What makes a person atheist?

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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#61

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri May 27, 2011 7:25 am

Altruism by definition includes a sense of moral or higher consciousness. The cross species bonding is more likely a matter of impression and instrinct than a sense of moral goodness or rightness in the animal.
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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#62

Post by 1over137 » Fri May 27, 2011 12:27 pm

Canuckster1127 wrote: Altruism by definition includes a sense of moral or higher consciousness.
There are more definitions of altruism (from Wikipedia):

1. Altruism is the renunciation of the self, and an exclusive concern for the welfare of others. ... Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.
2. The term altruism may also refer to an ethical doctrine that claims that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others.

You were refering to the 2nd definition and IMO the Wikipedia article "Altruism in animals" was refering to the 1st definition.
Canuckster1127 wrote: The cross species bonding is more likely a matter of impression and instrinct than a sense of moral goodness or rightness in the animal.
Could not we say that of humans? Could not we say:
"The cross species bonding is more likely a matter of impression and instrinct than a sense of moral goodness or rightness in humans." ?
I am thinking about the differencies between humans and dolphins. I mean, differencies in behaviour, emotions, etc. And I found more alikeness than differencies. People say that humans are special because of being able of selfless love. But see the stories about dolphins above. (btw, dolphin's brain is 25% bigger)
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-- 1 Thessalonians 5:21

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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#63

Post by MarcusOfLycia » Fri May 27, 2011 2:20 pm

1over137 wrote: There are more definitions of altruism (from Wikipedia):

1. Altruism is the renunciation of the self, and an exclusive concern for the welfare of others. ... Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.
2. The term altruism may also refer to an ethical doctrine that claims that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others.

You were refering to the 2nd definition and IMO the Wikipedia article "Altruism in animals" was refering to the 1st definition.
Perhaps... but isn't the whole point of starting a discussion on altruism about the second point? If you claim its about the first, doesn't that just make that kind of information irrelevant to the discussion?
1over137 wrote: Could not we say that of humans? Could not we say:
"The cross species bonding is more likely a matter of impression and instrinct than a sense of moral goodness or rightness in humans." ?
I am thinking about the differencies between humans and dolphins. I mean, differencies in behaviour, emotions, etc. And I found more alikeness than differencies. People say that humans are special because of being able of selfless love. But see the stories about dolphins above.
"Selfless Love" and "Altruism" are different things. Again, selfless love is much closer to the second term - the one that you previously said was not the one correlated to Dolphins.
1over137 wrote:(btw, dolphin's brain is 25% bigger)
My first computer was 100% bigger than my current one. My first processor had transistors that were tens of thousands of times larger. This might be a situation where size doesn't matter :)
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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#64

Post by kevdog19 » Sat May 28, 2011 5:20 pm

They can't feel god's presence so they don't believe. What they fail to realize is that the jews got it right. God is a purely spirtual being and it's not possible to meet it in our material form but you can still feel it's presence if you are adept.

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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#65

Post by 1over137 » Mon May 30, 2011 1:03 am

MarcusOfLycia wrote: Perhaps... but isn't the whole point of starting a discussion on altruism about the second point? If you claim its about the first, doesn't that just make that kind of information irrelevant to the discussion?
My point is the following: Do you agree that dolphins morality is not based on the ethical doctrine? Now, observing how similar dolphins and humans are I ask whether also our morality does not need to be based on the ethical doctrine.
MarcusOfLycia wrote: "Selfless Love" and "Altruism" are different things. Again, selfless love is much closer to the second term - the one that you previously said was not the one correlated to Dolphins.
Selfless love and altruism, I would say, are similar. Both have to do with selflessness. I cannot say anything more at the moment since I have to define what love is (in biological sense or other) and I need for that more time.
MarcusOfLycia wrote: My first computer was 100% bigger than my current one. My first processor had transistors that were tens of thousands of times larger. This might be a situation where size doesn't matter.
Well, but I suppose that the size of a neuron of different animals does not vary so much (thousand times or so). But, yes, size does not have to be the true indicator.

Now some facts:

brain weight: dolphin 1700 grams, man 1400 grams (difference is 17% not 25% as stated elsewhere)
If brain weight versus body weight is an accurate indicator of intelligence, man (2.1%) is superior, followed by dolphins (1.19%) with the chimp trailing third (0.7%).

I found very interesting article about bottle-nosed dolphins.

