My husband is a believer / need opinions
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30-10-2013, 03:43 PM
RE: My husband is a believer / need opinions
(28-10-2013 02:23 PM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  You have to ask where the viewpoints derive from. As a fundamentalist/evangelical, my conscience is in large part informed by the scriptures, which teach that it is with good reason governments execute certain criminals.

But when I see freethinkers saying that no one should ever be executed, I remember that the correct Darwinian equation should equal Don't do things that don't enhance your survivability. Someone who murders someone and is then executed will certainly never kill again. In other words, when people without god cling to life as being so important, I have to ask on what basis they're all excited about someone ELSE's life...?

This is only the correct "Darwinian equation" to someone whose understanding of the evolutionary process is... well, "simplistic" is utterly inadequate to describe the degree of simplicity and the manner in which that oversimplification leads to the exact wrong conclusion coupled with the hubris of believing one actually understands the theory. But I can't for the life of me come up with words to do this monstrosity justice, so "simplistic" will just have to do for now.

I have to agree with Rahn, this is permanent facepalm territory.

Don't have time for a full-on post explaining all the flaws, so I'll come back later this evening to see if anyone else has set him straight. Or, at least, come up with a better word than "simplistic".
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30-10-2013, 09:40 PM (This post was last modified: 30-10-2013 09:44 PM by Reltzik.)
RE: My husband is a believer / need opinions
Okay. I'm back.

The first error PJ makes is representing evolutionary theory as a basis for mor...

No. Scratch that.

The first error PJ makes is thinking he understands it well enough to bullshit people who understand it. ... or, worse, thinking he understands it at all. Or maybe he does understand it and just likes totally misrepresenting it as a way to get a rise out of us or lie to passersby. He'd act exactly the same way in all three of these scenarios, so how can we tell? ... though, given how often he's been set straight on the topic, the "general misunderstanding" scenario would have to be coupled with either a severe mental handicap or a complete refusal to process what he reads if it conflicts with his preexisting notions. ... which would count as a severe mental handicap. So I guess the exact nature of this error doesn't matter, because the outcome is the same regardless.

The SECOND error PJ makes is representing evolutionary theory as a basis for moral action. It isn't. Evolutionary theory is explanatory and predictive. It is not prescriptive. It never, ever, ever tells us what to do. It tell us why things happened the way they happened and gives us ways to extrapolate how they will happen in the future. In some small sense, this predictive behavior may inform our ethical choices by making their consequences clearer. For example, evolutionary theory helps us understand how antibiotic-resistant diseases develop, which may inform our choice of using antibiotic wipes where soapy water will work just as well. But even then, it simply illuminates the consequences of our moral choices. It does not dictate or motivate them beyond providing that clarity of outcome. "Darwinism" (which, btw, is about as accurate a name for evolutionary theory as calling particle physics "Newtonism") never tells us, "don't do anything that doesn't enhance your survival," as PJ would have us believe. It at most lays out a few of the consequences regarding the likely propagation of our genetic traits if we do something that doesn't enhance our survival, but makes no comment as to whether we should be repelled by this outcome, desire it, or be indifferent to it. The moment someone tells you that "Darwinism says do this or don't do that", you know that what's coming out of their mouth is utter bullshit. This error is further compounded by assuming that anything an atheist is motivated to do, is motivated by "Darwinism".

Also, equation? What equation?

The THIRD mistake he makes is misunderstanding survival, in evolutionary terms. Or deliberately mischaracterizing it. Whatever. Evolutionary survival refers to the propagation of traits and, where biological evolution is concerned, of genotype. It need not be that particular individual's exact genotype (and given sexual reproduction, it rarely is), and it CERTAINLY does not refer to the survival of that individual as a person. In this manner, evolution can explain genetically-ingrained instincts to defend descendents, family members, or anyone who carries one's genes.

