left biblioblography: AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS…

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS…


Somewhere, somewhen, there’s some unwritten rule that we atheists are required to explain how it is that we’re moral creatures, without the benefit of having transcendent guidance.

I hate this crap.

At some juncture, I just lose interest. Besides which, I think it’s a trap, a pitfall we fall into as a rule. I mean, really, why on earth do I HAVE to explain it? I don’t. I feel that I (and my fellow atheists) best exemplify by example. To wit: the large percentile of crimes committed in this (or for the most part, any other) society is committed by religious folk.

But, in the blogosphere, many of my cohorts in crime seem to feel this compunction, and as such (the shelf life of peer pressure is far too long: but evolution has had its way with me, as it has with us all, and so), I feel that niggling option to comply.

And true enough, some revel in it: Aaron Kinney and Frances the Magnificent seem to rather enjoy the battle – good for them, I say. Me, not so much.

I prefer to avoid labels: atheist thus far is the one I accept. Besides which, a person can absolutely drive themselves bugfuck trying to figure out just which term fits their unique perspective.

I’ve pretty much abandoned all hope (hee-hee, poor Milton gets paraphrased on such a regular basis) of finding a good fit. I’ve given moral relativism the old heave-ho: determinism seems to have merit (but my ego still has problems with letting go of the concept of free will). Thus far, it seems I’m a moral naturalist.

Moral naturalism is a form of cognitivism derived from applying evolutionary game-theory to ethics. Rather than interpreting morality as the result of negotiations between members of a large group of free moral agents, moral naturalism sees morality as an emergent phenomenon arising as an unintended side-effect of the interaction of those agents in smaller groups. In other words, morality is not to solve a single problem but a number of recurring problems, in the same manner that natural selection adjusts populations of organisms for changing environmental conditions. This puts moral facts in a class with natural facts about the world, which contradicts the assertion of divine command theory that morality is defined by the arbitrary revelation of God.”

I think that covers it very nicely, thanks.

Most of my perspective arises from the fact I was a bullied child. First off, I grew up a white kid in a demographic of approximately 80% Hispanic, which meant that

  1. I became a really fast runner (because when you’re the odd man out, no matter what your skin color, you become a target), because (and again, this isn’t exclusive to ANY population) you fight one, you fight them all. That would apply to the reverse as well (i.e., Hispanic kid in predominantly white population).

  2. Sometimes, I’d be forced to fight another white kid, for entertainment purposes, and

  3. I was a giant among my peers (not anymore), who refused to fight.

So, given my limited options in that environment, I had two defense mechanisms to choose from:

  • Become a sociopath, and completely disconnect from anything remotely resembling empathy, or

  • Become almost completely pacifistic, refusing to harm anyone, or anything.
I trust that the choice made is abundantly clear.

I personally believe that morality is an individual choice, and that one’s environment is a huge factor in that choice.

This isn’t to say I was ‘saintly’: most young boys engage in behavior that would be considered Sociopathic in an adult – it’s a matter of whether it’s a touch, or a wholesale wallowing that makes the distinction. I found the flavor wholly repulsive, and turned my face away from that innate darkness that humans have built into their nature. With no help from religion, I might add.

So, in short, I’m a morally upright individual – I don’t steal, I rarely lie, I’m excruciatingly honest (to my own detriment, I might add), I understand what the word no means (I feel that rape – the ultimate conscious violation – is perhaps the most disgusting crime one being can commit on another), children absolutely adore me, domestic pets as a rule gravitate to me, I’m about as friendly as another human being can be in person, and I won’t strike another person without due provocation. I also haven’t seen the inside of a cell in approximately thirty years (one time was enough: in some things, I’m a fast learner).

Which begs the question (for the theists): from whence came morality?

So I’ll paraphrase myself (I’m entitled to), and add to an earlier quotation of mine:

‘From the womb of evolution sprang religion. From that womb also came morality.’

Because, let’s face facts, folks: any individual of a species that behaves in a manner contrary to the well being of the herd, is cast out. I won’t trot out any scholarship in this regard: I leave it to my readers to investigate for themselves.

