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Are humans still evolving? 
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Undoubtedly every genetic recombination will result in the dominance of certain traits over others. Undoubtedly the comparison of ideas will result in the synergistic combination of thought into ever advancing patterns and increasing detail.

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Last edited by Grim on Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:17 am
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Robert said:

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However, we do have a brain filter called rationality, which to me seems aligned to Christian virtues such as love and forgiveness. Irrational instinct - including the tendency to false belief - may have been adaptive in primitive times, but is now a danger to human survival.


Well, Robert, I don't think forgiveness is a rational instinct at all. It is irrational, but comes from the 'Godlike' part of us. Love.....Love? is totally irrational.....but it is the most joyous part of life.....

If we want to survive as a race....we can't go around forgiving the Muslims for bombing us now can we? But if we want to survive as a species..... we must.

I would like you expand on your thoughts about the 'Beatitudes' because I know there is something there which I am missing. It is like an itch that I can't get at to scratch!!! :crazy:


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Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:19 am
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Quoting grim (aged 23)

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Undoubtedly every genetic recombination will result in the donimance of certain traits over others. Undoubtedly the comparison of ideas will result in the synergistic combination of thought into ever advancing patterns and increasing detail.


I have the merest inkling that you are being deliberately obfuscating!!!

And I'd give you a hug if I could. (((((grim)))))

Do you think you could find it in your heart to have a bit of pity on us 'oldies' and cease displaying your superior intellect all over the place?

I am not being sarcastic grim.....you have a superior intellect......but we are trying to sort our thoughts out here.....give us a break mate!

:kiss:


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Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:45 am
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Penelope wrote:
I don't think forgiveness is a rational instinct at all. It is irrational, but comes from the 'Godlike' part of us. Love.....Love? is totally irrational.....but it is the most joyous part of life.....
Thanks Penelope. This goes to the heart of the paradoxical nature of Christianity. By forgiving those who sin against us, as Jesus injuncted in the Lord’s Prayer, we open a path to dialogue and repair. Hence forgiveness and love are adaptive memes to fix the world and enable further human evolution towards a peaceful global civilization.

The worldly view sees the Lord’s Prayer as stupid, arguing that the sinner will take advantage of any forgiveness and should be punished to enact revenge and deterrence. I am saying that the Lord’s Prayer is proposing human evolution to a higher rationality than our traditional instincts.

You slightly misread my point, as I did not say that forgiveness is an instinct; my suggestion is rather that forgiveness is a moral idea that is counter-instinctive, but necessary if we are to achieve beneficial consequences from situations of conflict. This is where I see the evolutionary genius of the Gospels, the recognition that to live in community we need to adopt ethical norms which go counter to our instinctive desires.

The rationality of forgiveness, like love, sits in the human capacity to think through the consequences of our behaviour, and choose the path of action with the best consequences. Revenge seems rational at the coarse level of deterrence, but the sad fact is that revenge simply makes problems worse. The lack of rehabilitation in jails is among the worst examples of the failure of revenge, with society’s instinct for punishment simply creating schools for crime.

I am not using forgiveness to advocate an anarchistic absence of rules, just to say that society’s motive in addressing wrongdoing, beyond the legitimate need for protection from criminals, should be to identify and repair the causes of wrongdoing. I agree with you that such a motive needs to “come from the ‘Godlike’ part of us”, but that seems to me to indicate it reflects a higher rationality.
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If we want to survive as a race....we can't go around forgiving the Muslims for bombing us now can we? But if we want to survive as a species..... we must.
This is a good illustration of the point. The unchristian mentality of revenge sees the enemy as subhuman and incapable of dialogue. This attitude simply builds barriers to communication with a self-fulfilling prophecy of conflict. The effort to understand the motives of terrorists can lead to recognition that the problem is more complex than a simplistic good versus evil argument. For example, I think Israel would be much more safe and secure if it retreated back within its legal 1967 boundaries and entered into real dialogue with its Muslim neighbours. Terrorism is often a response of fury about being ignored.
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I would like you expand on your thoughts about the 'Beatitudes' because I know there is something there which I am missing. It is like an itch that I can't get at to scratch!!! :crazy:
What I am saying is that the concept of blessedness in the Gospels can validly be interpreted in evolutionary terms, ie that if our society valued those groups defined as blessed in the Beatitudes we would be on a steady path towards peace and prosperity. Again, Jesus presents a counter-intuitive paradox, that those who are seen as least in the eyes of the world are actually the most important.

