Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Stop Reading Anti-Religion Books!": A Religionist’s Demand for Tolerance of the Intolerable


Last week I read The God Virus by Dr. Darrel W. Ray. It’s an outstanding exposé of how religion infects all our lives and negatively impacts on civilization. It earned a five star amazon review from me.

One of the very few negative reviews was posted by someone who declares herself to be neither an atheist nor a Christian. Besides her simplistic dismissal of science as “arrogant,” and a complete misunderstanding of the term “God virus,” there was this gem:

"Let's have some more tolerance here. You should not need to constantly read books about how bad religion is if you are secure about who you are. You should not need this validation."

My reply to this fallacious comment follows:

Tolerance?! As in the tolerance carriers of the fundamentalist God Virus have for homosexuals' equal rights and happiness?

You mean like the tolerance extremist anti-abortionists have for OBGYN's who perform legal procedure but are killed for it, or their offices bombed? Or the tolerance that would disallow women control of their own bodies? Or that seeks to force raped women to bare her rapist's child?

You mean like the tolerance Catholics have for condom use while HIV runs rampant in 3rd World countries killing millions?

Perhaps you mean like the tolerance religionists have for scientific reality and those who seek to stem global warming's threat, while they turn a blind eye to it or deny it because Jesus is coming anyway?

Tolerance, such as Muslims have for apostates from Islam, or for "Kafirs" -- “truths” with which they infect each succeeding generation?

Tolerance Islamics have for free speech when that speech is deemed offensive to their inane belief?
We should have tolerance for using a god as justification for "crusade" aganist nations that did us no harm?
Tolerance for theistically inspired revisionist history?

We should tolerate those who want to set back the teaching of science in our class rooms three-hundred years?

We should tolerate obstacles to better health and the elimination devestating illnesses or crippling injuries because it supposedly offends their imaginary god?

We should tolerate those who want to transform the USA into a "Christian Nation," a theocracy?

Don't talk to me about having tolerance for those religionists whose world view is driven and controlled by a book that itself endorses hideous acts of immorality; that is rife with the lies, delusions, and thirst for control of an ancient patriarchal society whose infamous intolerance toward other beliefs was manifested by barbaric laws, tribal genocide and enslavement.

Reading books about the dangers inherent in radical fundamentalist religion, how it negatively impacts our lives and threatens our culture, isn't about how "secure" one is in their non-belief. It's about opening doors to understanding how supernaturalism in its most virulent, and even more benign forms, impacts us for the worse ... as a civilization and on an individual basis.

That you don't get it speaks to your own strain of religious mind virus. That you condemn reading such books is a manifestation of that illness.

74 comments:

NewEnglandBob said...

You hit a bulls-eye with that one, Hump. It sounds like the negative reviewer was a combination of ignorant and fearful that her false cocoon will fall down around her. I wonder which is larger, her arrogance or her ignorance.

I ordered The God Virus by Dr. Darrel W. Ray from Amazon and it and a few other books will be here in a few days.

I am current reading Good without God by Harvard humanist chaplain Greg Epstein.

LaurieB said...

Stop reading anti-religion books and stop reading everything! That's what the religious should be saying. Ignorant people have no intellectual tools to deal with false claims.

It cracks me up when religious people tell me to go read the Bible or the Koran. The revolting evil in those books only confirms my disgust for the whole sorry scene.

NEBob, How do you like that book? I have some issues with Epstein but I won't let that color my opinion of the book. I'm reading, "The age of Wonder" by Holmes. Pretty good so far.

NewEnglandBob said...

Lauri, I also have issues with Epstein but I am keeping an open mind. It is too early in the book yet for me to comment on it.

Sproglet said...

Oh PLEASE stop educating yourselves!!

It's really not good for our cause you know, KNOWING stuff.

It's so overrated.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, right from the beginning, the biblical god did not want his people to be knowledgeable but rather, he wanted them to remain ignorant. If you like wisdom and knowledge, thank the snake!

Gen 3:2
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened...and the shit hit the fan!

Enrico (Henry) S.

zarton said...

I wonder if this idiot would review a theists book and tell people not to read religious books? Or to have more tolerance of people who don't believe like them? Sounds to me like a christian who claimed she wasn't just to get some credit.
Speaking of books, I never told you how much I enjoyed your book Hump. I just ordered 'Thomas Jefferson: Author of America' By Christopher Hitchens. Perhaps I should stop reading books about our founding fathers and have more respect and tolerance for those people who don't like democracy...just a thought.
zar

Ormond Otvos said...

I'm on #47 of "Fifty Reasons People Give for Believing in a Gods"
http://www.amazon.com/Reasons-People-Give-Believing-God/dp/1591025672/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1264914541&sr=8-1-fkmr0

and I'm finally impressed with his determination to be at least civil while presenting broad and deep questions designed to drive believers nuts.

Contents under pressue said...

"Let's have some more tolerance here. You should not need to constantly read books about how bad religion is if you are secure about who you are. You should not need this validation."

The religious folks should also stop reading the bible, since it's exactly because of reading it that so many of us ended up being skeptics.

Besides, this is not about so-called insecurities. This is about calling out lie that have been professed as the truth and demolishing them.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Validation? Seriously? The only validation I need is every day when I ask God if he's there and receive silence. If there is any kind of god out there, I'm still waiting to hear from it.

I read all sorts of books, some from an atheist perspective and some from a theist perspective. I read them because I find them interesting, not for any kind of validation. When I was a Christian I surrounded myself with Christian music, books, studies, worship, etc. all to strengthen my faith. I have no need of such things now.

