A benevolent, loving god?... Hmph!

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Sushisnake 's picture
@Royism

@Royism

How does the mindboggingly high amount of egregious animal suffering fit into your worldview? How does that fit with Free Will? And please don't say animals don't count because they aren't moral actors- many animals practice moral social reciprocity. There is nothing special about human beings on that score.

So if I read you correctly, you're saying we have to suffer evil in this dress rehearsal ( our life) to appreciate good in Paradise/Heaven? Why? If God/Allah can and does create a blissful Afterlife of eternal good after death, why can't he skip the dress rehearsal and create eternal good in this life, for all species? Is it a game to him? "I'll create you all woefully imperfect, then torture it out of you. Some of you Christians will have the added bonus of having it literally burned out of you in Purgatory after death until I deem you fit enough ( crispy enough?) to enter Heaven. Those of you with the most empathy in your life on earth will suffer the most- especially if your empathy extends past your own species."

If God/Allah can create a perfect Paradise/Heaven after death, why can't he bestow it on us before death? Why the godly game of thrones, carrot and stick? If he can lead souls to perfection after death, why not before? It's the same soul! Is it lack of ominpotence? Lack of omniscience? Or lack of omnibenevolence? I'd back it being lack of omnibenevolence. God/Allah is the kind of lad who enjoyed tearing the wings off flys and burning ants with a magnifying glass when he was a little boy. As he grew, he progressed to torturing small animals before graduating to human beings. And what's it for? So we'll love him- ostensibly of our own Free Will - carefully avoiding all notice or mention of the carrot or the stick.

Do you see why an atheist finds this notion morally reprehensible and logically ridiculous?

ROYISM 's picture
@Sushisnake

@Sushisnake

You said: “And please don't say animals don't count because they aren't moral actors- many animals practice moral social reciprocity. There is nothing special about human beings on that score.”

I am afraid I will have to say exactly that. Animals are not moral actors. Because according to islam an act becomes moral only when it is done on the basis of freewill. And animals are just doing what they have been programmed to do… a cat suckles its young, but also eats the first born… a cat is not noble because it suckles or evil because it kills a baby… it’s just doing what it’s programmed to do.

You said: “…why can't he skip the dress rehearsal and create eternal good in this life, for all species?”

And if God had created that kind of eternal goodness, someone would ask, ‘why is there not some sort of a whetting process and only the truly deserving gets rewarded.” I mean, you can always question the status quo, no matter what. The fact is God out of his wisdom decided to create the world as it is now, and that’s just it. It would be a useless exercise to question that wisdom.

You said: “Do you see why an atheist finds this notion morally reprehensible and logically ridiculous?”

Even for you to make a moral judgement you need ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to exist. Otherwise, what would your standard be for making that judgement? So, in effect you are contradicting yourself… you think god is immoral because he created evil and good. But for you make that judgement you need evil and good. I am thankful to god for giving me the standard (namely good and evil) with which I can make moral decision and be a moral being.

Sushisnake 's picture
@Royism

@Royism

You: "Animals are not moral actors. Because according to islam an act becomes moral only when it is done on the basis of freewill. And animals are just doing what they have been programmed to do… a cat suckles its young, but also eats the first born… a cat is not noble because it suckles or evil because it kills a baby… it’s just doing what it's programmed to do"

Some animal species demonstrate a clear understanding of right and wrong. They practise moral behaviour just as human beings do. They empathise. They care for each other. They save each other's lives at the risk of their own. They grieve for each other. They do unto others as they'd have them do unto them.

They do it for the same reason we do. It's an evolutionary by-product.

And it happens in animals interspecies, too.

https://youtu.be/GcJxRqTs5nk

 https://youtu.be/ulg1Imcavew

 https://youtu.be/K1Kc_5QGGDU

 https://youtu.be/PgWUeI3AHrs

 http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/02/altruis...

 https://theconversation.com/whale-of-a-problem-why-do-humpback-whales-pr...

You: "And if God had created that kind of eternal goodness, someone would ask, ‘why is there not some sort of a whetting process and only the truly deserving gets rewarded.”

Do you really think so? Because I see that as a non sequitur. Why would a world of eternal, universal, equal benevolence contain petty character flaws like envy or need a carrot/stick approach of reward/punishment? I would imagine a perfectly good people would expect and work for the perfect good of all people and everything else on the planet, because not to would be absurd. I think the record of human progress illustrates we aren't half bad at working for the greater good just as we are, given the resources to achieve it. We've come a long way, and not just to further our own welfare.

You: " Even for you to make a moral judgement you need ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to exist. "

No  I don't. I don't need close acquaintance with evil to reject it. I don't even need a chance encounter. And I certainly don't need to get out there and do evil things so I can  recognise the good thing when the time to choose it comes around. I don't do evil because I do unto others in the hope and expectation they'll return the favour. My very social species evolved that way. Seems the average man and woman in the street feels the same, because I'm still in one piece. So far, so good.

The fly in the ointment is the evolved sociability that makes us, breaks us. We'll destroy the tribal out-group with the same righteous zeal we nurture the tribal in-group. That's the character attribute we need to work on, not our concept of good and evil, but our concept of us and them.

You: " You think god is immoral because he created evil and good"

I don't believe god exists, inspite of waxing lyrical about him pulling the wings off flys.