This basic idea, expressed in the koan that the stone the builder refused will be head of the corner, is the centrepiece of biblical ethics. The point is that human politics charges ahead with its assumption that the powerful are the most important, ignoring the moral hazard of this assumption, namely that the powerful will try to wall themselves off from the powerless and will cause a level of resentment which will undermine their humanity and security.

Robert



Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:15 pm
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Robert Tulip wrote:
The rationality of forgiveness, . . .


Forgiveness is rational

if and only if

remorse
confession
restitution



Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:42 pm
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Thank you for that Robert.

I do see what you're getting at. I think we are talking about rationality, thought, versus emotion, which is foolish compared with the rational.

But we are emotional, and our rationality fights with our emotions. I think we need a balance between the two.

We can stir up hatred, easily by the use of rhetoric.....but we can't stir up love. Love has to be won.....I think. I do find that the best I can muster with prayer and meditation, is a little more patience and forbearance...and I suppost that is a kind of love.

The Israelis - Zionists? are a good example. I feel so furious with them when I see the stones against guns barbarity towards the Palestinians and yet...they, the Jews, of all people should know about persecution.

It does not fill me with hope that Judaic religion will help us to evolve, rather the opposite........ :(


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Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:57 pm
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Penelope said...

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I think there is some evidence DWill, that we are progressing spiritually, because we don't now have public hangings/burnings where everyone goes along to watch. We do make attempts to reach some concensus of opinion on morals and ethics, especially now when it is easier to communicate with one another. Painfully slow progress, I grant you, but I think it is evidence of progress.


First of all I don't think the tendency to not kill each other as often is a matter of spiritual evolution, and I venture to say Christopher Hitchens would agree with me. Religion poisons everything, as the author repeats over and over, and some of us consider even the use of the term "spirituality" to be an injection of irrationality into the mix unnecessarily. Spirituality, in my opinion, is a completely meaningless term, provided that "spirits" don't exist, and this is where Hitchens is going with his thesis. There is no reason to believe spirits exist, spirituality matters, or that religion does anything other than poison humanity. Some of you will argue about the term spirituality as it has become rather cool to think of ourselves as spiritual even when not religious. I personally don't use the word because it embarrasses me to even remotely be associated with religion or religious beliefs.

"There is evidence that we are progressing spiritually" is meaningless to me. Do you mean that there is evidence that our belief in imaginary things is causing an effect? Ok, I'll give you this. But I'd say the effect caused is far more dangerous, negative and deadly than helpful or positive. You and I both happen to live in countries where religion isn't regularly leading to the slaughter of innocents. But this is not the norm in the world and you should not forget it.

...because we don't now have public hangings/burnings where everyone goes along to watch.

Oh yes we do. Every single day with no exception. I could now present to you video after video after video proving that you're mistaken, but the videos I would provide would do serious psychological harm to you and that isn't my intention. There are web sites that show current up-to-date videos of what is happening in this world and I happen to be of the mindset that watching these videos knocks some sense into us and keeps us educated on what is happening in the world.

Literally every single day some poor bastard who believes in a different God than the crowd around him has a car tire placed around his neck, filled with gasoline and lit on fire, all the while men, women and children cheer and chant and praise their God. I'm not going to post these videos, but don't fool yourself and think we have moved away from public hangings, mutilations and burnings. They are VERY common and are happening every single day with no exception.

