Sunday, 28 August 2016

Objective Morality

  1. Objective Morality

    First, let's define these two words:

    (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.
    "historians try to be objective and impartial"
    synonyms:    impartial, unbiased, unprejudiced, nonpartisan, disinterested, neutral, uninvolved, even-handed, equitable, fair, fair-minded, just, open-minded, dispassionate, detached, neutral
    "I was hoping to get an objective and pragmatic report"
    principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
    synonyms:    ethics, rights and wrongs, ethicality More

    So together it is “A set of principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior that is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.”

    So if you have a standard of morality that cannot be influenced by your own feelings, you can have objective morality. 

    My proposed standard:

    Does the action cause unnecessary mental, physical or emotional suffering?

    Note: some suffering is necessary and even good for us, such as the mental anguish a child “suffers” when denied a cookie. Yes, it is possible to objectively show giving the child the cookie would do more harm than good. i.e. too many sweets are bad for your teeth along other possible health risks.

    One could argue about whether something is necessary or not, but good luck justifying how the harm caused to a rape victim might be necessary. One scenario might be “Rape the girl or the whole village dies.” But then the person making the threat would be the one acting immoral since the threat is unnecessary not the one being forced to make the choice.

    Does the action diminish the other person in some meaningful way?

    Example: Stealing diminishes another person's wealth, however, stealing from someone with an excess of resources likely won't diminish the other person in a meaningful way and if the theft was to reduce suffering such as feeding your starving family, it can easily be argued that the theft was more moral than allowing your family to starve. A theft that doesn't meaningfully diminish another, but equally doesn't reduce the suffering of others, such as illegally downloading music, is unnecessary and thus can be said to do more harm than good.  I admit that there is some subjectivity to what constitutes “meaningful”, but I think it can be defined as “if it causes the person to suffer hardship such as they themselves would then starve”.

    If the answer is “Yes” to either 1 or 2, it's objectively immoral. It is difficult for personal feelings or preferences to rationally influence the answer, at least not in a way that can't further be examined objectively to remove the personal bias. 

    Is God required to have objective morality? No, you just need a standard to compare the behavior to.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Crosses & Kaaba's

Mankind pulled himself out of the darkness of the base instincts shared with his animal cousins.

In his initial confusion, that lasted thousands of years, Man made up stories to explain that which He didn't understand.

Unable to grasp why He was so different than his animal brethren, He could only assume there was something special about him.

It was almost like Man had been chosen by someone. Given the gifts of intellect & consciousness to bring Order to the Chaos.

It was in this time of confusion that Man created the Gods, but as this veil of confusion lifted, the gods began disappearing.

As Man started understanding more & more, they consolidated the Gods into ever more powerful versions to explain the greater complexity they saw.

Until finally Tribes began claiming their God was the only God. The most powerful God, the Creator God.

Over the years, this God grew in power & acceptance. Still, Man's knowledge continued to grow, He saw less and less need for a God.

It saddens me that Man became so comfortable with confusion that He held tightly to its veil, keeping it there for hundreds of years longer than needed.

But, as with previous gods, this Creator God slowly lost its believers. One by one & two by two.

Until only the most crazy, most fanatical & most ignorant were left kneeling before  Crosses & Kaaba's.

The fog of confusion had finally left Mankind and he could finally understand his place in the universe.

A place that was simultaneously incredibly special and blandly ordinary.

A place shared by a nigh infinite number of other "chosen" species from one end of the Universe to the other.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Counter to Cosmological Argument

Authors note: This post was a counter response to Matthew (@Redsox_239) who said he'd respond:

but instead did this:

Ah well, I got an interesting post out of it.


Matthew (M): "Okay so two options on the table..Necessary being or Necessary Substance (like energy). Its true that both of these would avoid an infinite regress, but the former also makes a lot more sense then the latter."

