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Many atheists have blind faith in good & evil.

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posted on Jan, 25 2009 @ 04:59 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
For the last time: I am not talking about good and evil. I am talking about right and wrong. They are not equivalent.

What is faith? You have to have faith in something - something, moreover, that you have never seen but have only been told about. Since you have never seen it (or touched it or heard it or smelled it or tasted it) it exists, as far as you are concerned, purely in your mind. It is only possible to have faith in an intellectual concept.


So do you have faith in right and wrong?

What is faith? Gut instinct. For some people their gut instinct is also wishful thinking. For others it is something other than that. I think if you go and replace the word "faith" with phrase "gut instinct" in pretty much any random usage then people's statements will still make perfect sense.

More specifically, I think faith is gut instinct in relation to predictions of the unknown or (as you put it) in relation to that which is outside of our direct sensory experiences. However, if I say "I have faith that someone will put food on my plate tomorrow." then I am having faith in something more than a purely intellectual concept... I am having faith in a sensory experience. The faith is intangible but what the faith is in may be tangible.

[edit on 25-1-2009 by truthquest]




posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 07:55 AM
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reply to post by Spiramirabilis
 


Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
our instincts have evolved to benefit the group - not the individual

regardless of what we can or cannot change - our mutual needs override our individual needs

this is why we often say - the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few


Originally posted by Luciferdescending
I cannot find anything there to argue with.

I can, though.

A generation ago there was lively debate among evolutionary biologists concerning the level at which natural selection operates. Traditionally it had been thought to take place on the level of the individual. Fit individuals reproduced preferentially and produced fitter offspring, driving evolutionary change. In nature's great competition, it was every organism for itself.

There was, however, a problem: how, in this red-in-tooth-and-claw paradigm, did altruistic behaviour evolve? Parents sacrificing their lives for offspring, individual members of a troop or herd or flock sacrificing themselves to save the rest... where was the selective advantage, to the individual, in death?

It was as an attempt to deal with this problem - which Darwin himself had noted and commented upon in The Origin of Species - that the concept of group selection selection originated. It is the idea that selection takes place at the level of the group - actually at many levels, from closely-related kin groups to entire societies. However, the group selection theory had many problems with it, which you can read about in a simple summary here.

A superficially similar theory called kin selection, which explains the evolution of altruistic behaviour towards fairly close kin, has a sounder genetic basis. But in the end it is only a special development of a wider theory, the one that is currently the dominant paradigm in evolutionary biology: natural selection takes place at the level of the individual gene.

The competition to survive and reproduce is not among groups or kin groups or even among individuals. It is between genes. The fittest genes win.

So... no, Spiramirabilis. Our instincts have not evolved to benefit the groups in which we come together. They have evolved, just like all our other traits and behaviour, for the benefit of our genes. That is what this famous book, which made the author's public reputation, is all about.

I agree with you that morality evolves. As Dawkins says in that book, we are not the slaves of our instincts; we derive our morality consciously, as it suits us, though it can never stray far from its instinctual roots. I also agree with you that this does not mean our moral instincts are evolving anything like so fast. Evolution is something that takes place very, very slowly.


no matter how much our environment changes - and how much we adapt - our survival is always going to be tied to working with and coexisting with each other

True. It is only natural, for a social species. But it does not mean that the needs of the many always outweigh the needs of the few. That, indeed, is one of the big probems with group selection theory: it conflicts with the interests of the individual in a way gene-based selection (and kin selection) do not.

'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few' is a moral formulation with more relevance to ants and honeybees than to humanity.



posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 08:36 AM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 




Originally posted by Luciferdescending I cannot find anything there to argue with. I can, though.


I can, though.


yeah - that figures

just my luck

:-)

so - reading...



posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 09:30 AM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


well - I can't argue with this - for more than one reason :-)

but I have questions - I always have questions



Parents sacrificing their lives for offspring, individual members of a troop or herd or flock sacrificing themselves to save the rest... where was the selective advantage, to the individual, in death?


maybe no advantage for the individual - so doesn't that still show a preference for the many over the few?

something I've always wondered about actually -

in the moment - a flight or fight moment - if it's a creature that has a group to consider, or it's own young to protect - is it possible that there's a way to explain why it would no longer care about itself?

