A few Dawkins quotes to think about.

by AK - Jeff 328 Replies latest jw friends

  • tec

    I think many of US don't learn compassion, empathy, love well without seeing or experiencing suffering. I do believe we cause the suffering, because of what is in us. Perhaps that is why God allows suffering to exist (as many have wondered)... Not because He wants it to be that we suffer; but because many of us don't/can't/won't learn love or compassion in any other way.

    I don't think that should be too hard to understand, though. How many times have you not understood someone else's suffering, until you, yourself, were in their shoes. "Oh, this is how they felt. Maybe I should have... (whatever)." You gain compassion and empathy toward others that you might not have had otherwise. You learn (hopefully) that you don't want to be the cause of that for another person. Children are a good example of learning in this manner also. Suffering might not teach them anything at the time except that it isn't fair... but it does help them to understand and have empathy toward someone else who might be suffering later.



  • tec

    In straightforward simple terms, Nick... the taking of something bad (something that we cause and commit)... and turning it toward good.


  • AGuest

    Dear, dear Tammy (the greatest of love and peace to you!)... we most probably "heard" the same thing at the same time. From the same Source, of course! MUAH and peace to you!

    Ah, JWN's Leo Tolstoi. I enjoy your posts, Shelby

    I didn't/don't know much about Tolstoi, dear Nick (the greatest of love and peace to you, as well!), but if the following is true, then I consider the comparison a compliment:

    Tolstoy believed that a true Christian could find lasting happiness by striving for inner self-perfection through following the Great Commandment of loving one's neighbor and God rather than looking outward to the Church or state for guidance

    I don't think I am an anarchist (christian or otherwise), but I do believe it would be refreshing if we could just live... and let live... without government and politics making us do so. Yes, I realize that some believe God's kingdom to be a "government" and perhaps it is. But it certainly isn't anything like what man has established thus far.

    You obviously put a great deal of thought and care into each and every one and they are always enlightening.

    I am glad to hear that, dear one. I think you and a few others can tell when I'm joshing... and when I'm not...

    From all the available evidence, suffering is a human condition that has been around since time immemorial.

    Just humans, dear one? I think suffering is a physical condition, experienced by those beings/creatures confined to vessels of flesh. But then, that was the prophecy, wasn't it?

    We have no record, written on paper or otherwise in stone, to the contrary.

    Ah, that's not accurate! There was no suffering in Eden... which is is recorded/written on paper/papyrus/vellum/whathaveyou... right?

    Suffering in the world has always been so great, so incomprehensible, that the more we perceive it the heavier a burden it becomes.

    I am going to "say" this, dear Nick, and I hope you don't take it the wrong way: there is a lot of suffering, yes. Always has been. But it's not incomprehensible. Because a great deal of it is preventable and totally unnecessary... but exists due to man... which is comprehensible. Not all, true, but a great deal. And it's only a burden because we don't... WON'T... do enough to end it. We COULD... but that would mean all of us who
    "have"... going out and "selling [our] belongings and [giving] to the poor." Which we won't do. We'll give of our SURPLUS, yes, after we've taken care of all of our own needs... including storing up a little sumthin-sumthin for a "rainy" day. Or retirement. Or vacation. Or a second house/car/boat, etc. Couple pennies here and there. But sell EVERYTHING and give to the poor? No way. Even if that meant we would be following Christ (which it would mean)...

    When you include suffering endured by sub-human species, the burden becomes exponentially greater.

    For the most part, dear one, animals only suffer... again... at the hands of man. They don't expect anything from their existence in this world. They are born, live, eat/sleep/poop/pee/play/bathe... age... and die. They suffer... when we get involved. When we conduct tests on them so that the products we use can make us look/smell/feel good. When we take their coats to keep us warm, even when it's 70 degrees out. When we drive them out of their natural habitats because we want to install a golf course... or residential development with "gorgeous" views. When we use them in experiments to see what will happen "if." When we hunt them for sport... so as to hang their heads as trophies, etc. And when we breed, raise, and slaughter them... inhumanely... and sometimes just for one tiny part so that we can impress our "friends" with a "delicacy." When we pollute their habitat... with oil, garbage, and toxins. Otherwise, they pretty much accept... and handle... their lives and environments.

