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Author Topic: The Vatican claims Darwin's theory of evolution is compatible with Christianity  (Read 12673 times)

lyner

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Stefan
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I find your insistence that entire societies must be nonreligious in order for secularism to be considered truly ethical, to be rather like saying that AIDS isn't a real problem because only 33 million humans are affected worldwide.

I haven't said that secularism can't be truly ethical. I have said that secular societies are not any more ethical than religious societies.  The reason I make that stipulation of a 'complete' society' is because the only way you can 'prove' that secularism can be made to work is if you can show it operating successfully  and on a large scale, independently of a majority religious group. I have always agreed with you that, on an individual level, we can live ethical, secular, lives.
You appear to be arguing from a idealistic standpoint - fair enough, but I believe that you are too cross about the results of 'bad religion' to see its real place in human society. I am arguing from a pragmatic standpoint which says that, until someone can show me your system operating, I will continue believing that humans 'need' a religion of some sort in order to function as a society.
There are so many examples in politics, philosophy and education where well informed and highly intelligent people make the mistake of modeling the system on themselves. One has to acknowledge that there is some level of development below which, humans can't be relied upon to make the right decisions, based on reason. It's no use reasoning with a toddler not to run into the road - you just have to grab them and prevent them doing it. Teenagers cannot be relied upon (with some possible exceptions) to make appropriate choices of entertainment, food and behaviour; they need authority figures and, without them, there are problems.
Likewise, there are huge numbers (the vast majority) of adults who will not (cannot) think things through, optimally, and require a set of ideals to operate under.  This is where religion comes in. It supplies a framework of rules and an authority behind the framework and requires little or no 'thought' - ideal, if only the framework were perfect.
I agree that all religions have their (huge) faults. That doesn't disprove my theory. Yes - I read both OT and NT in my pious youth stage. I even did a 'Scripture Exam', once and I know that religious doctrine is full of un-ethical ideas. I might say that the problems often arise from the interpretation of what was written, rather than the original.
I wondered whether you might bring Buddhism into the argument. It would seem to be the nearest thing to your idea of a possible model. But it still involves a Deity. I guess that both you and I could meet somewhere in the Buddhist camp.
 

Offline _Stefan_

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I thought you might see Buddhism that way. Yes, it is a compromise of sorts. But if you are to accept Buddhism, which has only 324 million followers versus 500+ million nonreligious, as a compromise, then you must admit that there is something to secular ethics. Neither at this stage exists in a vacuum.

I think we can both agree that humans need an ethical system and that despite its massive flaws, religion is the major one we are stuck with.

Do you agree that humans have an innate capacity for morality?

Do you agree that ideally a better ethical system totally independent from religion should and could be adopted someday?
 

lyner

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We seem to be converging somewhat. Wot no fighting?

I agree that human behaviour is guided by a need to look after the race as well as the individual. In a complex organism like humans, the mechanism is also very complex. We could call it morality but it is just a set of strategies (backed up by a urge, like the sexual urge but more mild) which give the species a chance of surviving / thriving.
To study that urge is of the same level of difficulty as studying consciousness and my thesis is that most people just give it a name and go along with it (or not if you are a sociopath or a successful nasty person).
Religions have a convenient way of providing a blanket term by which a large group of people can feel that they are talking about the same thing. In fact it is entirely personal.

I think you are being very optimistic about humans if you think they will all behave correctly just because it 'makes sense'. Religion - or at least a cause - is something that we all need; you have yours, too, although you don't acknowledge it as a religion. That is why I think religion will be with us for a long time yet. But I agree that religions may often do almost as much harm as good.
 

lyner

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I just heard The Moral Maze (BBC R4).
Try to hear it on BBC Iplayer. Very entertaining.
 

Offline _Stefan_

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Alright then. I doubt we'll converge any further than this :P

Could you clarify what you mean by this:

"...you have yours, too, although you don't acknowledge it as a religion"
 

lyner

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We make our final choices about what to do and how to think, on the basis of subjective, aesthetic and subconscious considerations. We always rationalise these  choices - because we can't admit that our conscious mind isn't actually 'in charge'. But there is evidence that we actually make most of our decisions 'before' we are aware of having made them. (Brain scans during psychological tests). So you have your views and I have mine (and the Christian down the road has his) but none of us really knows how we came up with those views. You claim rationality, 'he' claims faith and I don't really know, but we're all three pretty convinced and in much the same way. In the final analysis we just 'believe'.
 

Offline _Stefan_

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The sense of self is to the brain what the computer screen is the the modem. Of course the self is an illusory bystander. I fully accept that my brain's what's doing all the work to maintain a rational view of the world. When the computer says 2 + 2 = 5, is it a matter of belief that it's wrong?
 

lyner

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I should say that the 'belief' in Maths is based on a lot of experience that it works. So, when you see 2+2 = 5, You can have a justified belief that it is wrong. There are a lot of people who may believe it to be true - but they may have not ever been taught the axioms of Maths.

I have a feeling that you took my statement as a slight insult. It wasn't intended as such. You believe that rationalism is the way. That is a belief,  and you believe that it makes perfect sense. Your belief has much more going for it than many beliefs - it's based on Science and logic, which assume that things are consistent. But that is, actually, an axiom. Tomorrow, everything could be different. We only assume that it won't be. It's a belief, based on experience, but that's all.
 

Offline _Stefan_

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Thanks for further elaborating.
 

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