I'm beginning to see what you're saying about genes - but it doesn't explain (to me) what happens at that exact moment when an animal (a large collection of genes) should be worrying about it's own hide - and it doesn't

if it's the result of instinct developed to directly benefit the genes - doesn't it end up being the same thing in the end?


A superficially similar theory called kin selection, which explains the evolution of altruistic behaviour towards fairly close kin, has a sounder genetic basis. But in the end it is only a special development of a wider theory, the one that is currently the dominant paradigm in evolutionary biology: natural selection takes place at the level of the individual gene.

The competition to survive and reproduce is not among groups or kin groups or even among individuals. It is between genes. The fittest genes win.


does this have anything to do with epigenetics?

now - just because I know the word epigenetics doesn't mean I understand it

I recently had a conversation with someone about this, and it sounds like it's in the same area - it's interesting


So... no, Spiramirabilis. Our instincts have not evolved to benefit the groups in which we come together. They have evolved, just like all our other traits and behaviour, for the benefit of our genes. That is what this famous book, which made the author's public reputation, is all about.


the individual is vulnerable without the group - if the entire process exists to make sure the best genes win - doesn't that survival of the best genes ultimately pan out to protect the group - the healthiest, smartest, fastest - strongest - group? And doesn't the group exist as another sort of family - especially since you're going to need extra family in order to keep making more family?



posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 12:21 PM
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reply to post by Luciferdescending
 


This one I am responding about where criminals do not procreate.

I'm glad you posted this. At last I see clearly what your objection to my argument is.

But of course criminals procreate. Most people manage, after all.

The example I used to answer Truthquest's question still holds, however. Conjugal rights for prisoners, historically speaking, were more the exception than the rule. In most parts of the world that still holds true today. Moreover, even in these more liberal times I would doubt that criminals and other anti-social types are as successful in the reproductive stakes as honest, well-socialized folk. Reproductive success isn't about having children; it's about having grandchildren.

You also posted that most people are intrinsically (instinctively, if you will) socialistic. If this is true, it is still only half the story. Yes, we desire to live in a society in which all are equal, where none may oppress another; but equally strong is our desire for status and gratification. This opposition exemplifies the real conflict, between what one might call our 'social' instincts - altruism, exchange, cooperation - and our 'individualistic' ones - self-preservation and the pursuit of pleasure and status. Both sets of instincts are vital to us - and are so deeply ingrained in us that they aren't likely to be eradicated or even substantially modified in a hurry. The contest between them is not what makes us human; every social animal must contend with the same opposition. Our consciousness of self and other, of cause and effect, our ability to reason and extrapolate - these are what make us human, and that cause us to feel the pain of conflicting impulses so intensely.



posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 12:43 PM
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Originally posted by truthquest
So do you have faith in right and wrong?

Don't you remember the first line of my first post on this thread? You wrote:


This question is especially for those who believe that nothing should be accepted to be true on blind faith alone.

To which I replied:


Then it is a question especially for me.

So you see, I have already answered you.

Faith is not 'gut instinct'. You are confusing instinct with intuition. And when you say "I have faith that someone will put food on my plate tomorrow", you are not putting your faith in a sensory experience. That's a non sequitur, because faith is only possible - and necessary - without experience, which confers knowledge and renders faith irrelevant. You are simply extrapolating from previous experience, making an evaluation of possible future outcomes on the basis of what you already know. That's logical induction; faith doesn't have anything to do with it.

Now I've been very patient and have answered all your questions, at some length and expenditure of time. I look forward to reading your response to what I have posted.

[edit on 26-1-2009 by Astyanax]



posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 01:13 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
in the moment - a flight or fight moment - if it's a creature that has a group to consider, or it's own young to protect - is it possible that there's a way to explain why it would no longer care about itself?

First of all, congratulations on some good thinking. The post I'm replying to asks all the right questions about the issues concerned. I don't think we need to worry about epigenetics, though. the explanation is much simpler.

