hold them responsible for their actions. It's fairly clear that psychopaths do not innately understand that the horrible things that they do are morally wrong. In fact, a characteristic of psychopaths is that they treat moral issues as if the were issues of convention. In other words, they have to be taught that hurting and killing other people is wrong and, when they do, they treat it with the same moral weight that a person might treat a prohibition against chewing food with their mouth open, something that you can get in trouble for not doing but not something that you might consider doing if you think you can get away with it.

Despite all of that, people who are told this about psychopaths have no trouble holding them morally responsible for their behavior and, further, had no trouble identifying them and their behavior as evil. This is one of those example where the rational analysis of morality, which demands that people know they are doing wrong to be held responsible for it, bears no resemblance to the moral thinking of real people who do hold such people responsible for their behavior and do consider it evil.

34 posted on 10/10/2009 9:52:07 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Question_Assumptions
It's fairly clear that psychopaths do not innately understand that the horrible things that they do are morally wrong.

Exceptions do not prove the rule...you know that Doc.

35 posted on 10/10/2009 10:15:43 PM PDT by boatbums (Pro-woman, pro-child, pro-life!)
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bkmk


36 posted on 10/11/2009 12:06:26 AM PDT by csense
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To: Question_Assumptions
It's fairly clear that psychopaths do not innately understand that the horrible things that they do are morally wrong.

It's also fairly clear that the rest of the animal kingdom doesn't understand the concept of God, but you can't demonstrate something that can only be known to them.

What if there were a third element between the observer and the psychopath, that does not lend itself to rational inquiry, yet is causal to the behavior being observed.

You said that you weren't a fundamentalist or a literalist, but you seem to be familiar with the Bible.

Here's Matthew 16:21-23:

21From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

When Christ said "Get thee behind me, Satan," he was literally talking to Satan, yet, he was looking at Peter, and the words came from Peter's mouth. This is a very significant part of Scripture as far as I'm concerned, and I don't think most people understand the depth of the meaning here.

There is more going on here than what we can understand and demonstrate rationally, no matter how smart we may think we are.

37 posted on 10/11/2009 1:56:08 AM PDT by csense
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To: Question_Assumptions

Thank you for taking the time to make such an extended response. I’m sorry I am much to busy to respond in kind. Still, I feel I owe you some response, which, by the way, is not meant to convince you, or change your mind about anything. I’m only expressing what I understand to be true.

You said, “do you understand what hubris you demonstrate by assuming that humans can understand everything through examination and reasoning?”

It would certainly be hubris if I ever said that, but never have said or thought it. I do think and say always, whatever men do understand, (which will never be everything), reasoning from the evidence is their only means to that knowledge. There is no such thing as “innate” knowledge, and human being do not have instinct, both of which concepts come from the pseudoscience, psychology.

I also think it is a great mistake to attempt to understand the nature of human beings by studying those samples of them that are obviously defective.

I know you are not ever going to find my ideas agreeable, almost no one does which neither worries or surprises me. Most of your ideas are commonly accepted ones that those who bother to think about them at all would agree with. They are, to most people, “obviously true,” just as at one time, the fact the world was flat was “obviously true.”

For example, it is “obviously true” to most people that “conscience” is innate in those who have conscience. The fact is, that what will make someone feel guilty or ashamed is not innate but learned. Most people think that one’s conscience will make them ashamed of lying, and certainly would make them feel guilty if they killed and ate someone. But it is not innate, it is learned.

Quite a few years ago some missionaries were working with cannibalistic tribes in Borneo. In those tribes it was believed telling the truth to an enemy was very wrong, and that not eating an enemy, if you managed to catch one, was also wrong. Those primitive people suffered a bad conscience if they inadvertently told the truth to an enemy, and also suffered a bad conscience if they failed to eat their enemy.

Conscience in not some kind of innate barometer of moral behavior, its the automatic emotional reaction to ones behavior in relation to their values, whatever those values are; and whatever they are, they must be learned. But that’s not obvious, just as the fact the world is round is not obvious.

Hank


38 posted on 10/11/2009 4:28:26 AM PDT by Hank Kerchief
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To: boatbums
Exceptions do not prove the rule...you know that Doc.

