Sunday 30 September 2012

Skepticule goodness

The latest episode of Skepticule Extra — number thirty-three — is ready for download, streaming, retrieving from the feed, and generally being the internet's best batch of triple skeptical paulness. (The shownotes are pretty awesome too.)

We discuss the plus, survive the live, pull a leg, refuse abuse and scorn the horn.

A challenging way to prove you're a True ChristianTM

Skepticule co-host Paul Thompson has issued a challenge to all Christians (and two in particular) calling for them to prove with hard cash that they are indeed True ChristiansTM in accordance with the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament:

So head over to The Skeptical Probe to monitor progress as these True ChristiansTM show what they're made of.

Or alternatively, anticipate the prospect of porcine aviation.

Monday 17 September 2012

Burnee links for Monday

Repudiation | Pharyngula
Don't say there isn't a problem.

550 complaints | Butterflies and Wheels
Tom Holland's film Islam: The Untold Story has been withdrawn from re-screening by Channel 4, due to the "offence" it has caused. Interesting that those offended aren't saying his film isn't factual — I'm reminded of Rageh Omaar's documentary, The Life of Muhammad, in which he repeatedly used the phrase "according to Muslim tradition" when describing allegedly historical occurrences.

But…but…is it Biblical? | Pharyngula
The creotards have come up with a good one: the Ark had gas-lamps fed from environmentally friendly methane digesters. Whatever next? Read the comments for some great ideas, including my favourite: the Ark was powered by a nuclear reactor (I'm sure there's a biblical verse that mentions this — I just need to find it and give it the "correct" interpretation. Exegetical hermeneutics FTW.)

Is Prayer Selfish? | Alternet
The truth about praying. Forget the ridiculous "Atheist Prayer Experiment" — this is an honest, rational appraisal of what it is to pray.

Skepticule Extra 32

Download the latest episode of Skepticule Extra here:

...and listen to some cutting remarks, some experimental remarks, some Sunday supermarket remarks and some healthy streetwise remarks.

(The next episode — already recorded — will be available with all due slowness.)

No more NOMA, no, no, no.

This evening I watched something my faithful telly-watching machine recorded for me last week — Rosh Hashanah: Science vs Religion, a half-hour programme presented by the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks.

Lord Sacks is often on Thought for the Day, speaking with his characteristic measured pace, endowing each word with great meaning and authority. His precise enunciation, however, fails to conceal an embarrassing fact: that the meaning and authority are wholly spurious. It's almost as if he strings words together solely based on their euphony, without consideration of what the words might actually mean.


"For me, science is one of the greatest achievements of humankind — a gift given to us by God."

Well, which is it, Lord Sacks? An achievement of humankind? Or a gift from God? (Is it any wonder he thinks science and religion are compatible when he obviously can't see the blatant incompatibility of what he's saying right at the start of his own TV programme?)

You have a couple of days to catch the whole thing on iPlayer:

Some clips:

The blurb from the BBC website:
Religion and science are frequently set up as polar opposites; incompatible ways of thinking. The Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks begs to differ. For him, science and religion can, and should, work together. To mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, he puts his position to the test. He meets three non-believing scientists, each at the top of their field: neurologist Baroness Susan Greenfield, theoretical physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili, and the person best known for leading the scientific attack on religion, Professor Richard Dawkins. Will the Chief Rabbi succeed in convincing the militant defender of atheism that science and religion need not be at war?
It's clear that all three of the atheist scientists to whom Lord Sacks puts his plea are willing to concede that there are limits to science — and that's where the Chief Rabbi jumps in to claim the ground for himself, while simultaneously decrying "God of the gaps". But he doesn't seem to realise that just because science doesn't have answers to certain questions, he cannot claim that religion does. Because it doesn't. All that religion can do is interpret scripture — which more often than not means making stuff up.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Thought for the Day will not be opened to atheists

"Thought for the Day will not be opened to atheists, says BBC religion chief" — says the Telegraph:

Not a surprise, but some of us will keep plugging away. I object to the implication that theists are the only commentators qualified to think. The BBC should include non-religious viewpoints on Thought for the Day, or else rename it Religious Thought for the Day or something similar — something clearly indicating that these are thoughts from a religious perspective.

I was alerted to this latest non-development — and latest demonstration of BBC obstinacy — by Justin Brierley's post on the Unbelievable? Facebook page, to which I added a comment (whole thread to date follows):

Unbelievable? · 1,641 like this.
Thursday at 23:32 via Twitter ·
The BBC won't be letting atheists on Thought For The Day - but you can still come on my radio show instead
The BBC will resist calls to include atheists on Thought for the Day, the corporation’s head of religion has said.
  • 7 people like this.
  • Alan Vaughan Good for them! Those with no religion have no place on a religious programme. If it were a stamp collecting programme I would expect only those who collect stamps to participate. Listeners would have no desire to listen to someone with no interest in stamps. Kudos
  • Justin Schieber We appreciate it Justin.
  • Paul Jenkins “People have complained, as they have the right to, and I have taken a view that at this moment in time as far as I’m concerned we stay as we do.

    “It is a specific slot within the
    Today programme which is a reflection from a religious perspective on stories of importance in the news.”

    Well, the slot *is* called "Religious Thought for the Day", so therefore no-one but the religious is qualified to be on it. If, however, the slot was called merely "Thought for the Day" then one could naturally expect non-religious viewpoints to be given a proportionate hearing.

    Or have I got that wrong?
  • Paul Jenkins Frankly I can't decide whether I'm disgusted or simply resigned.

    (In protest, I'm resolved to look elsewhere for my platitudes.)
  • Andrew McBrearty Booooo! for the BBC... Yay! for Justin. :)
  • Ian-Luke Penwald Where is the share link????
  • Peter Byrom We've been given plenty of rhetoric recently about how atheism is not a religion or even a worldview (e.g. "if atheism is a religion, then off is a TV channel, and abstinence is a sex position" etc) so if this really is an officially religious slot then, frankly, the atheists can't have it both ways.

    However, I must say I'm disappointed that the BBC doesn't have a programme like Justin's! Indeed there's plenty of anti-religion and pro-secularism bias in the BBC already so, again frankly, I hardly think the NSS have much to complain about and it looks much more like they're trying to encroach upon one of the few religious slots left.
  • Fergus Gallagher Atheism is not a religion, but it is a position with respect to religion.
  • Paul Jenkins If TftD is an officially religious slot, that ought to be clear from its name.
  • John Humberstone "We've been given plenty of rhetoric recently about how atheism is not a religion or even a worldview (e.g. "if atheism is a religion, then off is a TV channel, and abstinence is a sex position" etc) so if this really is an officially religious slot then, frankly, the atheists can't have it both ways."