Dolphins and Man.....Equals?
by Regina Blackstock
http://www.littletownmart.com/dolphins/
Nineteen centuries ago (62 AD), Plutarch, a Greek moralist and biographer made this statment: "to the dolphin alone, beyond all other, nature has granted what the best philosophers seek: friendship for no advantage".
now some qualities of dolphins:
1.striking friendliness
2.well developed sense of humor
3.dolphins live in social groups dominated by a leader
4.dolphins frequently stroke each other with their flippers, hence, indicating that they require physical contact much like humans
5.dolphins gathered around and comforted him with conversation which consisted of whistles, chirps and the usual dolphinese sounds.
6.Do dolphins talk? Maybe. The above, the next two incidents, and the others scattered throughout this paper will probably lead you to the conclusion that they at least communicate with each other.
7.Dolphin #8 emitted two more supersonic twitches and the third was hearable. From that time on he did not go out of Dr. Lilly's acoustic range. The Dolphin had determined what his hearing range was and stayed within it. As far as I know this is the first time that an obvious experiment has been performed on a human by another species -- and put into use afterwards.
8. I found that languages do exist in several human communities where people communicate by whistling. The most mentioned example was the Mazateco language in Mexico.
9. Ever since the first time man ventured into the sea, dolphins have been man's friend. Throughout history mentions are made showing this. In Plutarch's book On the Cleverness of Animals and explanation was made of Odysseus worship of dolphins. Apparently Odysseus' son, Telmachos, fell into the sea and was saved by a dolphin. In about the year 200 AD Athenaios and Aelian both told the following story. A boy, Dionysios, had somehow made friends with a wild dolphin. The village people would come out on 'weekends' to watch the boy and dolphin play.
(more stories and more links on the webpage)
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
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For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 1:6

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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#66

Post by Canuckster1127 » Mon May 30, 2011 7:12 am

1over137 wrote:
Canuckster1127 wrote: Altruism by definition includes a sense of moral or higher consciousness.
There are more definitions of altruism (from Wikipedia):

1. Altruism is the renunciation of the self, and an exclusive concern for the welfare of others. ... Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.
2. The term altruism may also refer to an ethical doctrine that claims that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others.

You were refering to the 2nd definition and IMO the Wikipedia article "Altruism in animals" was refering to the 1st definition.
Canuckster1127 wrote: The cross species bonding is more likely a matter of impression and instrinct than a sense of moral goodness or rightness in the animal.
Could not we say that of humans? Could not we say:
"The cross species bonding is more likely a matter of impression and instrinct than a sense of moral goodness or rightness in humans." ?
I am thinking about the differencies between humans and dolphins. I mean, differencies in behaviour, emotions, etc. And I found more alikeness than differencies. People say that humans are special because of being able of selfless love. But see the stories about dolphins above. (btw, dolphin's brain is 25% bigger)
I don't see a qualitative difference between the first definition or the second in terms of what I said. Both appeal to a moral sense of right or wrong. To make your case you'd have to demonstrate where animals are capable of reason and are acting contrary to their instinct for the benefit of another at a direct cost to themselves with no return. Instinctual transference doesn't meet those qualities or definitions. Of all animals, it would appear that dolphins or high primates would have the greatest possibility of meeting those definitions. Language and reasoning however have been shown, to my understanding to be foundational to altruism. There's forms of communication in dolphins and primates and it's been shown that some can be conditioned and trained by humans (very different than arising from themselves). Even those forms to my understanding, (and I'm not an expert) don't extend to the realm of abstract thinking and moral values which again, are vital to true altruism.

When a duckling bonds to the first animal it sees (usually it's mother) it's not a matter of altruism when a domesticated dog for instance, then allows the duckling to follow. It's a quality of humans that we project our own thought processes and values upon animals and other people. That's a quality of us, not a quality of the object of our transferrence.

I'm open to the idea that in higher animals might be able to demonstrate a rudimentary form of moral reasoning. I've not seen anything that comes close however that can't be explained in simpler terms (Occum's Razor at work in it's proper scientific setting.) I've seen some strong appeals to it in some cases, but I remain unconvinced.
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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#67

Post by 1over137 » Tue May 31, 2011 12:14 am

Canuckster1127 wrote: Language and reasoning however have been shown, to my understanding to be foundational to altruism.
Do you know of some reference?
Canuckster1127 wrote: I'm open to the idea that in higher animals might be able to demonstrate a rudimentary form of moral reasoning. I've not seen anything that comes close however that can't be explained in simpler terms (Occum's Razor at work in it's proper scientific setting.) I've seen some strong appeals to it in some cases, but I remain unconvinced.
Could you be more specific? Give some examples? Which simpler terms for example?
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
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For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 1:6

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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#68

Post by Canuckster1127 » Tue May 31, 2011 4:20 am

You're asking me to give examples of a negative in the second question. If you want to show me I'm mistaken you'll need to show me examples that are strong evidence of moral reasoning without a simpler explanation.

