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Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD? 
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Post Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
Please use this thread for discussing Chapter 6: THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD? ::204




Sun Dec 24, 2006 8:24 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
Chapter 6 holds a Dawkins' gem: "'collateral damage', to use the charmingly Rumsfeldian phrase" (225). I laughed out loud, in public, when I read this. I know Rumsfeld and others from the current administration are easy targets, but to use "charmingly Rumsfeldian phrase" when referencing "collateral damage" is close to the most witty, snide remark I've heard. I think it particularly well-placed in a chapter that discusses the misplaced perception that religion holds a monopoly on morality.

I liked Dawkins' discussion in this chapter. Particularly, I enjoyed his references to Marc Hauser's book Moral Minds: How Nature Designed our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong. First, a question: Has anybody read it, and, if so, would you recommend it? I absolutely recognized, in myself, the Kant principle, which Hauser through Dawkins illuminates, "that a rational being should never be used as merely an unconsenting means to an end, even the end of benefiting others" (224). (Is unconsenting a word?) I think it an interesting principle that seems to go a bit beyond the Golden Rule. A clarification with regard to the principle (perhaps I should do some Kant reading): is "rational being" restricted or qualified in any way? I go back to the old example: torturing one person in order to save a random number of victims. If the person to be tortured is the culprit that put the other victims in danger, does that then make her exempt from Kant's principle? Otherwise, torturing her would be "an unconsenting means to an end." I think my argument for how I would want the situation to proceed would go against what I innately feel. And what I innately feel would go against Kant's principle, if it applies in such a situation.




Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:31 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
I suggested the Hauser book in the suggestions forum. I have not read it, but after briefing it at the store, it caught my attention and will be a book I read in the future.

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Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:43 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
Just finished this chapter. I did not realize, when I first found the Hauser book, that it was quoted so much in this one. I have the book on order from the library...are you going to read it?

I am very amused at the beginning of this chapter. I love the excerpts from the emails and letters from the fanatics. These are pretty tame compared to some I have seen...and recvd from certain family members! I love how Dawkins interrupts the text with his comments and parenthetical additions. (Is this man REALLY a doctor?); "What is it with Cheese?";"Why...is god in such need of such ferocious defense?";"Presumeably he didnt really mean to suggest that widowhood could follow from...my Darwinism"...Funny funny.

Check out the hate mail on the normalbobsmith.com site. Pretty funny stuff. And the spelling...man, cant ignant Xtians spell?

Mr. P.

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I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Thu Jan 11, 2007 9:49 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
Haven't read the Hauser book (have to add it to my list). Have read Michael Shermer's The Science of Good and Evil and can recommend it without hesitation.

Arthur C. Clarke said, in an issue of Skeptical Inquirer (Sept. 2001, I think), that one of humankind's greatest tragedies was the hijacking of morality by religion.

The idea that morality is the product of our own evolution as a species, and not something created for us by religions, is beginning to gain traction with many people. I think Dawkins does a credible job in this chapter of laying out some of the concepts.

George

"Godlessness is not about denying the existence of nonsensical beings. It is the starting point for living life without them."

Godless in America by George A. Ricker




Tue Jan 16, 2007 8:55 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
I just read a Clarke book for the first time. Yes, I never read 2001...

I picked up Rendevouz with Rama and loved it. Clarke will be added to my list of to-read authors.

Sorry for the tangent.

Mr. P.

Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!

Mr. P's Bookshelf.

I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Wed Jan 17, 2007 10:54 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
Just from the anthropological, historical and philosophical reading that I've done, it looks to me as though the very idea that morality is solely the result of divine revelation -- and not a human cultural achievement -- is rather recent. Obviously, a monotheist who believes that all human intellectual traits were instilled by God in some relatively finished form is also more or less bound to the belief that God gives us a moral sense, but even that idea is relatively new, arising, it seems, in the middle ages, and even then, mostly among the more scholarly types. But if you look at the revelation of Mosaic law, just for example, you'll note that it comes after an episode in which Moses has fled from Egypt in order to escape the guilt of having murdered another man. That's pretty clear evidence that, even within the Biblical narrative, there was a sense that some form of morality preceded the Judaic moral code.




Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:26 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
If we start way back in Genesis when Cain slew Abel we discover that, although there's no indication of any sort of divine command or holy decree regarding how to treat our brother...Cain is thoroughly held accountable for murdering his brother. But, in the verses prior to the murder, God rejects Cain's sacrifice and as a result Cain is angry. God responds:
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Gen 4:6-7 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."


So, where does this knowledge of doing what is right come from, and how is it possible to know when sin is crouching at your door? I suppose it arrived with a certain tree in a particular garden with two naked hippies and a clever snake.

The flood narratives in Genesis describe a God who grieves the creation of humanity: their wikedness and evil surpassing all level of toleration, forcing God to eliminate the whole damned mess.

Genesis seems to suppose that Humanity knows the difference between right and wrong without some sort of textual or traditional deliverance of divine demand and decree.






Thu Jan 18, 2007 4:45 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
According to the biblical narrative, before Adam and Eve had eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they lived in a state of innocence. Afterwards, they should have known better. Of course, that does set up a conundrum, because how would they have known it was wrong to disobey the deity and eat of the forbidden fruit without the knowledge gained thereby?

It's also interesting to note that the "God" of the Bible made no provision for the moral instruction of the beings it had created even though it knew their hearts naturally turned to wickedness. Apparently it was much easier to go ahead and commit the first and worst genocide in the history of the world (according to the story anyway) than to post a list of dos and don'ts somewhere.

What seems fairly evident is that organized religions



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Post Re: Ch. 6 - THE ROOTS OF MORALITY: WHY ARE WE GOOD?
even as a little kid, the idea that god was the only reason for goodness made no sense: "you mean to tell me that among the billion people in china, none of them are good or going to heaven because they don't believe in jesus"

to me, that is a huge ::73




Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:36 am
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