Opinions and musings on religion, philosophy, science, politics, and life from a conservative Catholic neurosurgeon.
Well, of course Peter Kreeft would say that. He's a Catholic and a professor at a Jesuit university. He isn't as crazy as Michael, but that would be extremely difficult to be...
At least Michael doesn't cite gorilla videos as sources. And misinterpret them.
Here goes bachfiend with his little ad hominem dance again. Of course, anybody who shows him how wrong he is is crazy!This is yet another very clear evidence for God's existence...
Georgie,How did I misinterpret 'the Invisible Gorilla'?Pepe,Peter Kreeft makes exactly the same arguments as Michael, in a much nicer way, but they're still incomplete.
Johann, you cited the video as an example of "People see what they want to see and avoid seeing what is obvious..."That, of course, is a ridiculous interpretation of the basketball experiment. The experiment was an experiment illustrating the bandwidth effects of directed attention to a primary task (i.e., counting the times the basketball was passed to players wearing specific clothing, if I recall correctly). No one was "avoiding" seeing anything to "see what they wanted". Moron. And don't be so testy. It's better to be exposed as a lackwit in a gorilla suit in a venue where you retain your anonymity. Your problem here is, people are paying attention.
Georgie,I was referring to the book. I then went and looked at the video, knowing what was to be seen, and I thought 'what idiots! The gorilla is obvious'. And completely missed the fact that the background curtain changed colour mid game and one of the players exited the game in a very obvious way.How does 'bandwidth effects of directed attention to a primary task' explain what happens? The physiology of vision is that accurate vision is only central, in the tiny foveolar region of the retina with its 6 million cones. Most of the information from the eyes is thrown away before being passed to the 250,000 axons of the optic nerve, before being passed onto the visual centers of the brain. Which then constructs a model of what was seen 0.1 seconds earlier, based on expectations and experience.If gorillas aren't expected in basketball games, then they won't be seen, even if the subject looked directly at them. If background drapes aren't expected to change colour, then they won't be seen to do so.
And Georgie,You need to improve your reading skills. In the comment in the previous thread in which I mentioned the invisible gorilla, I wrote "the book 'the Invisible Gorilla' provides examples".
The thought that evolutionary dynamics that lead to the spectrum of behaviors in various species, including humans, dates back to Charles Darwin, and was greatly advanced by John Maynard Smith with an evolutionary game theory called evolutionary stable strategy. Like many aspects of evolutionary theory, the study of population dynamics with ESS theory is rich, and full of surprises and interesting details. At it’s simplest, ESS theory predicts that in a population of cooperators some cheating will inevitably occur because in a population of cooperators cheating will give you some advantage. As the number of cheaters increases the relative advantage of cheating decreases until a stable balance of cheaters and cooperators is achieved. Similarly, in a population of antagonists, some level of cooperation will inevitably arise because amongst a population of cheaters, cooperation provides some advantage, etc. All species stabilize at some balance of cooperation and cheating; we are no different than any species in this regard. Most people conclude that most of the time they will be advantaged by being cooperators and act “morally”. Dr. Egnor has acted as a cooperator and achieved what for many people would be lofty goals. He chose a strategy that worked for him. Others make the choice to cheat in order reach their goals and act immorally, even as the rest of us act collectively to make cheating a risky proposition. People have always been making these choices in accordance with the dynamics of their populations, and they always will.No magic man needed here thank you very much.-KW
What you're saying is that there is no objective good and evil, and that there is nothing good or evil about either cheating or cooperating - only different degrees of evolutionary advantage. Do I read you right?-JH
Good and evil are adjectives that we use to describe human behavior, nothing more. Peoples judgment about what is good or evil vary over time and space and are dependent on local conditions. The fact that we often can’t agree whether someone’s actions are good or evil should be evidence enough that there is no objective morality.-KW
So it seems that you would agree with Kreeft (and, presumably, Egnor) that objective good and evil are contingent on a higher power? If I understood it correctly, the point being made was that a world in which objective good and evil exist but God does not is impossible. Thus, if (true, objective) good and evil exist, God does too.-JH