Psychopaths make up an estimated 4% of the population, an estimated 50% of violent criminals, and probably all or nearly all serial killers, yet they don't understand that killing a person is any more wrong than, say, chewing food with your mouth open. In other words, those responsible for much of the evil in the world and how people morally interpret their actions are certainly relevant to discussions of morality. They are not the exception. They are a significant source of evil in the world, if not a primary source of it.

39 posted on 10/11/2009 4:22:22 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Hank Kerchief
What if there were a third element between the observer and the psychopath, that does not lend itself to rational inquiry, yet is causal to the behavior being observed.

Given that the differences in observations I'm talking about are observed in brain scans of which parts of the brain activate while answering moral decisions and physiological responses, any third element influence would exist outside of the difference.

Let me put it this way. Being a psychopath is a moral handicap in that psychopaths do not have a conscience. In your first reply that you responded to, you claimed, "It is a basic human requirement to know that one is worthy of what one enjoys in life, and must suffer the psychological consequences for attempting to enjoy what is not earned, and consequences of the lie to cover up that guilt." It isn't for psychopaths. They don't experience guilt. They don't feel bad about being predators and parasites. Here is a quote from one of the articles I provided a link to that illustrates what I'm talking about:

It's also found practical applications in police-squad rooms. Soon after he delivered a keynote speech at a conference for homicide detectives and prosecuting attorneys in Seattle three years ago, Hare got a letter thanking him for helping solve a series of homicides. The police had a suspect nailed for a couple of murders, but believed he was responsible for others. They were using the usual strategy to get a confession, telling him, 'Think how much better you'll feel, think of the families left behind,' and so on. After they'd heard Hare speak they realized they were dealing with a psychopath, someone who could feel neither guilt nor sorrow. They changed their interrogation tactic to, "So you murdered a couple of prostitutes. That's minor-league compared to Bundy or Gacy." The appeal to the psychopath's grandiosity worked. He didn't just confess to his other crimes, he bragged about them.

Now, being morally handicapped, alone, does not make one do evil. There are no doubt psychopaths who lead harmless and productive lives by virtue of rational morality and following the social conventions of moral people around them but the evidence suggests that those things alone, without a visceral and emotional conscience to back it up, is a weak and insufficient deterrent to doing evil and that a person relying only on the rational consideration of consequences and the deterrent effect of social conventions will do a very poor job of resisting doing evil things.

In fact, your very response response that I was replying to illustrates the functioning of a healthy emotional conscience in response to cold rational moral calculus. Your response to the wholly rational claim, "It is impossible to explain without any religious context why things like rape, murder, stealing, lying and whatnot are indeed wrong," with an emotional rather than rational response: "How absurd and vile." It's that emotional response that makes such a thought unthinkable to you but from a purely rational perspective, such thoughts are not only quite thinkable but quite normal in academia once people deaden their sensitivity to that emotional response. You then go on to describe the very conscience that I'm talking about, the conscience that psychopaths lack. Finally, you end with a point that I generally agree with but which is at odds with the way many people seem to view God.

You say, "What you are implying is that rape, murder, stealing, and lying are only wrong because God said so. If He said they were OK, would they be?" I've seen many people argue that an omnipotent God does indeed get to define good and evil, right and wrong, however He wants to and if God said that rape were good that it would be, but I personally agree with you here, but I believe that good and evil, right and wrong, are transcendent truths that God may be able to understand rationally but that rational understanding is beyond the scope of the human mind to understand, thus humans have a dual component moral decision making system that consists not only of rational utilitarian thoughts but also an emotional visceral response that makes certain moral options unthinkable and generate guilt for transgressions.

As you point out, "truly moral people do not need to be told they are wrong," because they feel that things are wrong and know that things are wrong. They don't reason it out. You can't teach a person an emotional response. You can only appeal to emotional responses that they already have (and, as with the psychopath example above, it's fruitless to appeal to emotions a person doesn't have). The more academics encourage people to think through moral problems dispassionately and aloofly and ignore whatever moral "hang-ups" they might innately have, the less and less moral their decisions become because human reason, alone, does not bring one to moral behavior. It brings one to moral confusion if not immoral behavior.

You said that you weren't a fundamentalist or a literalist, but you seem to be familiar with the Bible.

