Secular Morality

Secular MoralitySome say that if we live in a godless universe there's no basis for morality, that is principles concerned with the distinction between right from wrong, or good and bad behavior, or character.

However for many others religion is the problem. Their rejection of religion, far from being motivated by which to escape moral accountability that some claim, reflects a conviction that it's only through abandoning certain widespread religious ideas the progress towards a truly just and consistent morality is possible.

This video series highlight some of the flaws in popular religious moral arguments and teachings and offers a moral outlook that makes no use of god concepts and is thus available to theists and a atheists alike, refuting the profound misconception that gods are needed for morality. So on what do we base morality?

We know it's not power. The one with a gun might have the means to impose their wishes but this tells us nothing about their principles.

We know it's not majority preference. If the spectacle of human sacrifices is the preferred entertainment of the majority this doesn't make human sacrifice right.

We know it's not tradition. The fact that a practice might have endured for generations tells us nothing about its virtue, and although what's written in law may largely reflect what the society thinks about right or wrong.

We know lord doesn't determine morality. Laws can be unjust. When asking this question it can be useful to consider how we go about assessing moral problems.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 45 minutes)

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  1. ZarathustraSpeaks

    The premise of most of the questions presented above is based on a false assumption that a moral standard is identifiable in a secular world where all life is a result of entirely random acts of evolution. We first need to establish why morality has any value or basis other than promoting "survival of the species" which is a concept that has no established value or consequence either.

  2. gerardrbain

    Did you actually watch the videos before you commented?

  3. oQ

    I can't sit through these cartoon docs, feels like they are made for robots.
    1i

  4. Maddi

    It was by faith that the universe was created, and scientists will one day discover this. Morality plays one part in religion. Science has the inability to offer two other important things that faith also promises. Redemption and eternal life.

  5. over the edge

    Maddi
    "It was by faith that the universe was created," you can prove that right? "faith also promises. Redemption and eternal life." yes it promises that. but can you prove that it delivers?

  6. over the edge

    ZarathustraSpeaks
    "in a secular world where all life is a result of entirely random acts of evolution." what does a secular world have to do with evolution? who said evolution is " entirely random"? "We first need to establish why morality has any value or basis other than promoting "survival of the species" " ok can you establish why? also could you explain why survival has no established value or consequence either.?

  7. ZarathustraSpeaks

    I should have said "NON secular" world in reference to the "godless universe" the writer refers to.(Religion, Theology, Spirituality or whatever all require a "faith" in a connected world.) I just dont see any demonstrable basis for morality otherwise. In reference to the value of survival how do you assign a "value" to anything when everything we know is a by product of evolution including our brains. Maybe I dont understand your question, but how can evolution be anything other than random without a controlling force or catalyst?

  8. over the edge

    ZarathustraSpeaks
    if you " dont see any demonstrable basis for morality otherwise" and cannot prove your god exists. "i don't know" is the only honest answer. you ask "how can evolution be anything other than random without a controlling force or catalyst?" the mutations are random. but the "selection" is anything but. natural selection favors morals that increase the ability to pass on its genes. so a mutation that causes a parent to protect and care for their young would survive better. a group that defends each other and punishes anyone who negatively effects the ability of the group to survive (steal.kill...) would better survive and so on.

  9. Allan Young

    Actually, science is getting close to the secrets of immortality. So, you may want to rethink your statement.

  10. ZarathustraSpeaks

    "I dont know" is of course the only answer for anything that cannot be proven through empirical methods. Faith simply says I choose to believe something I can not prove. The only important question then is Why believe something you cannot prove? Please explain to me the intrinsic value in "surviving better" as you put it. Its still just "species propagation" in the end. Is "protecting and and caring for their young" an end in itself? The easy criticism is "you just dont want to face the truth so you cling to your faith" That may be true but deluding yourself about life having any meaning beyond what we create in our minds to facilitate this "survival quest" doesnt seem to "hold the high ground".

  11. over the edge

    ZarathustraSpeaks
    i was not trying to "hold the high ground" there is lots of demonstrable proof for evolution. while i have been given absolutely no demonstrable proof for god. the intrinsic value of surviving better is that the organism(s) that survive better tand to reproduce better so they pass on their traits. you ask "protecting and and caring for their young" an end in itself?" when it comes to evolution yes.

  12. ZarathustraSpeaks

    So evolution is an end in itself? What value is "truth" if nothing has value? I am not disputing the truth of evolution in any way, I am asking someone to explain how anything has meaning without purpose. Your children and your children's children have to answer the same question. If survival is your purpose I dont get it.

  13. robertallen1

    Are you saying that the universe was created by something which you simply believe in without any knowledge, hence nothing? The only reason science does not offer redemption and eternal life is because just like faith it can't, only science admits this and those of your mentality don't.

  14. robertallen1

    Obviously, you're behind in your scientific reading. Try catching up and then ask these questions.

  15. robertallen1

    What other type of proof is there except for empirical proof and the conclusions drawn therefrom. From your posts, you're the deluded one. So why don't you read up on evolution before posting further?

  16. robertallen1

    Who said nothing has any value. Sounds like a strawman. The idea is to create your own meaning and your own values without the questionable assistance of something with an equally questionable existence. The reason you don't get it is because you haven't read enough, especially in science.

  17. ZarathustraSpeaks

    To all the responses of "read up on science" indicate none of you have read or understood what I wrote. I have NEVER disputed any science of evolution or any science in any of my comments. I have repeatedly asked for a response to what is the basis for any kind of morality standards when one says evolution is the only reason for our existence. If there is no connection between us other than our common ancestry through evolution why do we presume any moral standards have any value beyond our own selfish desires. They may be useful in avoiding chaos but isnt nature chaos? Survival of the fittest is the hallmark of the natural world. So morality takes us toward the unnatural world?? You cant create purpose for your life by adopting the "pull yourself up by the bootstraps theory" of synthetic morality.

  18. over the edge

    ZarathustraSpeaks
    could you please explain what you think survival of the fittest entails? i am not trying to be rude but i think that you are misunderstanding what that means and that might be the root of our dilemma

  19. robertallen1

    To put it simply, evolution is the basis for what we consider morality.

    Non sequitur no. 1: "If there is no connection between us other than our common ancestry through evolution why do we presume any moral standards have any value beyond our own selfish desires." What does common ancestry have to do with selfish desires?

    Non sequitur no. 2: "You cant [sic]create purpose for your life by adopting the 'pull yourself up by the bootstraps theory' of synthetic morality." What does morality have to do with purpose? You've made an assertion, now prove it.

    What do you mean by chaos? Have you studied enough mathematics to give this word any scientific framework? Whether you like it or not, you really need to read up on science to enable you to ask intelligent questions.

  20. Mercenarry ForHire

    Good video :3

  21. Jack1952

    I just went into my kitchen to get a banana. When I reached for it a fruit fly, which was perched there, took off and then landed on the kitchen counter. In disgust, I tried to kill the creepy thing, but it must have sensed the approaching hand and escaped. Was that escape spurred on by the realization that its purpose it life would not be fulfilled had he lingered? Is it now hiding somewhere, grateful that its potential in life as a fruit fly may still be realized?

    The smallest organism has instilled in it the instinct to survive. It is an inherited trait from its forbears. Those who didn't have the sense to avoid that crushing hand of death are gone. Those who avoid it survive and soon only those survivors are left. They bestow on their offspring, genetically, that same desire to live. It is the driving force in living creatures. For those creatures who don't feel that powerful urge to survive, a swift death is almost assured. Evolution guarantees that only those with survival instincts are the main progenitors of life.

    We are the product of evolution and the same instinct that caused that fruit fly to avoid my hand resides in all of us. Without it, life and the human race, would not exist. We are in the unique position of being able to contemplate our demise and understand the personal implications of our deaths. Does it somehow mean what we have the higher purpose in life? Does our ability to reason also bring with it the more significant reason to exist?

    Ultimately, we're just fruit flies trying not to get crushed.

  22. robertallen1

    That's rather nice. It should be the first of chapter of a volume for children on evolution.

  23. Ryan

    Survival of the species has no established value or consequence-what are you high? Everything we and every other life form on this Earth does is motivated by personal and/or group survival. How can you explain hunger pangs, sexual desire, our innate sociability or reciprocal altruism if not in terms of survival of the species? The established value of the survival of the species is the survival of the species. There is no question of why we want to survive- it is all we have and thus we fight to keep it.

  24. Ryan

    Just because you don't see a demonstrable basis for morality otherwise does not mean one does not exist. Also, I hate to use the word "morality" as it conjures images of self-righteous religious persons. Instead, they are innate drives that we have labeled "right" because they either continue the species or protect it from suffering. We don't kill one another because the species wouldn't last. We don't torture and rape one another because it is causing unwanted suffering that we ourselves would not wish to experience. Reciprocal altruism has been found in almost every non-human species and they, surprise surprise, all don't believe in a God. If the only reason you're not killing and raping people is because it says not to in a book your inability to understand evolution is the least of your problems. Why is it religious people claim their religion as the ultimate source of morality and yet always have higher rates of murder, rape, divorce and even abortion (though I personally do not think it is wrong) within their congregations?