Rachelle said...

LOL! I could not have crafted a better response, Hump. :)

Angel said...

Priceless! Great response to that idiot, Hump.

Up for another book suggestion? Try "I'm perfect, you're doomed" by Kyria Abrahams. Hilarious. She tells of her childhood and early adulthood in a Jehovah's Witness family.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks all for your comments. Looks like we're all on the same page on this one...but then, we all have fully functional brains untainted by theisism.

The woman who wrote that inspid two star review is evidently a New Ager, or paganist. She uses the name of two pagan gods as her amazon review name.

Atemis Ward said...

I give this blog post ten stars! Great job Hump, keep up the good work.

Dromedary Hump said...

TY, Atemis.

Matthew Johnston said...

Hello again.

Christian here.

I find it amusing [and sad] that many of you are so militant in your hatred towards God.

Confirms to me, that you do indeed supress the existence of God in your minds, inorder to avoid aouthority and accountability.

"The fool has said in his heart there is no God" - The Bible.

Notice it says , "said" ?

Sin is breaking God's Law - He is Just and must punish it. Jesus is the sinless sin bearer and the only way to God.

Dromedary Hump said...

Mathew,
Your comments are so inane, that sometimes I think you're an atheist pretending to be a Xtian just to parody the Christian platitudes.

Yeah..I hate god like I hate Moby Dick, Jean ValJean, Luke Skywalker, and Little red Riding Hood. It is always fun watching a Xtian make such moronic insipid and hackneyed platitudes when they don't even realize how utterly senseless they are in the context of non-blief in fictional characters.

But, at least it gives us someone to laugh at.

as for Jesus being sinless, I guess you didn't hear: They found a love letter from jesus to his boyfriend/lover written in Aramaic just outside of Palestine last week. Check with your child molester..uh.. I mean minister/priest/shaman. See if he confirms it.

Thanks for reconfirming every steriotype i've ever held about fundie Xtian mind slaves :)pportunity.

PS: Mathew never reads replies. He's a hit and run virus host. He lacks the courage, because he's afraid the responses will weaken his faith. Mathew is at the bottom of the theist food chain.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"I find it amusing [and sad] that many of you are so militant in your hatred towards God."--Matthew

Matthew, Atheists are not militant in hatred towards God, since that would be the same as saying we are militant in our hatred towards the Tooth Fairy. We cannot hate that which doesn't exist.


Someone once said that the invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.


Hump (may I call you Hump?) Great response to the intolerant woman.

Contents under pressue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Contents under pressue said...

@Matthew

Militant?

Militancy is blowing yourself up in front of a crowd simply because they do do not share in your religious belief, or if they're practicing the same religion as you, you believe are not "devout" enough.

Militancy is gunning down a doctor in cold blood in a church, in front of his family, for performing emergency abortions on life-threatening pregnancies.

Militancy is flying an airliner into a pair of skyscrapers in New York.

Militancy is beating women, and subjecting them to genital mutilation to protect their "honor."

Militancy is threatening to lynch any couples who kiss on Valentine's day because your Hindu sect dictates such actions are immoral.

Militancy is passing laws that can literally have you killed just for being gay.

And now when a couple of atheists decide to write strongly worded critiques regarding religion, that's being militant?

Wow - you set a really low bar, you know that?

Contents under pressue said...

@Dromedary Hump

You hate Luke Skywalker, as in the actor Mark Hammil, or as in the character himself?

Because if you hate Mark, I'm afraid we will have problems there :P

Dromedary Hump said...

Shaw...
Of course you can call me Hump.
and Thanks

Contents...
well said.
Nah.. i've got nuthin against luke skywalker OR mark hamil. I don't even hate Jabba the hutt. I was in a hurry and just needed fictional characters to mention... like god ;)

Christian Apologist said...

It appears from your response to the review that you hold a strong humanist philosophy. My question then, is what make humans of any more importance than a rock or a bird or a tree in a naturalistic universe? Why do you care about human rights or human life beyond what directly affects you?

NewEnglandBob said...

"Christian Apologist", in answer to your questions.

I will start with your last one:
"Why do you care about human rights or human life beyond what directly affects you?"

Morality is something that is part of our humanity. It is ingrained into us. We know instinctively what is right and it has nothing to do with any deities. Senseless suffering is wrong and so it causing it. Alleviating it is the right thing to do. This is driven by our need to survive and prosper. As humans we can project this to others - this is also known as the golden rule.

Each of us can not exist alone in our complicated world. The better way to make it through life is to help others make it though also.

Next question: "what make humans of any more importance than a rock or a bird or a tree in a naturalistic universe?"

The answer is nothing. There is a distinction between living things (bird, tree, human) and non-living things (rocks) which can not be made to suffer. You are insignificant in this universe and so am I, as is our planet, sun and even our galaxy.

Did you really mean to ask about meaning and purpose? That comes from each individual to decide for their own life.

Dromedary Hump said...

Christian,

First...thank you. It's so rare to get a Christian here capable of actually asking an intelligent question, or engaging in reasonable discourse without resorting to the tired old religious platitudes and scriptural apologetics.


NEBob's answer largely represents my view as well. He beat me to it. But let me just add a couple of my thoughts.

In the scheme of things Bob is correct: humans have no more value in terms of our place in the universe than would a field mouse or jelly fish or amoeba, or coconut tree. We are all insignifant pieces of carbon based life form floating on a microscopic planet, in a minute dot of the galaxy, in an obscure corner of an ever expanding universe. Likely the Earth is but one of many planets that support life forms.