    All that needs to happen is that they stick to the title of the slot - Thought for the Day. Couldn't be simpler really.

Monday 10 September 2012

Burnee links for Monday

Unintelligible theology — The Uncredible Hallq
As I have suspected.

The myth of how the hijab protects women against sexual assault | Women Under Siege Project
Meanwhile, the men do what they like.
(Via Ophelia Benson.) 

Computer leads to Humans failing Turing Test | Robinince's Blog
Robin Ince on learning to be human.

BBC News - Five Minutes With: Ben Goldacre
Bad science, good science, plus the what and why of the randomised controlled trial.
Get Adobe Flash player

 Friday LOLz: hamsters go nuts « Why Evolution Is True Spin-dried!

Saturday 8 September 2012

Animal liberation and the problem of induction

Socratic dialogue and dramatised reportage seems an odd combination for radio comedy, but that's what BBC Radio 4 is giving us with the current series of Brian Gulliver's Travels. This week, in "Anidara", the hapless travel writer is forced to confront the vegetarian question, aka "Is it wrong to eat meat?"

Neil Pearson, playing the eponymous traveller, is just right for this role — his worldly familiarity coupled with a hint of erudition hits exactly the right note. The series (this is the second) comprises six half-hour episodes, with two more to come. Streaming audio of this week's episode is available until 12:02PM Wed, 12 Sep 2012:

Here's a clip:

The series is written by Bill Dare, who explains that the show was a way of putting his philosophy degree to good use(!):

Skepticism; atheism — a concentric Venn

Aaron Higashi's comment to Paul Baird's post in the Unbelievable? Facebook group, about the next Qestion.Explore.Discover convention, raises some definitional points about skepticism that I'd like to address. Aaron's comment in full is as follows:
This is somewhat tangential to your post, but it just reminded me about how much I dislike identifiers that frame the opposite side in a way that they would never self-identify as. For example, pro-life. The opposite of pro-life would be anti-life or pro-death. No one would identify as such. Same for pro-choice. I don't think any pro-life people would identify as anti-choice. The identifier has a pretty obvious polemical element to it. It not only identifies a group, but indicts the opposition.

I think "skeptic" is that sort of identifier. Same with "reason rally" or "brights." People do not self-identify as gullible, irrational, or dim. Considering "skeptic" has next to nothing to do with philosophical skepticism in a classical sense, the word exists only in its popular connotation, it frames the opposite group as those who lack critical thinking skills, or who are disinclined to use them. It is not as though one cannot be both religious and "skeptical" in the contemporary sense. Any sufficiently critical attitude would be skeptical in a contemporary sense, and there are entire movements, interpretive frameworks, and denominations based on being critical of this or that other thing.

If it's a science conference, let it be a science conference. If it's a group of "skeptics," i.e. atheists and other non-religious folk, let it be that.

Having said all that, I hope some of the videos from the conference will be on youtube afterwords.
I agree with Aaron's point about the way attitudes are framed, but I don't think there's much that can be done about it. People are always going to spin their own point of view to make it look more reasonable or favourable than the opposition. It's up to skeptics to recognise this and identify it.

As for skepticism itself, I don't agree with Aaron's implied definition — ...a group of "skeptics," i.e. atheists and other non-religious folk... — which seems to be confined to atheism and opposition to religion. It's true that many skeptics are atheists, but atheism and skepticism are not the same thing. You could say that atheism is skepticism about gods — and that's pretty much the stand I take. My atheism is part of, or a subset of, my skepticism.

Skepticism is simply an unwillingness to accept unsubstantiated claims as true. The reason religion features strongly in skeptical discourse is that it has a long history of making unsubstantiated claims, and a reluctance (or inability) to provide substantiation when requested to do so. In addition, religion's standards of evidence seem in many cases to be inadequate. And there appear to be a great many more people who accept religious claims than who accept the existence of Bigfoot, or space aliens on Earth, or the usefulness of alternative medicine — to name but three of the many issues with which skeptics may be concerned.

Some high-profile skeptics will not discuss religion at all, and some of those even say that religion should be kept out of "skepticism" altogether. Personally I don't see how that's possible. If you're skeptical of ghosts, for example, that probably means you're skeptical of the afterlife — which is mostly a religious idea — and if you argue that there's no compelling evidence for an afterlife (near-death experiences notwithstanding) you will be seen as attacking religious belief.

The issue comes back to Stephen Jay Gould's flawed notion of non-overlapping magisteria. The problem is that they not only overlap — in many cases the magisteria are inextricably entwined.

Friday 7 September 2012

Burnee links for Friday

Jeremy Hunt, new health secretary, called for the NHS to be dismantled and supports homeopathy - bengoldacre - secondary blog
How did Cameron make his choices? By deciding who would be best suited for a particular post or by some other method (such as returning favours)?

Christian Discrimination: Former Archbishop Lord Carey Accuses Government And Courts Of 'Double Standards'
Carey's Christians want freedom to discriminate against certain sections of the public. Andrea Minichiello Williams is quoted thus:
The Prime Minister has been asked, repeatedly, to intervene in these cases and back the four Christians who have served the public through their varied professions.
Two of those Christians refused to serve a section of "the public".

Stephen Law: HEALING POWERS OF THE MIND? event 20th October
Looks interesting. The previous CFI events organised by Stephen Law have been excellent, so this is one for the diary.

Wonders — Unreasonable Faith
Rampant Copernicanism rules (and rightly so).

H.P. Lovecraft: If Religion Were True… — Unreasonable Faith
The teller of tall tales ("tall" as in horror fantasy of a particularly period kind) was one of us. I didn't know that.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

And again: Desirism on Unbelievable? Facebook group

A thread on the Unbelievable? Facebook group discusses morality, and about two-thirds down moves on to desirism. (I've copied it here for easy reference, as part of my ongoing research into desirism.)

Thread started by Paul Leffingwell who linked to a Guardian article by Julian Baggini:

An honest atheist.