The traditional understanding of morality is founded on the belief in (a) a higher power/lawgiver and (b) the reality of free will. Without these two premises, the closest you will get to objective morality is a subjective, personal, aesthetic preference for certain behaviors over others.Atheists don't have morals; they have aesthetic preferences. That doesn't stop many of them from being better neighbors than many believers (and being more likely to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.) But it's a fact nonetheless.-JH
However, I have to call you out on a bit of nonsense:The fact that we often can’t agree whether someone’s actions are good or evil should be evidence enough that there is no objective morality.Objective reality is not contingent on consensus. Try a few similar statements on for size to see how preposterous this statement really is:"The fact that we often can’t agree whether global climate change is really caused by burning fossil fuels should be evidence enough that there is no objective truth one way or the other."or"The fact that ancient people often couldn’t agree whether the earth was round or flat should be evidence enough that it was objectively neither until consensus was achieved."Just because people don't agree on something doesn't mean there's no objective truth to be found.-JH
JH,Humans are social animals, and it's social groups that make morality. Morality isn't a personal subjective choice. Anyone who thinks so is a psychopath.Different social groups have different moral codes. So morality can't be god-given. That the Earth is spheroid or that burning fossil fuels will cause global warming are objective facts about the entire Earth. That different human social groups have different moral codes is also an objective fact. You can't get from differing moralities to a single god or law-giver.
@bachfiend: Your assertion that morality is subjective and determined solely by collective consensus is certainly incompatible with a divine lawgiver. My assertion that there is a higher moral law that exists in spite of collective consensus (or individual taste) is not.-JH
In short, I think your argument is backwards. You start with the assumption that morality is subjective (and determined by collective consensus as opposed to individual taste) and then note that the moral norms taught by different societies differ from one another. You then conclude that no divine lawgiver can exist. Given your premise that morality is subjective, I would agree. However, I don't accept your premise that social norms are the only moral law that exists.Such moral norms are not morality; they are models of morality in the same way that different medical theories are not life itself, but models of life. Four humors theory, chi meridian theory, and the germ theory all propose different descriptions of and explanations for disease. That doesn't mean that the objective nature of disease changes from culture to culture - just that the local description of it does.By the same token, just because two different cultures teach different norms does not mean that no objective morality exists - just that they have apprehended it differently.-JH
JH,I start with the assumption that there's no law giver. I'm open to evidence that there is one. And all the evidence I've been offered is inadequate to convince me even slightly. So; no law giver, no divinely decreed moral law as a logical deduction. And the fact that the moral codes of different human societies differ so much is consistent with the absence of a supreme law giver.If the moral codes of different human societies failed to serve the needs of each human society under the conditions in which it's living, then that would be evidence of a single supreme moral code. But they don't.
(N)o law giver, no divinely decreed moral law as a logical deduction.Makes sense. I am convinced, but I appreciate that you're not, and that you're making sense, given your premises and convictions.And the fact that the moral codes of different human societies differ so much is consistent with the absence of a supreme law giver.It's also consistent with the existence of a divine lawgiver, as I pointed out above.If the moral codes of different human societies failed to serve the needs of each human society under the conditions in which it's living, then that would be evidence of a single supreme moral code. But they don't.That depends largely on what you mean by "failing to serve the needs" of a given society. I suppose, by your definition, the slave trade met the needs of society in the Colonial New World, and the dissenters against it were simply psychopaths?If, on the other hand, you acknowledge a moral order above social consensus, I do think that implies a divine lawgiver - and that is the point that Kreeft and Egnor are ultimately making.-JH
JH,No, I don't acknowledge that there's a moral order above social consensus, so as a result, I don't think that it's evidence of a supreme law-giver, for which I regard there is no adequate evidence anyway.We are talking apes. We can talk, and talk to great length, about many subjects. Including morality. The social consensus can and often does change. Plantation slavery might have been acceptable at one time, with arguments for it being made directly from verses in the Bible. But the consensus changed, and it's no longer acceptable.