Friday, July 14, 2006

More monkey business

Continuing with George:

“I’m sorry Steve…in a complex world of 6.5 billion homo sapiens, when are cooperative and selfish behaviors ‘not in tension?”

I’m sorry George, but you just reversed y0urself. This is what you originally said:

“He seems to insinuate that altruism and self interest are mutually exclusive. His ignorance that altruism often serves a “self interest”, speaks volumes about his ignorance of basic evolutionary behaviors and the various strategies employed by social, cooperative species such as ours.”

Now, however, he backs around and asks us when altruism and self-interest are “not” in a state of tension.

Moving along:

“You did make a nebulous reference to a ‘lifeboat’ and ‘hedonism’ in your last post, but actually never pursued the details of any ‘textbook examples, much less any real world experiments that showed why a Calvinist would behave differently than an Islamist, humanist, Buddhist or Scientologist in any given moral scenario.”

I see I overestimated George’s grasp of the obvious. Since the lifeboat scenario is a stock hypothetical in social ethics, it hardly needs explaining for the average reader with an above room temperature IQ. But we’ll make an exception in George’s case. Here’s a standard illustration:

***QUOTE***

So here we sit, say 50 people in our lifeboat. To be generous, let us assume it has room for 10 more, making a total capacity of 60. Suppose the 50 of us in the lifeboat see 100 others swimming in the water outside, begging for admission to our boat or for handouts. We have several options: we may be tempted to try to live by the Christian ideal of being "our brother's keeper," or by the Marxist ideal of "to each according to his needs." Since the needs of all in the water are the same, and since they can all be seen as "our brothers," we could take them all into our boat, making a total of 150 in a boat designed for 60. The boat swamps, everyone drowns. Complete justice, complete catastrophe.

Since the boat has an unused excess capacity of 10 more passengers, we could admit just 10 more to it. But which 10 do we let in? How do we choose? Do we pick the best 10, "first come, first served"? And what do we say to the 90 we exclude? If we do let an extra 10 into our lifeboat, we will have lost our "safety factor," an engineering principle of critical importance.

Suppose we decide to preserve our small safety factor and admit no more to the lifeboat. Our survival is then possible although we shall have to be constantly on guard against boarding parties.

http://www.garretthardinsociety.org/articles/art_lifeboat_ethics_case_against_helping_poor.html

***END-QUOTE***

In such a scenario, a consistent Christian would be self-sacrificial while a consistent humanist would be self-centered.

“Again with the constant mimicry of my phrasing…I’m honored. It’s like having a pet monkey.”

And do you feel equally honored to be the pet monkey of natural selection?

“I derive my understanding of the world via the empirical observation and testing method we generally refer to as science.”

Pity that the interpretation of your sensory input is at the mercy of that blindly programmed primate brain of yours.

“Are you a zoologist or animal behavior specialist, Steve? Perhaps you could link me to your thesis on why wolves, dogs, lions, elephants, whales and other sentient social mammals, are not in a position to use their brains and evaluate altruistic versus self interests in a variety of circumstances?”

Oh, so you think that Fido engages in metaethical deliberations over existentialism, utilitarianism, and deontology?

Tell me, George, if you also believe that white mice are hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings?

“I hope this ‘textbook example’ helps you to understand, that human behavior is not all driven by ‘abstract reasoning, nor is it always alturistic, in even the most pretentious Christian blowhards like yourself.

I see that you suffer from short-term memory loss. Sorry about that.

In the context of this ongoing thread, the point was made that human beings, due to their powers of abstract reasoning, are able to objectify and therefore evaluate their instinctual impulses.

“Alturism and cooperative behavior doesn’t need a ‘worldview’ other than the one driven by survival and reproductive success in species.”

You continue to commit the naturalistic fallacy. Such philosophical naïveté does have a certain artless charm. Another throwback to George’s primate brain.

Perhaps we should have the old boy stuffed and put him in a museum of natural history—alongside Australopithecus.

We could exhume Stephen Jay Gould to complete the display. After all, we’re nothing more than meat machines.

“I guess this means you won’t be releasing your tax returns so we can see how much of a hypocrite you are with all this ‘altruistic’ posturing.”