"Stressing the jolly side of atheism not only glosses over its harsher truths, it also disguises its unique selling point..."
· · · · 14 August at 01:26

  • 5 people like this.
    • Neil Gough ‎"Some believers accuse sceptics of having nothing left but a dull, cold, scientific world. I am left with only art, music, literature, theatre, the magnificence of nature, mathematics, the human spirit, sex, the cosmos, friendship, history, science, imagination, dreams, oceans, mountains, love and the wonder of birth. That'll do for me". Lynne Kelly
      14 August at 02:26 · · 3
    • Jym Small Atheists are by-and-large very honest.., that's why we're atheists.
    • Jym Small And he is right.... unlike the theist, we must actually understand that there is nothing between us and the naked howling face of the universe, and that nothing we do will be permanent.
      14 August at 04:01 · · 2
    • 'David Eriol Hickman' Without succumbing to nihilism..
    • Brian Dyk For almost 13.7 billion years prior to my birth, I was completely untroubled with the fact that I added no meaning to the universe. I suppose I will be equally untroubled in the billions of years after I pass. In the mean time, I'll just go on enjoying the life I have and do the best with what is thrown at me.
      14 August at 05:17 · · 1
    • Steve Banks ex·is·ten·tial·ism (gz-stnsh-lzm, ks-) n.
      A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as largely unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.
    • Helen Marple-Horvat ‎^^And as it turns out, De Beauvoir and Sartre exploited the powerless for their own sexual ....

      Should there be a comma after freedom of choice or is freedom of responsibility also implied?
    • Helen Marple-Horvat In the jewish worldview there is realism about suffering and joy too.The longing for the Kingdom of God on Earth does not mean that suffering is to be ignored and an "Always look on the Bright side of Life" mentality adopted..... but the times of fasting and feasting reflect the rhythms of life and death, joy and sorrow. Work is to be in it's place and rest and feasting and family and friends factored in positively in sabbath....even for the animals and employees and the land itself (left fallow every seven years)

      I heard the other day that in Judaeism however, if a wedding procession meets a funeral procession, the latter should always give way.

      The joy of the Lord is our strength but it does not mean complacency.

      Its a difficult balance for sure...but I do find wisdom in my faith's ways.
      14 August at 09:50 · · 1
    • Steve Banks Your views of Sartre and De Beauvoir have always struck me as, um, somewhat unique Helen Marple-Horvat.

      No comma - (1) freedom of choice and (2) responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.

      "The message of Existentialism, unlike that of many more obscure and academic philosophical movements, is about as simple as can be. It is that every one of us, as an individual, is responsible—responsible for what we do, responsible for who we are, responsible for the way we face and deal with the world, responsible, ultimately, for the way the world is. It is, in a very short phrase, the philosophy of 'No excuses' "
      ~ Robert C. Solomon
    • Helen Marple-Horvat

      I found a more beautiful role model, the anti thesis of my former heroes. Jesus is Lord. hehex
    • Helen Marple-Horvat just google...simples.x

      //They proclaimed their passionate belief in truth-telling: “To them, the notion of
      privacy was a relic of bourgeois hypocrisy” (p. xi). But on reading their journals and 2
      correspondence (published after de Beauvoir’s death), “Readers were left reeling with
      shock. It turned out that these two advocates of truth-telling constantly told lies to an
      array of emotionally unstable young girls.” While throughout her life de Beauvoir had
      publicly denied ever having an affair with a woman, we witness her “telling Sartre about
      her pleasurable nights making love with young women!” Rowley wonders “how could
      Sartre write so coldly and clinically about taking his latest girlfriend’s virginity? And
      why were they both so disparaging about the young women they went to bed with?” (p.
      When in 1942 the mother of one of de Beauvoir’s former students brought
      charges against her claiming that she had seduced her daughter and then acted as a
      procurer, passing the girl to her two lovers, Sartre and Pierre Bost, “Sartre and Beauvoir
      discussed their best strategy. The members of their clique were carefully primed. Each in
      turn duly denied everything, telling the police well-honed lies” (p. 131). The case was
      Another former student whom de Beauvoir seduced and brought into a “trio” with
      etc etc etc
    • Justin David I find it amusing that both sides have such a simplistic view of the other.

      A Christian life is not supposed to be comforting or easy. The Prosperity Theologists (excuse me while I vomit in the corner for a sec) lie and tell you G-d will send you money. The uberhippies lie and tell you that Christianity is about feeling the warm fuzziness G-d has to offer.

      To love the way Christianity commands is to have your heart broken again and again, without ceasing. The sources of love in one's life are indeed of some comfort, but we don't get the comfort of loving only those who love us. We love a multitude of people in a manner that resembles shining your flashlight up at the night sky: a small light into a void of darkness, because that love may very well never be returned.

      It is a religion of grief and of pain. It abhors both these things, but simultaneously commands them of its followers for the good of all humanity: those who choose to endure the pain save more than just themselves (and I'm talking multiple senses of the word "save", not in the "SAAAAAAAAAAAAVE!" way the freaking Evangelical fundamentalists use it).

      G-d does give me the warm fuzzies every so often. But the strife in the world rubs my soul raw, and while it leads to a purer form of orthopraxy, that does nothing to ease the pain.

      So while I understand that you see many Christians living a lavish and hypocritical lifestyle, callously and eagerly awaiting the end of the world and the "burning" of the unbelievers (hold on, must vomit once more), know that there are other Christians who do their best to help and love all by day, and grieve quietly come nightfall.
      14 August at 10:08 · · 1
    • Helen Marple-Horvat And like Baggs asks...Why....Why are we responsible on Atheism? Thats the point of the article.
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// Why are we responsible on Atheism?

      Because we are all there is and without each other we are nothing.
      14 August at 10:16 · · 3
    • Jonny Marris Justin David "The Christian life is not supposed to comforting..." I beg to differ - think of the book of Psalms - Psalm 23, 31, 32 and 34 to name just a few are about the Lord providing refuge, strength and comfort to those in trouble who seek him.
    • Jonny Marris Justin David I do agree with you about the Prosperity Theologists though. I am just conscious of not ruling out all forms of comfort in a sweeping statement. The Lord provides emotional, mental and spiritual comfort as well as earthly comforts such as healing and provision for finance and health but these last two worldly comforts are a nice to have and not given as part of a magic formula.
    • Steve Banks I'm aware of the flaws (human, all too human) of Sartre and De Beauvoir. What strikes me is your immediate dismissal of existentialsim as a philosphical discourse based upon their love life! It had a 100 history - the (Christian) Kierkegaard came up with its "sensibility" - before Sartre named existentialism and popularized it. I've found the works of its greatest thinkers immeasurably helpful in my day to day existence. But i value your opinion and the review of tete-a-tete you just posted made me purchase the book to add to my holiday reading :)
    • Justin David You did see where I said G-d gives me the warm fuzzies sometimes, right?

