JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2007/09/quote-of-day_16.html (19 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1189955574-580572  Unix-Jedi at Sun, 16 Sep 2007 15:12:54 +0000

Congrats, LR. It truely was a righteous comment.


I'd like to suggest/promote Why I need a gun as a possible QOTW future contender.

(Via Kit.)

(Quoting and referring to: )
We need to free the land, stop paying taxes and rent, tear down the powerful, dispossess the rich, fight cops, shut down factories, learn how to feed ourselves, smash the weapons of imperialism, plant trees, get to know our neighbors, build communities, respect and listen to the natural world, stop polluters and corporate thieves, and defeat colonizers."

She neglected to mention how stealing the fruits of other people's labors or fighting cops would build communities. Personally, I'd be less inclined to sow a field if other people stepped in to seize it. And the tragedy of the commons suggests that private property allows things to be taken care of in ways that public properties never are. In short, it was a combination of ignorance and evil for which I was unprepared.

McMillan reminded me abruptly that my preparations are meaningless if needy grasshoppers riot to dispossess those that saved, sweated and prepared. In short, she made me realize for the first time, seriously, the FIRST TIME, why wacko survivalists always have a stash of weapons. I've been so caught up in learning how to live in a sustainable way that I forgot that some people - maybe a LOT of people - will choose to steal rather than prepare or fend for themselves.
Am I wealthy? Yes, I probably am. But I don't think it's undeserved luck, even if we premise that's a reason for violent seizure of my goods. I think it's innate intelligence, combined with strong work ethic, married to a saving sort of philosophy.
It pisses me off that someone thinks the solution to economic woes is to violently, anarchically, take from those who have, who prepared, who are trying to BUILD a stable community for the future. And now I understand why I need a gun.

jsid-1189963592-580585  LabRat at Sun, 16 Sep 2007 17:26:32 +0000

You like me! You really like me!


It never ceases to amaze me that people so full to the brim of social-justice outrage never stop to think that cops ARE your neighbors, and so are the "rich" and the powerful, and that maybe thievery isn't any better done as a local business.

jsid-1190049145-580667  theirritablearchitect at Mon, 17 Sep 2007 17:12:25 +0000


Fireworks. Pure genius, madame.*

A quote for all time. Kinda sobering to look at the whole thing in that kind of unjaundiced eye, yet that is exactly what is needed.

(*LabRat is a she.)

Edited By Siteowner

jsid-1190062033-580700  LabRat at Mon, 17 Sep 2007 20:47:13 +0000

Why, you're the sweetest thing. ;)

jsid-1190130691-580749  Stephen at Tue, 18 Sep 2007 15:51:31 +0000

The amusing thing about this is that the creationists tend to be politically conservative, and the atheist/anti-theists/other tend to be leftist. Kinda turns everything on its head.

.... says Steve the conservative atheist....

(And IIRC, Kevin, you're an atheist as well, are you not?)

jsid-1190131351-580751  Kevin Baker at Tue, 18 Sep 2007 16:02:31 +0000

Yes. Yes I am.

jsid-1190145510-580771  LabRat at Tue, 18 Sep 2007 19:58:30 +0000

I find it less amusing and more wildly frustrating.

jsid-1190175592-580807  Sarah at Wed, 19 Sep 2007 04:19:52 +0000

Why do you find it frustrating, LabRat? You said yourself in the comment thread that evolution has no ultimate goals, that it has nothing whatsoever to do with morality. If there is no God and all we have is indifferent nature, how does one derive an objective morality?

There ya go, Kevin. That oughtta be good for a few more comments. :-)

jsid-1190207911-580820  Kevin Baker at Wed, 19 Sep 2007 13:18:31 +0000

If there is no God and all we have is indifferent nature, how does one derive an objective morality?