    Fact is we fat cats don't have a clue. We, theist and atheist alike, here sit in our comfortable chairs in our comfortable houses after having filled our bellies with the quality and quantity of food 90% of the rest of humanity could only hope to have and we make comment on suffering in the world.

    Sigh. Not all of us are fat cats, dear one. Some of us have experienced great suffering. Some of us know, literally, what it's like to go without food. To be physically stalked... and harmed... by a human predator. To be without sustenance and covering. To be sick, very. And some of us have done... and do... what we can to help others in such situations. Here... and abroad. Some of us do have a clue. Perhaps, like Tolstoi, it was the clue that "called" to US... to seek God.

    One consolation is the world is slowly getting better.

    That would depend on who you asked, though, wouldn't it? I mean, not everyone "experiences" the same "world". I would venture that it's slowly getting better for some (the "fat cats" maybe?)... and not so much for others (the not so fat cats?). And doesn't time and unforeseen circumstances befall ALL... fat cat and non-fat cat alike?

    Medicine has replaced medicine men

    And that's a GOOD thing? I'm not so sure. I mean, yes, medicine is good, of course; however, the greed of pharmaceutical "fat cats" has now reached a point where that good medicine is beginning to be largely responsible for KILLING a whole lot of folks, too, yes? And addicting others... and making our children "weird"... er...

    That whole "absolute power corrupts absolutely" thing. Supply and demand. We demand a LOT of medicine, whether we need it or not... and they have NO problem giving it to us. So... good, yes... but not absolutely...

    and there aren't all that many mass starvations happening anymore.

    This decade, no, but who knows what's to come? Man's existence is cyclical. Sooner or later he gets "bored" with peace. So, right now, the "mass" deaths are caused more by wars, coups, rebellions, cartels... modern weapons... than lack of food. So, yeah, one thing's getting better... another's going down the toilet. Evens out.

    But no matter how you dress it up, suffering is suffering and it has absolutely no redeeming qualities.

    Earlier today I would have agreed... and I still do that suffering is suffering. However, I have to say, after hearing my Lord's word, that for ME, there are redeeming qualities. I cannot stand to see anyone/anything suffering and so I am compelled, even more than usual, to do what I can to relieve it. I am not the kind that sends money to organizations for little children overseas, though. I'm more the kind that will buy a hungry, homeless, possibly mentally ill person right on my own street... or who happens into the restaurant where I'm eating... a meal. Or buy blankets during the winter and cover up people sleeping on the street. Or help someone find housing. Or buy their medicine when they can't afford it. Or empty out my cabinets to take them groceries.

    I don't usually mention these things... but I do because I know WHY I do these things: I hear my Lord's voice tell me to do it. I love him... and he loves them... so I am learning to love them, as well. For him.

    Okay, gotta go (again - LOL!), but I want to thank you, as always, for your kindness and patience. I truly appreciate it, dear Nick. I know I "sound" crazy/delusional to a lot of folks... but I'm really not. I'm just not a very good liar and so telling the truth is just better for me. Even if it makes me look weird to others. I would rather look weird for telling the truth... than for lying.

    Peace to you!

    YOUR servant and a slave of Christ,

    SA Tolstoi...

  • AGuest

    Tams... same thoughts... again! What "channel" are you watching, girl? LOLOLOLOLOL!

    Peace, my dear sister!

    YOUR servant and fellow slave of Christ,

    SA (okay, okay OUTLAW, I'm leavin'. Between you and my husband, I dunno...)

  • Nickolas

    then I consider the comparison a compliment

    It most certainly was.

    Just humans, dear one?

    Nope. Thought I'd covered that off. Critters suffer, too.

    Ah, that's not accurate! There was no suffering in Eden... which is is recorded/written on paper/papyrus/vellum/whathaveyou... right?

    Works of fiction do not count as evidence.

    But it's not incomprehensible.

    The thing about something being incomprehensible is that the one not comprehending is not comprehending. It is not possible to comprehend all the misery in the world. If you could comprehend a fraction of it, it would crush you.

    I'm not sure what you're saying about animals, though. Do you empathise with them or consider them to be biological autometrons? I can't tell.