      I'm not saying it's a joyless life. There's tons of joy involved.

      But if we love our fellow human beings--TRULY love them--then grief simply has to be never-ceasing. The world is rife with suffering, and much of it, either directly or indirectly, is at our hands. We wrestle on a daily basis with the questions of how much "enough" is, and what "doing one's best" actually entails, and serious shit hinges on how we answer those questions.

      Anyhow, it's bedtime. G'night, all ♥
      14 August at 10:25 · · 2
    • Jonny Marris Justin David - I hear you but I would hope God is in the business of a little more than "the warm and fuzzies" or we are all in big trouble! :)
      14 August at 10:27 · · 1
    • Helen Marple-Horvat I suppose they were very influential in my journey Steve...and tbh existentialism is synonymous with their writings and their me at least.

      I am grateful however, because their writings , and those of Nietsche pushed me , eventually into searching for better, from my perspective.

      I am glad that you challenged my assumptions too because I had to look it up, instead of relying on a Melvyn Bragg programme I heard once.hehe.
    • Helen Marple-Horvat And thanks too for the kierkegaard ref. ....on my list to explore and a reminder...x
    • Steve Banks I think we both agree with Justin David - The Kingdom of God isn't somewhere or somewhen or something else.
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Flip steve....look what I just found!
      Maranatha (either מרנא תא: maranâ' thâ' or מרן אתא: maran 'athâ' ) is an Aramaic...See more
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Regardless... there is sooooo much imagery in the texts about brides and bridegrooms and covenant and promise....
      The maranatha stuff is pretty subtle eh? hehe

      But if you thought Jesus was coming back again you would be a believer. Perhaps that is the only thing that separates our worldviews in one sense...especially as we all often agree about so much of what is important and valuable in life.

      But the thought of Jesus coming back for His bride and a Kingdom of God Peace and Joy ( a sabbath) has the effect of a bath bomb for me. lol There will be no more tears...amen

      Another insight I came across recently was that in jewish culture in the first century ( and before? ) the bridegroom would go off and "prepare a place" and then go to fetch the bride.So there are futuristic expectations too..... inspiring and life giving ...if you want to take them on board.
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Because we are all there is and without each other we are nothing.//

      I agree with half of this.....

      But it is not Naturalism, because there is a lot about value in there.x Hearts and Heads clash ....hehe
    • Steve Miller Helen Solomon had 700 official wives and 300 concubines, but I don't think this means we have to junk the entire Book of Proverbs :)
      14 August at 10:59 · · 2
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// But it is not Naturalism, because there is a lot about value in there

      Values are natural...
    • Steve Banks ‎"There will be victories as well as defeats in these struggles. There will be progress and regressions. But every victory, every particular progress from injustice to more justice, from suffering to more happiness, from hostility to more peace, from separation to more unity anywhere among us, is a manifestation of the eternal in time and space. It is, in the language of the writers of the Old and New Testaments, the coming of the Kingdom of God. For the Kingdom of God does not come in one dramatic event sometime in the future. It is coming here and now in every act of love, in every manifestation of truth, in every moment of joy, in every experience of the holy..."
      14 August at 11:03 · · 2
    • Helen Marple-Horvat I love it steve....sure. But the texts hold expectation too....hope and longing and an instinct for justice.

      Lets see shall we.....and in the meantime I must away to the grimgym. hehe
    • Steve Banks You expect the physical return of Jesus Helen Marple-Horvat ? At some point in the future ?
    • Helen Marple-Horvat De Beauvoir's values are Natural?

      Without each other we are nothing is a great thought which christians undoubtedly share. Richard Harries used it as a very profound argument against Euthanasia in a docu discussion with Richard Dawkins....but it is not usually associated with AtheismTM cos it cant be grounded. But I will leave ll that to the philosophers Daniel Vecchio and co. Bye for now
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// De Beauvoir's values are Natural?

      All our values are natural Helen. What else is there? Are you saying our values come from the supernatural? If so, then what of free will?
    • Helen Marple-Horvat You bet I do Steve. Of course. Bath Bomb...... a spring welling up to eternal life, now and then, both /and present /future now/not yet. Hebrew prophetic power.
    • Steve Banks crikey
      14 August at 11:22 · · 1
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Evolutionary naturalism is different Baggs says. No grounds for offering up vague platitudes that are true for you.
      Nice though they may be.
      Catch you later.
    • Steve Banks ‎"without each other we are nothing" can be grounded in science as well as philosophy. The future, physical, visible return of Yeshua Ben Yosef - i'm not so sure.
      14 August at 11:26 · · 1
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// No grounds for offering up vague platitudes that are true for you

      Rightly so. Cold hard reality and values that spring from our being evolved creatures living in community.
      14 August at 11:30 · · 2
    • Paul Leffingwell It's interesting that in the article Mr. Bagini says that the atheist must cope with existential reality, but he doesn't say how. Ervin Yalom, the modern existential psychotherapist writes about the 'how' of this extensively, and he's an atheist. He readily admits that theists have answers to questions the atheist never will, but recognizes that the responsibility to try remains.
      14 August at 11:30 · · 2
    • Paul Leffingwell I wonder why the desire to not 'succumb' to nihilism is not seen as 'good' or preferable as an existentially positive approach given the ultimate subjectivity of all values on atheism.
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Fight your corner with Paul Thomas J Newton and I will read it with interest later. Gym :(
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Can you write that without the double neg Paul cos I am a bit dense...seriously and I dont understand it properly.x
    • Thomas J Newton I have no fight with anyone.
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Okay. Have a gentle convo with Paul about values and naturalism then. This topic always seems to end up combative though and always finishes up as:_

      1.You are saying atheists have no morals ?and/or
      2. What about God bashing childrens' brains out on a rock?