    The controlling force of evolution is non-random selection of random mutations. If you paid attention in high school science you would know that means that a species purposely favors random traits that benefit it in its particular environment. So a bird with a big beak that could crack tough nuts would obviously be better suited to survive than a bird with a smaller beak and thus is more likely to pass on this genetic code for a bigger beak. Get it? The same goes for behavior- negative social traits and behaviors are not selected for.

    Religious people are always asking "Well, if you don't believe in God how can you be moral?!?!" Good question. You tell me- I don't believe in God, and yet I follow the same rules as you. My powers of deduction are telling me that God is unnecessary in this equation.

    You can label our evolutionary drives as divine edicts of morality but can you explain why the non-religious are not only as good but better at following these supposed divine rules?

  25. Ryan

    Truth aids in survival. Or do you think we could have developed vaccines, CAT scans, or prosthetic limbs without searching for the truth? And there is a purpose- to survive and pass on our genes. Think about any of your primal urges and ultimately they will boil down to survival and/or the passing on your genes. Evolution is the means to the end of survival and reproduction. Just because a Godless universe makes your uncomfortable a) doesn't mean it isn't true and b) doesn't mean that the evidence isn't stacked in its favor. Your inability to understand it has no bearing on whether or not it is actually happening.

    " If survival is your purpose I dont get it." Then I suppose you've never experienced fear? Or anxiety? Both are evolutionary traits adapted to prepare us for fight or flight in order to survive and ultimately reproduce. The truth is not in your Bible. Keep asking questions about evolution but actually listen to the answers; not everyone is a preacher trying to sell you his story of reality for a couple of bucks.

  26. Ryan

    The basis for our moral standards is the basis of evolution- to survive and reproduce. We don't kill each other in order to survive. We help others because we know it usually precipitates in ourselves being helped, whether immediately or eventually. We realize that problems are easier to solve and life is easier to live within groups and that these groups must be able to trust one another. Such things as lying and stealing are matters of common sense- I don't want my things stolen so I've made a societal agreement not to steal other people's things. Such negative behaviors are seen by the group as bad form and the group will ostracize the individual, punish them, or both.
    The nail in the coffin for divine morality is animal behavior. Piranhas, widely regarded as one of the most vicious animals, will never attack one of its own. Why? If your answer is that they wish to survive as a species why can the same not be said of another animal, homo sapien? Why does one monkey willingly pick bugs off another monkey's back first and later expect similar treatment? And if this second monkey doesn't reciprocate why does the group ostracize him and never scratch him first again? Why do other animals travel in packs, work together, or protect each other's young? You act as if the concepts of helping one another and not killing one another are exclusive to the human race. Once you come to terms with the fact that we are animals you can look around at other animals and realize that we're not the only one that employ "morality" and that a lot of our "morality" can be learned/is mirrored from theirs.
    If you have to ask why surviving is important in itself I am afraid you are far too deluded by your holy book and its claims of Heaven. Survival is literally the only thing we, and every other animals species, know and you're questioning its importance? This is why I loathe religion. You don't need a supernatural Space Daddy to have and find meaning in life. You also don't need him to label evolutionary drives as "morality" and then claim him the creator of it all. Thinking like this is anti-evolutionary and will luckily be weeded out in a couple dozen generations (if religion doesn't destroy the world in the meantime).

  27. Ryan

    This is 100% completely irrelevant. Your inability to understand reality does not change this reality. Maybe our moral values have no value beyond our own selfish desires- your disapproval or misunderstanding would do absolutely nothing to change it.
    Essentially your argument is "I can't imagine a world where God isn't smiling down on me making everything good and giving everything purpose thus it couldn't possibly exist." That's an argument from ignorance, something you apparently have in spades.
    The only reason you don't understand evolution and why it dictates "morality" is because you don't want to. The answers are right there in front of you. Unlike religion, it requires no delusion. You can do the tests, make the observations, draw the conclusions. No need for Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John telling you to believe it on "faith".

  28. Ryan

    Absolutely brilliant. If only this could be mandatory reading in church.

  29. robertallen1

    While I agree with you on science and religion, two of your sentences seem to call out for modification: "We don't kill one another because the species wouldn't last. We don't torture and rape one another because it is causing unwanted suffering that we ourselves would not wish to experience." We do make war and there are jail cells are full those of our species who torture and rape. As for reciprocal altruism in non-human species, what about chimpanzees who are altruistic towards those of their herd (I guess that's the term for a group of them), except in amorous matters, but will fight to the death against outsiders?

    You are certainly right about birds with large beaks, but birds with small beaks also have environments to which they can adapt as with Darwin's finches and the two basic types (there are actually six species, I believe) seem to co-exist rather well on the Galapagos Islands.

  30. tomregit

    "I have repeatedly asked for a response to what is the basis for any kind of morality standards when one says evolution is the only reason for our existence.
    "@ZarathustraSpeaks
    Humans, higher primates, and likely other intelligent creatures are capable of demonstating what we call morality because we have empathy; the ability to put ourselves in the position of others and understand how they might feel. This quality is inherent in us because we are intelligent sentient beings and is also passed on through memes; seeing how our parents and other members of our group behave. This, and a strong genetic bond to our parents, offspring, and members of our group contribute to our capability to act altruistically. The fact that I do not believe in a higher god authority in no way precludes my desire to live a "moral existence" and "Do unto others etc....". The promise of paradise or the threat of damnation have no bearing whatsoever.

    Furthermore, the theory of evolution does not claim to be a reason for our existence. I don't know where you derived that thought from. I think it very likely there isn't any "reason for our existence".

  31. Dean Edgington

    by faith the universe was created? How so? scientists will one day discover this. What makes you so sure?

  32. afkors

    Pedofile priests are "proof" of infallible morality.

  33. Vlatko

    @Jack1952,

    So simple and yet powerful. Fantastic.

  34. wald0

    Evolution is not random, it is random variation filtered through non-random natural selection. The value of the survival of our species should be fairly evident, its what genetically adaptive creatures are primarily concerned with. Morality has no value outside of that goal, period. Why does that bother you? We experience our world through our conciousness, which is itself an adaptation and nothing more. You seem to have some need for your existence to be validated by some authority higher than that of mankind, some need for morality to be about more than our continued, peaceful, co-habitation of earth- why? I mean do you think the universe even notices when some psycho kills fifty innocent children? Sorry but it doesn't, only we do- and that doesn't detract from the seriousness of the crime in any way. Morality is about nothing more than our continued co-habitation of the earth in a peaceful productive manner but, from our perspective (which is all that matters because it creates our reality) that is and should be everything- our ultimate and final goal. This arguement about morality not being of any real consequence if all it serves is mankinds existence in the material world assumes there is something more than mankinds existence in the material world to be concerned with in the first place- in other words it isn't a problem for secular people because all we believe in is the material world we exist in and therefore any concept that allows us to do so in a peacful productive manner is of very serious consequence to us and doesn't need any further validation past its own utility.

  35. fonbindelhofas

    like bigtime!

  36. ZarathustraSpeaks

    Based on all the vitriolic responses posted making comments on my lack of scientific knowledge I must have said something that at least 'touched home" with your own thinking. Just to clarify what I did and did not say:
    1) I have not disputed the science of evolution in any way.
    2) I have not espoused any religion or faith other than my own personal rejection of survival as an end in itself.

    To Waldo, I do have a need for some validation of my existence beyond existing in the "peaceful productive manner" you descibe. If you do not, you are fortunate as far as "peace of mind" goes. I have a neutered cat that lives a peaceful life of sleeping in the sun on a soft bed all day and waking up just long enough to eat and go to the litter box. I somehow dont know if his life would be any better if he understood his mortality or the science that tells him thats all there is.

    EVERYTHING man has learned through empirical methods overwhelmingly points to the conclusion that no God or "Supreme Being" exist or ever has existed. Im just not sure what we do know ever tells us what we dont know. If you want to call that self delusion then I choose self delusion.

    Maybe I'm off base here but it just seems to me many of the people that use science as the standard all truth in the world always refuse to accept the indisputable fact that you cannot disprove the unproveable.(Again, the only important question is why hope for something more than what we can see) Its not "what science does". Try to get beyond all the hypocrisy in religion and recognize these are flaws of man that exist with or without religion. Believing that the "Truth of Science" is anything more than we are able to observe with the human brain is self delusion also.
    PEACE

  37. robertallen1

    " . . . it just seems to me many of the people that use science as the standard [for] all truth in the world always refuse to accept the indisputable fact that you cannot disprove the unproveable." You also can't prove it, so what?

    "Believing that the 'Truth of Science' is anything more than we are able to observe with the human brain is self delusion also." What makes you think so?