You know, I could understand the theist insistence that we need evil to appreciate the good if our lives were still the nasty, brutish and short affairs depicted in our ancient texts or even a couple of hundred years ago, with no end in sight, but that isn't the case. We have the resources to provide everyone with food, shelter, clean water, health care and education. What stops us is us. Not because we're evil, not because we want to "sin", not because we "reject god", but because we won't stop playing us and them. We can stop it. We have in the past. That’s why we don't kill heretics anymore. That's why slavery has largely disappeared after millennia as a respectable business.That's why most of us fight racism, sexism and other bigotry.

ROYISM 's picture
@Sushisnake

@Sushisnake
You said: “Some animal species demonstrate a clear understanding of right and wrong. They practise moral behaviour just as human beings do.”

This is just an anthropomorphic projection of our tendencies onto animals. People say dogs are loyal, but it’s just territorial instincts at play, nothing moral about that. But for the sake of argument, even if I were to agree that animals empathize and all that, it’s all part of their natural instincts – it’s not a conscious choice they make based on free will. What makes human actions moral/immoral is the conscious decisions they make between good and evil. Anyways, thanks for the links you have sent, I will have a listen for sure.

You said: “Why would a world of eternal, universal, equal benevolence contain petty character flaws like envy or need a carrot/stick approach of reward/punishment?”

You are making a very fundamental flaw in your logic here. Look how you have assumed what you have to prove. How do you know that a world of “equal benevolence” is some ideal place to be and that ‘envy’ etc are undesirable traits… it’s precisely because you have this yardstick of ‘good vs evil’. So, you are using the yardstick to attack that yardstick itself… that’s the contradiction in your approach. You are continuing that same mistake in the rest of your argumentation.

You said: “I would imagine a perfectly good people would expect and work for the perfect good of all people and everything else on the planet,”

You are talking of ‘perfect good people’ precisely because you have evil against which you are able to imagine this ‘perfect state’. If that were not the case, you would not even have a conception of a perfect place to desire for.

You said: “I don't need close acquaintance with evil to reject it.”
But to reject it, you need evil in the first place, right? You can’t reject a void, will you? And if you don’t have ‘evil’ to reject, even the idea of ‘good’ to desire for would be meaningless.

You said: “I don't believe god exists, inspite of waxing lyrical about him pulling the wings off flys.”

You are falling into the fallacy of shifting goalposts, though I know you didn’t do it intentionally. You may be an atheist, but the context of this debate is “if there is a god, then why does suffering take place…” It’s based on a hypothetical question. When I try to answer that question, you can’t suddenly shift the goal post and question the existence of god… that’s another topic.

You said: “You know, I could understand the theist insistence that we need evil to appreciate the good if our lives were still the nasty, brutish and short affairs depicted in our ancient texts or even a couple of hundred years ago, with no end in sight, but that isn't the case.”

You need evil to understand good, and that’s the case whether we have scriptures or not. If there is no such as ‘lying’ truth would be meaningless. It’s as simple as that.

You said: “We have the resources to provide everyone with food, shelter, clean water, health care and education. What stops us is us. Not because we're evil, not because we want to "sin", not because we "reject god", but because we won't stop playing us and them.”

You are mixing up things big time here. You may not like the terms ‘evil’, ‘sin’ etc… but the fact is that there are things in the world that are undesirable. Call them what you like. And these undesirable things happen not only because of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality… that’s just one tiny factor in a swelter of other factors. Someone cheats in order to make some quick and live a comfortable life… there is no ‘us’ vs ‘them’ there.

You said: “We can stop it. We have in the past. That’s why we don't kill heretics anymore. That's why slavery has largely disappeared after millennia as a respectable business. That's why most of us fight racism, sexism and other bigotry.”

Absolutely, you can stop it. But why do you want to stop it, because you identify it as evil/bad. It’s precisely because you have that standard that you are able to make these moral decisions in life. Without that standard, you would not even be a moral creature to be making these kinds of statements.

Sushisnake 's picture
@Royism

@Royism

You: " This is just an anthropomorphic projection of our tendencies onto animals. People say dogs are loyal, but it’s just territorial instincts at play, nothing moral about that. But for the sake of argument, even if I were to agree that animals empathize and all that, it’s all part of their natural instincts – it’s not a conscious choice they make based on free will. What makes human actions moral/immoral is the conscious decisions they make between good and evil. Anyways, thanks for the links you have sent, I will have a listen for sure."

How about having a look at the links I gave you on animal altruism and then get back to me, hey? I didn't give you videos of fluffy kittens playing nice and the family mutt looking guilty for stealing food.

ROYISM 's picture
@ Sushisnake

@ Sushisnake

Fine... i will. But that still wouldn't change my fundamental contention as i have explained. And what about the rest of my points regarding the flaw in your argumentation...

Sushisnake 's picture
We'll get to them, too.

We'll get to them, too.

ROYISM 's picture
@Sushisnake

@Sushisnake

Firstly, thanks for the links. I got to see the first one, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

My take on it is as follows. Basically, it’s addressing 3 issues: reciprocity, empathy and fairness. The guy demonstrates that animals have these qualities and hence they are moral. By that same logic, I would like to know if he would say that animals are immoral because they have ‘aggression’, ‘selfishness’ and lack of empathy… as can be so easily demonstrated in a lot of other circumstances.

If you wouldn’t call the latter as traits of “IMMORALITY”, then I guess the former can’t be labelled as ‘MORALITY” as well. As I said, all these qualities are instinctive in animals, and they don’t apply it with any sense of an appreciation for good or bad or ‘values’.