21From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

When Christ said "Get thee behind me, Satan," he was literally talking to Satan, yet, he was looking at Peter, and the words came from Peter's mouth. This is a very significant part of Scripture as far as I'm concerned, and I don't think most people understand the depth of the meaning here.

There are a variety of ways that I can interpret this scene, both in isolation and in the larger context of Jesus' story, including casting out demons, forgiving sins, and other cases where he disagreed with others. I'm not sure what particular point you are trying to make here but none of the interpretations I can imagine conflicts with my basic point. Please note that I have been acknowledging from the beginning that the innate human conscience, alone, is not sufficient to guarantee moral behavior and that the human conscience can be shaped and even erased through education and social conditioning.

There is more going on here than what we can understand and demonstrate rationally, no matter how smart we may think we are.

If your point is one about the role of Satan and demonic influences on human evil, I have not suggested anything that would stop those things from playing a role in human moral decisions. My point is about people being aware of right and wrong and as I'm sure you know, people choose to do things that they know are wrong all the time.

Thank you for taking the time to make such an extended response. I’m sorry I am much to busy to respond in kind. Still, I feel I owe you some response, which, by the way, is not meant to convince you, or change your mind about anything. I’m only expressing what I understand to be true.

At this point, I'm not sure I fully understand your point.

It would certainly be hubris if I ever said that, but never have said or thought it. I do think and say always, whatever men do understand, (which will never be everything), reasoning from the evidence is their only means to that knowledge. There is no such thing as “innate” knowledge, and human being do not have instinct, both of which concepts come from the pseudoscience, psychology.

I think the evidence strongly disagrees. I'm talking about research being done with brain scans and on people with damaged brains or irregular development, not interview and interpretation psychology. Humans are born with all sorts of instincts to suck, startle, and so on and the infants who don't have those instincts are badly handicapped. Similarly, there are people born without an innate sense of fear who must consciously evaluate, for example, that it's a bad idea to pick a knife up by the blade or walk out into a busy street in front of a car. Their lives are significantly more difficult than the lives of people who do those things innately. We can know that people are born with these abilities by observing what happens to those who aren't and by identifying what makes them different. None of that's pseudo-science or the product of subjective interpretations of observing behavior.

I also think it is a great mistake to attempt to understand the nature of human beings by studying those samples of them that are obviously defective.

I disagree. I think that it's often quite effective to to see what something fully does to see what happens when it's absent. And any theory of human nature and behavior that cannot handle or account for the defects as well as the perfect specimens would seem fairly weak to me. In other words, we can learn what a liver does by observing a patient with a failing liver. A stopped heart quickly illustrates the importance of a heart more clearly than a dissertation on the circulatory system. And figuring out why psychopaths are prone to be particularly bad and the role that innate morality plays in moral decisions helps address the chief objection of the atheist to the role that religion plays in morality, which is that many atheists and members of other religions can and do lead moral lives and share morality with those of faith.

I know you are not ever going to find my ideas agreeable, almost no one does which neither worries or surprises me. Most of your ideas are commonly accepted ones that those who bother to think about them at all would agree with. They are, to most people, “obviously true,” just as at one time, the fact the world was flat was “obviously true.”

It's not a matter of finding your ideas agreeable or disagreeable. It's a matter of looking at the evidence, even if I find where the evidence leads disagreeable. To be perfectly honest, I find everything I've read about psychopaths terribly troubling and disturbing and would prefer that they weren't real.

For example, it is “obviously true” to most people that “conscience” is innate in those who have conscience. The fact is, that what will make someone feel guilty or ashamed is not innate but learned. Most people think that one’s conscience will make them ashamed of lying, and certainly would make them feel guilty if they killed and ate someone. But it is not innate, it is learned.