But what makes humans different than animals and plants, (and I will avoid the trap of "higher life form") is our unique attributes. I.e.: our degree of self cognition; our sophisticated cultures; our ability to reason, philosophise, create (and destroy), discover; our ability to build a bond with other humans, collaborate for a common goal and common good; feel empathy, sympathy, love, hate, joy, sadness... the whole spectrum of emotion.

While other life forms have some degree or another of many of these atributes, man is unique in his being the only animal capable of it all, and to such a refined degree.

Thus, while we feel empathy for a sheep, or a cow, or cat, etc., they do not provoke the same feelings nor the same sense of respect, and (i'll use this term advisidly) "reverence" in humans as we do have for human kind.

We are all inextricably tied to one another. Co-dependent. Just as rain falls on the rich and poor alike, so war effects the atheist and religionist. Just as as crying child prompts a desire to respond in a humanist, so does it in a religionist. As polluution and global warming effects the world, all mof us, we are all obligated to do something about it...for the common good.

To the degree that man recognizes that what is moral and good benefits him, so should he be moral and good toward his neighbor ...wherever on the planet that neighbor may be. To the degree that is embraced all of us benefit by improved civility. It's all about the "rule of reciprocity"... what you call the golden rule... which embraced by many religions and secular philosophies, some much older than Christianity.

As NEBob said... we don't need an imaginary Sky Daddy friend,or the irrational belief in afterlife, or submit to the illogical and patently absurd laws set forth by bronze age cultists in order to practice civility, be moral, ethical, and loving.

I hope that helped.

Christian Apologist said...

Thanks for your responses. I think your answers as to 'why humans' is sufficient, given your philosophical framework.

I also agree with you that all morality really boils down to the golden rule. I think that on this point all religions agree. (I cant say say for sure about Hinduism as I havent really studied it.)

Where all the religions insolubly differ is in how to go about becoming moral. For Christians the answer is that God, by his grace, enables us to love others. I think for Muslims and Jews it is submitting to the rules. And for Buddhists it is by emptying oneself of all ego.

NEBob you make the claim that morality is an instinctive thing. However I think common experience shows that this is not so. Instincts, by definition, cause an animal to behave in certain ways. However human beings do not act according to the golden rule. In fact as a general rule human beings act in self-centered ways, which are contrary to the golden rule.

NewEnglandBob said...

Christan Apologist, scientific studies like the "Prisoner's Dilemma" disagree with your statement that humans do not follow the golden rule.

But lets look at it this way - do you personally go out and murder, rape, pillage and steal? Of course not. What is stopping you? A God? I don't think so. Is it the police? well, maybe for some people but not for most. You know deep down that it is the wrong thing to do. And you are just like most people - honorable and respectful and lawful - you are human.

Dromedary Hump said...

Hindu "golden rule" : "This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you." Mahabharata 5,1517

Hinduism is referred to as "the oldest living religon." It precedes Christianity by 3,500 years. Likely that Jesus' version of the Golden Rule is drawn from Hindu teachings. Or Buddha's version which preceds christianity by 600 years:
"Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
Udana-Varga 5,1

Now, since Buddhism has no defined supreme being, no morality as provided by a god/gods... then indeed the golden rule, as all ethics and miraliuty, are naturally evolved from a cultures need to have order in order for it to prosper and flourish.

If there were no morality, no code of ethics, no civility towards others within your culture, the culture could not survive. Trade would become impossible. Division of labor, and the ability to rely on others doing their appointed role for the tribes common good would fail. Murder, rape, unbridaled theft etc., would break down the bonds and their their tribe would become fair game for competeing tribes and cultures.

It's a matter of survival and communal prospering which drives morality. It isn't stuck in their head by a supreme being/s. It's stuck in the head by the instinct to survive and propagate the species.

This is all basic anthropology.

Dromedary Hump said...

Then again...when devout evangelical Christians, and devout Muslims stand in the way of gay peoples' pursuit of happiness because of Christian's & Muslims' religious scripture and misguided need to placate their god.... they are not practicing the golden rule.
They are not treating others as they would like to be treated. And I think we can all agree that homosexuals are as human as any of them.

But there are so many examples of that kind of hypocricy on the part of those who claim divine guidance and divinly declared morality I've barely scratched the surface.

Christian Apologist said...

NEBob, you set the bar for what is moral too high. There are plenty of things that fall under the golden rule you have not included. Do you get into fights? Do you insult others either to their face or behind their back? Do you sleep with married woman or cheat on your own spouse? Do you provide for those who lack the basic necessities of life? Do you break any traffic laws,or drive while under the influence? I could probably go on for a while but hopefully you see my point.

Christian Apologist said...

Mr. Camel. If survival and communal prosperity drive morality why is homosexuality not immoral? For one thing thoose who are homosexual have taken all their inate talents and abilities out of the gene pool. For another clashes between homosexual activists and fundamentalist crazies tend to cause breakdowns in public order.

NewEnglandBob said...

Christian apologist - no, you goo too far in those things to include them under the golden rule - most of them do not necessarily cause unnecessary suffering which is where the bar needs to be set. Many, if not most of those you mentioned are subjective, not innately right or wrong. And that is the problem with many religions that try to force subjective opinions on others.

NewEnglandBob said...

"If survival and communal prosperity drive morality why is homosexuality not immoral? For one thing those who are homosexual have taken all their innate talents and abilities out of the gene pool."