Kids have their arms sliced off with machetes in front of their crying parents. Little girls are raped in front of their mothers and then killed. Fathers are tied down to watch their wives and children brutally raped and murdered. I have watched videos from this very month where a group of young kids and teens beat a black man with sticks and bricks and then lit him on fire so he slowly burned to death as he rolled around screaming in pain. Yes, this month. And this is one of the brutal burnings that someone happened to record with their cell phone. How many happen each day where the people don't record their atrocious acts?

In Iran every single day some man or women is wrapped in cloth, buried in the ground up to their waist (men) or to their breasts (women) and then a crowd of men, women and even small children gather around in a circle and throw medium-sized rocks at their bodies and heads till the victims eventually stop squirming and screaming and moving. Oh, and they use medium-sized rocks because the Quran instructs them to not use too small of rocks, as they won't do enough damage, and not too large of rocks, because then they might be knocked unconscious and killed, therefore not experiencing the terror and pain of a slow death.

I am not saying this for shock value. But I think you are wrong about how you view the evolution of human "spirituality." These things I mention are not uncommon. They don't happen just in weird places in far away lands with sick and twisted people. I could show you videos of brutal killings, hangings and burnings from the United States, Russia and possibly the UK. People that believe in imaginary gods are scary as hell. Not all of these videos are of religious killings, but most are...maybe 90%.

Every day fathers drown their daughters for dishonoring the family in India and other Hindu and Muslim nations. Every day wives are beheaded in the street or in public stadiums for showing their faces, for not listening to their husbands or for infidelity.

Research Sharia Law and how the Taliban keeps the spiritually evolved people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in line. If you're a Muslim and you decide to leave the faith you are held down with your hands tied behind your back while a hooded man slices your head off with a huge butcher knife. Rare incidents? I have seen dozens of such videos from 2008 and 2009 and these videos are the tip of the iceberg. The majority of honor killings and heretic killings are never recorded.

We are not spiritually evolved. Whatever that even means. Humans, when controlled by irrational beliefs, are disgusting creatures capable of atrocious acts of stupidity and evil. Don't doubt for a minute that every single BookTalk.org member would have their heads sliced off if dropped off in the streets of some villages in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. I shit you not. It happens all the time. There are at least 100 such videos on the web. People simply drove down the wrong street and their car is surrounded by people, they are pulled out and then beheaded. Why? Because they are infidels and the Quran instructs Muslims to show no mercy on the infidels. You would be killed too. No amount of pleaing would have any effect. I watched a video last week where a crying women was beheaded in front of her restrained husband.

The only reason why you believe we're spiritually evolved is because you're sheltered from these realities. And I understand why you're sheltered and why most people desire to be sheltered. Some of these videos have caused me nightmares for many nights in a row. But I watch them because I want my education to be complete so that I could never be labeled as ignorant of the real world. I want to know the truth about the Taliban and Al Queda so that when my nation desires to take some form of military action I can make an educated decision on whether or not to support the action. If enough people were to stop being afraid of seeing how brutal the real world is we would all join together and put an end to it.

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...because we don't now have public hangings/burnings where everyone goes along to watch.


This is simply false. We have public hangings/burnings daily throughout the world.

Quote:
We do make attempts to reach some concensus of opinion on morals and ethics


Who is "we?" Who attempts to reach consensus? Does the Taliban or Al Queda seek consensus? Or do they slaughter the opposition? Oh, you mean people in the civilized world, right? Well, if this is the case isn't it time for the civilized world to unite and wipe out the Taliban and Al Queda? You'll never agree with this choice of actions if you keep your head in the sand about what these evil people do to people on their shit list.

Complacency is dangerous. Sitting back and pretending that public hangings and burnings don't happen every day is an example of how religion poisons everything. These people are hanged and burned in the name of religion and we sit back and tolerate it by pretending it doesn't happen.



Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:13 am
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Chris....what a wonderful passionate post!!