Me/Bruce (B): I disagree. We know energy is necessary for existence & that it exists. Also, thermodynamics says energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed. So eternal energy fits with known physics. An eternal being is an unsubstantiated claim, so obviously eternal energy makes more sense.

M: "A Necessary being has a non-physical necessary mind, and comes with intelligence and ability to create"

B: There is no evidence a mind can exist without a physical structure such as a brain. So this is purely an unsubstantiated claim.

M: "A Necessary substance is simply an existing substance. To create it has to have the ability to do something by itself."

B: Nature has the ability to do things by itself via the four fundamental forces, although this is at risk of anthropomorphizing nature.

M: "So it would have to be conscious. It would have to be intelligence to create a variety of contingent things, and power to do anything. This just starts to sound like a necessary being."

B: As noted above, nature has forces in place that remove the need for a concious being to create things. Eternal energy is just energy constantly changing its state, something we know happens, in fact, it's something we see & do  every second of our lives. Breathing, fusion in stars, walking, eating, water boiling is all just energy changing it's state. No intelligence needed for energy to change state.

M: "So clearly a being makes much more sense. Maybe you know about cosmic fine-tuning. This could perhaps be seen as supporting evidence for a being rather then just some substance as necessary."

B: Nothing clear at all about it. An eternal being requires unsubstantiated claims & presuppositions. With eternal energy, it's unsurprising energy would eventually hit a state that can support life as we know it & it's wholly (pun intended) unsurprising we find ourselves existing at a moment when this is possible since it's the only possible time we could exist.

So in conclusion, I think I have soundly shown that a concious being is not the most probable option since it requires going against known physics while eternal energy fits perfectly within known physics.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

A brief history of Yahweh

Yahweh started out as a small time tribal god, just one of many in the Middle East several thousand years ago. He stayed this way for a long time until a guy named Saul, aka Paul, (2) pulled off one of the greatest PR campaigns in history and started convincing Gentiles to follow Yahweh (not having to cut off the tip of their dicks really helped increase the numbers). This set off yet another branch (with many twigs) in the family tree of Judaism.

Then Constantine, the Roman Emperor, stopped the persecution of Christians and eventually declared himself a Christian. While his unfettered support for the Catholic Church surely helped increase Yahweh's stature, it wasn't until Theodosius I made Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire that Yahweh really spread throughout Europe…usually at the end of a sword.

In one of the great ironies of history, one of the most persecuted religious sects in history, became, arguably, the greatest persecutors of other religious sects in history. By doing so, they managed to turn a small time Bronze Age tribal god into the most worshipped god in the world…but yeah, Yahweh is totally real.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Re: Religious Faith for Artie

I tend to stick with established definitions. So for "Religious Faith" I'd use the second definition of faith found in Oxford:

2 Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.

People that argue a position based on their own personal definition of a word are being dishonest. It strips credibility, hinders communication & risks invalidating their entire point. Words have meanings…people should use them.

Friday, 20 November 2015

A rambling take on Refugees, atheism & Human Rights

Preface: I started out with one intent when writing this & it kind if spiraled into something else as I wrote. It may or may not be cogent. 

And sorry for the typos. I tried to catch them all but I'm sure I missed some…I usually do.


I'm not sure who's more scared, the refugees fleeing a horrendous war, or the people that are scared of the people fleeing a horrendous war.

As an atheist, many might assume I'd be against letting in more Muslims. Islam is, after all, a horribly oppressive & often violent ideology (cue the standard accusations of Islamophobia & bigotry). And of course, atheists supposedly want to ban all religions (or alternately, perhaps you think we only want to ban yours). Truth is, I & most atheists I know, want people to be free. Free to believe as they see fit (but not force those beliefs on others or onto our Secular government), free to question (not ban…question) others beliefs & free to live happy, safe lives. 

Atheists don't believe in "nothing", we actually have many beliefs (although I admit some avoid the word 'belief' like its a radioactive zombie preacher that will turn them into a religious nutjob if they get 'infected' by it) but a belief in gods isn't one of them and not all atheists share the same beliefs outside the God question. Even in that area there can be rigorous debates between atheists, however we never seem to feel the desire to blow each other up over our differences. Weird, I know. I doubt we'll ever see the Great Atheist/Agnostic War.