Christian Apologist - you have taken the above to the extent of absurdity - you assume that every thing MUST be only towards survival and community prosperity, which is absurd.

"For another clashes between homosexual activists and fundamentalist crazies tend to cause breakdowns in public order."

Yet another absurd statement. Why then do you assume homosexuals are immorral? Maybe the fundies actually are.

Shelley said...

Great post, Hump.

I love how the fundies want everyone to stop educating ourselves and each other. No, wait, actually I don't. =P

Hooked on X-tian fonix werked fur Meh!

Dromedary Hump said...

Christian...
Who said homosexuality IS immoral??
i didn't. In fact, as time passes and morality has evolved, as it always does, fewer and fewer people deem homosexuality immoral.

You see, calling homosexualiy immoral has no basis other than in abrahamic religions. Calling homosexuality immoral these days is tantamount to declaring left handed people immoral. In fact, if your bronze age cultists had declared left handed people an abomination, you'd be declaring lefthandedness immoral.

They deemed wearing mixed fiber clothes immoral; eating pork immoral; working on the sabbath, and sufferig witches to live immoral. Animal husbandry / selective cross breeding was immoral, so was cross polenating plants immoral. Yet slavery WASN'T immoral. Shit man... don't you see the picture a bit more clearly? Think about it.

Your comment about gays removing their talents from the gene pool, as though that some how injures you, or impacts civilization is rather bizarre. Priests, those who are sterile, and people who opt out of having children also take their attributes out of the gene pool. What are you saying...that THEY are immoral? That they don't practice the golden rule? That's just crazy talk.

Clashes between gays and fundies break down the social order??? Yeah.. and??? Clashes between blacks and KKK advocates breaks down the civil order. Clashes between Jews and Neo-Nazis breaks down the civil order. Your point is what? That blacks and jews are immoral for defending their civil rights against those who would deny them those rights????

Christian...you are grasping at staws. Come back down to earth please. You started off waaay better than this.

Dromedary Hump said...

Shelly.... Thanks.
heheh.

Contents under pressue said...

@Christian

1. Most of the people who see homosexuality as some sort of crime are religious organizations and bigots/insecure males.

And even then, their assertions that being gay makes somebody to commit crimes, or "recruit" children into homosexuality is bullshit.

2. "For one thing thoose who are homosexual have taken all their inate talents and abilities out of the gene pool."

Excuse me?

What about gays who contribute their talents and abilities to society in a real, tangible way? What about actors such as Neil Patrick Harris, who have shared their talent with the entertainment industry? What about Harvey Milk, who has contributed his skills and to helping the city of San Francisco?

3. "For another clashes between homosexual activists and fundamentalist crazies tend to cause breakdowns in public order."

Wanna know who else provoked clashes with fundamentalist crazies, which resulted in a breakdown in public order?

A. Blacks.
B. Women demanding the right to vote.
C. My people, when we rebelled against Spanish Colonial rule (which was predominantly run by the Church)
D. My people again, when we rallied against Ferdinand Marcos

By your logic, ANY civil movement that causes a breakdown in public order is invalid, never mind if their cause is legitimate.

Besides, I'm more concerned with the fact that gays have to fight against "fundie crazies," just to gain acknowledgement for their rights.

Dromedary Hump said...

Hmmm.. one more thing about Christian Apologist's peculiar comment about gays breaking down the public order.

As I mentioned in my book, there are numerous examples of Christian hate groups. I listed them. Any one can google "Christian Hate Groups" and see them for themselves.

Yet, if you google "atheist hate groups", there arent any.

Thus, according to Christian Apologist's logic, Christians are themselves breaking down the public order, and thus are immoral.

Damn good reason to fight against Christians having equal rights, and designating them as enemies of the social order's stability.

Enrico said...

Oh shit! I'm left handed!!! My right hand is out of the gene pool. Damn those scissors!!!!!!

Hump, I must say that your last few posts starting with "Who said homosexuality IS immoral??" (as well as NEB and CEP) are dead nutz on target.

That reply reminded me of the many razor sharp insights that you express in your book. So many times while reading "The Atheist Came" I would just stop and laugh at how you took an argument and brought it down to where the rubber meets the road and then utterly demolished the religionist's fluffy fantasy's. Keep up the great work.
All of you!

Christian Apologist said...

NEBob, I thought you already agreed that the golden rule was the standard for morality? Which of those things would it be ok for me to do to you?

Camel, If you reread my post carefully you will see that I was pointing out that if survival is the rule for morality than it is a logical conclusion that homosexuality would be immoral. Perhaps you disagree or perhaps you were not explicit enough in your definition of what drives morality means. Could you expand on that?

And for the record I think most fundamentalist crazies are immoral. Far more immoral than any homosexual. At least homosexuals are not hypocritically distorting the word of God and doing things it explicitly commands against, while at the same time saying they believe what it says.

Dromedary Hump said...

CHRISTIAN APOL SAID:
"If you reread my post carefully you will see that I was pointing out that if survival is the rule for morality than it is a logical conclusion that homosexuality would be immoral."

UH..The misunderstanding/confusion here is all yours.

1st: There is no "moral" obligation to survive, or propagate. It is not "immoral" to die without reproducing or passing on your dna first. Oh..it may be for the old fools who run the catholic church, but what do they know about heterosexual sex and reproducing? and who gives a shit what they think?