And I leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes:

‘Words, not deeds, shall speak me.’ – John Fletcher, English dramatist (1579 - 1625)

Till the next post, then.

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26 comments:

farmgirl said...

yes you can drive your self nuts with labels I should know I fell into that trap myself. Now as far as my values and morals come from well I dont want to get into that because they come from being a part of the tribe known as humanity and survinng in a world that realies on other people.

Krystalline Apostate said...

farmgirl:
yes you can drive your self nuts with labels I should know I fell into that trap myself.
Haven't we all, my friend, haven't we all.

karen said...

I'm still clinging to moral relativism, especially as defined in your link. But this moral naturalism sounds like a good fit too. Not sure I understand the differences, as I see naturalism as the creative agent of relativism.

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
I'm still clinging to moral relativism, especially as defined in your link.
As Einstein's wife once said, "Hmmm...isn't everything relative?" ;)
Not sure I understand the differences, as I see naturalism as the creative agent of relativism.
There are nuances, to be sure. I think this:
"Rather than interpreting morality as the result of negotiations between members of a large group of free moral agents" is the moral relativism part. & this:
"In other words, morality is not to solve a single problem but a number of recurring problems" kind of kaputs the relativism POV, as relativism pretty much espouses that there's no problem whatsoever, it's all a matter of perspective.
Does that help/make sense?

On another note, I'd 1/2 expected all the C.S Lewis clones to come a-knockin'. Guess not.

There are pluses to not being popular, I'd say.

beepbeepitsme said...

Just ask them how they can claim to have moral authority when the vast majority of people in the world believe in god, and they don't seem to have done a great job so far. :)

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM:
Just ask them how they can claim to have moral authority when the vast majority of people in the world believe in god, and they don't seem to have done a great job so far. :)
That's a good point, but the behavior spawned by such a query usually devolves into 2 branches:
A. We hear about the communist atrocities, or
B. We hear a long, involved, dry diatribe (500 word minimum) about 'objective morality', or,
C. The miscreants weren't 'true' whatevers.
Why do you think they call it...apologia?

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Labels... Morals... Blah-deh-blah...
This is a useless discussion,
in more than one way.
The biblical literalists lose the debate at once... So does -any- religious literalist, I think.

Because there's something abhorrent in all religions...
And you won't have to look far.
It's usually about
condemning those who don't
follow the same anachronistic
and meaningless traditions.
Traditions, mind ya, that, for the most part, were co-opted and corrupted from an
even -earlier- faith.
Looked at in the clear light o' day, preachers seem more like
used-soul salesmen than comforters and healers.

The "faithful" often blast
the non-believers for not having a "moral center"...
yet they never seem to realize
that their own is rotten to the core.
Selective and convenient perception.

And I'm targeting the bible, again,
if only because it's such a huge, easy target:
If the bible is the infallible word of the one true god,
how come the faithfull christians
can't agree on a universal interpretation?

The answer, to anyone not infected
by terminal dumbness, is, of course, that the bible was
written by human beings...
And Whoa!!! Did they -EVER- need an editor back in those days!

Krystalline Apostate said...

HMDK:
Labels... Morals... Blah-deh-blah...
This is a useless discussion,
in more than one way.

Which is why I've avoided it for so long. Gosh durn the blog collective.
Because there's something abhorrent in all religions...
And you won't have to look far.
It's usually about
condemning those who don't
follow the same anachronistic
and meaningless traditions.

Yeah, evolution does suck in some ways. It traces right back to primal territorialism, it does.
Traditions, mind ya, that, for the most part, were co-opted and corrupted from an even -earlier- faith.
The term plagiarism comes to mind.
Selective and convenient perception.
That's the human condition, in a nutshell.
Did they -EVER- need an editor back in those days!
Oh, they did have editors.
None of them could agree, however, which explains the multiple mish-mash of their respective madnesses.
Yeesh, I've got to do something about all that alliterative crap.

say no to christ said...