As to the first question, moral reasoning depends upon abstract thought which requires language to construct and teach and reinforce. That's a recollection from material in some grad level courses from my past. I'll see if I can make some time to research but it shouldn't be hard to Google
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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#69

Post by 1over137 » Tue May 31, 2011 8:23 am

I found interesting post on http://www.freeratio.org/thearchives/sh ... 327&page=3. (The thread is named Human vs Animal in Moral Reasoning)
The post has number 23 and it reads:
But don't moral values tend to be based more on impulse, instinct, and emotions rather than cold logic, even in the smartest humans? We don't feel sorry for the calf bleating for its mother in the jaws of a wolf because we are using reason, do we? While it makes a great plot in war movies, most people side against the general who willingly sacrifices innocent civilians for the greater good of winning the war. As a society, and I would argue as a species, we generally tend to view this behavior at best as ethically questionable, and more often as cold and ugly, regardless of the logical rationale and the lives it may have saved down the road.

How many people feel sorry for the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? How many feel that nuking these cities was morally acceptable behavior? How does the knowledge that it ended a war that potentially could have been exponentially more destructive to human life change our opinions of the morality of the act?

In my experience, reasoning and logic is small consolation to the victims of percieved moral atrocities. It is only those outside looking in, those without personal stake or attachment, that are capable of suspending instinct and acting on reason. "The greater good" is still an abstract concept for humans. It has no concrete reality to them the way their
instincts do.

Humans base their moral value judgments of the behavior of living things on the same things that all other animals do, because humans are animals. We feel sorry for prey because we are social animals with instincts adapted to
social behavior, cooperation, and codependence. Cats do not because they are predatory animals with instincts adapted to solitary hunting.
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
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For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 1:6

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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#70

Post by Canuckster1127 » Tue May 31, 2011 9:52 am

There are some good points there. I'd argue that emotional response can come from instinctual things such a fight or flight, life or death matters. Emotions also tend be a subconscious or subliminal response to the underlying values that we instill internally through our thought processes and habits.

There's no question our emotional responses occur without us necessary rationally processing each separate incident. But the underlying values that give us a sense of what is right and what is wrong have taken place over time and we're conditioned based upon the thought processes and habits we've formed before or been conditioned and trained in as children through family, school etc. Even with conditioning like that, there's still an element of thought and assimilation into our personal thinking and sphere.

So, I'd argue that moral values are indeed a higher form of thought that again, involves language and abstract thought. The fact that an animal might (and I agree does in many instances) behave in a manner in a particular situation similar to what a human might, doesn't mean the underlying processes at work are the same. Again, I think it's common for us as humans to project our own thoughts and emotions onto our pets (as an example) but that doesn't mean that that pet's underlying systems that produce their behavior are the same as ours.

I'm not threatened by the idea that animals or at least some higher forms of animals might have a form of moral thought process. The difficulty with it is that it's difficult for us to know that without the ability to communicate with an animal and through that communication observe and evaluate what they are "thinking". I've seen again, dolphins and primates engage in some forms of communication (or conditioned response at least) where an animal might be able to express a need for food or water or even a sense of affection for another animal or a human contemporary. Again, no problem with that.

Christians, and I am one, have historically tended to associate the ability to make moral judgements as an element of the "image of God" in which humans are created. I tend to believe that there is an element of spirit unique to humans that no animal possesses and that does lead me to tend to believe that there would need to be an extraordinary demonstration or form of evidence that some (not all obviously and I think we're agreed that we're talking here about higher forms of mammals) animals might have a form of ability that approached moral reasoning as a foundation for altruistic behaviors. Again I'm open to the possibility while having a level of skepticism based upon my predisposition as to what makes man unique. I just haven't run across anything that rises high enough to convince me that might be the case. There are simpler explanations and what your quoted post is referring too is similar to what I said about instinct and things like a herd mentality or transferrence (which are established and demonstrable). Even if in humans, you can argue that emotions respond without immediate thinking, those emotions have been conditioned by prior thought and prior patterns of thoughts. It's possible to change emotional response in humans though conditioning and thought re-education. Indeed that's the basis of a form of therapy or treatment in people known as cognative behavioral therapy. Recondition a person's thinking and over time you can change the pattern of emotional response. In those cases too, people will respond emotionally in a given situation, but even if immediate thought is not at work, prior thought has fixed the tracks so to speak and the emotional response is rational.

I hope that makes sense. Again, I'm not an expert in these areas but it's something I've given thought to and brushed up against in some of my past MS work.

regards,

bart
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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#71

Post by kevdog19 » Tue May 31, 2011 11:14 am

I agree that morality is on a higher circiut then say language.