    Some of us have experienced great suffering.

    by whose measure?

    I mean, not everyone "experiences" the same "world".

    Depends how you measure "better". If 10% more of the total world population is living longer now than X years ago because their nutrition has improved, then it can be assumed that the world is getting better. However, I agree with you completely that the world is getting much better for the fat cats. How would you measure better?

    the greed of pharmaceutical "fat cats"

    yes, yes. Put the lot in pillories. But don't discount advances in medical science because of this lot of pirates.

    This decade, no, but who knows what's to come?

    Precisely. If you extrapolate the future from the past, what's to come looks pretty exciting. Why have such an apocalyptic perspective?

    As to your final comments, Shelby, you leave me speechless.

  • PSacramento

    What is this "suffering" you all are speaking of?

    And what does one base "suffering" on?

  • leavingwt

    PSacramento: What is your definition of suffering? Does it differ from the dictionary definition?

  • Nickolas

    Let's throw in a couple of apropos Sam Harris quotes to spice things up:

    "Is THE difference between good and evil just a matter of what any particular group of human beings says it is ? Consider that one of the greatest sources of amusement in sixteenth-century Paris was cat burning. At the midsummer's fair an impresario would gather dozens of cats in a net, hoist them high into the air from a special stage, and then, to everyone's delight, lower the whole writhing bundle onto a bonfire. The assembled spectators "shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized. Most of us would recoil from such a spectacle today. But would we be right to do so? Can we say that there are ethical truths of which all avid torturers of cats are ignorant?"

    and I particularly like this one:

    "This is the point at which our notions about mind and matter directly influence our notions of right and wrong. We should recall that the practice of vivisection was given new life by certain missteps in the philosophy of mind—when Descartes, in thrall to both Christian dogma and mechanistic physics, declared that all nonhuman animals were mere automata, devoid of souls and therefore insensible to pain. One of his contemporaries observed the immediate consequences of this view:

    'The scientists administered beatings to dogs with perfect indifference and made fun of those who pitied the creatures as if they felt pain. They said the animals were clocks; that the cries they emitted when struck were only the noise of a little spring that had been touched, but that the whole body was without feeling. They nailed the poor animals up on boards by their four paws to vivisect them to see the circulation of blood, which was a great subject of controversy.'

    Cognitive chauvinism of this sort has not merely been a problem for animals. The doubt, on the part of Spanish explorers, about whether or not South American Indians had "souls" surely contributed to the callousness with which they treated them during their conquest of the New World. Admittedly, it is difficult to say just how far down the phylogenic tree our ethical responsibilities run. Our intuitions about the consciousness of other animals are driven by a variety of factors, many of which probably have no bearing upon whether or not they are conscious. For instance, creatures that lack facial expressiveness—or faces at all—are more difficult to include within the circle of our moral concern. It seems that until we more fully understand the relationship between brains and minds, our judgments about the possible scope of animal suffering will remain relatively blind and relatively dogmatic."

  • PSacramento
    PSacramento: What is your definition of suffering? Does it differ from the dictionary definition?

    My definition of suffering is irrelevant, since I wasn;'t to one speaking about it.

    My point is why should any of us care if another human or animal suffers?

    Living beings have been "suffering" since they came to be, I doubt the neandrathal cared if the other neandrathal he just clubbed is suffering or the animal he just beat to death suffered, why shoudl we?

  • leavingwt
    My point is why should any of us care if another human or animal suffers?

    One of my main concerns in life is my own well-being and the well-being of my family. I spend large sums of time and money to prevent the suffering of myself and my family.

    Bible writers seemed to have struggled with the question of suffering, too.

    Bart Ehrman:

    My contention is that many of the authors of the Bible are wrestling with just this question: why do people (especially the people of God) suffer? The biblical answers are striking at times for their simplicity and power (suffering comes as a punishment from God for sin; suffering is a test of faith; suffering is created by cosmic powers aligned against God and his people; suffering is a huge mystery and we have no right to question why it happens; suffering is redemptive and is the means by which God brings salvation; and so on). Some of these answers are at odds with one another (is it God or his cosmic enemies who are creating havoc on earth?), yet many of them continue to inform religious thinkers today.

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