One of my most cherished beliefs is in Human Rights. Yes, that includes the right to Religious Freedom…but with a caveat: If your Religion interferes in the Human or legal rights of others, your religion loses without question. For example, many religions restrict the rights of gays and women…your religion loses out to their human rights for equality.

With that said, refugees also have Human Rights.

What are these Human Rights? Let's have a look.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1 says, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…" & that everyone  "should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

In other words, the refugees are your equal. Don't like it? Too bad. Take your bigotry elsewhere.

Article 2 says, "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind…". 

Did you see that word 'Everyone'? That would include refugees…yes, even 20-something male refugees.

Article 3 says, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."

"Security of person". Maybe…just maybe…these refugees are simply looking to enjoy this basic human right. Maybe. Or maybe they're all evil terrorists hell-bent on destroying our perfect Western World! 

Yeah, somehow I doubt they're all bogeymen.

Please read Articles 4 to 13, but I'll skip ahead to the most relevant article, that being Article 14:
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

What's that? You mean the right to seek asylum from persecution is a Universal Human Right? So by opposing this right, you're opposing human rights. 

Think about that for awhile.

Take all the time you need to let it sink it.

Done? Got it? Good. I'll encourage you to go read Articles 24 through 28. They are also very much applicable.

I think a lot of people shout & holler about wanting to protect Human Rights, but I think a lot of these people have never read the actual document that has been signed & agreed to by the majority of the global community.

Before you go slamming other countries, people & ideologies for restricting or violating the Human Rights of others…you should make sure you're not promoting the restriction or violation of basic Universal Human Rights. 

I fully expect a chorus of responses from well-to-do western crybabies complaining about somehow having their own Human Rights trampled on by these refugees. I welcome anyone to prove how allowing refugees into your country will actually restrict or violate your Human Rights. Not 'possibly' or 'might'. Those words are meaningless fear mongering. Show how your rights will actually be affected. 

Yes, I learned a lot by writing this. Yes, I too need to review my own beliefs & attitudes. We all do & while we do it, we need to beware of the biggest free thought killer known to man: that restricter of rational reasoning is referred to as Cognitive Dissonance. 

"Cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas or values, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values."

Learn what it is.

Watch for its evil tendrils snaking into your brain.

Be scared of its mind numbing powers.

Kick its ass. Kill it. Destroy it. Never let it win.

Think freely.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

A response to @adikira

By @adikira

In my opinion, I have taken atemporality into account. Putting God outside time means my future is available to God, for lack of better words, as if it's the past or in the same way as my past is. The past is set & cannot change, so if my future is equal to my past to an atemporal deity, then my future is equally set & cannot change. Meaning, per my meme you responded to:

P='What God infallibly knows I'll do/did', the fact he knows this outside my timeline doesn't change the fact there is only one option available…that being P. Unless God is only learning what I'll do, as I do it, there can never be more than 1 choice. It feels like a choice, but it's not. For example: 

I have to choose if I'm going to jump, run or roll. With freewill it looks like this:
A) Jump
B) Run
C) Roll
All are equally viable options & God waits with baited breath, wondering what I'll do. Oh the drama!!

With an omniscient being at play, this being knows I jumped, whether this is foreknowledge or looking ahead in my "book" as per your analogy, or sees all of time simultaneously (as some claim atemporality to be), he knows this infallibly & isn't learning what I'll do as I do it, nor can he be "surprised" (he's read every page of the book at the same time). 
So my choice now looks like this:
P) Jump
P) Jump
P) Jump

To me, it feels like I'm picking A, B or C, but it was always going to be P. To God, it's a boring rerun & he's likely nodded off (explaining the lack of prayer response at the same time).

I appreciate the time @adikira spent responding to me.