Mark Perakh posted Entry 2643 on October 15, 2006 03:47 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2637

This is a guest appearance by Gert Korthof. I have not contributed a single word to this essay and post it as a courtesy to Gert.

Despite the title of Francis Collins’ book The Language of God - A Scientist presents evidence for belief, Collins delivered a superb defense of evolution based on data from genomics and an unambiguous rejection of YEC and ID. He does not claim a supernatural origin of life. His Theistic Evolution is a more science-friendly form of religion then YEC and ID, because it reduces supernatural intervention to a minimum. However Collins still has strong disagreements with the Darwinian explanation of altruism. He needs to rethink his Moral Law argument, which is not a coherent argument and ignores animal behaviour research.

Continue reading Francis Collins on evolution and altruism on Talk Reason.

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Comment #139573

Posted by David B. Benson on October 15, 2006 5:03 PM (e)

Another review of this and three other books by scientists on religion, by George Johnson, is in the Oct 2006 issue of Scientific American.

Thanks for posting this quite thorough review…

Comment #139576

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 15, 2006 6:08 PM (e)

It’s quite a good review, both of Collins’ excellent pro-evolution arguments, and his strange exceptionalism regarding human biology and relatedness to chimps and other primates whose actions are so reminiscent of our own.

It might be worth noting that Collins claims to have taken up religion because of the moral perspective, and the hope that we are something more than just animals acting out our genes. Then again, you’ll get enough non-theistic evolutionists who think there’s something “special” about humans as well.

Quite arguably, bonobo chimps are the more moral of the great apes/humans, unless you have some moral revulsion against their rampant sexuality. Compared with injunctions to go off and slaughter the enemies in the Bible, bonobos rarely kill each other at all, and I have not heard of their engaging in warfare.

One should notice well how Collins is quite orthodox in his area of specialty, deviating from science and causality where he lacks a strong grasp of other relevant sciences. Thus “cosmological ID”, which has been well called an “observation” and not properly a conclusion, appeals to him.

And he will not look at evolved genes only to conclude that they were designed, but he will look at evolved morality and call it “designed” or some such thing (he may have the decency to not label god a designer, in fact).

Why is this? Does he think that causality reigns in biology, as we consider it to necessarily do in the classical sciences, only for causality to disappear when we get to the ten commandments/torah/new testament? Do the precursors of the “Law of God” mean nothing to him? Are we to think that Hammurabi’s Code had no influence upon Biblical Morality, that Greek concepts did not evolve into New Testament morality?

In principle, Collins’ fight against ID is the same thing as our fight to show that morality has evolved and been shaped by cultural/economic factors, not to mention our evolved tendencies. He has to be blind to the purposes and precursors of Xian morality for him to suppose that it came pristine from God, much as the “hypothesis” of the “design” of humans has to ignore all of the evidence against it (as well as the lack of evidence for it).

There is, however, an inherent strangeness to morality in today’s society, which is that it has nearly to be portrayed as if it did come down from God without development, to be followed without question. For how else is it to be binding upon us? And still in the scientific sense we have to understand that morality is simply an idealization of our primate behaviors, which might suggest that Roman religion is closer to human form than is our secularization of Xianity in modern society.

The two tendencies are at odds with each other, much as the judiciary’s belief in “free will” is at odds with science’s recognition that we are animals whose behaviors are caused by nature and nurture.

It seems that we need the kinds of fictions in our society which cannot be supported by good science.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #139580

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 15, 2006 6:30 PM (e)

“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

Or tribal “necessity”, or jingoism, or fear of “the other”. Really, there is no shortage of ways to get “good people” to do “evil things”. Religion is a frequent tool for getting “good people” to do “evil things”, but propaganda, concern about “contamination”, nationalism, and “superiority” based upon any number of contrivances will also do.

Nazis, yes, but very many others as well, used various “reasons” for superiority to inure their agents to the suffering of others. The Japanese seemed to use both nationalism and a kind of military code (which we did not follow) to decide that captured American soldiers were lesser beings, not worthy of respect. And of course America has its racism and other “-isms” that have served similar purposes.

McCarthyism did not rely upon religion, except in a kind of negative sense (“godless communists”), to make the communist out to be a person deserving less than other folk. This pales against Stalin’s ideological/nationalistic “reasons” to treat various people with less respect than he did the animals.

No, there is no reason to set off religion as uniquely evil like some would, any more than it should be considered uniquely good, as Collins would.

The danger of religion comes from its valuation of non-empirically based concepts, indeed, its exaltation of non-demonstrable beliefs over what can be shown (some religions have diminished this aspect of their religion, yet it may be that none have eliminated it). As such, both religion and quasi-religious cults (nazism, stalinism) could use the religious proclivities of their subjects to support similarly ill-evidenced and emotional reactions to “enemies”.

So I am not altogether disagreeing with Weinstein’s assessment of religion. It’s just that humans are fairly non-rational beings whose prejudices can be appealed to in many ways to “do evil”. Religion is just one of them, and we are disarming ourselves against human evils if we assume that there is only one phenomenon which can make “good people” do “evil things”.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #139582

Posted by Carol Clouser on October 15, 2006 6:54 PM (e)

Glen wrote:

“Compared with injunctions to go off and slaughter the enemies in the Bible….”

There is no such “injunction” in my copy of the Bible (Hebrew Old Testament) and I strongly doubt it exists in any other version.

“Are we to think that Hammurabi’s Code had no influence upon Biblical Morality, that Greek concepts did not evolve into New Testament morality?”

Again, my copy of the Bible reveals not a trace of such influence, from either source. As a matter of fact, they are very much on opposite ends of the spectrum on many fronts, such as the treatment of slaves, idolatry, the role of the human body, etc.

Comment #139583

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 15, 2006 7:02 PM (e)

Yes, Carol, I’m sure that’s true of your Bible.

Fortunately, there are many “Bibles” and commentaries which reflect no need to bring tribal squabbles up to modern standards of morality, nor which deny the primacy of Hammurabi’s concept of coding the laws (nor the similarities of eye-for-an-eye justice found in both Bible and Hammurabi–was anyone claiming a literary or “literal” dependance, Carol?).

Beyond that, Lenny’s question.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #139584

Posted by wamba on October 15, 2006 7:02 PM (e)

His Theistic Evolution is a more science-friendly form of religion then YEC and ID, because it reduces supernatural intervention to a minimum.

This must be some new definition of “minimum” with which I am not familiar.

Comment #139601

Posted by Carol Clouser on October 15, 2006 9:56 PM (e)

Glen,

“Fortunately, there are many “Bibles” and commentaries which reflect no need to bring tribal squabbles up to modern standards of morality, nor which deny the primacy of Hammurabi’s concept of coding the laws (nor the similarities of eye-for-an-eye justice found in both Bible and Hammurabi–was anyone claiming a literary or “literal” dependance, Carol?).”

On the one hand you do not want to get into “squabbles” but then, in the same paragraph, you proceed to pick one that you think supports your statement. Now, make up your mind, which is it?

A few brief points, if I may.

(1) You are wrong. There is only one Bible. The others masquerade as such and people in the know, well, know the score.

(2) Sure, in the superficial sense of organizing some sort of code, the Bible contains elements that are similar to that. But what about the content of those codes? Why don’t you check them out?

(3) The oral tradition that came with the one Bible, as recorded in the Talmud, interpreted the biblical “eye for an eye” as referring to the “value of an eye for an eye” and this interpretation goes back thousands of years ago. It represents one of the five elements of compensation the Bible expressly mandates that the perpetrator be made to pay the victim (by the court). They are: NEZEK - monetary damage, such as loss of income, TZAAR - pain and suffering, RIPU - cost of medical treatment, SHEVET - monetary damage and loss due to the treatment and pain, BOSHET - embarrassment. The “eye for an eye” is merely the first of these five.

Comment #139604

Posted by normdoering on October 15, 2006 10:05 PM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

Glen wrote:

“Compared with injunctions to go off and slaughter the enemies in the Bible….”

There is no such “injunction” in my copy of the Bible (Hebrew Old Testament) and I strongly doubt it exists in any other version.

Seriously, your Old Testament doesn’t have Moses ordering the slaughter of the golden calf worshippers:
http://www.thebricktestament.com/exodus/the_gold…

Or the slaughter of the Midianites?
http://www.thebricktestament.com/the_wilderness/…

Or other slaughters listed here:
http://www.thebricktestament.com/the_wilderness/…

“Are we to think that Hammurabi’s Code had no influence upon Biblical Morality, that Greek concepts did not evolve into New Testament morality?”

Again, my copy of the Bible reveals not a trace of such influence, from either source. As a matter of fact, they are very much on opposite ends of the spectrum on many fronts, such as the treatment of slaves, idolatry, the role of the human body, etc.

Well, the ten commandments are shorter and vaguer. The Hebrews kind of went backwatds socially.

Comment #139605

Posted by infamous on October 15, 2006 10:07 PM (e)

“Since then, religions have given the world stonings, witch burning, crusades, inquisitions, holy wars, jihads, fatwas, suicide bombers, gay bashers, abortion-clinic gunmen, child molesters, and mothers who drown their sons so they can happy be reunited in Heaven…”

These are horrible arguments. You can’t blame an ideology simply because there are individuals who do wrong in the name of that ideology. If a certain sect of atheistic “Darwinians” decide to start killing off everyone with HIV/aids so as to strenghten the human population as a whole, you can’t blame evolution for their actions. Survival of the fittest, right?