  38. wald0

    "seems to me many of the people that use science as the standard all truth in the world always refuse to accept the indisputable fact that you cannot disprove the unproveable..."

    I am an agnostic if you want to get strict about the semantics, meaning I freely admit no one can prove or dis-prove the un-provable. An atheist simply goes one step further and places faith in common sense, everyday experience, science, empirical methods, etc. to make predicions about such things as the existence of god, the afterlife, the existence of the soul, etc. Yes they are employing faith, just as religious peoples do- but its faith based in something very different than subjective revelation, divine intervention, or scripturaL authority. For instance, you have faith that if you drop somehting it will fall down, that if you stick your hand in a fire you will get burned, etc. now would you compare this faith to spiritual faith? Of course not, but you want to do so for the purpose of proving your faith in something beyond material existence is just as valid as their faith in science and reason. The proof that science and reason are valid things to place our faith in are all around us, we experience them first hand everyday. Infact most of us have so much faith in science and technology we fail to even realize we are using it- we take it for granted that it will be there and work.
    As far as you personally subscribing to some illusion, i didn't really mean to make that my point, I am not trying to attack you personally. I am just trying to demonstrate to you that morality doesn't have to depend on a belief in anything past our species peaceful, productive co-habitation. The reason you guys think it does require more is because you (1.)- think there is some alternate conciousness (meaning not human) out there some where in the first place (2.) not only think there is some alternate conciousness out there but that this conciousness is somehow morally, intellectually, spiritually, superior to mankind and material reality. Now if you ask me that is quite a lot to postulate based on "I don't know".

  39. robertallen1

    What you describe is not faith, but reliance based on knowledge. When you depress the gas pedal, it's not that you have faith that your car will move, but rather reliance based on knowledge about your car.

  40. Schwoggle

    The great rabbi Hillel was asked by an unbeliever to explain the torah while standing on one foot.
    The rabbi answered,
    "Don't do to others that which is hateful to you. All the rest is commentary."

    This video is "all the rest".

  41. over the edge

    Schwoggle
    "Don't do to others that which is hateful to you. All the rest is commentary." please let the rest of the religious know this and the world would be a better more rational place

  42. over the edge

    wald0
    you state "An atheist simply goes one step further and places faith in common sense, everyday experience, science, empirical methods, etc." sorry to split hairs and i do understand your point. this is not what atheism means to many atheists. science has nothing to do with atheism for me. i am an atheist because others claims lack convincing evidence for me nothing more. i was an atheist long before i had a sufficient understanding of science (in certain areas many of the sciences still confuse me). maybe you are right and the definition of atheism is changing or has changed. at that point i will no longer attach that label to myself. also isn't it odd that we need a word for this particular non belief? there is not a word for a non UFO believer, a non bigfoot believer, a non leprechaun believer ...... just a thought. again sorry to split hairs.

  43. slpsa

    Hell yeah Jack. That was pretty damn deep. And made perfect sense. Thumbs up. As Vlatko said. I'm in awe man.

  44. Jack1952

    Damn fruit flies still buzzing around my kitchen. I'm almost done being philosophical about it.

  45. Taylor Suchan

    I could also say that Morality , a symptom of our emotions ans Empathy is also beneficial in struggle for survival as a species. most every one would agree that with holding food from a fellow group member wuold be immoral, how ever even if it were not making sure that the health of ones group is good is good for every one there for it(Norality), like fur,hair, are just as wvolutionarily valuable for survival of the species as a whole. .... chew that one over.

  46. ZarathustraSpeaks

    Again, I have no doubt morality is beneficial for "survival as a species". My only question was what value "survival as a species" has in either a secular OR non secular society. The narrow definition of secular only means the seperation of Church and State without putting value on either. If the "non-believer"(for lack of a better term) says life has no intrinsic value beyond getting our "jollies" with a continually unending quest for a bigger TV screen than our current one then morality is just a facilitator for our greed. Even though you love your kids and family like most people that love cant be the result of anything more than a evolutionary by product for survival. To say otherwise is to infer an intrinsic value to life. I just dont see how you can say anything has intrinsic value without an entity of greater consciouness than our own somewhere in the equation. This is not a compelling argument that a "greater conscienous" actually exist, only that we are no different than bacteria trying to survive to the next second if not. This is where I differ in my conclusion when I am often told the 'burden of proof" is on those that claim belief in something greater than ourselves. I submit the "burden of proof' is only required where we are making laws or regulations for civil controls in a secular society. I have chosen hope rather oblivion. This is not up for debate as I make no claim of empirical evidence.

  47. over the edge

    ZarathustraSpeaks
    you state "The narrow definition of secular only means the seperation of Church and State without putting value on either." could you point me to a sourse for that definition? the dictionary(dot)com definition (#1 of 5) "
    of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal"

    you then state " If the "non-believer"(for lack of a better term) says life has no intrinsic value beyond getting our "jollies" with a continually unending quest for a bigger TV screen than our current one then morality is just a facilitator for our greed." where did anyone here state that?

    "I just dont see how you can say anything has intrinsic value without an entity of greater consciouness than our own somewhere in the equation." some of us do not need a god to see value in life.

    "when I am often told the 'burden of proof" is on those that claim belief in something greater than ourselves. I submit the "burden of proof' is only required where we are making laws or regulations for civil controls in a secular society." and you are free to believe that. but if you want people to take you seriously then the burden of proof applies anytime a positive claim is made.

  48. ZarathustraSpeaks

    1) Secular infers only seperate in the context of this discussion meaning seperation of church and state.

    2) I stated that , no one else did.

    3) That is your "Belief System" then nothing more or less.

    4) My primary concern is not on "being taken seriously" by people I dont know that are trying to make empirical observation of the unobservable. Hitler was "taken seriously" by the Jews as they were exterminated but probably not respected by them for it or correct in his actions.

    show more show less

  49. Kateye70

    I think you are construing a lack of belief in god as nihilism.

    Just because a person does not believe in a god, goddess, etc., does not mean they are therefore nihilistic.

    Life's value *is* intrinsic, I would say. Being alive is a good thing (for the most part) IMHO, and what we as individuals make of it gives it it's value. Morality, a social construct that benefits social animals, is just a method of making life good. A means, not an end in itself.

    I have no problem with returning to the earth as part of the cycle of life; my molecules will endure even if their current form does not. That, to me, is a hopeful outlook. It might even be incorrect, scientifically, but that doesn't actually matter.

    If you have a need for there to be something beyond what we have now, in this life, then that is part of your personal world view, and just as valid as anyone's who does not share that particular need.

    I can recognize that and respect it as a personal choice; I only wish more theists were just as respectful of my choice.

  50. robertallen1

    First of all, if you assert, the burden of proof is no you, no matter the situation. What you "submit" is of neither consequences nor validity.

    Your insistence on a belief in something beyond (i.e., metaphysical) to give meaning to YOUR life (as opposed to life in general or life itself) is symptomatic of the weak-minded seeking an easy way out.

    If you have no empirical evidence, you have no claim.

  51. robertallen1

    1. As over_the_edge pointed out, secular refers to worldly or temporal as opposed to religious. It has nothing to do with separation of church and state. A church may have secular such as fixing the toilets in the men's room.

    2. Over_the_edge is asking you which of the posters on theisthread enunciated the doctrine you are carping against.

    3. This is not a belief system. Science and history are full of supporting facts which speak for themselves.

    4. Let me just add to over_the_edge's statement, "but if you want people to take you seriously AND RESPECT YOU . . . " Is that better? One way or the other, it sure beats your nonsense about making empirical observations on the unobservable.

  52. over the edge

    ZarathustraSpeaks
    1 the fact that you say so does not make it true
    2 can you back up that statement
    3 yes it is. i do not need a god in order to be a good person and see the value in life
    4 look up "Godwin's law" appeals to emotion does not work. also he was a christian

  53. ZarathustraSpeaks

    I can only assume the reason you contunue to try to respond with comments that either dont address the comments that were made or shift it to the point you are trying to make indicates you dont have a response. I dont CLAIM to have any any answers to anything. I have as anyone has, only my opinions on those things outside of scientifically established knowledge.

    As for me I dont have any problem with what you or anyone choose to believe but make no mistake that science cannot and by definition NEVER WILL explain anything which is not observable whether you like the term or not. Again, as I have said reapeatedly the scientific evidence along with just basic reasoning overwhelmingly indicate no God in whatever form you choose, actually exist. Unless I am out beating down your door and hitting you over the head with what I choose to believe I dont need to defend anything.

    Finally, as a personal observation/opinion it seems to me, most of the angst and rebuttal I get result from people trying to assuage their own cognitive dissonance about where their own conclusions leave them. That doesnt mean they are wrong, just dissatisfied with what they perceive as "reality". If this is not the case then just write me off as a nut and forget about me. You can label my comments as a need for validation from a greater being but a preoccupation with trying to prove something you already know cant be proven borders on a need for "validation" also.