And should I file this away with your other admittedly subjective value judgments?

In any event, hypocritical behavior doesn’t need a “worldview” other than the one driven by survival and reproductive success in species.

Welcome to the rat race, George. Calculated hypocrisy beats slavish altruism at the Derby every day of the week.

“Persecution never more personified, than in the butcher of Geneva, John Calvin.”

Yet another one of George’s subjective value-judgments. At this rate I need to compile a cumulative index of George’s subjective value judgments.

One wonders why George is so hard on poor old Calvin. After all, such card-carrying Darwinians as Dawkins and Dennett have taught us that a man like Calvin is the project of his memetic conditioning—that pesky old God-meme, ya know!

But a “simpleton” like George hasn’t evolved to the point where he can appreciate the memeplexity of Calvin’s historical predicament.

“More flattery…here’s another newsflash Steve, I’m not a supporter of Stalin, like you are of Calvin. They were both tyrants that used their positions of power to murder their theological and political opponents.”

It’s unfortunate for George that his withering disapproval is, by his own account, nothing more than a subjective value judgment. Sorta takes the bite out of his Olympian strictures.

“Btw…has your god ever come to you and told you to kill anyone for him?”

Btw…have your memes ever come to you and told you to kill anyone for Mother Nature?

“And group inter-subjectivity.”

I see. Speaking of which—executing heretics in the 16C was an intersubjective value-judgment as well.

“Moral thought is not something that either exists in the objective mind of your imaginary god or just in an individual’s mind. It is an inter-subjective, evolving phenomena that is spread via DNA and human culture. “

And by your own reckoning, Calvin was also a byproduct of sociobiology.

Also, if what is right or wrong is indexed to one’s historical position, why should Calvin be impressed by your own culture-bound value-judgments?

Oh, and I do hope you’re not going to appeal to the quaint, 19C notion of evolutionary progress, for naturalistic evolution is a non-directive process.

12 comments:

  1. What is it with this 'butcher of Geneva' tag? If George is still reading, would he like to tell us exactly how many people Calvin had killed?

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  2. George the primate7/15/2006 10:14 AM

    More self flagellation from Steve's needy ego:

    Now, however, he backs around and asks us when altruism and self-interest are “not” in a state of tension.

    No Steve, I haven’t “backed around” on anything. Is there a point to all this semantic drivel?
    “Altruism” and “self interest” are not perfectly defined little bins Steve, that you can easily classify all human behavior into. They are not mutually exclusive, and they can be taking place amongst all kinds of individuals, kin groups, tribal groups, or entire nations. And yes, the word "tension" could be used to describe what is going on in these myriad biological interactions and decisions...so what?

    I see you failed to answer my question.

    Is waiting for the green light being altruistic or is it looking out for your self interest?


    I see I overestimated George’s grasp of the obvious. Since the lifeboat scenario is a stock hypothetical in social ethics, it hardly needs explaining for the average reader with an above room temperature IQ.

    SMIRK…Steve still needs to mimick...

    I’m sorry if I’m not familiar with the “stock hypotheticals” scenarios where you get to flagellate your Reformed Christian hypocrite ego and pretend what a great altruistic person you are compared to say some Buddhists in a life boat.

    Thanks for flashing me with your huge altruistic penis, it's very impressive.


    But we’ll make an exception in George’s case. Here’s a standard illustration:

    {snip hypothetical that Steve cuts and pastes from another website that he seemingly NEVER ACTUALLY READ}

    Steve…is it possible for you to make a point without cutting and pasting other people’s words and ideas?

    Is it possible for you to get through a post without mimicking my prose and simply changing some words to try and rail against the facts of biological evolution that frighten you?

    Is it possible for you to try and make your argument using real world examples, and empirical evidence, instead of meaningless hypothetical scenarios, that you steal from websites, where you didn’t even read and include their conclusion? One that was VASTLY different then the one line quip you’ve tacked onto it here?

    Again Steve, I’m starting to form a mental profile of you based on the level of intellect I see displayed in these posts…and it is not flattering. You’re going to need to do better if you’re going to hold my interest.

    I'll probably move on after this post, the amusement level you're providing me is just not worth my time at this point.