Wow, Hairless! That was a awesome post coming from the horney one! You covered it all!

Beowulf said...

If your interested, I have a response to your post here

Krystalline Apostate said...

bf:
If your interested, I have a response to your post
Yeah, gave it the once over.
For future reference, I have a creative commons license in effect. So, in the future, please check w/me. Likelihood is I'll say yes. You can keep it: I ain't that petty.
I do appreciate the politer tone of it, though, so thanks.
I'll respond to it (maybe) sometime in the near future.

Beowulf said...

I am familiar with creative commons. I figured you used it to protect your story writings from plagiarism (its common use). I didn’t think people would use it to avoid criticism (not that you’re using it for that specifically). Secondly, I didn’t reproduce your post in its entirety—as if it were my own material. I thought about getting a license, but decided it’s useless considering I am not trying making a future change on anything. According to the license, people are free to copy/display so long as the work is attributed, to which I did link both to this post and your main url. Anyways, it seems awkward to ask if I can quote someone’s blog, but I you don’t want to be quoted in the future then I won’t.

Krystalline Apostate said...

BF:
I didn’t think people would use it to avoid criticism (not that you’re using it for that specifically). Secondly, I didn’t reproduce your post in its entirety—as if it were my own material.
No, I'm not. It's just a courtesy. I'd extend it to you if our positions were reversed.
Udonman asked permission some time ago, as well.
I am terribly pissed off at you, but I'll post it at your blog.

GooseHenry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GooseHenry said...

Moral naturalism seems to imply that morality has evolved as a side-effect of human interaction. This would mean that what we call morals are just a function for regulating interaction.

Which means "good" and "bad" really are illusions, no action is "good" or "bad" in itself it just depends on what value it has been assigned within the context of the herd.

Which means that rape is evil in your eyes (in your herd). Somewhere else it might be considered a good thing and this could not be condemned by you then?

Krystalline Apostate said...

goose:
Hey, how are ya?
Moral naturalism seems to imply that morality has evolved as a side-effect of human interaction. This would mean that what we call morals are just a function for regulating interaction.
Yepper.
Which means "good" and "bad" really are illusions, no action is "good" or "bad" in itself it just depends on what value it has been assigned within the context of the herd.
To some degree.
Which means that rape is evil in your eyes (in your herd). Somewhere else it might be considered a good thing and this could not be condemned by you then?
I'm afraid the trap snaps at empty air here.
It takes no degree to see the long-term ramifications of harming another member of the herd.
Never been much of a follower, so I'm guessing I'd have to speak up about that 1.
You seem to be confusing relativism w/naturalism.

GooseHenry said...

RA,

i am fine thank you. What about you? How are the martial arts going?

"Which means that rape is evil in your eyes (in your herd). Somewhere else it might be considered a good thing and this could not be condemned by you then?
I'm afraid the trap snaps at empty air here.
It takes no degree to see the long-term ramifications of harming another member of the herd."

A few questions arise:

1) Is rape abjectively evil in itself or is it evil just because it has long-term ramifications for the herd? It there were no ramifications, would rape be ok?

2) Your statement implies that rape is universally evil since it has ramifications and you ought to care about the herd. Am i right?
Never been much of a follower, so I'm guessing I'd have to speak up about that 1.

"You seem to be confusing relativism w/naturalism."

maybe. even so, both systems try to use natural causes as a yardstick for morality.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Goose:
How are the martial arts going?
Well, they're...going. On my 13th year of practice, 3rd year of teaching.

1) Is rape abjectively evil in itself or is it evil just because it has long-term ramifications for the herd? It there were no ramifications, would rape be ok?
I think it's evil, because it does harm. Both on a herd level as well as an individual 1.
2) Your statement implies that rape is universally evil since it has ramifications and you ought to care about the herd. Am i right?
This is kinda a rephrase of query 1, isn't it?
I answered that already, if so.
There are always implications. We're interconnected to others on so many alternate levels, it's kinda staggering.
If the perpetrator is allowed to get away w/it once, then it will happen again. No degree to see that 1, either.
& the psychological consequences can very easily carry over into the next generation, whether it's the perp or the victim.