The ability for a culture to survive is not predicated on 100%, 98%, 85%, etc of the populace breeding. What I was imparting was (and I'm afraid it's your religiosity and lack of secular understanding that clouds this for you), is that morality exists in order to maintain order, the civility, and thus the longevity and prosperity of a culture.

Or to make it simple for you:

"I won't kill UR cause if I do, one of UR's kins men will kill me."

"Don't steal from OG, because if I do OG will steal from me."

"Don't rape MOOG's wife; he may kill me or rape my wife OONA."

"If I short Melvin on his measure of wheat, he will repay me by giving me the rotten liver of the gemsbok."

Christain.. more clear now??? C'mon, a 12 year old secular kid could understand this.

Dromedary Hump said...

PS: I should have added that those reasoned concepts of civility, became the rule of reciprocity, and is what eventually becomes a culture's moral code.

Morality evolves .. as I said in a here in one of my blog articles a month or so ago.

The Reverend said...

Something the fundies like to quote is that verse that (paraphrased) said "if a man lies with man, as with a woman, it is an abomination".

Of course, a different chapter in the same book by the same author also says that mixing fibres in clothing is an abomination, and to stone your kids to death if they disrespect you.

Somehow, only the "man lie with man" part is the one they stick with.

Odd, that.

Contents under pressue said...

@Reverend

They also left out the parts that state that adultery is punishable by death.

Christian Apologist said...

Camel,
In all your examples there is already a presupossed morality operating.

I wont kill you for fear of being killed assumes that the other tribe would be morally offended by the killing of one of their own. otherwise why would they reciprocate? Wouldnt it rather be 'Oh, he killed bob. Is that venison done cooking yet?'

Dont steal from OG because he will steal from you.

There is no reciprocity when there is no offense. If there was no moral outrage OG either wouldnt care, or would go and take something the other guy owns and call it a good trade.

Why would MOOG care if you rape his wife if there is nothing morally wrong with it. If it wasnt wrong maybe he would just ask you whether or not she was a good lay.

If shorting Melvin were not morally wrong he wouldnt care that you didnt give him enough wheat.

You see we only recipricate an action when we feel that we have been wronged.

Dromedary Hump said...

Christian Apologist..

I hold out hope that we will meet on common ground.

The rule of reciprocity, or norm of reciprocity, doesn't have to be based on a positive action, or action at all. In that respect it differs somewhat from the Golden Rule which is based on overt positive action, but which itself would be impossible if an expectation of reciprocity were not in play.

The very avoidance of an action that could represent a threat is as much governed by the norm of reciprocity.

"An underlying norm of reciprocity is by itself a powerful engine for motivating, creating, sustaining, and regulating the cooperative behavior required for self-sustaining social organizations—as well as for controlling the damage done by the unscrupulous..." "The norm of reciprocity is the social expectation that people will respond to each other in kind—returning benefits for benefits, and responding with either indifference or hostility to harms." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norm_of_reciprocity

The tribe would be offended by the killing of their own. Maintaining the tribes health and continuity is effected by the loss of its members.
It's a universal anthropological fact.

The same is true for cheating in trade. One doesn't want to be given bad meat, thus one doesn't give another short weight. The basis for morality ... the empathy we feel toward those who were cheated, or the antipathy we feel toward those who cheat... is rooted in, had it's start in, the need for the culture to survive and posper.
Morality is an evolutionary product of the rule of reciprocity; its basic to the continuity of a society. Without it a culture would become extinct.

Thus morality wasn't first and foremost viewed as divinely directed dictate. It was imperitive for the cohesion of the tribe.

Only when man found he could invoke the threat of a diety's displeasure did he come up with the idea of
"Oh, and by the way... god said it's immoral for you to you eat pork, wear mixed fibers, or butt fuck bruce over there. If you do we will need to stone you to death."

Christian Apologist said...

Camel,
What anthropological evidence are you using to support this theory?

Dromedary Hump said...

Christian apologist,

The following is an extract from an article by Dr. C. George Boeree
, a psychologist and student of history.

"A community that has survived and expanded for many decades or centuries is one which has provided its members with patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that permit that survival. We could call these patterns memes, or stick to older words such as beliefs and techniques - it doesn't matter. Among the patterns that appear to work well for most societies are ones that encourage extending the range of the instincts of sympathy and love of family to all members of the community, rather than just close relations. Traditions of mutual respect, obedience to authority, cooperation, and so on, are good examples. These traditions make it less likely that community members waste their energies on internal conflicts and use it instead on productive activities, community defense, and, possibly, expansion at the expense of other communities."
http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/evolmoral.html

[CONTINUED BELOW]

Dromedary Hump said...

[CONTINUED FROM ABOVE]
An excellent paper which sites primitive tribes and their behavior, which is reflective of prehistoric tribes, is The Human Origin of Morals, by Joseph McCabe
(ex priest) heres an extract:

"But we may to some extent reconcile the theories by admitting that in the mind of the lowest peoples there is no conscious recognition that certain classes of acts are good or bad... Man is moral before he has morality. He resents an individual "bad" act before he has moral rules. He does not generalize. He does not make rules."

"One would naturally expect this low and primitive type of mind in primitive peoples, but I am not merely speculating as to what probably took place. In the lowest peoples of today that is precisely what we find. These are, as I say in The Origin of Religion, the Yahgans of Tierra del Fuego -- not simply "the Fuegians," as is generally quoted, for there are three tribes on the island -- the wild Veddahs (nearly extinct as a pure race), the Tasmanians (extinct), the Andamanese, the Bushmen (the highest of the group), the Aetas of the Philippine Islands, and a few less known fragments of the human family."

