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Old 01-23-2007, 06:54 PM   #6
Mike Doolittle
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Originally Posted by Nicato View Post
If that is the case then he is arguing against a man of straw, as I don't know any prominent intellectual atheists who would disagree with that. I know, at least, that Dawkins concedes as much when he asserts that most moderate believers use their morality to decide what is religious, rather than use their religion to decide what is moral; that the criterion by which we choose what is moral from our holy books is incumbent upon all of us.
He was responding to the notion that science solves the moral problems created by fervent religious devotion. He makes the point that it is human nature, irrespective of religion, that drives people against each other. His obviously rhetorical suggestion that we take Eugeniks to its logical extreme was an example of how the abandonment of theological concepts if favor of a strictly positivist viewpoint does not inherently preclude a more compassionate society.

I don't know if I agree with that. I think people would have to study the biological and sociocultural origins of morality on a mass scale before your hypothesis can be tested. I mean, as of 2007, most people have a skewed, intellectually void version morality's origins. I think there is a certain humility you get when you realize how fragile morality is once you put it out of the absolution of "God made it."
I agree, and moral absolutism is logically absurd, but that's not really what I was getting at.

As to your second point, that the human thought process is inherently irrational and intuitive, I agree. However, I do believe that us humans have the capacity to adopt a more rational thought process, we just need only to become more conscious.
Sure, I agree. But let me give you an example. If a person decides to visit his lonely, dying friend in the hospital, you might be able to find a variety of scientific explanations for the behavior – i.e., a host of factors that may influence his desire to see his friend rather than, say, sit at home and watch TV. But in the mind of this person, he is never going to be thinking, "I am going to go visit my friend because [insert rational, scientific reason]." He is going to say, "I'm visiting my friend because I care about him and it's the right thing to do." All science does is observe and explain natural phenomena. Any behavior is by definition a natural phenomenon that can be observed and presumably explained in some way. But being able to explain a behavior's sociocultural, psychological or evolutionary influences doesn't necessarily bring us any closer to helping us define the moral paradigms that guide our actions.
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