      So please forgive the imagery.xx
    • Thomas J Newton I would be interested in Paul's "the ultimate subjectivity of all values on Atheism". I wonder where you get this idea from Paul. Even as a naturalist atheist I believe there are forms of objective morality on Atheism (for all of us with 'normal' brains and psychologies!).
    • Paul Leffingwell I subscribe to the idea that objectively binding duties and obligations (morals) must be grounded in something outside ourselves, otherwise they are merely subjective and conventional - taste preferences, if you will. I think the is/ought gulf cannot be bridged by naturalist conceptions of morality, but that's JMO, and not really the subject of Bagini's article. Of course we're free to subscribe to whatever moral system we choose, from 'Christian' ethics to selfish consequentialism. 'David Eriol Hickman' said 'without succumbing to nihilism' above and I wonder if he and others believe we have an objective duty or obligation to NOT succumb to nihilism, or if that's just his personal preference. I have met plenty of folks who seem well comfortable with the idea of an ultimate lack of meaning to anything, but even they cannot seem to avoid strong opinion about politics, football and their neighbor :-)
      14 August at 12:34 · · 1
    • Steve Miller As an atheist I have to agree with Paul, at least as far as ultimate subjectivity is concerned. Nature is indifferent to our moral dilemmas and even our continued survival. I wish it were not so, but it is. It's not the only unchangeable fact of life I would prefer were different. But I don't think it ultimately helps to imagine we can develop naturalistic objective morality. At least on this, in terms of winning a philosophical argument, we are behind the 8-ball.

      However, I cannot wish a loving moral arbiter god into existence, even if I might want to. So given a choice (and this is all I think we have), of trying our inadequate best, generation after generation, learning from our mistakes as we go to improve the human condition; or relying entirely on a book written 1000s of years ago by people living lives alien to our own for the ultimate moral guidance on which we cannot improve, I'll take the subjective muddling along thank you.

      Christianity is not the only world view which supports its truth claims through divine revelation; and all seem to have very similar arguments to one another as to why they should be right. Indeed, even within Christianity, there is no consensus as to what is moral and what is not. Therefore I fail to see how the Christian behaves in any different way to the subjective atheist in making moral decisions. We all make subjective choices.
      14 August at 12:44 · · 1
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// I subscribe to the idea that objectively binding duties and obligations (morals) must be grounded in something outside ourselves

      Indeed, and our collective evolution seems to be the only mechanism that fits the bill.

      // I don't think it ultimately helps to imagine we can develop naturalistic objective morality

      I think rather it develops with us. Don't you think its possible to have an evolving objective reality? It moves with us, it's not even something we can consciously affect.

      // Of course we're free to subscribe to whatever moral system we choose

      I disagree. How free we are depends on too many factors. We can only choose within the limits of our environment, culture, psychology, etc.
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// Indeed, even within Christianity, there is no consensus as to what is moral and what is not.. I fail to see how the Christian behaves in any different way to the subjective atheist in making moral decisions

      Very true.
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// I wonder if he and others believe we have an objective duty or obligation to NOT succumb to nihilism, or if that's just his personal preference.

      I can see how through evolutionary processes a form of objective morality can exist. Of course, this only exists for us as the product of that process. Outside of us the universe is blindly indifferent. So Nihilism can be true at the same time as human objective morality. I am both Nihilistic about the ultimate fate of humanity and the universe in general, yet an objective moralist (to an extent) with regard to the big human values.
    • Steve Banks I'm an atheist and have no problem fessing up to not having any grounding in Absolute Objective Moral Truth. Can you explain to me again how you arrive at any or all of that Thomas...?
    • Andrew Britton Helen Marple-Horvat, so a philosophy can be dismissed based on the personal lives of a couple of its proponents? How does Christianity fair such a test? Sartre coined the term existentialism, but the concepts and philosophy cover a large body of work written by a wide range of individuals. I broadly agree with an existentialist worldview... That doesn't mean I have to sign onto everything ever done or written by an existentialist.
      14 August at 13:28 · · 2
    • Thomas J Newton Sure Steve. I'll give it a go.
      Evolution: natural selection would favor human collaboration where we live in communities (Witness other community living creatures from Gorillas to Meerkats). They all develop forms of morality (don't steal, don't murder, etc). I'm just applying this same principle to humans. Our 'objective' morals are the ubiquitous behaviours that are good for our collective survival. If we didn't have these perhaps we'd never have evolved to live in community and may never have left the savannah.

      // Absolute Objective Moral Truth
      I don't subscribe to this. Our 'objective' morality will change and develop as we evolve, hence is is only objective within a given time frame. Evolution runs very slowly so the 'relative' nature of the morality I describe is seen as objective by us.

      Does this make sense?
    • Martin Davies From the article: "Although morality is arguably just as murky for the religious, at least there is some bedrock belief that gives a reason to believe that morality is real and will prevail. In an atheist universe, morality can be rejected without external sanction at any point, and without a clear, compelling reason to believe in its reality, that's exactly what will sometimes happen..." Yikes!
    • Joe Fogey Makes sense to me. Pretending there is a god to found morality on doesn't work - even if there were a god, how would you know it was a "good" one?

      As children grow and develop their sense of what is moral changes, and we as a society have changed our ideas too. This applies to religious people as well as to secular.

      Moral behaviour is part of the social contract we are all engaged in, and which we all negotiate throughout our lives.
    • Jonny Marris Joe Fogey - You say 'pretend' there is a god. Pretend is something children do when they know something isn't real but they pretend to make a good game or to have fun. Whether you agree or not Theists really believe there is a God and don't pretend for fun or for any sort of game. Have a little respect. :)
    • Joe Fogey It's not only children who pretend, Jonny. Adults pretend about all sorts of things too. So I wasn't suggesting you are being childish. I don't think you can wish a god into existence to justify belief in objective moral values, though.
    • Jonny Marris Joe Fogey I agree - I don't think you can wish a god into existence either. I am just making the point that to suggest that Theists pretend there is a god is inaccurate and a little derogatory. No harm no foul!
    • Robert Stovold “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
      According to the this verse, Christianity offers more blisters than bliss, making it primarily a religion of dispair.
    • Helen Marple-Horvat ‎^^ Actually Robert....that was the first verse I wrote on a postcard above my bed when I became a follower of Jesus because I precisely HAD found the broad way of Nietsche and the Existentialists led to despair.