Start here: you share a random sample of half your genes (not the same sample, obviously), with your parents, your brothers and sisters, and all your children.

Your grandparents, first cousins and grandchildren all share a quarter of your genes.

If it is conservation of genes that is the important thing, then it doesn't matter in which particular sack of tissue those genes are carried. That's altruism: genes saving themselves in one body by sacrificing another.

And thus kin selection; as I said, it's only a special case of gene-based selection.


it doesn't explain (to me) what happens at that exact moment when an animal (a large collection of genes) should be worrying about it's own hide - and it doesn't

Oddly enough, there is a mathematical model for what happens, known as Hamilton's Rule.


if it's the result of instinct developed to directly benefit the genes - doesn't it end up being the same thing in the end?

Yes, but see above.


the individual is vulnerable without the group - if the entire process exists to make sure the best genes win - doesn't that survival of the best genes ultimately pan out to protect the group - the healthiest, smartest, fastest - strongest - group? And doesn't the group exist as another sort of family - especially since you're going to need extra family in order to keep making more family?

It looks like that, doesn't it? But see the objections to group selection I linked to earlier.

And you really should read that Wilson essay. It's heavy going, especially the first page, but it's only two pages and I think you'll find it quite fascinating.



posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 01:30 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 




First of all, congratulations on some good thinking...I don't think we need to worry about epigenetics, though. the explanation is much simpler.


good thinking? and my brain doesn't really click on until around 3:00 P.M. - good for me :-)

could we worry about epigenetics another time? or - at least the kindergarten version - it really is interesting



If it is conservation of genes that is the important thing, then it doesn't matter in which particular sack of tissue those genes are carried. That's altruism: genes saving themselves in one body by sacrificing another.


I do understand what you're saying - I think

but - one more annoying question - why wouldn't it be simpler to save it's own sack of genes, instead of settling for saving any of the family sacks?



Oddly enough, there is a mathematical model for what happens, known as Hamilton's Rule.


I'm telling you right now - good math is completely wasted on me - I'll have to take your word for it - I'm sure your word is good enough



And you really should read that Wilson essay. It's heavy going, especially the first page, but it's only two pages and I think you'll find it quite fascinating.


I will - reading is a process for me - I'll save it for quiet time

and finally:



Who is there almost that dare shake the foundations of all his past thoughts and actions, and endure to bring upon himself the shame of having been a long time in mistake and error?


what's with all the heavy thinking?

:-)

edit to add: not something that requires an answer
[edit on 1/26/2009 by Spiramirabilis]

[edit on 1/26/2009 by Spiramirabilis]



posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 09:40 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
wouldn't it be simpler to save it's own sack of genes, instead of settling for saving any of the family sacks?

Not necessarily. That's what Hamilton's Rule determines. It relates the cost of an altruistic act to its benefit and the degree of relationship between giver and receiver. In many cases, it makes sense to save yourself and let your kindred die. In others, it does not: consider, for example, the case of a grandparent past reproductive age sacrificing itself for a grandchild; in this case, a gene's chances of reproductive success are higher if it is lost in the grandparent but conserved in the grandchild.


good math is completely wasted on me

The link is to a single Wikipedia paragraph - a short one. The expression has only three terms. Go on, it's not that hard.


could we worry about epigenetics another time? or - at least the kindergarten version - it really is interesting

I don't know anything about epigenetics, which is, apparently, the study of changes in heritable traits and genetic processes that don't arise from changes in genetic material but from other sources. It's a very obscure, expert corner of biology.

I suppose the reason people outside the field bother with it at all is that (to a lay person) it seems to imply that Darwinian natural selection is not the whole story. It doesn't, of course, but I suppose it can be interpreted that way by New Age cookies who want to believe they can get what they want just by wishing for it. 'Hey, I'm not stuck with my bow legs and my irritable bowels any more, I can use my mental mastery over epigenetics to give me thighs like Hercules and the digestion of Vitellius!'

Good luck to 'em. If you would like to see what they're up against - what epigenetics is really all about - try this page of links. Just looking at the paper titles should prove sufficiently discouraging.