“The Bible describes infanticide: Exodus 1:16 tells us Pharaoh commanded Shiphrah, Puah, and other Hebrew midwives to kill all male children at birth. Much later King Herod “sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all its borders from two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16)…”

Is this a joke? This is the worst case of quote-mining I’ve ever seen. How about a little context… the Bible isn’t promoting infanticide in either case. In the first case Pharaoh gave those orders to “thin-out” the population, as he felt they were becoming too numerous. He saw them, as foreigners in his land, as a threat. In the second case Herod ordered children two and under killed because he was trying to kill Jesus. He had heard that Jesus, the “King of the Jews,” had been born. He, like Pharaoh, ordered these slayings as he perceived a threat to his throne. Obviously neither of these were promoted as moral acts in the Bible…

Comment #139606

Posted by normdoering on October 15, 2006 10:47 PM (e)

infamous wrote:

“Since then, religions have given the world stonings, witch burning, crusades, inquisitions, holy wars, jihads, fatwas, suicide bombers, gay bashers, abortion-clinic gunmen, child molesters, and mothers who drown their sons so they can happy be reunited in Heaven…”

These are horrible arguments.

I agree. He forgot to list all the passages where stonings, witch killing, slaughtering and torturing enemies, holy wars, dying for your religion, gay bashing, child molestering, and such are specifically advocated.

You can’t expect believers to have actually read the Bible.

How about a little context… the Bible isn’t promoting infanticide in either case. In the first case Pharaoh gave those orders to “thin-out” the population, as he felt they were becoming too numerous. He saw them, as foreigners in his land, as a threat. In the second case Herod ordered children two and under killed because he was trying to kill Jesus…. Obviously neither of these were promoted as moral acts in the Bible

Right! That was out of context.
It teaches to “Do good to those who hate you.”:
http://www.thebricktestament.com/the_teachings_o…

So be a true Christian:
http://www.thebricktestament.com/the_teachings_o…

Comment #139623

Posted by Ben Z on October 16, 2006 2:07 AM (e)

“For me this animals-are-inferior-view is another deep (emotional) reason to reject Christianity”

…such argumentative force that I am overwhelmed.

If anything, this guy is no philosopher.

Comment #139633

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on October 16, 2006 7:26 AM (e)

What I liked with this review is that it seems to fill in gaps from Collins’ book that other reviewers do not touch. (Note: I have not read the book.)

But it also seems to be a reaction to those other reviewers. In so doing it goes far in criticising their concentration on a central part, Collins nonstandard use of science. For example, the comment that Harris review “is ill-considered, and unbalanced” is not well supported IMO.

The cosmological and teleological arguments of Collins is on the other hand mentioned here by being explicitly embedded into theistic evolution. The problems with such arguments, which all rely on a subset of possible cosmologies, have of course been discussed any numbers of times before. Considered over all cosmologies natural creation/noncreation and finetuning is now evidence (Collins’ term) against beliefs, Barrow and Tipler notwithstanding.

I also have a few nitpicks. I believe the notes references comes askew by insertion of the unused (?) note 10. And (being nonbiologist) I have to ask if not claiming “DNA between genes is non-functional, so-called junk-DNA” is wrong? I seem to remember discussions where some junk-DNA have been suspected or found directly (regulatory?) or indirectly (stability) to have non-proteincoding functions.

Comment #139647

Posted by Rick Duhrkopf on October 16, 2006 9:26 AM (e)

I listened to Collins’ book as an audiobook last week on the way to and from a meeting. I was encouraged by his vigorous opposition to YEC and ID, but I, too felt his discussion of altruism was just not consistent with current animal data and a variety of well thought out ideas. In genera, I got a little tired of the way in which Collins presented a criticism of faith/religion and then argued against it using C.S. Lewis. To a large extent the book could have been subtitled “How C.S. Lewis might apply to modern science.” In any event, I do want to reiterate that he strongly denounces ID as not being science and being bad theology for all the right reasons.

Comment #139651

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 16, 2006 10:06 AM (e)

Glen,

“Fortunately, there are many “Bibles” and commentaries which reflect no need to bring tribal squabbles up to modern standards of morality, nor which deny the primacy of Hammurabi’s concept of coding the laws (nor the similarities of eye-for-an-eye justice found in both Bible and Hammurabi–was anyone claiming a literary or “literal” dependance, Carol?).”

On the one hand you do not want to get into “squabbles” but then, in the same paragraph, you proceed to pick one that you think supports your statement. Now, make up your mind, which is it?

Why can’t you read properly, Carol? Where in God’s name did I say I didn’t want to get into “squabbles”? Try reading again for comprehension, then think, then ask yourself why you, as a “literalist”, have such a marked tendency to misquote and misrepresent the written word?

A few brief points, if I may.

Well, I certainly didn’t ask you to come in with your strawmen, your ill-informed statements, and your apparent lack of comprehension of what I was writing about.

(1) You are wrong. There is only one Bible. The others masquerade as such and people in the know, well, know the score.

Yes, and they differ with your claims.

(2) Sure, in the superficial sense of organizing some sort of code, the Bible contains elements that are similar to that. But what about the content of those codes? Why don’t you check them out?

Because that wasn’t what I was writing about. You’re simply trying to pick a fight over your issues, when I was writing about the development of morality through time.

(3) The oral tradition that came with the one Bible, as recorded in the Talmud, interpreted the biblical “eye for an eye” as referring to the “value of an eye for an eye” and this interpretation goes back thousands of years ago.

Was I faulting the eye for an eye concept? I brought that matter up because of the similarities between Hammurabi and the Biblical laws, not to fault it.

See, I know what drives all of this tangential blather. I make a simple comparison with the slaughters in the Bible with the bonobos, and you think I’m criticizing your tribal religion (other than tangentially–I am doing that, yes). Whatever. I didn’t bring up the slaughters, Gert Korthof did. If you are in a tizzy about it, address his words. I was just using the well-known atrocities ordered in the Bible that had already been brought up in the link in order to compare those with the relative saintliness of the bonobos.

You don’t really care about what I was discussing because you only want to defend your religion from real and imagined insults. However, you’d be wiser to defend against someone who is more intent on faulting yours and others religions than I am myself (I disagreed with both Korthof and Weinberg on the supposed unique ability of religion to cause “good people” to “do evil”, which probably escaped your reading comprehension, much as what I actually wrote about “squabbles” did). And you’d be wiser not to deny the atrocities that Norm brought up, as well as the Amelikite genocide.

It represents one of the five elements of compensation the Bible expressly mandates that the perpetrator be made to pay the victim (by the court). They are: NEZEK - monetary damage, such as loss of income, TZAAR - pain and suffering, RIPU - cost of medical treatment, SHEVET - monetary damage and loss due to the treatment and pain, BOSHET - embarrassment. The “eye for an eye” is merely the first of these five.

Again, a whole lot of irrelevancies that began with your lack of comprehension of what I was writing, and why. You would do well to try to learn how some other people do think, rather than taking everything as if it were somehow addressing your religious concerns.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #139654

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 16, 2006 10:32 AM (e)

Duhrkopf wrote:

In any event, I do want to reiterate that he strongly denounces ID as not being science and being bad theology for all the right reasons.

I think that Collins should be credited for this, and his (and others’) complaints that ID/creationism are bad theology ought to be taken seriously. Sometimes religion and science are considered to be more opposed than they were and are, although I do think they make strange bedfellows today.

Many of us who argue against ID and creationism have religious backgrounds. And though we do dislike the lies told in the name of religion, it is not as if we gave up the lies inconsistent with our religious training. The fact of the matter is that, taken without a heavy overlay of interpretation, Xianity would suggest to us that we ought to be truthful about the geological column, about the evidence for evolution.

Many Xian denominations understood that the Bible would be informed by science and the evidence, not the other way around. Evolution, particularly, was more difficult to make compatible with their sacred texts, however it was no great revolution for many denominations to understand “God’s first book” via “God’s second book” (nature). God doesn’t lie, they say, and truth is where you find it (note that Carol’s re-interpretation of the Bible is hardly new–strained non-contextual “literalist” interpretation has often been used to preserve the text).

Nietzsche, of all atheists, did credit Xianity with its book for the adherance to truth and honesty in the practice of science. Historically he certainly has a point (though I hardly think that it was Xianity alone–one could simply rely on Plato and Aristotle sans Xianity for good science ethics), even if science is something of a self-propelled wheel at the present time.

Of course there are problems between religion and science, one of which I mentioned previously on this thread. But those who would prefer to drive a wedge between science and religion have to ignore the aspects (notably the injunctions against untruthfulness) of religion which could push religionists toward science.

It would be dishonest to claim that there is no conflict between religion and science, however it would not be fully truthful to state that there are serious theological problems caused when people refuse to acknowledge the truth about “God’s world”. Collins is being partial in portraying an easy match of science with religion, yet the mismatch of truth caused by rejecting science creates a serious problem for religionists.

Probably it would be best for science if a number of people would point out the problems between science and religion (the religionists already know about these, there’s no hiding them), while a good many others point out the problems for religion in rejecting honesty in science. It should not be all or none in our push toward our primary goal, the acceptance of science by the public.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #139659

Posted by quork on October 16, 2006 10:46 AM (e)

Patricia Pearson reviews Collins’ book along with Dawkins’ for the Toronto Star, and seems rather more convinced by the “Moral Law” argument than Korthof (or myself).