  54. robertallen1

    You're right. Science cannot explain the unobservable (whatever that is)--but neither can anything else.

  55. Kateye70

    "My only question was what value "survival as a species" has in either a secular OR non secular society."

    Survival, whether of an individual or of a species, is independent of whether a society is secular or religious. The value it has is that if one doesn't survive, one doesn't exist. After that, secular/nonsecular becomes irrelevant.

    "I just dont see how you can say anything has intrinsic value without an entity of greater consciouness than our own somewhere in the equation.

    "This is not a compelling argument that a "greater conscienous" actually exist, only that we are no different than bacteria trying to survive to the next second if not."

    So, if I understand you correctly, you're saying that only a 'greater consciousness' can validate a lesser one (i.e., imbue it with "intrinsic value")?

    I.e., humans presumably have a greater consciousness than bacteria, so we validate the existence of bacteria (imbue it with intrinsic value)?

    Therefore, there must be something with a greater consciousness than ours in order to validate us (imbue us with intrinsic value)?

    Sorry, I'm finding this a little difficult to understand.

  56. anonymous427

    The explanation of morality in this video assumes that humans are intrinsically "good" and capable of reaching morality on our own (through education). Humans aren't essentially good though - at our core we are prideful and selfish. When we are put in a desperate situation, we will do whatever it takes to get what we want. We cannot discover morality through education (or doing what we believe is "the most loving" thing). "Love" means something different to all people - no matter their level of education. Therefore we cannot establish ultimate morality based on one person's (or the majority's) definition. Morality cannot be subjective, relative or arbitrary. There must be absolute truth in order for it to be logical.

  57. JasonBoissonneault

    Pride and selfishness are useful evolutionary traits -- as are mutual aid and cooperation. We are also self-aware, and therefore able to make distinctions that are reflected in the ideologies and culture of the day. This is what makes humanity dynamic and adaptable. No absolute truth is required -- and would in fact limit our survivability.

  58. Hayden Mayerhofer

    selfishness is a useful evolutionary trait for one, but its a weakness for the our species.

  59. robertallen1

    Perhaps being self-centered is more accurate.

  60. anonymous427

    I would argue that something being the culture of the day doesn't make it moral (for example, human sacrifices used to the the norm). Also, what value does surviving (because of useful evolutionary traits) have unless we are created beings? If we emerged from impersonal evolutionary processes, then where does our value come from? How can we go from inconsequential particles, to beings with intrinsic value and dignity? Without this value, we cannot have human rights or morality. Our lives have value (and value as more than animals) because we are created in the image of God.
    -There must be absolute truths. The statement "there are no absolutes" is an absolute in itself. Also, when is rape wrong? When is murder wrong? It it ever morally right for someone to torture a helpless child for fun? If not, then we have absolutes - i.e. "it is never right to torture children".

  61. robertallen1

    "Also, what value does surviving (because of useful evolutionary traits) have unless we are created beings?" An egregious non sequitur. What does survival due to useful evolutionary traits have to do with whether we are created beings?

    As has been explained time and time again, our values derive from living in societies and discovering and implementing the standards most likely to ensure survival.

    "Our lives have value (and value as more than animals) because we are created in the image of God." First of all, just how do you know that homo sapiens are created in the image of god? Does this mean that homo erectus and homo habilis were not? Can you even prove that a god exists? And by the way, which god are you talking about? And what leads you to believe that there is an intrinsic value and dignity to homosapiens? Does this mean that these qualities are lacking in chimpanzees and dolphins? Secondly, have you considered the possibility that our lives take on value because WE give them value, not some amorphous fairty tale entity up there?

    You have confounded what you consider "absolute truths" which in reality stem from mundane existence with some wishful metaphysical caricature of mankind. Perhaps some reading in cultural anthropology might disembarass you of this notion.

  62. over the edge

    anonymous427
    "If we emerged from impersonal evolutionary processes, then where does our value come from? " as you pointed out our values change. if they were given to us by a creator why do they change? wouldn't his values be absolute?

    " How can we go from inconsequential particles, to beings with intrinsic value and dignity? " we still are inconsequential particles. we are just a large collection of them. the universe will go on with or without our collection of star dust. value is something that we as humans apply.

    "when is rape wrong? When is murder wrong? It it ever morally right for someone to torture a helpless child for fun? If not, then we have absolutes - i.e. "it is never right to torture children"." to answer. always (rape wrong) never (ok to torture children). do you agree? if so what ancient books do you get your god from? the books i have read condone and sometimes command these things and more. if you do not get your god claim from one of the "big books of multiple choice and immorality" where do you get it from?

  63. Schwoggle

    I would like to have responded to anonymous427 myself but you took the words right out of my mouth.
    I thought we were talking about 'belief' but 427 doesn't believe, he or she knows!
    It's always a waste of time talking to someone who KNOWS without empirical evidence.
    I would like to see empirical evidence of anything in this world before I die but I doubt that there is such a thing.

  64. robertallen1

    There is empirical evidence (lots of it) for evolution.

  65. KsDevil

    If we genetically inherit a collective morality through adaptive evolution, then morality could be defined as part of the collection of states we call instinct.
    As we all know, instinct may have an effect on us but we are able to transcend instinct.
    Perhaps any action that transcends instinct could be considered subjective morality.
    The arguments in this documentary tend to get tiring and the static cartoonish stylization seem to reflect an outdated approach.

  66. Schwoggle

    We observe the world through our senses. our senses inform us of certain facts. These facts seem to be are true to each individual and seem to be empirical.
    Take colour for instance. There is no way to prove that we observe the colours that the next person observes. There is no colour in the world outside our heads, merely waves of light. Those light waves travel through the optic nerve. Our brain converts them into what we call colours.
    Our world is displayed to us through our senses and our senses inform our brain as far as they are able and our brain informs us what information it gathers from our senses.
    There is no way that when we agree that the apple is green we know we are seeing the same colour that we call 'green' as the next person does but it's a colour we both call green but not necessary that we're seeing the same colour as the apple has no colour outside our head.
    This can be applied in various ways to all our senses.
    In short, our senses are unreliable yet we live our lives very much according to what our senses tell us.
    Now where is your empirical evidence.
    These are the thoughts of this searcher for any empirical evidence of anything.
    PS 'colour' is 'color' in English in case you wondered.
    PS I thought you and I were in agreement before 'empirical' came along. Just shows to go you.

    M

  67. robertallen1

    Again, there's lots of empirical evidence for evolution and it has nothing to do with the way we perceive color.

  68. Schwoggle

    It was an example of what we think of empirical evidence.
    It appears there is no need for further correspondence.

  69. over the edge

    Schwoggle
    "We observe the world through our senses. our senses inform us of certain facts. These facts seem to be are true to each individual and seem to be empirical" yes and no empirical evidence is " capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment " (Merriam Webster) we use our senses to make these observations and the experiments either prove or disprove those observations.

  70. Schwoggle

    Well, over the edge, thanks for your comment, but I'm afraid I have no idea of what you're trying to say.
    My original comment was that I don't believe that there is such thing
    in actuality as absolute proof.
    I believe that each and every evidentiary proof we have today will be disproved in the future. So, tell me, if I'm correct and I think I have been until now, what worth is so called 'empirical proof' when, with further research it will almost certainly be disproved.
    I refer you to Einstein who refused to believe in particle physics saying "God does not play dice with the universe!" He was wrong about particle physics and later had to admit so excusing himself to Newton who was his idol. He was a believer in what we call empirical proof! It 'exists' in theory but is eventually disproved. We just don't know enough yet and we let 'Science' down when we speak of proof being infallible.
    The great difference between science and religion is that science begs to be proven wrong in order to progress whereas religion shuns being proved wrong and oftentimes goes as far as torturing and killing those who try to update it. I do not believe that we will arrive at a stage where we have a scientific proof of anything that we will be able to justifiably call the "absolute truth". It may be for the knowledge we then have but never in actuality.

  71. over the edge

    Schwoggle
    "I believe that each and every evidentiary proof we have today will be disproved in the future." really? theories might be expanded and updated as we learn more, but an apple falls due to gravity, organisms change through mutations and natural selection over time,an so on . these are facts. our understanding might change but the facts will not. as for absolute proof. i will refer you ro math. other than that i cannot think of any absolute proofs but that in no way diminishes what we hold as true.

  72. robertallen1

    He did say evidentiary proof and math is logical proof.

  73. robertallen1

    Not disproved, but certainly refined.

  74. over the edge

    robertallen1
    i think i am splitting hairs again. the evidentiary proof he was looking for was covered in my gravity/evolution examples. the math example was regarding his request for "absolute proof". and as for the "absolute proof" request was not asked for until after i supplied the definition for "empirical proof" and had pointed out his/her misrepresentation of it. then "empirical "was changed to "absolute" without admitting an error in definition.

  75. robertallen1

    O.K. However, I doubt if the basic laws of physics are going to change, much less evolution--now, refinement is something this.