Many animals have abilities to trick their prey into their trap. Is that ‘immoral’? No, it’s just a survival mechanism. Similarly, these qualities of supposed morality are just inbuilt mechanisms in animals.

Sushisnake 's picture
@Royism

@Royism

Perhaps watch a couple more. I appreciate I gave you a lot of links and I neglected to label them, but perhaps just watch the one about the electrocuted monkey and the one where the street dog crosses a multi lane highway full of cars to save its friend.

You: " I would like to know if he would say that animals are immoral because they have ‘aggression’, ‘selfishness’ and lack of empathy."

I don't know. Perhaps you could google it? His name's Frans de Waal. My own take is an animal that can practise the law of reciprocity selflessly can and may do it selfishly, too. It can choose a moral good or a moral evil. That would tell us something about the existence of moral good and evil, I suppose, but not much about natural evil and nothing about where evil comes from at all.

I'm gratified by your curiosity about de Waal's opinion, since it wasn't too long ago you dismissed animal behaviour as the result of programming, like they were furry fuzzy logic whitegoods or something.

ROYISM 's picture
@Sushisnake

@Sushisnake
You said: “… just watch the one about the electrocuted monkey and the one where the street dog crosses a multi lane highway full of cars to save its friend.”

Yes I watched that. You don’t have to go to such great length to show traits that appear similar to empathy/mercy in animals. Every animal that suckles its young, licks and cleans its young, every bird that hunts insects and feeds its young… are all examples of apparent empathy, isn’t it? But why are they not so highlighted, and these instances of electrocuted monkeys and roadkill dogs get so much attention. I think, while the factors that drive all these behaviors are fundamentally the same, in the latter, what makes it interesting is the rarity of those events. We see mother cats suckling babies quite frequently… but rarely do we see an electrocuted monkey, leave alone another one coming to resuscitate it. The question is does the monkey that acted in time to resuscitate its mate do so out of some informed decision based on some externally gained knowledge in paramedics, or did it act out of some innate, natural instincts? But obvious, it was acting on instincts. So if its action of resuscitation can be attributed to instincts, why should it’s empathy be attributed to anything other than mere instincts?
If it is indeed instinctual, then it can’t be labeled as moral. Because that’s part of its nature. Only when you do something out of freewill, where conscious decision is involved, beyond mere instincts, can it be labelled as morality.

You said: “It can choose a moral good or a moral evil. That would tell us something about the existence of moral good and evil, I suppose, but not much about natural evil and nothing about where evil comes from at all.”

No, I meant it as a rhetorical question. I don’t think anybody would call a lion evil because it kills its prey, or a black-widow spider a wicked vixen for devouring its mate soon after mating. All these are part and parcel of their natural instincts. A lion is a lion precisely because it hunts and kills… so is the maternal instincts of a lioness, or that of a monkey that grooms its mate in the troop etc. Would you call a 2 year human child a thief if it took a toffee without permission? No, because it’s ability to make conscious decisions at that age is too undeveloped.

Sushisnake 's picture
@Royism

@Royism

You: "You said: “… just watch the one about the electrocuted monkey and the one where the street dog crosses a multi lane highway full of cars to save its friend.

Yes I watched that. You don’t have to go to such great length to show traits that appear similar to empathy/mercy in animals."

Apparently I did, since your response to Sheldon’s comment
" ...there are proper scientific studies that support this, unlike your religious claims" was to ask for the evidence. Your request was reasonable, I’d only provided you with YouTube videos and pop science articles up until then. You asked for scientific evidence, I provided it.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You: " ...what makes it interesting is the rarity of those events"

The events are rare? Really? Your evidence for that claim, please?

“So, don’t believe anyone who says that since nature is based on a struggle for life, we need to live like this as well. Many animals survive not by eliminating each other or keeping everything for themselves, but by cooperating and sharing. This applies most definitely to pack hunters, such as wolves or killer whales, but also to our closest relatives, the primates.”
― Frans de Waal, The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You: "The question is does the monkey that acted in time to resuscitate its mate do so out of some informed decision based on some externally gained knowledge in paramedics, or did it act out of some innate, natural instincts? But obvious, it was acting on instincts."

Where is your evidence that the monkeys are a mated pair? You didn’t get it from the video. Did you just assume it? And why are you ignoring the other two videos?

Ok. Let’s look at your claim everything in the videos can be explained by animal instinct. Firstly, let’s look at two of the videos. We’ll look at the third one next time.

The Electrocuted Monkey Video

A wild monkey was walking across an electrical wire over train tracks at a busy railway station in India, opposite a platform. It was electrocuted, knocked unconscious and fell on the tracks. Another wild monkey appears, it retrieves the unconscious monkey from the tracks and sets about reviving it. It shakes it, nips it, puts it in a puddle of water, shakes it, removes it, shakes it, nips it, puts it in a puddle of water, over and over again.
The monkey giving the first aid is clearly distressed. It’s distressed for the unconscious monkey and it’s distressed for itself. Remember, this is a wild monkey, out in the open on human territory with hundreds of humans watching its actions. We know its distressed by the close proximity of all those people because it frequently faces them and displays threat behaviour (monkey grin) to frighten them into keeping their distance. It can’t defend itself in any other way while it’s occupied with the unconscious monkey. Despite this threat to its own safety, the monkey selflessly resuscitates its friend, remaining with the now conscious monkey as it recovers.