Comment #139661

Posted by GuyeFaux on October 16, 2006 10:57 AM (e)

This sentence is a bit crap:

However, contrary to Dawkins’ selfish pitiless universe, the actual behaviour of animals towards genetically related individuals can certainly be altruistic and, famously, this has been theoretically derived from Darwinian principles by W. D. Hamilton.

I don’t think Dawkins would disagree with Hamilton. In fact, Dawkins argues that selfish genese lead to apparently altruistic behavior (e.g. the chapter entitled “Nice Guys Finish First”).

Comment #139670

Posted by Gerard Harbison on October 16, 2006 12:23 PM (e)

This sentence is a bit crap.

Agreed. It completely ignores the main thrust of The Selfish Gene, and if one hasn’t read that book, one has no standing to critique Dawkins. But throwing in a shot at Dawkins is usually more a signal that “I’m not one of those nasty, hostile-to-religion-kind-of-atheists” than any kind of substantive criticism.

And the review neglects reciprocal altruism, which doesn’t require kin selection.

Comment #139674

Posted by Carol Clouser on October 16, 2006 12:38 PM (e)

Norm,

(1) A careful reading of the original Hebrew makes it abudantly clear that the incident with the golden calf was associated with general mayhem and violence that included rape and murder. (The word “revelry” has a much more sinister connotation in the Hebrew.)Moses urges the Levites to not spare those guilty of these serious offenses even if they are blood relatives of theirs. That is the context you are ignoring.

(2) The Midianites had united with the Moabites and had declared war on the Israelites. Just as the Israelites were attacked without provocation by the Amalikites at Refidim and the Cannanites at Arad, these and many of the other neighboring kingdoms were out to get the nomadic Israelies. All this is spelled out in the Bible, which you need to read in context.

Glen,

I get your point all too well. You claim that morality evolved over time and religious morality is just another step in the continuum. (If I misunderstand your position, please correct me.) To which I respond that Biblical morality represents a sharp break with the past. The examples I cited served to support my point and simultaneously weaken yours.

You can huff and puff all you wish, you and Norm and others here just do not know a whit about the real Bible.

Comment #139675

Posted by Gerard Harbison on October 16, 2006 12:40 PM (e)

This sentence is a bit crap.

Agreed. It completely ignores the main thrust of The Selfish Gene, and if one hasn’t read that book, one has no standing to critique Dawkins. But throwing in a shot at Dawkins is usually more a signal that the writer is not one of those nasty-hostile-to-religion-kind-of-atheists, than any kind of substantive criticism.

And the review neglects reciprocal altruism, which doesn’t require kin selection.

Comment #139684

Posted by GuyeFaux on October 16, 2006 1:03 PM (e)

But throwing in a shot at Dawkins is usually more a signal that the writer is not one of those nasty-hostile-to-religion-kind-of-atheists, than any kind of substantive criticism.

But praising W.D. Hamilton? Firstly, he was an atheist, and secondly, Dawkins was one of his biggest supporters and friends.

Comment #139685

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 16, 2006 1:17 PM (e)

Norm,

(1) A careful reading of the original Hebrew makes it abudantly clear that the incident with the golden calf was associated with general mayhem and violence that included rape and murder. (The word “revelry” has a much more sinister connotation in the Hebrew.)Moses urges the Levites to not spare those guilty of these serious offenses even if they are blood relatives of theirs. That is the context you are ignoring.

He didn’t say that mayhem wasn’t claimed to justify it. He notes the bloodiness of the response. And no, we don’t believe the “justifications” spelled out in religious texts. What part of being non-religious don’t you understand, Carol?

(2) The Midianites had united with the Moabites and had declared war on the Israelites.

Yes, no doubt plentiful justification to kill all the males and rape the virginal females. No one said there weren’t provocations, we note the cruelty and genocide used in response.

Again you sadly set up your strawmen, then attack them. It’s a good tactic, of course, because if people could believe that killing children for their parents’ actions then we might be cajoled into smiling upon their violence.

Just as the Israelites were attacked without provocation by the Amalikites at Refidim and the Cannanites at Arad, these and many of the other neighboring kingdoms were out to get the nomadic Israelies. All this is spelled out in the Bible, which you need to read in context.

I certainly have read it in context. What you left out is that according to the Bible the Amalikite attacks occurred hundreds of years earlier than the genocide of that tribe. We no longer believe in slaughtering the descendants of people for the “sins” of their ancestors, as these were proclaimed in questionable religious texts.

Glen,

I get your point all too well.

Then why do you have to mis-portray what I wrote? I know that you never apologize for grossly dishonest misrepresentations, however your lack of concern for poor reading comprehension and subsequent misrepresentation is no excuse.

You claim that morality evolved over time and religious morality is just another step in the continuum. (If I misunderstand your position, please correct me.) To which I respond that Biblical morality represents a sharp break with the past. The examples I cited served to support my point and simultaneously weaken yours.

You lack even a clue. The wretched morality spelled out in the Torah, which few Jews practice any more (to their credit), is undoubtedly quite different from Hammurabi’s code, and for many good reasons. I never suggested otherwise. Indeed, I wouldn’t suggest otherwise, for I am more than a little aware of the differences between imperial law codes and those of the hill tribes. It’s what I wrote before about economics and culture, which you again fail to regard or address in your reaction against (largely) imagined slights against your religion.

Now you have forced me to say more against your religion, when I had written with more balance, noting that both Judaism and Xianity have moralities which evolved out of their own contexts. And yes, I wrote of “tribal squabbles” because while I do not like the morality of the Torah in the least, I do recognize that it was no worse than the morality of the surrounding tribes (probably, anyway), and in fact no worse than just about all practiced morality up until roughly the Enlightenment.

That Biblical morality is not obviously much better than the morality of surrounding tribes, from its slavery, to circumcision, and on to the slaughter of innocents for what their ancestors are reported to have done, is evident to any but the dogmatic adherent to such a religion. Do you think that I don’t know that the prohibition against eating pigs, and the requirement for circumcision, happened to largely mirror the surrounding Canaanite religion(s)? Of course these didn’t come from Hammurabi’s Code, and it is only you who think that showing the differences between a set of laws so far separated in time and distance shows some “miraculous” origin for your preferred Canaanite code.

You can huff and puff all you wish, you and Norm and others here just do not know a whit about the real Bible.

Says the one who constantly leaves out the crucial context. I’d say that your knowledge of the Bible, particularly in context, is woefully lacking. I don’t care if you know Hebrew and I don’t, I do know how to treat that book honestly. Your tendentious renderings are denied by Jew and gentile alike, apart from the fundamentalists

Btw, Carol, why aren’t you attacking Korthof, you know, the one who brought up Bible atrocities, instead of me, who simply used what he brought up as a jump-off to what I had to say about bonobos? I really don’t care about your mindless rants that you know so much, or that the Bible is some superior book. You have absolutely nothing to back up your constant claims about the Bible, and endless cant isn’t going to change that fact.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #139686

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 16, 2006 1:44 PM (e)

If a certain sect of atheistic “Darwinians” decide to start killing off everyone with HIV/aids so as to strenghten the human population as a whole, you can’t blame evolution for their actions. Survival of the fittest, right?

the problem with this analogy, as always, is that unlike the thousands of actual case examples linked to religion, you will be hard pressed to find an actual event you can legitimately link to “atheism” to support your attempt at equivalency.

There certainly may be primary or secondary correlates to the behaviors typically associated with religious extremeism aside from the link to pure ideology (and there are likely underlying pathological issues involved). However, you can’t even begin to assume the same for “atheism” as one, it isn’t really an ideology, and two, as mentioned above, there really aren’t a common series of events and behaviors typically associated with the position.

your argument esssentially boils down to the same illegitimate argument used by ID Creationism proponents when they suggest “equal time” be given to alternative theories, when ID isn’t even a theory to begin with!

Comment #139687

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 16, 2006 1:49 PM (e)

I keep hearing Carol (save the zebras!) Clouserbot continue to repeat her tired canards of “we all just don’t have the right translation of the bible in hand!”

well, Carol, after all this time, one would think just once, you would have provided, literally, chapter and verse to support your points.

which EXACT version are you using (so anybody interested could follow along), and then you could actually directly quote the passages in question.

oh, that’s right, it would be in ancient hebrew, which only you and Landa could properly translate, right?

and of course, you don’t see the problem with that.

phht.

Comment #139688

Posted by GuyeFaux on October 16, 2006 1:54 PM (e)

the problem with this analogy, as always, is that unlike the thousands of actual case examples linked to religion, you will be hard pressed to find an actual event you can legitimately link to “atheism” to support your attempt at equivalency.

I don’t think he claimed what you think he claimed:

If a certain sect of atheistic “Darwinians” decide to start killing off everyone with HIV/aids so as to strenghten the human population as a whole, you can’t blame evolution for their actions. [My emphasis]

Which seems reasonable to me. The rest of the post about the Bible isn’t offensive either. It certainly doesn’t make the usual “atheists kill more people than car accidents” argument, which I think you’re refuting with the usual “Xtians kill more people than atheists” schtick.