      It meant something profound to me at the time. I expect it has a particular meaning in hebrew culture too that i am probably missing..... and I will consult Rabbi Ronnie later. hehe
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Maybe more honest to call oneself an aspiring follower though....
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Christianity is not the only world view which supports its truth claims through divine revelation;//

      With you to some extent in your post steve....but to be honest, so much of the teaching of jesus does not need any revelation. It is deep and resonant and sometimes demanding, sometimes inspiring, sometimes comforting, sometimes impossibly paradoxical and beautiful....but do you really need divine revelation to know that "love of neighbour and enemy and forgiving one another , giving mercy and loving justice, resisting temptations to steal , living in the now of the Kingdom, being content with what you have, having hope for the future" etc etc etc... could be a wise and flourishing way to live...?

      No revelation necessary really. It either strikes you as truth or not.
    • Thomas J Newton ‎^^ Same as many earlier philosophical traditions Helen.
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Which supports my point. Sure
    • Thomas J Newton Indeed. So Christianity is in essence no different to any other religion or philosophical tradition.
      14 August at 15:48 · · 1
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Andrew Britton. I do see your point...of course, but what does it mean in practice to "take responsibility for one's actions? " In my worldview whatever we build here stands for ever and I expect to meet God. In my worldview it is actually very wicked to do what sartre and de beauvoir did, and I was very much influenced by both of them in my early twenties. She did not mention all this in her books!

      What I love about Jesus is that in him the talk is the walk. hehe.x
    • Helen Marple-Horvat ‎@Thomas. The point steve was making was that Christianity "needs" divine revelation which he "lacks".

      No it doesnt. It is the refining of wisdom over thousands of years in a particular culture from which we can derive some principles for our own lives without divine revelation playing any part necessarily.

      I can follow the principles of Buddhism without divine revelation. I am not waiting from a bolt from the sky to have a go. I choose not to for different reasons than for lack of a divine Buddha sending a shaft of light from above.
    • Thomas J Newton ‎/ The point steve was making was that Christianity "needs" divine revelation which he "lacks"

      He said that Christianity is not the only religion that finds its support in divine revelation.

      // It is the refining of wisdom over thousands of years

      Indeed, like many other cultures and philosophical traditions.
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// I choose not to for different reasons than for lack of a divine Buddha sending a shaft of light from above

      However, you do expect Yeshua Ben Yosef to return to earth, and to meet God and his angels too.... hmmm
      14 August at 16:16 · Edited · · 1
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Steve Banks. I see that the quote was from Tillich. I havent had the chance to look into his work either.....but the adultery puts me off actually. Just being honest.x
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Yes.... I read steve slightly wrongly but I think my point still stands. Jesus actual teaching and the stories of his life stand on their own merit.

      So I will need him to clarify what exactly he means by "finds it"support in" perhaps.
    • Thomas J Newton I guess anyone can say meaningful things. But the only way anyone would accept Jesus as God would be through some supernatural vindication, .eg. being resurrected, doing miracles, raising the dead, etc (even though in jewish mythology you didn't have to be god to do any of this!)
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Im not exactly sure what you are getting at here Thomas....but Jesus is written about variously as Messiah, Torah personified,Priest, Lord, Saviour, Bridegroom,King, Temple,Word (Logos/Genesis etc) Firstborn,

      The texts are super rich.But we mustnt derail the thread..hehe
    • Thomas J Newton Indeed, let's not. Back to morality (oh there goes gravity!)...

      What did you make of my response?
    • Steve Banks Thomas J Newton: "Our 'objective' morals are the ubiquitous behaviours that are good for our collective survival."

      Survival at any price?
      14 August at 16:42 · · 1
    • Helen Marple-Horvat I think I am with Steve Banks, Steve Miller, Justin Schieber, Sam Priest and the other christians more or less in thinking that OMV do not exist on Atheism really.

      Off with the dog. Catch you later.x
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// Survival at any price?

      I would guess that if it came to it, yes. However, there's a lot to get through before you get there. Eg. Enjoyment, well being, etc. are important to us.
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Andrew Wootton. Hello stranger. Nice surprise!! x
    • Jonny Marris Thomas J Newton How would you explain charities or funding systems that are set up to help the elderly and less able or disadvantaged people. Surely based on a purely evolutionary view these are incredibly wasteful allocation of resources? They are an example of morality which is not explainable with a social structure purely based on natural selection.
    • Andrew Wootton Perhaps the best phrase to describe atheism could be "freedom... terrible terrible freedom." the word free alone doesn't seem to capture the negative side, but I think it does convey the positives and with a little thought highlights the negatives. Must be a better word...
      14 August at 16:54 · · 1
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// Surely based on a purely evolutionary view these are incredibly wasteful allocation of resources?

      So is recreation sex, yet we all do it! Ever heard of a spandrel? Is it in our greater long term interest to protect our fellow man? Is it in our long term interest to be altruistic? Of course. It aids our survival.

      However, you can bet yer ass that if resources were so scarce that we were close to extinction, the old, infirm, frail, etc would be for the chop!
      14 August at 16:57 · · 1
    • Steve Banks ‎"Man is condemned to be free"
      14 August at 16:58 · · 2
    • Steve Banks Thomas - Would it be better for humanity to survive 1) for another 120,000 years under a fascistic regime like Hitlers or Stalin's/ a Brave New World like Huxley's/ an ant like condition in a colony with drastically reduced potential, or 2) would it be better to have 1000 years of human flourishing and human endevours far exceeding anything yet known and then BOOF disappear...
    • Andrew Wootton In fact no, the word atheist is just fine, perfectly succinct without needing to imply anything else about ones philosophical perspectives beyond acknowledgement of this fact.
      14 August at 17:00 · · 1
    • Jonny Marris Thomas J Newton "Is it in our greater long term interest to protect our fellow man?" By the pure evolutionary view the answer would be 'Only if that particular fellow man has something we need, money, power, knowledge, physical strength etc.'
    • Helen Marple-Horvat would be for the chop!//

      Not in the kingdom of God. Its anti evolutionary on a very profound level and it is jesus preferring to lose His life that means I trust him....however idealistic that may appear....partly because I know the instinct to survive is so strong that we could easily have a society where the weak were disposed of were it not for that profound niggling of conscience that mitigates against survival at any cost. Jesus embodies that impulse to me.