I just thought the Locke quote was an appropriate reminder of the emotional weight people attach to their favourite ideas. You see a lot of that here on ATS - probably not least from me.



posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 10:08 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 




It relates the cost of an altruistic act to its benefit and the degree of relationship between giver and receiver. In many cases, it makes sense to save yourself and let your kindred die.


see - that's what I was wondering - because sometimes it seems like it would make more sense to let the others go.

here's the thing that still confuses me - it's that moment - and the decision

did you ever see that video on you tube - if I remember correctly - a cape buffalo calf is caught in a tug of war between a crocodile and a lion (i think it was a lion)?

hard to watch - it's a goner either way - and the struggle continues for quite a few seconds (an eternity in a situation like that)

after this struggle has already been happening for a while, and after the point you'd think the herd would have just given up on the calf - several buffalo come back to the scene and break the whole thing up - the calf runs free (though I don't see it surviving for long)

to me - very odd behavior on the part of the adult buffalo

you see what I mean? it's the thinking involved that interests me



Go on, it's not that hard.


funny man



I suppose it can be interpreted that way by New Age cookies...


say no more - I had no idea :-)



You see a lot of that here on ATS - probably not least from me.


it's how we are - why think about something again if you've already thought about it once? :-)

edit to add: actually - I think the lion won the tug of war - then the buffalo take on the lion - memory fuzzy on that


[edit on 1/26/2009 by Spiramirabilis]



posted on Jan, 26 2009 @ 11:34 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
Faith is not 'gut instinct'. You are confusing instinct with intuition. And when you say "I have faith that someone will put food on my plate tomorrow." you are not putting your faith in a sensory experience. That's a non sequitur, because faith is only possible - and necessary - without experience, which confers knowledge and renders faith unnecessary. You are simply extrapolating from previous experience, making an evaluation of possible future outcomes on the basis of what you already know, so faith doesn't have anything to do with it.


Is faith something without experience, or is it only blind faith that is without experience? I believe that the whole reason people use the term "blind faith" is because there is a difference between faith based on experience and faith without experience. My view is that ordinarily faith has some experience involved but in some cases you have blind faith with no apparent experience.

When you say "faith is only possible - and necessary" I become confused. Your point is that faith is not necessary, right? I don't think you meant to carry an implication that faith is necessary and so I wonder why the implication is there.

Of course the important thing in regards to this topic is whether right and wrong are based on experience. I have stolen things in the past, and based on those experiences alone I would have to come to the conclusion that stealing is a fantastic idea. Yet in the present if you were to videotape me all hours of the day you would see me passing up obvious opportunities to take things without asking. I'd be doing things a lot differently today if I believed stealing was just fine as long as you don't get caught. I do not see how experience lead me to that belief. Perhaps it would help if you told me the experiences that lead you to the belief that stealing is wrong.

[edit on 26-1-2009 by truthquest]



posted on Jan, 27 2009 @ 01:32 AM
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reply to post by truthquest
 


Is faith something without... belief that stealing is wrong.

As I said before, I look forward to reading a statement of your position on all this. Question time is over, I'm afraid.



posted on Jan, 27 2009 @ 02:29 AM
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Ya know I've been thinking about this thread and I thinks its premiss is wrong.

I think atheists are very well aware that good and evil exist. Its not a matter of acceptance, it is more becomes a matter of distinction.

Once again I think an average atheist understands that the world is filled with various opinions and views. Further more atheists who tend to have FAITH in science can easily
accept the spastic nature of existence.


This is important because it requires that a person make judgments based on a number of things.

WHO
WHAT
WHERE
WHY
WHEN

all of these things can change an ATHEISTS view on an act by establishing a POV and reference point.


I BELIEVE IT IS THE RELIGIOUS WHO CARRY BLIND FAITH.


THOU SHALT NOT STEAL!

A command from god himself - AS UNDERSTOOD, GOD CONSIDERS THEFT WRONG!

There is no wiggle room, you steal it is wrong in the eyes of god.

However the ATHEIST is not held down with any set of concrete rules. In fact all morality is inherent or chosen within the atheist.