Comment #139690

Posted by GuyeFaux on October 16, 2006 2:02 PM (e)

Carol wrote:

The Midianites had united with the Moabites and had declared war on the Israelites. Just as the Israelites were attacked without provocation by the Amalikites at Refidim and the Cannanites at Arad, these and many of the other neighboring kingdoms were out to get the nomadic Israelies. All this is spelled out in the Bible, which you need to read in context.

This makes me really quite interested in your opinion, Carol. What exactly does this justify, and what exactly did the Isrealites do? Me, being a humble non-Hebrew speaker, have no insight to share here.

Comment #139730

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 16, 2006 5:48 PM (e)

This makes me really quite interested in your opinion, Carol. What exactly does this justify, and what exactlydid the Isrealites do?

Yes, Carol – I too would like to know under which circumstances genocide becomes acceptable.

Do tell.

As for Collins, as long as his religious opinions don’t effect his science, I don’t give a rat’s ass what he believes or doesn’t believe. (shrug)

Comment #139735

Posted by Ralph Jones on October 16, 2006 6:01 PM (e)

Didn’t the OT god drown almost all of humanity, including children and pregnant women, in the Great Flood?

Comment #139755

Posted by Scott Hatfield on October 16, 2006 9:39 PM (e)

Carol:

The Bible I read suggests that Yahweh at one point approves of the genocide of the Canaanites. If this isn’t your Bible, or if I’m mistaken, please explain…..SH

Comment #139756

Posted by Carol Clouser on October 16, 2006 9:47 PM (e)

Glen,

I cannot at this time post essays here anywhere nearly as long as your posts. Where do you find the time? But A few brief points must be made.

“He didn’t say that mayhem wasn’t claimed to justify it. He notes the bloodiness of the response. And no, we don’t believe the “justifications” spelled out in religious texts. What part of being non-religious don’t you understand, Carol?”

He called it a “slaughter” which to me implies unjustified mass killing, and he said that to back up your nonsense about Biblical injunctions to “kill bible haters”. There were three thousand deaths in that incident and they were presumably justified based on the actions of the accused. And I am not referring to the act of worshipping the golden calf.

And you cannot cherry pick the Bible unless you have some rational basis for accepting some events (such as the killing after Moses returned) and rejecting other events (such as the activities of some in the Israelite camp before he returned.

“Yes, no doubt plentiful justification to kill all the males and rape the virginal females. No one said there weren’t provocations, we note the cruelty and genocide used in response.”

These wren’t mere “provocations”. This was self defense. And nobody was raped. You made that up.

“I certainly have read it in context. What you left out is that according to the Bible the Amalikite attacks occurred hundreds of years earlier than the genocide of that tribe. We no longer believe in slaughtering the descendants of people for the “sins” of their ancestors, as these were proclaimed in questionable religious texts.”

You have read nothing. And your ignorance of the Bible is far greater than I suspected. Indeed it is pathetic. While the original attack by the Amalikites (Exodus) and their final defeat by King Saul (Samuel)were indeed separated by about three hundred years, you will find in the book of Judges repeated attacks by the Amalikites upon the Israelites during the intervening years. Again, self defense and a good one to boot. It solved that problem.

Lenny,

Do see the above.

Comment #139759

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 16, 2006 10:26 PM (e)

unjustified mass killing

Um, is there, Carol, in your opinion, such a thing as JUSTIFIED mass killing …. ?

Is genocide, uh, OK if God tells you to do it?

How about if Allah tells you to do it?

(Note to audience: I find it utterly surreal to hear these sorts of things coming from a *Jew*, of all people.)

Comment #139760

Posted by H. Humbert on October 16, 2006 10:38 PM (e)

Carol Clouser said:

These wren’t mere “provocations”. This was self defense.

Since when is killing babies self-defense?

“Slaughter” continues to seem the appropriate term here, despite these desperate attempts to justify mass murder.

Comment #139762

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 16, 2006 10:43 PM (e)

And nobody was raped. You made that up.

Perhaps my Bible is different than yours:

Judges 21:
[10] And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.
[11] And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.
[12] And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
[13] And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon, and to call peaceably unto them.
[14] And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.
[15] And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
[16] Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?
[17] And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel.
[18] Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin.
[19] Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
[20] Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards;
[21] And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
[22] And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty.
[23] And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.

Did they buy the four hundred young virgins of Shilo dinner first, Carol?

Numbers 31:

[9] And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.
[10] And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.
[11] And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.
[12] And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.
[13] And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.
[14] And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.
[15] And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
[16] Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
[17] Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
[18] But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

I suppose they just wanted to keep these virgins alive for themselves, just to do laundry and wash dishes, right Carol?

Dueteronomy 21:
[10] When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
[11] And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
[12] Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
[13] And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
[14] And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

Nothing in there anywhere about “asking permission”, is there, Carol?

Comment #139763

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 16, 2006 10:45 PM (e)

you will find in the book of Judges repeated attacks by the Amalikites upon the Israelites during the intervening years. Again, self defense and a good one to boot. It solved that problem.

I see. The Final Solution to the Amalekite question, huh Carol ….

Comment #139766

Posted by Anton Mates on October 16, 2006 11:38 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

(Note to audience: I find it utterly surreal to hear these sorts of things coming from a *Jew*, of all people.)

Why do you think the Old Testament’s so amazingly bloody in the first place? When you’ve been under the heel of godless foreign powers for most of recorded memory, it can be really satisfying to tell stories of the days when you got to deal out some genocide and slavery….

Comment #139771

Posted by Carol Clouser on October 17, 2006 12:49 AM (e)

Lenny,

Your anti-Bible bias and utter confusion and ignorance about matters Biblical exceeds even that of Glen.

“Um, is there, Carol, in your opinion, such a thing as JUSTIFIED mass killing …. ?”

Are you implying, as an example, that the millions of German and Japanese soldiers killed by US tropps in WWII were not justified?

“Is genocide, uh, OK if God tells you to do it?”

Killing on the basis of race was never sanctioned by God nor will it ever be. And the mere mention of the word by you and others here in association with the Bible is another blood libel inherited from the Christians over the centuries. You are in great and illustrious company.

“And nobody was raped. You made that up.
Perhaps my Bible is different than yours”

I made that remark pertaining to the Midianites and the events in Numbers. The events you cite from Judges was in fact an evil deed, not authorized by God, and most importantly, the other eleven tribes, the rest of Israel, were revolted by the Benjemites’ actions and made them pay a heavy price, indeed. Now why do you fail to mention that? Does it not fit in with your grotesquely distorted understanding of the Bible?

You see, Lenny, OUR heroes, unlike those of the Christians you are more familiar with, are human beings, not gods, semi-gods, human-gods or any such contrivance. The Bible openly displays all their faults, warts, errors, misdeeds, and even sins, from Abraham through Moses and beyond, giving the likes of you an opportunity to misunderstand. This in and of itself speaks volumes of the Hebrew Bible.

“I suppose they just wanted to keep these virgins alive for themselves, just to do laundry and wash dishes, right Carol?”

There is no rape spoken of here and you know it. And a village consisting only of young girls would have been an invitation for the other neighboring evil peoples (as depicted in the Bible, your source for these events) to rape and kill them. They needed to be taken in and protected for their own survival. If you know anything about the state of civilization in the area at the time, so very different from what you are familiar with these days in the US, you would be better able to put things in perspective.

“Nothing in there anywhere about “asking permission”, is there, Carol?”

Now you are really acting infantile and idiotic. What does waiting a year mean to you? Does that sound like a license to rape? Of course permission was needed since she needed to convert first and one does not convert against one’s will. If you know anything about conversion to Judaism, you know it is very involved and difficult.

“I see. The Final Solution to the Amalekite question, huh Carol”

Not really. Despite all the BS here, we find David fighting that same damn Amalikite enemy some thirty chapters later in Samuel. The “solution” apparently wasn’t “final” enough. Why do I detect no concern for the Israelite victims of these attacks, and only for the aggressors. The Amalikites first attacked the weary and escaped Israelite slaves from Egypt for no reason whatsoever and were at it repeatedly for three hundred years.

Actually I should not be surprised at this attitude at all. It is exactly what is taking place today in the Middle East. Some things just never change.

“(Note to audience: I find it utterly surreal to hear these sorts of things coming from a *Jew*, of all people.)”

That is a shameful thing for you to say. Apologize!

Comment #139774

Posted by fnxtr on October 17, 2006 1:30 AM (e)

Carol Clueless:

There is no rape spoken of here and you know it. And a village consisting only of young girls would have been an invitation for the other neighboring evil peoples (as depicted in the Bible, your source for these events) to rape and kill them. They needed to be taken in and protected for their own survival. If you know anything about the state of civilization in the area at the time, so very different from what you are familiar with these days in the US, you would be better able to put things in perspective.

See, everybody else back then was a bunch of evil rapists. Except, somehow, the Israelites. When they killed everybody except the virgins, they took the virgins home for their own protection.

Same reason fundie Muslims don’t let their women out alone. Because everybody else is a rapist.

It’s more like men who don’t let their daughters go out because the men remember what total sexist ass****s they were when they were young.

Comment #139786

Posted by demallien on October 17, 2006 5:59 AM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

Why do I detect no concern for the Israelite victims of these attacks, and only for the aggressors. The Amalikites first attacked the weary and escaped Israelite slaves from Egypt for no reason whatsoever and were at it repeatedly for three hundred years.

