Where do we draw the line?
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14-03-2015, 09:45 PM
Where do we draw the line?
My appreciation for living things has grown exponentially over the years, especially as a proud atheist. I never was much into science when I was a kid, though I enjoyed math, so the formulaic side of science did appeal to me. These days, I very much appreciate science, even if my math skills have eroded.

Anyway, now that I have this appreciation for science and for learning as much as I can, I start to wonder about things critically. For instance, we are all related if we go back far enough, and for that matter, EVERY living thing is related if you go back far enough, including bugs and plants.

When we discuss morality on here, we use our empathy to gauge what we feel is moral as a society. I wholeheartedly agree with this barometer. And I have started to using my empathy for all living things.

In fact, IRL I have started saving turtles who are abandoned, lost or abused. When I hear of turtles that have been victims if poor husbandry or just plain cruelty, I tell the owners or friends of the owners that they are being cruel and need to either improve the situation or give them to me. My wife and I power-walk 3-4 miles pretty much daily, and living in Florida, we see stray baby turtles (juveniles) that have lost their way or have been dropped by a still-hungry bird. I have picked these turtles up and carried them either to the closest true water source or sometimes three miles to a huge pond near my home or my own pond. Generally, you should return turtles to their environment when they are wild. And if they were pets, then I save them in my pond or aquariums because they would likely die in the wild.

Anyway, before I became a full-fledged atheist, I used to never even think about this sort of thing. I would kill bugs, bees, whatever. Now, if I find something in my house, I let it out. If I see a snake outside, I leave it alone. It used to be Shovel City and I was mayor when I saw a snake, but no more.

This is a really long way about saying, where do we draw the line with our empathy? The bible makes it easy for believers because there's that line about having dominion over everything on the planet. But, when I know we are all related, I almost start to feel bad about mowing my lawn and using Roundup on weeds.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not some super-sensitive hippie who is going off the deep end. I will mow my lawn and I will spray for bugs in my house, but where do we draw the line? Do we feel bad for snipping flowers? Cutting down trees? Squashing spiders? And, for that matter, every time we eat something natural, we are literally eating a relative. How does that sit with you?

I'm being totally serious.

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Atheism promotes critical thinking; theism promotes hypocritical thinking. -- Me
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14-03-2015, 10:08 PM
RE: Where do we draw the line?
Consider
As far as we know everything has a finite existence.
Every living thing has a 'will' to survive.
In order to survive it is generally such that something must die to for something to live. That is just the way of the universe as we have observed it. We are literally the ashes of dead stars.

So no I don't give a thought about killing things in general but I don't toy with my food. As you say empathy is a strong emotion in normal humans, and I believe very much responsible for humans becoming what we are. In order for us to live, other things must not, but that does not mean we abandon wisdom in the process.


Having said that the terrestrial ecosystem is complicated and undeniably interconnected in so many ways.
If we killed all the bees, a lot of people would die of starvation.
Reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone increased biodiversity whilst decreasing ruminant numbers. Elk/deer hunters are not happy.
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14-03-2015, 10:10 PM
RE: Where do we draw the line?
I like how you mentioned that being an atheist has opened your eyes to much more than religion. Same here.
I feel more empathetic regarding not only animals but people too.
Where the line gets drawn is tricky. Think more on this I must.
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14-03-2015, 10:21 PM
RE: Where do we draw the line?
My neocortex has veto power over my mirror neurons which, though present, seem to be capable only of a whisper.

'Murican Canadian
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14-03-2015, 11:22 PM
RE: Where do we draw the line?
(14-03-2015 10:21 PM)yakherder Wrote:  My neocortex has veto power over my mirror neurons which, though present, seem to be capable only of a whisper.

I'm both grateful and fearful that you're out there. Godspeed brother.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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15-03-2015, 02:03 AM
RE: Where do we draw the line?
As a guy who builds guns with the expressed purpose of killing animals, gutting them out, butchering and eating them, I don't bother drawing lines.

I'm just happy carnivore.

.......................................

The difference between prayer and masturbation - is when a guy is through masturbating - he has something to show for his efforts.
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15-03-2015, 08:09 AM
RE: Where do we draw the line?
(15-03-2015 02:03 AM)onlinebiker Wrote:  As a guy who builds guns with the expressed purpose of killing animals, gutting them out, butchering and eating them, I don't bother drawing lines.

I'm just happy carnivore.

And like I said, I'm not turning into someone who is against these things, but do you draw a line? For instance, you hunt, likely for deer and the like. Would you hunt chimps for sport? Would you fish for dolphin? Would you club a baby seal? Shoot a puppy? Or an endangered tiger?

Is there a line? Or because we are the smartest, most advanced species it gives us dominion over every living thing, just like the babble says?

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15-03-2015, 08:32 AM
RE: Where do we draw the line?
The line is crawling over my face at 3 AM, anything up for that is looking for some natural selection.

living word
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15-03-2015, 08:35 AM
RE: Where do we draw the line?
But that cockroach is your cousin. Smile

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15-03-2015, 08:42 AM
RE: Where do we draw the line?
(15-03-2015 08:35 AM)WillHopp Wrote:  But that cockroach is your cousin. Smile

You've met my family? Gasp

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