That's not how the innate conscience works, and I've said as much. It provides a foundation that can be shaped by various forces and also ignored or overriden by other concerns. As the Discover article points out, a moral decision is the product of a net emotional response and a rational utilitarian response. The strength of the emotional response varies with emotional proximity and emotional proximity can be controlled by culture. There has been some research into how children draw distinctions between moral transgressions and transgressions against social convention such that if you ask children who have been taught that chewing food with their mouth open is rude and wrong, "If you want to another country where chewing with your mouth open was considered polite, would it be OK to chew with your mouth open there?" most children will tell you that it would be OK in that other culture. But if you ask them, "If you went to another country and they told you it was OK to hit your friends until they cry," most children will answer that it still wouldn't be OK. In fact, you exhibited the same sort of response on one of your own replies, "What you are implying is that rape, murder, stealing, and lying are only wrong because God said so. If He said they were OK, would they be?" you were essentially saying that rape, murder, stealing, and lying are moral transgressions that would be wrong even if God Himself told you they were good, yet I doubt you'd have the same strong reaction to, say, whether someone picks Saturday or Sunday as their Sabbath.

So how does this all work?

I may be born with an innate sense of right and wrong that works at a very rudimentary level. Killing other people is wrong. Cheating other people is wrong. Being cheated is wrong. Purposely causing us harm is different than accidentally causing us harm. Cruelty is bad. These feelings are balanced against utilitarian benefits (e.g., A person might be willing to lie and tell his wife that a dress is beautiful even if he doesn't think so because the benefit is high and the lie is minor but they might balk about lying to the police to help a friend avoid prosecution because the lie is major and there is a moral cost to it, too.

These moral rules apply to people we care about. As people become emotionally distanced from us or become our enemies, whether those rules or not will depend on how human we consider them and how much empathy we have for them, and that's where culture comes in. It tells us who our friends and enemies are, whether men should treat women like people or property, and so it. It can insist that we ignore the moral voice telling us something is wrong by emphasizing utilitarian or social convention reasons to ignore that moral voice, by forcing the decision into a purely abstract rational process, or by adjusting the empathic status of the target. I'll illustrate with your Borneo example.

Quite a few years ago some missionaries were working with cannibalistic tribes in Borneo. In those tribes it was believed telling the truth to an enemy was very wrong, and that not eating an enemy, if you managed to catch one, was also wrong. Those primitive people suffered a bad conscience if they inadvertently told the truth to an enemy, and also suffered a bad conscience if they failed to eat their enemy.

First, people morally treat strangers different than friends, enemies different than friends. That people are willing to kill their enemies when they are not willing to kill their friends makes their lack of moral anguish over lying to their enemies rather trivial in comparison. Basically, people are willing to accept that it's permissible to do bad things to their enemies that they wouldn't do to friends, including killing them, lying to them, and strapping them to a board and pouring water over their faces to make them feel like they are drowning. Why do is such lying mandatory in their culture? Without knowing more, I can only speculate, but I can think of any number of reasons where they would argue that such lying serves a greater good or frame the lying in such a way that it seems to be, itself, a moral good. For example, it could come from an obligation to not help one's enemy and not betray one's own group, at which point truthfulness would be equivalent of betrayal.

As for eating one's enemy, the moral status of a corpse is an interesting thing and is largely a matter of social convention. For example, we would never think of putting our dead out to be eaten by scavengers but that's exactly what Zoroastrians did. And when one hears why the Zoroastrians did that, the moral context becomes fairly clear and most people don't seem to interpret it as an evil act. Similarly, if the Borneo cannibals felt that eating one's enemy was necessary to release their soul, as misguided as we may believe such behavior to be, it makes a certain amount of moral sense and has enough of a moral imperative to explain how it could overcome an innate reluctance to do so. The bigger question there is whether they hunt other human enemies as food as they might hunt an animal for food. I strongly doubt you would find an example of them doing that.

Conscience in not some kind of innate barometer of moral behavior, its the automatic emotional reaction to ones behavior in relation to their values, whatever those values are; and whatever they are, they must be learned. But that’s not obvious, just as the fact the world is round is not obvious.

The emotional reaction, itself, is innate and people either have it or they don't have it and if they don't have it, an important element of moral consideration is missing to them. That said, how they understand, interpret, and process individual moral acts will depend greatly on how a culture interprets those acts, but the the types of things that exist in the moral realm, truth and falsehood, cruelty and kindness, murder and help, fairness and unfairness, and so on are a constant and a person who lacks the innate conscience will never feel guilty, for example, even though people who feel guilty may feel guilty about different things and to different degrees. And it's because of that common conscience that we can have productive moral discussions with atheists and those of different cultures and religions and how we can convince an entire culture to treat women humanely or to outlaw slavery.