Actually I should not be surprised at this attitude at all. It is exactly what is taking place today in the Middle East. Some things just never change.

“(Note to audience: I find it utterly surreal to hear these sorts of things coming from a *Jew*, of all people.)”

That is a shameful thing for you to say. Apologize!

First things first. Carol, the day that the Jews, and in particular the Israelis manage to stop thinking about themselves as victims, and start critically analysing their own actions will be the day that Middle east peace starts to be a real possibility. No-one here condoned the killing of Israelites by another tribe - if anything, the question was posed because most of us here find large-scale violence by anyone as difficult to justify. You on the other hand seem to defend the OT’s interpretation that it’s OK as long as it’s done by “the good guys”

I find Lenny’s comment quite just Carol. It’s pretty evident from the context that he is talking about mass slaughter of civilians. Any reasonable interpretation of the conversation so far would conclude that you infact do consider it to have been justified. I fully understand Lenny’s disbelief that a Jew would say such a thing.

Actually I should not be surprised at this attitude at all. Some things just never change…

Comment #139787

Posted by normdoering on October 17, 2006 6:36 AM (e)

Carol Clouser, I’m curious about something in your analysis - how does it apply today?

Do you think Bush is justified in using torture because the Islamic fundies use torture?

Comment #139788

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 17, 2006 7:11 AM (e)

That is a shameful thing for you to say. Apologize!

Let me make sure I’m getting this straight, Carol — you are defending the mass killing of women and children, and YOU want ME to apologize …. ?

You are a stark raving nutter, Carol. No wonder people like you are still killing each other in the Middle East.

Comment #139804

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on October 17, 2006 8:45 AM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Dueteronomy 21:
[10] When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
[11] And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
[12] Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
[13] And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
[14] And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

Nothing in there anywhere about “asking permission”, is there, Carol?

I like the part about dumpin’ ‘er if she ain’t good in bed. That’s the problem with today’s society; you can’t just dump chicks who ain’t doin’ it for ya anymore. Now, if we went back to Bible rules, we’d all be happier!

Well, except for the women, but who cares!

Comment #139816

Posted by Carol Clouser on October 17, 2006 9:23 AM (e)

Norm,

“Carol Clouser, I’m curious about something in your analysis - how does it apply today? Do you think Bush is justified in using torture because the Islamic fundies use torture?”

Great questions.

The Bible’s clearly and repeatedly stated position on this is that violence is justified only as a last resort in self defense, and only after seeking every avenue offering a peaceful resolution. This is demonstrated repeatedly in Numbers and Deuteronomy. (If you wish to see chapter and verse, I can do so later.) And when violence does become necessary for self defense, we may and should do so in a manner that renders the defense effective.

This is, as I understand it, indeed the current policy of the US and all other ostensibly civilized societies. Accidental and incidental non-combatant casualties are to be avoided, but we cannot, should not and do not allow the possibility of such casualties to prevent us from taking necessary action. Otherwise, the brutal fact is that we will just not be able to defend ourselves and other victims of aggression. And the injustice in that is likely to far exceed the injustice of the alternative.

Comment #139821

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 17, 2006 10:13 AM (e)

You have read nothing. And your ignorance of the Bible is far greater than I suspected. Indeed it is pathetic.

You do little but lie in your apologetics of genocide, Carol.

While the original attack by the Amalikites (Exodus) and their final defeat by King Saul (Samuel)were indeed separated by about three hundred years, you will find in the book of Judges repeated attacks by the Amalikites upon the Israelites during the intervening years.

Your dimwittedness is only exceeded by your taste for evil. If we believed your violence-justifying book, we would at most believe that some Amalikites attacked in accounts of Judges. And we have as much or more reason to believe that the Israelites were the initiators of aggression then (while during the Exodus, the account would suggest otherwise) as that the Amalikites were.

And as usual, either your honesty or your learning fails you. The “justification” given for the genocide of the Amalikites did not involve the attacks mentioned in Judges, it was based upon the Exodus alone. I’m not surprised that your “scholarship” fails yet again:

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

1 Samuel 15: 2-3 KJV

So your gibberish doesn’t comport with the Bible, demonstrating once again that the truth about it has to come from someone other than you.

In order to emphasize the genocide that you defend, I would note that the people of Jericho are portrayed as having been slaughtered for no reason other than that the Israelites/Yahweh wanted their city. Sorry, there is no suggestion of “self-defense” in Judges, but only of ‘righteous genocide’.

Again, self defense and a good one to boot. It solved that problem.

I don’t know if I’m more appalled at, your evil or at your stupidity, Carol. I guess the two go together. Your Bible knowledge is a vacuum (unless you are holding back your knowledge in these discussions in order to distort the truth), and your justification of ancient genocides tends to argue for modern genocide.

I may have disagreed with Weinstein with respect to religion being the only thing that causes good people to do evil things, however it is more than a little clear how Carol (who may or may not be a “good person”) uses her religion to justify the most appalling sorts of evil.

I know I probably shouldn’t be responding to Carol any more at this time, but what can I say? Her misuse of the Bible, all the while she is claiming superior knowledge of it, and her justifications of the slaughter of innocents, makes her one of the most brazenly ignorant and bloodthirsty persons we have met on this forum.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #139844

Posted by normdoering on October 17, 2006 11:36 AM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

Norm,

“Carol Clouser, I’m curious about something in your analysis - how does it apply today? Do you think Bush is justified in using torture because the Islamic fundies use torture?”

Great questions.

Thank you.
Is that why you only answered the first half of the question with vague generalities?

You say nothing of torture here:

The Bible’s clearly and repeatedly stated position on this is that violence is justified only as a last resort in self defense, and only after seeking every avenue offering a peaceful resolution. This is demonstrated repeatedly in Numbers and Deuteronomy. (If you wish to see chapter and verse, I can do so later.) And when violence does become necessary for self defense, we may and should do so in a manner that renders the defense effective.

This is, as I understand it, indeed the current policy of the US and all other ostensibly civilized societies. Accidental and incidental non-combatant casualties are to be avoided, but we cannot, should not and do not allow the possibility of such casualties to prevent us from taking necessary action. Otherwise, the brutal fact is that we will just not be able to defend ourselves and other victims of aggression. And the injustice in that is likely to far exceed the injustice of the alternative.

Given that the Geneva conventions do allow us to meet violence with violence, why do you think they made those rules of war? Why would these rules of war have a Common Article 3 that provides that detained persons “shall in all circumstances be treated humanely,” and that “[t]o this end,” certain specified acts “are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever”—including “cruel treatment and torture,” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”

And how do you think the people who wrote those convensions would feel about “keeping the virgin women” and dividing them up amoung your soldiers and preists?

Comment #139848

Posted by Kevin on October 17, 2006 12:08 PM (e)

Carol: There is no rape spoken of here and you know it. And a village consisting only of young girls would have been an invitation for the other neighboring evil peoples (as depicted in the Bible, your source for these events) to rape and kill them. They needed to be taken in and protected for their own survival. If you know anything about the state of civilization in the area at the time, so very different from what you are familiar with these days in the US, you would be better able to put things in perspective.

Kevin: I’ve seen this apologetic before. I’ve always asked the same question, and never gotten a good answer: If the state of civilization at the time was such that young girls needed to be protected, what was done to protect the young boys? If my 3-month old son Wade had been among the Amakalites, what would God’s command have done ensure his continuted health, safety, and survival at the hands of the loving Isrealites? If it helps you construct an answer, I can send you a photo of Wade making his adorable little scrunched up smiling face…. Would that help you answer the question?

Comment #139849

Posted by normdoering on October 17, 2006 12:16 PM (e)

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War
Adopted on 12 August 1949 by the Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of
International Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, held in Geneva
from 21 April to 12 August, 1949
entry into force 21 October 1950:

http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/91.htm

Comment #139853

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on October 17, 2006 12:32 PM (e)

Kevin wrote:

I’ve seen this apologetic before. I’ve always asked the same question, and never gotten a good answer: If the state of civilization at the time was such that young girls needed to be protected, what was done to protect the young boys?

Silly question! They were killed to protect them! Like the older men and non-virgin women. They were completely safe from being raped by nearby tribes once they were brutally slaughtered. The virgin women could also have been made safe by being so slaughtered, so I’m not at all clear why they weren’t murdered as well… Oh, right, sex toys. Perhaps Carol has an explanation for why the distinction was drawn between virginal and unvirginal women in how they should be protected from neighboring tribes less merciful than the Israelites who slaughtered the culture.

Comment #139854

Posted by Carol Clouser on October 17, 2006 12:40 PM (e)

Norm,

I thought I did answer both your questions. I assume you are interested in the application of Biblical principles, rather than my personal opinions. The Bible does mostly lay down general principles, and their application is up to you and me.

What I said about violence is applicable to torture which after all is a form of violence (in addition to the other aspects you mention). Torture is not justified on the basis that the other fellow does it. But a “walking ticking time bomb” or one who should have information about such, is another matter.

As far as the Geneva Convention is concerned, as I understand it Bush claims his program is not one of torture and that terms like “offenses to human dignity” are too vague. But that is another matter. The Bible does insist on treating the human body with great respect even in death. But I an sure that saving lives takes precedence.