Via reason Sarah! (Haven't we done this before? Repeatedly?) ;)

jsid-1190218072-580849  LabRat at Wed, 19 Sep 2007 16:07:52 +0000

a)Frustrating because academia used to be a conservative bastion; so far as I'm concerned, there is NO good reason for conservatives to embrace pseudoscience.

b)At the moment we have several different competing religions and sects within religions and varying degrees of intelligence and comprehensions of those religions, ranging from the thoughtfully pious to those who go to Church three times a year and call that good to those whose major involvement with their religion is finding reasons within it to scorn others. An "objective morality" isn't really something we have now, in practice.

Putting aside reality for theory, why embrace an objective (or as much as can be realistically managed) morality if all we have is indifferent nature? Because we are not indifferent. Abstract ideals that we turn our lives to instead of the natural grind of "have the most grandchildren" is what makes us human. It's what's made civilization possible at all. Daily transcendence of our origins is a good enough reason for *me*.

Although if I'm being completely honest, I may wind up not being able to defend my position here on sheer lack of time. *sigh*

jsid-1190245449-580887  Sarah at Wed, 19 Sep 2007 23:44:09 +0000


The reason we go round and round on this is because I am stuck on one point: as soon as you start talking about right and wrong, that implies an absolute standard by which you measure. Without God and with an indifferent nature, what is that standard?


so far as I'm concerned, there is NO good reason for conservatives to embrace pseudoscience

There may be no good reason, but there's a reason. Contrary to popular belief, what turns Christians away from science is not religion but the aggressive anti-theism of educators and popular writers like Dawkins. I have a running record of students who complain to me about science professors who use their classrooms as bully pulpits from which to preach their anti-theistic beliefs. It would not have occurred to these students to reject science in favor of God, but when they are faced with a coerced decision between science and their cherished beliefs (which the truly faithful will never give up), and because they don't know that it's a false dichotomy, they choose God. But they don't want to reject science altogether, so they fall for the pseudo-scientific garbage that passes for creationism. If you genuinely care that conservatives are abandoning real scientific thinking, do something to head off this sort of abuse and allow people make up their own minds about the theological implications of science.

An "objective morality" isn't really something we have now, in practice.

So people disagree on what that morality consists of -- that doesn't mean that an objective standard doesn't exist. People disagree wildly about the meaning and intent of the Constitution. Does that render it subjective, even in practice?

Because we are not indifferent.

You seem to want it both ways. You believe that even though we are inextricably both part of and a product of nature -- which you have defined as purposeless and amoral -- we are somehow elevated above it to the status of "moral." How?

Incidentally, my intent wasn't to start another mega-argument on theism and morality (although I'm always willing :-)), but to point out that your frustration is needless. It absolutely doesn't have to be this way. What atheists don't seem to understand is that deeply religious Christians will never relinquish their beliefs. This is not to say that Christians are blameless -- they have allowed themselves to become intellectually lazy, which is a sin. But the more science is misused to hammer people out of their beliefs, the more we just end up with an ignorant, anti-science yet still tenaciously religious population. I give lectures at churches and for other religious groups and show people how science doesn't in the least negate their beliefs. They are always overjoyed at this revelation and suddenly become very excited about science. Doesn't that tell you something?

jsid-1190248733-580892  Kevin Baker at Thu, 20 Sep 2007 00:38:53 +0000

"Without God and with an indifferent nature, what is that standard?"

Sarah, with God, what is the standard?

The Bible? The Torah? The Koran? The Bhagavad Gita?

"The Standard" is set by the society in which you live. Ask the Moriori. (Oh, right...) Ask the Maori. Ask the remaining American Indians. Ask whomever you wish.

The Christian "standard" is one that's worked pretty well. The Protestant Christian "standard" has worked well enough to produce the most productive, most free society to have existed on this planet to date.

This does not make it the absolute, irreducible standard of right and wrong.

It just means it works. And it works whether you believe in a $Diety or not, so long as you and the rest of the members of that society abide by its rules.