For an atheist WHY you stole CAN BE just as important as IF you stole.


If you said..." I just stole an apple."

And I said "why?"


"Because I am hungry."

IN this case, I may be accepting in the fact that you stole an apple because you are hungry.

While another ATHEIST may be angry at the fact you stole the apple regardless.

You see, in order to be an atheist you need to be flexible. There is no rule book that will work or guides everyones life. This is a universal tenet for us...


I do not have to have any faith what so ever to be an atheist. Then again I can have as little or as much faith in anything I chose.

Your thread is an assertion that does not conform to the subjects in question, conformity is a con of atheism.


Atheism can refer to a million individual belief systems mixed and match a hundred million ways.

Your thread is based upon a generality and a concept that cannot be analyzed with generalities.

For atheists good and evil is often pure perception.

Your thesis is either right or wrong...

Good and evil applies to RELIGION

True and false applies to non believers - you do not need faith for true or false.NONE

Your title is true in its nature because you put the word - MANY...

Your title would still be true if you replaced the word ATHEIST with BELIEVER.

What is MANY???



posted on Jan, 27 2009 @ 02:33 AM
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Hehe, where do i start..If more than anything i'm agnostic. There is "something" on the other side, the problem is is the only people that know for sure are deceased or won't let me in on it..do i need a MVP card or something? hehe. Now back to your question...

The issue of good vs. evil is a matter of morality while right vs wrong is merely a matter of perception. What is good for one man can be evil for another and vice versus.

People have to understand that man was good AND evil before the juggernauts emerged..Christianity and Islam. After there emergence and insinuation in mankinds' society, these two religions now dictate what is right vs wrong and good vs evil for those that live in areas dominated by those religions and it's offshoots.

These are my thoughts in a nutshell to your question. If you or anyone would like me to elaborate, just ask
.



posted on Jan, 27 2009 @ 04:10 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
reply to post by truthquest
 


Is faith something without... belief that stealing is wrong.

As I said before, I look forward to reading a statement of your position on all this. Question time is over, I'm afraid.


Questions are unlimited... it is the answers that are limited... especially your latest one. In any case I'll just offer you statements:

If someone has a system by which they can take from society more than they give in return, they have found a system that benefits them at the expense of others. Stealing where the risk-return ratio is favorable a frequently realistic situation where individuals would be better off if they stole than if they chose not to steal.

Therefore, from the non-faith based atheistic view, I should reject the social contract and moral values completely for my own benefit when the risk-reward opportunity arises. I also have experience in doing exactly that: stealing for my own benefit. It worked well and the risk-return ratio was dramatically in my favor. I did not get caught and was at a low risk to do so.

While it is true that moral values benefit society, it is not true that moral values benefit individuals. As you pointed out in your evolutionary example, the hawks who broke the contract and ate the doves received a greater proportion of resources. That first hawk who was eating the other doves had life really good. Given the choice to be one of the doves or the first hawk, intuition would tell me to be the first hawk for my benefit, depending on the life-span of the hawk. If you look at it from a standpoint of choosing the life of one of the birds based purely on logic, to chose the life of the first hawk would make the most sense because they get the most reward over their life-span.

[edit on 27-1-2009 by truthquest]



posted on Jan, 27 2009 @ 04:55 AM
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reply to post by The Bald Champion
 


Very quickly I discovered that most atheists disagree that they have any belief at all in good/evil as a universal or an absolute. Yet most of the responders if not all of them said that either there is good & evil or right & wrong.

Moral values say for example: Stealing is wrong.

So if you have the moral value, "stealing is wrong" and then you make exceptions to steal food, then you don't have a moral value you just have a risk-return investment. If it turns out you get benefit then you are doing right. If you don't get benefit then you are doing wrong. If you say you have the moral value that stealing is wrong but then you compromise to steal an apple because of hunger, then what you have is not a right/wrong morals system but a better/worse risk-return system.

[edit on 27-1-2009 by truthquest]



posted on Jan, 27 2009 @ 08:28 AM
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Originally posted by truthquest
If someone has a system by which they can take from society more than they give in return, they have found a system that benefits them at the expense of others.