"In estimating the significance of these I have, fortunately, the invaluable support of Professor Haddon, who says, in his genial way, of the whole group: "They do not recognize virtue, but they do not practice vice." They have no moral laws or codes, but their social conduct is generally excellent. They are almost entirely strict monogamists, yet know nothing of "chastity."
http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/mccabe02.htm



You'll find that virtually every psychological anthropologist, and behavioral anthropologist, endorse the concept of evolutionary morality, and/or a by-product of natural selection [[ http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/chapters/0262101122chap1.pdf ]]

not by divine dictate, nor a singluar universal "creation" event. Ethical behavior, evolving to moral precepts precede any organized religion on the planet.

There is an interesting work by one of YOUR people. HISTORY OF ETHICSVolume 1 - To 30 BC
Ancient Wisdom and Folly,
by Sanderson Beck:

"... Yet some time between then and the beginning of religion as indicated in burial customs and art, enough consciousness had developed to make individuals responsible for their actions."

"When is the origin of ethics? Is it when hominids were intelligent enough to use tools and could consciously kill another of their own kind? Is it when they could control their sexual urges enough to make a choice as to their partner? Is it when they felt responsible for the raising of their offspring? Is it when they depended on the cooperation of others in their band?"
http://www.san.beck.org/EC2-Prehistoric.html

There are of course many more scholarly, non-mystical sources that support my contention for the evolution of morality from prehistoric man's need to maintain a stable society.

As an aside: None of them as far as anyone knows believed masturbation to be immoral or unethical. It took the the abrhamic religions to invent such foolishness.

Hope that helped.

Christian Apologist said...

Camel,

Regarding McCabe:

It seems to me that he has failed to prove the evolution of morality. Even if we assume his presuposition that primitive tribes of modern day are snapshots of our ancestors he utterly fails to prove his hypothesis. In his own words, in the part you have already quoted, admitting that morality is already existent in these primitive cultures. they have words for good and bad. Instead it seems that he proves the evolution of abstract thought.

"Of abstract ideas they have scarcely a trace. It is difficult to define exactly what they call a good or a wicked man; but certainly they have no notion what is good or bad, apart from the individual or object to which they apply one or the other of these attributes."

"Certain traits which have been noticeable in their dealings with us would give color to the belief that they are not altogether lacking in the sense of honor, and have some faint idea of the meaning of justice."

While the evolution of abstract thought is cool it is not the point you are asserting.

I couldnt get to the second link you provided.

As for the last citation. I observe several things.

1. He is not one of my people. He is a Panenthiest and I am a monothiest. There is a huge difference there.

2. at the beginning of the chapter you are qouting from he says this:
"This chapter is intended as prolog and background to the study of civilization as it is known to us through historical records. Since the evidence of human experience prior to recorded history is rather limited, what we can learn from this long period of evolution and development is mostly speculative and uncertain.

3. Immediately following the text you posted he answers his own questions with the following:
"From the spiritual perspective the soul is responsible. When the soul enters into an animal body that is evolved enough to offer it a valuable experience, the consciousness of right and wrong inevitably results from the awareness of choices. When we are consciously able to choose, we are attempting to choose the good and avoid the bad. As the brains of the early humans became large enough to give them this awareness, then ethics had begun; and I believe that this may have coincided with the beginning of souls' embodying themselves in the human form."
This guy is hardly in support of your theory.

Christian Apologist said...

Camel,

When I looked at the page you were citing I noted a remarkable lack of any evidence for anything he was stating. I might be willing to accept the word of a prominent anthopologist or maybe even a reputable phsychologist but this guy is retired at the age of 58 from a no-name university. Hardy the kind of credentials I am willing to take as authoritative.

Dromedary Hump said...

Christian,
You don't have to accept anything I gave you. You can tear it apart, dismiss it, reject it all, I'm good with that.
You asked for some basis for my perspective, I gave you at least three with links. There are many many more, but I am not your research assistant.

I took sociology courses pertaining to early civilization in college. While admittedly that was a long time ago, the acceptence of the hypotheis that formulation of ethics for cultural cohesion and continutiy, leading to a moral code, for the culture's survival was basic. I encourage you to do your own exploration.

When I say "one of yours" I mean anyone who believes in a disembodied force, spirit, supernatual intelligence, God / gods, et al.
If he was a pantheist I wouldn't have made the comment. But as a Panentheist... you and he have more in common than you and I do... belief whys.

No, we cannot know for certain the mental workings of pre-hisotric man. Thats because because it is PRE HISTORY (!). The best we can do is make suppositions based on various factors, and evidences including the study/observation of existing primitive tribes and cultures that are closest to prehisoric peoples. That was made clear in the article... or one of them.

Finally, I am unconcerned with the additional beliefs and precepts of the article author. If I did, I'd have included it in the copied citation. I didn't because it was tangental to the issue at hand. I don't care if the guy is an animist, his grasp on he question at hand is supported by many if not most experts.

Here is the "missing Link" :) that didn't work.
http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11283

Christian Apologist said...

Camel,

You are the one claiming to have a natural explanation for the genesis of morality. Therefore the onus is on you to defend your position. A consensus among scientist or socialogist or any other field does not mean something is true. The links you provided to defend your position proved to be utterly inadiquate to the task. If you cannot give evidence to support your theory it is merely a postion of faith based on your presuposition of naturalism.

NewEnglandBob said...

Here is a post by PZ Myers that talks about religion's origin, but also includes a bit about morality and its origins.