  76. Schwoggle

    over the edge,
    I sincerely believe we're not so far apart. Without trying to be condescending, ( and please try to pardon me for my English as it's not my mother language, or my father's come to that. I may have misused the word 'empirical' thinking it meant logically proved when I think it means scientifically proved and if so I stand to be corrected). Anyway, we all agree with Newton and his apple according to our present knowledge and it's possible that we always will at least in my life-time which is a fair guess at my advanced age!I just doubt it.
    I find it hard to believe that that is the end of the story and we will one day find a different ending and so on. This goes for all of the finalities we have been proud to discover. That's what science is! Scientist generally know that they are on a path of discovery probably without end. That's why I say that I believe that there is no absolute truth.
    I guess you know the big cat in the cage theory of particle physics being both dead and alive at the same time, leading to the multi- universe theory.
    As far as mathematics is concerned it works very well for us but you must remember that mathematics was invented to work in the world as we perceive it and so it is entitled to suit our needs.
    (There is a very good book on that and if I can remember the names of the book and the writer I will send them to you.)
    As you say, the facts may not change, true but before that you say, "our understanding might change..." and that's where I come in with my belief that we will understand the phenomenon differently eventually.
    I would be glad to hear (see) your comments.
    S

  77. over the edge

    Schwoggle
    "I sincerely believe we're not so far apart" i agree

    as for your English. it is fine. you should see my french if you want to see bad.

    i have no issue with this post. and i can be picky lol

  78. robertallen1

    No, empirical means based on hard evidence.

  79. Schwoggle

    Fine. After a shaky start I really enjoyed talking with you.
    I think when trying to explain one's ideas to others is the best way of understanding those ideas oneself.
    So thank you for being my sounding board and I'd be happy to be yours any time.
    The problem is that we don't know how to get in touch without putting our details on the web.
    I can tell you that my Skype name is Schwoggle and if you would like to and if you have Skype you might let me know your Skype name.

    Best wishes

  80. Calvin ?? | ??

    Living in groups or societies has been aimed to achieve 1 goal, collective survival leading to efficient utilisation of resources, and thus leading to growth. The first moral laws/rules will be base on the basic rule, of thou should not kill. However, this rule becomes an issue, if the aged people is dragging down the survival chances of the younger population.

  81. Calvin ?? | ??

    The power of bible, mao's red book has the same effect as today's constitution. It is so ancient that it is immovable. In similar practices, the chinese folk culture and catholics both have practises of creating death people into saints. It is not saying that Bible is the compass of moral, but more of a "common ground" to start a society on.

  82. robertallen1

    And what about those who take the bible for what it is?

  83. .

    I decide to leave a comment as your video is fitting well with my search of inner balance and a moral base. I have a respect towards your work and I want to thank you for this video. I very much agree with your critics of Bible that left also a terrible impact on me with all this cruel punishments. However what you suggest is not better. Basically is the same. Your structure for country 2 involves dehumanisation in order to avoid guilt and eroding empathy. Here you make a hell of a lot of assumption. 1. All person have to equal degree and capability for empathy. 2. They are capable and will feel guilt. 3. They would not like the behaviour shown to other to be shown to them . Nevertheless: 1. Empathy is subjective and very specific feature that I doubt being possible to be developed as well as emotional intelligence. Basically different people will be able to different degree and only to the limits of their own experience to understand and feel like others. People are different and some people will not be understood ever because they are so unique. 2 Feeling of guilt is based on a very complex mechanism of internalisation of what is right and what is wrong. For example Police should not be guilty if being brutal with criminals however who is controlling the behaviour of the individual out of work. How capable is a person to decide when to feel guilty and when not. If you assume the person should be capable to switch on/of at will the feeling of guilt then who will control when it will be on and off. We arrive again at a notion of authority that is contradictory to your theory. 3. Some people like being treated more brutal because they have less sensitive neural system. Simply - there are people drums and people violins. one like being hit another gently touched. If one type will apply the way he likes being treated to the person from another category the result will be devastating to your structure.

    In religious term you just change one structure with another with the same characteristics: Authority, guilt and EMPATHY as simplification of the notion of GOD. I wonder if we can avoid implying at least some form of spirituality and at least the tendency to do good. What if people initially wants being harmed and hence harms others as a matter of normal way of life. Tiger eats a sheep is beyond the moral you sad. What about bigger enterprise eat a small one and hundreds lose their jobs, their family lose their income people suffer? What if a child was spoiled cause it was the only one at his parents and now he/she suffers if others do not serve her the way she was served. She is not egocentric she got in particular situation or assumed she have special rights because her physical attractiveness. What about human relationships? People will suffer and will make other suffer and will not feel guilt. Empathy will be blocked because subjective bias that what ever happens in one-own life is more important that in the life of hundreds unknown persons. The whole history is contradicting your theoretical construction. Appearance of Anglican church, death of Barbarrosa, WWII events just a few. I will stop here since there are two many particular cases and my post is already long enough. THank you for reading it until the end.

  84. robertallen1

    Do you mind tell us just what you're getting at?

  85. Lilium Mitchell

    This is exactly what I have been saying!! A spoonful of QualiaSoup makes the ignorance go down.

  86. robertallen1

    What are you talking about?

  87. TelecomEXP

    I would like to float the idea that morality is a strategy for survival (for you or your family or your tribe) and a luxury with expanding scope depending on how secure survival is.

  88. AlienForest

    I love this website. It's crazy though. I'll go to the comments section before watching a film, just to gain some perspective on it, and to see how it was viewed and critiqued by others. But most of that time I can't even get there because of so much back and forth dialogue between people, sometimes going off into tangents, or as responses to other comments (that seem to start in mid air if you can't find the original comment).
    Damn. Just comment on the flick already, would you.
    Frustrated.
    Big sigh.
    (Don't hate on my comment.)

  89. Devon Griffiths

    I'm not sure that absolute proof doesn't exist as you claim. And it's certainly not true that "each and every evidentiary proof we have today will be disproved in the future."

    Let me give you a few examples.

    It will always be that the area of a circle is equal to pi times its radius squared, as established with absolute proof by Archimedes.

    Another example of an absolute proof is the one Euclid established in his work Elements, that the angles opposite the equal sides of an isosceles triangle are equal.

    Yes, some things have been overturned by new evidence, but there are many things which never have, not for thousands of years, such as the above-mentioned facts about circles and triangles. And, they never will. The proof behind them is absolute.

  90. Giacomo della Svezia

    Devon, the examples you provide may be irrefutable, but they are mathematical, as mentioned below, and they require logical and not empirical proof.

    I have no doubt that there are things that will not change as long as the universe we know continues to exist (who knows in a parallel, past or future universe things are so different that we cannot begin to imagine them).

    I'd very much like to see one or more examples of proof that may or will be disproved.

  91. robertallen1

    Basically I agree with you, except that mathematics is logical proof and science is empirical proof--and, of course, it's amazing how the two disciplines complement each other so well. So let me provide a few basic scientific truths which are highly unlikely to get overturned unless the universe goes bonkers:

    1. The laws of thermodynamics.

    2. Keplers laws of planetary motion.

    3. Newton's laws of gravity.

    4. Maxwell's equations re magnetic fields.

  92. robertallen1

    For four examples, see my answer.

  93. Giacomo della Svezia

    Your gave examples of laws that will no doubt be in place until the end of our universe.
    I'm wondering if Schwoggle or someone else can provide examples of laws, or proofs sustaining these laws that will be (or have been) disproved.

  94. robertallen1

    I'm not sure what you're after. While I can list a number of former scientific concepts that have been disproved, such as astrology, phrenology, eugenics, LaMarckian selection, I cannot predict what will be disproved

  95. Giacomo della Svezia

    I assume that Schwoggle was talking of proof that until now (or recently) has been scientifically accepted. I'm not sure wether phrenology and eugenics were generally accepted until they were rejected (I'm almost sure that since the empirical method came into use astrology lost its scientific mark very quickly, I have to look up LaMarckian selection).

    I wanted to comment on the documentary as well now that I'm here:
    I thinks it's very informative and a strong argument against either an objective morality or against the necessity of a divine being for defining morality. I have two remarks on minor points.
    QualiaSoup states: "If the spectacle of human sacrifices is the preferred entertainment of the majority this doesn’t make human sacrifice right." I got the impression Q. is making a moral judgement there, but that was probably not the purpose of that sentence.

    I would not have used the term 'science' for determining what morality should be. Philosophy would be more apt, I think.

  96. Giacomo della Svezia

    Now it comes back to mind what Lamarckian selection was. : )
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism

  97. robertallen1

    First of all, it's nice to hear from you. Please do not stay away so long.

    Wikipedia has detailed articles on phrenology and eugenics which I suggest you read if you want a discussion of popularity. You might also try the history of bloodletting.

    If a person feels he needs some overarching being to define his morality for him, in general, he needs a lot more than just that.