Now. What part of one monkey selflessly risking its own safety for another do you call instinct?

You: “So if its action of resuscitation can be attributed to instincts, why should it’s empathy be attributed to anything other than mere instincts?”
But its actions can’t be attributed to mere instinct, can they? It was an act of moral altruism. It risked its life for another monkey, with no hope of personal gain but a very real threat of personal loss.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Dog Rescue

A street dog was hit by a car on a highway in Chile. As the video opens, we see the hit dog lying on the road. The camera pans out and we see it is a 6 lane highway and the traffic is constant and fast. We then see a second street dog appear at the edge of the highway. The dog makes its way across the highway. We see it dodging cars, buses and trucks. It almost goes under the wheels of a bus, then its almost hit by a truck. The dog makes its way to the hit dog, lying on the road. It drags it off the road. We are told the hit dog was dead before the second dog reached it, and that the second dog stayed with the body for awhile.

Was that “ mere instinct”, too, and if so, what instinct? Suicidal instinct, perhaps? Canine Lemming Disease? No. It was an act of moral altruism. The dog risked its life to get the body of the hit dog off the highway, with no hope of personal gain but a very real threat of personal loss.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You “You said: “It can choose a moral good or a moral evil. That would tell us something about the existence of moral good and evil, I suppose, but not much about natural evil and nothing about where evil comes from at all.”

No, I meant it as a rhetorical question.”

You asked the question, I answered it. If an animal can choose a moral good or immoral evil – and clearly, an animal can, since we just reviewed two cases of different animal species choosing a moral good in some detail- an animal can be moral or immoral, but that tells us nothing about where good and evil come from or what their purpose is, does it? All it tells us is animals practice the law of reciprocity , too.

Now might be a good time to review what we now know about animals.
1. Animals are sentient
2. Animals feel physical pain
3. Animals feel empathy
4. Animals act on this empathy in moral ways, including risking their life for another animal with no opportunity for personal gain but considerable risk of
personal loss. Animals do the ‘right thing’. It’s logical to expect the converse also applies.

ROYISM 's picture
@Sushisnake

@Sushisnake
You said: “Apparently I did, since your response to Sheldon’s comment
" ...there are proper scientific studies that support this, unlike your religious claims" was to ask for the evidence. Your request was reasonable, I’d only provided you with YouTube videos and pop science articles up until then. You asked for scientific evidence, I provided it.

I appreciate your efforts. But let me make my position clear. What I was asking for was proof for the claim that animals are capable of moral behavior. But as I have shown, acts of supposed “benevolence” by animals can’t be regarded as ‘morality’ because they stem from a natural instinct just as how they hunt for prey or suckle their young. I didn’t find any evidence that establishes that animals did these things out of a conscious choice between good and bad.

You: “The events are rare? Really? Your evidence for that claim, please?”

This is anyways a side point… not my central argument. However, I think that these events such as a monkey resuscitating an unconscious partner is indeed a rare sight… don’t you think so?

You said (quoting Fans): “Many animals survive not by eliminating each other or keeping everything for themselves, but by cooperating and sharing.”

The question is do they do that because they got together and decided between themselves that cooperation is better than hostility… or is it something they do instinctually? I think it’s instinctual… unless you can educate me otherwise. If it is instinctual, I wouldn’t call it ‘moral’.

You said: “Where is your evidence that the monkeys are a mated pair? You didn’t get it from the video. Did you just assume it? And why are you ignoring the other two videos?”

You got me wrong. I used the word mate just for convenience. Call it mate, companion or a stranger… the point is how did the monkey know what to do in order to revive the other monkey. Was it some kind of an educated action or merely instinctual. If the act or reviving is instinctual, why do we try to interpret the desire for saving another life as anything other than instinctual? That’s my point.

Ok. Let’s look at your claim everything in the videos can be explained by animal instinct. Firstly, let’s look at two of the videos. We’ll look at the third one next time.
The Electrocuted Monkey Video

You said: “Now. What part of one monkey selflessly risking its own safety for another do you call instinct?”

Why not? Don’t we see mothers (in the animal world) often times putting their lives in the line in order to save its young? Why should it not be instinctive? Monkeys are gregarious animals, living in communities and indulge in very complex social mores including a hierarchical order and stuff like that. If these complex social relationships can be instinctual, why do you want to think the act of risking one’s life to save another shouldn’t be instinctual?

You: “But its actions can’t be attributed to mere instinct, can they? It was an act of moral altruism.”

This is our anthropomorphic tendency. We tend to read our emotions into animals. There is no altruism there. Just as there is no ‘crime’ in their world. You can’t call an Alpha Male that kills all the male cubs when it takes over a pride as ‘cruel’ or guilty of infanticide. That’s their nature… and so are these seemingly altruistic behavior.

Dog rescue is also the same.

You said: “If an animal can choose a moral good or immoral evil – and clearly, an animal can, since we just reviewed two cases of different animal species choosing a moral good in some detail”

As explained already, I argue that it’s just instinctual.

You said: “an animal can be moral or immoral, but that tells us nothing about where good and evil come from or what their purpose is, does it?”

I agree with you 100%. The origin of good and evil is another debate altogether

You said: “All it tells us is animals practice the law of reciprocity, too.”

