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To: Viennacon
Civilisation is impossible without reciprocity. Our human population would struggle to expand beyond a couple of million individuals, were it not for the peace dividend harnessed from mutual cooperation and reciprocity. The present billions would be reduced to a trickle, were it not for reciprocity fomenting the means for collaboration. Human advancement would be significantly stunted, were it not for reciprocity. You owe your very existence to reciprocity.

So you're wrong, it is absolutely necessary for reciprocity to exist, for you to be part of what you call civilisation.

Any behaviour that threatens the human social fabric in turn threatens its constituent individuals. This is why disparate cultures evolved laws against murder and theft, against premarital sex and fatherless child-rearing, if not without your god, then with other gods. So again, without invoking your specific god, Ted Bundy's acts would be seen as immoral simply because they threaten the social fabric, and damage trust and collaboration were the society to condone such behaviour.

Your argument might work for preserving YOUR life, but children are born every day, all over the world. We have no reason to care about a child who dies or a man who commits suicide. And why would you promote reciprocity, especially if reciprocity is inconvenient for some individuals (e.g women who abort for financial reasons), and might deny them opportunities in life? If we die, and that is all, there is no logical purpose for our existence other than to indulge ourselves in as much pleasure as possible. We are simply a happy coincidence of evolution. We have no reason to concern ourselves with the continuance of the species. Why? What possible benefit could come to you by promoting reciprocity in others? A warm feeling inside that you helped the species? This is illusory.

Wrong. Caring for another's life fosters reciprocity. It builds trust and frees individuals from allocating all their resources against defense from one another, thus giving them a very tangible advantage in living and reproducing, totally in line with Darwinian evolution. Take a look at the nomad tribes in the world today. Without settling, their numbers are limited and even here, without collaboration, individuals don't stand a chance. If they do want to settle, collaboration by way of reciprocity is of paramount importance.

You neglect the evolutionary pressures that dominate our thinking and outlook, the ones geared to goad us into reproducing and raising offspring. A Muslim is devoted to raising a family in spite of following a wrong god, because of this. The evolutionary forces making people desire such an outcome are more universal than your specific religion, thus underlining the inherent truth of the former. The best environment for one's offspring to succeed in, is one that fosters reciprocity. Because you cannot always be there to protect them. This trust is not a mere luxury but a prime necessity. You pooh-pooh it as a "warm, fuzzy feeling" out of your incapacity to recognise its importance in your life, because you don't want your dogma to collapse under the weight of truth.

Your god in the voice of a man was happy in commanding men to slaughter infants in 1 Samuel 15:3. If you can excuse this, how can you say Satan is bad? Where did that inherent value of human life disappear suddenly, from those infants who couldn't possibly have done anything yet to earn them this fate? And if they did earn it because their "evil" was foreseen by your god, then why did it conceive them, and cause them to be birthed in the first place? And if they can be forced to a trial before the act was committed, why are you allowed a pass? Your dogma has holes that cannot be patched by logic and reason, and can only be given a pass by highly subjective bias.

30 posted on 06/23/2013 10:02:16 AM PDT by James C. Bennett (An Australian.)
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To: James C. Bennett

Haha. Well, you are definitely an atheist. The hatred towards any notion of God is palpable here. We’ll probably have to agree to disagree in light of this, but I will remind you that this is not a Reddit forum.

My assertion had nothing to do with “civilization”. You’re moving the goal posts. We were talking about the continuance of our species. Indeed civilization is not necessary for species survival, or we would be the only living things on earth.

“Human advancement would be significantly stunted, were it not for reciprocity”

And... what was the point of this statement? You can find examples of creatures who practice cannibalism, and eat their own offspring. This is not reciprocity, yet the species continues to survive. I can see no reason to put a greater value on a large human population as opposed to a small human population in a world without God. In fact, larger populations often come with problems of their own.

“Any behaviour that threatens the human social fabric in turn threatens its constituent individuals”

This does not make it objectively wrong. If I choose not to care about those individuals or your “social fabric”, and choose to place zero value on their lives, I can kill without any kind of moral qualms. In fact, there may be instances in which it is advantageous to me to kill them. I may gain something from a murder. The social fabric in your world is a construct of man, and all men being equal, your regard for it is no more valuable than my potential disregard for it. Again, we just have a different opinion, and any belief that your opinion is superior to Bundy’s is merely unjustified moral elitism. You are essentially making a god out of yourself, deciding what is right and wrong.

“This is why disparate cultures evolved laws against murder and theft, against premarital sex and fatherless child-rearing”

This is perhaps the most shaky claim you just made. If “this” is an objective reality, true for all people, that actions not promoting reciprocity are not compatible with societies, then no society in the world would ever have done anything that didn’t promote reciprocity. This is a ridiculous claim to make. Since humans have walked on the earth, there have been large societies that have undertaken horrific practices. Just look at the sacrificial rituals in ancient American societies. These civilizations did not collapse because of a lack of reciprocity, in fact they functioned well without it. Other factors caused their demise.

When you descend into petty attacks on the Christian God as a murderer, you really exit the realms of logic and attempt to fight a battle occupying two worlds. You’re applying the judgements of a world without God to a world with God. In a world with God, no action taken by God could be evil, no matter how you might perceive it as a finite, non-transcendent being. Once you enter a world in which God exists, you cannot ignore the reality of such a being’s nature. How can I not excuse any evil action taken by Satan? You seem to misunderstand what Satan is. He is a creation himself. If he carries out an evil act, it is no different to you or me carrying out an evil act. He is not a god. Indeed, he got his ass kicked out of Heaven by God.

“You pooh-pooh it as a “warm, fuzzy feeling” out of your incapacity to recognise its importance in your life, because you don’t want your dogma to collapse under the weight of truth”

And you value it because of your incapacity to recognize that any importance you place on it is illusory. You might compare it to someone in the Matrix who does not even want to think that everything is virtual because the Matrix has a “social fabric” and the world outside does not.
Of course, this is in a world without god. A world in which you and I are no more important than the salmon, having evolved through biological accident. Our species will eventually become extinct, if not through our own doing or some cataclysm, then in the heat death of the universe.

I would also like to point out that this isn’t something I am just concocting, this is the opinion of atheist scholars! It’s part of a very popular theory of ‘metaphysical naturalism’. Alex Rosenberg in his works argues that nothing has any meaning, even sentences, and any apprehension of morality or “right and wrong” are illusions of the human mind. Michael Ruse has also argued that “morality has no foundation”. There is a reason intellectual atheists are roughly split on whether to acknowledge objective morality or not. Those who don’t want to have to defend its incompatibility with atheism, often abandon it.

I would go on, but I fear I may be wasting my time. I have a feeling that you could witness a miracle first hand and you would still not believe in anything beyond the “social fabric” which must be maintained for unknown reasons. Have a good day, man. :)

34 posted on 06/23/2013 10:54:14 AM PDT by Viennacon
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