    So Steve cuts and pastes the lifeboat hypothetical from a long, thoughtful website article that was using it as analogy to advocate how best to manage the world's limited resources in both shared and private property scenarios amongst rich and poor populations with different population growth rates.

    Did Steve even read the article, and its conclusions? Conclusions that had nothing to do with religious "worldviews"?
    No…it would seem not, he just googled “life boat ethics”, cut and pasted the story he needed, and then added this one line quip to flagellate his own needy Calvinist, hypocrite ego:


    In such a scenario, a consistent Christian would be self-sacrificial while a consistent humanist would be self-centered.


    Again, Steve seems to be claiming that “Reformed Protestant Christians” are all somehow magically “self-sacrificial” people, that they would happily give up there seats in lifeboats to humanists, Buddhists, Muslims and perhaps even Mormons…because we all know from real world experience, that Reformed Protestant Christians don’t value their own lives, as much as the other world’s religious and atheistic traditions.

    LOL…That’s hilarious.

    Perhaps Steve wants to relate the real world example of the Titanic in this example? Who got on those lifeboats Steve? Was it humanists? Were all the rich, first class passengers “humanists” on the Titanic? Were all those children and women in steerage good, consistant “Reformed Protestant Christians” who willingly “sacrificed” themselves for the good of the First class humanists? Spare me…

    http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/titanic.html

    Sorry Steve…your hypothetical conclusions don’t match the real world. But hopefully they make you feel “good” about yourself and your "worldview" and your alleged "morality". Yes I imagine Steve sitting on his fat ass, in his comfy Western home, munching on microwave popcorn while he posts about how "moral and altruistic" he is compared to others, on some backwater Calvinista cult website. Yes I can just imagine Steve is a paragon of virtue and altruism following in the great footsteps of Jesus.

    GAG!

    You’re a poseur Steve…you’re a hypocrite…you’re in denial. Feel free to post your tax returns and prove me wrong.

    Feel free to give up your home and computer and TV to that poor homeless person, or poor Mexican family who needs a seat on your "lifeboat", Steve.

    Here’s a clue Steve…there are no such things as your hypothetical morals…it’s a figment of your imagination, till we see it demonstrated in the REAL WORLD.

    You're a hypocrite Steve.

    In the context of this ongoing thread, the point was made that human beings, due to their powers of abstract reasoning, are able to objectify and therefore evaluate their instinctual impulses.

    No Steve, that point was never established, and that was the point of my "bear in the woods" sceanrio. One I managed to write up without the help of google.

    “Abstract reasoning” is not some magical thing that over powers human instincts, especially in real time, life threatening situations.

    You continue to commit the naturalistic fallacy. Such philosophical naïveté does have a certain artless charm. Another throwback to George’s primate brain.


    You haven’t shown where I’ve committed any “Naturalistic Fallacy”.

    You’re trying to claim that Christians are more “altruistic” than “humanists”, or that “altruism” requires some kind of specific human, Christian “worldview”. You’ve not demonstrated either of those propositions. The fact remains that “altruistic” behaviors are seen in many other sentient mammals. There are countless examples of animals sacrificing themselves to predators to save others in their family or group. I doubt any of these animals are Reformed Protestants.

    Your argument fails.

    Perhaps we should have the old boy stuffed and put him in a museum of natural history—alongside Australopithecus.

    We could exhume Stephen Jay Gould to complete the display. After all, we’re nothing more than meat machines.

    LOL

    Still frightened and reviled by the fact that you’re a mammal Steve?
    Can’t quite come to grips with the fact that your father grunted over your mother’s sweaty body and ejaculated his sperm into her ovum, so that you could be conceived in her placenta?
    Still disturbed by the fact that she nursed you with her breast milk, just like a chimpanzee or dog or elephant does to its young?

    Ahh…poor, little, angry Stevie…it's like watching a child come to grips with finding out there's no santa. Poor Steve, he can’t quite come to grips with the fact that he’s not the most important thing in the universe.
    He's not the "reason" the universe exists. He's not the pet creation of a bronze age Hebrew tribal deity. That he’s just another evolved mammal, that's he just "meat" to a lion. And he's really upset that we have all these hominid fossils like Australopithecus, and that he can't explain why Noah didn't put these hominids on the ark.