      Okay. Dog.!
      14 August at 17:03 · · 1
    • Thomas J Newton We've come a long way, Jonny Marris. We've evolved past the hand-to-mouth evolution of which you speak. It is in our interests to protect our fellow species and those around us. We have the foresight to see what will happen if we don't.
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// Not in the kingdom of God

      Not in Narnia either Helen Marple-Horvat ;-)
    • Thomas J Newton Steve Banks

      // Thomas - Would it be better for humanity to survive 1) for another 120,000 years under a fascistic regime like Hitlers or Stalin's/ a Brave New World like Huxley's/ an ant like condition in a colony with drastically reduced potential, or 2) would it be better to have 1000 years of human flourishing and human endevours far exceeding anything yet known and then BOOF disappear...

      I can say what I'd prefer but I don't see these as questions of Morality, more of preference. 'Evolved' morality probably can't answer these as they're not what it was 'designed' to do.
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Jesus going to death is not Narnia. It happened. The Romans needed to humiliate to maintain the grip. Sure they provided "Peace and Security" as their slogan claimed....but at what cost?
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Narnia is a fiction about realities we all face.x
      14 August at 17:11 · · 1
    • Thomas J Newton Yep, sure - he died. The Kingdom is a fairy tale though
    • Helen Marple-Horvat The kingdom is a decision.
    • Thomas J Newton A metaphor
    • Helen Marple-Horvat But still a decision.
    • Thomas J Newton but not a real place
    • Helen Marple-Horvat Eh? bye for now. not sure what that means. okay...
    • Thomas J Newton Do you have problems deciding what's real and what isn't Helen Marple-Horvat?
    • Helen Marple-Horvat You lost me there Thomas. I dont know what you are meaning now. We had this convo before loads of times though Im not sure what you are talking about Where?
    • Thomas J Newton You complain about double negatives but when you mix metaphors and reality I can't understand you either
    • Thomas J Newton ‎// .place? Where?

      I'm guessing jesus is coming back here?
    • Steve Banks not today
    • Justin Schieber Helen, I do think OMVs exist.
    • Justin Schieber or rather, Helen Marple-Horvat, I do believe in objective moral values in the same way I believe that there are correct and incorrect answers to the question of the distance between the sun and moon. Moral values are relational properties.
    • Neil Gough Interesting take, Justin, and i understand what you mean but the distance from earth to the moon is not a single figure but a range..

      //The distance between the Moon and the Earth varies from around 356,400 km to 406,700 km at the extreme perigees (closest) and apogees (farthest). On 19 March 2011, it was closer to the Earth while at full phase than it has been since 1993.[93] Reported as a "super moon", this closest point coincides within an hour of a full moon, and it thus appeared 30 percent brighter, and 14 percent larger than when at its greatest distance.[94][95][96]//
      The Moon makes a complete orbit around the Earth with respect to the fixed stars
      about once every 27.3 days[g] (its sidereal period). However, since the Earth is moving in its orbit about the Sun at the same time, it takes slightly longer for the Moon to show the same phase to Earth, which is about ...
      14 August at 22:50 · · 1
    • Justin Schieber
      In the view of ethics I subscribe to, we look at the relational tendency between different kinds of desires to decide if they are 'good' desires that everybody generally has strong reasons to promote or 'bad' desires that everybody generally has strong reasons to condemn. On this view, a good act is that act that a person with good desires would do in a given circumstance.

      The tendency a particular desire has on other desires is a factual matter that people can be wrong about. The desire to rape, for example, is a desire that clearly tends to thwart desires - it is a desire that everybody generally has reason to use social tools to reduce or eliminate.
    • Neil Gough Meh, I see they as relative to time, and culture as they vary from place to place, culture to culture and from period to period..
    • Justin Schieber It is important to realize that the desire to rape has the tendency to other desire that it has regardless of opinions, preferences or commands by persons, dingos or deities.
    • Neil Gough I can't say I have ever had a desire to rape anyone..
      I do note that in some cultures its considered permissible..
      Not a fan myself..
    • Justin Schieber Neil, you may be making the empirical claim that different cultures generally have different values, but that is not relevant to the question of wether moral values exist in any meaningful sense. Do you think moral values exist?
    • Justin Schieber a difference of opinion on matters of fact are not reasons to deny a fact of the matter.
      14 August at 23:01 · · 1
    • Justin Schieber I just said something awesomely quotable.
    • Justin Schieber Neil, do you understand the difference I am trying to tease out here?
    • Justin Schieber It is a difference of epistemology rather than one of ontology.
    • Neil Gough I think moral values exist but are not absolute and vary from culture to culture.>

      I think I said taht above..
    • Neil Gough Fact?
      What fact?
    • Justin Schieber So, to you moral values are like aesthetic preferences? Nothing more?
    • Justin Schieber Well, I think moral values are matters of fact. Saying something like "needless murder is wrong' is a statement of fact as it could be incorrect. IF two people hold opposing views as to the moral status of needless murder, one or both may be wrong.
    • Neil Gough Fair enough, then all you need do is show them repeatable and verifiable in all situations..
      I feel that is not the case as I have said with regard to Time and Culture..
    • Neil Gough I also think murder is wrong.. Not all agree with me..
      What makes me right and them wrong?
    • Neil Gough A fact (derived from the Latin factum, see below) is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be proven to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts. Scientific facts are verified by repeatable experiments.
    • Justin Schieber To be sure, I think the tendency of a desire upon a community is an empirical fact, but what I am calling the 'value' is a 'relational property'.
    • Neil Gough Well that seems pretty subjective in my view..
    • Justin Schieber Well, I don't think you know what subjective means then.
    • Justin Schieber like I said, the tendency of a desire to rape is one that tends to have a negative relationship to other desires. That is not subjective, it is a matter of fact that can potentially be studied empirically.
    • Neil Gough I was using in the sense of (1)
    • Neil Gough
      sub·jec·tive [suhb-jek-tiv]
      existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought ( opposed to objective).
      pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation.
      placing excessive emphasis on one's own moods, attitudes, opinions, etc.; unduly egocentric.
      Philosophy . relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.
      relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind as distinguished from general or universal experience.
    • Justin Schieber It is an object of though, not belonging to the subject though.
    • Justin Schieber its no more subjective than the distance from the earth to the moon as we said earlier.
    • Justin Schieber Just because we are talking about relationships between brain states does not mean is is merely subjective. In a sense it is, but in another sense, it is objective in the way we usually think of the term.
    • Neil Gough One's morality belongs to self.>
      Societal morality is composed of the general societal norm.
      The population usually describes a bell curve around that..
    • Justin Schieber Ok, again, you are confusing social norms with morality. You keep thinking I am concerned with epistemic issues when I am only here to defend the ontological status of moral values.
    • Neil Gough You are using a non standard definition of subjective, which is your right, but not what I mean.
      I alluded to that in my first comment..