The question is do they do it out of a conscious decision or do they just do it instinctively. If it is the latter, then it can’t be labelled as moral. If you claim otherwise, I would like to hear the basis for your argument.

You said: “Animals do the ‘right thing’. It’s logical to expect the converse also applies.”

I would like to have your opinion on this: Is a lion being evil when it kills a prey or cannibalizes male cubs in a pride? Is a Hyena being vile when it steals the game of another animal? I think you would say no… if this behaviors which appear blatantly evil can’t be called immoral and attributed to instinct, whey should behaviors that appear ‘benevolent’ be credited to some moral agency?

Sushisnake 's picture
@Royism

@Royism

You: “ I appreciate your efforts. But let me make my position clear. What I was asking for was proof for the claim that animals are capable of moral behavior... “

Oh! My sincerest apologies! Evidence isn’t enough for you, scientific studies aren’t enough for you, you want PROOF?

You: (cont) “...But as I have shown, acts of supposed “benevolence” by animals can’t be regarded as ‘morality’ because they stem from a natural instinct just as how they hunt for prey or suckle their young...”

No, you haven’t shown that at all. You’ve merely asserted it over and over and over again like a yoga mantra while dismissing all evidence to the contrary.

You: (cont) “....” I didn’t find any evidence that establishes that animals did these things out of a conscious choice between good and bad.”

You didn't find any? Despite it being given to you? Astonishing!

Well, not to worry, right now we have a more pressing concern: could you kindly make up your mind which it is you require, proof or evidence? Because if it is the latter I’ve provided you with a great deal of it. Please take your time. I’m feeling a little dizzy right now from the floor show anyway.

https://goo.gl/images/mkAkFX

Though perhaps while I’m recovering and you’re deciding, you can produce some PROOF that your god exists? Please note I said proof, not evidence. Not argument. Not what Islam says. Cold, hard, clinical and indisputable proof.

ROYISM 's picture
@Sushisnake

@Sushisnake
You: “Oh! My sincerest apologies! Evidence isn’t enough for you, scientific studies aren’t enough for you, you want PROOF?”

Nice sarcasm there. I was not trying to play with words for wiggle room. You of course gave proof to show that animals exhibited traits that resemble ‘benevolence’ and hence you concluded they are moral. But I said, it’s not to do with morality as they were acting out of instinct. So, I wanted to see proof that would show that they were not acting out of instinct but out of conscious choices between two options (good vs bad).

You said: “No, you haven’t shown that at all. You’ve merely asserted it over and over and over again like a yoga mantra while dismissing all evidence to the contrary.”

I agree that I have not proved that ‘animals did these things out of instinct’… but there are a lot of things that animals do purely instinctually, which I am sure you agree. I gave examples of social mores among gregarious animals – which is all from instinct. So, we know animals do a lot of things from instinct… therefore, I have a logical reason to conclude that even these acts of ‘benevolence’ is from instinct. However, even if I haven’t proved my case, it doesn’t automatically prove your case… you still have to prove that these acts of kindness are ‘NOT’ from instinct. That burden is on your shoulders.

You: “You didn't find any? Despite it being given to you? Astonishing!”

Yes… I am yet to see proof that these acts of kindness is NOT instinctual, but rather out of conscious choice. But if you regard the apparent behavior that resembles acts of benevolence as ‘morality’ as proof… I am sorry I can’t accept that. Because then you would have to say a lion is ‘wicked’ because it kills, which is dumb.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Royism

@ Royism

So when discussing Mohammed's rape of Aisha it isn't instinct but a moral choice? He could not make the moral choice of kindliness and restraint but instead made the 'instinctive' choice of lust?
But an animal is incapable of that choice?

Doesn't this and your cavalier replies to Sushi blow your moral and " alright at the time' argument right out the water? At the very least any ordinary observer of the incidents would say that the animal s more moral in its behaviour than Mohammed was towards Aisha?

Double standard much.

ROYISM 's picture
@Old man shouts

@Old man shouts

I never said the prophet (PBUH) was following instincts... it was a conscious decision indeed.. now if you want to call it rape, then you have to give me your standard (as i have been asking throughout this thread).. which you have not provided yet.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Royism

@ Royism

And which I have said is irrelevant and a straw man argument. My view of current standards of consent are not germane to the argument. You obviously have some fixed proposition you wish to bring forward which equally has no bearing on the morality of a 52 year old man sleeping with,bathing with and fondling a nine year old child.You find these actions not only acceptable but worthy of imitation.

Your continued defence of these actions is casting serious doubts on your own moral compass.
You don't answer any of my observations or points, especially when they clash with your orthodox sunni viewpoint. A closed mind indeed.

ROYISM 's picture
@ Old Man Shouts

@ Old Man Shouts

Your emotional outbursts may be appropriate for a political audience. But in a debate of this nature its next to nothing. If your contention with the episode is the age of Aisha, then my question regarding your standard is indeed relevant? Your continued evasion of that question seems to indicate that you have none! It’s like you complaining about a color while yourself being colorblind!

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Royism

@ Royism

I am neither emotional, nor blinded by religious conditioning.

You have dodged and ducked every straight question I have posed. You have ignored quoted evidence of alternative muslim history, ignored direct answers I have given to you regarding the actual events of the time and subsequent times.

I have , tonight started a separate topic for "age of consent" in the debate forums. The proper place for the question, and, where you can attempt to justify your one eyed approach.

I will contribute to that debate. I hope you will.