    LOL

    Poor, poor, Stevie. He needs to imagine he’s “special”, that he’s specially created and designed by a god, not the result of his father’s ejaculation. Poor little Stevie, he needs to imagine he’s this great paragon of altruism, while he sits on his fat ass, in his comfy home, posting on the Calvinista warrior website.

    I live for exposing pretentious, ignorant, hypocrites like you, Steve. Thanks for the opportunity. The irony has been rich and deeply satisfying. Thanks.

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  3. Was Hiraeth's question answered in all that monologue?

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  4. If George is still reading, would he like to tell us exactly how many people Calvin had killed?


    How many people did Calvin have beheaded, burned alive, tortured, imprisoned, exiled and humiliated in the public square, for not conforming to his strict Christian theology and moral discipline of "love your neighbor as yourself"?

    I don't know the exact number, but from my understanding it was probably dozens.

    Why...how many people have to be burned at the stake for not being trinitarian, or for practicing witchcraft, before you would start to care?

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  5. I wonder if burning someone at the stake for not being a trinitarian is considered "altruistic"?

    If only Calvin had been in a hypothteticallifeboat, and Servetus had been in the water asking for his seat...perhaps things would have turned out differently.

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  6. George, Calvin had no men beheaded. Yes men were exiled from Geneva (a small city state). Although Calvin was not the civil magistrate, and was himself exiled at one point.

    My question was regarding execution, George, not exile, not imprisonment. Killing. After all, 'butcher'implies killing, not exile (I never saw a butcher exile a pig). Calvin had one man burned. One man. Bloke named Servetus. Contrast this with the over 200 Protestants burned under Mary Tudor of England.

    I suggest you check your facts with a reputable history like MacCullough's 'Great Reformation' before making assertions on subjects that you so obviously know nothing about.

    It is not the case that I don't care about one man. I do care about accuracy. Yes, Servetus should not have died, but one man does not a massacre make, does not a butcher make. If a man kills one man, is he eally equivalent to Pol Pot or Stalin?

    And now you've been caught, don't try to widen the category.

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  7. Oh, and anon.
    Hypothetical life boats don't float. Only real ones.


    Sorry, couldn't resist.

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  8. George, Calvin had no men beheaded.

    Jacques Gruet, a known opponent of Calvin, was arrested, tortured for a month and beheaded on July 26, 1547, for placing a letter in Calvin's pulpit calling him a hypocrite.

    I'm surprised a big student of the Reformation who has allegedly read MacCullough's history, wasn't aware of that. I suggest you check your facts.

    Its estimated that under Calvin's rule fifty-eight sentences of death and seventy-six of exile, besides numerous committals of the most eminent citizens to prison, took place in Geneva.

    Calvin used all matter of violence, and threat of violence against people who disagreed with his particular brand of Christian theology.

    And the idea of punishing "heretics" was so pervasive in that society that it did not occur even most thoughtful, loving Protestants filled with the Holy Spirit that the whole concept of repression of thought was evil and against the spirit, and the letter, of the gospels.

    No prominent Protestant religious leader was against the punishment of heretics in general. Very few people among the clergy or laymen opposed the death penalty for heretics and the opponents were mostly just against the abuse and indiscriminate use of such a punishment for political purposes.

    If you support that, that's fine, but please don't try and pretend it didn't happen, and Servetus was just one little corner case.

    Calvin's tyranny in Geneva is well known, and I find modern Calvinistas who want to white wash it, or claim he didn't have ulitmate authority in Geneva, almost as amusing as the Islamic fascists and neo-nazis who want to deny the holocaust.

    Calvin was just another petty tyrant in a long history of tyrants. His actions led to an eventual backlash and stregthened the Unitarian movement, and the concepts of freedom of religious thought and speech that we have today in the West.

    If you're looking for a Christian hero from that time, look no further than Sebastian Castellio, who risked his life and career standing up to Calvin's tyranny, and was hounded by Calvin for it.

    If you're looking for what Calvin looks like today, look no farther than folks like Fred Phelps.