      Now until objective morality can be proven, with facts, subjective morality remains the only game it town.

      Harris' treatment is very confused and I expected better from him..
    • Justin Schieber How am I using a non-standard definition of subjective? Have you done any ethical philosophy?
    • John Humberstone
      Justin Schieber "we look at the relational tendency between different kinds of desires to decide if they are 'good' desires that everybody generally has strong reasons to promote or 'bad' desires that everybody generally has strong reasons
      to condemn. On this view, a good act is that act that a person with good desires would do in a given circumstance."

      I thought desirism was interested in the majority view and what 'everyone generally' wants. Isn't it the case that everyone could be generally wrong?
    • Justin Schieber The focus in desirism is the tendency between desires. People can be wrong about the tendency of a particular desire but that is immaterial. it's not a majority rule system.
    • John Humberstone So why describe then as the desires that 'everybody generally' has strong reason to promote?

      Isn't this a particular group of people?
    • Justin Schieber It is not about any particular group of people, it is about evaluating a desire in relation to other desires - a numbers game is not a factor. Off to work.
    • John Humberstone Then why use that phrase?
    • Neil Gough I provided the definition of subjective.

      Simply point to the way you are using it.

      I did..
    • Justin Schieber John, because Some desires are such that everybody generally has strong reasons to promote regardless of the group's composition.
    • Justin Schieber Neil, again, the relationships I am referring to do not exist IN minds but rather they exist as relationships BETWEEN certain states of mind. If you can't make that distinction, I can't help you.

      Just because the relationships I'm referring to require the existence of mammalian brains doesn't mean it can only be referred to as subjective, clearly.
    • John Humberstone Justin Schieber "John, because Some desires are such that everybody generally has strong reasons to promote regardless of the group's composition."

      ...and if they don't?
    • Justin Schieber ‎...then they don't.
    • John Humberstone So it is the one's that generally agree that count then?
    • Justin Schieber No, we may have reasons that we are unaware of. The desire to murder is a desire that you have reasons to try and reduce in your community. You don't have to be aware of it for me to say that you still have reasons to do x.
    • John Humberstone So whether everyone generally agree with it is irrelevant as far it being 'a good desire' is concerned?
      15 August at 19:12 · Edited · · 1
    • Andrew Britton
      John Humberstone,

      Didn't we have a conversation on this recently (sorry if I dropped the ball on keeping that thread going), I am surprised you did not get this point from our previous conversation though.

      The relevant factor is whether
      a desire tends to thwart or fulfill other desires. The "in general" is a reference to the "good for us" aspect of morality. It is not a matter of what desires tend to thwart or fulfill MY SPECIFIC desires, but instead what tends to thwart or fulfill desires IN GENERAL. Even if a majority decide they really like killing a minority, it does not matter (even IF this action fulfills more of their desires), because promoting the DESIRE to murder is a desire thwarting enterprise. Desirism is concerned more with the harmonization of desires that the immediate maximized fulfillment of desires.
    • Andrew Britton Neil Gough, it is objective in this sense. If you have a desire not to be stabbed, and I stab you, I am objectively thwarting your desires. It is not a matter of opinion or taste. Either I am thwarting your desires or not, so one could make a false claim. If claim the stabbing did not thwart your desires, that claim is either right or wrong, there is a fact of the matter.
    • John Humberstone Andrew Britton Yes, you were very patient with me but I was not persuaded. I think the conversation just petered out.

      The point I was picking up was about 'if they are 'good' desires that everybody generally has strong reasons to promote'

      The point I got from you was that good desires were objectively good whether people promoted them or not.

      Just getting confused again. No obligation to continue if you don't want to.
    • Thomas J Newton I would suggest that objectively good desires are objective because they have been created so through evolutionary processes. They are 'good' for two reasons: 1) because they enhance our well being as a species, or 2) as a result of evolutionary processes that enabled us to develop empathy, etc. that enable us to transcend the base, selfish, survivalist mentality that evolution endows 'lower' species.
    • Thomas J Newton Remembering, of course, that the word 'good' is just a loose label we apply to anything that enhances our wellbeing (individually or collectively)
    • Andrew Britton
      John Humberstone,

      My last comment wasn't meant to be dismissive, so I apologize if it came off that way.

      The issue is that morality is concerned with the question what is good for "us?" Not good for one person, or good for a certain grou
      p of people.

      For example we have many and strong reasons to promote respect for individual human life. If we carve out arbitrary exceptions we begin to erode that desire for respect. The effect of such erosion is to thwart desires.

      Although I think it can be taken on from multiple perspectives, I think one flaw with the "what if everyone wanted to torture babies, jews, what-have-you" criticism is that it fails to present a realistic picture of humanity.

      When we look at societies like the Nazi's, I think it is clear that the promotion of scapegoating and racism did not remain isolated and effect only Jews and other "undesirables." Aside from being based on false beliefs regarding certain races (which if corrected would likely have put an end to it in itself), promoting such values and tendencies has wider effects on the whole population, whether it be encouraging greater brutality in general, the economic costs of centralized control, the lack of innovation resulting from the fleeing of intelligent Jews and others, etc.

      So I think in the real world we have good reason to argue against such scenarios due to their mistaken premise that such societies can exist and isolate any negative consequences of their "bad" desires.
    • Andrew Britton
      John Humberstone,

      Just to let you know there is a desirism facebook page that Alonzo Fyfe set up with debates of such topics just to let you know in case you are interested.

      There is also a Wiki Alonzo and others are putting together.

      Let me know if you need me to point you to any of these... not that I am trying to shut down our conversation, just incase you want other perspectives on these issues other than mine as well.
      15 August at 18:32 · · 1
    • John Humberstone
      Andrew Britton "My last comment wasn't meant to be dismissive, so I apologize if it came off that way."

      Not at all all, what made you think that?

      "Let me know if you need me to point you to any of these... not that I am trying to shut do
      wn our conversation, just incase you want other perspectives on these issues other than mine as well."

      Indeed it may well stop me clogging up these forums with this stuff.

      Will respond to the rest later.
...and there it ends.