    As for terming morality and its mercurial nature, the word evolution is awfully accurate. Philosophy is only subjective and confusing.

  98. Giacomo della Svezia

    Molto grazie.
    I wasn't very far, but getting back in the daily rythm of work after an accident this spring was a bit hard.
    I know (enough) about phrenology and eugenics already, just read what Wikipedia has on Lamarck.

    That person needs no "overarching being", but to learn to think critically.
    Even philosophers can agree on what is harmful for mankind and what is not, maybe not all of them together, but there is hope for them yet. : )

  99. robertallen1

    Sorry about your accident. I hope it wasn't serious.

    The problem with not growing up to think critically is that for most it's impossible to get in the groove.

    I can't be bothered with philosophers. How many of them espoused that life without Christianity was harmful to mankind?

  100. Devon Griffiths

    They may not be empirical, but they are still "evidentiary proofs". The post I addressed claimed that all evidentiary proofs would eventually be overturned, not just the empirical ones.

    As to empirical proofs there are some that will never be disproven. Heliocentrism, for instance, will never be disproven, so long as the planets orbit the Sun.

    Robertallen: Newton's law of gravity has, actually, been supplanted by general relativity. It remains in use for quick, approximate calculations that do not demand a fine level of accuracy (and even then only under certain conditions). The formula has otherwise been rendered obsolete by Einstein's equations.

  101. robertallen1

    True, but it has been supplanted ,not because it was wrong but because a better way was discovered.

  102. Devon Griffiths

    It was incorrect in a scientific sense - because it does not match with empirical observation accurately.

    Newton's law of gravity wasn't an explanation of gravity, merely a mathematical equation to calculate its effects. That equation is wrong because it fails to accurately predict empirical observation.

  103. Giacomo della Svezia

    A fractured kneecap; serious enough, but it could have been worse. The positive side was that it gave me plenty of time to watch documentaries and reading the comments and reacting on them.
    About Lamarck, I would say his theory didn't get generally accepted. I don't think anything that has been tested with the empirical method will be completely disproved and rejected, only in minor details, maybe.

    About philosophers: I am inclined to agree with Devon Griffiths that they played an important role in developing the empirical scientific method and more generally the way we think. They probably still are important, for example in determining what influence discoveries and inventions like genetic engineering may have on humanity. We have to decide what is moral when it comes to using it on humans and other species. That is not a task for scientists, politicians or religious leaders.

  104. Giacomo della Svezia

    Hasn't heliocentrism been supplanted by the knowledge that our solar system is only one of the many millions of our galaxy, which is only one of innumerable stellar systems, of which our sun is not the center?

    What I don't understand is how and/or why will evidentiary proofs be overturned.

  105. Devon Griffiths

    I suppose in that sense it has - we no longer believe the Sun is the centre of the universe, only of our solar system. But, if they were wrong about the universe, they were right about the structure of the solar system, and I don't think we will ever find that it orbits around anything other than the Sun.

    I think evidentiary proofs turn out to be wrong sometimes because the models don't account for something we could not foresee or observe - for instance, there was empirical evidence for miasma theory, but, lacking microscopes, they couldn't possibly know about micro-organisms, and so they had it wrong about the causes of disease, even though they correctly identified the conditions favouring its occurence.

    Evolving models of the atom are also a good example. The Bohr model looked at the atom as a sort of solar system, with electrons circling the nucleus in definite orbits along a fixed path. It accounted for most of the empirical evidence that they had. They had no idea that the electrons moved as a probability wave in a sort of cloud of possible locations and trajectories, because they had never observed the empirical evidence that demanded the new explanation.

  106. robertallen1

    Obviously you used your time well. I'm glad your injury was not serious.

    In other words, you're looking for something that was empirically tested and turned out to be wrong. Is that correct?

    I don't need a philosopher to tell me what is moral and neither does anyone else. As for the influence discoveries and inventions may have on humanity, all we need do is examine the statistics. We don't need philosophers to interpret them for us.

    As I stated before, my reading of the history of science reveals that the scientific method came about through trial and error, hence practicality, not because some philosopher dreamed it up on the fly. Did Darwin need some philosophpr to tell him how to employ the scientific method?

  107. robertallen1

    It's hard to imagine this occurring unless something's wrong with the evidence.

  108. Devon Griffiths

    I hate to tell you this, but Darwin begins the Origin of Species with quotations from not one but two philosophers of science, namely Sir Francis Bacon (the creator of the scientific method) and William Whewell (noted for contributions to inductive reasoning, mathematics, and the history of science).

    No one prefaces their magnum opus with quotations from people they did not feel were relevant to creating it.

    His strict adherence to the Baconian method is not only evident throughout his work, he himself comments on it frequently.

  109. robertallen1

    So what? Darwin acknowledged a number of people, probably out of courtesy, but the gut work came from Darwin himself and that's what matters.

  110. Devon Griffiths

    All scientists stand on the shoulders of giants ... he was proclaiming to the world, whose shoulders he stood upon. It was no frivolous whimsy. There are none, in that book.

    He did not preface his magnum opus with an irrelevancy. This was a formidable intellect engaged in leaving his mark upon history, not a pulp novellist trying to hawk copies on a supermarket shelf. Why a "courtesy" to Bacon, anyway, other than credit? It is not the only place he talks about Bacon. In his autobiography, he states:

    "I worked on true Baconian principles."

    How much clearer does he have to make it for you? Must he rise from the grave and beat your head with a copy of Novum Organum?

  111. robertallen1

    Again so what? It was simply a matter of form at the time; it had nothing to do with Darwin's sincerity.

    So what? He adhered to the method which had been described after the fact by Francis Bacon, not created by him.

    Now once again on another thread, I have asked you several times about direct contributions to various sciences from philosohpers and I have yet to receive an answer.

  112. Devon Griffiths

    I've given you dozens of contributions. Scientific methodology, formal logics, falsification. You disagree with the answers - but this is not the same thing as not being answered. You have been given the answers to your question now at least 8 times over with specific examples such as those listed above, their originators (by name), their importance, and statements from the scientists who used them in their work, giving them credit.

    Your argument against this is to assert, without any evidence, that "doers" you can't name developed them at some unknown time and transmitted them by unknown methods - but whoever they were, you're sure they weren't philosophers, even though you don't know who they were. The whole world, apparently, is mistaken in giving credit to the likes of Francis Bacon, Aristotle, etc, as evidenced by .... well .... absolutely nothing at all, except your fervent belief that this is so. This is what your argument boils down to.

    Now I get to ask a question - please give the names of the "doers" who developed the scientific method, show the evidence such as written works which proves they developed and transmitted it, show how it got to Darwin, and show how Bacon stole the credit if the methods were not new.

    My claim does not stand on thin air as yours does - it is evidenced by specific individuals and the exact titles of the books they wrote, and Darwin himself giving direct credit to them. It is supported by every textbook ever written on the history of science. Your claim amounts to just an unsupported statement of belief in the mysterious "doers" you can't name.

    You're right that it was a matter of form to give credit. The form at the time - in fact, as it still is - was to give credit at the beginning of a work, after the title page, and before the preface. So he gave credit, as I already mentioned. Given the pouty "so whats" it seems that you think credit given is not actually credit, if it's custom to give credit. It might be true if the credit given was insincere and done merely to satisfy the custom, but you claim not to dispute the sincerity. I have to say - you are making no sense at all.

    Or perhaps you'd like to claim that the scientific method is just intuitive. That should be fun - considering scientific methodology specifically denies intuition, and instead demands proofs. Thus giving rise to works such as the Novum Organum, which use logical proofs to establish new methodologies.

  113. Giacomo della Svezia

    Correct. And I agree that there must have been something wrong with the way the evidence was acquired.

    We need thinkers that use a kind of scientifical method to determine what is moral and what is not. Philosophers fit in that category.
    We need a system of morals in which is determined what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. With such a system we are able to write laws. As things change constantly our moral system needs to be adapted with them and laws have to be reviewed as well, therefore we will always need thinkers.

    As you said, scientists are doers, and you have to sit back to be able to think what the best methods are for creating knowledge with the least possible errors. The scientists themselves could have figured it out, but only by being a thinker or philosopher as well.

  114. Giacomo della Svezia

    Thanks.
    Nice examples. Especially because there is still a grain of truth in all three. Our perspective has shifted and our knowledge grown, but in a way these theories do not have to be entirely rejected.

  115. robertallen1

    First, you answer the question as to what DIRECT contribution philosophy made to the areas of science enumerated in previous posts.

    How many times do I have to say that the scientific method came about as a result of trial and error, hence experience, not armchair philosophy. Bacon and Aristotle and others like them did no more than attempt to codify and thus they were hardly trailblazers. They did not create the scientific method as you seem to imply. While I indicated that the scientific method evolved, where did I even hint that it was intuitive? So that part of your post is attempted strawman.

    And the mysterious "doers" constitute all the hands-on scientists who have ever lived whose accomplishments are all the evidence we need.