40 posted on 10/11/2009 8:07:54 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: topcat54
I often come here wondering how low creationists can stoop this week...

If you believe in evolution, there is nothing wrong with rape.

Yup. They never disappoint. The level of ignorance of ridiculousness knows no bounds. After starting a rant with this, why would anyone with a brain continue reading? Mindless dreck.
41 posted on 10/12/2009 5:01:39 AM PDT by whattajoke (Let's keep Conservatism real.)
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To: Question_Assumptions

Think your reply was to the wrong person.

Hank


42 posted on 10/12/2009 5:46:18 AM PDT by Hank Kerchief
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To: Hank Kerchief

Part of it was a reply to you and part a reply to someone else. I should have split them back up but posted them together. Fixing that now.


43 posted on 10/12/2009 7:12:40 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: csense
That will teach me to go back and put together two replies in one window to save time and then going back to edit and revise my comments. I wound up mangling and interweaving my reply to Hank and you. Here is the part directed at your comments.

What if there were a third element between the observer and the psychopath, that does not lend itself to rational inquiry, yet is causal to the behavior being observed.

Given that the differences in observations I'm talking about are observed in brain scans of which parts of the brain activate while answering moral decisions and physiological responses, any third element influence would exist outside of the difference.

It's also found practical applications in police-squad rooms. Soon after he delivered a keynote speech at a conference for homicide detectives and prosecuting attorneys in Seattle three years ago, Hare got a letter thanking him for helping solve a series of homicides. The police had a suspect nailed for a couple of murders, but believed he was responsible for others. They were using the usual strategy to get a confession, telling him, 'Think how much better you'll feel, think of the families left behind,' and so on. After they'd heard Hare speak they realized they were dealing with a psychopath, someone who could feel neither guilt nor sorrow. They changed their interrogation tactic to, "So you murdered a couple of prostitutes. That's minor-league compared to Bundy or Gacy." The appeal to the psychopath's grandiosity worked. He didn't just confess to his other crimes, he bragged about them.

Now, being morally handicapped, alone, does not make one do evil. There are no doubt psychopaths who lead harmless and productive lives by virtue of rational morality and following the social conventions of moral people around them but the evidence suggests that those things alone, without a visceral and emotional conscience to back it up, is a weak and insufficient deterrent to doing evil and that a person relying only on the rational consideration of consequences and the deterrent effect of social conventions will do a very poor job of resisting doing evil things.

You said that you weren't a fundamentalist or a literalist, but you seem to be familiar with the Bible.

21From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

When Christ said "Get thee behind me, Satan," he was literally talking to Satan, yet, he was looking at Peter, and the words came from Peter's mouth. This is a very significant part of Scripture as far as I'm concerned, and I don't think most people understand the depth of the meaning here.

There are a variety of ways that I can interpret this scene, both in isolation and in the larger context of Jesus' story, including casting out demons, forgiving sins, and other cases where he disagreed with others. I'm not sure what particular point you are trying to make here but none of the interpretations I can imagine conflicts with my basic point. Please note that I have been acknowledging from the beginning that the innate human conscience, alone, is not sufficient to guarantee moral behavior and that the human conscience can be shaped and even erased through education and social conditioning.

There is more going on here than what we can understand and demonstrate rationally, no matter how smart we may think we are.

If your point is one about the role of Satan and demonic influences on human evil, I have not suggested anything that would stop those things from playing a role in human moral decisions. My point is about people being aware of right and wrong and as I'm sure you know, people choose to do things that they know are wrong all the time.

44 posted on 10/12/2009 7:19:22 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Hank Kerchief
My apologies for mangling my reply to you. That's the result of putting together two replies in one window to try to save time and then going back to edit and revise my comments, intertwining the two together into a mess. Here is the part directed at your comments.

Thank you for taking the time to make such an extended response. I’m sorry I am much to busy to respond in kind. Still, I feel I owe you some response, which, by the way, is not meant to convince you, or change your mind about anything. I’m only expressing what I understand to be true.

At this point, I'm not sure I fully understand your point.