Comment #139874

Posted by normdoering on October 17, 2006 1:23 PM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

The Bible does mostly lay down general principles, and their application is up to you and me.

Your “general principles” are too general. Hitler, Stalin and Al Qaeda could claim to justify their wars with those kind of generalities.

Comment #139888

Posted by Steviepinhead on October 17, 2006 3:12 PM (e)

The inimitable “logic” of Carol:

Carol to Glen, # 139756–

While the original attack by the Amalikites (Exodus) and their final defeat by King Saul (Samuel)were indeed separated by about three hundred years, you will find in the book of Judges repeated attacks by the Amalikites upon the Israelites during the intervening years. Again, self defense and a good one to boot. It solved that problem.

Carol to Lenny, # 139771–

Lenny: “I see. The Final Solution to the Amalekite question, huh Carol”

Carol: Not really. Despite all the BS here, we find David fighting that same damn Amalikite enemy some thirty chapters later in Samuel. The “solution” apparently wasn’t “final” enough.

Sigh.

Comment #139893

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 17, 2006 3:42 PM (e)

Glen wrote:

In order to emphasize the genocide that you defend, I would note that the people of Jericho are portrayed as having been slaughtered for no reason other than that the Israelites/Yahweh wanted their city. Sorry, there is no suggestion of “self-defense” in Judges, but only of ‘righteous genocide’.

I just want to make clear that I do know the difference between Joshua and Judges, and left out a lot of steps between the first and second sentences above.

Strictly, there isn’t really a lot of genocide (perhaps not even any) per se in Judges, while there is plenty in Joshua (including the Jericho slaughter—one could quibble over whether or not “genocide” is the proper term for that—matters little to me). But the two books essentially go together, possibly having some of the same redactors.

It’s only a minor clarification, at least to my mind.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #139895

Posted by David B. Benson on October 17, 2006 4:03 PM (e)

And just how does all this relate to altruism, much less the esteemed Francis Collins?

Comment #139897

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 17, 2006 4:09 PM (e)

Well yes, I should also backtrack in noting that there was self-defense in Judges, though if you believe Joshua it was the kind of “self-defense” that aggressors end up having to do (as in defending oneself from those one has dispossessed, like in present-day Israel).

Enough corrections, especially as they are only ancillary to the issues that Carol has chosen to illuminate and emphasize.

I can’t think of how Korthof could have argued any better against their being a determinate “Moral Law” than Carol has.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #139902

Posted by GuyeFaux on October 17, 2006 5:09 PM (e)

Well, Korthoff points out that Collins uses two meanings of Moral Law: one being descriptive and the other prescriptive. The prescriptive Law can be found in religious texts. Thanks to Carol, we can throw that one out:

I can’t think of how Korthof could have argued any better against their being a determinate “Moral Law” than Carol has.

So what we’re left with is the descriptive definition of Moral Law, i.e. the fact that people are charitable. So do evolutionary models of charity correspond to observed charity?

Comment #139905

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 17, 2006 5:56 PM (e)

The Bible’s clearly and repeatedly stated position on this is that violence is justified only as a last resort in self defense

Um, is it your opinion, then, that the Amalekites had the legitimate right to attack the Israelis (who were, after all, invading their country to take it over)?

Oh wait, wait; let me guess ——–> God told the Israelis that it was OK for them to invade Amalek. So that makes killing any Amalekite who resists, OK. In fact, it’s a divine duty to kill people who go against the will of Allah — er, I mean God.

Right?

Like I said, it’s no WONDER people like you are still killing each other in the Middle East.

Comment #139936

Posted by Ralph Jones on October 17, 2006 10:40 PM (e)

Carol: Why did your god drown innocent children in the Great Flood?

Comment #139940

Posted by normdoering on October 17, 2006 11:27 PM (e)

Ralph Jones asked:

Why did your god drown innocent children in the Great Flood?

Innocent children? Shows how much you know. Children aren’t innocent, they shit and pee in their diapers, they’ve never sacrificed a goat to God, odds are they are all atheists until a priest buggers belief in God into them and they’re all completely selfish from the time they set up residence in their moma’s belly and live like parasites.

Comment #139950

Posted by Darth Robo on October 18, 2006 5:02 AM (e)

Carol said:

“As far as the Geneva Convention is concerned, as I understand it Bush claims his program is not one of torture and that terms like “offenses to human dignity” are too vague.”

Yes, and as a result his recent comments on the ‘vagueness’ of the Geneva convention, he appeared on the website: Fundies Say The Darndest Things.

Comment #140254

Posted by Tony Whitson on October 18, 2006 11:27 PM (e)

It seems that using evolution to explain altruism is a major project of Oliver Curry, who is being widely reported on today as a “researcher” on evolution who predicts humans will evolve into 2 subspecies in the next thousand years.

This story has circulated globally today. Jay Leno used it in his monologue tonight (October 18), although he did not mention the “2 subspecies” idea.

You can expect the anti-evolution folks to attack this as an example of evolutionary science.

I don’t have time to write a proper blog article now. I’ll expand this to a blog article tomorrow. But I wanted to go ahead now and share some links that I have posted at
http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2006/10/19/curr…

Comment #140556

Posted by Frank Hagan on October 20, 2006 2:31 AM (e)

Hmmm … I would think that a conservative, evangelical Christian that fully supports the scientific method and posits a view that theology must yield to new discoveries about the natural world would be a welcome thing.

I am almost finished with Collins’ book, and I believe it is primarily written for the evangelical audience. In that respect, his forays into philosophy and theology are well placed and help the reader progress through the book. The views in the book will be surprising and new to evangelicals who more often see evolution cloaked in anti-faith arguments, as evidenced here. They believe its more about disproving the existance of God than it is about understanding the world around us.

I’m sure the references to St. Augustine’s non-literal interpetations of Genesis don’t mean much to a secular scientist, but they matter greatly to the evangelical who has to consider if the anti-evolution movement is worthy of his support. Suddenly he realizes that one of the giants of Christianity, in the early days of the church, had a non-literal interpetation AND states that our theology needs to yield to truth.

Collins’ references to CS Lewis are made in the same way, as Lewis, a hero of American evangelicals, also argues for non-literal interpetations of Genesis.

Kudos to Collins. Quibbling about his philosophy, which is clearly labeled as such in the book, only serves to minimize the importance of his main message. There is no conflict between science and God for the Christian concerned about the truth.

Comment #140821

Posted by normdoering on October 20, 2006 8:55 PM (e)

Frank Hagan wrote:

I would think that a conservative, evangelical Christian that fully supports the scientific method and posits a view that theology must yield to new discoveries about the natural world would be a welcome thing.

Just because he is welcome and has a better chance of reaching fundies in the ID movement doesn’t make everything he says correct.

He is still wrong about morality requiring God – that is indeed a god of the gaps view.

How can I say this – His evolution is too small.

He’s narrowed his evolution down to only those things he plays with but denies its explanations to other sciences.

Comment #140844

Posted by jeffw on October 20, 2006 9:43 PM (e)

There is no rape spoken of here and you know it. And a village consisting only of young girls would have been an invitation for the other neighboring evil peoples (as depicted in the Bible, your source for these events) to rape and kill them. They needed to be taken in and protected for their own survival. If you know anything about the state of civilization in the area at the time, so very different from what you are familiar with these days in the US, you would be better able to put things in perspective.

Numbers 31, verse 17:

“Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man”.

I agree, *very* different from what anyone in US or the civilized world would be familiar with.

Comment #140882

Posted by Frank Hagan on October 21, 2006 12:04 AM (e)

Not sure how to quote here … but in reference to the “his evolution is too small” comment …

I’m just not sure how you get that opinion reading his book. He clearly separates his theology from his science, and gives mention of competing views, including the non-spiritual interpetations of things like Moral Law. I can understand how an atheist or agnostic would not care for much of the book, but that’s not the intended audience in my view.

As a layman, without formal training in either theology or science, I appreciated his approach. I also suspect … and clearly can see that I could be wrong on this … but I suspect that the various theories about the roots of altruism are still open to a bit of debate (unlike evolution, which really is settled). Based on Collins’ statements in the book, if the issue of altruism is settled to be completely non-spiritual, Collins would change his mind about that issue, and report that the issue has been settled.

There just aren’t that many of these guys out there that resonate with my views, friendly to both faith and science.

Comment #140886

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 21, 2006 12:30 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #140908

Posted by Anton Mates on October 21, 2006 2:34 AM (e)

Frank Hagan wrote:

I also suspect … and clearly can see that I could be wrong on this … but I suspect that the various theories about the roots of altruism are still open to a bit of debate (unlike evolution, which really is settled). Based on Collins’ statements in the book, if the issue of altruism is settled to be completely non-spiritual, Collins would change his mind about that issue, and report that the issue has been settled.

But to think that altruism or any other empirical phenomenon could be settled as “spiritual” or “non-spiritual” is to misunderstand the nature of science. If altruism was proven once and for all to be non-adaptive in known modern and ancestral environments of humans, does that mean the only explanation is God? Of course not–it could be a quirk of genetic drift, or an adaptation to a now-vanished ancestral culture which viciously punished any hint of selfishness, or an unavoidable side effect of some other desirable trait like, I dunno, color vision. There’s an infinite number of possible explanations that don’t involve a deity, though they might never be proved or even practically provable.