I was a member of Amnesty International for a few years and used to read their newsletters. So I don't really have my head in the sand.

When I said that we were growing 'spiritually' (Well, maybe I meant emotionally)....but I was talking about England in particular and the Western World in general.

It looks fairly obvious to me that Islam is a few centuries behind Christianity....in that we, as Christians were pretty barbaric a few hundred years ago.....and to me, Buddhism is a few hundred years ahead of us.....anyway....it has helped me....by teaching me how to look life in the face and not go plum crazy.

As I did emphasize Chris, I believe that we are evolving....but what are we evolving into??? I honestly believe that 'the ball is in our court' in the Western World.....because we have enough to eat and enough leisure to think about what is happening and enough technology to see and discuss what is happening. We have freedom, comparatively speaking, and with freedom comes responsibility.......

The real question is, how do we exercise that responsibility? Chris, I don't think your tirades against religion are fair. But that doesn't matter. The Taliban and Al Queda are not behaving the way they do because of their religion. It is just the exercise of power, with religion being used as an excuse to unite the bullies. And, truely, this has happened throughout history......big egos. The devil is in the ego......and maybe that is what that man (whoever he was) meant when he said, 'Die to yourself, that you may grow'. Don't be angry with me for saying this Chris.....because that is not religious dogma....that little quote is a bit of psychology.

Don't be angry with me!!!


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Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:59 am
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I'm not angry with you. Penelope. I am angry with religion and irrational beliefs.



Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:34 am
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Chris, I just wanted to add something...because a lot of other people read these threads....

The reason I said, 'Don't be angry with me'....is because, I am delighted that some one 'cares' so passionately about what I care about.

We don't see eye-to-eye....but your opinion matters to me....because so many people don't care and so that is the affinity between us. You own this Website...and it could look as though I am just pandering to the management. Well, believe me, I have never been known to do that.

If I were your Mum, I'd be so proud of you. But I just disagree with your perception of 'religion'.

Just wanted to get that straight.


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Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:36 am
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Penelope:
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The Taliban and Al Queda are not behaving the way they do because of their religion. It is just the exercise of power, with religion being used as an excuse to unite the bullies.


Well said penelope. I do not believe that religion and God are the reason for these atrocities.

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Well, if this is the case isn't it time for the civilized world to unite and wipe out the Taliban and Al Queda?


Perhaps we have not evolved very much at all. Isn't this the type of statement that could be found in any point in history. They are the bad people, we are the good, let's wipe them out and our world will be a better place.



Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:49 am
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Thanks for the clarification. I think we understand each other fairly well. :smile:

I don't understand how you or anyone can not blame religion for the acts of the Taliban, however, so I'm not sure how to respond at this point. They are following the instructions of their holy book and to me this means their religion is to blame. Well, their stupidity in accepting that religion is to blame.



Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:50 am
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Quote:
Perhaps we have not evolved very much at all. Isn't this the type of statement that could be found in any point in history. They are the bad people, we are the good, let's wipe them out and our world will be a better place.


So you're arguing that nobody is really "bad" or "evil" or deserves to be stopped. This is the argument of cultural relativism and I don't buy it. When the Taliban beats a women for exposing her face in public something needs to be done about it. I'm not content with just sitting back and saying, "Oh, well this is their tradition and we need to be tolerant of traditions."

Their tradition is sick and twisted and evil. What if someone had a tradition of burning to death all women when they hit the age of, oh, let's say 45. Hey, it's their tradition and who are we to judge, right?



Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:56 am
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By using an extreme example I am showing you that we are more in agreement than you may realize. We both believe that at some point helping your neighbor is justified. We just disagree about the exact point.



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It amazes me how anyone can not blame religion and religious belief for the actions of the Taliban. This level of tolerance is part of the problem. Have you ever read about Sharia Law? Please, seriously read about Islamic Law and then tell me religion isn't to blame.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2005/08/ ... ia_is.html

http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/38436



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CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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