You're English is improving, BTW. Good show.

GooseHenry said...

RA

BTW, i've seen you mention "energies" in connection with your martial arts. Are they material or not?

I know i repeated the question in my previous posts, i tried to delete it but it popped back for some reason.

Anyway, key to your response is that you think that rape is wrong. It is an opinion in other words (a sound opinion nonetheless)

If that is all there is to it then you can't really judge a society where rape is considered ok (and the ramifications are considered manageable).

In fact, moral relativism says that it is quite impossible to say which society is more advanced, the one allowing rape or the one banning it.

GooseHenry said...

RA

and thanks for encouraging me to go on writing in english.

GooseHenry said...

RA

I mistakenly wrote relativism instead of naturalism.

However the same arguments can be used against both since none can account for an objective standard of morality.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Goose:
BTW, i've seen you mention "energies" in connection with your martial arts. Are they material or not?
Completely material. Not an iota of the supernatural about it.
If that is all there is to it then you can't really judge a society where rape is considered ok (and the ramifications are considered manageable).
Does such a society exist? Until you can give me an example, makes it speculation.
In fact, moral relativism says that it is quite impossible to say which society is more advanced, the one allowing rape or the one banning it.
No, I think you're wrong about this.
Rape is the imposition of one person's desire on another. IOWs, the rapist forcing his/her own desire, ergo, by extension, on someone else.
I think moral naturalism addresses this, inasmuch as the results are readily apparent, & can be addressed as 1 of a series of problems.

GooseHenry said...

RA

you said:

"Rape is the imposition of one person's desire on another. IOWs, the rapist forcing his/her own desire, ergo, by extension, on someone else."

Earlier you agreed that good&bad are labels which society uses to categorize things in order to regulate behaviour.

Isn't it kind of difficult to explain to a rapist why he shouldn't rape on the basis of that? I mean he can't do anything objectively evil, just things that are percieved as evil.

Of course you could say that it has consequences for the herd but then you should give a reason why he should care about the herd.

It gets comlicated fast with no objective morals to refer to.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Goose:
Earlier you agreed that good&bad are labels which society uses to categorize things in order to regulate behaviour.
To some degree.
sn't it kind of difficult to explain to a rapist why he shouldn't rape on the basis of that?
No, it isn't. It's a matter of doing harm. That simple.
Of course you could say that it has consequences for the herd but then you should give a reason why he should care about the herd.
Hey, he behaves, or he gets punished.
It gets comlicated fast with no objective morals to refer to.
No, it gets complicated when we overanalyze the simplest of matters.
Do no harm.
Simple, really.

GooseHenry said...

RA

Is causing harm objectively evil? Or a convention?

What if the rapist suffers since he can't fulfill his needs?

Krystalline Apostate said...

goose:
Is causing harm objectively evil?
There isn't any 'objectivity' in nature. All is subject to perception.
What if the rapist suffers since he can't fulfill his needs?
What a loaded query.
If the rapist needs to force themselves on someone in order to fulfill said need, out they go. There's way too many complex factors involved on a query like that: was the raper molested, why does the rapist need to subjugate someone (rape is usually not about sex: it's about power), etc.

http://www.answers.com/topic/rape
"Men, young men and boys suffer rape-related trauma by rape and sexual assault just as female victims do. In addition, due to male socialization to consider all male-male sexual contact to be shameful, to 'be tough and take it like a man' and to eschew victimhood in all its forms, many males who were survivors of male rape choose to suffer in silent shame rather than risk reporting the crime."

& it comes back to this:
Do no harm.

This is 1 reason I get so tired of these sort of discussions: History shows us that there has never been an 'objective standard' of morality.
For many centuries, xtians & pagans alike did as they pleased w/women - a woman was considered chattel. The crime of rape was a crime committed against a property owner, whether male or female.
Thank goodness we've evolved past such feral pursuits. At least for the most part.