Conversely, if altruism is shown to be highly adaptive, does that mean God didn’t do it? Surely a deity could arrange the universe so that precisely those moral qualities s/he endorsed would turn out to be adaptive for its inhabitants.

Theological and scientific explanations of altruism–or just about any other empirical phenomenon–have very little bearing on each other. By setting them up as opposing alternatives, Collins is doing just the same thing IDers do with the flagellum, or creationists do with the origin of life.

Comment #141022

Posted by Frank Hagan on October 21, 2006 12:46 PM (e)

Anton, have you read the book? Or are you going by our comments here?

The reason I ask is that I really don’t think Collins presents altruism in the manner it is presented here.

Do you believe that to be a good scientist, you must reject the notion of a god? Is faith incompatible with science?

Comment #141056

Posted by normdoering on October 21, 2006 3:05 PM (e)

Frank Hagan asked:

Do you believe that to be a good scientist, you must reject the notion of a god? Is faith incompatible with science?

It depends on what you mean by God. “God” is a very fuzzy term that means different things to different people. I tend to read “God” as the traditional Christian definition, not the somewhat more possible deist conception.

As far as a God who creates moral law through some supernatural means, yes, I think we can shoot that “god of the gaps” down with the science we have.

I tried posting on this earlier in response to your first questions to me, but I had so many links that the post was rejected. This subject is almost too rich in evidence to tackle here.

The one that convinces me most is some of the work done with prairie voles. You’ll have to do your own google search. But they have messed with the hormones and genes of prarie voles and changed their moral behavior.

Also a lot of work on how free will is something of an illusion in humans suggests this idea of morality as defined by traditional Christianity is flawed.

… but I suspect that the various theories about the roots of altruism are still open to a bit of debate (unlike evolution, which really is settled).

Certain details and mechanisms of evolution are open for debate too. It is the foundations that are solid. Same is true for the genetic influence on moral behavior – we don’t know all the details, but genes and neurochemicals certaily play an important role.

Based on Collins’ statements in the book, if the issue of altruism is settled to be completely non-spiritual, Collins would change his mind about that issue, and report that the issue has been settled.

I don’t know. I don’t think he knows all the evidence - there’s a lot out there. But I could certainly be wrong.

But I have to confess that I have not read the book and have only read excerpts and reviews. I just have a lot of faith in the reviewers and the excerpts do look pretty lame. Perhaps if you care to quote some of the paragraphs where Collins tackles this subject you could change my mind.

Comment #141065

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 21, 2006 4:34 PM (e)

Oh, lookie, Norm has found another theist.

Time for yet another pointless religious war…. .

(sigh)

Comment #141146

Posted by Anton Mates on October 22, 2006 1:53 AM (e)

Frank Hagan wrote:

Anton, have you read the book? Or are you going by our comments here?

The reason I ask is that I really don’t think Collins presents altruism in the manner it is presented here.

I haven’t read the book, no. I’m going by comments and Korthof’s essay, but also Collins’ own words in interviews, such as:

“The hard part for me was the idea of a personal God, who has an interest in humankind. And the argument that Lewis made there — the one that I think was most surprising, most earth-shattering, and most life-changing — is the argument about the existence of the moral law. How is it that we, and all other members of our species, unique in the animal kingdom, know what’s right and what’s wrong? In every culture one looks at, that knowledge is there.”

“Where did that come from? I reject the idea that that is an evolutionary consequence, because that moral law sometimes tells us that the right thing to do is very self-destructive. If I’m walking down the riverbank, and a man is drowning, even if I don’t know how to swim very well, I feel this urge that the right thing to do is to try to save that person. Evolution would tell me exactly the opposite: preserve your DNA. Who cares about the guy who’s drowning? He’s one of the weaker ones, let him go. It’s your DNA that needs to survive. And yet that’s not what’s written within me.”

“Lewis argues that if you are looking for evidence of a God who cares about us as individuals, where could you more likely look than within your own heart at this very simple concept of what’s right and what’s wrong. And there it is. Not only does it tell you something about the fact that there is a spiritual nature that is somehow written within our hearts, but it also tells you something about the nature of God himself, which is that he is a good and holy God. What we have there is a glimpse of what he stands for.”

That seems pretty straightforward. Altruism is evolutionarily inexplicable, therefore it’s evidence of God.

Do you believe that to be a good scientist, you must reject the notion of a god? Is faith incompatible with science?

No, of course not. I think the two are compatible precisely because the natural and theological explanations of any particular phenomenon are independent of one another. The trouble is that Collins seems to disagree, and grounds his faith on a perceived deficiency in science.

Comment #141153

Posted by Frank Hagan on October 22, 2006 2:23 AM (e)

Well, you won’t get a religious flame war from me; I don’t happen to think that faith is based on any evidence at all in the modern meaning of the word.

It would not surprise me to find a “God gene”, because some people seem “wired” to be spiritually minded and others seem just as honestly to be wired to be non-spiritual. That’s not a threat to my theology in the least (and no, Christianity will not fall because of it; a major branch of Christianity already has beliefs entirely consistent with that view).

I’m now reading Professor Falk’s book, Coming to Peace with Science. Its another book intended for an evangelical or conservative Christian audience from a biologist who argues for less conflict between religion and science, and acceptance of the truth underpinning all of modern science. I will probably be just as blind to the deficiencies in his explanations of his personal beliefs as I am of Collins’ explanations.

But I still think there is much to recommend, especially for the evangelical audience, in Collins book.

Comment #141250

Posted by normdoering on October 22, 2006 1:46 PM (e)

Anton Mates quoted Collins:

“If I’m walking down the riverbank, and a man is drowning, even if I don’t know how to swim very well, I feel this urge that the right thing to do is to try to save that person. Evolution would tell me exactly the opposite: preserve your DNA. Who cares about the guy who’s drowning? He’s one of the weaker ones, let him go. It’s your DNA that needs to survive. And yet that’s not what’s written within me.”

That Collins quote was a good example of an evolution that is too small.

You can’t assume you’re smarter than evolution and would know what evolution would do. Only the most simple, asexual and brainless life forms are actually that selfish. And even simple genetic algorithims can produce surprising results.

It’s rather odd that someone who has gotten so far in biology thinks they can mind-read evolution with three pounds of grey matter and a short life span. Evolution works with far more time and resources than our brains do.

Comment #141343

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 23, 2006 6:29 PM (e)

“If I’m walking down the riverbank, and a man is drowning, even if I don’t know how to swim very well, I feel this urge that the right thing to do is to try to save that person. Evolution would tell me exactly the opposite: preserve your DNA. Who cares about the guy who’s drowning? He’s one of the weaker ones, let him go. It’s your DNA that needs to survive. And yet that’s not what’s written within me.”

OCPD is often characterized by a distinct lack of empathy for others.

Is Collins willing to stipulate the reverse of his quoted statement above and agree that OCPD has an entirely materialistic causation?

If not, I suppose he should entirely reject the field of psychology and medical science dealing with personality disorders.

oh well.

Comment #141357

Posted by normdoering on October 23, 2006 10:11 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

OCPD is often characterized by a distinct lack of empathy for others.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

Why did you chose that as an example? Of all the psychological phenomena that seem to be linked to neurochemical imbalances – like Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) – why OCPD? That’s what Monk has (a TV show) and they don’t portray him as lacking empathy. Is lack of empathy a normal side effect?

Is there something new here I don’t know about?

I know about the serotonin link, serotonin affects our ability to control our impulses. If too low, you have less self-control, are more irritable, (it’s why smokers get cranky when they quit) and prone to impulsive acts (like lighting up a smoke). Research has shown that people with APD are likely to have low serotonin levels. Is the same true for OCPD?

Comment #141366

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 23, 2006 11:31 PM (e)

Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) –

Hmmm, who is it that gets to define what is “antisocial”, anyway?

Wiki gives the defining characteristics as:

1. Glibness/superficial charm
2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
3. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
4. Pathological lying
5. Conning/manipulative
6. Lack of remorse or guilt
7. Shallow affect
8. Callous/lack of empathy
9. Parasitic lifestyle
10. Poor behavioral controls
11. Promiscuous sexual behavior
12. Early behavioral problems
13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals
14. Impulsivity
15. Irresponsibility
16. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
17. Many short-term marital relationships
18. Juvenile delinquency
19. Revocation of conditional release
20. Criminal versatility

Heck, sounds like three-fourths of Congress to me. (shrug)

Seems to me as though “antisocial” simply means “whatever people with power, don’t like” ….

I think it quite impossible to even talk about whether such a subjective entity is or is not “genetic” in nature …

But then, I’ve not seen any good evidence that ANY social behavior is “genetic”, in anything other than the most broad and general of ways.

Comment #141368

Posted by normdoering on October 24, 2006 1:31 AM (e)

Lenny Flank wrote:

Seems to me as though “antisocial” simply means “whatever people with power, don’t like” ….

You really don’t know what you are talking about. While everyone lies once in awhile, most people are not pathological about it. While we all consider ourselves important we don’t think ourselves God. And it’s not just the people in power that have to worry – it’s everyone, especially when the APD gets elected to Congress or decides he likes your shoes and kills you to get them.

I took psychology in college and one of my teachers told our class a story about when he was getting taught the symptoms of a lot these disorders he went to his teacher after class and said “I think I’m schiziod. I’ve got all those symptoms.” He wasn’t. He just didn’t understand how much more a schiziod day dreams than normal.