In the mean time try answering some of my pertinent questions regarding the morality of a 52 year old man in a position of unassailable power having sex with a child. Try and put that in context with a "perfect man" when alternatives were available.

CyberLN's picture
Royism, you wrote, “I never

Royism, you wrote, “I never said the prophet (PBUH) was following instincts... it was a conscious decision indeed.. now if you want to call it rape, then you have to give me your standard (as i have been asking throughout this thread).. which you have not provided yet.”

Actually, I think that a lot of folks have provided their standard that an adult man having sexual intercourse with a nine year old constitutes a standard.

However, you are doing what I’ll call a bait and switch. When someone says that an adult having sex with a nine year old is rape, you deflect by insisting they provide an age at which it would not be rape. I find that slippery, dishonest, and, well, pretty disgusting.

Tin-Man's picture
@Cyber Re: "However, you

@Cyber Re: "However, you are doing what I’ll call a bait and switch. When someone says that an adult having sex with a nine year old is rape, you deflect by insisting they provide an age at which it would not be rape. I find that slippery, dishonest, and, well, pretty disgusting."

You call it disgusting. That is a helluva lot nicer than what I would like to say to him (Royism) about it, but I don't want to put you in an awkward position of possibly having to evict me from the site. It is all I can do to read some of his garbage without puking sometimes.

Sushisnake 's picture
@Royism

@Royism

You: "I agree that I have not proved that ‘animals did these things out of instinct’… but there are a lot of things that animals do purely instinctually, which I am sure you agree."

Certainly I agree.

There are things animals do because of natural selection. A lioness will nuture and defend her young and risk her life to do so. A lion will kill all the cubs to bring the lionesses into season when it takes over a pride. Both of these things are done to ensure the survival of the lion's and lioness's genes and the survival of the lion species.

Then there are things animals do because of predation - another part of natural selection. Sticking with our lion theme, the lionesses will hunt in a pack and bring food back to the pride.

But there are other things animals do that can't be explained in terms of natural selection or predation. They will risk their own life for an animal that is no kin to them at all, as we saw on the videos. They will work together to obtain food, even when one of the animals isn't hungry. They will rebel if their partner in an experiment behaves selfishly and what's more, they will punish the offender. You saw both of these on the Frans de Waal video. Moral behaviour in primates is the best researched and documented and I understand quite a bit of work has been done on wolf packs, too, but it's common across the animal kingdom. Your assertion that it's rare is simply wrong, the novelty of the electrocuted monkey video notwithstanding.

In what universe is punishing an offender for moral transgressions ' instinctive', Royism? If it is merely instinctive, where does that leave humanity? And where does it leave your claims for your god and free will?

You: " We know animals do a lot of things from instinct… therefore, I have a logical reason to conclude that even these acts of ‘benevolence’ is from instinct."

Mm. Except for the slothful induction that's as sensible as a dictionary.

You: "It doesn’t automatically prove your case… you still have to prove that these acts of kindness are ‘NOT’ from instinct. That burden is on your shoulders."

I see you're still struggling with this. I've given you scientific evidence, but proofs are not the currency of science. Proofs have two features that do not exist in science: They are final, and they are binary. And if you insist I provide proof of animal morality, I must insist you return the courtesy and provide proof of god given morality.

" Because then you would have to say a lion is ‘wicked’ because it kills, which is dumb."

Well no, you wouldn't have to say that at all, because there's a difference between killing for food and killing for fun.

ROYISM 's picture
@Sushisnake

@Sushisnake

You said: “But there are other things animals do that can't be explained in terms of natural selection or predation.”

That’s a rather strange claim! In fact, evolutionists are arguing that even human morality is the result of evolution/natural selection, and here you come with the claim that the ‘supposed’ animal morality is not from natural selection. Then what is it from? Creation?

You said: “They will risk their own life for an animal that is no kin to them at all, as we saw on the videos. They will work together to obtain food, even when one of the animals isn't hungry.”

I beg to differ. It’s not any different from a mother undergoing sacrifices for its young. If that can be explained using natural selection (protection of the young ensures survivability of the species and hence favored by selection)… similarly, all the traits you have listed above can be credited to natural selection too because they ensure the common good of the species. However, I suspect if we are losing focus on our topic… the contention between us is not whether morality is from natural selection or not… rather, our difference is regarding the nature of the apparent traits of benevolence in animals (is it merely instinctual or is it a conscious decision).

You said: “In what universe is punishing an offender for moral transgressions ' instinctive', Royism? If it is merely instinctive, where does that leave humanity? And where does it leave your claims for your god and free will?”

In the same world where artfully tricking a prey for a kill can be instinctual. The same world where a new-born fledgling can fly 1000s of kilometers back to the same tree where its parents had taken off from can be instinctual. The same world where a peacock dancing, flaunting its beautiful feathers to attract its mate can be instinctual… etc. If all these complex behaviors can be instinctual, why not punishing an offender? The thing is we are using human vocabulary to define these behaviors and we unwittingly ascribe human intentions too. If you call it ‘punishing a moral transgressor’ then it looks like a consciously motivated deed. Rather look at it as a nature-induced mechanism of a species to maintain overall well-being. By inflicting harm on an individual that upsets the overall balance, the species gets better preserved. However, through our glasses it may appear as moral policing. It’s just our anthropomorphic tendencies at play.