And the FOURTH mistake is assuming that the genetics allows for finely-considered decisions. It doesn't. Genetics kicks in when our genetic makeup is set (though conditionally-activated genes can throw in some complications). It sets the program up in advance. The problem is, it's not a GOOD program. It's the type of program that sends moths flitting towards the moon or the flame with equal confidence. If it helps more members of the next generation survive than its absence does, it gets preserved, even if it screws up 90% of the time. MAYBE it can dictate an instinct to dehumanize, harm, and attack those who have caused is emotional anguish, and this instinct is often generalized to defend those adopted into our social circle or our society at large. Even if that generalization might not always advance genetic survival, even if the instinct screws up 90% of the time, it persists because it gets genetic survival right often enough to propagate. But specific punishments for murder? No. It can't parse fine scenarios based on careful examination of present circumstances. It can't dictate, specifically, the execution of a person who has committed murder. That's like, I don't know, a surgeon trying carefully insert a titanium pin into someone's knee with a sledge hammer. It's too clumsy an instrument for the job. That's why intelligence and the capacity for reason is an evolutionary advantage. Genetics sets up this capacity to begin with, and then this capacity allows for much more finely-parsed, situation-analyzed, learning-applied decisions, and this (coupled with related social instincts) is basically the survival strategy of the human species. The only genetic-evolutionary question is whether this brain power provides more advantage in passing on genes than it disadvantage. It does. Even if the brain comes up with stupid stuff, like religion, 90% of the time. Genetic evolution doesn't explain a desire to execute murderers, save in very vague emotional terms. (For really interesting model of evolutionary pressures around the execution of murderers, look to memetics.)

BTW, I'm not actually addressing this to PJ. As I said before, he's either incapable of learning this material, unwilling to do so, or has and just doesn't give a shit, and any protestations to the contrary are in direct conflict with his demonstrated behavior. This is addressed to some random lurker or browser who might read what he has to say and think, just for a moment, that he's making sense.

Oh, one final thought. That part where PJ says that being a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian and reading scripture tells him that governments have good reason to execute murderers? Bull. Shit. I call bullshit on that. I call total bullshit on that. I call total bullshit on that because there are plenty of fundamentalist, evangelical Christians out there who are pro-life on the issue of capital punishment because of THEIR reading of scripture. Because they picked out passages like the golden rule and not to render judgement and Thou Shalt Not Kill and so on. A sign post that points in both directions is a sign post that gives no guidance whatsoever, and so whatever pointed PJ one way when others Christians who also claimed to be guided by scripture were pointed the other way, it was not being a Christian and it was not reading scripture. There must have been another element involved for the outcomes to have been so disparate, and THAT -- not being a fundamentalist, an evangelical, a bible-reader, or a christian -- is where PJ's guidance came from. Personally, I suspect that most Christians basically go to the Bible with their attitudes and biases already in place, cherry-pick the parts that agree with them, and don't really notice the parts that disagree (or could be read to disagree), and in this manner they change scripture around to mean what they want it to mean, rather than use the meaning of scripture to change themselves. But that's just speculation. I don't know why scripture is such an unreliable (meaning wildly unpredictable) guide. But it is evident, from the diversity of outcomes amongst those who read it, that it IS unreliable.
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31-10-2013, 10:23 AM
RE: My husband is a believer / need opinions
(30-10-2013 09:40 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  Okay. I'm back.

The first error PJ makes is representing evolutionary theory as a basis for mor...

No. Scratch that.

The first error PJ makes is thinking he understands it well enough to bullshit people who understand it. ... or, worse, thinking he understands it at all. Or maybe he does understand it and just likes totally misrepresenting it as a way to get a rise out of us or lie to passersby. He'd act exactly the same way in all three of these scenarios, so how can we tell? ... though, given how often he's been set straight on the topic, the "general misunderstanding" scenario would have to be coupled with either a severe mental handicap or a complete refusal to process what he reads if it conflicts with his preexisting notions. ... which would count as a severe mental handicap. So I guess the exact nature of this error doesn't matter, because the outcome is the same regardless.

The SECOND error PJ makes is representing evolutionary theory as a basis for moral action. It isn't. Evolutionary theory is explanatory and predictive. It is not prescriptive. It never, ever, ever tells us what to do. It tell us why things happened the way they happened and gives us ways to extrapolate how they will happen in the future. In some small sense, this predictive behavior may inform our ethical choices by making their consequences clearer. For example, evolutionary theory helps us understand how antibiotic-resistant diseases develop, which may inform our choice of using antibiotic wipes where soapy water will work just as well. But even then, it simply illuminates the consequences of our moral choices. It does not dictate or motivate them beyond providing that clarity of outcome. "Darwinism" (which, btw, is about as accurate a name for evolutionary theory as calling particle physics "Newtonism") never tells us, "don't do anything that doesn't enhance your survival," as PJ would have us believe. It at most lays out a few of the consequences regarding the likely propagation of our genetic traits if we do something that doesn't enhance our survival, but makes no comment as to whether we should be repelled by this outcome, desire it, or be indifferent to it. The moment someone tells you that "Darwinism says do this or don't do that", you know that what's coming out of their mouth is utter bullshit. This error is further compounded by assuming that anything an atheist is motivated to do, is motivated by "Darwinism".