It would certainly be hubris if I ever said that, but never have said or thought it. I do think and say always, whatever men do understand, (which will never be everything), reasoning from the evidence is their only means to that knowledge. There is no such thing as “innate” knowledge, and human being do not have instinct, both of which concepts come from the pseudoscience, psychology.

I think the evidence strongly disagrees. I'm talking about research being done with brain scans and on people with damaged brains or irregular development, not interview and interpretation psychology. Humans are born with all sorts of instincts to suck, startle, and so on and the infants who don't have those instincts are badly handicapped. Similarly, there are people born without an innate sense of fear who must consciously evaluate, for example, that it's a bad idea to pick a knife up by the blade or walk out into a busy street in front of a car. Their lives are significantly more difficult than the lives of people who do those things innately. We can know that people are born with these abilities by observing what happens to those who aren't and by identifying what makes them different. None of that's pseudo-science or the product of subjective interpretations of observing behavior.

I also think it is a great mistake to attempt to understand the nature of human beings by studying those samples of them that are obviously defective.

I disagree. I think that it's often quite effective to to see what something fully does to see what happens when it's absent. And any theory of human nature and behavior that cannot handle or account for the defects as well as the perfect specimens would seem fairly weak to me. In other words, we can learn what a liver does by observing a patient with a failing liver. A stopped heart quickly illustrates the importance of a heart more clearly than a dissertation on the circulatory system. And figuring out why psychopaths are prone to be particularly bad and the role that innate morality plays in moral decisions helps address the chief objection of the atheist to the role that religion plays in morality, which is that many atheists and members of other religions can and do lead moral lives and share morality with those of faith.

I know you are not ever going to find my ideas agreeable, almost no one does which neither worries or surprises me. Most of your ideas are commonly accepted ones that those who bother to think about them at all would agree with. They are, to most people, “obviously true,” just as at one time, the fact the world was flat was “obviously true.”

It's not a matter of finding your ideas agreeable or disagreeable. It's a matter of looking at the evidence, even if I find where the evidence leads disagreeable. To be perfectly honest, I find everything I've read about psychopaths terribly troubling and disturbing and would prefer that they weren't real.

For example, it is “obviously true” to most people that “conscience” is innate in those who have conscience. The fact is, that what will make someone feel guilty or ashamed is not innate but learned. Most people think that one’s conscience will make them ashamed of lying, and certainly would make them feel guilty if they killed and ate someone. But it is not innate, it is learned.

That's not how the innate conscience works, and I've said as much. It provides a foundation that can be shaped by various forces and also ignored or overriden by other concerns. As the Discover article points out, a moral decision is the product of a net emotional response and a rational utilitarian response. The strength of the emotional response varies with emotional proximity and emotional proximity can be controlled by culture. There has been some research into how children draw distinctions between moral transgressions and transgressions against social convention such that if you ask children who have been taught that chewing food with their mouth open is rude and wrong, "If you want to another country where chewing with your mouth open was considered polite, would it be OK to chew with your mouth open there?" most children will tell you that it would be OK in that other culture. But if you ask them, "If you went to another country and they told you it was OK to hit your friends until they cry," most children will answer that it still wouldn't be OK. In fact, you exhibited the same sort of response on one of your own replies, "What you are implying is that rape, murder, stealing, and lying are only wrong because God said so. If He said they were OK, would they be?" you were essentially saying that rape, murder, stealing, and lying are moral transgressions that would be wrong even if God Himself told you they were good, yet I doubt you'd have the same strong reaction to, say, whether someone picks Saturday or Sunday as their Sabbath.

So how does this all work?

I may be born with an innate sense of right and wrong that works at a very rudimentary level. Killing other people is wrong. Cheating other people is wrong. Being cheated is wrong. Purposely causing us harm is different than accidentally causing us harm. Cruelty is bad. These moral rules apply to people we care about. As people become emotionally distanced from us or become our enemies, whether those rules or not will depend on how human we consider them and how much empathy we have for them, and that's where culture comes in. It tells us who our friends and enemies are, whether men should treat women like people or property, and so it. It can insist that we ignore the moral voice telling us something is wrong by emphasizing utilitarian or social convention reasons to ignore that moral voice, by forcing the decision into a purely abstract rational process, or by adjusting the empathic status of the target. I'll illustrate with your Borneo example.