That is why genes for anti-social behaviour still continue to propagate through the human population after three million years.


Therefore, from the non-faith based atheistic view, I should reject the social contract and moral values completely for my own benefit...

Your genes, however, have other ideas. What you regard as wholly to your benefit is not necessarily of benefit to them and their imperatives are not lightly flouted. Read my exchange with Spiramirabilis above for the theory behind that. Don't forget to check out the links.


I also have experience in doing exactly that: stealing for my own benefit. It worked well and the risk-return ratio was dramatically in my favor. I did not get caught and was at a low risk to do so.

Bully for you. My sympathies, however, are entirely with those you stole from.


While it is true that moral values benefit society, it is not true that moral values benefit individuals. As you pointed out in your evolutionary example, the hawks who broke the contract and ate the doves received a greater proportion of resources. That first hawk who was eating the other doves had life really good. Given the choice to be one of the doves or the first hawk, intuition would tell me to be the first hawk...

So the idea of a loveless, friendless, hunted and ultimately rather short life appeals to you? Or do you simply believe that you will never be caught?

Oh, lovely, at last I have a proper excuse to use one of these:


[edit on 27-1-2009 by Astyanax]



posted on Jan, 27 2009 @ 01:17 PM
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Originally posted by truthquest
reply to post by The Bald Champion
 


Very quickly I discovered that most atheists disagree that they have any belief at all in good/evil as a universal or an absolute. Yet most of the responders if not all of them said that either there is good & evil or right & wrong.

Moral values say for example: Stealing is wrong.

So if you have the moral value, "stealing is wrong" and then you make exceptions to steal food, then you don't have a moral value you just have a risk-return investment. If it turns out you get benefit then you are doing right. If you don't get benefit then you are doing wrong. If you say you have the moral value that stealing is wrong but then you compromise to steal an apple because of hunger, then what you have is not a right/wrong morals system but a better/worse risk-return system.

[edit on 27-1-2009 by truthquest]


I posted much earlier on and also made the point that I believe in universal good and evil. There are any number of things that seem to be good - evil. Events and situations that create similar negative and positive responses across species. However this is my belief and is not a part of a system...

As a rule I do not claim to understand the long term effects and correlation between the two. From a kind act could sprout an evil act and visa versa. At that point it is hard to theorize upon.

As far as the stolen apple... You may be correct and I may have no moral standing as I am.

If you are looking for answers I suggest you narrow your theory.

BTW I think the laws of mankind are flexible much like your better worse assertion, more natural - like nature and existence itself.



posted on Jan, 27 2009 @ 11:54 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


Yes, morals originate at least mostly from our genes. From a purely logical standpoint, one should just dump what their genes are having them do and start doing what self-interest tells them to. "Logic is a higher form of reasoning than emotion(or faith)". A main function of logic is to correct our instinct when our instinct tells us to do things that are not in our best interest. For example, if we are running late to work and have to go to the bathroom , or logic often over-rides the emotional desire to go to the bathroom and delays the event until after we have clocked in.

Logic stands to correct emotional decisions that fail to act in the persons best best interest. Genes can also be defective, so from a purely logical point of view you would correct them every time in which they are defective. Logic can spot faulty genes, and logic can try to correct the faulty genes.

Many if not most people have stolen at least one thing of value in the past, so it is not correct to single me out as someone who currently has a policy of stealing. There are frequent situations in which stealing is in the best interest of the opportunist due to a a risk-return factor highly in their favor. For example, the other day I walked past a nice looking group of tools on the way in my residence where to get caught would almost require a change in the laws of physics. An even more frequent example than that is finding a lost wallet loaded with cash. That really shows whether or not someone has a strong moral value set!



posted on Jan, 27 2009 @ 11:56 PM
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Originally posted by truthquest
A lot of true atheists seem to have blind faith that there is fundamentally/absolutely right and wrong.

Please let me know your thoughts on this.


Many religous people have blind faith and absolutely believe they are correct and everyone else is wrong....your above statement proves this point



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