The referenced article has a section called "Morality without Religion?"

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/02/religion_adaptation_or_by-prod.php

Dromedary Hump said...

Christian,
I gave you my evidence from a variety of sources. You rejected it. We had this convo.

This taking on faith what scientists, psychologists, sociologists say is the same 1/2 assed comment your fundie religionist friends use to discredit evolution.. that it takes more faith to believe in it than in Creationism. Please. You're beter than that... I thought.

If you asked me to give my basis for acceptence of evolution I'd have done the same thing... then directed you to go read a book that wasn't jerkedoff on by Kirk Cameron or Ray Comfort.

So, here, go read a book on the subject of evolution and morality: http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Morality-Life-Mind-Philosophical/dp/0262600722/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265819429&sr=1-1-spell

Finally, if your contention is (and I forgot what it was) that the boogie man gave humans morality... then that boogie man is one slave endorsing, pedophile ignoring, genocide subborning piece of shit. Good thing man evolved enough to know those things are wrong, albeit, it took us long enough. If there hand't been that sick book of fables, perhaps morality as we view it now would have come about a lot sooner.

Christian Apologist said...

Camel,

I gave you reasons why I rejected your sources and instead of explaining why I was wrong in my rejections, you ignored them. That is not a reasonable dialogue. I have no incentive to read the book you posted because you would probably ignore whatever observations I make about it so why waste my time?

Your second paragraph is a strawman. I never made that argument. I stated that if you did not have any evidence for your position then it is faith-based position.

Christian Apologist said...

NEBob,
Thanks for the link. I read the article he was reviewing and another helpful one from one of the other posters. While they were good articles, neither gave any imperical evidence that morality is an evolved trait.

NewEnglandBob said...

Christian Apologist: Agreed that that article does not give empirical evidence, but it alludes to it. I have seen it talked about, mostly in books but I don't have any links right now. I know Frans de Waal talks about it for other primates too.

Dromedary Hump said...

Christian apol.
You are becoming tiresome. This is my last response to you on this topic.

a) If you only read books in order to have your reviews of them accepted, then you are a rather stunted scholar. I read books to expand my undertanding of things. Perhaps this is why you are unable to understand why I base my opinion on the best "evidence" there is.
If you have no interest in this subject, and thus won't read a book to educate yourself on it for the sake of education, then you are posing the question and begging the question simply to bait. So much for the intellectual honesty and curiosity of even moderate/liberal Xtians.

b) Ah, empiricle evidence for how primitive /pre-historic man conceived of morality, ethics and law, before there was any written or even symbolic accounts/documentation.
Nope, no empiricle evidence is being offered. All we have is observations of multiple "primitive" tribes from asia to africa who exhibit like behaviors that are meant to support social cohesion and continuity of the community. I gave an article that descibed some of those peoples. Thus while not empiricle, it is circumstantial enough from which to draw an inference of a strong theory.

c) since said opinion is based on this rather convincing and repeated circumstantial evidence, among other similarly supporting observations among primates, to call it "faith" based is simply refusal to acknowledge what was presented as supporting evidence, or gross stupidity.

Faith is belief in the absense of objective evidence: empiricle, cirumstantial, or otherwise. Faith that dead jews rise has never been observed or repeated and thus is blind faith.

Accpetnece of the evolution of morality, and it;s basis in social cohesion / cultural survival CAN be observed, repeatedly, today... if you open your fucking eyes and mind a tad more.

d) since you do not claim ethics and morality derived from a divine source, and don't feel compelled or interested in presenting YOUR position, and what it is based on, you clearly agree with my and the majority of social scientists' opinion. Thus, you are simply trying to make a case for acceptence of well founded theory being tantamount to "faith."

as stated above, that's your error, and the illogic of the unthinking.

Now, offer something new and intersting and worthy of respone, or leave.

Dromedary Hump said...

PS:

"Your second paragraph is a strawman. I never made that argument."

Its not a straw man; I did not say you made that argument. Thismust be a reading comprehension deficiency on your part.


The statement reads as follows:

"Finally, if your contention is (and I forgot what it was) that the boogie man gave humans morality... "

Since I didn't know what your position was, having either forgotten it or you having not stated it, I offered the typical mindless theistic position as an "IF" alternative.

Read it two more times; then see how stupid it was for you to suggest that I implied it WAS your stated position.

NewEnglandBob said...

To Whomever is interested:

An article at the Center For Inquiry (CFI)

"Morality evolved first, long before Religion"

http://bit.ly/9XjuaK

which has a link to a paper on the subject.

Dromedary Hump said...

NEBob,
Excellent link, thanks!

This one sentence... "Rather, religions all tend to confirm and support human morality, because that essential morality sustains our schemes of social cooperation."

... summarizes what I have been saying "Social cooperation" is the basis for morality. Without a code for social cooperation a society cannot exist.

But, the theistically impaired with an agenda will dismiss this article as insufficient, as lacking empiricle evidence, having not enough citations, etc.

To do other would require them to develope intellectual honesty and reason.

thks.

Dromedary Hump said...

Oh, allow me to premptively parry our resident theist's other likely protestation -- that the writers of the article have insufficient credentials.