There is something common in all human beings to all these disordered behaviors but you have to see it to understand how exaggerated they can become in someone with a disorder. For example, a compulsive might keep washing their hands for hours until their hands start bleeding.

I think it quite impossible to even talk about whether such a subjective entity is or is not “genetic” in nature …

It’s not as subjective as you think in the extreme cases you find in institutions, but yes, abnormal eventually does bleed into and across some blurry line into normal. It’s really only on those boarder line cases where things really get subjective.

A decade ago a lot of psychologists might have agreed with you about whether we could talk about the genetics, but not any more. Today they are finding genes for schizophrenia and other disorders. APD, because we know a bit about its biochemistry now, will also no doubt have a gene or two effecting that biochemistry.

And whether all nature or some nuture too the findings of these chemical imbalances do speak of genes being involved in the long run.

Comment #141386

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on October 24, 2006 7:55 AM (e)

That kind of impression is an ongoing problem for people with psychological disorders. By and large, the symptoms of any psychological problem are things everyone does some of the time, but done to the extent that they interfere with the person’s life.

Lenny may recall a conversation on DebunkCreation where I tried to describe my ADD and ran into exactly this reaction from the participants there.

Comment #141516

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 25, 2006 4:06 PM (e)

That’s what Monk has (a TV show) and they don’t portray him as lacking empathy. Is lack of empathy a normal side effect?

as someone who actually took a basic psych course, surely you don’t look to a fictional TV show to give you pointers on how to diagnose psychological disorders, right?

Yes, lack of empathy is commonly associated with OCPD (you can look it up easily enough). However, just like all other symptoms of most psychological disorders, they don’t appear in everybody.

However, I think you might be missing the point of what I wrote for the details.

Do i need to clarify, or were you just going off on a tangent?

Comment #141531

Posted by normdoering on October 25, 2006 7:10 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam asked:

Do i need to clarify, or were you just going off on a tangent?

It’s just a tagent.

The choice of obsessive compulsive just struck me as odd since it’s not really in the morality ballpark except for “side effects.” The first obsessive that’s going to pop into people’s minds is Monk in a lot of cases.

I just didn’t think it made the connection strongly between biochemistry and morality the way antisocial disorders do.

It works, but not as well as it could have.

Comment #141624

Posted by Anton Mates on October 26, 2006 2:47 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

Yes, lack of empathy is commonly associated with OCPD (you can look it up easily enough).

Poking around on the net, it doesn’t seem to be one of the diagnostic criteria.

Comment #141631

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 26, 2006 6:03 PM (e)

You’re right, it’s not as commonly associated with OCD as it is with NPD, but it has been associated with it as a symptom; you should do some better checking. does that make you happier?

now that we have explored that tangent ad nasueum, does it invalidate the point I was making re Collins?

I really am not interested in exploring the tangent.

Comment #141634

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 26, 2006 6:14 PM (e)

Note also, since it was brought up, that OCD (Monk) isn’t always associated with OC[b]P[/b]D.

the two are not the same thing, just in case that was where the confusion lay.

again though, for simplicities sake, a better substitute in the argument would be NPD.

Comment #141655

Posted by normdoering on October 26, 2006 7:25 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

Note also, since it was brought up, that OCD (Monk) isn’t always associated with OC[b]P[/b]D.

Thanks, I didn’t really remember what Monk was.

… for simplicities sake, a better substitute in the argument would be NPD.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Yes, that would have been better.

It works if you assume people know what you’re talking about, but can you assume that with Lenny Flank, Frank Hagan or even Collins himself?

If Lenny hadn’t botched up his version of the “mental illness is culture-dependent” argument that could have gone on for pages and pages of argument. I’m sure Lenny doesn’t get it still but is either too chincken shit to reveal any more ignorance or just doesn’t really care.

Of course, if Collins wants to argue for some “supernatural agency” in morality he is required to care about the opposing view. It can’t be ignored. Frank Hagan doesn’t really have a good excuse for not knowing either.

Comment #141669

Posted by normdoering on October 26, 2006 11:31 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

… for simplicities sake, a better substitute in the argument would be NPD.

Yes, that’s a good choice. It hits the moral questions more directly.

Comment #141670

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 26, 2006 11:42 PM (e)

so I wonder if Collins has ever addressed the gist of the obvious counter argument to the idea that morality is NOT materialistic in nature, given the nature of disorders where his definitions of morality are specifically lacking in many individuals? Does he say that psychological disorders are “evil”? thought we left that kind of thinking behind about a hundred years ago.

If there are readily definable and repeatable material reasons for why someone is lacking any give sense of “morality”, in this case altruism (which one could argue empathy plays a large role in), why should we assume that the basis for “morality” is anything other than materialistic?

I’m genuinely curious to see how those who think like Collins does address this question.

Comment #141671

Posted by normdoering on October 27, 2006 12:41 AM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

I’m genuinely curious to see how those who think like Collins does address this question.

You and me both. I’ve only seen it ignored.

Comment #141701

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 27, 2006 7:15 AM (e)

I am of course ignoring your dick-waving, Norm.

Comment #141777

Posted by Sir_Toejam on October 27, 2006 5:05 PM (e)

*woosh*

what was that?

Comment #141785

Posted by normdoering on October 27, 2006 5:54 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

*woosh*

what was that?

Lenny running from the facts.

I get the feeling the players on our side in this debate are going to continue to beef up the genetics to neurobiology arguments, so any of you theist apologists better practice your game – you can’t rip off C.S. Lewis’s argument from morality any longer.

Maybe Sam Harris will write about it in his next book:
http://richarddawkins.net/article,242,Beliefwatc…–Newsweek

Harris’s next work will be a “proper work of neuroscience,” in which he debunks such unreasonable concepts as free will.

Comment #142139

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 1, 2006 12:36 AM (e)

I wonder what Collins thinks of the results of this kind of work:

http://www.sci-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_…

According to Reiss, the research, published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that elephants share high-order behaviors with humans, even though we’ve evolved along different paths.

Among those traits is empathy, or the capacity to distinguish others’ emotions, which in turn is tied to the capacity to distinguish oneself from others.

“This is true for great apes, dolphins, and elephants,” said Reiss. “They have large, complex brains, complex social organization, and they show these social traits of altruism and empathy, which really involve care-giving and helping behavior.”

Comment #142145

Posted by Popper's ghost on November 1, 2006 1:33 AM (e)

Yes, lack of empathy is commonly associated with OCPD (you can look it up easily enough).

Poking around on the net, it doesn’t seem to be one of the diagnostic criteria.

I have to wonder what sort of poking you did; aside from it being pretty obvious that the rigidity of OCPD tends to clash with empathy, googling OCPD+empathy brings up quite a few “lack of empathy” and “empathy disorder” entries on the first page alone. The very first sentence of the very first entry, from groups.msn.com/OCPD, is “Do OCPDers have the capacity to have empathy for others?”

OTOH, here’s a delightful (and empathy-producing, and educational) article by one person on that list on how he addressed the problem and the results he obtained:

http://groups.msn.com/OCPD/general.msnw?action=g…

Comment #142148

Posted by Popper's ghost on November 1, 2006 2:13 AM (e)

If you actually do the google, you may notice that many of those “lack of empathy” instances apply to NPD, not OCPD … in other words, I screwed up. Sorry about that. Still, there are some associations mentioned of OCPD with lack of empathy.

P.S. This site/server/software sucks even worse than it did a month or so ago, sig.

Comment #142149

Posted by Popper's ghost on November 1, 2006 2:16 AM (e)

Weird that my last post only shows up when I preview this post, but doesn’t show up on the page otherwise, no matter how many times I refresh. Maybe it will show up if I post this …

Comment #142160

Posted by Flint on November 1, 2006 9:06 AM (e)

Really very odd. The first time I view a thread, I see all of it. If I post something, it doesn’t show up except under ‘preview’ conditions. Others can post, and I don’t see theirs either. By observation, since the server software was changed, the first view of a thread “locks” it so that’s all I can ever see, and all subsequent entries by everyone simply don’t happen. This applies to the main page, and applies to the archives as well.

But if I delete all temporary internet files (not the cookies, just the files), then I can take a new snapshot of each page, which then “locks in” until the next time I delete the temp files. Refreshing the page or returning to it apparently now is told something like “If that page exists in the temp files, use it no matter how old, and never return to the server for a genuine update”.

Most interesting, of all the many many places I’ve ever visited, this is the ONLY one with the problem, yet our Great Site Administrator is telling us that this is OUR fault, and we should switch to Firefox. Instead, I find myself switching to other discussion groups…

Comment #142163

Posted by Mark Perakh on November 1, 2006 10:00 AM (e)

It seems that the problem encountered by Popper’s Ghost and Flint (it was experienced by some other commenters as well) can be solved by making the size of the cache as small as the browser allows. On MS Explorer click Tools, then Internet Options, then Setting (in the Internet Temporary Files), and decrease the cache to 1 Mb (it would not go to 0). In other browsers must be also a way to do the same.

Comment #142165

Posted by Anton Mates on November 1, 2006 10:21 AM (e)

Popper's ghost wrote:

Still, there are some associations mentioned of OCPD with lack of empathy.

Yes, it looks that way. I made exactly the confusion between OCD and OCPD which Sir_Toejam later warned against.