    The credit goes to those who did (do), not to those who merely thought (think) about it.

  116. robertallen1

    While I agree we need a system of morals to determine acceptable and unacceptable behavior, we don't need armchair philosophers to dictate to us what is right and what is wrong or to tell us when we need change--that's for the hands-on people. As a flagrant example, you might want to look up Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago, a philosopher who taught that it was all right for governments to whitewash their dirty linen, even if it involved lying--an extension of Plato's noble lie, as repulsive as concept as ever was articulated. One of his pupils was the notorious Paul Wolfowitz.

    What it amounts to is philosopher one saying, "I think this" and philosopher two riposting with, "I think that," all this based for the most part on abstraction, which practically speaking (amounts to virtually nothing. This is quite different from two groups of knowledgable scientists having a debate based on the HARD evidence in their field. The current scientific discussion on the effects of global warming is a fine example.

    Doing automaticlaly engenders thought and vice versa, but one way or the other, you can't factor doing out of the equation.

  117. Schwoggle

    I didn't 'claim', I said, "I believe".....

  118. Schwoggle

    By the way, always is a long, long time.

  119. Devon Griffiths

    You can't just make blanket assertions without evidence, against centuries of universal consensus, and expect anyone to take you seriously. You have no evidence for your claims. That someone invented a wheel, is not evidence that they understood the principles of the Baconian method. Sorry.

    If you haven't got more than your own say-so, there is no further point in this discussion.

  120. robertallen1

    By coming up with the wheel, its inventers (or perhaps evolvers) must have understood the principles of the Baconian method or whatever method you happen to select, but conceived of and couched in their own terms.

    Eratosthenes and Archimedes who lived about a hundred years after Aristotle and 1,800 years before Bacon, were both scientists in the most modern sense of the word whose existing works bear witness to the empiricism embodied in the scientific method and whose contributions to science are unquestioned. Can you cite any blatant errors later found in the works of these two doers (read non-philosophers). Now, what about Aristotle, "the thinker," whose contributions to science seem to consist solely in his gaffes due, it seems, in large part to his imagination rather than his gift for observation? Why do you credit so much to Aristotle without even mentioning Eratosthenes and Archimedes? Is it because deep down inside, you entertain a greater respect for philosophers than you do for scientists?

    Notice that the triggering event of the Scientific Renaissance was the famous 1492, hardly a philosophical even, which challenged, among other things, what was thought to be known about geography, leading to the disproof of much of Ptolemy, based not on armchair philosohy, but on actual examination which seemed to be what the Scientific Renaissance was all about. The two defining works, De Humani Corporis Fabrica of Vesalius and De Revolutionibus of Copernicus, both of which came out in 1543 when Bacon was 18 years old, also discussed the scientific method, but the record of observation was first and foremost. The works of Galileo and Kepler were similar in this respect, the difference being that Vesalius, Copernicus, Galileo and Keper were doers first and foremost and Bacon was essentially a codifier. Also, don't you think that although they may not have stated it directly, Versalius, Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler and those who came after them were aware of the concept of scientific falsifiability (as a matter of fact, if I recall, Darwin described it) and the deductive rather than inductive nature of their methodologies, rendering Popper's statements in this regard hardly groundbreaking and making of him another codifier?

    Once again, name me a few DIRECT contributions made by philosophy to the fields of geology, biology, paleontology, physics and medicine. I

  121. over the edge

    robertallen1
    wasn't sure you have heard yet. you finally got rid of Ralph Hall on the House Science Committee only to have him replaced by a new chair Lamar Smith. a global warming denier, anti abortion, christian scientist. "facepalm"

  122. robertallen1

    I CAN'T BELIEVE IT, A GODDAM CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST! As a moderator, I hope you don't consider this an abuse of the capitalization policy, but I feel this sort of thing warrants it.

    A few days ago, I received a four-page newsletter from NCSE. While the incident in Georgia was mentioned, Paul Braun's name was curiously omitted. However, there was a full paragraph on NCSE's involvement in the eventual firing of John Freshwater which contained his name for all to see. This guy's an absolute liar, but this must be what true Christianity does to a person.

    A short while ago, prior to receiving your news, I came up with the idea of trying to persuade NCSE to run an article on the membership of the House Science Committee, indicating such things as educational background (the nearest I can find is one member who has a B.S., in who knows what) and the stances on various issues. In this respect, I am waiting for Glenn Branch to get back to me. Potential libel should not be a concern, as all of the information can be gleaned from sources such as Wikipedia and the members' home pages and I cannot see how such an article could affect NCSE's tax-exempt status.

    Also, having responded to a number of comments on alternative (read quack) medicine on two threads of TDF, I believe that NCSE should also tackle this issue, as it clearly involves science education. Among other things, I was disgusted to discover the existence of an entity known as the Dr. Wakefield supporter.

    I would very much appreciate your input on my two ideas.

    As for global warming, I have viewed a number of documentaries on TDF, one in particular whose name escapes me, but which tried to present as objectively as possible the differing views of two sets of mainstream scientists on this controversy. So quite frankly, I just haven't made up my mind on this issue.

  123. Giacomo della Svezia

    Of course not. It's up to a parliament elected by the people to accept proposed laws. Any other system is unacceptable. Philosophers do not have the authority to dictate anything, but they can contribute to the construction of a system of morals on which laws can be based, for one thing - if they can come to an agreement, of course.
    Politicians do not need anyone to tell them it's okay to lie, but you're right about the advocating of immoral behaviour by some philosophers. I don't understand how they can or could, unless they have or had a rather large mental blind spot. Philosophy is, as I would want it, what the word means: the search for wisdom. It takes wisdom to create a just society, and it can be applied to other fields (science maybe?). Personally I think it is more important than gathering knowledge or abstract thinking for their own sake.

  124. over the edge

    robertallen1
    the caps are fine.

    "I came up with the idea of trying to persuade NCSE to run an article on the membership of the House Science Committee, indicating such things as educational background (the nearest I can find is one member who has a B.S., in who knows what) and the stances on various issues. " i think that is a great idea and i will try to find out if this information is published elsewhere.

    "Also, having responded to a number of comments on alternative (read quack) medicine on two threads of TDF,I believe that NCSE should also tackle this issue, as it clearly involves science education." i agree here as well.

    while you are more familiar with the NCSE than i am . i do not see them as an activist type organization. i see them more as a information sharing organization. i (sadly) do not see them as willing to stir things up too much.

  125. robertallen1

    1. Thank you.

    2. No answer needed except for this one.

    3. You might have a point. However, the organization was quite active in Kitzmiller, Freshwater (the brander in Christ) and several other cases, but as I'm sure you will agree, there is no harm in finding out and I will, of course, keep you apprised.

    4. What was the name of that documentary on global warming that I allude to? I recall that the narrator spoke with a British accent and it was quite well done. I hope you understand why I am still on the fence with respect to this issue.

  126. robertallen1

    Scientists and mathematicians can with relatively few exceptions come to some sort of an agreement. Not so with economists, sociologists and worst yet, philosophers (and religion can be considered a branch of philosophy). So you might as well give up on the expectation of any viable ideas for the construction of a system of morals on which laws can be based coming from philosophers. There's a good reason why Ambrose Bierce defined philosophy as, "A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing."

    I can provide no better commentary to your second paragraph except to say that your last sentence answers the first three; but you raise an interesting point: is wisdom searchable? Some people seem to have it, while others, including those considered philosohers . . .

  127. over the edge

    robertallen1
    " What was the name of that documentary on global warming that I allude to?" i am not sure. i have watched many and they tend to bled together. while i cannot say i understand completely i will leave that discussion for another day on the appropriate thread.

    as this announcement is only a few days old i do not expect many to know yet. what i tend to find most disturbing is the lack of coverage by the media and lack of concern/uproar by the public. these are science committees they need to be filled with scientists. if there are not enough elected ones to appoint then look elsewhere and appoint people who are not elected.

  128. robertallen1

    If you think of it, I know you'll inform me.

    The media has had plenty of time to publish the news, but Lindsey Lohan's latest imbroglio must take precedence. To think that the puerile antics of that little, drug-infested, no-talent tramp generate more news than the first actual filming of DNA. (I'm sure Vlatko will installing a documentary on TDF as soon as one comes out.) So I guess we'll need to wait for the brouhaha which will probably have to be measured in quantum decibels.

    I agree that we must have legislative science committees with scientists on them and that the next-best thing is an appointed commission reporting back to the science committee. What's the situation like in Canada as far as legislative science committees?

  129. robertallen1

    This also might be a little off topic, but thank you.

    However, please note that there were no other threads on which you could have placed your initial message of concern not only to me, but hence to a number of posters on this site. This might be an area of improvement for TDF and perhaps should be brought to Vlatko's attention.