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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#72

Post by 1over137 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:29 am

Canuckster1127 wrote: But the underlying values that give us a sense of what is right and what is wrong have taken place over time and we're conditioned based upon the thought processes and habits we've formed before or been conditioned and trained in as children through family, school etc.
I think that animals can also learn over time.
Canuckster1127 wrote: The fact that an animal might (and I agree does in many instances) behave in a manner in a particular situation similar to what a human might, doesn't mean the underlying processes at work are the same. Again, I think it's common for us as humans to project our own thoughts and emotions onto our pets (as an example) but that doesn't mean that that pet's underlying systems that produce their behavior are the same as ours.
I think that the fact that an animal might behave in a manner similar to human may mean the underlaying processes at work are the same.
Canuckster1127 wrote: I'm not threatened by the idea that animals or at least some higher forms of animals might have a form of moral thought process. The difficulty with it is that it's difficult for us to know that
without the ability to communicate with an animal and through that communication observe and evaluate what they are "thinking".
I think that by pure observing of animal's behaviour one could conclude that animals "think".
Canuckster1127 wrote: I tend to believe that there is an element of spirit unique to humans that no animal possesses and that does lead me to tend to believe that there would need to be an extraordinary demonstration or form of evidence that some (...) animals might have a form of ability that approached moral reasoning as a foundation for altruistic behaviors.
What type of an extraordinary demonstration or form of evidence would convince you?

Btw, you mentioned your MS. What have you been studying?
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
-- 1 Thessalonians 5:21

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 1:6

#foreverinmyheart

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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#73

Post by Canuckster1127 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:42 am

1over137 wrote:
Canuckster1127 wrote: But the underlying values that give us a sense of what is right and what is wrong have taken place over time and we're conditioned based upon the thought processes and habits we've formed before or been conditioned and trained in as children through family, school etc.
I think that animals can also learn over time.
Canuckster1127 wrote: The fact that an animal might (and I agree does in many instances) behave in a manner in a particular situation similar to what a human might, doesn't mean the underlying processes at work are the same. Again, I think it's common for us as humans to project our own thoughts and emotions onto our pets (as an example) but that doesn't mean that that pet's underlying systems that produce their behavior are the same as ours.
I think that the fact that an animal might behave in a manner similar to human may mean the underlaying processes at work are the same.
Canuckster1127 wrote: I'm not threatened by the idea that animals or at least some higher forms of animals might have a form of moral thought process. The difficulty with it is that it's difficult for us to know that
without the ability to communicate with an animal and through that communication observe and evaluate what they are "thinking".
I think that by pure observing of animal's behaviour one could conclude that animals "think".
Canuckster1127 wrote: I tend to believe that there is an element of spirit unique to humans that no animal possesses and that does lead me to tend to believe that there would need to be an extraordinary demonstration or form of evidence that some (...) animals might have a form of ability that approached moral reasoning as a foundation for altruistic behaviors.
What type of an extraordinary demonstration or form of evidence would convince you?

Btw, you mentioned your MS. What have you been studying?
I agree animals can learn over time. The question is can they elevate to abstract thought, accept values and based upon reason make altruistic self-sacrifices based solely upon their belief that something is right?

I'm not saying that there aren't similarities between some animals and humans, in terms of how learning take place. Behavioral modification in animals is well documented and observed. You can behaviorally modify humans as well. I've not observed however, abstract concepts communicated from one animal to another through the use of language and an appeal to moral values.

I'm not sure what would convince me, as I haven't seen it yet. I suppose the ability to communicate with an animal at a sufficient level to see demonstrated abstract thought and moral values.

My MS work is in Organizational Leadership. There's a strong core within that of correlative studies and research methods as well as Organizational Psychology. It's an integrated field type of degree, but it is an MS with an emphasis upon objective examination and study in the field.
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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#74

Post by 1over137 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:09 am

Canukster1127 wrote: I'm not sure what would convince me, as I haven't seen it yet. I suppose the ability to communicate with an animal at a sufficient level to see demonstrated abstract thought and moral values.
I can only say that people are attempting for the two way communication.
See http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2 ... chine.html for the current status.
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
-- 1 Thessalonians 5:21

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 1:6

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Re: What makes a person atheist?

#75

Post by Canuckster1127 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:45 am

Thanks, I keep up with newscientist and I've seen occassional articles and I've also seen some interesting video of communication with chimps and other primates that are impressive. As I said, it's not an emotional thing for me so much as just believing the standard of proof isn't there yet to make that high a level of claim. The image of God argument may or may not corellate to the ability to think abstractly. It's not explicit and there's some tendency I know on Christian sides to resist that which conflicts with traditional understanding and belief. I'm open to understanding more and willing to change my mind. I just think that there's also an emotional element to other factions who see this argument as tied to evolutionary science wanting to demonstrate that man is not unique in these areas. I think it behooves us to recognize that that emotion can be strong from both directions and not criticize it in one realm without equally noting its presence in both.
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