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  9. George,
    On MacCulloch, I note that I never stated I'd actually read it. It's on my bookshelf, but I've not had time to read it yet. I have never claimed to be a 'Reformation Scholar'. I've taught the Reformation in High School, but I'm not a scholar of it. However, allow me to state the fact:

    'And the idea of punishing "heretics" was so pervasive in that society that it did not occur even most thoughtful, loving Protestants filled with the Holy Spirit that the whole concept of repression of thought was evil and against the spirit, and the letter, of the gospels.'

    In your own words, the magisterial Reformers did not know any better. Not until the Seventeenth Century would the principle of religious toleration be enshrined in Protestant Britain. I agree with you. No man had a problem with the burning of heretics, even Servetus.

    Yes, I may have made an error, and I admit that. However, I do not 'support' the burning of Heretics as you imply, as a British citizen, I agree that every heretic who was burned was a tragedy. You may have noted that I said that the burning of Servetus was a bad thing. But that by modern standards. In the sixteenth century, no man had a problem with it.

    As a atheist moral relativist, you should have no problem with it.

    Oh, and the 'reign of terror' is not believable. Calvin never held any official position but pastor. May I know which scholarly work you got your figures from? Or is it the usual 'Every Atheists big book of anti-Christian facts.

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  10. On MacCulloch, I note that I never stated I'd actually read it.


    LOL

    You told me to "check my facts" with a book you've never read?!?
    But its sitting on your shelf? Oh that's hilarious!

    That pretty much captures your intellectual profile right there.
    You're ignorant. You're understanding of history is filtered through the soundbites of the Reformed Illuminati that publish their tripe on this Calvin fansite.


    In your own words, the magisterial Reformers did not know any better.

    No, but plenty of others did, including Christians like Sebastian Castellio. Why don't you google that name and see what happens when a Christian with a conscious stands up to a tyrant like Calvin.

    So now I'm confused Hiraeth...why didn't John Calvin "know any better"? Wasn't he filled, and being guided, by the EXACT same magical, holy spirit of Jesus as you? Didn't he spend all his days reading the EXACT same bible and praying to the EXACT same god as you?

    Didn't he have the EXACT SAME OBJECTIVE MORALITY as you and the rest of these Reformed Calvinistas on this god foresaken website?

    Tell me hireath, why should I think that "burning heretics at the stake" is "wrong" like you claim? Why is it a tragedy, when Calvin declared it was a "good thing" that "saved souls"?

    John Calvin defended the execution of heretics, claiming it is what the god of the bible wants.

    Whats the matter hiraeth? Don't you have the stomach for being a Calvinist? Are you too sqeamish to stone a woman accussed of adultery to death, or burn a non-Trinitarian at the stake?

    Sigh...you know Hireath, perhaps you should look into "Humanism", because you don't sound like someone who approves of God's "objective morality".

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  11. So Calvin was wrong about burning heretics. He was just a man and he misundertood the Word of God on that issue. God has not issued a NT commandment to do likewise. We don't live under the OT theocracy. Calvin being wrong in that instance (it's not the only thing he was wrong about) doesn't invalidate the OBJECTIVE MORALITY of the Scriptures, does it? Your point is irrelevant as far as disproving an objective moral standard is concerned...

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  12. So Calvin was wrong about burning heretics.
    Says who? You? Anonymous? Sorry, unlike you credophiles, I don't take the word of "anonymous" folks who can write as "god's word".

    LOL!


    He was just a man and he misundertood the Word of God on that issue.

    You're just a man, and you misunderstand the "WORD OF GOD" on this issue. I have spoken!

    This is a fun game!

    God has not issued a NT commandment to do likewise. We don't live under the OT theocracy. Calvin being wrong in that instance (it's not the only thing he was wrong about) doesn't invalidate the OBJECTIVE MORALITY of the Scriptures, does it?

    LOL

    And when did god appoint you as his exclusive spokesmodel on what is right and wrong?

    Thanks for amusing me with another hilarious example of a theist chasing his own tail in search of his own "absolute" moral authority.

    I guess I like you better than Calvin...cause you won't "burn me"...unless it becomes fashionable again.

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