You said: “I see you're still struggling with this. I've given you scientific evidence, but proofs are not the currency of science. Proofs have two features that do not exist in science: They are final, and they are binary. And if you insist I provide proof of animal morality, I must insist you return the courtesy and provide proof of god given morality.”

I think I had explained it earlier. I am not concerned with the technicalities of the terminology such as proof vs evidence… whatever you call it, I want you to establish your claim that these apparent acts of benevolence by animals is not instinctual. You have shown that animals are capable of such behavior, I don’t dispute that… but is it from instinct or out of conscious choice? That’s the question.

Sushisnake 's picture
@Royism

@Royism

I said: “But there are other things animals do that can’t be explained in terms of natural selection or predation.”

You said: "That’s a rather strange claim! In fact, evolutionists are arguing that even human morality is the result of evolution/natural selection, and here you come with the claim that the ‘supposed’ animal morality is not from natural selection. Then what is it from? Creation?"

Morality is a by-product of evolution, an emergent property of species naturally selecting for sociability. Natural selection isn’t the only process that drives evolution. The sociability drives moral evolution. The more social the animal species, the more moral reciprocity. To give a very domestic example, it’s why dogs are more moral than cats: dogs are social animals who live in packs, cats are not.

Here’s another example of the limits of natural selection. Natural selection made you hairless, it did NOT make you wear those low rise bell bottom jeans. Your fashion tragedy’s all your own work.

I said: “They will risk their own life for an animal that is no kin to them at all, as we saw on the videos. They will work together to obtain food, even when one of the animals isn’t hungry.”

You said: " I beg to differ. It’s not any different from a mother undergoing sacrifices for its young"

Did you miss the part where I said animals will risk their own life for an animal that is no kin to them at all? The mother isn’t acting selflessly. She’s driven to protect her genes more than herself. The mechanism of evolution is survival of the fittest gene, and the young represent her genes’ investment in their future.

I said: “In what universe is punishing an offender for moral transgressions ‘ instinctive’ Royism? If it is merely instinctive, where does that leave humanity? And where does it leave your claims for your god and free will?”

You said: "In the same world where artfully tricking a prey for a kill can be instinctual."

But we’re not talking about tricking prey, are we? We’re talking about one animal punishing another for doing the wrong thing morally.

You said: "If all these complex behaviors can be instinctual, why not punishing an offender? "
Is human morality merely instinctual, too?

You said: " ...if you call it ‘punishing a moral transgressor’ then it looks like a consciously motivated deed."

It certainly did look like a consciously motivated deed. The yelling. The throwing things. The banging on the wall. The water spitting. Even the human facilitator copped a serve. And yet everything had been sweetness and light right up until the time the selfish monkey stopped playing fair.

You said: " If you call it ‘punishing a moral transgressor’ then it looks like a consciously motivated deed. Rather look at it as a nature-induced mechanism of a species to maintain overall well-being. By inflicting harm on an individual that upsets the overall balance, the species gets better preserved"

Ah! So human morality IS merely instinctive. Just a by-product of evolution. Nothing to do with free will or gods. All our laws, all instinctive, evolved to maintain the overall balance and preserve the species.

You said: “I am not concerned with the technicalities of the terminology such as proof vs evidence…"
The difference between proof and evidence isn’t a technicality, Royism. I can’t provide you with proof, anymore than you can provide me with proof of your god. I can, however, provide you with scientific evidence and I’ve done so, something you can’t do with your god evidence.

The reason I keep asking you to decide which one you require is because you alternated between them before settling on this ‘technicalities of terminology" lark and quite frankly, that’s a little dishonest of you.

In closing, I have a couple of questions for you. Without reference to god or Islam, is it personally important to you that animals have no morals and if so, why?

ROYISM 's picture
@Sushism

@Sushism

You said: "The sociability drives moral evolution. The more social the animal species, the more moral reciprocity. To give a very domestic example, it’s why dogs are more moral than cats: dogs are social animals who live in packs, cats are not.”

Sociability is also the reason why animals hunt in packs. They bring down a prey through stratagem. But do we attribute that to instinct. Surely we won’t say that the animals do so by getting together and planning an operation, assigning specific roles to each member. They do so merely by instinct. If group hunting, arising from sociability, can be instinctive, then why do we say that other acts arising from sociability is not instinctive?

You said: “Here’s another example of the limits of natural selection. Natural selection made you hairless, it did NOT make you wear those low rise bell bottom jeans. Your fashion tragedy’s all your own work.”

That’s why I say humans have morality. They have the ability to make conscious decisions.

You said: “The mother isn’t acting selflessly. She’s driven to protect her genes more than herself.”

I can extend that same argument in the case of the monkey that’s trying to save its kind. By evolving an instinct to help another one from its own kind in distress, this monkey too helps in the preservation of the species, doesn’t it? Why wouldn’t nature favor that trait?

You said: “But we’re not talking about tricking prey, are we? We’re talking about one animal punishing another for doing the wrong thing morally.”

I took the example of an animal tricking a prey to show that highly complex behaviors (that closely resemble human cunning and craft) can be purely from instinct. If that can be from instinct, then it’s not very difficult to understand that even behaviors such as punishing an offender (according to an anthropomorphic interpretation) can also be from instinct.

You said: “It certainly did look like a consciously motivated deed. The yelling. The throwing things. The banging on the wall. The water spitting.”