  130. Giacomo della Svezia

    I will not contradict you for I know too little of philosophic history. I'm only speaking theoretically as you will have understood.
    I'd like to say this: If your starting point is simple as the 'golden rule' is (treat others as you wish to be treated), and the common good is clear, then creating a morality for the society you're a part of should pose no problem to any person with a sound ability to reason. (I think that's the point that Qualiasoup wants to make as well.) Philosophers who have lost perspective may not fall in that category of people, but it would be prejudice to think of them that way.
    I love the clarity that science produces, however the logic of philosophers has an attraction of its own. As long as you don't forget what the purpose is of what you're doing, it can challenge your intelligence when you go exploring where logic can lead to.
    I can imagine Macchiavelli regretting his most important work after he wrote it.
    Wisdom is an interesting to talk about, but it is also the main fodder of philosophers. If we want to start a never ending discussion, here's a good subject. : )

  131. robertallen1

    I'm glad you brought up Machiavelli who, using the literary device of giving practical advice to his sovereign, described the way things are (i.e., appearance is everything) and stopped there, unlike Leo Strauss who tried to justify the whole miserable thing. Thus, Machiavelli was one of the few philosophers (if you can call him one) who knew on which side his bagel was buttered.

    You might find it amazing to discover how many philosophers disagree vehemently with the reciprocity implied by the golden rule, one particularly egregious counterexample being, "What if I want to be whipped while praying, do I whip someone else first?" which clearly militates against the spirit of the rule. While I agree with the Golden Rule, I fail to see it how manages to clarify the "common good," a concept so nebulous, amorphous, protean and mercurial as to render it ideally ductile for any purpose to which it is applied, again getting back to Machiavelli.

    As for the logic governing morality, ethics, etc., have you read "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift? There should be a copy of it on the internet, try the Gutenburg project.

    Altogether, the logic of philosophy is as fictional as the unicorn, so you're seeking wisdom in the wrong place and as I stated in my earlier post, I wonder if, in general wisdom, is attained through directed search.

  132. Giacomo della Svezia

    Yes, there's no doubt Macchiavelli was concerned for his own safety and well being, but nevertheless his book was an important step forward that has inspired other thinkers to bring its logic to a more civilized solution.
    The golden rule is of course a very basic principle and cannot be a guide in all ethical problems, but it is a good starting point that can be applied to groups of people as well. As to the example of a person that wants to be whipped while praying: such a person would be the exception that proves the rule.
    I think the period of Enlightenment was productive enough where it comes to law making and the principles on which modern states are based, and as has been stated often enough, religion had nothing to do with it. I'm still convinced there is enough that can be learned from the fruits of philosophy, however bizarre its logic may sometimes be.
    I checked on 'A modest proposal', it sounds like fun to read. Thanks for the tip.

  133. robertallen1

    Apparently, I take "The Prince" less seriously than you, for I regard it as one brilliantly written satirical essay seriously questioning the "logic" of reign as codified in the advice Machiavelli gives to his sovereign--remember, as Machiavelli incessantly reminds us, appearance is everything, not sincerity. Thus to bring about what you describe as a more civilized solution, Machiavelli seems to be implying that one should do the opposite of what he advises the prince which in this vale of tears is well nigh impossible.

    The Golden Rule is indeed a good place to start (which is why I always capitalize it) and while it can be applied to groups of people as well as individuals, the term "common good" gives me chills for the reasons I mentioned in my earlier post. As long as you mean "prove" in the older sense of test rather than in the more modern context of establish, you are right about the egregious example. Practically speaking, wouldn't someone who wanted to be whipped while praying simply request this treatment rather than first inflicting it on a second party with the expectation that the victim would interpret this as a request for reciprocal treatment? This is quite distinct from if you don't want to be cheated, don't cheat others. The basic fault with the Golden Rule lies not in its ethos, but in its assumption that the parties involved tacitly agree to abide by it. In other words, all too often, unilaterality destroys it.

    With the above in mind, I am hoping that you will read "A Modest Proposal" before responding. It is a mere seven pages on the Gutenberg Project.

    I look forward to your comments.

  134. Giacomo della Svezia

    Just finished reading Swift's 'Proposal'. It seems humorous at first, but it is clearly a protest against the inhuman conditions that the poor had to endure and against the privileged who did not care.
    The 'common good' should not be determined by one person or a select group. If it was, I would be scared as well. Just as in science, a control mechanism is necessary. As one example of such a mechanism I'm thinking of Montesquieu's separation of powers, where one power makes the laws, the second power checks them and the third puts them into practice. (although this system is not entirely without risk either). No doubt the baron used Il Principe as an example of how a state should not be.

  135. robertallen1

    Swift's impeccable logic is what gives the essay its bite, but logic (philosophy if you will) standing alone (i.e., in the abstract) is often meaningless, useless, ridiculous and deleterious if you ignore what it's being applied to. For a more recent and relevant example of this, I suggest that you go to the TDF thread entitled "Lethal Injection" and read the posts from Erjewi who like Swift attempts to apply logic (in this case what he considers statistical analysis) to something he obviously knows nothing about except for what he reads in quack medical journals with ludicrous results. The difference is that Swift knew what he was doing.

    When applied to the preparations undertaken to minimize the damage which was expected to be caused by Hurricane Sandy, such as the closing of all public transportation in New York, the term "common good" is clear and undebatable. In basic legislation such as that prohibiting murder, theft, fraud, assault, the concept of "common good" is just as clear and undebatable and if it were applied only in these regards, there would be no problems with it, but it's all too often transmogrified into a rationalization for flagrant suppression, which leads back to Leo Strauss and his minions of beneficient coverup, a current example of which is Obama's abusive invocation of executive privilege regarding Operation Fast and Furious and a somewhat earlier one being Nixon's attempt to invoke the same privilege to suppress information as to Watergate--well, so much for Montesquieu and for that matter Polybius. In the hands of Leo Strauss and others like him, "common good" occupies the same tier as "freedom" and "democracy" in terms of meaninglessness--and it's amazing the atrocities that have been brought about in the name of all three.

    Machiavelli was clearly in the know. There can be no such thing as a transparent government.

  136. over the edge

    robertallen1
    thank you
    my thoughts are that while i wish the NCSE would do a paper on the makeup of the committee i do understand their position. i am still frustrated that this situation is not covered by the media and public calls for proper representation in matters of science (in both our countries). this issue actually is bothering me enough that i feel to need to do something. i am not sure what yet but i will let you know of any actions/results. thanks again for the update

  137. huskamute

    They need to show this film in schools and anybody moving to uk!

  138. nik

    can people tell me what is the difference between right and wrong and moral and immoral?? I am a sane rationale guy who belives there is a higher power other than humans. For me, morality is not what I have been thought, but what in general 99.9% of people in this world think is right only if they remove religion away. Are drugs immoral, no, but they are wrong since they harm ur body. Is sex immoral, no. Is one night stand immoral no. Is an extra marital affair immoral, yes, cause u are cheating someone. My point is, morality should be viewed as instinctive rather than societal. Unfortunately for generations, it has been societal. Even the remotest tribals in the amozon would say stealing, rape, lying, extramarital affairs, are all immoral!!

  139. Hollis Evon Ramsey

    just one comment before i see the doc -- i choose to live in a god-free universe (or multiverse), NOT a god-less one. the distinction may appear unimportant to some, but it is very important to me. godlessness implies a negative reality for nontheism, while godfreedom assumes a more positive approach to existence as a nontheist. i lack nothing morally; i am merely free of the negative constraints demanded by gods and their creators.

  140. robertallen1

    What are you talking about?

  141. robertallen1

    Suppose one spouse is open with another, is that cheating and is it immoral?

  142. Hollis Evon Ramsey

    the first sentence of the description of this documentary starts as follows: "Some say that if we live in a godless universe there’s no basis for morality" -- i contend that the concept of godlessness doesn't exist in a rational universe, and that any morality in such a universe can't possibly rely upon the concept of a god or gods. godlessness presupposes a godfulness which the idea of nontheism thus negates. a god-free universe, on the other hand, has no such presuppositions and brings homo sapiens that one crucial step closer to the disappearance of the god/s concept entirely. a god-free existence is evidence of a maturity in humanity's moral development, while a godless existence heaps calumny upon the nontheist's head. godfreedom is necessary to any rational conception of a universe without faith. i hope i've made myself clear, because i have an extreme tendency to hyperlexia that might confuse rather than explain.

  143. robertallen1

    You still make absolutely no sense.

  144. robertallen1

    I'll be happy to as soon as you phrase it in intelligible English.

  145. Jacek Walker

    The word morality has been distorted by various religions and similar corrupted institutions. I would call is simply consciousness.
    It as all about the level of consciousness. Nothing to do with religions or leaders, political or whatsoever. In fact they exist because there is a low level of morality or consciousness. It is inversly proportional - the lower level of consciousnes, the greater number of parasitic organizations, idiotic leaders and so on exploiting the population.
    At the peak level of morality / concsiousness there will be no learders, no laws, no religions any more needed. They exist only as a byproduct of ignorance and a sleepy state of humanity.

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