1 Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, P.O. Box 4, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

2 Departments of Psychology and Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Christian Apologist said...

Camel,

a)The reason I said what I did about reading the book is that my time is limited and I have to prioritize what I read and what I dont. While the specifics of how morality came about is an interesting topic it is not high on my list of things that are important. I believe they ultimately came from God but whether they were injected into humans at a specific point in time or instilled through the process of evolution is, to me, minutia.

b.) My whole design in the debate at this point has been to show that you have no empirical evidence to support the theory. I am glad we can at least agree on something.

c.) "Faith is belief in the absense of objective evidence: empiricle, cirumstantial, or otherwise." This is a rather narrow definition of faith.

d.)my position is that ethics and morality do originate from a divine source. I am simply agnostic as to the how.

On a final note it is interesting that the Hauser article observes the fact that morality is homogenous regardless of region or religion. This would seem to indicate that it is not an evolutionary byproduct since one would expect societies which have been geographically seperate to have at least variations on the rules of morality.

NewEnglandBob said...

"On a final note it is interesting that the Hauser article observes the fact that morality is homogeneous regardless of region or religion. This would seem to indicate that it is not an evolutionary byproduct since one would expect societies which have been geographically separate to have at least variations on the rules of morality."

I don't agree. Why would cooperation within a clan or tribe or community be different due to geographically separation?

Testing of individuals from anywhere today shows the same results no matter what geographical region and yet there is a huge difference in the extensions to basic morality.

For example the Taliban or other Islamist restrictions on almost everything vs the individual freedoms of western civilization.

Dromedary Hump said...

Christian... the varying priumitive tribes DO have variances. But they have commonality in certain ethical, moral behaviors. Murder, stealing, rape, infant molestation among others are universal.

However, Inuit peoples will share their wives as a sign of hospitality. Thats not universal.
Some cultures accept homosexuality as a simple variance. Thats obviously not universal.

Look... you need to think more and type less. And when on Feb 10, I suggested you may believe that morality was divinly inspired, you pretended to get all indignant and disclaim you ever believed such a thing.

It makes you look like a liar. I don't like liars. The fact that lying is a sacrament endorsed by church fathers doesn't make it any better in this forum.

Keep it in mind if you intend to play here.

Christian Apologist said...

"Look... you need to think more and type less. And when on Feb 10, I suggested you may believe that morality was divinly inspired, you pretended to get all indignant and disclaim you ever believed such a thing."

Actually I ignored the last part of youre Feb 10 comment. The part I was 'indignant' about and claimed was a stawman was this...

This taking on faith what scientists, psychologists, sociologists say is the same 1/2 assed comment your fundie religionist friends use to discredit evolution.. that it takes more faith to believe in it than in Creationism. Please. You're beter than that... I thought.

I think this dialogue has gone as far as it can between the three of us. You guys have given me some good stuff to read and I thank you for it. I think you also agree that the evolution of morality is not empirically varifiable, though is is circumstantially feasable. It is disturbing to me how easily you misunderstand what I am saying. Whether it is because I am doing a poor job of presenting my thoughts or because the words I am using are reminiscent of other conversations you've had, whatever the reason is. It is clear from the fact that you are calling me a liar that communication has broken down.

Dromedary Hump said...

Well Christian Apol...
when you "ignore the last part" of someone's comment it will lead to misunderstanding, now won't it?

There, now you learned something else.

Anonymous said...

It was a delight to follow these conversations.

I guess we all agree that morality was around way before any religions were.

As well was homosexuality of course. Just ask God about it. Why else would he first make a guy? If i would be in the position of being almighty and all alone in the universe ... i for sure would not create a man before a woman. No Sir :-)

Dromedary Hump said...

Anon...

Well we ALMOST all agree. One religioists insists "God did it." But thyey usually insist God did everything.

While I like your possibiity better, the real reason the writers of the Tanahk (Hebrew Bible) has god create Adam first was to establish male superiority in their culture. Same reason they created a law in Levit. that a woman's hand had to be lopped off if she runs to help her husband fight off an attacker and she touches the attackers balls.

Oh.. and "no sympathy is to be shown her." There's your tip off.

Anonymous said...

Contents under pressue said...

The religious folks should also stop reading the bible, since it's exactly because of reading it that so many of us ended up being skeptics.

The problem is that most religious people have not read their religious dogma they just get spoon fed the nicey nicey bits. Those that we probably all agree with anyway such as be good to one another. Do good people really need to be told don't kill people, don't steal, don't lie.

What we want is for more people to read their god books AND THEN stop and think about what they have just read. However see House comment above.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand some of the comments you're all making about others; it's extremely degrading, and whether you agree with someone or not, should you have an unkind heart because of it?
:\
Your beliefs are your own, and that's fine. But please don't allow your disagreements to cause you to have a rude personality. What sort of person would you like to be, religious or not?

Dromedary Hump said...

Anon...
Wow.. over a year after this blog post and somehow you found it and was moved to comment. Must be the hand of Gawd.

If you "don't understand" likely it's because you are theist (that means believer). Nothing written here is beyond the understanding of a normal, educated adult.

My "heart" does not do my thinking for me. If yours does this may explain your problem..you're thinking with the wrong organ.

People who disdain education, reason, science and challenging of unsupportable beliefs are due no respect.

We do not have "beliefs". Beliefs imply acceptence of something blindly for which there is no evidence. Try to remeber that the next time you speak to thinking people about their "beliefs."

Finally, if you don't like what you are reading here may I suggest you not read this blog or better yet, go biblical on us: "If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out."

NewEnglandBob said...

Thanks, Hump, for responding to Anonymous. People who have no substance to contribute start talking about 'tone'.

Dromedary Hump said...

Yeah...noticed that. Just surprised she also didn't point out my typos. ;)