Have you seen the mating rituals of certain animals? Have you seen how animals use cunning and craft to trap preys? Have you seen the pecking order rituals of gregarious animals? Why all that, look at the extremely complex social structures, division of labor, engineering acumen of bees and ants… surely you don’t think those are consciously generated behaviors, do you? If that’s so, why should this thing about punishing offenders, which is not a very complex behavior after all, be thought to be something from a consciously generated action.

You said: “Ah! So human morality IS merely instinctive. Just a by-product of evolution. Nothing to do with free will or gods.”

Okay, let me make my position clear here. I do not believe in evolution. And I don’t use it to explain any behavior (animals or humans). When you were trying to explain certain animal behavior as arising out of non-instinctual causes, I was only trying to point out that such a claim would go against your own atheistic premise which sees life as the result of evolution. So, my position is that human morality is indeed the result of free fill.

You said: “I can’t provide you with proof, anymore than you can provide me with proof of your god.”

As I have not yet brought the proof for God, I think it would be futile for you to second guess the weightage of my proof.

You said: “I can, however, provide you with scientific evidence and I’ve done so, something you can’t do with your god evidence.”

You have definitely given evidence to show that animals are capable of behavior that resemble human benevolence. But you have not shown that this is NOT from instinct.

You said: “In closing, I have a couple of questions for you. Without reference to god or Islam, is it personally important to you that animals have no morals and if so, why?”

Without god or Islam, no it would not matter much to me whether animals have morals or not. But then, if I had no faith in god, morality itself would not matter to me. In fact there would be no locus stand I for me to regarding morality – I would just flow with the flow.

Sheldon's picture
"Animals more capable of

"Animals more capable of empathy than previously thought, study finds. Researcher found that prairie voles would console one another after experiencing stress"

"A new study has found that prairie voles will console other voles who are feeling stressed - which researchers have described as evidence of empathy.

A study team at Emory University set up an experiment where pairs of voles isolated from each other, and one of them was exposed to mild shocks.

"When they were reunited, the voles who hadn't been shocked would lick their partners sooner and for longer durations than specimens in a control group who were separated but not exposed to shocks. The consoling behavior only took place between voles who were familiar with each other, and not between strangers. According to researchers Larry Young and James Burkett, this demonstrates that the behavior was not simply a reaction to aversive cues.

The study authors said: "Scientists have been reluctant to attribute empathy to animals, often assuming selfish motives. These explanations have never worked well for consolation behavior, however, which is why this study is so important. Prairie voles are known for maintaining lifelong, monogamous partnerships, in which both parents will look after their offspring.

• Rats act selflessly to save each other from harm

Until recently it was thought that only humans, great apes, and large-brained mammals such as dolphins and elephants were capable of showing consolation behavior towards one another. This latest study is the first time empathy has been identified in rodents."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/12117501/Animals-mo...

Sushisnake 's picture
Thanks Sheldon. I hadn't

Thanks Sheldon. I hadn't heard about this study.

Sushisnake 's picture
@Sheldon

@Sheldon

I've just started reading Frans de Waal's book, The Bonobo and the Atheist, and thought you'd appreciate these excerpts:

" Good deeds also occur spontaneously. An old female, Peony, spends her days outdoors with other chimpanzees at the Yerkes Primate Center’s field station. On bad days, when her arthritis is flaring up, she has trouble walking and climbing, but other females help her out. Peony may be huffing and puffing to get up into the climbing frame in which several apes have gathered for a grooming session. But an unrelated younger female moves behind her, placing both hands on her ample behind to push her up with quite a bit of effort, until Peony has joined the rest. We have also seen Peony get up and slowly move toward the water spigot, which is at quite a distance. Younger females sometimes run ahead of her, take in some water, then return to Peony and give it to her. At first, we had no idea what was going on, since all we saw was one female placing her mouth close to Peony’s, but after a while the pattern became clear: Peony would open her mouth wide, and the younger female would spit a jet of water into it."

Frans de Waal chapter 1 The Bonobo and the Atheist (kindle edition) location 75-82

"In Grünau, free-ranging descendants of Lorenz’s flock of geese have been equipped with transmitters to measure their heart rate. Since every adult goose has a mate, that offers a window on empathy. If one bird confronts another in a fight, its partner’s heart starts racing. Even if the partner is in no way involved, its heart betrays concern about the quarrel. Birds, too, feel each other’s pain."

Frans de Waal chapter 1 The Bonobo and the Atheist (kindle edition) location 97 to 104

"Elephant altruism on the Kenyan plains. With her tusks, Grace (right) lifted the fallen three-ton Eleanor to her feet, then tried to get her to walk by pushing her. But Eleanor fell again and eventually died, leaving Grace vocalizing with streaming temporal glands—a sign of deep distress. Being matriarchs of different herds, these two elephants were likely unrelated."

Frans de Waal chapter 1 The Bonobo and the Atheist (kindle edition) location 406-412

CyberLN's picture
Royism, you wrote, “Fine... i

Royism, you wrote, “Fine... i will. But that still wouldn't change my fundamental contention as i have explained.”

Does this mean that despite not reviewing the suggested evidence, you’ve already decided it won’t be sufficiently persuasive?

ROYISM 's picture
@Cyber LN

@Cyber LN

No. I had explained in my earlier post that even if the claim that animals have human-like traits such as 'empathy' etc... that still wouldn't account for morality for some reasons I had explained. That's why I stated that even if the videos do prove the existence of these qualities in animals, my fundamental contention would still stand.

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