Quite a few years ago some missionaries were working with cannibalistic tribes in Borneo. In those tribes it was believed telling the truth to an enemy was very wrong, and that not eating an enemy, if you managed to catch one, was also wrong. Those primitive people suffered a bad conscience if they inadvertently told the truth to an enemy, and also suffered a bad conscience if they failed to eat their enemy.

First, people morally treat strangers different than friends, enemies different than friends. That people are willing to kill their enemies when they are not willing to kill their friends makes their lack of moral anguish over lying to their enemies rather trivial in comparison. Basically, people are willing to accept that it's permissible to do bad things to their enemies that they wouldn't do to friends, including killing them, lying to them, and strapping them to a board and pouring water over their faces to make them feel like they are drowning. Why is such lying mandatory in their culture? Without knowing more, I can only speculate, but I can think of any number of reasons where they would argue that such lying serves a greater good or frame the lying in such a way that it seems to be, itself, a moral good. For example, it could come from an obligation to not help one's enemy and not betray one's own group, at which point truthfulness would be equivalent of betrayal.

As for eating one's enemy, the moral status of a corpse is an interesting thing and is largely a matter of social convention. For example, we would never think of putting our dead out to be eaten by scavengers but that's exactly what Zoroastrians did. And when one hears why the Zoroastrians did that, the moral context becomes fairly clear and most people don't seem to interpret it as an evil act. Similarly, if the Borneo cannibals felt that eating one's enemy was necessary to release their soul, as misguided as we may believe such behavior to be, it makes a certain amount of moral sense and has enough of a moral imperative to explain how it could overcome an innate reluctance to do so. The bigger question there is whether they hunt other human enemies as food as they might hunt an animal for food. I strongly doubt you would find an example of them doing that.

Conscience in not some kind of innate barometer of moral behavior, its the automatic emotional reaction to ones behavior in relation to their values, whatever those values are; and whatever they are, they must be learned. But that’s not obvious, just as the fact the world is round is not obvious.

The emotional reaction, itself, is innate and people either have it or they don't have it and if they don't have it, an important element of moral consideration is missing to them. That said, how they understand, interpret, and process individual moral acts will depend greatly on how a culture interprets those acts, but the the types of things that exist in the moral realm, truth and falsehood, cruelty and kindness, murder and help, fairness and unfairness, and so on are a constant and a person who lacks the innate conscience will never feel guilty, for example, even though people who feel guilty may feel guilty about different things and to different degrees. And it's because of that common conscience that we can have productive moral discussions with atheists and those of different cultures and religions and how we can convince an entire culture to treat women humanely or to outlaw slavery.

Please note that I am not arguing that humans are all nature an no nurture. My argument is that human behavior is a product of both nature and nurture and there is certainly room for religion in there, as well.

45 posted on 10/12/2009 7:26:44 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Question_Assumptions
Given that the differences in observations I'm talking about are observed in brain scans of which parts of the brain activate while answering moral decisions and physiological responses, any third element influence would exist outside of the difference.

Thanks for the response, and let me just say that you know much more about this subject than I. Judging from your posts, you seem to have professional training in this field, but I still think there's much more going on here than what we can deduce or induce rationally and empirically. I'm also not convinced that such physical correlations as you describe above are causal. I don't believe that our minds are simply an epiphenomenon of physical activity in the brain. Correlations, yes; causal, no. I know that conflicts with the evidence so far, but that's just what I believe. In that quote that I provided from Matthew 16, those words that Peter spoke to Christ probably also had a physical correlate, but they were not Peter's words or thoughts, and Christ knew that. Let emphasize also that I'm not alluding to possession here, at least not in the case of Peter. If memory serves me correctly, there is part in the New Testament, I forget where, in which Christ talks about Satan's influence on our reason...so much so that he is almost reasoning for us and through us. I don't quite understand it all myself, but then, who does.

I wish I could respond to your post in a lengthly, informed, and academic manner, but again, I have no knowledge in this field, and I sincerely appreciate your very informative response.

46 posted on 10/12/2009 10:20:38 PM PDT by csense
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