Also, equation? What equation?

The THIRD mistake he makes is misunderstanding survival, in evolutionary terms. Or deliberately mischaracterizing it. Whatever. Evolutionary survival refers to the propagation of traits and, where biological evolution is concerned, of genotype. It need not be that particular individual's exact genotype (and given sexual reproduction, it rarely is), and it CERTAINLY does not refer to the survival of that individual as a person. In this manner, evolution can explain genetically-ingrained instincts to defend descendents, family members, or anyone who carries one's genes.

And the FOURTH mistake is assuming that the genetics allows for finely-considered decisions. It doesn't. Genetics kicks in when our genetic makeup is set (though conditionally-activated genes can throw in some complications). It sets the program up in advance. The problem is, it's not a GOOD program. It's the type of program that sends moths flitting towards the moon or the flame with equal confidence. If it helps more members of the next generation survive than its absence does, it gets preserved, even if it screws up 90% of the time. MAYBE it can dictate an instinct to dehumanize, harm, and attack those who have caused is emotional anguish, and this instinct is often generalized to defend those adopted into our social circle or our society at large. Even if that generalization might not always advance genetic survival, even if the instinct screws up 90% of the time, it persists because it gets genetic survival right often enough to propagate. But specific punishments for murder? No. It can't parse fine scenarios based on careful examination of present circumstances. It can't dictate, specifically, the execution of a person who has committed murder. That's like, I don't know, a surgeon trying carefully insert a titanium pin into someone's knee with a sledge hammer. It's too clumsy an instrument for the job. That's why intelligence and the capacity for reason is an evolutionary advantage. Genetics sets up this capacity to begin with, and then this capacity allows for much more finely-parsed, situation-analyzed, learning-applied decisions, and this (coupled with related social instincts) is basically the survival strategy of the human species. The only genetic-evolutionary question is whether this brain power provides more advantage in passing on genes than it disadvantage. It does. Even if the brain comes up with stupid stuff, like religion, 90% of the time. Genetic evolution doesn't explain a desire to execute murderers, save in very vague emotional terms. (For really interesting model of evolutionary pressures around the execution of murderers, look to memetics.)

BTW, I'm not actually addressing this to PJ. As I said before, he's either incapable of learning this material, unwilling to do so, or has and just doesn't give a shit, and any protestations to the contrary are in direct conflict with his demonstrated behavior. This is addressed to some random lurker or browser who might read what he has to say and think, just for a moment, that he's making sense.

Oh, one final thought. That part where PJ says that being a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian and reading scripture tells him that governments have good reason to execute murderers? Bull. Shit. I call bullshit on that. I call total bullshit on that. I call total bullshit on that because there are plenty of fundamentalist, evangelical Christians out there who are pro-life on the issue of capital punishment because of THEIR reading of scripture. Because they picked out passages like the golden rule and not to render judgement and Thou Shalt Not Kill and so on. A sign post that points in both directions is a sign post that gives no guidance whatsoever, and so whatever pointed PJ one way when others Christians who also claimed to be guided by scripture were pointed the other way, it was not being a Christian and it was not reading scripture. There must have been another element involved for the outcomes to have been so disparate, and THAT -- not being a fundamentalist, an evangelical, a bible-reader, or a christian -- is where PJ's guidance came from. Personally, I suspect that most Christians basically go to the Bible with their attitudes and biases already in place, cherry-pick the parts that agree with them, and don't really notice the parts that disagree (or could be read to disagree), and in this manner they change scripture around to mean what they want it to mean, rather than use the meaning of scripture to change themselves. But that's just speculation. I don't know why scripture is such an unreliable (meaning wildly unpredictable) guide. But it is evident, from the diversity of outcomes amongst those who read it, that it IS unreliable.

1. I understand Evolution has a huge god-of-the-gaps. It's passe to say it's random, and in vogue (in response to Christian apologetics, mostly) to say it's designed by circumstance and survivability. You know what? I don't care, because I've already said Evolution is fact. Plus, you have no empircal data for your assertions, or at least didn't bother to post any. For example, if Evolution doesn't tell us to make moral choices or Evolution-designed systems don't tell us, than what or who informs our decisions? Our soul? God? Give me a break.

2. The cherry pickers on scripture don't interpret it right. Because a) the NT is explicit specifically on this matter of capital punishment b) because thou shalt not kill is thou shalt not murder and the OT also insists that murderers be executed and parses the two c) they're wrong about judging and certainly seem to forget about the Bible book called JUDGES which is a history of God raising up men and women to JUDGE Israel, etc.
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