We elevate ourselves to the status of "moral." And we lower ourselves to the status of "immoral." Because morality or immorality is a human judgement of behavior, not an abstract. Morality is a measure of human behavior, made by humans. Fish can't be "immoral" any more than a galaxy can.

As LabRat points out, where we differ from other species is that we are not stuck in the eat-fight-fuck-die cycle. We've "elevated" ourselves above that, and thus we have more choices. Some of those help our genome, some don't.

And now we're back to whether or not religion is a meme that spreads through humanity, since we're the only species that can carry it. ;)

jsid-1190256398-580900  LabRat at Thu, 20 Sep 2007 02:46:38 +0000

Actually, Sarah, we agree on more than you think. I absolutely despise Richard Dawkins and his ilk and I agree with you 100% that that kind of bullshit is every bit as much responsible for the alienation between conservatism and academia as conservatives embracing something that represents a lashing-out at an authority saying something they don't want to hear much more than good science is. If nothing else, Dawkins is so theologically ignorant he gives me heartburn.

I would be tremendously disappointed if all devout Christians stopped believing tomorrow. I may be an atheist, but for one I might be wrong, and for two I'd be very sorry to lose one of the systems of thought and belief that has produced so much.

Even if the most basic premise- that there is a personally interested deity that sent a son in mortal form to redeem humanity, or at least that portion of it as could be reached by missionaries- is completely false, it still represents the framework that a great deal of ethical philosophy has grown out of, much of which, as Kevin and I would argue, does not actually require a deity to function.

So people disagree on what that morality consists of -- that doesn't mean that an objective standard doesn't exist. People disagree wildly about the meaning and intent of the Constitution. Does that render it subjective, even in practice?

No. Possibly there is an objective standard of morality out there. Whether dictated by a supernatural entity or simply a set of codes that produces the optimum restraint of the more destructive aspects of human nature with the optimum promotion of the better ones, merely because it is extremely difficult to discover does not mean it does not exist or that we are excused from trying. The only difference between my version and yours is that I don't believe there's a complete version already written down somewhere as dictated by that God. (Although I believe that bits and pieces of it can be found in most religions, as organizing human behavior suchly has been its highest and most ancient purpose.)

You believe that even though we are inextricably both part of and a product of nature -- which you have defined as purposeless and amoral -- we are somehow elevated above it to the status of "moral." How?

Kevin already explained very well. The only part I'd add to it is that love is a series of chemical reactions, but only a very poor fool would think that therefore it was meaningless or less than the human touchstone of existence that it is just because it originates in mere flesh.

jsid-1190262616-580908  Stephen Rider at Thu, 20 Sep 2007 04:30:16 +0000

Recently I've started specifically making the distinction between "atheist" and "anti-theist", to try to ward off a few of the big ol' assumptions many people make when they hear you're an atheist.

Took me a while to figure out the importance of that distinction.

jsid-1190293495-580918  Kevin Baker at Thu, 20 Sep 2007 13:04:55 +0000

It's an important one, though, isn't it?

jsid-1190321067-580968  Markadelphia at Thu, 20 Sep 2007 20:44:27 +0000

Lab, I finally left you a comment in that old thread

jsid-1190342603-580992  Sarah at Fri, 21 Sep 2007 02:43:23 +0000

LabRat, Kevin: I'm very pleased that neither of you is hostile to religion, and you both have given me some things to think about. I have had a lot of work suddenly dumped on me, but I'd like to make a thoughtful reply. Gimme 'til this weekend.

jsid-1190345060-580995  LabRat at Fri, 21 Sep 2007 03:24:20 +0000

No worries. Lately I've only seemed to have about two hours of really clear thought a day anyway. Damn allergies.

jsid-1190413468-581040  Russell at Fri, 21 Sep 2007 22:24:28 +0000

Damn allergies

With no hell, how can you damn them?

Yes, my tongue is firmly in my cheek.

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